My Path to Islam… What’s yours?

I am a 21-year-old convert to Islam and will be writing about my experiences as a convert insha’Allah. In order for you to get to know me a little I thought I’d start with an introduction of how I found Islam. Before I get to that however, I would like to ask you not to judge this story. After all, whatever I did before I found Islam may be terrible, but it was a path that eventually led me to Allah (SWT) and that is all that matters. I am only writing this down because I am probably not the only convert that is frequently faced with the things I have done in my past, and this is all part of the process of becoming a Muslim.

I am half-French half-Dutch, my mother being French and my dad Dutch. I was born and raised in Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands (Europe). My mother is from an Atheist family and my dad grew up as a Protestant. I have one sibling, an almost 17-year-old brother. My parents divorced about ten years ago, with my mum now living in the south of France and my dad still in the Netherlands.

In my family, although my dad did briefly try to teach me some things about religion, I mostly grew up with the idea that God does not exist and religion is just something that causes wars all around the world. But, alhamdulillah, even as a young child, I always felt there was something more out there. Especially when my grandmother died when I was about 5 years old: I felt she was still with me, looking over me, and I talked to her almost every night about my day and anything that bothered me.

My belief in God only really developed when my parents divorced (I was about 10 years old then.) The constant conflict between my parents and having to live a life split between the two of them was the hardest thing I have ever gone through and there were times I felt extremely lonely and depressed. It is during those times that I started praying and talking to God. I say God, because at that time I had no notion of Allah (SWT) . I prayed for Him to take my pain away and to help me understand what was happening.

I finally discovered Islam by the time I was about 14 years old. I became best friends with a Moroccan sister called Imane and spent a lot of time at her house. In her family, people were very close to each other and were always there to help one another. This felt like a great escape from my home situation and I spent many nights over at her house. During that time, I was suffering from a lot of nightmares, probably because of what I was dealing with, and Imane soon gave me a Holy Qur’an to put under my pillow… “Just put it under your pillow,” she said. “It’ll help you sleep more peacefully.” The fact she believed a book could stop me from having nightmares really intrigued me and I started asking her a lot of questions about Islam and everything she believed in. This was my first encounter with this beautiful religion.

Unfortunately, at that time, I was also going out a lot. I had always been a chubby girl mostly known as a “loser” until I came back from a long holiday in Egypt where I fell very ill and lost over 10kg, which resulted in the boys in my school suddenly being interested in me rather than bullying me. I started wearing increasingly provocative clothes and going out to clubs I wasn’t even allowed in legally, in order to impress the men around me. So I guess my heart and head were not yet in the right place to convert but deep inside I knew that what I was doing was dangerous and that it was not the path that would lead me to true happiness. That type of lifestyle was just the easy way out of the trouble I had at home.

By the time I was 18 and graduated, I had experienced a lot of very dangerous things and put myself in various difficult positions. Looking back at it now, I just thank Allah (SWT) everyday for getting me out of all that safely and bringing me to the University where I met T. I had just spent a summer in Turkey, where I met yet another one of my horrible choice of men who ended up breaking my heart. That night, my friends had dragged me to a party because they were fed up seeing me depressed, but I was determined to leave as soon as they would be too drunk to notice my absence. But, as always in that kind of environment, I ended up staying much longer than I planned and ran out of cigarettes. The cigarette machine in that club was also empty so I decided to find someone who had some left. My eyes soon fell on T, a young man whose hand I had burned earlier with my cigarette and whose friend, Noe, had a few cigarettes left. I asked him for one and T and I got to talking. At that moment, it just felt like everything around us went silent, and we were just there, together, talking all night.

It was the first time in years that I met someone that was actually interested in just talking to me. We quickly became great friends and spent 90% of our time together. I told him all about my past and he told me all about his. Month after month, story after story, I could not believe this guy could possibly still care for me after hearing everything I had gone through. But he had his own set of issues, and somehow we just seemed to help each other. T, being a Pakistani Muslim, telling me about himself meant he also told me about Islam. Meanwhile, I would tell Imane everything about what he told me and she would explain a lot of things to me about Muslims and Islam.

I soon fell in love with this religion that just seemed to answer all of my questions, and on the 29th of May 2009, I converted alhamdulillah!

I look forward to reading what you think and what the story is behind your conversion.