Salaamu'alaikum! First off, let me give you some background info so you know what it's like in my life :) I was born in the Philippines because my dad served in the Air Force. I was baptized Catholic, but it wasn't really taken too seriously. I flew back to the US when I was around 3 or 4, I don't quite remember.
Anyhow, I have been in Catholic schools all my life. I can remember how much I hated to go to religion class in grade school. I was basically taught that Jesus (pbuh) was THE ONLY way to get to heaven. I didn't agree with them a lot of the time, but I went on with my business and didn't say anything.
The first time I said something was in my 8th grade year. True, many people rebel when they become teenagers, but my "rebellion" was in a different source. I remember going through a process before getting Confirmed. I remember dreading the meetings because I couldn't bear to listen to them ramble on and on. See, I would've probably done something earlier, but I'm from a city/town of 5,000 in NW Indiana, and it's a Christian city all around. So days went by and I got confirmed...I didn't do it for me, but so I would fit in because everyone else did. I can remember try to be "religious", but the more I tried, the more ridiculous the whole thing sounded.
I wasn't a bad kid to begin with, but it was really hard to be something I wasn't.
So, in April of '98 came and I was on Easter Break. I decided it was my chance to see what else there was out there. By this time, I had become determined to find out what the truth was. I set out to find answers my teachers and priests didn't give me, because they had avoided answering me. Ok, that clued me in that I might've been onto something when they didn't answer, but what I found made me even more convinced. I didn't tell my friends about it quite yet, I wasn't ready to tell them.
So we graduated, and then the breakthrough began. It took a while, but if I recall it all started in July. I was in Denver on vacation, and I saw this road sign that said "Islamic Center next right".
I thought, "What's Islam all about?"
I remember watching a TV Program that night which talked about Jihad and terrorism, and how they intertwined somehow. So I made a note to look it up as soon as we got home...but I forgot that when I would get home I was going on vacation with my mom to Disney World. (The happiest place on earth...sometimes :) )
My parents are divorced, so it makes it easier to understand. I've always had an interest in geography, so I spent a lot of time in Epcot, and walked along the countries by myself and I came upon a man named Jiwad from Morocco. We talked and Islam came up, and this got me even more interested. So we got home, and went to school the next day.
I started attending a Catholic high school, and had a priest teaching my theology class! Ack, I was in for it now, I thought. But even so, I'd read articles and pamphlets on Islam I got online. I remember one day he came by my desk and saw one, I think it was on Paul from an Islamic perspective. He thought it was from a Christian, like most people would...and he read, and paused. He looked at me, and kind of shook his head as to discourage me.
I took that as an incentive to learn more, even though I know he was disappointed in me. So 1/2 year went by, Christmas Vacation time. Some friends and myself went to Chicago, and it dawned on me that it'd be a great time to buy books on Islam, and, of course, a copy of the Qur'an. So I went straight to Borders and bought a Qur'an, but couldn't find the book "Daughters of Another Path." True, i'm not female, but I thought that it would present some of the same situations I am in.
So we left the store and on the ride home, one friend asked "what's a...um...how do you say that?" I told him, and he just looked at me like he'd seen a ghost! So I read it asap, and I was ultimately convinced that it was the truth, the words of Allah (swt) himself.
Now I was faced with a dilemma. I wanted to revert, but now I was having second thoughts. So I looked in my Qur'an, and that assured me that my decision was to revert. "When? Where? How?" were some of the questions I asked...
So one day, May 10th to be exact....I knew that I couldn't wait any longer. In the back of my mind I was looking for some sort of "sign" to tell me I was right, but I realized it wasn't necessary. So I took my shahadah, alhumdulillah. It was almost magic, I could feel my life beginning again.
It's been about 5 months, and it's time for school again...and I have the same priest. This time I enjoy it, because now I don't have to hide. Now I can be Muslim, and try to represent Allah as best as I can. Insha'allah, I'll do my best in school, and so will the rest of the students reading this! And at the moment, my Qur'an is being read by a friend of mine! Insha'allah, Allah will guide her too!
Take care everyone, thanks for reading this LONG story!