Things that stopped me from becoming a Muslim

10 Apr

Bismillah hirRahman nirRaheem

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

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May Allah (subhana wa’tala) grant us guidance, knowledge and strengthen our emaan (faith). May Allah (swt) bless all Muslims that seek refuge in His Mercy alone, and may Allah (swt) protect us from any evil or harm.

As-salaam alaikum! (May Allah bless you) Islam is indeed the most beautiful religion there can be. It gives you responsibilities, humbleness, takes away that horrendous ego that limits us from submitting to God and so much more.

However, my journey to Islam has been one that took longer than what I would have wanted it to. Looking back, I truly wish I had taken advantage of so many opportunities to change my life and become Muslim. However, Allah (swt) knows why we become Muslim and why those non-believers turn away from Islam.

Why did I prolong my Shahada (declaring that you are a Muslim) so much? Despite the fact that my aqeedah (knowledge) was growing, I lacked salaah (practicing Islam by praying). I felt Muslim for a long time before I finally took my Shahada under the eyes of Allah.

Here are the reasons as to why I didn’t become a Muslim immediately after knowing about Islam.

Fearing the unknown. 

Islam

Prior to learning and researching up on Islam, I knew nothing about the religion. I didn’t even know what a Muslim worshiped, what they believed in, or anything! (Looking back, I’ve learned so much in one year Subhanallah).

 Despite that most people associate Muslims with terrorism or any of these false claims, I never had this idea about Muslims Alhamdulillah. I didn’t even know that the Qur’an existed! Oh Mash’Allah that I became Muslim because Allah (swt) wanted me to become a believer.

When I was told about Islam, I didn’t want to read up on it. I was somewhat afraid of it. You see, when you don’t know about something, you will fear the unknown. Especially in religious matters.

Even after I researched into Islam, I didn’t want to read the Qur’an. I knew that some way or another, this religion would “sneak up” on me, grab me by the feet and throw me into its “cobweb”. And I didn’t want that at the time being. I was happily a Catholic, and didn’t want to explore unknown territory.

However, there was something that really caused curiosity in me. Why is that people don’t like Muslims? This I knew quite well: the media was always attacking Muslims. They were always saying how racist Muslims were, how terrorism was accepted and how these women had to be forced to cover their faces and body.

But, when I read about Islam it felt like such a peaceful and beautiful religion. “These Muslims!” I would think, “How they get on all fours and put their heads to the ground and worship God! I’d like to see those people at my church bow down that way to God! Never!” I would think, “Never, as long as there big fat egos are in the way.”

However, these thoughts were all kept to me, and I never discussed it with my family or my close friends. When I did bring it up, my friends were shocked and told me to stay away from those “terrorists”, to find God in some other Bible, like the Baptist Bible or another Christian sect. Just don’t go into that book! They would warn me, believing they were doing good.

I was “letting my religion down.”

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Another reason that made me turn back from becoming a Muslim was the feeling that I was turning down not only my religion, but also my identity, my community and my family. After several months of reading into the religion, I felt betrayed by my own community.

I would think to myself, Jesus wasn’t crucified? These saints we worship are all wrong? Why wasn’t this explained to me during Bible school? And most importantly, why hadn’t I realized all this before?

So I would put the book I was reading down and continue my pagan life.

However, I never truly stopped researching about Islam. It just made sense. No religion, not even Catholicism, had even made so much sense before. Worship one God. Period. No idols involved, no weird rituals, no intermediaries between me and God. It was like a breath of fresh air, from all this nonsense I was being fed at in church.

So I read about Islam, read about God, read about the Prophets, and about revert stories and the more I read about Islam, the more I wanted to become Muslim.

What would my friends think?

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As shameful as this might be to admit, I was in fact afraid of what my society would say. You see, we live in a world where the society decides what you can and cannot do. It tells you what to think, how to dress, what career you should pursue, how you should treat others, etc.

So becoming a Muslim meant going against – well – everything!

The way I was dressing was completely inadequate. The way I thought was poisoning my heart. I was in a stage in my life where wealth was the only concern I had for my future.

