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Rahima’s Story

Aug 7, 2020 | Conversion Stories

I went to the mosque on February 8th 2019, with an inquisitive mind and returned home as a Muslim. As I was about to start a 6 months internship in Nottingham. I reunited with a high school friend, I hadn’t seen for over 4 years after leaving Nairobi, although we were only a few hours away by train from each other. Two days into our reunion, I abruptly decided to call the nearest mosque that Friday, I was told by Sufi (a brother at the mosque) that I should come at 3 pm after Friday prayers and the imam will answer any questions I have.

I had been curiously researching Islam for 3 months. A Saudi friend I had met through mutual friends at a summer barbecue in 2018 would tell me things I found outrageous then, like listen to the recitation of the Quran when I had headaches instead of taking Panadol, and when I was restless or stressed, best advice I’ve ever heard although I thought he was crazy to suggest it, it did wonders. Simply listening to the Quran was calming, even though I didn’t understand. I then started searching differences of Christianity to Islam and the shocking revelation was reading about the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As I read the similarities yet distinct differences between religions. I fell more and more in love with The Prophet for a reason unknown to me, as he was a prophet I have never heard of in my previous religion.

When I arrived at the mosque, funnily, I didn’t remember having any questions for the imam, I was emotional. I went on venting about reasons for my frustration of distancing myself from God. I needed spiritual guidance and been lost for over a decade. Weirdly, I don’t usually make myself vulnerable to people I just met five minutes ago. If the imam had not suggested I take the shahadah, I don’t think I would have returned to do so, because it wasn’t my intention when I left my house.

Before leaving for the mosque, my friend told me I couldn’t go to the mosque without a hijab. As defiant as I could be, I said, “I’m only going to ask questions, I don’t need to wear the hijab.” Since it was winter, I wore a scarf around my neck with the intention that if I needed to cover my head, I would use my scarf.

After taking the shahadah, I remembered returning home still covered up, it just felt right. After I tried on a proper hijab, I started to name my reflection with whatever Muslim name I felt was suitable, as I wasn’t used to the woman I was seeing.

I was invited by the imam to a class the next day (Saturday morning) and Sufi offered to give me a ride. Since I didn’t have a hijab, he came earlier with some. Reality had not yet kicked in, I’m now a Muslim even with the hijab on. After the class ended, the sister next to me (Sufi’s sister-in-law) knew I was a revert[1] and invited me the next day, Sunday, to dhikr[2] with the sisters. I attended and was overwhelmed by the gifts I got. From prayer mats, praying gowns, prayer beads, books, and mobile numbers suggesting I get in touch whenever I needed them. I learned that another sister conducts classes from Monday to Thursday evening. I was at the mosque every day after taking the shahadah, including Fridays for the Friday Prayer. Reality had only kicked in when I was making sure my food was halal, waking up at early hours to pray, and my phone was filled with apps I would’ve never downloaded as a non-Muslim.

My friends were supportive but not sure of what I had done, since they were used to me making unanticipated absurd decisions. I didn’t tell anyone one in my family until two months later. I told my dad, as shocking as it was, he had loads of questions but those were questions I had prepared answers for two months ago. He wasn’t convinced, he was heartbroken, very inconsiderate, and not understanding as much as I would love him to. I had to isolate myself for a few more months to learn more about my new religion. I wasn’t the first child of my parents to revert, I have an older brother who did way before me, but he wasn’t an influence to my conversion. I used that as leverage to get my dad’s support, but as his youngest daughter, wearing the hijab which clearly showed I’m a Muslim, unlike my brother, my dad’s concerns were more of me being discriminated as a Black Hijabi[3] woman, to thinking I’m being radicalised, to thinking I did it for a guy. He was thinking about everything else apart from the reasons I gave him. He eventually had to support me as I can be stubborn and there’s a part of him that is scared to lose his daughter. I was going months without speaking to him until he was ready to support me.

I was willing to lose my relationship with my dad and not lose the relationship I had gained with God. A relationship I had lost at the ruthlessness of my own justification, as I felt unloved by God. I felt He was giving me battles I wasn’t equipped for. Battles I had to be a solitary soldier for. I felt like He never made Himself known to me, inquisitive as He made me, I was born in a religion that wasn’t answering every question I had. It took me over a decade of entangling, with Satan leading me astray.

But it took only a few seconds to regain faith, trust, to feel His love, and His presence. I’ve been a disbeliever before, been there, done that. I wasn’t willing to live another second purposelessly if that meant losing my family’s support. The journey has been a sturdy one, but it’s a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything.

 

[1] A term some use for conversion to Islam.

[2] Remembrance and mentioning of God’s name in the form of invocations.

[3] A woman who wears the hijab.

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