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23 January 2007 @ 03:01 pm
a strange twist of fate.  
hello everyone! my name is chelsea, i'm 19 and i live in maryland. one of my goals for this year was to find happiness within myself and start believing in myself a little more than i have in the past. along with that, i have been soul-searching and religion-searching for quite awhile. i was raised protestant and i have recently finished reading the qu'ran and i really enjoyed everything that i have read so far.

i do have a lot of muslim friends at school (i go to UMBC) and i have recently talked to them about my interest in islam and even an interest in converting. despite this, i am still very nervous. ironically enough, i actually dated a shia muslim for about three months. he was pretty devoted to his religion and we had a mu'ta (temporary marriage). today we actually broke up, but he tells me that he still wants to help me with my spiritual journey. and i am glad to have him as a knowledgeable and trustful resource.

i realize that a lot of people convert to islam in order to marry a muslim, i just find it funny that i want to convert to islam after ending a relationship with a muslim. :) but anyway. i am still very very interested in islam and i plan on pursuing it for my own righteous path. i actually prefer pursuing it without the influence of a muslim boyfriend because i feel like i will be more true to the religion that way. i feel like i will be more true to my own interests within islam.

anyway. i do have a handful of muslim friends that i have to talk to aside from my boyfriend, some shia and some sunni. my friend dawood recently told me that he thinks i'd be really interested in sufi islam, i am not sure if anyone in this community has experience with that. i took a liking to buddhism at one point in my life and dawood has been telling me that sufis practice a mystical form of islam that has a lot of buddhist elements incorporated in it.

i am not sure what path i will be led down, but i am positive that islam is the correct religion for me. i can't explain it, but something has clicked in my head that i have to do this for myself.

i would like to start dressing halal (i have already been keeping it halal for awhile now, for the most part) and wearing a hijab once i feel more educated about islam. i was wondering if anyone had any stories to tell or information to share about making this transition in dress and behaviors. i realize that i shouldn't be spending time alone with boys in isolated areas, things like that - i am ready to make these adjustments, despite most of my friends being males.

despite my feelings of readiness, i am of course nervous of how my parents will respond and how my friends will respond. i think some people will be supportive and others, not so much. i was just wondering if anyone in the community could offer me some advice on making this transition and advice on also being a good muslim. i am not sure if i entirely agree with the idea of mu'tas yet - i just got out of one, but i am not sure if i want a romantic relationship impeding on my religious journey or relationship with God. any thoughts?

thanks for any help you guys can provide me with!
Current Mood: happyhappy
Tareq طارقkashkool on January 24th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
ٍHi there... :)

Thank you for your nice letter. I am happy to respond to your request, and I'm especially pleased to hear of your interest in the religion of Islam.

Among the beauties of Islam is the fact that in this religion there are no intermediaries in the relationship between a person and his Lord. Entering this religion does not involve any special ceremonies or procedures that need to be done in front of any other person, nor does it require the consent of any specific people. Becoming Muslim is very easy and anyone can do it even if he is all alone in the desert or in a locked room. All it takes is to say two beautiful sentences which sum up the meaning of Islam and which include the statement that a person is the slave of his Lord and that he submits himself to Him and recognizes that He is his God and Helper and Protector Who decrees for him whatever He wills; and that Muhammad is the slave and Messenger of Allaah whom he must follow with regard to what was revealed to him from Allaah, for obeying the Messenger is part of obeying Allaah. Whoever utters these twin statements of faith, with conviction and believing in them, becomes a Muslim, sharing all the rights and duties that other Muslims have. After that he can start straight away to do the things that Allaah has made obligatory, such as the five daily prayers at the right times, fasting during the month of Ramadaan, and so on. From this it should be clear to you that you can become a Muslim straight away, so get up, have a shower and say: “Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhu (I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger)”. May Allaah help you to do all that is good and guide your steps aright. May He decree for you happiness in this world and the next. Peace be upon those who follow true guidance.

