Being a born-Muslim it is often difficult for me to imagine the sacrifice and the strength of those who have converted to Islam. I wanted to open my eyes up to the lives and perspectives of those converts so that I could appreciate my religion to the fullest. So I embarked on a mission in which I reached out to multiple Muslim converts/reverts and asked them what they found so fascinating about Islam.
"I converted to Islam a year ago, it was a spare of a moment decision. I was looking for a purpose [because] I was feeling lost [and] had many unanswered questions about life. So I walked out on [my] faith and took my shahada the same day.
I didn't know what I was getting myself into but felt like I had nothing to lose [because I had already] been through a lot in my life and wanted to go down a different path. [My] path [has] been a little bumpy, but I continue to strive as I learn. I got the desire to learn more [about] Islam [which] gave me meaning. It answered many questions I had.
Life started to make sense... I continue to seek knowledge, and [I am] happy I chose Islam. Before I became Muslim, I didn't claim [any] religion; I just believed there was a god [which is why I had] many questions... I questioned everything that was being taught to me and wanted proof that many could not provide. I refused to be a blind sheep following other blind sheep. I wanted answers and clarification, so I walked into Islam with the intent to seek knowledge, I am blessed."
"You should know that one house, car etc. can't be built without a man. Then how [is] this large beautiful universe created without Allah, if anyone has [this mindset] than that person will not choose any other religion."
"I converted to Islam October 2016. My path to Islam is a long story, but to keep it very short and simple, after I [did] my own research on Christianity, I denounced that religion. Yet I felt that the religion of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was [still] the correct one. I was attracted to Islam due to a situation pertaining to my city, and I was watching the actions of an Imam, and how he reacted when the town treated him very unkindly. To see someone respond with love even when faced with nasty people, I knew that is the type of people and the type of religion I wanted to surround myself in."
“I can honestly [say] the Quran [made me come to Islam]. I have [seen] some people who call themselves Muslims, and Subhan Allah, [I've always wondered] how they [could] call themselves Muslims when they treat [other] human beings [so unfairly], [because of] that I studied Islam. I was so disappointed [in those “Muslims”].
I felt let down [I] didn't know who to trust, [so] I isolated myself with just the Quran...after living 9 months in a mosque, I began slowly to trust [others] again, and by the grace of Allah have since met the most amazing people. I [have] never stopped believing. I also [asked] Allah to forgive [those Muslims who treated me unfairly] because they have not yet come face to face with Allah...so May Allah have mercy on them. I think Allah was testing me, to see if I would turn away from him.
[I didn't even have] a penny and just [had] the clothes on my back... I just cried and prayed, cried and prayed. Subhan Allah. Allah took away my thirst and some of my pain. And through that suffering, I didn't commit one sin. Alhamdulillah. Subhan Allah after a while people came from everywhere with food and clothing, I couldn't believe my eyes, and I thought I've earned my wings. Amen.”
Here we see an interesting contrast between how each individual viewed Muslims before they accepted Islam. From this we can tell that it is not a person or any Muslim that guides someone to Islam, rather it is Allah who chooses whom he wants to guide and when he wants to guide them.
"I came to Islam 7 years ago Alhumdulilah. I was raised a Christian, but I was very confused about many aspects of the faith. I’ve been on a search for God my whole life. I asked my questions to priests, ministers and pastors among different sects of Christianity, and none of them could give satisfying answers. Their answers would go in circles.
Finally, I met a Muslim in a place I worked, and he started talking about his religion. It intrigued me, and I asked more questions. His answers seemed so simple and clear, and he seemed so sure of his answers. I asked him where he learned these things and then he gave me my first Quran. I began reading it and I would ask him questions. Everything began to make sense Alhumdulilah.
One day, it was like a jolt of lightning, and I knew instantly that this was the path I was meant to be on. I took shahada in April of 2011, and I’ve been so grateful ever since Alhumdulilah."
“I was introduced to Islam the first time as a little kid, I had a neighborhood friend who was Muslim, and I watched them pray once because I was over, and it was time. That changed me; ever since then, I had studied extensively about Islam. I never felt good in my Christian faith.
What ultimately did it for me was after a terror attack, I went to my local masjid for a tour and Jumu'ah. I felt complete and utter peace in the prayer hall, I nearly cried sitting in the row with my brothers. I had never felt so at peace in a religious establishment. I prayed that day for the first time in many years.
