Journey to Islam
My name is Diana Beatty, some
call me Masooma Amtullah but most do not. I am almost 23 and converted nearly 3
years ago now. I am a college student studying physics and training to become a
teacher. I am a native of Colorado, USA. My father and brother are electricians.
I have only one sibling, my brother, who is 27 and is married with two young
children. He lives just two houses down from my parents. my mother is a legal
secretary for the county attorney's office. No one in my family before me has
gone to college. My father is an alcoholic and smokes a lot and his habits make
the household very stressful and unhappy at times because he tends to be very
selfish and angry. He is like a living dead man. My mother is bitter about him
often and lives in a loveless marriage, I think. But to most appearances they
are an ideal family. They keep dogs at the house, and that along with the
alcohol makes visiting difficult but I try to go when I can. My mother says I
never go home enough, that is in part because she has few friends as my father
prefers it that way. The family has been through a lot over the years and at
least we have come to a point where we do not abandon each other even though
things are not ideal. I have no children of my own yet and do not plan to right
away but eventually.
I came to college I met a Muslim for the first time. Only after meeting some
Muslims did I slowly come to realize how ignorant I was about Islam and Muslims;
a lot of what I had learned growing up was quite erroneous, but for the most
part I just never heard anything at all about it. I became curious about the
religion because the good manners of the Muslims I met appealed to me, as well
as the sincerity and worship aspect of the Muslim prayer. The idea of a religion
which guided us in every aspect of life was something I had been looking for. I
was raised Christian and at the time of meeting the Muslims was quite religious
and studying the bible seriously. But the questions the bible left unanswered
for me, the Quran answered. At first I did not like to read Quran because of
what it said about Jesus not being Son of God and mention about wars
that echoed in my mind what I had heard about
Muslim terrorism and violence. But the Muslims I knew, I took them as my example
of what a Muslim is like and saw that the stereotype I had been raised with just
didn't fit. I wondered how I knew bible was right and Quran was wrong,
especially when so much was similar between them, they seemed to originate from
the same source. I could not believe my bible study teacher when he said Quran
was from Satan and made similar to be a better deception. Nor could I believe
that these Muslims who were in general far more religious and worshipping of God
than the Christians would go to hell for sure, as I was taught. As I continued
my study, I was able to read the bible in a
new light and see contradictions and even
errors and scientific fallacies that before I had dismissed as due to my failure
to understand the Word of God. But these errors and contradictions were absent
in Quran. And what Quran said about God and our purpose and all these things I
found more logical and easier to understand, and I knew that I believed God
would provide us with a religion that we could understand and that was fair. It
was a difficult time but over a period of several months I studied the two
religions and Islam won out, I became convinced that it was the true religion
that Allah had sent for us and so I reverted. At that time I still was not sure
about everything, I still was not sure about hijab in particular, and I did not
know anything like how to pray etc. but in time I started to learn.
was very difficult to conclude that everyone I had ever known, my teachers, my
parents, my grandparents, my friends, my preachers, were all wrong. It was hard
to decide to go against my family and do something I knew they would hate and
would not understand. I was terrified to make the wrong choice, but Christianity
teaches if you do not believe Jesus (pbuh) died for your sins then you go to
hell (at least so the religious leaders told me), so I was afraid of being
misled. I was afraid that my peers and coworkers and bosses would react
negatively and even that I might be disowned from my family. My family did hate
the choice but did not disown me. Our relationships was forever changed.
Whenever I talk to my mother she complains about my Islamic dress, that seems to
bother them more than anything, and she will send Christian religious literature
to me, etc. When I first put on hijab she cried for literally a week and was so
hurt, she wrote me a letter saying it was a slap in the face and I was
abandoning how they raised me and trying to be an Arab. They convinced
themselves that I was doing it only for my Muslim husband (I ended up marrying a
Muslim man) and so they didn't like him and wished for our relationship to end.
I was told by family members that I was going to hell. It was not hard to give
up the nonhalal food, the alcohol, to start praying, to wear hijab (after some
initial difficulty), the only thing that was really hard was hurting my family
and being constantly pushed by them.
this process, I did lose a few who just could not handle the change but most of
my friends did not really mind. Nor did I have any problem obtaining multiple
jobs of my choice in hijab. I am generally not discriminated against at all on
the college campus, although you do have to get used to stares and a more formal
relationship with coworkers. I find most respect
me a great deal for doing what I believe. It is
only my family who has a great difficulty, because it is THEIR daughter. Well,
and men never know what to think when I decline to shake their hand.
is difficult to describe to someone who has never felt it how Islam can change
and improve one's life. But Islam changed me totally. I now have no doubt about
our purpose in this world and that I am following the right path, I have a
certainty I never knew before, and a peace that goes with it. God's plan makes
much more sense to me and I feel I have an idea where I belong. Plus, through
Islam, it is rarely an ambiguous question if something is right or wrong, unlike
my Christian friends who often doubt if they are doing the right thing. I
finally have a hold on the things that really matter and am not lost anymore. I
didn't even really know I was lost before, but when I found Islam and looked
back it was so clear to me that I had been searching for years. Alhumdooleluh I
was guided. Islam also improved my life as a woman in that I find good Muslim
men treat women with so much more respect than is found in American society that
I am raised in. I feel special to be a woman, before I was always a little
uncomfortable as a woman because I felt my life would be easier if I had been a
man because as a woman I found myself faced with incredible responsibility of
working full time and raising a family and cooking and cleaning and never
fitting in fully to any of those roles. As a Muslim woman I feel freer to look
at myself and choose the path which truly suits my nature and have others accept
that, and I feel like a woman and it feels good; like coming home. Reverting to
Islam feels like coming home.
