Many people wonder how both my husband and I came to Islam. Were we married and we came to Islam together? Did I “convert him” or vice versa?
For myself: I grew up Lutheran, went to Sunday school each week and we went to church service every other week as a compromise since my dad didn’t like going. I was confirmed in the Lutheran church at age 14, and really became disillusioned with the teachings. I don’t remember thinking about it for long nights, but it was the general attitude that you learn what the Pastor, or other leaders have to say, and questions did not feel welcome. This made me less than enthusiastic to continue down the path of living life as a Christian. I spent the next 10 years wandering in the New Age realm of thinking, studying anything from Paganism to Buddhism to the Kabbalah. I really enjoyed learning about various religions and I was of the thinking that there was no way to know if there was a one and only truth, so therefore each path could take you to our Creator, whoever that was.
Post 9/11, there was no way to escape all the questions the media and people were raising about Islam. I knew all the stereotypes, but didn’t give them a lot of weight because they always struck me as wide sweeping statements. I got to know some Muslims through my workplaces, learning tiny bits and pieces from each one. At my most recent workplace, I got to know one Muslim a bit better where I felt comfortable asking various questions, usually about daily life (what can you eat/not eat, why do you do XYZ, etc.). I was curious why for someone who didn’t seem religious in the slightest, he was still so committed to his religion. Long story short, I decided to read the Qur’an for myself. I knew that if the source book was available, it didn’t make sense to read someone’s thoughts on the Qur’an as that’s a secondary resource (I wish more people would do this!).
By the time I finished the Qur’an, I was convinced it could not have been written by a human being. I was thankful I had some commentary to point out verses that had scientific significance because that was a big factor in seeing the divine nature of the Qur’an for me. Within months after finishing the Qur’an, in February 2007, I said my shahadah (declaration of faith) and started down my journey as a Muslim.
I started wearing hijab (the scarf covering a woman’s hair) on December 31st, 2007… it was a Monday, and it while it was a last minute decision I came to over the weekend, it made sense to do it then so I could just say it was a New Year’s resolution to everyone at work. It was really tough, but each day got easier. The quiet, Evangelical Christian guy in my department asked me why I had started covering, like many others, but he was more interested in the religious reasons than the cultural ones.
Him and I started talking more on the subject, and exchanging information. Within this time, he was promoted to be my peer as a supervisor instead of a team lead. His promotion meant that we needed to work more closely on things like employee reviews, team schedules and plans, etc. Each step brought this long term stranger to a more familiar place in my world.
As he asked more questions about the hijab, and all the stereotypes about Islam that he largely believed, he started noticing the similarities in his own belief and Islam more and more. After months of our discussions, he bought the Qur’an for himself to read. Through reading the Qur’an, he found the same basic message that was taught in the Bible, and he knew Islam was the religion God wanted for mankind. It was not an easy transition for him with his large network of Evangelical family and friends. There was intense pressure all around to change his mind, but the evidence of the matter stood for itself.
Through our conversations and working together, we decided we wanted to be married, and we were married in February of 2009. The journey since has not be easy with the pressures from all around to leave this “foreign” and “false” religion, but we have stuck through it. At the end of the day, we rest assured in the belief that we have found the religion Allah wants us, and mankind, to follow.