Assalamu alaykum and welcome.
I have been absent for a while due to many reasons. Financial, emotional, spiritual. But I have never stopped thinking about this blog I started. I was sure I would come back to it eventually, insha Allah. My intentions remain the same. I want this blog the chronicle my struggles to serve Allah as I strive to understand His word and become a better Muslimah. Updates may still be sporadic but insha Allah a little more frequent for a while. To begin anew, here is my reversion story.
Looking back on it, I think the first inklings of it started when I volunteered to be a Sunday school teacher at the local church I was attending in 2008. I tried using the teacher’s guide that they provided me but the kids were a tad uninterested and unresponsive. So I tried to make my own lesson plans. I started reading and studying the Bible to try and make lessons and in doing so began to find a lot of questions. There was so much in there I didn’t understand! This brought on a crisis of faith as I found it more and more difficult to feel connected to the Bible. It didn’t stop me from continuing to teach Sunday school for a few more months but I had no conviction to what I was trying to teach them.
Summer of 2009 came and I graduated from college and got a summer job. I met a lot of people, including the man who is now my husband. After I met him I found out he’s from Tajikistan. He came here on a work/travel experience program. His English was not too bad to begin with but there was room for improvement. I also found out that he was Muslim through a bit of casual conversation. But I thought nothing of it at that point since he didn’t act on it. At this point there are some…. unsavory parts of my past that I don’t feel the need to divulge. When I said my shahada I got a “clean slate” so I try to avoid talking about my past sins that have insha Allah been forgiven. I also try to avoid talking much about my husband from that time since he was… not a good Muslim at that point either.
“All of my ummah will be fine except for those who commit sin openly. Part of committing sin openly is when a man does something at night and Allaah conceals it, but in the morning he says, ‘O So-and-so, last night I did such and such.’ His Lord had covered his sin all night, but in the morning he removed the cover of Allaah.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5721; Muslim, 2990)
After the summer I continued to talk to the man who would become my husband as a way of helping him improve his English. I would talk with him and ask him about subjects I knew he knew about. His family, his country, and some general stuff about Islam. The more we talked the more my feeling grew for him.
Through all of this I was feeling the heartache of being spiritually unfulfilled. Unsatisfied as if I was hungry and could find nothing to sate me. I knew I believed in God, but sometimes I didn’t know why. I knew I wanted to be closer to God but I couldn’t find that in Christianity. I had no idea what to do. My heart ached from not knowing how to be close to the One I wanted to be close to.
I majored in Japanese language with a minor intercultural communication and my Japanese teacher found me a job in Japan. So January 2010 it’s off to Japan. I continue to talk to the man who would soon be my husband and by February, we’ve decided we’re in a serious relationship. After another month or so it’s starting to look like we’re going to decide to get married. I begin to wonder what he, as a Muslim, would expect out of me as his wife. I knew next to nothing about Islam. I heard about terrorists and extremists in the media but instinctively knew that wasn’t Islam. I did, however, know there was some truth to the plethora of women’s issues. I had a lot of negative ideas about the status of women in Islam going into this. So, I started to research everything I could about women in Islam and what to expect as the wife of a Muslim man. It was… not as bad as I thought…. But with a lot of feminist influence from my mother I still wasn’t ready to accept all of it.
In June I found the Islamway Sister’s forum and I started to understand the women’s point of view better now that I had actual Muslim women to talk to and not just articles to read. I was starting to feel a pull towards Islam but I was in a foreign country, all by myself, and I figured I’d maybe consider converting once I got back to the US and could actually be around people and not just people online. But then around the end of July I saw a hijabi at work! She was a part timer. I got so excited that I had someone to talk to in person. I never thought I would meet a Muslim in this area of Japan (it was kind of countryside.) Shyly, I approached her and told her I had been studying Islam and was wondering if I could talk to her about it. We met for some lunch and we got to know each other a bit and talked about Islam a bit. Nothing deep though. Ramadan soon came and she invited me to the community Iftar. I had no idea there were so many Muslims in this area!! There was so much diversity. Pakistani, Egyptian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Tunisian, Syrian, Turkish, Guinea! Just about all of them were international students at the University, though some were actually living there. Some of the women were there as students themselves, some were there because their husbands were students. And I saw Japanese Muslim women! I still didn’t understand a lot of what was going on but the food sure was good.
I started to go to the mosque every week for the iftar and then after Ramadan I kept going for the women’s study circle. They would read Quran and I would listen or follow along the English translation. I began to wear hijab whenever I went to the mosque because everyone covered there so it felt more comfortable not being so exposed. I had NO idea how to wrap a hijab at that point though. The women would kindly lend me scarves and help me wrap up. By mid-October the pull in my heart towards Islam was so strong. Not a single person, not even my soon to be husband, had said a word to me about converting, this feeling had come about through my own thoughts and actions. I can’t say if there was anything specific that brought me to Islam or something specific about Islam that appealed to me. It was just all these circumstances that led me to get to know the religion. Islam looked so perfect and beautiful to me. I knew I could be close to God through Islam. Islam filled every corner of the spiritual emptiness I had been feeling. Islam made sense! There were still rules and regulations I didn’t agree with but I figured a lot of that was because I didn’t actually know much about them. All I knew was that I wanted to be Muslim and so I said my shahada in November 2010.
And one small addendum for anyone who is interested. I returned to the US in February 2011 and had my nikkah that next month in March. My husband and I have been happily married since Alhamdulillah.
I may not be the best story teller but this is my best effort to tell my story. Alhamdulillah I was in a wonderful community of Muslims that were close to the Qur’an and Sunnah. They were mild, gentle, and kind in all their words and deeds. May Allah reward those who helped me while I was in Japan.