Asalamu alaikum everyone reading this! Ramadan Mubarak to all as well! This is the perfect time for me to share how I got to this point in my life. I live in Georgia. Georgia is a lovely state. Still, there are many prejudices that must be overcome here in the Deep South. Although not as prevalent as it once was, there is still racism, sexism, and prejudice against non-Christian religions down here. You may be wondering how did a white, middle class, Southern gal end up reverting to Islam. I want to share my story with you in hopes that others who may be struggling with the religious issues that I struggled with may learn what I have learned.
My mother was raised in a home that bounced back and forth from the Methodist church to the Baptist church. My dad never attended church except for weddings or funerals. They never went to church together as a couple either. After I was born and my dad got out of the military we settled in a small town called Cliftondale, Georgia. It's very small. When we moved there people had the choice of three Baptist churches and a Methodist church if you wanted to go to church. Neither of my parents went. I was attending day care and met a lady who came once a week to teach us Bible stories and sing songs about God and Jesus. Her name was Miss Ruth and she's the one who taught me that there was something out there besides ourselves. I remember her saying that in order to be saved that all I had to do was accept Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior and I'd go to Heaven. That sounded simple enough to my five year old mind so I closed my eyes and asked Jesus to come into my heart. When I opened my eyes I didn't feel any different. There were no trumpets sounding or cheering of angels or anything like that. I was still me. But supposedly I was now saved from the fires of Hell.
I started going to the church with my best friend at the time. Her parents went to the largest of the three Baptist churches so that's where we went. We went to an hour of Sunday School where we would learn stories from the Bible. Then we'd go to the sanctuary, hear the choir, and listen to the preacher preach for an hour about a passage in the Bible. I began to hear things that confused me. For example, the church taught that there is only one God, yet we were supposed to accept Jesus and something called the Holy Spirit as other aspects of God but yet they were still just one being, God but as a Trinity. That made no sense to me at all! How can there be only one God and yet that God be split into three equal but separate beings? My parents bought me a Bible for Christmas one year and I began reading. My reading led me to have questions. I went to the preacher to ask him some of my questions. Rather than showing me where the answers in the Bible were, he would just say, "Read the Bible because the answers are in there" or "Pray about it and the answer will come to you." I got tired of not being able to find answers at church for my questions. I eventually stopped going to that church and began to go elsewhere. I tried one of the other Baptist churches in town and the Methodist church.
We moved to Sharpsburg, Georgia in 1992. I had stopped going to church for a while out of frustration of not being able to find the answers that I was seeking. I started dating a guy named Nick and began going to a non-denominational church with him and his family. After nick and I ended our relationship I began going to other churches in my area. I had a wider range of churches to choose from down here. Throughout high school and early college I attended Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Church of God, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Catholic, non-denominational, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). Of all of the Christian denominations I found that I was most comfortable with the Mormon church. I had friends there from school and many of my questions had answers in the Book of Mormon. I joined the church near the end of high school but after joining I began to learn things about the church that didn't make sense Biblically. I also started dating a guy who despised my church. I ended up leaving the church for him and married him.
The short version was that the marriage was a fallacy. He and I wanted different things. Things eventually got so bad that I filed for divorce and ran as far away as I possibly could go. I ended up in North Dakota with an internet friend. I ended up marrying this internet friend a year after moving there. This guy was a Pagan and I converted to Paganism along with him. I figured since I couldn't find the answers that I sought in Christianity that I'd look in non-Christian religions. I began to be dissatisfied with Paganism as well. I didn't feel any connection to the supposed gods that we were worshiping at all. I got online and started looking around at different religions again.
I came across a message board called WhyIslam. I created an account and began reading and posting. A friend at work gave me a copy of the Quran and I began reading it. When I had questions I could go post on the message board and usually within 24 hours someone would come back with more information to help me understand what I'd read. I began to feel a change within me. Islam was nothing like what the media portrayed. It wasn't full of terrorists. Sure there were a few crazies that we Muslims but there are lots of crazies who are Christians too. There's nut jobs in every religion. The more I read the more peaceful I felt inside. With the help of two people from the message board I took Shahadah on the phone and became a Muslim.
Several months after I reverted to Islam by husband and I began to have issues. He was upset because I wasn't Pagan anymore and thought that my wearing hijab was not a good thing. Even though I'd only wear hijab in the car he didn't want me wearing it at all. We argued about religion off and on. He was fine as long as I followed his religion, but wasn't allowed to follow my own. I tried to compromise by continuing to participate in his rituals and wanted to pray on my own but he didn't like me praying. Eventually it became too much. I posted some harsh things on the message board and left Islam.
The marriage only lasted a couple of years more before I moved back to Georgia and left him. I began seeing Nick again and we are now married. I should never have left him in high school. I won't be making that mistake again! He knows about my interest in Islam but doesn't know that I have reverted, which I did online a couple of weeks ago. I will tell my family in time, but want them to see how Islam has made a positive change in my life before inshallah I let them know.
I have returned to the WhyIslam message board and to another called IslamFactor. I have met a lot of really great people on both boards and on Facebook as well. I am looking forward to continuing to learn about Islam, reading all of the Quran, and becoming a better Muslim so that I will please Allah. That's what it's all about really. What does He want and how can I best serve Him? I believe i can do that by being Muslim and living the way He wants me to live.
I reverted right before Ramadan, so this is a very interesting month for me to be a new Muslimah! There's a LOT to learn but I am enjoying learning!