I just read this story and it brought tears to my eyes and my heart.Everyone should read it.
My Path To Islam
Part 1: Born to Atheist Parents
“There’s no such thing as God!”
That’s what I believed most of my childhood thanks to the teachings of my parents. They said, “We believe in science. Not God. Where is God? Why doesn’t He show Himself? If He exists why is there so much suffering in this world?” It was and still is a hot topic for discussion with them.
I greatly admired and adored my parents. As a kid, I used to think they were such great thinkers and philosophers. It never occurred to me that they could be wrong. Of course they were right! Till the age of nine I had the opportunity to observe the rituals, customs and ways of life of people of belonging to different religions, but more in particular, the Hindus. I thought my mom was so clever when she pointed out that the Hindus fashioned idols out of their own hands and then worshipped them as gods. “Doesn’t this show you that it is man who has created God?” she would say.
In India, superstitions are in plenty. There’s also much indulgence in astrology, palmistry, numerology and fortune-telling. There are numerous god-men or saints. My parents would have none of this nonsense. They did not believe in any of it. Talk about ghosts and they would laugh the matter off. There were no such things as ghosts. No such thing as spirits. No such thing as God. So I grew up thinking it wasn’t rational to believe in things that were not proven by science to be true.
So my family members had great pride in their intellectual powers of thought and reason. There’s some proof of their intellectual capabilities in their achievements. My mom is a champion chess player and beaten many men in the game. She also won in many badminton tournaments. My grandmother was a respected headmistress of a school. My grandfather was the first lawyer in our town. And my great grandfather used to be a judge who would settle disputes in the community.
Now what was I compared to them? I just looked up to them and followed their teachings. I remember arguing with my friends in school about the existence of God. I would demand them to produce their proof it they were right. Of course, none of them could prove it and some of the kids even acknowledged that I could be right in what I said. But still, they were afraid to give up their belief in God.
Later on, I would reflect upon the sad state of affairs of my friends who believed in a god that didn’t exist. I felt sorry for them. But as I thought more and more about God, I couldn’t help thinking about death as well. Finally I thought to myself, “There was nothing going to happen after we died. And these people had invented God to make themselves feel better. It was comforting to think they would go to heaven after death.”
So I thought I knew at the age of eleven the reason why people believed in God. It was because they wanted to go to heaven, the poor things.
Till the age of thirteen, I continued engaging in arguments and debates regarding the non-existence of God with my classmates. Once I even said I could jump from the building to prove He didn’t exist! Sooooo confident was I!
But now I had reached the age of puberty. And by this time, my powers of observation and reasoning had greatly developed at an accelerated pace.
I was quick to learn that I had many limitations as a girl. I was extremely aware of my weaknesses. I had no desire to compete with men once I acquired this awareness. So I differed from my mom and sister immensely in this respect. As an adolescent, I preferred to wear clothes that fully covered me. The way I conducted myself differed greatly from the way of my sister who had no problem wearing shorts and mini skirts.
As soon as I entered my teens, I had become aware of something called responsibility and the problem of choice. I tossed this issue in my mind, wondering what it meant. I began to ask questions. Why do we have to make choices? Why is there a right way and a wrong way?
More importantly, I asked myself the question, “Why is it that I refuse to take the wrong way?”
As I thought about it, the answer came to me quite easily. I refused to take the wrong way because I could see the end result of it. Subhanallah! Of all the gifts that God has given me, I appreciate most this awesome gift of foresight. I was given the ability to see the end of things and in this way, I was kept safe from many dangers. I always used to think about the consequences of all my actions.
But the best part about all this was that it resulted in an awareness of something else. It was knowledge in my heart somewhere that told me that one day I would have to give an account for all my actions. This was how I became aware of that thing called accountability. In my mind’s eye, through my foresight, I was able to see ahead and know that I would one day be standing before God for every single thing that I said and did! It’s really strange but I had no doubt at all regarding this Day of Accountability.
This was how belief in God took root in my heart. It was a very strong and powerful feeling and it came with a thorough conviction. If making choices and responsibility for one’s actions was real then accountability also had to be real. Accountability to who? Obviously, accountability to the One who gave me the problem of choice! To the One who made me responsible for my actions, to the One who created me! The Unseen God!
There were of course lots of other questions in my mind. I wondered what was the purpose of life and why all human beings had to die. By this time it was clear to me that my parents were wrong about a lot of things. My opinion about them began to change when I realized they didn’t have answers to all questions. I quickly discovered that I would have to find out the answers on my own.
