By Laura El Alam
People from all walks of life and all corners of the world find that their spiritual journey leads them to Islam. In many cases, becoming a Muslim had never crossed their mind, but they eventually realized it was the best decision they ever made.
What convinces people that Islam is the truth? In this article, three converts explain the aha moment that led them to submit to the One God.
Danielle, the woman who wanted to prove that all religions were fake
An American who was skeptical of all religions, Danielle was determined to disprove them.
She says, “My aha moment was the culmination of a long journey. I thought all religions were man-made, and so I embarked upon a research project. I intended to prove that religions were made up. I studied Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and then finally Islam. “
“My study of Islam began with me reading the translation of the Quran for one year and traveling to a Muslim-majority land where I experienced the culture and witnessed the prayers, heard the call to prayer, and listened to the Quran being recited,” says Danielle. “ The Quran quickly became the only book I wanted to read. After returning from the Muslim-majority land (Palestine), I began studying in depth about the religion and reading books written by both non-Muslims and Muslims. I would spend hours in the library with piles of books on my desk and would stay there reading until closing.”
“One night after two months of doing this,” says Danielle, “something clicked. I knew based on all of the research and reading that I had done – after having witnessed Muslims in action, having read the Quran from beginning to end – that it was in fact the truth. And so when I walked home from the library that night I knew I was at an impasse: I had to either accept the truth and follow it, or go on with my life as before, pretending as if I hadn’t realized that fact.”
“I really didn’t have a choice, and at that moment I had to accept and follow the truth. I made the shahadah (declaration of faith) alone on the street just before midnight, just between me and Allah, recognizing I knew Him for the first time.”
Carissa, the woman who could no longer pray to Jesus
Carissa was born into a Catholic family in the United States and attended Catholic elementary school. She describes her parents as born-again Christians and says that as a teenager, she followed their lead without much conviction.
“I began studying Islam after meeting a co-worker who had converted from Judaism and then meeting my husband shortly after. Instances of Islam just started popping up, so to speak, and I took interest, following natural curiosity,” says Carissa.
“My first thought was that it was clean,” Carissa explains. “Everything about the religion seemed simple, sensible and good. I started listening to Islamic preachers while commuting to work, all the while making sure my husband knew I would never convert. I felt like I had to make him understand that I was going to do what I wanted to do. He didn’t mind and never pressured me or talked about it. He just answered questions.”
“For me, my aha moment was during my commute to work,” says Carissa. “I think the truth of Islam had slowly been creeping into my consciousness, and it scared me when the reality hit me that I had a decision to make. I figured the best course of action was to pray to God for guidance, so I did. With tears streaming down my face, I prayed for God to guide me, and at the end of my prayer I realized I couldn’t end it by praying in the name of Jesus, as I had always done before without even a thought. That was it for me – when I realized that I could not, in good conscience, pray in Jesus’ name, but only pray to God.”
“Even so,” says Carissa, “I didn’t immediately convert. A few months later I found out I was pregnant and that was what pushed me to accept Islam. I became Muslim on Aug. 21, 2005, alone in my room with my husband guiding me through the shahada in both English and Arabic. I then did ghusl (ritual cleansing) and prayed my first prayer, which was dhuhr (the afternoon prayer). The rest is history.”
Ana María, the woman who almost became a nun
Ana María was born in Chile where she grew up in a devout Catholic family. “Religion was a huge part of my life,” she says. “I had aunts and uncles who were nuns and priests, and I was immersed in the Church, doing mission work, volunteering, and attending Mass daily.”
“I seriously considered becoming a nun,” says Ana María. “God was a huge part of my life. But as I grew older, I had questions like ‘How can God be one but three?’ and ‘Why do we pray to people instead of God?’”
When her beloved grandmother died, Ana María, then in high school, fell into a deep depression. Spirituality was the only thing that kept her from despairing. She spent a great deal of time on religious retreats, meditating and praying. She lived in a convent for a week, training to become a nun. “I was so connected to God,” says Ana María, “but I also wanted to get married and have children. I cried because I didn’t want to fail God. I asked Him to enable me to live a modest life that was dedicated to Him, with my hair and body covered like a nun, but also with a husband and kids.
Ana María feels her prayers were answered when she learned about Islam. She had a teacher who was not a Muslim but was fascinated with Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Through this teacher, says Ana María, “I too became fascinated with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I was curious to learn more about Islam. I listened to the Quran being recited and felt my heart moving.”
Those experiences planted a seed in her heart that bloomed after enduring another very difficult epoch.
“I fell into another depression,” she says, “and I stopped living a religious life for a while. I was drinking and clubbing and I wasn’t comfortable with my own actions. I asked God to save me.”
It was then that she met the man who would become her husband, as well as some of his Muslim friends. “They had such good hearts,” Ana María says. “I wanted to learn about their faith so I started reading the Quran every day. I finished it in one or two months.”
In addition, Ana María started watching documentaries about Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). As her knowledge grew, so did her certainty. She could see that her life had changed drastically, for the better, because of Islam. “One day it hit me,” she says. “I don’t know what I’m waiting for. This is what I’ve been looking for!”
Ana María made the shahada (declaration of faith) and immediately felt like God was answering the prayer she had made so many years ago, as a devout but conflicted teenager. She could now dedicate her life to God and embrace modesty and piety while still marrying and starting a family.
“I’m still emotional thinking about it today,” says Ana María. “Alhamdullilah for everything.”
For all three women, their hearts accepted Islam before their brains were willing to admit it. However, once their intellect had acknowledged the truth, they had the courage to submit to God and transform their lives. While their conversion might have seemed drastic to some outsiders, the faith actually aligned perfectly with their core beliefs. So, embracing Islam was not a matter of becoming someone new; it was more like a lost soul finally coming home.
Have more questions? Call 877-WhyIslam or visit whyislam.org. You deserve to know!
Laura El Alam, a prolific author who has contributed to numerous publications, is the founder of Sea Glass Writing & Editing, where she provides writing, editing, and proofreading services.