When I would sit down and read about God’s oneness and what our purpose in life was, it felt reassuring. I didn’t fear death anymore. I could stand up to the world and not fear being turned down. More than ever did I want to reject these disgusting and ridiculous people shown on the television and heard on the radio that brainwash adolescents into thinking this is how you will be happy – with money and cars and fame – and how you should be.

Islam is liberating. It’s not like anything you could ever imagine it to be. You find peace in it, and these worldly desires are nothing but – worldly desires!

However, at this moment I was more concerned about my family and friends than about what I really wanted. So I kept Islam closed and shut in my heart and continued living that life my society expected me to. Unfortunately, silencing my beliefs was rather more saddening than I thought it would be.

The hijab.

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One of the main reasons that stopped me from taking my Shahada and becoming a Muslim was this thing Muslim women wrap around their heads.

I didn’t really know that Muslim women had to wear this on a daily basis. In fact, when I read about it from a traveling website, I had read that it was a sign of respect to wear this when entering mosques. So I believed for quite a while that the hijab was only worn when entering mosques.

It wasn’t until several months later that I read about the hijab being something compulsory. When I read that it was mandatory, I began frantically looking for more information as to oppose this truth. I wanted an article to yell out to me, “Relax, it’s not mandatory. Muslim women don’t have to wear the hijab.”

But I never came through an article like this Alhamdulillah and it made me hesitate on my quest for the truth. Despite that this was a disappointment to hear, since my mother’s a hair stylist and I’ve been around the impression that women look beautiful with long, pretty hair, my search for the truth didn’t stop there.

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In fact, as I read about the hijab, it actually started to make sense. I read about how we live in a society where men are allowed to look at women however they want, and that we as women allow them to! And this is in fact the perfect description of my country. Costa Rica is a wonderful country, but unfortunately women grow up with this idea screwed into their head that you are a sex symbol. If you don’t look sexy and attractive and show as much skin as possible, no man will ever lay eyes on you. Because there will always be hotter and more attractive looking women around you, and you have to “beat” the competition.

What a loud of – erm, nonsense! It felt reassuring to know that if you cover and dress modestly, you are in charge of who looks at your body. And I loved the idea of only being attractive to my future husband insha’Allah. It sounded safe and comforting and, something a pious woman would do – someone who loves Allah and will not submit to Shaytaan.

So after many months of debating whether or not I should be against the hijab or not, I listened to the scholars of Islam and of course, the Qur’an foremost. I actually find the hijab beautiful and would love to see more women in my country cover up a bit more.

This is in itself a topic on its own, so I’ll cover more of it in the near future insha’Allah.

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En fin…

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So these are the reasons as to why I didn’t take my Shahada until almost a full year after my quest began.

I struggled with mainly the outer contexts of Islam, such as the society around me and their opinions, the hijab and dressing modestly and the church that has so much power in my country.

Mash’Allah Islam entered my heart and I never doubted it. Yes, you may go through the phases of wondering why eating pork is haram or why men should grow a beard, but these are all external points that are insignificant when it comes to what truly lies in your heart.

Remember that Islam is not just about obtaining knowledge (aqeedah). Why you may ask? Because the one that knew the most about Allah (swt) was, who? Shaytaan. But, he had no emaan (faith) and therefore his knowledge turned into satanic knowledge, which we still have nowadays in people.

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So Islam is not just about the “obtaining knowledge” part. Yes, we as Muslims MUST obtain knowledge. It’s not a decision. It’s mandatory to know our religion, to know what we say in Salaah, to know about other religions, to question this earthly life, etc. (This is what I love about Islam, there are no secrets in it and nothing is hidden from us Muslims Alhamdulillah!)

But there is also the emaan that we cannot ignore. Without it, our religion is not a religion. It’s just an empty belief.

Never underestimate the power of your Salaah. Praying is our relationship with Allah; directly, no intermediaries, no one looking, nothing. It’s just you and Allah (swt). Praise your Creator, thank Allah for the life you have, for the calamities and tests He has put in your life.