The learning process that led me to Islam was gradual. I had close friends who were Muslims. It was from them that I first learned about Islam. And far from opposing their belief in one God, I readily accepted it to be true. That was really weird now that I think about it. No arguing, no debating, no discussing, no opposing. I just accepted it.
Soon my parents found out that I believed in God. Their reaction was: “Get out of this house! There is no place in here for anyone who believes in God!”
Yes, they were furious. They couldn’t understand how I suddenly had begun to believe in the existence of God. I knew how they felt about it, so I kept my belief to myself. Belief in God was enough for me at the time. I didn’t feel the necessity to become a Muslim even though I had learned some very good things about Islam from my Muslim friends. The first pages of a book I read called “Let us Be Muslims” completely turned me off. I didn’t fancy the idea of becoming a servant of God. “Isn’t what I want important?” I had thought to myself indignantly. “How could I give up my freedom and become a servant, doing only things that God wanted me to do?”
So I lost interest in Islam and entertained the weird idea that it didn’t matter what religion you ascribed to as long as you were good. One had just to follow one’s conscience. What was the need for a religion?
With such a mind set I continued my studies and eventually got a job in a college. I was paid good money and I worked for only about a year before I decided to quit. I wasn’t happy leading a single life. My parents did not believe in the institution of marriage and so I knew that they were not going to find an eligible groom for me. I would have to find one myself or else die an old maid.
Now the big question that arose in my mind was, what kind of man should I choose? Surely he had to be a man who believed in one God like I did. I also thought to myself that he ought to be a man who feared God as well because only such a man would remain faithful to me. So I figured I wouldn’t mind marrying a Muslim, a Christian or a Baha’i.
I remember going up to the terrace one night looking at the starry sky and saying to myself. “He’s out there somewhere. God knows where he is and what he is doing right now.”
The man in question was out there alright. He lived thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, in America. And he was a Christian and a very devout, die-hard Christian.
Part 2: The Light of Islam!
How we met and got married was nothing short of a miracle. It deserves a separate story-telling session of its own which will no doubt amaze any listener. I won’t get into all the details. I suppose it’s enough to mention I spent some time talking to my would-be husband and I saw honesty and a real fear of God in his eyes. This was what I had been looking for and soon I found myself saying yes to his proposal of marriage.
I had to wait a year and half before I got my visa to go to the US. During the wait, I sometimes went through periods of frustration and sadness that came over me due to the separation from my husband. I used to keep a copy of the Bible and go through recommended passages to comfort my heart. But I was not satisfied with just the Bible. I also went to an Islamic center to get a free copy of the Qur’an. The funny thing is that at the Islamic center there was a little shop that sold head scarves. I was very attracted to them not because I was thinking I would look pretty wearing them but because I understood their purpose: they provided safety to the woman. And I had always liked the idea of covering up. So I bought a printed black head scarf and brought it home and tried putting it on. Needless to say, my family members were annoyed and disgusted to see me parading around in the house, wearing the scarf around my head. I put it away so as not to arouse their displeasure and cause friction within the household. I didn’t insist on wearing it again.
Waiting for my visa turned out to be a good thing for me. I got the opportunity to read the Bible and the Qur’an quite regularly. I found many similarities between both the books. Both spoke about one God and contained within their pages great jewels of wisdom that I found utter delight in.
So when I went to America to join my husband, I had in my suitcase both the Bible and the Qur’an. However, during the first few months of my stay in America, I wasn’t too keen to read the Qur’an for I had to show my loyalty and support to my deeply religious Christian husband. He was a member of a Judeo-Christian denomination called the Worldwide Church of God. He read the Bible so much and so frequently that the pages were frayed and worn out. He took his Bible with him everywhere! He used to observe the Sabbath and attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I went to church with him several times. I met many nice people at church. I even made some very good friends. I was particularly attached to an elderly couple. I was pretty happy with the way things were going……. until I went to California to visit my in-laws.
That visit to California was the turning point in my life. There I got an opportunity to see Christianity from real close quarters. Until then I really didn’t know much about Christianity. All I knew was they worshipped one God, that they believed Jesus was the son of God and that there were two groups among them (according to what I had read in history books): The Roman Catholics and The Protestants. I personally didn’t believe Jesus was son of God. If Christians believed it, so what? I didn’t care what they believed as long as they believed in one God. I had the similar attitude towards the Hindus. I personally detested the worship of idols and never believed in them. But if the Hindus wanted to worship them, so what? At least they believed in the existence of God and they believed in the principle of karma.
I was a believer in the existence of God and my attitude was all people who believed in God were believers, whether they were Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs or Jews. I kept peace with all religions in this way. But all that changed dramatically when I went to California.
