Women Who Embraced Islam [M-N]

Miss Mas'udah Steinmann (England)

No other religion professed by a large community have I found so comprehensible and encouraging. There seems no better way towards tranquillity of mind and contentment in life, no greater promise for the future after death.

The human being is part of a whole; man cannot claim more than being just a particle of creation in its magnificent perfection. As such, he can only fulfil his purpose of living by carrying out his function in relating himself to the whole and to other living parts. It is the harmonious relationship between the parts and the whole that makes life purposeful, that can bring it nearest to perfection, that helps a human being to achieve contentment and happiness.

What place does religion occupy in this relationship between Creator and creation? Here are some people's opinions on religion.

"A man's religion is the chief fact whith regard to him; the thing a man does practically believe ... the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know for certain, concerning his vital relations to this Universe, and his duty and destiny there ... that is religion."
(Carlyle Heroes and Heroworship)

"Religion is the sense of ultimate reality of whatever meaning a man finds in his own existence or the existence of anything else."
(G. K. Chesterton Come To Think Of It)

"Religion a daughter of hope and fear explaining to ignorance the nature of the Unknowable."
(Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary)

"The body of all true religion consists to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His perfection."
(Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France)

"All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good."
(Swedenborg, Doctrine Of Life)

"Every man, either to his terror or consolation, has some sense of religion."
(James Harrington, Oceana)

At one time or another every human being is confronted with the Unknown, Incomprehensible, with the purpose of his existence. Questioning himself he creates a belief, a conviction --- `Religion' in its widest sense.

Why do I consider Islam as the most perfect religion?

First and foremost, it acquaints us with the Whole, the Creator: `In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful; Say: He, God, is one, God is He on Whom all depend; He begets not, nor is He begotten; and none is like Him" (Al-Qur'an, 112:1-4). "To God is your return and He is Possessor over all things" (Al-Qur'an, 11:4). "I, God, am the best Knower" (Al-Qur'an, 2:1). Again and again throughout the Qur'an we are reminded of the Oneness of the Creator, "Indivisible", "Eternal", "Infinite", "Almighty", "All-Knowing", the "All Just", the "Helper", the "Merciful", the "Compassionate". So the Whole becomes a reality; again and again we are asked to establish a satisfactory relationship between Him and us; "Know that God gives life to the earth after its death. We have made messages clear to you that you may understand" (Al-Qur'an. 57:17). "Say I seek refuge with the Nourisher of mankind" (Al-Qur'an, 114:1).

One might argue that in order to recognize and believe in God and to live happily in a community it is necessary to believe in Divine messages. Does not a father guide his children? Does he not organize his family's life so that it may live together harmoniously?

Islam claims to be the only true religion that rehabilitates the truth of its predecessors. It claims that the guidance provided by the Qur'an is clear, comprehensible and reasonable. By guiding our way towards achievement of a satisfactory relationship between the Creator and the created it brings about a co-operation between physical and spiritual forces enabling us to equalize internal and external forces in order to be at peace within ourselves --- the most important factor to establish a harmonious state between one living part and another and an important condition towards our striving for perfection.

Christianity stresses the spiritual side of life; it teaches a love that puts a heavy burden of responsibility upon every Christian. The perfect love is doomed to failure if its achievement does not lie within the reach of human nature and contradicts reason and understanding. Only someone who has a deep knowledge of human conflicts and combines it with sympathy, understanding and a sense of responsibility may come near to the perfection of the Christian principle --- and, even, then, he will have to bury his reason with his love. S. T. Coleridge says in his Aids To Reflection: "He who begins by loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect of Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all."

Islam teaches us to respect God, to submit to His laws entitling and encouraging us to use our reason as well as our emotions of love and understanding. The commandments of the Qur'an, the message of God for His creatures, regardless of race, nation or social standard.

"Say: O people, the Truth has indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever goes aright, goes aright only for the good of his own soul; and whoever errs, errs only against it. And I am not a custodian over you."
(Al-Qur'an, 10:108).

