Stories Of New Muslims


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  • Stories Of New Muslims



  • 11. Ms.  Natassia M Kelly 

     

     

    I was
    raised to believe in God from childhood. I attended church nearly every Sunday,
    went to Bible school, and sang in the choir. Yet religion was never a really
    big part of my life. There were times when I thought myself close to God. I
    often prayed to him for guidance and strength in times of despair or for a wish
    in times of want. But I soon realized that this feeling of closeness soon
    evaporated when I was no longer begging God for something. I realized that I
    even though I believed, I lacked faith.

    I perceived the world
    to be a game in which God indulged in from time to time. He inspired people to
    write a Bible and somehow people were able to find faith within this Bible. As
    I grew older and became more aware of the world, I believed more in God. I
    believed that there had to be a God to bring some order to the chaotic world.
    If there were no God, I believed the world would have ended in utter anarchy
    thousands of years ago. It was comfort to me to believe there was a supernatural
    force guiding and protecting man.

    Children usually assume
    their religion from parents. I was no different. At the age of 12, I began to
    give in depth thinking to my spirituality. I realized there was a void in my
    life where a faith should be. Whenever I was in need or despair, I simply
    prayed to someone called Lord. But who was this Lord truly? I once asked my
    mother who to pray to, Jesus or God. Believing my mother to be right, I prayed
    to Jesus and to him I attributed all good things. I have heard that religion
    cannot be argued. My friends and I tried to do this many times. I often had
    debates with my friends about Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Through
    these debates I searched within myself more and more and decided I should do
    something about my emptiness. And so at the age of 13, I began my search for
    truth.

    Humankind is always in
    constant pursuit of knowledge or the truth. My search for truth could not be
    deemed as an active pursuit of knowledge. I continued having the debates, and I
    read the Bible more. But it did not really extend from this. During this period
    of time my mother took notice of my behavior and from then on I have been in a
    "religious phase." My behavior was far from a phase. I simply shared
    my newly gained knowledge with my family. I learned about the beliefs,
    practices, and doctrines within Christianity and minimal beliefs and practices
    within Judaism.

    A few months within my
    search I realized that if I believe in Christianity I believed myself to be
    condemned to Hell. Not even considering the sins of my past, I was on a
    "one way road to Hell" as southern ministers tend to say. I could not
    believe all the teachings within Christianity. However, I did try. I can
    remember many times being in church and fighting with myself during the Call to
    Discipleship. I was told that by simply confessing Jesus to be my Lord and
    Savior I would be guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. I never did walk down the
    aisle to the pastor's outstretched hands, and my reluctance even increased my fears
    of heading for Hell. During this time I was at unease. I often had alarming
    nightmares, and I felt very alone in the world.

    But not only did I lack
    belief but I had many questions that I posed to every knowledgeable Christian I
    could find and never really did receive a satisfactory answer. I was simply
    told things that confused me even more. I was told that I am trying to put
    logic to God and if I had faith I could simply believe and go to Heaven. Well,
    that was the problem: I did not have faith. I did not believe. I did not really
    believe in anything. I did believe there was a God and that Jesus was his son
    sent to save humankind. That was it. My questions and reasoning did, however,
    exceed my beliefs. The questions went on and on. My perplexity increased. My
    uncertainty increased. For fifteen years I had blindly followed a faith simply
    because it was the faith of my parents. Something happened in my life in which
    the little faith I did have decreased to all but nothing. My search came to a
    stop. I no longer searched within myself, the Bible. or church. I had given up
    for a while. I was a very bitter person until one day a friend gave me a book.
    It was called "The Muslim-Christian Dialogue."

    I took the book and
    read it. I am ashamed to say that during my searching never did I once consider
    another religion. Christianity was all I knew, and I never thought about
    leaving it. My knowledge of Islam was very minimal. In fact, it was mainly
    filled with misconception and stereotypes. The book surprised me. I found that
    I was not the only one who believed there was a simply a God. I asked for more
    books. I received them as well as pamphlets. I learned about Islam from an
    intellectual aspect. I had a close friend who was Muslim and I often asked her
    questions about the practices. Never did I once consider Islam as my faith.
    Many things about Islam alienated me. After a couple months of reading the
    month of Ramadan began. Every Friday I joined the local Muslim community for
    the breaking of the fast and the reciting of the Quran. I posed questions that
    I may have come across to the Muslim girls. I was in awe at how someone could
    have so much certainty in what they believed and followed. I felt myself drawn
    to the religion that alienated me. Having believed for so long that I was
    alone, Islam did comfort me in many ways. Islam was brought as a reminder to
    the world. It was brought to lead the people back to the right path.

    Beliefs were not the
    only thing important to me. I wanted a discipline to pattern my life by. I did
    not just want to believe someone was my savior and through this I held the
    ticket to Heaven. I wanted to know how to act to receive the approval of God. I
    wanted a closeness to God. I wanted to be God-conscious. Most of all I wanted a
    chance for heaven. I began to feel that Christianity did not give this to me,
    but Islam did. I continued learning more. I went to the
    Eid celebration and jumua and weekly classes with my friends. Through religion one receives peace
    of mind. A calmness about them. This I had off and on for about three years.
    During the off times I was more susceptible to the temptations of Satan. In
    early February of 1997 I came to the realization that Islam was right and true.
    However, I did not want to make any hasty decisions. I did decide to wait.
    Within this duration the temptations of Satan increased. I can recollect two
    dreams in which he was a presence. Satan was calling me to him. After I awoke
    from these nightmares I found solace in Islam. I found myself repeating the
    Shahadah. These dreams almost made me change my
    mind. I confided them in my Muslim friend. She suggested that maybe Satan was
    there to lead me from the truth. I never thought of it that way.

    On March 19, 1997 after
    returning from a weekly class, I recited the
    Shahadah to myself. Then on March 26, I recited it before witnesses and became
    an official Muslim. I cannot express the joy I felt. I cannot express the
    weight that was lifted from my shoulders. I had finally received my peace of
    mind. It has been about five months since I recited the
    Shahadah. Islam has made me a better person. I am
    stronger now and understand things more. My life has changed significantly. I
    now have purpose. My purpose is to prove myself worthy of eternal life in
    Jannah. I have my long sought after faith.
    Religion is a part of me all the time. I am striving everyday to become the
    best Muslim I can be. People are often amazed at how a fifteen year old can
    make such an important decision in life. I am grateful that Allah blessed me
    with my state of mind that I was able to find it so young.

    Striving to be a good
    Muslim in a Christian dominated society is hard. Living with a Christian family
    is even harder. However, I do not try to get discouraged. I do not wish to
    dwell on my present predicament, but I believe that my jihad is simply making
    me stronger. Someone once told me that I am better off than some people who
    were born into Islam, in that I had to find, experience, and realize the
    greatness and mercy of Allah. I have acquired the reasoning that seventy years
    of life on earth is nothing compared to eternal life in Paradise. I must admit
    that I lack the aptitude to express the greatness, mercy, and glory of Allah. I
    hope my account helped others who may feel the way I felt or struggle the way I
    struggled.

    as
    salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahee wa barakatuhu,

    Natassia
    M. Kelly

     

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