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In the midst of these trials, I went to the mosque a second time and, after a week of having had practice, prayer came much easier and I wasn’t nervous anymore.  That evening, I felt so strengthened and said to God that I commit myself to Him as a Muslim; that I want to be faithful in this Path.  Since then, I have felt new strength. I needed this strength, for I was about to go through a very grave trial which threatened to tear my heart in two.

I had just watched a TV program about dhikrs and felt such joy within.  Then when I went to my mom’s room, she told me that a woman, whom she didn’t know, came up to her after church and told her that she had a dream about her – but it wasn’t for her, it was for her younger daughter – me.  This woman said that in the dream she was warned that I must stop what I am doing (that is, practicing Islam).  Growing up Pentecostal (and being overprotected somewhat) I was terrified to do anything my mom did not approve of – or her church.  (It was hard enough becoming Catholic; becoming Muslim was even more so!) This dream deeply disturbed me, because knowledge of it attacked my very depth where I am most vulnerable – my fear of Hell. 

I started to get angry at my mother, who wasn’t to blame, but she said she had to tell me or she felt that God would hold her accountable.  This made me even more scared: was Islam really bad for me?  How could it be; I was so happy and alive! I told this to my mom and she said just talk with God about it.  So I went to my room, send text messages to two friends to make dua’s for me, and pleaded with God to help me.  I said that if He wants me to go back to Christianity, I would be willing, but He must put that desire in me, or keep my desire to be Muslim if He wants me on this road.  I submitted to Him completely (this in itself making me Muslim), sobbing, my heart torn in two at the idea of leaving Islam – and with resurging resentment towards the Pentecostals.  I felt as if I was being emotionally manipulated by them.  All my life it was an issue; hence I never felt secure to make choices unless others agreed with me.  I felt all that they said was from God and it was hard to think that the devil could use them to attack me, but I really also felt this was the case now.  I recited the Fatiha, Shahada, Ta’awwudh and another du’a over and over and over again until I calmed down. 

The next day, still feeling miserable, I contacted a friend who fetched me and she took me to see the Imam at our Mosque.  There was a learned sheikh who happened to be there too and they sat and listened to me as I related this trial, giving me advice.  I was strengthened once more, and joy returned.  This is what every revert needs – lots of support! If it wasn’t for these wonderful brothers and sisters in Islam, I would have found it very hard to go on. More trials will inevitably come, but as I grow in Islam, my courage will be greater and this will indefinitely help me face these trials.

It is amazing how much of my life I had taken for granted or not noticed.  Simple little things like whether what I eat (or eat from) is halaal or not, how I clean, groom, and purify myself, whether my clothes are clean when I pray, how I must constantly remember to step with my left foot into the lavatory and out with my right foot, and keep our dog out of my room…etc, etc.  What a different life Islam brings, and how beautifully attentive to every detail of living!  It is like being born again into a new life!  And although it is presently a lonely journey, I must give my mom and dad credit for letting me have my freedom.  Although they were unwilling to take me to Islamic places, they let me go with my friends.  May God bless them for that; I am truly fortunate!

If there is one thing which I could ask Christians, it would be this: Why would there be another major religion and Scripture sent after Christianity, if the latter was the final revelation?  Also: Why would the Quran be sent and preserved from corruption if the Bible was the final word of God?  Finally: Why would God ask us to believe in something blindly and not use our reason?  If beliefs are reasonable, then people could not deny them.  These are truly witnesses to the truth of Islam!

I became Muslim because I felt Islam aligned with my heart and shows us the best way to live.  It was truly my heart’s choice.  If I ever had to raise a family in this chaotic world, I wouldn’t want to raise them any other way. In fact, if I couldn’t raise them Muslim, I wouldn’t want a family at all!  Islam has set me free to be myself and to belong.  It set me free from an inordinate attachments to images which had plagued me for 15 years, and simplified my life.  It gave me new friends, who rallied around me, lending me books, and giving me embraces and encouragement, more books, a Quran, kitchen utensils and even their spare underscarves and robes – one so smart I would keep it for Eid!  It removed my bitter hatred for Feminism, because it embraced and purified it, retaining the modesty and dignity, whilst letting women take her place at the side of men.  It made me feel more loving, and less critical.  It gave me a healthy and pure view of God.  And although my journey is only now beginning, my life is finally aligned.  