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And most truly Allah knows best.

Chao.

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8 Responses to “Things that stopped me from becoming a Muslim”

  1. poeticlyric April 11, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Assalaam Alaykom sis.
    Subhanallah. Thank you sooo much for this post. it made my night. What a pure heart you have mashallah. I totally understand your struggles, especially when coming from a society like the one in Costa Rica. Latino. Yes, same here. Allah wants us to be Muslims to carry out the message of peace and love. Thank you again. Looking forward to reading more:) Inshallah. Assalaam Alaykom.

  2. John Steven Smithers June 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Asalaam Alaikum, sister.

    I’ve been reading through your blog, and I love all of your stories and the things you have to say. I felt very much the same way and had all of the same questions you had, about things like eating halal/haram meat, our outward appearances as Muslims, etc. I’m a white guy and was raised a Catholic in a Slovak family in Chicago, so I totally know what you mean by being in the middle of a “haram mess” at family gatherings…lol. I recently converted/reverted to Islam in October 2012, and while it is challenging maintaining a halal lifestyle, as long as we maintain our faith and belief in what is most important, that we believe in the Oneness of Allah (swt) and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as His Messenger, everything else will eventually fall in place in due time, insha’Allah.

    I found your blog originally because I have a love for Costa Rica. I first traveled to Costa Rica back in 2007. I was there for the New Year. I went with a group of students from Indiana University, and we stayed for 2 weeks in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, in Nicoya. A beautiful, small colonial city about 20 minutes from the Pacific coast. It was my first time studying abroad with a group, and it was an amazing experience.

    A little over a year later, I was still at Indiana University, and was still studying Spanish (as my foreign language requirement), and because that first trip to Costa Rica had such an impact on me, I made the proposition to the university that I return to Costa Rica as an Independent study abroad for credit, and they agreed! So I returned for another month, to study Spanish, Costa Rican culture, and environmental sustainability and the growing Eco-tourism industry.

    I have since returned to Costa Rica one more time in 2010, to backpack across the country, from Playa Negra at Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to Playa Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast, and many places in-between. But I still have many places to explore in your beautiful country.

    I have always dreamed of moving to Costa Rica one day. I’m currently working on a PhD in Sociology, and still have a few years left, but I always imagine myself afterwards teaching sociology en Español at some local universidad in Costa Rica. I always think about owning a finca, and operating it as a co-op, so that everyone in the community could have access to farm the land and grow their own produce. And now, since I have become Muslim, I was interested in the presence of Islam in Costa Rica, because now I can include doing Da’wah wherever I end up in Costa Rica, and spreading the message of Islam. That’s how I found your blog. Looking at websites about Islam and Costa Rica, and I ended up here. And I’m happy I did.

    May Allah (swt) continue to guide us on the right path, and bless us with His sacred knowledge of the deen. Thanks for posting your stories!

    Chao,

    John

    • The Tica Muslimah June 5, 2013 at 6:10 am #

      Wa alaikum as-salaam,
      Mash’Allah I’m glad to find that you like my blog, insha’Allah I can help those in my country and others worldwide to understand Islam and how beautiful it truly is.
      Alhamdulillah, Nicoya is beautiful; I went their on my first vacation trip when we moved back to Costa Rica in 2005 and have been going back ever since. Guanacaste is beautiful; the weather, the people, everything about it makes you not want to leave. However, the metropolitan area is quite attractive as well, as it’s been growing economically and in population.
      That would be amazing, jazak Allah khayr for your ideas on spreading the message of Islam here. I think one of the difficulties of spreading Islam in Latin countries is the lack of sufficient information in Spanish, given the fact that there is so much more in English. insha’Allah your plans of spreading Islam in this country – and many others- be accomplished and rewarded for.
      Thank you for supporting my blog, may Allah bless you.