No other religion professed by a large community have I found so comprehensible and encouraging. There seems no better way towards tranquillity and contentment in life, no greater promise for the future after death.
From "Islam, Our Choice"

Mavis B. Jolly (England)

I was born in a Christian environment, baptised in the Church of England, and attended a Church school where at a tender age I learned the story of Jesus as contained in the Gospels. It made a great emotional impression on me, as also did frequent visits to the church, the high altar with candles burning, the incense, the robed priests and the mysterious intoning of prayers...
I suppose for those few years I was a fervent Christian. Then with the increase of schooling, and being in constant contact with the Bible and everything Christian I had the opportunity to think over what I had read and observed, practised and believed. Soon I began to be dissatisfied with many things.

By the time I left school I was a complete atheist. Then I began to study the other main religions in the world. I began with Buddhism. I studied with interest the eightfold path, and felt that it contained good aims but was lacking in direction and details.

In Hinduism I was faced not with three, but with hundreds of gods, the stories of which were too fantastic and revolting to me to be accepted.

I read a little of Judaism, but I had already seen enough of the Old Testament to realize that it did not stand my tests of what
a religion must be. A friend of mine persuaded me to study spiritualism and to sit for the purpose of being controlled by the discarnate spirits. I did not continue this practice very long as I was quite convinced that, in my case anyway, it was purely
a matter of self-hypnosis, and would be dangerous to experiment further.

The war ended. I took work in a London office, but my mind never strayed far from the religious quest. A letter appeared in the local paper to which I wrote a reply contradicting the divinity of Christ from the Biblical point of view. This brought me in contact with a number of people, one of whom was a Muslim. I started discussing Islam with this new acquaintance. On every point my desire to resist Islam fell down. Though I had thought it impossible, I had to acknowledge that perfect revelation had come through an ordinary human being, since the best of twentieth century governments could not improve upon that revelation, and were themselves continually borrowing from the Islamic system.

At this time I met a number of other Muslims and some of the English girl converts endeavored to help me, with no little success, since, coming from the same background, they understood better some of my difficulties. I read a number of books, including The religion of Islam, Muhammad and Christ and The source of Christianity, the latter showing the amazing similarities between Christianity and the old pagan myths, impressed me greatly. Above all I read the Holy Qur'an. At first it seemed mainly repetition. I was never quite sure if I was taking it in or not, but the Qur'an, I found, works silently on the spirit. Night after night I could not put it down. Yet I often wondered how perfect guidance for man could come through imperfect human channels at all. Muslims made no claim for Muhammad that he was superhuman. I learned that in Islam prophets are men who have remained sinless, and that revelation was no new thing. The Jewish prophets of old received it. Jesus, too, was
a prophet. Still it puzzled me why it did not happen any more in the twentieth century. I was asked to look at what the Qur'an said: "Muhammad is the Messenger of God and the last of the Prophets." And of course it was perfectly reasonable, too. How could there be other prophets to come if the Holy Qur'an was the book ... explaining all things and verifying that which is with you and if it was to remain uncorrupted in the world, as is guaranteed in the Qur'an, and perfectly kept so far? "Surely We have revealed the Reminder (i.e. the Qur'an) and surely We are its Guardian." In that case there could be no need of further prophets or books. Still I pondered. I read that the Qur'an is a guide to those who ponder (XVI: 65) and that doubters were asked to try and produce a chapter like it (II: 23). Surely, I thought, it must be possible to produce a better living plan in 1954, than this which dates back to a man born in the year 570 C.E.? I set to work, but everywhere I failed.

No doubt, influenced by the usual condemnation of Islam from Christian pulpits on the subject, I picked on polygamy. At last
I thought I had something; obviously Western monogamy was an improvement on this old system. I talked of it to my Muslim friend. He illustrated with the aid of newspaper articles how much true monogamy there was in England, and convinced me that a limited polygamy was the answer to the secret unions that are becoming so distressingly common in the West. My own common sense could see that, particularly after a war, when women of a certain age group far outnumber men, a percentage of them are destined to remain spinsters. Did God give them life for that? I recollect that on the radio programme known as `Dear Sir' an unmarried English girl had called for lawful polygamy, saying she would prefer a shared married life rather than the loneliness to which she seemed to be destined. In Islam no one is forced into a polygamous marriage, but in a perfect religion, the opportunity must be there to meet those cases where it is necessary.

Then about ritual prayers I thought I had a point. Surely prayers repeated five times a day must become just a meaningless habit? My friend had a quick and illuminating answer. `What about your music practice, he asked, where you do scales for half an hour every day whether you feel like it or not? Of course, it is not good if it becomes a dead habit --- to be thinking of what is being done will give greater benefit --- but even scales done without thinking will be better than not doing them at all, and so it is with prayers.' Any music student will see the point of this, particularly if he bears in mind that in Islam prayers are not said for the benefit of God, Who is above needing them, but for our own benefit as a spiritual exercise, besides other uses.