My hijab and my identity match.  No more mistaking me now.  I am a Muslim.  Alhamdulillah!!! (Praise be to God)

Life as a Catholic

In 2007, I began to attend the local Catholic Church and began a year-long initiation into Roman Catholicism.  The day I became Catholic, March 23rd - 2008, was one of the happiest days of my life, and I still look back on it with fondness. 

I was never to know that it wasn’t yet the end of the road…

As a new Catholic, I was enamoured with the Church and felt I was home at last.  The following year (2009) I got involved in the ministry of sacristan (those who set the altar for Mass and get things ready for each celebration), which I loved dearly with all my heart; I had done it as an Anglican, too.  But I soon started to be dissatisfied with the way things were done in the Church, which I had once believed was so strict and traditional.  I was particularly upset at the modern and casual attitude to worship, and felt an oddity in my Church as I was the only woman who covered her head.  I didn’t accept the modern explanation that it was not necessary anymore; it didn’t make sense.  I believed that the Bible verses of 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 were valid for all times and cultures. 

Because there was a decline in modesty and head covering for women after radical Feminism came in the 60’s, I blamed all of it on Feminism which I hated.  I believed that it stripped women of their modesty and dignity, so I defended the Church position as written in Scripture and Church tradition, about women being subordinate to their husbands and that they should remain silent in Church.  I was as faithful to these teachings as I could be, I refused to accept roles traditionally designated for men.  In doing so, I got into arguments with my feminist lady friends and felt terrible, because I seemed like a woman-hater.  I was constantly at odds with the Church letting women take leadership roles, and anything that reeked of Feminism set me off writing unpopular letters to the local Catholic paper!  If these teachings about women were in the Bible, why were they not being followed?  In the end, I realized it was because some of them were not reasonable.  I also defended modesty (which was reasonable), but kept on feeling isolated, surrounded by women in Church, who were dressed in an indecent fashion.  I was confused about why nothing was being taught by the Church about modesty.  The Catholic Catechism was so clear, and at the same time, so vague; it spoke of modesty generally, but gave no guidelines at all, leaving it up to us to decide.  I was an unhappy and bitter woman, defending a lost cause.  It was ironic, but the Catholic name I took was “Dolores” which meant “sorrow”!

Every time I saw a Muslim woman in hijab, I envied her and wished I could be one, too.  I felt a kinship with them that I never felt with Catholic women, and longed to be in their company.  I smiled at every woman in hijab when passing them by.  Not surprisingly I was also mistaken for a Muslim myself, but it was better than being mistaken for a nun!  I would be embarrassed when strangers greeted me “Hello Sister” even in the supermarket, and my priest scolded me for dressing like someone I was not.  So I wore my veils Muslim style, adding a crucifix so they wouldn’t mistake me for a Muslim close up.  When I did this people did not confuse me for a Muslim, but I was still aware I looked like a Muslim.  This didn’t bother me, as I had such a love for them, and defended them when they were criticized, but I sometimes felt like a two-faced fraud.  Who am I?  A Catholic?  Or a Muslim?  I read novels set in the Middle East and about Muslim characters, watched all the TV programs and films I could find, even Al-Jazeera news, just to see veiled women and prostrating people, and my interest was piqued further.

Around the same time to converting to Catholicism, I had tested my call to be a nun five times at four convents: The first four attempts were September 2006 at an Anglican convent, November-December 2008 at a Carmelite Catholic convent, January 2009 at another Catholic convent, the Poor Clares, and again at the same Carmelite convent from October 2009-January 2010 – all without success. 

I still remember an incident in the Carmelite convent.  I was staying in the guest quarters; it was about Nov/Dec 2009, and I was forbidden to wear my veil in the convent, which made me very sad.  The convent was located in a suburb with a Mosque, and I heard the beautiful and haunting call to prayer on many an occasion, especially when I stood in the bathroom with an open window.  When I heard it, I stood in front of the mirror, and took my square scarf I used for a curtain for the window, and put it on my head, fantasizing that I was a Muslim!  I wondered what it would be like.