So what happened there you ask? Well, it was when I was travelling in the metro train, on my way to Los Angeles, that some men entered the train and passed slips of paper to the passengers. I looked at the piece of paper in my hand and read it with utter disbelief. This was what it said:
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
The answer to this question is, absolutely nothing!
The only requirement is to believe what God has said in His word, and He says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”.
Only believe? Yes, that’s all! Believe means to trust completely in what God has said concerning salvation.
What do we have to believe?
That Christ died for our sins, and that He was buried, and
that He rose again the third day.
Christ died to give us eternal life. If you desire to have eternal life make the following prayer:
Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner and that I have a need to be forgiven. I now receive Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
Thank You for having forgiven my sins. In Jesus name. Amen.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, (Jesus) to them gave He (God) power (authority) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.
Do absolutely nothing to obtain salvation?!! Jesus died for our sins?!
I wonder if you could understand the state of my heart at the time of reading that slip of paper. It was like I was in the middle of a violent whirlwind. I felt as though my world was struck by thunder and lightning. To be sure, a great tempest had risen in my heart. I felt the fire of hatred and loathing swell up inside of me. My mind was burning with anger, denial and extreme disgust. My heart was screaming out loud that the content of that slip of paper simply could not be true! It was so evidently false that I was surprised that anyone actually believed in it!
My mind was in a state of great turmoil and shock. How could anyone believe that Jesus Christ died for his sins? How could anyone accept such an idea?!
This little piece of paper prompted me to embark on a speedy journey of investigation regarding Christianity. I took hold of the Bible and tried to find within its pages any proof that supported the claim that Jesus had died for our sins. The Bible was silent on this matter. Jesus had never said anything to even hint that he had come to die for our sins! That meant only one thing. That this entire story of Jesus dying for our sins had been made up!
There was no stopping me now. I found out that there weren’t just two groups within Christianity. There were hundreds of them! Why, I wondered, were there so many denominations when the book they read and believed in was one?! Each denomination believed in strange things. The most preposterous was the idea that Jesus was God. There was also the concept of trinity that didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.
I was amazed that people could believe such things about Jesus and God, especially when there was nothing in the Bible to support such beliefs. Jesus never claimed to be God, had never claimed that he would die for our sins and he had never mentioned anything called the trinity.
All those claims made no sense to me and I wasn’t one to accept things that made no sense.
First, the saying that Jesus was God. And the second, that he had died for our sins!
There was a clear cut argument in my mind that told me flat out what lies they all were!
The argument went as follows: God wouldn’t be God if He died. All men are destined to die. Therefore no man can be God, even if he were to claim he was one.
So if Jesus died for our sins, it’s the same as saying God died for our sins. How does that sound? Does it make even one iota of sense?! If God really did die, and He is one God, mind you, then how did this world continue to operate? After death, where did God go?
There was no way that I was going to accept such nonsensical beliefs regarding God. Then I began to wonder, did my husband too entertain such beliefs? Did the friends that I had made in the Seventh Day Adventist Church too believe this crap?
I went ahead and asked them if it was true they believed that Jesus was God and that he had died for their sins. It wasn’t something they openly declared, but they admitted that this was indeed what they believed. This was the e-mail they had sent me in response to my questions:
“No evil or sin can stand before a Perfect God. Even what to us is just the tiniest of wrong is totally intolerable to His perfection. All it takes is one sinful act. Look at Adam and Eve. They committed only one act, and a very small one at that, but that act allowed sin to enter this world. They knew that the consequences of that one act was death, but God made a promise to them that there was a way they could be redeemed from those consequences. It is that promise that the prophets wrote about. It is that promise and its fulfilment that is the underlining theme throughout the rest of the Bible. The message is that not only were the Jewish leaders who crucified Christ evil, but so were David, Lot and the others. That also includes you and me. Even the smallest evil makes us deserving of death. Just as there was nothing Adam and Eve could to do undo what they had done, there is nothing we can do to undo the evil we have done. But the same promise God made to Adam and Eve He makes to us. He only asks us to accept that promise.”
How could anyone believe in such a theory!? But that is precisely what my good Christian “friends” believed. According to them, all evil, all sin is the same in the eyes of God. So the penalty for a man who steals a loaf of bread is the same as the penalty for a man who goes out and murders ten people! What kind of justice is that?! I’m thankful the law and order system in America does not treat all crime with the death penalty! Is justice here on earth better than God’s justice?
And what utter rubbish to even think that we are all deserving of death for the small sins that we commit and that we can be saved simply by believing that God died for our sins!!
Whether we believe or we don’t believe, it still doesn’t save us from death, does it?!
