The following is a beautiful letter we received from a #MuslimGirlArmy reader.
Dear Muslim Girl,
I want to thank you. I didn’t know it at the time, but an article I read on Muslimgirl.com shifted my life path dramatically.
In 2017, I was in my junior year of college at the University of DePaul. To inspire me during my third semester, my dad gave me a book by Muhammad Ali. The book taught me a lesson beyond personal strength, though. As I read the book, I learned about the religion of Islam.
For the next 4 months, I researched all I could about Islam and being Muslim in the USA. During the months of research, I actually told my parents I was considering converting from Catholicism to Islam. Although I was unsure, I felt I should at least tell my parents about my shifting perspective. The discussion felt odd. Probably because I had been going to Catholic school from preschool to college. It felt like I was placed on a Catholic-girl assembly line, but the machine glitched when it was my turn.
I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I remember the sentence, “This could be a phase.” Although my family was understanding, they had some hesitation to believing my change was true. Because any change can be uncomfortable, I felt disconnected from my family, as Catholicism is more than a Sunday mass. To us, faith is our culture. Because of my discomfort with the changing dynamic I was experiencing, I looked for resources to cling to – I stumbled upon muslim-girl-2021-production.mystagingwebsite.com.
Checking Muslim Girl weekly became my new playlist. One day I found the article, “You Have to Listen to This Latinx Muslim Woman Sing About Spirituality.” The article mentioned the artist, Shireen Alihaji, who is of “dual-ethnic” and dual-faith” family. She is Ecuadorian, just like me! She also has experience with an inter-faith home of Islam and Catholicism. That night, I decided to email her to vent and ask for advice. I never imagined she would respond to me, but she did!
Shireen wrote me kind words of support and sisterhood. It was the first time I ever felt accepted in Islam. I read and re-read her email as I no longer felt like a misfit in the religion. She even emailed me a few times to check up on me! Shireen emailed me a link to a documentary that was being filmed about Latina women converting to Islam and told me to check it out if I was interested in helping with the project. But, I ignored the link because at the time I wasn’t feeling close to God anymore. Time passed and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the knowledge I was reading, so I gradually stopped my research and prayers.
In 2018, I suddenly felt a craving for Islam again. So, I clicked the link to documentary that Shireen had sent me and emailed the director, Lauren Brinkman. I offered to help with the documentary however she needed me. I thought passing out donuts on set would be the best thing to happen to me. All I wanted was a chance to be around Muslim females and to talk about Islam.
Lauren and I talked on the phone for a while about how I came to Islam. After our talk, she told me she was interested in having me be one of the three subjects in the film. I would be a perspective for the Shahadah and the other two subjects were Ramadan and Hajj. We made up three out of the five pillars of Islam.
So from December to January, Lauren and I filmed my life as I took classes at the local mosque with the Imam, spoke to Myree Mustafa and other Muslim females about their perspectives, and talked with my family about our faith. It was an amazing experience and now I have a good friend – Lauren! She gets my sense of humor like a true sister does.
Lauren had me create an Instagram account so that I can continue to talk with Myree Mustafa and network with other Muslim females to create a community I could talk to and learn from. In January 2019, I left for Spain to teach English for 6 months, and Instagram helped me stay connected to the friends from the documentary. (Also, Myree’s Instagram game is so strong and I definitely am closer to God because of her.)
With Instagram, I was also able to express my creativity. When I crafted my Instagram, I realized how valuable my humor is, as it is a gift from God. My Instagram is the reason I had the confidence to apply to graduate school in the Fall. There is a program for comedy writing that I believe is my path to God. God gave me a gift to make people smile and laugh, so I shouldn’t hide it.
For the graduate degree, I had to write a 5-page screenplay. I wrote a story inspired by the time I went to Joanna’s fabric to look for a hijab. I had no clue what I was doing. The screenplay is super cute! It includes Myree Mustafa’s voice, which is my favorite part of the whole play.
Being connected to a community of Muslims who you can trust and talk about God with is a true blessing. Therefore in Madrid, I reached out to the local mosque about finding a group of girls or a female I could talk to about Islam, as I didn’t want to lose the momentum I made back in the states.
The Imam of the mosque sent my email to a girl named Shaimae. She is part of a group chat of young Muslim females who meet at the mosque, as well as in the city of Madrid to share experiences of faith together. The group welcomed me with much love and acceptance. I was invited to many events with the girls. Despite my difficulty with Spanish, they were patient and kindly spoke with me in English.
Shaimae was a true friend to me during my time in Madrid. Although we only saw each other briefly, she always offered to help me with anything. She had an amazing, kind-hearted spirit, and it made me feel so accepted in Islam. We I kept in touch when I got back to the states and it is so good to have a friend I can talk to about God or even just say God bless.
Islam is all about balance. It is okay to take my time and be patient with myself as I learn how to practice the religion and listen to God carefully.
In May, my mom came to visit me in Spain. She brought me the book, The New Muslim’s Field Guide. The book taught me the most important lesson of all – Islam is all about balance. It is okay to take my time and be patient with myself as I learn how to practice the religion and listen to God carefully.
I needed this reassurance because for two years I had been feeling sad that I kept failing to pray at the right times and pronouncing the duas correctly. Knowing God understands what I experience and what I am going through, I feel safe and comfortable with my ability to gradually learn. I am converting on July 18th, 2019, the day after my 23rd birthday. That is the day I will finally become a Muslim.
Your article pushed me to connect to Shireen Alihaji, work on the documentary, meet so many beautiful friends through Islam, create the Instagram account that opened up my creative and humorous side, learn my career path, embrace my relationship with God, and finally, plan my conversion to Islam.
Thank you, Muslim Girl!