Back by popular demand! This is the newest series in our Convert Perspectives Collection.
Question #1: Were you raised in a religious home prior to Islam?
Suhalia: I was exposed to religion, but my home was not overly religious. There were times when we went to church and times when we didn't.
Question #2: How long did it take you from learning about Islam to actually converting? Why was it a quick or prolonged decision?
Suhalia: I was introduced to an academic understanding of Islam in 1988. I was re-acquainted with Islam in 2003. I spent time reading and asking questions. It wasn't until July of 2013 that I was able to observe the daily routines associated with Islam. I began having conversations with a sister about Islam. Once the conversations started, she gave me things to read and websites to explore. On August 7, 2013, I walked up to her up on the street and took shahadah. Once I made the decision, it took no time at all to complete my objective.
Question #3: What initially drew you to Islam?
Suhalia: That there was an answer for everything. I function best when I know what the rules and guidelines are for anything. There is no ambiguity involved in Islam. That's not to say that we are extremists, it just means that there is a well documented path for us to follow. Adherence to this path will lead us to Jannah.
Question #4: Why did you decide to convert?
Suhalia: I felt as if my life was spiraling out of control. There were so many things that no longer "fit". I was raised Episcopalian; had attended various Christian churches as a child and by the time I had reached adulthood, I found that there was nothing that "felt" right. When I truly began to read and understand what being Muslim meant, I knew that it was just my size.
Question #5: What were the reactions of your friends and family upon your conversion?
Suhalia: For the most part, the reactions were positive. My father asked me to share my knowledge with him, because he knew so little about Islam. My mother has always supported what I have done and was pleased that I was able to find what was best for me. My sisters just wanted me to be happy and they knew that I hadn't been for years.
Most of my friends were supportive. I did lose a long time friend becuase she was unable or unwilling to embrace my reversion to Islam. I was looking forward to sharing with her all of the joy that Islam had given me. It is a shame that she is missing out on what I have become.
My co-workers were skeptical, at best. They had only known me in one light and didn't realize that who I had become, was what had been written for me before I was born. I only had one openly negative comment from a co-worker. She said, "I can't take you seriously with you dressed like that." I was in an abaya and hijab. I just looked at her and said, "It's easy to lose sight of the true prize when all you care about is the wrapping paper."
Question #6: Did you face any hardships after your conversion from yourself, family, friends, etc?
Suhalia: Not really.
Question #7: What advice would you give new converts and those who are interested in converting to Islam?
Suhalia: READ! There is so much information available to you , that there is no reason that you can't learn all that you want to know - and more. The connection I have with Allah. Knowing that when I perform salah, there is a direct connection between us, is powerful.
Welcome to our "Convert/Revert" section. This section of Striving For Clarity is dedicated to articles and stories geared towards those who chose to enter Islam later in life. If you would like to contribute to this section, visit our Guest Contributor page.