Thus gradually I became convinced of the truth in the teachings of Islam, and formally accepted the faith. I did this with great satisfaction, as I could fully realize that it was no emotional craze of the moment, but a long process of reasoning, lasting nearly two years, through which I went despite my emotions that pulled me so strongly the other way.
From "Islam, Our Choice"



I come from a Jewish family in New York. My mother was from S. A. but also Jewish. She never was comfortable with anyone knowing that. When my father died, she remarried a Catholic and became one herself. And that is how she brought us up. From the age of 5 I was told that Jesus was also God...? I never felt comfortable with it.

We moved to the Philippines - that is where my stepfather was from. And life there was unbearable. My stepfather, to put it mildly, was abusive to me and my 2 brothers. The effect of that hard life: my spelling is poor, one of my brothers is now a drinker, and the other has a low selfworth.

When I grew up and we returned to the USA, I left home. I took care of myself by working hard. I never had time for God, whoever He was. I did not feel that God helped me in any way, so why bother? I did try to get back to my roots but Judaism made no sense, so I let that go. I did come across Muslims from time to time but the effect was, how do they dress that way, and why do they seem different? Over time, the idea of Islam kept coming back to me, so I tried to find out more. I read the history and life of Mohammed (saas). That is what got to me: such kindness and sabr (patience) in the face of hardships.

It seemed to me that my life had no direction, so I went to learn more. After reading surah Al-Fatihah, I knew I had come home - this is where I wanted to be! I became a Muslim and have never regretted it. I always knew there was only ONE God - ALLAH - and things have not been always easy for me. My mother died of cancer soon after I became a Muslim. But the faith I have helped me make it. Just being able to go to ALLAH with all my pain was such a relief. It is the only true lifestyle known to man, and it is the truth and the last chance for us. I wish all mankind could come to know the truth (haqq) of Islam, and its peace and beauty!

Natassia M. Kelly

I was raised to believe in God from childhood. I attended church nearly every Sunday, went to Bible school, and sang in the choir. Yet religion was never a really big part of my life.

There were times when I thought myself close to God. I often prayed to him for guidance and strength in times of despair or for a wish in times of want. But I soon realized that this feeling of closeness soon evaporated when I was no longer begging God for something. I realized that I even though I believed, I lacked faith.

I perceived the world to be a game in which God indulged in from time to time. He inspired people to write a Bible and somehow people were able to find faith within this Bible.

As I grew older and became more aware of the world, I believed more in God. I believed that there had to be a God to bring some order to the chaotic world. If there were no God, I believed the world would have ended in utter anarchy thousands of years ago. It was comfort to me to believe there was a supernatural force guiding and protecting man.

Children usually assume their religion from parents. I was no different. At the age of 12, I began to give in depth thinking to my spirituality. I realized there was a void in my life where a faith should be. Whenever I was in need or despair, I simply prayed to someone called Lord. But who was this Lord truly? I once asked my mother who to pray to, Jesus or God. Believing my mother to be right, I prayed to Jesus and to him I attributed all good things.

I have heard that religion cannot be argued. My friends and I tried to do this many times. I often had debates with my friends about Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Through these debates I searched within myself more and more and decided I should do something about my emptiness. And so at the age of 13, I began my search for truth.

Humankind is always in constant pursuit of knowledge or the truth. My search for truth could not be deemed as an active pursuit of knowledge. I continued having the debates, and I read the Bible more. But it did not really extend from this. During this period of time my mother took notice of my behavior and from then on I have been in a "religious phase." My behavior was far from a phase. I simply shared my newly gained knowledge with my family. I learned about the beliefs, practices, and doctrines within Christianity and minimal beliefs and practices within Judaism.

A few months within my search I realized that if I believe in Christianity I believed myself to be condemned to Hell. Not even considering the sins of my past, I was on a "one way road to Hell" as southern ministers tend to say. I could not believe all the teachings within Christianity. However, I did try.

I can remember many times being in church and fighting with myself during the Call to Discipleship. I was told that by simply confessing Jesus to be my Lord and Savior I would be guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. I never did walk down the aisle to the pastor's outstretched hands, and my reluctance even increased my fears of heading for Hell. During this time I was at unease. I often had alarming nightmares, and I felt very alone in the world.

