This is the second and last series in our Convert Perspectives Collection. Interviewees: Francesca and Chib
QUESTION #1: WERE YOU RAISED IN A RELIGIONS HOME PRIOR TO REVERTING TO ISLAM?
Francesca: I was raised in a Catholic household before I converted to Islam, although I didn't really practice Catholicism myself.
Chib: Salaam and hello everyone. I was raised in a Catholic home. My parents are Hispanic and Catholicism is the religion which many Hispanics tend to follow. I, however never really felt any connection to it. I attended Sunday school and did my first Communion but afterwards I didn't feel comfortable following a religion which did not seem to fit who I was as a person. So I left the Catholic Church when I was only 11.
QUESTION #2: WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOU TO ISLAM?
Francesca: My friend from school went to Saudi for Umrah(pilgrimage to hajj that is taken outside of the month of dhul hijja), and when he came back he showed me pictures of Mecca. I remember looking at them and feeling like someone had taking my breath away, SubhanAllah. Everything was just so beautiful, and I wanted to know more. My friend began telling me a few things about the pilgrimage and what it involves and he then sent me a link of the Adhan. When I listened to it, I started to tear up and I felt like something touched my heart. I'd never admired something so much before, and it felt weird. I began to research a little bit about Islam after this independently, and began to find myself agreeing with what it taught and discovered the true beauty of Islam. Within a short period of time, I'd already believed that Islam provided me with a connection with God that I had never experienced before. I was very scared though at what other people would think, so I kept my thoughts to myself. However, after a conversation with my friend, he started to ask me how I felt about Islam, and when he asked me if I believed that Allah is one and that Prophet Muhammed(PBUH) was his final messenger, and at that moment I realised that there was nothing holding me back so I decided to take my Shahadah, Alhamdulilah.
Chib: What initially drew me to Islam to begin with was always the fact that there was one God to pray to. Also that the Qur'an has not ever been rewritten. The more research I started to do the more I fell in love with Islam. How it intertwined with science and gave explanations as well as how it explained how the Qur'an is the real word of Allah SWT by giving examples scientifically as well as mathematically and logically. Also how women are viewed as the highest things in this world. That was what sealed the deal for me.
QUESTION #3: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO CONVERT?
Francesca: See response to #2
Chib: I decided to convert because I knew this was what I was looking for. My whole life has always been a long search for something to make me feel whole. I never understood what I was trying to find so I decided to fill it with other things like relationships, parties, drinking, smoking you name it. After a while I fell into some hardships and decided to start searching for religion again. I tried to become Christian but it didn't feel right to me. I remember looking at this Youtube video that was titled “Don't Be Sad Allah SWT Knows Why”. After watching that video I just couldn't believe that everything I had been so confused about was answered in this video and right then and there I knew that Islam was for me. I felt it in my heart.
QUESTION #4:HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU FROM LEARNING ABOUT ISLAM TO ACTUALLY CONVERTING? WHY WAS IT A QUICK OR PROLONGED DECISION?
Francesca: My interest in Islam always lingered in the back of my mind but I never really took it seriously. It was just something I was aware of. Once I began to think about what Islam meant and whether I wanted to be a Muslim, it wasn't long before I converted.
Chib: It took me around 4-5 months before I actually decided to take my Shahada, I knew after finding Islam that I wanted to convert. However I wanted to make sure I took my time and did my research before I made that commitment to Allah SWT. I always told myself that Allah SWT would tell me when the time was right and on January 6th 2014 I woke up and it was the coldest day in Chicago -35 degrees and I knew today was the day.
QUESTION #5:WHAT WERE THE REACTIONS OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY UPON YOUR CONVERSION?
Francesca: My parents do not know that I am Muslim, I did try to tell them when I originally converted. They already knew that I was interested in Islam, as I would talk about it to my mum. My mum seemed very calm about it and would be interested to. I thought it meant that when I would tell her about my interest of being a Muslim, she would have been okay with it but I was wrong. The first thing I decided to do was give up pork, so I told my mum that I no longer wanted to eat it anymore because I wanted to take my interests in Islam seriously. My mum got very angry with me. And over the next couple of weeks, my parents and I argued constantly. Eventually, it ended up in a lot of tears from both sides. I remember my parents saying things like "Aren't you proud of us" "Do you love Islam more than us", and it broke my heart because I didn't know what to say. My parents are very ignorant about Islam and make assumptions so they weren't happy and it caused a huge amount of stress. They said a lot of hurtful things about Islam, and our relationship isn't the same anymore, but it just made me want to stick by the decision I had already made to be a Muslim. My friends however, are really supportive and are happy for me.
Chib: After converting I decided to only let 2 of my closest friends know, they were very supportive and provided me with so many sources about Islam to make sure this was what I wanted. They even took me to the masjid to take my Shahada. However not all my friends were as supportive. I lost a lot of friends after they had found out about my conversion. I even stopped talking to one of my closest girl friend because she just wasn't the type of person I wanted to surround myself with anymore. I would say a good percentage of my friends were surprised because I never looked like the type to be Muslim. But they were so happy for me because most of my friends were Muslim. As for my family they were a little uncertain on how to take the news. I had to hide it from my parents for a bit because I wasn't sure how they would react. After I told my mom she told me she was happy for me that I found something to believe in. As for my father he doesn't really discuss it with me.
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.