If we commit a sin, it is not because of Adam and Eve! We commit a sin when we choose to do wrong or evil of our own free will. We alone are responsible for our actions. For the mistake I make, nobody else can be held accountable. That would simply not be justice! Therefore, even if somebody were to come up to me and say he or she was willing to take the burden of my sin, I would not agree to it! Since it is I who committed the sin, it is I alone who must face the consequences of that act! It just does not make sense that we should consciously make mistakes and commit sins and all kinds of crimes and put the whole burden on somebody who is totally innocent. There is no law and order system in this world where Tom commits a murder and instead of Tom, Dick is hanged for it!! If such a thing were to be done, this whole world would be upside down!
My heart was screaming in anger that I would never ever accept such an outrageous belief that someone died for my sins. If this was what Christianity taught, I wanted to have absolutely no part in it! I would reject it outright.
I was then quick to reach for the Qur’an to find out what it had to say about Jesus. What I read satisfied me. According to the Qur’an, Jesus was a servant and messenger of God. Not son of God or God.
I didn’t have to read much to realize that the Qur’an confirmed everything I used to believe as true within my heart. It confirmed my belief that God was One, that He was the Creator possessing all power and might and that He was the One before whom I would stand one day to give a full account of my actions. I saw the entire Qur’an as nothing but a book that helped me prepare for the Day of Accountability, the fearsome Day which I had never for a moment doubted. Everything in the Qur’an made perfect sense! There was not a single thing in the Qur’an that brought low or defiled the concept of the One true God. Everything in it exalted the nature of God, giving a clear cut, undeniable explication of what He truly is like, the One to whom belong the most beautiful names, the One who was Perfect, free from impurities, the One who made no mistakes!
The light of faith had now entered my heart, dispelling all darkness and I could now clearly see where I stood. I saw that I could no longer accept the Christian way of life. I could no longer accept anything but Islam, the religion of the Qur’an.
Part 3. Love, Gratitude, Guidance
Love is a powerful thing between husband and wife. I loved my husband very much. He loved me in return and we couldn’t live without each other. It had been a hard wait when I had been separated from my husband as I had waited for my visa to go to the US but the letters we used to write to each other made the pain of separation bearable. It was a delight to hear the footsteps of the postman as he arrived at the gate to announce that I had mail. I would see the American postage stamp on the envelope along with the familiar handwriting and smile. Those letters came frequently and consistently and were ample proof to everyone that our relationship was true and sincere. It was because of my love for my husband that I went all the way to America to live with him, leaving my family behind, to a place where I had no relatives. Such is the power of love. It makes life worth living.
But after my trip to California, things between I and my husband could no longer be the same. I wondered if my husband believed that Jesus was God or that Jesus died for our sins. If he did believe such things, I was determined to talk him out of it, to make him see that these things were untrue and that they did not make any sense. I couldn’t bear the thought of my husband believing in that kind of nonsense. I wondered if he knew anything about Islam. And I wondered what would be the best way to approach him and invite him to Islam. It’s strange that my faith in Islam at that time was strong enough for me to entertain such thoughts!
Anyway, I waited for the right moment. When I saw that he looked relaxed I casually threw him a question. “Do you know anything about Prophet Muhammad?”
I distinctly remember that a frown appeared on his forehead when I asked him this. “Why are you asking me that?” he wanted to know.
I then began to talk about Islam. My husband listened for a while but it soon became clear to me that he wasn’t interested in discussing it. He changed the subject.
But I am a stubborn little thing. I wasn’t going to give up so easily. In the days that ensued, I engaged in many heated arguments with my husband. First I wanted to know what his beliefs were and even more than that I wanted to know if he believed Jesus was God or that he had died for his sins. My husband’s way of answering was to avoid answering the questions. This merely made me more incensed. He never gave me straightforward answers. And in the end he would always say, “You will find all the answers in the Bible. Read it and you’ll know the truth.”
The truth!! I yelled at him that I had already read the Bible and that I had found no evidence in there that supported those absurd claims that Jesus was God or that he died for our sins.
On a side note….I’m rather hot-tempered. My husband isn’t, thankfully. Alhamdulillahir Rabbil al ameen! If both of us were hot-tempered, our apartment would have been in flames and burnt to the ground!
Once while we were in the car driving around town, I asked my husband which church was the best church to join. I said, “There were so many denominations within Christianity it was hard to decide.”
My husband’s reply? “You can pick any that takes your fancy.”
“Oh, so it was just a matter of picking what you liked?! As though religion was an item that you went shopping for? Pick the one you like and ignore the one you don’t?”
I was sooooooo frustrated.
