The past five months have been filled with some of the most life-changing events of my entire life. I’ve reverted to Islam, made the choice to wear hijab and practice modest clothing, learned how to pray properly — all of which intimidated me and I couldn’t properly envision a year ago. Coming from a mindset where I thought I didn’t believe in any religion to doing a virtual 180-degree turnaround and willingly submitting myself to Allah (SWT) has been an amazing spiritual journey and one I’ll be eternally thankful for. I remember learning about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his endeavors on the course to spread Islam’s message. I remember the sense of admiration and love I felt for a person I had never met, who lived hundred of years before me; a man who would never know me to know how much he’s impacted my life. As I sit and reflect on the progress I’ve made on this path, I feel more indebted and awed by the skill, willpower, and strength our Prophet had in fulfilling his obligations.
Coming from a mindset where I thought I didn’t believe in any religion to doing a virtual 180-degree turnaround and willingly submitting myself to Allah (SWT) has been an amazing spiritual journey and one I’ll be eternally thankful for.
As a revert, there are several aspects of learning and teaching others about Islam that I can only imagine was immensely more difficult in the time period the Prophet (PBUH) lived.
I come from a place where religion was not exactly top priority, where devotion was more of an option that rose when hardship struck. I wasn’t raised with a strict sense of religious obligation. For a good bit of my life, I wasn’t even aware of my denomination. I remember having to ask my father what my religion was and what that meant. My family is split between Catholicism and the Pentecostal denomination of Christianity. As a result, I grew up following traditions that celebrated Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas. However, the religious practices never went much further than that, and I wasn’t satisfied with those practices.
It bothered me that my family members would participate in blatantly sinful acts throughout the entire week, yet vehemently attest to a religion they didn’t truly follow on Sunday in church. It went beyond my family — friends, associates, and everyone else around me seemed lost, and haphazardly participating in these traditions without any true drive or virtue. Yet, this was my introduction to religion; what I was told was acceptable. Between that and the extremist, overzealous family members who refused to so much as allow women the opportunity to speak for themselves lest it go against God’s will, I was left with a religion full of blatantly obvious holes which no one seemed willing or able to address or explain to me.
It is said the Prophet used to separate himself from his own people in order to find some sort of semblance of self, tranquility, and purpose. For this reason, Mount Hijra is one of the most popular sites visited during hajj (spiritual pilgrimage).
I responded in a similar way. Seeing as New York City is lacking in caves nowadays, I made do with empty bedrooms, where I would try my hand at meditation. To a certain extent, it did help. I was able to relax, and sometimes I was even able to address issues I was facing. However, I had no sense of guidance. I always felt alone, lost, and wandering in a world where no answers were offered. Perhaps it was my adolescent melancholy, but everything I tried just wasn’t enough. I had gotten to the point where I thought religion just wasn’t for me; maybe there was no great entity. I certainly didn’t believe in the God I was taught to look to as a child.
It is this sense of questioning and loss that helped me identify with Prophet Muhammad, especially in my early excursions into Islam. I knew exactly what it felt like to question the purpose of existence, but see no answers in the wild society in which I lived. While I certainly didn’t meet with the angel Gabriel greeting me firsthand and telling me to read as the Prophet did, Islam came abruptly into my life, and even though I initially fled from its message, I eventually came to embrace and prosper through it.
I could never comprehend what life was like for Prophet Muhammad. I wasn’t ostracized for my reversion, I wasn’t threatened or run out of my hometown, and I certainly don’t have to fight wars to merely exist. However, I did struggle with my place in this world and the meaning of what it is for humans to exist. I was terrified by the idea of joining a brand new religion no one in my family practiced, and I certainly have to teach those around me about my new way of life.
Now that Ramadan is here, I am so thankful, so grateful, and so honored to my Prophet for giving me a gift he never thought to. Because of Islam, I finally have a purpose, guidance, and can build a relationship with God.
From one revert to another, I am blessed to be able to call myself a Muslim, thanks to the work and dedication of my Prophet.