The Call of Islam

In 1992, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was like an angel, I had never seen a more beautiful baby, and she seemed too good to be true. She was. In November of the same year, when baby Tina was just 5 months old, she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (also known as SIDS). I was devastated, and angry, I didn't understand how God could take my child when there were babies in the world who were suffering. At the funeral people assured me, "You'll see her in heaven someday." I would just say, "How do you know I'm going to heaven?" Well, I decided to set out to find the true religion, which would put me on the path to see my daughter again. Having been raised a Christian, I could no longer blindly accept the religion as I could before. I needed answers, I needed something to make sense. Every night for two years I would pray the same thing.

"Dear God. I know you already know what is in my heart, but I am hurting. You took away my baby when I wasn't looking. I didn't even get to say goodbye. I want to see her again. So, could you please show me the right path? The one you want me to take? I can't believe that Christianity is what you want of me. It doesn't make sense to me. So please show what the right religion is so I can get started. Thank you very much. Oh, and could you send me a Husband so I can have more babies? Thanks God, please take good care of my baby, tell her I love her and I miss her very much."

By the time I finished, I would be in tears. I studied many religions, but none could hold my interest. I began to think that God had forgotten about me, that he had more important things to do. Then one day, when I was working in a bar, I met another woman who worked there. We became friends, and she told me about her "Grand Plan". She asked me if I would go to Malaysia to set up an import / export contact for her. She couldn't leave her children behind, and she would pay me, plus cover all of my expenses. I said, "When do I leave?"

I got on the plane with only two suitcases, my purse and no knowledge of how I was going to accomplish my goals, let alone where I was going to stay. I was so excited! I arrived in Malaysia in the middle of Ramadhan. Everyone was so nice to me, and I was so paranoid. I kept thinking people were going to mug me, or maybe something worse. But not only were they just being nice, they didn't want anything in return. Never have I met a more wonderful group of people than when I was in Malaysia. I asked the cab driver why everyone was in such a good mood, he said, "This is Ramadhan, and whenever we do a good deed, Allah will reward us double." I said, "Cool God." At the hotel, I engaged in many arguments with the bell boys about which religion is better.

Islam vs. Christianity. I didn't win one fight. They asked me questions about my own religion I couldn't answer. And why on earth was I defending a religion I don't even believe in???? They would take me out to eat, and not eat. The women wore long sleeves and scarves. If I lost my temper, they would only walk away.

This was too much. Every time I asked them why they did something, all they could say was "Because the Qur'an tells us to". Wrong answer for an American like me. That's like my mom telling me I could not stay up late "Because I said so". I needed concrete answers. So, with the help of a Malay friend, I bought a Qur'an, and a few other books about Islam. I locked myself in my room for two weeks. I would not come out for anything or anyone. I read the Qur'an and the books. After 48 hours I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had found what I had searched for. This is what God wants me to do. But there was one problem.

It wasn't Islam's view of Jesus. It wasn't even the fact that I would have to throw away every article of clothing I owned and start to wear an entirely different style of dress. The problem was how was I going to get my mother to accept the fact that I was a Muslim? I knew this was not going to be easy. I agonized over the decision, not able to eat, concentrate, or even sleep peacefully. The entire time I agonized I had the same nightmare, that an Angel had my child in her arms and there were devils (Jinn) after her. I spent all night fighting off these awful creatures. They wanted me to stay the way I saw, and the Angel wanted me to become a Muslim. They were fighting over me. I would wake up drenched with sweat and tears, and often bruised with no idea where the bruises came from. One night I was fighting this jinn and it scratched my face. I remember saying, "Oh, no you didn't! Don't you know better than to scratch a woman's face?" and I kicked it. Finally, after a night of fighting (two weeks of this), I woke up out of bed screaming, "Alright I will become a Muslim! I'll do it today!" I immediately felt the most incredible peace throughout my whole body. I had never felt anything like it before or since. I knew Allah was pleased with me.

I went downstairs to the bellboys who had worked so hard to turn me into a Muslim to announce that I was ready to "take the plunge" only to have them tell me "No"! They told me that Islam wasn't something to be taken lightly.

Once you become a Muslim, you are a Muslim for life. Then they said "Oh, what happened to your face?" I looked in the mirror and my face was scratched! I told them of my dreams and that was my first lesson about Jinn. Then they agreed that I should be a Muslim right away, and they took me to Perkim, a Muslim Organisation in Kuala Lumpur for new Muslims. I took my Shahadah on June 15, 1994.

I have never looked back since.

[The author used to work with ISNA. She has recently moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the USA following her marriage on May 29, 1999]

Be Mindful O Mankind!

You will never meet Allah with anything better for you than having few sins. Whoever wants to surpass those who exert themselves in worship, let him stop himself from committing numerous sins.
'A'ishah (d. 58H), Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her