Ever since the Second World War I have been watching with
restlessness that our faith in our religion was fast becoming weak. We had begun
to accept the American mode of living and I deeply felt as if something was
missing. At first I could not understand what it was that was missing. It was
the cry of my soul to find an answer to this restlessness.
I was fortunate to be acquainted with one Muslim who had been
staying in Tokyo for sometime. His behaviour and his way of worship made me
curious and I asked many questions. His answers were very gratifying and
afforded me much peace of mind and soul. He taught me how one should lead his
life as God desires us to live. I had never imagined before that the entire
outlook of life can change so suddenly, as did mine by living as a Muslim and
feeling a sort of unison with the Creator Himself.
Look at the salutation of a Muslim. You say "Assalamo-'Alaikum
Wa-Rahamatullah Wa-barakatoho": `May you have peace from God and be
happy ever. This is very unlike `good morning' and `good afternoon' which simply
means your morning be good and your afternoon be good. It sounds all
materialistic. There is no eternal wish, no prayer to invoke God's blessings.
Through that Muslim friend of mine I have learnt many things
which a Muslim believes in and practises. I like the Muslim way of life which is
pure, simple and essentially peaceful. I am convinced that Islam alone can bring
peace in an individual's life as well as in the collective life of man. Islam
alone can give real peace to mankind - a peace which humanity is eager to have.
I am happy to have acquired this peace and could like to spread Islam as much as
possible for me amongst my people.
[A better translation of "Assalamo-'Alaikum
Wa-Rahamatullah Wa-barakatoho" would be "May Allah's peace, mercy, and
blessings be extended on you". -ed.]
From "Islam, Our Choice"
My Life as a New Muslim
I am Fathima Liebenberg, a white Muslim woman converted to Islam
in 1995. I am very proud to say! I am a Muslim, but if it was not for my son I
would never have been a Muslim. For me it was a hard and long struggle because
it cost me my job, friends and family.
My life before Islam
I was a very pious Christian who went to the Pentecostal
churches. I used to collect the street children and take them to the church and
Sunday school. My life consisted only of reading and studying the bible, until
my son told me about Islam.
My son came home one day and said, "Mummy! Why don't you become a Muslim?'
I was shocked at the very idea and said, "Never".
He said, "Mummy! Islam is such a pure and clean religion,
they pray five times a day'.
That is when I decided to read the books and the translation of
the Noble Quran. The more I read the Quran, the more I was convinced that Islam
was for me. I turned to Allah and finally I found peace and tranquillity. I hid
it from my family until one day I decided to phone my brother and tell him I was
now a Muslim.
My brother was so shocked, because we were very devoted and
pious Christians, and I was the only one to be converted to Islam. My family
phoned me about a year ago and told me never to contact them again as I now was
no longer their sister. I love my family very much and miss them but I know one
day we will meet again. Insha Allah.
I was so happy when I received my 'Muslim Identity Card' that I
felt like standing on the roof tops and shouting out to the world that I am a
Muslim. I lost my family, but gained a new family in Islam. My new family, the
Muslims, were so wonderful, I cannot express it. I would like to make special
mention of my appreciation to the Fakrodeen family of Prince Edward St. I love
you who treated me as if I was part of the family, May Allah reward you all.
Appa Tasneem Jazakallah, when I am in your Madrasah with all the
little ones, it feels like I am in Jannah surrounded by little angels. I am so
happy that Allah Taala has chosen me to be a Muslim.
I have worn the Hijaab since I became a Muslim and will never
take it out. My only wish is to go to Macca even though I doubt that it will be
possible but Insha Allah, one day Allah will provide me with the means to reach
there. Each time I want to be closer to Allah, I read the Sunnats of our Beloved
Paper will not be enough for everything that I wish to tell you
about Islam. I also want to say Jazakumullah to the Kazi family, and I would
like to thank our Ulamas of the Jamiatul Ulama (KZN). And to our brother Ahmad
Deedat who is so ill. May Allah Taala cure you and return you back to all of us.
Islam is a way of life. Islam means peace and a Muslim is one
who strives for peace through his submission to Allah Taala. A Muslim's first
duty is to Allah the Almighty and it is out of your deep love for Allah that
your duties become acts of devotion.
It is no easy task for me as a white Muslim lady, living amongst
Christians, but I keep my head up high and I am so very proud to be a Muslim.
So, my dear brothers and sisters if you are born Muslim but have not been a
dutiful one it is not too late. If you have not started yet, you can start
tomorrow or even tonight. Brothers and sisters, as Muslims, keep your heads up
high and show the world that you are proud to be Muslims.
Yours Sister-in-Islam, Fathima Lienberg
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