We argued almost everyday about religion. My husband held even more closely to the Bible, telling me that he could not deny Christ. He didn’t take me seriously at all. He told me I could believe whatever I wanted. He had no objection if I wanted to embrace Islam.
So he continued reading his Bible. And I continued reading the Qur’an. This went on for a few days until a day came when both of us visited the library. I wouldn’t be wrong if I told you that it was a day that changed my husband’s life forever.
I went to a computer to get online and immediately started doing my research on Islam while my husband went off to find a table and do his usual reading of Christian books. I wanted to find out information on how to become a Muslim. I found the information I was looking for. All I had to do was declare the shahadah. However, there was more information on the subject. My eyes fell upon the part where it spoke of inter-religious marriages. I discovered that if I were to embrace Islam by saying the Shahadah, my marriage to my husband would be automatically dissolved. A Muslim woman was not permitted to marry a non-Muslim.
The moment I read that, tears welled up in my eyes. It had taken me only a few seconds to decide what I was going to do. Inside, I felt as though my heart was broken, in pieces. But my decision was unshakable and firm.
I got off the stool and went to find my husband. He was sitting on a chair with books on the table, reading. He saw me and the look in my eyes. He knew I was ready to go home.
It was evening and already dark as we walked to our car. I had not said a single word. But there were profuse tears flowing down my cheeks. My husband knew something was wrong. Instead of driving me home, he took me to a park.
I remember it was kind of chilly and there were stars in the sky. We sat on a bench and my husband turned to me asking me what was wrong.
“I have made a decision,” I said through my tears. “I’ve decided to leave you. I’m going to embrace Islam.”
And I told him about what I had found on the internet….that a Muslim woman can’t be married to a non-Muslim.
I told him that I wished him well in life and that he could follow his religion the way he wanted to. I had no objection if he wanted to remain Christian. But I couldn’t live with him anymore. My decision to embrace Islam was final and I was not going to allow anything or anyone to stand in the way. I didn’t know where I was going to go and what I was going to do after leaving him. All I knew was that I had to do the bidding of my heart. My love for truth was greater than the love I had for my husband.
My husband knew from the tone of my voice that I meant every word I said. Until that day, he hadn’t taken me seriously at all. But now, he realized that the threat of losing me was very real. It shook him.
He then made a request to me. He asked me to give him time to learn a little bit more about this strange religion that I had become so fascinated with. I agreed.
After that day, there was a distinct change in my husband. He had begun to read the Qur’an. He also investigated his wife’s peculiar claim that her marriage to him would be annulled if she accepted Islam. He found out that this was very much true. So he increased his study of Islam until finally one day when we were supposed to be heading to a beach or park for a picnic, he suddenly turned the car around and started driving along a different route. “Where are you going?” I asked him in surprise. “To the nearest Islamic center,” he replied. I was overjoyed.
My husband later told me after our visit to the Islamic center that he felt a lot of peace meeting the brothers there. It turned out to be an experience that softened his heart toward Islam. It wasn’t long afterwards that he informed me that he was ready to embrace Islam along with me.
Alhamdulillahir rabbil al ameen! So the day dawned when both of us accepted Islam to the cries of takbir in the air. For me, it wasn’t as though I was new to the religion at all. I felt as though I had always been a Muslim. As for my husband, Islam was very new and strange. There were still many things he didn’t understand. He embraced Islam probably because he didn’t want to lose me. He did read the Qur’an sometimes, but he read his Bible more. I didn’t care what he did. I was happy that I didn’t have to leave my husband, and was confident that Allah would guide him eventually.
My husband was in the Navy, and he had to go out to sea for 6 months. During this time, he got the opportunity to read the Qur’an from the first page to the last. He e-mailed me one day, and told me that he had been doing nothing but reading the Qur’an. He simply could not put it down! Finally, he told me that he was convinced it was the Word of God. He was now overcome with a great desire to make a declaration of his faith. When his ship reached Australia, he immediately went to the nearest masjid and told the brothers there that he wanted to say the Shahadah. The brothers told him he had already said the Shahadah with me, so he had no need to do it again. My husband then explained to them that at that time, he had no understanding. He did it for me. This time, he wanted to do it for himself. I shed tears of joy when he wrote to me and told me he said the Shahadah there in that masjid in Australia.
Of all the billions of people in this world, we are indeed thankful and utterly grateful that Allah chose to guide us to the Truth. It is the greatest honor anyone can have.
However, while it’s true that our quest for truth had gotten us to the Light of Islam, I realized soon after embracing it, that my journey wasn’t at all over. It had only just begun.
Great trials and hardships were to come our way. But that’s another story.
Alhamdulillahir Rabbil al ameen!