USA/Christian - "Raised in Christianity, I never found satisfactory answers to many questions of the teachings"
Jumaana Salma Amatullah (Formerly D. Jacqueline Cosens)
Raised in Christianity, I never found satisfactory answers to many questions of the teachings. Always curious and filled with tremendous conviction, to find ‘Who’ my Creator was, and what my existence and purpose was on earth, I began seeking various doctrines and philosophies for decades. Covering the assorted divisions in Christianity, and still unfulfilled, I progressed through many other beliefs until one day I just decided it was all myths. Having come to that deadening conclusion of atheism frightened me. It certainly made no sense when one looks at the reality of the universe around them. If there was no Creator, then there seemed no genuine purpose in living.
My children, writing, research, travel, and various studies filled my life until 1987. Suddenly everything seemed to change. My father, whom I was closest to died that year. I had never thought about losing him. It just never crossed my mind. I was unable to do anything to help him, as I watched him grow more ill with each passing day. When he was gone, I felt so incredibly alone. The sadness was overwhelming, unlike any I had ever known. No one could feel it through me or for me. It was ‘my’ sadness. In desperation, I prayed through tears of sincerity for ‘my Creator’, whomever that might be, to guide me to the right path. My studies brought knowledge of Him in my mind, but my heart just could not find Him.
One morning I turned on the television, trying desperately to fill my mind with nothingness, and trying to distract myself from the constant nagging thoughts about religions and beliefs. On the screen, was Phil Donahue, a popular talk show host. He was interviewing a man who spoke about Islam. Next to him was the man’s wife who had converted to Islam. I was paying alot of attention to what the woman was saying, because I had known numerous women who converted to their husband’s religions. She sat there, in a modest type of dress, and her head covered with a scarf. It was beautiful. She looked pure and happy, spoke intelligently and without the crazy antics, that usually emerged from most of the talk show circuit guests. It didn’t matter that you couldn’t see her shape or what her hair looked like. It was all in her eyes and in her voice. She was telling about her conversion to Islam. So much of what she talked about was exactly the way I had believed and how I had lived, in spite of all the craziness around me. They called themselves Muslims.
The only Muslims I had ever heard about as a child in America, were connected to a racist group, who was said to hate anyone with different color eyes and hair than they had. Islam was also part of the name for their organization, so this didn’t make a lot of sense at first. Assuming they were the same people, there must have been some radical change that occurred from when I was a youngster. I quickly became glued to the talk show and learned that the true Islamic Faith, which began in Arabia, did not have any kind of prejudices involved. True Islam does not propagate any racism or hatred for anyone. The more I heard, the more I was interested. Having had one idea of what Islam was or wasn’t had come strictly from the media. I had assumed that if a group uses the name Islam in their title they were the same as all Muslims who practice the Islamic Faith. One should never assume anything, I learned that quite quickly. The more I listened, the more I learned.
Something was happening to me even then. Something or someone had drawn me to that talk show that particular day, as I generally was not a television watcher. My heart or my soul, something within me, was being drawn to listen, and it had actually been the visual of these two Muslims alone, that had made me sit up and take notice. I felt connected again and my attention was clearer than ever. I think it is true that everything in life has a prescribed timing. That day, it became the time in my life, that I was to hear of this thing called Islam. I can’t remember much of what else was being said that day but there was a serious conviction growing deep within my soul. There was talk about the ‘Qur’an’, about staying modest in this perverted world, about husbands being faithful and loyal to their families, but none of it seemed to be the hype religions use to manipulate their practitioners. It all made perfect sense. It seemed logical and dealt with reality. These Muslims worshipped the Creator alone and not a man...and I liked that. Here, in front of my eyes, seeping into my ears, were words that fit the way I thought, lived, and believed. But now, I did have a word that fit my beliefs. That word was ‘Islam’.
During that time, I was living in a little town in the deep South. There were no books on Islam at the library. When I asked, they told me they pre-read all their books and a committee approved which ones they would shelve. Having been born and raised in New York, I knew more than one way to get information others might consider ‘censored’, out in some hill-town. I was told there was one Muslim, a Math teacher at their little high school, living in the town and married to a Methodist woman. I called the Church, explained who I was trying to locate and they gave me the name of the family. Although I am basically timid around those I do not know, I called and asked if he might know what translation of Qur’an was best and where I might acquire one. I was given a name, found a bookstore a hundred miles from where I was living, and ordered an English translation copy of the Qur’an. When I got my copy in the mail, I read it cover to cover in two days. It was poetry to me. It was in that moment, when I embraced Islam and was embraced by Islam.
I was like an addict. Never before was I so obsessed with anything in my life. I couldn’t get enough of it. I called the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, DC. assuming that the only real Muslims probably lived in Saudi Arabia, which goes to show once again that one should never assume anything! I was surprised and elated to find how many Muslim live in this world and the numerous countries they reside in.
Within a week my mailbox was filled with beautiful brochures containing precious information. I literally holed up in my home, not wanting to be disturbed from my newly found treasures. Everything, every word, every explanation, every answer I read suited me. I saw through the messages and words, the way I already believed all along. Having tried to fit into other’s people’s ideas of how I should live just never fit me. Each time I tried to follow someone else's suggestions or advise, it was always a disastrous end. Now, finally, I had the answers. I had found my Creator’s wishes, commands, and the reason for living. It had been with me all along. Where I would go from that point, I was sure would be limitless…not accepted by others perhaps, but limitless for my own life and heart.
I believe Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) will forever more, direct my steps in whatever way He chooses. I thought back of how I prayed so hard and how the Creator had answered through a strange talk show, one that had lasted only an hour out of decades past in my life. Incredible and strange? Yes! At least, to me it seemed strange. Then I remembered an old saying that 'God works in mysterious (strange) ways' and I knew what that meant.
Eventually I did find a place for books, tapes and prayer rugs. I ordered everything I could. I received another copy of the Qur’an. Such beautiful words filled the thick, green and gold hardcover book, in Arabic with the English translation. I felt protected inside myself, knowing finally that all my differences and desire to find the answer for being on the earth, had finally come to fruition. It was, is, and will always remain, to worship the Creator Allah, and to submit to His Will in everything. I began having the most wonderful dreams about other countries where I have never been, Muslims whom I have never known, and Masjids where I have never visited.
Growing up, I had always doubted my own beliefs, after years of being told what was right by others. These beautiful dreams were a verification for me, that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) did guide me to Islam and that I am now exactly in the spiritual nature which I am supposed to be. Now, I wake each morning rested, peaceful, happy, and ready to be a Muslim. Since those days nearly a decade ago, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) has blessed me with a wonderful husband and an adopted son, changes in my life that I would have never expected or planned. But Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) knows best and for me, I will accept whatever He Wills. By remaining in submission to Him, I have discovered that my life has been in harmony, which certainly was not the case when I thought I was in control of it prior to becoming a Muslim.
My hope is Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta ‘ala) will continue to lead me to the correct ways, laws, and prayers, that will allow me to live in the fullest for Him, and to fully develop the true Islamic lifestyle in everything I do. What I do know, is that I have finally found the way, not just knowledge of the mind like the many times before, but now, deep inside, I found what had always been the part of me that seemed to be missing…The Heart of a Muslim.
source: the true religion