In spite of the impression dominant in the West that Islam is oppressive to women, the majority of American converts to Islam are women. The following are the expressed feelings of several anonymous Muslim women converts to Islam who happen to be Americans. They hoped to convey their feelings to loved ones and others within their society who find their acceptance of Islam strange or who have difficulty with it.
*Americans need to understand that Muslims are just living their lives by how they feel God wants us to live. We are a very misunderstood religion. We are also the most growing religion in the world. In ten years we will, God-Willing, be the second largest religion in the United States. Why are Americans turning from Christianity to Islam? Americans need to look past the stereotypes and look to the real Islam, the Islam of peace, the Islam which is getting more and more followers every day. Getting an Islamic society, to me, doesn’t mean being fanatical or militant. It means having a society where the members are following the moral codes that God gave to us, as well as the religious obligations and social laws. Islam governs all of our lives. It is for all time, for all peoples. If Americans looked closely at Islam and realized that, then Islam would at last be understood.
*I would like the American public to realize that Muslim women are not second-class citizens. We don’t walk behind our husbands, and we do have inalienable rights. Islam is not an extremist religion. Islam does not believe in extremes. Islam always promotes the middle road. Islam is not an Arab thing or an African-American thing; it is a religion for all peoples of all nationalities. Islam is a timeless religion that is suitable for all times and places. The beauty and antiquity of Islam has no bounds. In summary, Islam is a religion of peace and happiness.
*If you ever saw what Islam really is, you would adore it immediately. As yet it is only an ideal in our minds! The marriage relationship is protected and sexuality blossoms behind the veil! The streets would be safe. Your children would not be exposed to sex and drugs. They would receive a values education and practical skills. Your husband’s income would be enough to support the family, leaving you free to either work or have as many babies as you want, to study and grow in other ways. People would not live in fear of unemployment or mortgage foreclosure. The economy would be based on small local businesses and an interest-free banking system. Life would be affordable again. All that is only the beginning. If you could ever enter a beautiful, spacious mosque and participate in true prayer to God Most High, you would become truly satisfied and dignified. Some day all this will be ours by God’s mercy.
*Islam is a way of life! It has answers on every aspect of life I choose Islam as my way of life by conviction – not by force or for my husband. I love my Islam and I feel that when I was born I was a Muslim and was raised Christian. Now I have reverted – not converted – to the true and straight path. I have achieved success. I’ve come back to Islam! May God always keep my heart pure and on the straight path.
*As a Muslim woman I would like to say that Islam has liberated me in many ways. Most Americans see Muslim women as an oppressed lot, but I would like them to know that if Muslim women are oppressed, it’s because they forsake the true Islam and follow their country’s cultural practices. Islam throws away all the garbage that keeps women down and lifts them up to a status of self-respect and confidence. Most American women feel that they are the most liberated women on earth, but they are not really relieved from the bonds of oppression. Anyone who has to have a perfect body for fear of rejection, anyone who has to reveal their bodies to receive so called “attention,” anyone who gets paid less for equal work versus a male counterpart, anyone in those categories is still oppressed, and the only solution is to throw the chains of bondage away and accept God and Islam in their life.
*The American Muslim woman is not oppressed and our cover (hijaab) is our right, not a punishment. We consider the Western way of life a step backward not forward. The Middle Eastern woman may see the so-called glamour of American Western lifestyle because their country practices culture and not Islam. If Islam was really practiced in the countries of my Eastern sisters, Western (females) would be fighting for Islamic rights.
*The one most important issue I would like to get across, not only to the American public but even to many Muslims themselves, is that Islam must be judged on its own merits and not on the behavior of Muslims. Islam is a perfect system because it was created by God, just as we were. We, however, were not created perfect. We have free will and we choose our ways of life and make our own decisions; sometimes they are the correct decisions and sometimes they aren’t. Also, I hope that non-Muslims will someday understand that every Muslim, true Muslim who lives by the laws of God, is a fundamentalist, and would understand the true meaning of that word. Regardless of the 1400+ years that have passed since the teachings of God through the Prophet Muhammad, Islam has not changed. In fact, the laws of God have never changed since Adam was created by God. God is not creating different humans than He did before. We are all human beings created by God. When we are born we have the same needs for love, affection, food, protection, and the same need to worship a higher being. These needs change as we mature and become shaped by our environment, but they remain essentially human needs. Change, however, never starts with countries, or leaders. It starts in the home, with the children, where the women rule. As soon as the Muslim women of the world realize this, the changes for the better will begin.
The above statements were excerpted from the book “Daughters of Another Path – Experiences Of American Women Choosing Islam” Chapter – Daughters Speak Out, By Carol L. Anway whose own daughter accepted Islam which led her to look more closely at what caused such a drastic change in her dearest child.