At the age of sixteen, I decided that Islam was the religion for me. Islam was everything that was in my heart. I couldn’t deny the love I had for such a beautiful religion; every time it was brought up, my face was beaming with happiness. My body ached to pray in congregation and to be so incredibly close to Allah. My mind craved knowledge and stories of Islam and the Prophet (pbuh).
At sixteen years of age, you are torn in the middle between entering adulthood and escaping childhood. Most of us can agree that at sixteen, we don’t make the most brilliant decisions, especially ones that can have a large effect on your life and loved ones. But I wasn’t and I’m not like most teenagers. For the first time in my entire life, I knew what I wanted and I knew that the decision to embrace Islam would be the greatest, smartest, most amazing decision I could ever make for myself. Actually, I take that back. I didn’t make this decision, Allah subhana wa ta’ala made this decision for me. He put me on the beautiful path to Islam and He is guiding my heart throughout it all.
I was raised in an Italian household, so naturally, they are Catholic and (should be very) religious. At birth, I was baptized and washed clean from original sin. At seven, I made communion (having the body and blood of Christ within you). At eleven, I made reconciliation (going to the priest for the first time to confess your sins) and at fourteen, I made confirmation (confirming my faith). These are all sacraments in Caticism. After each sacrament, there would be a large party with all my family and all I cared about at such a young age was receiving gifts. Which child doesn’t love some money and new clothes and new toys?
From the age of five to fourteen, I was enrolled Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) which was religious education to children who are in public schools. Every Wednesday, I’d leave my public school at 1pm to walk a few blocks to my local church. From 1:45pm to 3:30pm, I’d sit in a classroom of peers and a religious education teacher and learn about the Holy Trinity – God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit… but I wasn’t really interested.
I was also a difficult child during my time at CCD. The religious educators and sometimes the nuns couldn’t handle me. No, it wasn’t a behavioral problem. It was more of a curiosity problem. I had questions about every little thing I was being taught. After a few sentences or a story, my hand would shoot up and I’d wave eagerly for my teacher to notice me. There were times where I’d ask “Why did God say that?” or “Why did Jesus do this?” and their replies were: “Because God said so” or “Because Jesus can”. When I asked about the Holy Spirit, I was told “it just is”. I was often told not to question God and that got me angry. I was certainly not questioning God. I would never question the Almighty. He knows what He is doing. I was questioning the stories and the beliefs ever since a young age.
Although I was raised into a somewhat practicing, strict Italian Catholic household, my family wasn’t so religious. They didn’t attend church every Sunday. We didn’t say grace before eating. We didn’t even go to church on the holiest holidays in Caticism which are Christmas and Easter. When living in a household of non-religious people, it is very hard to believe and/or follow that religion on a daily basis. I’ve tried my hardest to follow the Catholic way of life. I’ve picked up a Bible before and tried to read it, but I couldn’t get past a few pages without getting frustrated. It just wasn’t working for me. It was at that moment I gave up on religion. I believed in God, but that was about it.
In September of 2006, I entered high school. High school was a whole new world for me; not just in the aspect of education, friendships, relationships and organization of time but it opened my eyes to Islam. My high school is in the middle of a very cultural area. I liked to call my high school the “United Nations” because there were so many people of different cultures, ethnicities and religions.
I saw women in, what I know now is, hijab many times before. I was very used to seeing a woman with a covered head. I never understood what it was for and I never questioned it. During my freshman year, I befriended a girl named Nour. We never spoke about religion (just yet). We were just friends who enjoyed our English class. The following year, I started to crush on a Muslim boy. He knew very well I was crushing on him but told me his parents would never allow us to date. That confused me and shattered my hormonal teenage heart. In English class one day, I started to tell Nour this story. She smiled the entire time. I got angry and asked her how she can be so mean. That’s when she said “He isn’t allowed to date, Nikki. He’s a Muslim like me. That’s why I don’t waste my time on liking stupid boys.” I was taken aback. Muslims can’t date? She started to slowly explain things to me and everyday, for the next semester, I’d come in with a new question: Who is Allah? What is Islam? What’s these pillars? Hijab, the head-covering? Why do women wear it? Eventually, my interest in the Muslim boy died down while my interest in Islam skyrocketed.
Nour is the girl who introduced me to hijab. After explaining it many times to me, I was aching to wear it just to see how it felt. I don’t know why I had this overpowering feeling within to try on hijab. It came to me so fast. While in Chemistry Lab, Nour and a friend came in and her friend pulled out a sheer, beige scarf with a flower pattern on the ends. She also pulled out the stretchy piece of fabric. I was told it’s an underscarf to keep your hair completely covered. Nour told me to put that one first. I did, and I started giggling. Her friend began to wrap the hijab for me. At the time, not a soul knew I was interested in Islam besides Nour. “Please don’t think I’m mocking you or making fun or anything of that nature! That’s not what I’m doing. I just… I really don’t know. I just wanna try it, I guess.”, is what I told her friend. Her friend simply smiled at me and said “Allah will show you the way” as she continued to wrap my hijab. I didn’t understand her statement whatsoever, but I smiled back and nodded. I wore hijab for three whole periods in school, and when it was time to take it off, I felt very weird and almost naked. I felt completely comfortable with my head covered and now, I had to remove it.
I started making more Muslim friends, friends of Nour’s, friends of mine and I’d ask questions. I had a Muslimah friend for a very long time. Her name is Lubna. I don’t remember the one question I asked to her, but she told me this great story about a prophet [She was talking about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and at the time, I had no idea] and his wife and about Allah. Then she told me “If you don’t believe me, look it up in the Qur’an.” That lead to “What’s the Qur’an?” and that lead to me saying how Islam has all the answers and proofs that Caticism doesn’t.
Authored by Sister Revert (Identity Kept Safe)
Edited by Nasmira Firdous ♦ To Read more about the Editor CLICK HERE