My name is Ericka, I live in the United States, I am a housewife and I am 27 years old.
I am of Mexican origin and born and raised in a "Catholic" atmosphere, my family so far is somewhat "devout" in the traditions surrounding this "religion".
About three years ago by invitation of a girlfriend, I visited a "Christian" church, they were Evangelists, they seemed very similar to me at that time and assisted me many times, and I understood many things among them the discipline to read the Bible. Although I did not always understand the Bible, at least I took the ideas to study for the following class on Sunday.
On one occasion the Reverend made an affirmation that Muslims "hated" Jesus and that they worshipped another God who was called Allah. I decided to investigate Islam to confirm what he said. To my surprise, I met Muslims who loved Jesus as much as Christians (we who wait for his coming), and that Allah means God in the Arabic language and it is another way for us to speak of Him as if the Americans worship another God that is called God, or the Italians do when they say "Dio", etc. I investigated and I realized that in effect Jesus is not God as people now affirm the Christian belief in it, because the same person Jesus prayed to the same God, just like us.
I investigated the origin of the Bible and its authors and discovered that it has many contradictions and unknown authors, and some are Jews and other single famous ones and some of the authors didn't even know Jesus but nonetheless wrote what he said.
I resisted it in the beginning but I began to see the truth with my own eyes because it was sad to think that my so sacred and well-regarded book, which to me was the word of God, was distorted. I prayed to the All-powerful God to guide me and let me see the truth, that He guides me to worship Him without worrying about the consequences.
One of my major doubts was what if the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not prophesied in the Bible, because if the Bible said that, it was truth.
I encountered many proofs of it and my heart already felt the correct guidance, so I commenced to read on about Islam.
I discovered that the Quran is the pure word of God that was kept preserved free from any corruption. I discovered that Islam is a right and logical religion with all the answers for this life and the other, it is a religion of peace and of delivering yourself wholly to God, with blessings for the believers.
After a lot of thinking, I wanted to be Muslim and one day I went to my husband, who is also a Muslim and he helped me to say my testimony. Saying Shahadah, I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders. I felt free, clean, and filled with much faith. Since then I wear my veil and obey the living God peacefully, armored with the faith of which each day Allah gives us because He is the source of everything and Islam is not about rituals only but a complete way of life.
I have not had any major changes, my family has accepted it, and I am very happy.
Note: You can read sister Ericka's introduction in Spanish.
What was your first religion?
Were you observant in it?
Did you belong to a particular sect or denomination?
When and why did you start thinking to change your religion?
When I started reading the Bible and couldn't understand it. When the Rev. at church said that Muslims "hated" Jesus and worshiped another god named Allah. I thought that if a person like him "teaching" us was ignorant enough not to know the very basic about other religions, he must not be qualified to "guide" anyone, misinforming people about others, what guarantees me that he won't misinform me about his own? So I started reading about Muslims and Islam, my husband is a born Muslim, so I went to him and asked him everything I was concerned about, I also attended the Mosque sometimes classes for non-Muslims. I also asked some knowledgeable Christians about ISLAM, they knew nothing, when I asked about Christianity they knew very little.
What concerns did you have with your previous religion?
The main concern to me was to know the origin of today's Bible. I found many contradictions within itself that it cannot be the word of God. The founder of Christianity, Paul, gets more credit that Jesus himself and he doesn't even keep his stories straight about his so claimed conversion. The fact that he was not a follower of Jesus in the first place is enough for me to not trust his writings. The fact that he was a Jew and of the "chosen people", and "converted" to being not chosen. The fact that Protestants are always criticizing Catholics, but yet do the same in a very "holy" way, listen to music, even sing at church, they celebrate the sweet 15 just like Catholics do, drink alcohol in very small quantities at church just like them. So I thought, what is the difference here if they are doing the same. They even do concerts and other celebrations that within Christianity and Biblical rules are not supposed to be done!
What other religions did you study?
I knew a little about Judaism and Buddhism, but I did more searching about Islam.
What pros and cons did you see in the religions you studied?
Judaism worships just one God, the other one is a peaceful religion, without the same God. The covering of my hair was at the beginning the excuse of not accepting Islam, but it was weak. The other was the language, other than that everything was great to me.
What were your criteria in making a decision about which religion to follow?
Everything, it must be a religion of justice, love, peace, fairness and closeness to the Only God. The blessing of worshiping God directly and feeling closer to Him. To know that my sins as a non-Muslim would be forgiven and that was my new start, my chance to live my life with sense and purpose. It offered me a new life and a great understanding of everything around it. Islam offered me a new way of life.
Were there any external factors which influenced your decision?
Yes, the lack of respect for women today in almost everywhere in the world, as wives, as daughters, as mothers and most of all as women. They are used as sex objects, sales products, and motives of sin basically. Husbands cheating on their wives, mothers abandoning their babies, teenagers having no respect for their bodies by fornicating with so many partners, wives don't respect their husbands, divorces, suicides, child abuse, domestic violence ... I could go on, and on, but all of this because they don't have fear from their Creator, they have no love for themselves, they don't believe in the rewards of paradise or the punishment in hell, therefore they don't care where they will go. They don't have faith, because they have no God.
What religion did you choose?
Islam, Masha’Allah... Because it gives me a complete way of life, a chance to get closer to God. A chance to receive His blessings, and a chance of life in the hereafter. It gives me peace and light to see the path I need to follow. It gives me faith and trust in my Creator, and most of all it gives me the guide to be happy here in this life. It lets me see the reason of creation, the logic behind it and the purpose of it.
Did you have any problems after your conversion?
Masha’Allah, I haven't had any, whatever I get, won't be seen as such, but as a chance to get stronger in what I believe.
How would you advise others who are studying Islam?
To study with an open mind and heart, seek the guidance of God to see the truth regardless of the consequences. To take the time to find out what they are following and by who. To take the time to balance the positive and the negative with proofs and logic. I would advice to ask instead of making assumptions. If so, make sure they are asking the right person, (for Islam ask a Muslim.. etc...)
Are there any other points you would like to make?
Dear reader, don't be afraid to know about Islam, at least to understand it and not criticize it, only if you know you will understand and if you understand you will respect. Don't give up in your search, and ask Allah (God) for guidance.