I got a Quran that day, and I’ve been reading it daily since. Every time I go to the masjid, I just sit in the prayer hall for a bit and just relax. Islam is so peaceful and loving. I have only ever seen love and acceptance at my masjid. Now I am studying to be an imam!”
"My wife is Greek Orthodox. I was raised Catholic. The hijab and niqab have an Allure that eventually captivated me, and so I wanted to learn more. I was mesmerized...I was too respectful to approach any hijabi. I listened to Islamic speakers [,and] Muslim [nasheeds]. One cannot deny the Sensuality of Islam...Tis Allure, Sister"
"For me, I love how accepting and open Islam is. I love the fact [that] it spreads equality and a healthy, clean lifestyle. The call to prayer is beautiful and captivating. The Oneness with Allah during prayer is powerful. InshAllah I will learn [even more] as go."
"My family is from Irish Catholic background, and we have always practiced our faith by weekly church visits on Sunday and attending Catholic school. After my father passed away, we could no longer afford Catholic school, and I went to public school. Faith was no longer a daily influence, but rather the effect of a broad spectrum of religious, social and economic interests ...Throughout college, I met people of various faiths, but few were devoted to the extent that it changed their lives.
While missing the closeness of prayer in my Catholic school, I was no longer seeking the life of a nun which is what I imagined was the only path that people who are truly devoted to God could take. I wanted to achieve a disciplined life. Did I need to join the Peace Corps, the Air Force or some remote research station? I became saddened as college ended and bills mounted that the purpose of college was ultimately just to achieve a better financial situation status.
At this time, I began a daily prayer to God to give me a life of true meaning. I wondered about my faith, those involved in other Christian denominations, my Jewish friends and some Buddhist teachers and friends. I did not find the basic teachings of Christianity to differ enough to bother to change denominations. Religions that denied the existence of Mary and Jesus or the history of prophets seemed historically unjust.
After a year of this, graduation and new professional experience, God guided me to the Muslims, and the mosque I drove by for years. God guided me to Islam, all praise and thanks to Him. Eloquent and clear books explaining that the message of God and His Prophets never change, but rather that man changes the message throughout time. I accepted Islam on a basic knowledge of prophets, and the belief that God is alone and is the only one to be worshiped and therefore the only one whom prayers should be directed to.
The idea that Jesus and Mary were, in fact, more devout to God than I ever imagined. By rejecting the idea that they should ever be worshipped wiped away years of confusion and rekindled the love of the beauty of their stories that held me close to them as a young person. Learning that each nation had a prophet and that God had always sent guidance to his people, the detailed clarity of the knowledge of death and the afterlife detailed in the Quran and the clear rulings about what can and cannot be carried out in this life gave me the structure I had always craved. Rather than man-made rituals as I found in the Catholic Church, the rules for behavior and worship are clearly articulated and reliably sourced back to God as the origin.
People often want to ask converts was it hard to give up XYZ. The reality is that so few things are prohibited for a Muslim while all beneficial things are allowed. I’ve heard people dismiss the temptation of Adam, peace be upon him, he was just forbidden one tree with an entire garden to choose from. Yet we will self-destruct ourselves for alcohol and drugs with the most outrageous advertising budgets.
It seems so clear that this path is risky and the harm outweighs the benefit, yet it is packaged in a way no one can see through it except the one who is seeking God’s peace. God will then replace this desire to fulfill the demands of peers, society, advertisers, governments and corporate success with contentment in yourself and your situation. Remarkably, after that, but true to His promise, is that my financial comfort for the past 23 years has been more than it ever was throughout all of the struggles with materialism and the efforts to achieve it."
— Kareemah Swift
"The Mercy of God, praying directly to God vs. a mediator, scheduled prayers throughout the day and fasting at prescribed times...this is why I love Islam"
The responses I got were overwhelming and astonishing. I learned that there are so many people in our community alone who have stories waiting to be heard. I have also found that regardless of whether you are born a Muslim or not you should hold the same reverence and passion for Islam as those who have just entered the religion.
Sometimes, when you are born a Muslim, you tend to overlook the simple miracles and beauty of the faith. However, it is upon further understanding and contemplation of one's faith that that can all change. I encourage each one of you reading this to go out in your community and support new Muslims and listen to what they have to say.