Why would a Christian girl revert to Islam? What is it that made her choose this path and abandon one that her family followed for so many generations? I’d like to share my story with you in today’s post.
I grew up in a loving Catholic family. My parents were Catholic, my grandparents from both sides were Catholic and their parents and grandparents were also Catholic. I didn’t know any other way than just living my life as a Catholic. I went to church every Sunday and as a child I also prayed before sleep. I attended the religion classes at school (which were taught by a priest) and looked up to my grandmother who visited many holy places around the world. Christian of course.
It’s not to say that I never had doubts. I did, quite a lot. There were many things I couldn’t wrap my head around. The Holy Trinity was the biggest problem of mine and there was no explanation that made sense to me and that would quench my thirst for understanding and total devotion.
I also didn’t agree with the celibate (the priests not being allowed to have wives and families) and the idea of paying for wiping our sins (a concept from the Medieval times). And why do we have to share our sins with the priest? Why is he in charge of our absolution? Who is this person to speak in the name of God?
So I kept all my doubts and thoughts to myself and just carried on. I believed I had to grow up to be able to fully understand the religion and everything that comes with it.
When I was 15, I took part in my first walking pilgrimage. It was 300 kilometres by foot in 10 days to reach a place with the “holy” painting of Mary and baby Jesus. It was an amazing experience, especially that I got to be there with my friends and cousins. We were extremely tired, sleep deprived, hurting from all the feet pain but also very happy. Those 10 days brought us all together, we experienced in each other’s company and bonded like never before. We slept in strangers’ houses counting on their hospitality. There was also a mass every day, and it was a time when a teenage girl could get the closest to her religion. On the 10th day, when we finally arrived, our families welcomed us there (since they drove to the place to take us back home) and the whole event became even more memorable. It’s still one of my most cherished memories.
But the pilgrimage was also a moment when I realised that I don’t have to be a grown up to truly and genuinely believe and trust God. I looked at all the young people (and there were hundreds of them) around me who seemed to experience religion so effortlessly. All around me they were praying, talking about God and really feeling it. I wish I didn’t have to say this but I was really jealous from them… I wanted to feel the same, I wanted to experience everything as deeply as they did and I wanted to be happy with my religion without doubting it as much as I used to.
After the first time we went to the pilgrimage two more times (in the following years, since it was an organised event that took place every July).
But the doubts never went away. In fact, they got stronger.
Somewhere between my first and last pilgrimage (between 2012 and 2014) I couldn’t stand it anymore and I told my mum I was agnostic. I decided to be open about my doubts and disclose my thoughts. I said that I believe there is God but Christianity doesn’t speak to me anymore.
Her reply was as follows: everyone doubts sometimes.
I honestly can’t think of anything else she could say back then. Of course, she could try and talk to me about it, maybe answer my questions and doubts. But perhaps she didn’t feel it was that strong? Maybe she didn’t realise how serious I was?
Whatever it was, she is not to be blamed for not making me stay. I don’t think anything could be done back then to make me get rid of all the uncertainty and hesitation.
Around the same time I also told my close friend that I wanted to stop the religion seeking process and just let things be. I also declared that I only needed God to comfort myself after the loss of my dear grandmother in 2012 – I wanted to believe that her life hasn’t ended completely and that she was in a better place. I got interested in Buddhism for a short period of time because I was tempted by the idea of living your life without harming others. But it was more like an instant reflection than something I was actually considering.
So after all this, the searching for an answer stopped for me. I saw myself as a ‘Christian agnostic’ and I didn’t feel the need of doing anything about it. I still went to church with my parents but it was more to please them than to fullfil the need of God and religion. When I thought about God it was in the Catholic way and when I wanted to pray, I prayed to Jesus. However, I knew it wasn’t my final state and someday the answer would come.
I finished high school in 2015 and right after that I moved to London for four months (I’m not British nor is English my mother tongue). I was working as an au pair, away from everyone I knew and everything familiar (I might talk about how it changed me in another post).
One day, completely by accident I met a fellow tourist in the city. The conversation felt very natural and we quickly became friends. However, one thing scared me about my new friend and I was ready to end the friendship before it even began. And this thing was Islam. When I found out about my friend being Muslim I wanted to delete that person from my Facebook friends and pretend we never met. Everything I knew about Muslims and Islam prior to that was negative. I’ve heard so many stories of women being beaten, discriminated and just generally not treated well. Do I even have to mention terrorism? I can’t think of a single positive thing about Muslims that I knew back then.
But my new friend didn’t fit in this frame. It was a kind and compassionate person, very positive and cheerful. So my mind couldn’t stop asking how is that possible. And that was exactly when I decided to get to know this person better and to ask all the uncomfortable questions about Islam.
I had to be very lucky to meet someone this open and patient because the first encounter made me want to find out more about Islam. I started reading all the articles that talked positively and negatively about Islam. I noticed a pattern in the negative ones and decided to dig deeper to find the answers. I realised that the only way to learn about the religion is to learn from the believers, not its opponents. After all, who do I ask about Christianity? A priest or a Buddhist? And this is not to say that a Buddhist can’t be educated on this topic. It just means that I need to find my answers in the source, not the review.
So I switched to short books and long articles written by Muslims themselves that deal with the several and complex aspects of Islam. I found out that women have the right to be cared for and that terrorism is not a part of the religious duties (what a surprise).
Slowly I was convinced, I noticed how close Islam was to Christianity, which allowed me to understand it better. And on top of that, it dealt with all my doubts in the best way I could ever imagine. There was Jesus but no Trinity. There was Bible but no human interference.
And then I got suspicious again. What if that’s the way to conscript new Muslims to later reveal the real side of the religion? The dark and scary side that no European person would ever agree with?
Well luckily, those thoughts didn’t stay with me for long and eventually I trusted Islam and God. I felt that all my questions have been answered and I finally felt at peace with my own self.
Today I am a proud and happy revert to Islam. Not everything is perfect yet but I believe it will be with the right approach and amount of patience.
Allah is the best of planners.
What is the story that changed your life?