D. Jacqueline Cosens' Journey to Islam
Although raised from infancy in one of the many Christian religious sects, 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, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and on and on, until one day I just decided it was all myths. Having come to that deadening conclusion, atheism crossed my mind. That, in itself frightened me, and 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. The modesty and caring, which I was brought up to believe in, seemed a fruitless waste of time, especially in the ever sinful ways the world seemed to be heading. The world I found as an adult, was not a modest one, nor was it faithful or caring. I had been ridiculed for my puritanical lifestyle, even by my first husband, father to my two children. A party-going lifestyle was just not my style. It bored me and the people who lived that way bored me. Superficial, shallow, and hurtful. After half a dozen years of marriage, my Christian husband partook of one too many affairs, and one too many party drugs, and I left him in Germany and returned with my two babies to go it alone, so to speak, much to the dismay of the little Baptist congregation and the preacher who married us.
My life then became one lived for my children and whatever was best for them. The people I met in work related fields, all seemed to have the same idea of how 'I should realize it was the twentieth century ... I should lighten up and have fun…I should do something wild and crazy for a change and take a chance.' I hadn’t been able to share in the same party animal attitudes of those around me, so of course people just drifted away. It never bothered me in the least that they had basically abandoned me for newer and better friends. That is a common trait when those types cannot get you to join in their "fun". If you don’t fold, they find others who they can change. I was happier when they left me alone.
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. All the devotion, loyalty, and purity in the world, hadn’t helped me in keeping him alive. 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. Sadness filled my heart and every inch of my being. I wanted to die. I couldn’t see the point of remaining in this life without my father. He had been the only normal person I could remember in life. For the first time in my life, I knew what it meant to lose someone so special. The sadness was overwhelming, unlike any I had ever known. No one could feel it through me or for me. It was ‘my’ sadness.
I began looking back. My life had been difficult and disappointing. The only reason I felt I had to complete the life cycle, was because nearly every religion I studied professed it a grave, horrendous, and unforgivable sin to end one’s own life. So, that just couldn’t be an option. I had to go on, regardless of how foolish I felt “life” was, if for no other reason than to be there for my children if they should ever need me. Finally, working through the grief process, I realized everything I learned made very little sense. 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. I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I prayed and sought after Divine guidance, continuously, day and night. I found myself wanting to sleep the rest of my life away, it would be so much easier. Sleeping was like dying and I liked it. When I was awake all I did was think, try to figure out the purpose of existence. When I slept I didn’t think.
Then one morning I rose from sleep, 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, believe it or not, was Phil Donahue, the popular talk show host. He was interviewing a man who spoke with a foreign accent about Islam. Next to him was the man’s wife, a white American woman, who had converted to Islam. I was paying much attention to what the woman was saying, because I had known numerous women who converted to their husband’s religions. I had always rejected that type of behavior, as I felt that one’s beliefs should be because of one’s own personal convictions and relationship with the Creator.
However, as she continued to speak, I saw and felt something very different. She was sitting there, in a long most modest type of dress, 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. She seemed very much Muslim and believed in Islam. I became very interested in what she was saying. 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 and said they followed Islam.