Another venture as a Catholic, was as an aspiring thinker and writer.  After I developed a rich prayer life from 2007, I had some spiritual experiences and wrote about subjects like the Eucharist, the Trinity and the Incarnation (as well as womanhood, modesty and the veil aforementioned).  I was deeply devoted to these Christian mysteries and although the Trinity was difficult to understand at first, I felt that it made sense in some spiritual way incomprehensible to the mind.  (I saw there being two types of logic – the logic of reason and the logic of faith.  The former was our human intellect, and the latter was a higher intellect which dwelt in our spirits, and which only made sense when we had blind faith in some doctrine.  The problem was, that “blind faith” could easily be distorted into personal opinions…)  The doctrine that calls Mary, peace be upon her, the Mother of God also seemed strange, but also made some logical sense – if Jesus, peace be upon him, was seen as God.  Out of these doctrines, I developed this notion of God as being the “state of supreme Being/Happiness.”  Catholics taught that Mary is an example for the Church, so we all share in her Motherhood of God.  This would mean that we can, in a mystical sense, “give birth” to God in the world!  With this understanding I had of God, I felt afraid, because I felt like I was limiting God dangerously to mere concepts.  This could lead to thinking that we humans had some sort of power over Him. 

I accepted Christian doctrines unquestioningly (until recently when I felt compelled to question them due to my unhappy situation).  Because of my writings, I felt I was blessed with much knowledge, so I would be held more accountable on the Last Day for leaving this faith behind.  This made me believe I could never turn back on Christianity.  I wouldn’t have dared!  What!  Leave this faith behind and lose my soul to Hell?  Abandon Jesus as God?  No, I was truly convinced I would remain Catholic, my faith was unquestioned and strong!  And my mom, I didn’t even want to think of what she would say! I trembled at the very thought of leaving Jesus behind.  Yet I couldn’t deny my increasing interest in Islam, as much as I tried my best to push it away.

In August 2010, I discovered another Catholic convent, Dominican enclosed contemplative nuns, quite far from home, which met and even exceeded my expectations.  Their spirituality fitted mine – they focused on Truth and Purity, the two values I most highly esteem.  After a two month visit, I remained on and entered officially on the 7th November 2010 (at all the other convents I was just a visitor).  I truly thought I found my home at last, but still something dissatisfied me, particularly that I was cut off from the world around me and still didn’t feel free.  After another two months I left and returned home without regret.  By this time, my five-year desire to be a nun was over for good.  It was January 2011.


To illustrate my internal struggles, here follows excerpts I recently collected from various emails to friends over the last two years.

2 July 2009 : Actually I love Muslims, because of their strict views and sometimes I watch a Muslim program on TV just to get a glimpse of their beauty.  Their practice of modesty is called “hijab”.  They have a lot to remind us Christians of!

1 Feb 2010: To be honest, I am going through a crisis in my faith, my identity and my vocation.  So my crisis, is that I am Muslim on the outside and Catholic on the inside! I cannot bear to forsake Jesus, but I cannot help liking the Muslim way of life! I like both, and that seems to put me on the margin between Christianity and Islam.

16 Feb 2010: I have had an increasing attraction over the last year to the Middle-Eastern/Muslim culture.  I can personally say that if I would have to choose my religion according to my present feelings, I would convert to Islam!

2 Mar 2010: …I have become somewhat angry and disillusioned at the worldliness seeping in the Church and obscuring its light.  … Sometimes I look at Muslims and dearly wish I could be one, as I have been fascinated with Islam for the last year or two, but then I know I cannot, because I am attached to Jesus so much. 

I watch two Muslim programs every week, just out of interest.  On the one program there was a man who became Muslim.  He said what he liked about the religion was its simplicity, and that he loved how Muslims are faithful to showing their faith in the way they live and dress; you can practically see a Muslim by the way they look.  These are the very reasons why I am fascinated with it as well. I spoke to a middle-aged Muslim lady at the local material shop I go to for my sewing needs.  The shop is run by Muslims, and I spoke to that lady before, because she asked why I also wear the veil.  I said to her that although I am not a Muslim, I am a “friend of Muslims”.  The young man behind the counter once said to me last year that I look nice in my scarf.  I was overjoyed at the compliment.  Here were people who understood me! It made me so happy!

