Not one of us goes through life without times of challenge. It is a commonality for which we can all be certain.
Though I realize in the big scheme of things I am quite lucky, three years ago I hit a particularly bumpy time. I was betrayed by someone in way that can only be described as ‘truth is stranger than fiction’. As part of this betrayal, I found out I had unwittingly participated in something I viewed as unconscionable. I was devastated.
But I kept telling myself there had to be a reason for all of this. I knew there was something I clearly needed to learn and this was part of my path.
Just two months later, I experienced an even worse blow to my life when my sister, with whom I had been estranged for more than 20 years, died before we could reconcile. I was numb.
Then lots of small things happened: financial troubles, friends moving away — all of which brought me lower. I delved into anger and isolation, and behaviors and relationships for which I am not proud.
Two things kept me going: that voice in the back of my head saying there was a bigger picture here and I just could not see it yet, and the fact that I was moving my professional life in a calmer direction in the hopes that I could re-build my personal life. I had found the perfect job that maintained my standard of living but moved me off the ‘fast track’.
Then, just a few months later this was taken away. I still had a job but I was transferred back to a high pressure position. Certainly I had the choice not to take the position and leave, but due to a variety of circumstances I chose to stay.
Though it was my decision to stay, I was resentful. And not just of the job. I was angry with God. I felt like I had lost everything in my personal life, my family was still reeling from the death of my sister and after years of trying to down shift my career, I was right back where I started. I felt… completely broken.
I also realized that many of the circumstances in my life were in large part a result of my own choices and actions. So I decided that as a starting point to try to move things in the right direction, I was going to dig in to the job I had agreed to take on and do it to the best of my ability, hoping it would lead me to something better. I did not know why or how it would lead me to something better, I just knew I needed to do something…anything.
During this time as a result of this job that I had not wanted, there was a person I came to know who had this amazing core of strength, and I don’t mean the kind you can get with Pilates. I wanted to understand the source of this strength and how I could get it, so I began asking questions.
Low and behold…..this is how I was introduced to Islam.
In the beginning, I just found it interesting. I have always been interested in religion – its history and philosophy – and I began to learn more about Islam in that spirit. To my surprise, there was a lot in Islam that I already believed. Many of the things I struggled with in Christianity were solved with Islam. It all made so much sense. It was logical. It was beautiful. It was grounded.
I still did not think I would or could ever convert. Yet, as time went by and I learned more about Islam, I started to feel better. I was healing.
Gradually I realized I couldn’t not follow Islam. I couldn’t not be Muslim. And one year ago this week I said my shahadah. Alhamdulilah.
I know that this is the path I was being guided towards all those years ago. And I also know the journey is still just at the beginning. Inshallah.
Whether you were born Muslim or are a revert, what was your journey to Islam?