  3. Bhakti November 6, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    I’m so sorry for you, how you see Allah really hurts me… You are one of those persons who takes part of our book and can’t see the whole thing… It is a right to all women too choose to wear it or not, to Allah the most important thing is his children, so you can’t hurt them, they have to forgive you, Allah can’t forgive you in the name of another person. To do the ramadan is not enough, it even doesn’t make sense if you are not a good person. There are so many things you seem not to understand, I hope one day you will.

    • The Tica Muslimah September 18, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

      I’m sorry. Jesus can’t forgive our sins. He never said he would. The Bible is just full of contradictions and errors! I can’t accept a book coming from God if it is so full of errors. Even the Christian appologists have a lot to say about this and accept the Bible is contradictory. The Qur’an on the other hand, is not. I advise you to read it before you judge our religion on the opinions you hear from other people. Read for yourself 🙂

  4. Mohd. Tariq May 31, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    MashaALLAH…..I really appreciate you people for withstanding in such incompatible environment of Costa Rica. Don’t worry……I heard from one Islamic scholar that you try to follow the simple and easy practices of Islam, it will help you to follow the bigger one also. So try to do what you can do and beg from ALLAH for the remaining one. InshaALLAH HE will help you. The basic and most important tenet of Islam is Faith. Faith on kalima LA ILAHA ILLALLAH, MUHAMMADUR RASULULLAH(SAW). so after reciting kalima one enters into Islam but when he or she makes effort to achieve the reality of this kalima then Islam enters into his/her life. So kalima or faith will give us power to perform the practices or aamaals of Islam. If faith would be strong then it would be easy to wear niqab, to avoid alcohol, to avoid backbiting, to offer salat, to respect he elders, etc. And you can see in the Islamic history also that when Prophet Muhammad (saw) was given prophecy, he was 40 years old. After this he stayed in Mecca for 13 years with few Muslims who were reverted to Islam and after hijrat he went Medina and stayed there for 10 years around. So during 13 years of Mecca very few orders of ALLAH were revealed but in the span of 10 years of Medina , maximum orders were revealed by ALLAH like to wear niqab, to avoid alcohol, etc. It was so because in the beginning the companions of Prophet (saw) were not so strong by faith so in the span of 13 years of Mecca their faith was got strengthened by Prophet. After 13 years they got a good level of faith which helped them to stand at every call of ALLAH and HIS Prophet (saw). So right now we are also supposed to adopt the same procedure as it was adopted by companions. Without having strong faith nobody can fulfill the orders of ALLAH and Prophet (saw). And this is the main cause of downfall of entire Muslim world. They are in good quantity but they are like dead bodies. There is no soul in them. Lots of people are offering salat but they are failing to get the help of ALLAH because there is no soul in their salats also. And it happened as their faith has weakened. Faith never remains same, it variates. When we make efforts to strengthen our faith, it increases but as we stop working on it, it starts weakening. And without strong faith, no aamaal can help, only formalities are done on the name of namaz, Roza, Hajj, etc. So this is my earnest request to you kindly adopt the right procedure to bring deen in your life, the real deen. We are sent on this world for a very shortwhile. Everyone of us have to leave soon and nobody knows when to leave. And we will have to be well prepared for that world. And we have dual responsibility as we are born in the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (saw) that we have to practice the Islam and we are also deployed in this world to guide the others also. We have to save others from the hell fire. As one who will not follow the Islam, will surely be thrown into the hell fire. We are the Ummah of the last Prophet. Now, no Prophet will come, so its our responsibility to perform the task of our Prophet for which he always used to spend his maximum time, But we have to do it in a proper way according to Islam. The female will give dawah to females or their real brothers, father and son and mahrams only. Means they will have to take care of hijab. Similarly male members will give dawah to males and their sisters, wife and mother and mahrams only. I came to your country and I am very upset after seeing the situation of my brothers and sisters here. Really you people are very brave that you are practicing Islam in such anti environment. But dont worry “ALLAH is with you”. InshaALLAH I’ll specially pray for you and your country. May you and your country become the medium of hidayat for the entire America as well as the entire world.

  5. Mohd. Tariq May 31, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    Assalamualaikum

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