But not only did I lack belief but I had many questions that I posed to every knowledgeable Christian I could find and never really did receive a satisfactory answer. I was simply told things that confused me even more. I was told that I am trying to put logic to God and if I had faith I could simply believe and go to Heaven. Well, that was the problem: I did not have faith. I did not believe.

I did not really believe in anything. I did believe there was a God and that Jesus was his son sent to save humankind. That was it. My questions and reasoning did, however, exceed my beliefs.

The questions went on and on. My perplexity increased. My uncertainty increased. For fifteen years I had blindly followed a faith simply because it was the faith of my parents.

Something happened in my life in which the little faith I did have decreased to all but nothing. My search came to a stop. I no longer searched within myself, the Bible. or church. I had given up for a while. I was a very bitter parson until one day a friend gave me a book. It was called "The Muslim-Christian Dialogue."

I took the book and read it. I am ashamed to say that during my searching never did I once consider another religion. Christianity was all I knew, and I never thought about leaving it. My knowledge of Islam was very minimal. In fact, it was mainly filled with misconception and stereotypes. The book surprised me. I found that I was not the only one who believed there was a simply a God. I asked for more books. I received them as well as pamphlets.

I learned about Islam from an intellectual aspect. I had a close friend who was Muslim and I often asked her questions about the practices. Never did I once consider Islam as my faith. Many things about Islam alienated me.

After a couple months of reading the month of Ramadan began. Every Friday I could I joined the local Muslim community for the breaking of the fast and the reciting of the Quran. I posed questions that I may have come across to the Muslim girls. I was in awe at how someone could have so much certainty in what they believed and followed. I felt myself drawn to the religion that alienated me.

Having believed for so long that I was alone, Islam did comfort me in many ways. Islam was brought as a reminder to the world. It was brought to lead the people back to the right path.

Beliefs were not the only thing important to me. I wanted a discipline to pattern my life by. I did not just want to believe someone was my savior and through this I held the ticket to Heaven. I wanted to know how to act to receive the approval of God. I wanted a closeness to God. I wanted to be God-conscious. Most of all I wanted a chance for heaven. I began to feel that Christianity did not give this to me, but Islam did.

I continued learning more. I went to the Eid celebration and jumua and weekly classes with my friends.

Through religion one receives peace of mind. A calmness about them. This I had off and on for about three years. During the off times I was more susceptible to the temptations of Satan. In early February of 1997 I came to the realization that Islam was right and true. However, I did not want to make any hasty decisions. I did decide to wait.

Within this duration the temptations of Satan increased. I can recollect two dreams in which he was a presence. Satan was calling me to him. After I awoke from these nightmares I found solace in Islam. I found myself repeating the Shahadah. These dreams almost made me change my mind. I confided them in my Muslim friend. She suggested that maybe Satan was there to lead me from the truth. I never thought of it that way.

On March 19, 1997 after returning from a weekly class, I recited the Shahadah to myself. Then on March 26, I recited it before witnesses and became an official Muslim.

I cannot express the joy I felt. I cannot express the weight that was lifted from my shoulders. I had finally received my peace of mind....
It has been about five months since I recited the Shahadah. Islam has made me a better person. I am stronger now and understand things more. My life has changed significantly. I now have purpose. My purpose is to prove myself worthy of eternal life in Jannah. I have my long sought after faith. Religion is a part of me all the time. I am striving everyday to become the best Muslim I can be.

People are often amazed at how a fifteen year old can make such an important decision in life. I am grateful that Allah blessed me with my state of mind that I was able to find it so young.

Striving to be a good Muslim in a Christian dominated society is hard. Living with a Christian family is even harder. However, I do not try to get discouraged. I do not wish to dwell on my present predicament, but I believe that my jihad is simply making me stronger. Someone once told me that I am better off than some people who were born into Islam, in that I had to find, experience, and realize the greatness and mercy of Allah. I have acquired the reasoning that seventy years of life on earth is nothing compared to eternal life in Paradise.

I must admit that I lack the aptitude to express the greatness, mercy, and glory of Allah. I hope my account helped others who may feel the way I felt or struggle the way I struggled.

as salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahee wa barakatuhu,

Natassia M. Kelly

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