During my junior year, I had a ton of Muslim friends and I was learning things left and right. It was beautiful. I had a friend named Dania. She is very religious and takes pride in Islam the way I’ve never seen it before. It was 2008 and she was fasting for Ramadan. I asked her why she was fasting and what’s Ramadan? As she was explaining, I cut her off and said “I want to convert.” To this day, I still cannot tell you my thought process. I thought I was listening to her, but my subconscious took hold and had me blurt out the truth. Dania was so excited and I cannot even tell you how many times she hugged me. Her reaction made it official: that I was doing the right thing for myself.
I started researching on how to become a Muslim. My internet history was absolutely FILLED with Islamic websites. I held off on my shahada for about three months. I was told to not hold off on my shahada if it’s in my heart.
One night, I was sitting on my bed, researching and reading and researching some more. I wanted to be educated before I became a Muslim. I felt that it would be wrong to declare my faith as a Muslim and not know the basics. But, every page I clicked on to read about Islam, had “Ash-hadu anla ilaha illal-Lahu Wahdahu la Sharika Lahu wa-ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluhu” written somewhere within the beginning lines or at the very top. I became a bit freaked out, I’m not going to lie. But I knew that this was a sign from Allah. It clearly meant I must say this now. And it was funny because earlier that day, I recieved my first Qur’an in the mail. So I knew I had to do it. I had to become a Muslim.
And I did.
That was in May of 2009. I wanted to make it official, in front of the Muslim community. But I decided not to out of fear of my family finding out. Dania, on the other hand, thought that was a great idea and surprised me by taking me to the masjid. On July 9th, 2009, I recited my shahadah at a masjid with a sheikh and in front of my friends and their families. It was on that day I was given the new name of Imaan. I was still able to go by Nikki but to the Muslim community – I was reborn and I was Imaan. I chose Imaan because my heart, body and soul was fully captured by Islam and my faith was at its highest it’s ever been.
My story doesn’t end there and it doesn’t get any happier, to be completely honest.
In March of 2010, my parents found out I was Muslim. It was a day of tears, anger, grief and everything else. My father, more than my mother, hated the fact I was Muslim and I felt like he hated me. He called me a disgrace, he told me he wanted to disown me and that I was disgusting. He told me that “these terrorists have brainwashed me and I will soon be blowing up something”. That killed me. I cried for hours after that. My mom didn’t say much, she was just very disappointed. She asked me to give back my prayer rug and to give my books on Islam to a family who really needed it. I was grounded for six weeks after that. My mom picked me up from school everyday and I stayed in on the weekends. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to the mosque or to my Muslim friends’ houses. When my father saw someone in hijab or anyone of Arab decent, he’d turn to me and tell me “Look, Nik, it’s your people”. I knew he was saying it to upset me and make fun. It really hurt.
During my class with Lubna, I told her everything about my parents. It took a lot not to just sit there and weep in her arms. She tried her best to understand and told me to keep Islam in my heart no matter what.
After my parents found out, I hid my Islam the best I could. I pretended it was just a phase and that I wasn’t Muslim anymore. I even told my family that I do not have a religion anymore – I simply believe in God. They weren’t pleased but they felt that was better than being a Muslim. Truth is, I was Muslim since the day I said my shahadah in my bed. I began to stray off the path of Islam. Although I was trying to pretend I wasn’t Muslim, eventually, I began to believe it.
Later that year, I needed to get back. The feeling of urgency for faith overcame my soul and was dragging me piece by piece back to Islam. I started practicing again… until my mother found out once more.
That’s when I lost it.
I went completely off path and promised myself I’d be back when I’m out of my parent’s house and I am able to practice religion freely. That was in November of 2011.
In January of 2012, I started dating one of my very good friends. During summer 2012, the urgency for faith came over me again. There were signs I believe came from Allah subhana wa ta’ala to help lead me back to where He and I know I am supposed to be. Having such a close and open relationship with my then-boyfriend, I told him about it. He was totally on my side, 100% for it. But I knew as a Muslim woman, I am not to date. I let him know that, as well. I gave him some da’wah, and slowly but surely, he started to read more into Islam. By August of 2012, we decided it was time for us to make our relationship halal and for him to convert to Islam. It took a very long time for us to find a sheikh and a masjid that would marry the two of us without the city or state intervening. With the help of my wali & Allah subhana wa ta’ala’s guidance, we accomplished that goal on March 22nd, 2013.
Since my mother found out in 2011 and I left Islam, came back, got married – it’s been a struggle but it’s been rewarding and beautiful.
There are three Muslimah friends I have that know each part of my story and has accepted me for me: Hadeel Mishal, Abeer Mishal and Lubna Attal. Them three have stood by my side through this obstacle of reversion to Islam.
Lubna and her family have been the most warming and accepting people. They know about the issue with my family and they tell me all the time to keep my head up. They also tell me that if I want to, I could wear hijab with them and they’d keep it secret. They teach me how to pray, teach me bits of Arabic and just the Islamic way of life. Her father sat down with me and thoroughly explained each pillar of Islam to me and donated so many books to me. I thank all nine of them. Abeer and Hadeel and their large family has welcomed me into their home with open arms and has made me an extended part of their family. I’m an honorary Mishal in their eyes. They have helped guide me and love me, accept me and pray for me. Without the help of these friends and their families, I wouldn’t be here right now.
Allah subhana wa ta’ala has lead me back on this path and refuses to let me stray. He constantly brings me back and reminds me. He has helped me realize that I don’t have to wear hijab right now or go to the masjid everyday to be a good, practicing Muslim. Everyday, I try to better myself as a Muslimah. I’ve downloaded apps on my phone to remind me of prayer and give me dua’as when I need them on the run. I have been reading Qur’an every night before I lay my head down to sleep. For the first time, I paid my zakat and truly felt like I was doing something great for this world.
Islam as a revert is not easy. But insha’Allah, with the help and guidance of Allah subhana wa ta’ala and my friends and their families, I’ll be right on track.
Authored by Sister Revert (Identity Kept Safe)
Edited by Nasmira Firdous ♦ To Read more about the Editor CLICK HERE