It was quite funny, but once, quite a while back when I was shopping…with my mother, I was dressed in my veil like a Muslim, and my mom said to me offhand: “You should have been born a Muslim!”  I said to her with a smile: “I know!”  I certainly didn’t want to convert, but as I find my interest in Islam growing, I worry that I will lose my Christian faith anyway, despite all this … My beliefs concerning women (and even some on marriage) are the same as the Islamic ones and I sometimes feel like I fit in better with them than I do amongst Catholics.  I don’t feel that belonging so much as I do amongst Muslim women. 

3 Mar 2010:  She said I must try and find the cause of my love for veiling and I was frustrated when she brought that up. I felt vexed when she said that the “Catholic head covering” is not enough for me so I naturally adopt the “extreme form of Muslim veil.”  What is a “Catholic head covering”  anyway?  I can use a mantilla for Mass, yes, but I can’t go out in public with it, so that is why I don’t use it! Do I have to be Muslim to like veiling? 

5 Jun 2010: I must confess some other things, I have a strong interest in Islam, I see too many options in Christianity. Islam seems so timeless and changeless, and Christianity seems to have changed so much that it has become unrecognizable.

18 Jan 2011: I have told you before that I have had a fascination for Islam, which grew up until I put a stop to it as I was afraid it would take me down the wrong path.  Soon after that, I went to the convent.  When I returned, the interest returned, and indeed, it is drawing me so much that I decided to investigate Islam further.

This religion draws me a lot, because I find myself behaving more like a Muslim than a Christian; it is as if my personal views on many things (especially on modesty and the veil) are reflected in Islam. This situation I am in now is actually following the very same pattern as my interest in Catholicism - I was too afraid to tell mom at first; I was too afraid to explore Catholicism for fear of damnation; I was secretive in studying it and at first; and practised it before I decided on any possibility of conversion. 

As a Christian, I feel increasingly lonely, because I am alone in some of my convictions, whereas as a Muslim I would be one of many who believe and would find solidarity and support.  Islam has actually drawn me by the very thing that Catholicism first drew me - Oneness which it displays more visibly in practice.  This interest in Islam worries me as I am afraid (as I was before I decided to become Catholic) that if I changed my faith I would be doomed for Hell.  I cannot see how God would condemn other religions to Hell just because they don't follow Christ directly.  However as a Christian I am told that if I abandon Jesus I would be lost. I cannot accept conversion now, but the way I am going with my interest in it, it seems to be becoming more feasible.  This scares me, and yet what can I do?  Must I deny that Islam attracts me a lot?

11 February 2011: I am going through the faith crisis again...  It returned even more than before.  I am feeling disillusioned with Christianity again.  My heart is going back and forth, being pulled to and fro. I am terrified of going to Hell, and at the same time I am sick and tired of hearing I would go to Hell if I choose to change my faith.

13 February 2011: [in reply to my friends who were rather concerned about me by now] It is hard enough trying to fit in with Christians when I fit in more with Muslims.  And it is not only because of the way I dress or believe about modesty.  It also touches on how much I love the way they worship using bows and prostrations, taking their shoes off, all in unison, men and women separate, and how their lifestyle is so simple and down to earth, their amazing pilgrimage unlike any other. Even the way they bury their dead is the way I want to be buried. I have even found a Muslim name I like! - Saadiqah (meaning lover of truth, modesty).  “What is going on with me?  How do I dare to go in this direction?”  I ask myself.

When I go to Mass I feel like a peculiarity and I crave to be around Muslims. I can’t feel a connection with many other Christians, particularly women, and it hurts.

What would be better?

To martyr myself by continuing in this lonely way being a peculiarity and not fitting in, for the sake of being a light, teaching modesty – and yet feeling bitter and exclusivist and lonely?


To find a niche, where who I am will find a sense of belonging in a community, not helping others as much (although I still will be sewing), but being happy and peaceful inside?

What would be more important than avoiding the path of sin in my own soul?  I cannot bless other souls if I am not happy in my own soul first.

I can assure you that I am praying to God. I am sure He wants both for me to be myself and also for me to feel a belonging with others.  I cannot think of God as angry with me just because I search and explore. I am just speculating; nothing is definite, but I feel torn two ways. 

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