As you can see, I have not written in quite a while. Mostly because I have been getting on with life and haven’t felt I had much to say.
Since my last post I have – with mixed emotions – moved back to Switzerland. But that is a whole other story and probably not one for this blog.
I am coming back to this blog because I realised in the past months that I reached my three-year mark – three years since I said my shahada. In fact, it has now been nearly three and a half years and I still remember everything about that night.
When I first I reverted, I often read that a large number of reverts leave within three years. In an early blog I asked the question of why this was and how to stop it.
When I first wrote that blog I hoped that by this time I would have a large Muslim community surrounding me, and I feared that I would be part of that statistic of those who left.
In truth, it is neither. I have a couple Muslim friends as well as a few non-Muslim friends from my ‘old’ life. There are many friends and family who know of my conversion and others that don’t – sometimes because it simply has not come up and sometimes because I still fear how it may impact them.
In the first couple of years sometimes it all felt very alien to me. It was awkward going to pray at the Mosque. I did not recognise myself when I was wearing hijab. I missed some of the fun I used to have – not enough to really tempt me, but I missed just how easy it used to be to let go and escape from the pressures and stress of the day-to-day with a glass of prosecco. In work meetings I wanted to stand up and tell them I was Muslim – for no real reason other than to make it real for me.
As noted in several earlier blogs, I didn’t know how exactly I would fit in to the Muslim community being white, American, middle-aged, and unmarried with no children. How would I relate and what could I contribute?
Though my Muslim friends would look at me with impatience when I told them this, because the things I struggled with were the same things with which they struggled, ultimately is was just time (and prayer!) that helped me to adjust. I learned to breathe again and just be me.
I continue to struggle with always completing all my daily prayers, finding the right clothes, and continuing my studies – I’ve learned tajweed but still know little to no Arabic.
I also struggle with everything that is going on in the news. I feel like the craziness is escalating and I don’t know what to do. I am outraged and worried about the discrimination and the violence. However, there are so many others who write more eloquently on these topics than myself.
There is no question that there are key people who have anchored and supported me in the past years, and being in London – a more Muslim friendly environment than Switzerland – helped me to explore Islam and simply ‘be’ Muslim.
However, I have never forgotten that ultimately this is between me and Allah (swt), regardless of where I was or who I was with.
While I still have so much to learn and understand, and I still feel awkward and unsure among large groups of those who grew up Muslim, I am blessed and happy to be Muslim. It is still simply who I am.