Asalaamu Alaikum, I don't know if my story will inspire, but if it at least comforts and assuages the fears and insecurities, that I know I too once had, Khair In Sh'Allah.
I embraced Islam in my mid thirties. I had what most single independent minded "modern" women aspire for. My career, my own apartment, control of my own life, Ha! little did I know, in my early ventures into the local culture, what was to transpire. I say local, as by pure serendipity, (Allah Knows Best) I had landed up in the Arabian Gulf, a refugee really having being evacuated, so to speak, out of Iran in the 1978 Revolution. Naively I came expecting to stay a week or so and have never left. Twenty one years on I can truly say that Allah, Subhanana wa Ta'ala has his plan.
I didn't take to the expat lifestyle here, my parents, who had arrived two years previously, were considered a little eccentric, my father loved nothing better than to sit down with one of his arab friends and talk for hours over endless cups of suliemani tea. My family and I were round pegs in square holes! Having really been something of a nonconformist all my life I had no problems mingling with the local ladies and in fact what started as intellectual curiosity grew into a strange awakening. I began to see that I was more comfortable with these moral, traditional, even anachronistic but straight speaking and yet warm, generous hearted folk, and began to wonder why. The answer was that they were living Islam. Islam was the key.
I started to ask myself serious questions about my expectations of life, my hopes, my goals. A more spiritual intensity was aroused. I began to pray, my own way. I had never been a member of any church oriented religious group, despite being sent to Sunday School as a child (I had defied them all and stubbornly refused to recite the Lords Prayer, and been cast out). I began to read Qur'an, to read anything on Islam really. I asked many questions, and was surprised to find that none of the answers were other than natural. I realized that perhaps I had always had an Islamic mentality although surpressed. (Fitra, SubHanAllah)) An astounding revelation to someone who thought she really knew herself and her abilities! This was the beginning of my submission to Islam.
Along this journey I was privileged to meet and have the support of several true and devoted women, whose influence had great impact on me. I was encouraged to search and guided into the True Path, that of Qur'an and Sunnah. I began praying according to the Sunnah and, had made the transition out of my inappropriate Sales career into quieter more conducive employment, which didn't compromise my beliefs.
I was still studying and learning. I led a less hectic lifestyle with more peace and security than I had ever known. All along my Sisters in Islam were gently chiding me about not being married. I wasn't ready. I thought, oh so selfishly. They were searching and suggesting suitable partners. After about two years, and finally achieving a level of acceptance that I could not progress further without "completing my Deen", I agreed to see a few Brothers. To be a western revert here is something similar to being "flavor of the month".
There were offers, but I had to be so sure, Estaghfirullah, I had a list of conditions....... (Cobwebs from the days of Jahailliyya). My first condition was not to share my husband!!! Estaghfirullah. There had been one brother who through intermediaries had sent inquiries. I wouldn't consider him, he was already married with 6 children, not western educated, I was sure he wouldn't have anytime to share, and would definitely not understand our differences, oh how superficial I was.
Not deterred in the slightest he quietly returned , and inquired several times over the year. Finally, a little irritated and very arrogant, I deigned to allow an audience,( Estaghfirullah) with chaperones, to get him out of my hair for once and for all. We met and I proceeded to set my conditions. He smiled. I inquired as to his wife's opinion on his taking another wife. He smiled. I asked about his children's opinion. He smiled. I was infuriated but tantalized. Why wasn't this going the way I planned (Note the arrogance here, cobwebs again... Allah (Azawajal's) Plan is far superior).
His wife was aware and wished to meet me, his children were excited. I could be myself, a western revert, he didn't expect me to adopt arab ways. (A problem often encountered by others). I could find no logical reason to reject him. I was outdone! (Allah's (Azawajal's) Plan, again) Confused I prayed Istikharah, again and again. The next day I woke very early and prayed Tahajjud, a feeling of calm flowed over me, I wasn't afraid, I wasn't anxious, I was at peace, Al Hamdulillah, MaaSh'Allah. We met two days later and I had no more questions.
My father, on the other hand, was hyperventilating! He requested a meeting. It was set up. They talked. My husband smiled. My father dissolved. He too could only say that he couldn't see anything untoward but was still aghast when I said we were to sign our contract the next day. My father tremulously attended the Nikah as a witness( in addition to the two muslim witnesses and the Qazi who was my Wali/Wakil) this in itself was an act of diplomacy and good Dawah that my father never forgot. I am happy to say that since then my father, step-mother and younger brother have all, MaaSh'Allah Tabarak Allah embraced Islam.
The first thing we did was to visit my co-wife a quiet lady of great generosity, with whom, to this day, I have never had any confrontation, Al Hamdulillah, MaaSh'Allah. Those early days were an examination in many ways, a lot of adjusting to marriage and each other, but here, after twelve years, I can say truly, that I would rather have my situation, (married to this man; who's family is the center of his life, who's Taqwa is ever increasing MaaSh'allah, who guides and supports me in my striving to grow and be the best Muslima, wife and mother that I can be, who indulges my incorrigible tendency to drift back to my old mentality (independence, self-reliance, and more than a touch of opinionation die hard), and who has been there for me and with me through the most special and precious times of my life) than any other. MaaSh'Allah Tabarak Allah.
In all our affairs we always return to the Qur'an and Sunnah if there are differences, Al Hamdulillah. My husband tries his best to be patient and kind with me, he is a good and responsible husband, provider and father to our two daughters. MaaSh'Allah TabarakAllah. Our marriage continues to grow and our relationship deepens, we have had many trials, Al Hamdulillah, but his having another wife and other children has not hampered his efforts to be the best he can be for all of us. MaaSh'allah Tabarak Allah. We live in one compound , now in two villas, our children, all nine, MaaSh'Allah roam from one house to the other freely. We, my co-wife and I, go out shopping and visiting together. We entertain as one family unit, my husband always smiles and invites our guests to enjoy our food, as "East meeting West"!
And that's exactly what we have, with a firm foundation in Islam, Al Hamdulillah, which has no nationality or race, MaaSh'Allah. Which supersedes our Nafs, which doesn't condemn our human weaknesses, but recognizes and encourages us to overcome them. As Always Allahu Alem.
Allahumma inna na'udhu bika min 'ilman la yanfa'u wa qalbin la yakhsha'u, wa nafsin la tasha'u wa du'a la yusma'u
("I seek refuge in You from knowledge that does not benefit, from a heart that is not humbled, from a du'a that is not answered, and from a soul that is not satisfied", Aameen)
Taken from Muslimah Inspirations.