A Story of True Love!!
satellite fingertips: the republic <3dangerblue on January 25th, 2007 08:56 am (UTC)
Re: Salam!!
thank you for everything that you sent me and everything you have shared.
all very inspiring - i really enjoyed the love story and music video.

and now i don't feel as nervous anymore.
i truly appreciate all of your help!
Cuban Bcreation on April 17th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
On Joining the Ummah
As a convert myself - coming up on 2 years now - I highly recommend you do the following:

(1) Recognize that Islam is not a monolith.

My first mistake was in thinking all muslims are the same. It's not that I was ignorant of things like the shi'a/sunni split, or stuff like that, but I mean that I had very monolithic ideas about what a muslim looked like and how they were supposed to act. I ran into the same problem with Buddhism when I went through that 'phase' - I thought all Buddhists were quiet, calm, gentle people who never got drunk and never fought and were generally... you know... Buddha-like.

Muslims date, muslims drink alcohol, smoke pot, don't pray in congregation, don't pray at all, are gay, are ex-gay, are feminists who don't wear hijab, are feminists who DO wear hijab, are transexual, are rabidly racist... you name it. The Ummah is the second largest religious community in the world, and we're all as diverse and crazy as that might seem.

This leads me to point 2:

(2) Don't believe everything a muslim tells you.

When I joined, I was fed a lot of useless, hyper-conservative crap. I was told there were a lot of rules that I had to follow and get right or I would burn in hell. Amongst those rules was that I must never have female friends, I must never have non-muslim friends, and I must constantly strive to fight or convert non-muslims around me.

Because I was new and was relying upon others to teach me, I almost swallowed this hook, line and sinker, but thankfully my conscience got in the way. I understood that my conscience was God-given - a very rough translation of taqwa, in fact, is 'conscience' - and I could not understand how my conscience and the rules were in conflict.

Further research and learning helped a great deal, especially with regards to fiqh. Every muslim these days wants to be a qualified jurist able to make pronouncements on the permissibility or impermissibility of everything from pet-ownership to whether slavery is authentically Islamic. They tend to spend a great deal of their time looking up Qur'anic ayat and ahadith to support their views, and the rest of the time despising 'the West' (ie, you and me).

Follow your conscience - God gave it to you for a reason. Taqwa is the compass, the Qur'an is the map, and the hadith is guidebook to shari'a, the Way. Best still, if you can find a mujtahid you can trust, follow their example - and his or her methods, more importantly, so you can learn.

(3) Have a story ready.

EVERYONE, but EVERYONE, is going to ask you why you converted - have a story ready for them. They are also going to hold you up high as a shiny example of how wonderful Islam is. Don't buy into it. The warm fuzzies you get are from the corruption eating at your soul. Those people don't care about you; you're just a trophy in their ongoing contest between an amorphous monolithic West and an equally amorphous monolithic Islam.

They're going to want you to 'dress Islamic', which is code for 'Gulf Arab' usually. They are going to want you to 'act Islamic' which includes not clapping in response to a speaker for some contrived twisted-logic reason. In other words, they want you to 'switch sides', which is buying into an 'Us vs Them' dichotomy that is, at its root, false.

Islamic countries suffered from colonialism - all of the above is the backlash. Essentially, the West attempted cultural imperialism with regard to Islam, and 'Islam' fired back. That's why you don't clap, slavery is somehow OK, God forbid you own a dog, polygamy and beating wives is total on the level, etc etc. It has nothing to do with Islamic civilization and its fruits, and everything to do with a percieved clash of civilizations.

(5) Keep the faith.

The defining characteristic of faith is not certainty, it is doubt. If you are certain of something, there is no need for faith. Only Allah is certain about anything, because only He may possess certain knowledge.

Confront your doubt. Don't run away from it, or pretend it doesn't exist. Be happy to doubt, because this is how we grow spiritually.

And lastly, welcome :)