I met my fiancé, Muhammad, four years ago while studying at University, we were both on the same course and got to know each other well. At the time I had very few Muslim friends, I was curious about his religion and we talked about it a lot.
Through our conversations, I began to question my own beliefs. I realised that, although I claimed to be an ‘atheist’ I lacked conviction, I had grown up in a secular society and never been challenged to think any differently. It was only when confronted with Islam that I really began to ponder life’s big questions in any real depth.
Was there a God, a Creator, or a higher power? Where did this all come from? Why are we here?
I searched for scientific explanations but came up empty-handed, but I wasn’t convinced by faith either. I adopted the ‘agnostic’ view; that we cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, it is beyond our comprehension, it is unknowable. Muhammad would ask me “what would it take to convince you that God exists? What proof do you need?” I had no answer, I really didn’t know.
The course was coming to an end and final deadlines were looming, I found myself struggling to cope with the pressure. I was very stressed, I couldn’t sleep, and some days I felt completely overwhelmed. When it was all over, I moved out of my flat in Liverpool and back home with my parents.
Meanwhile, Muhammad and I had reached a crossroads. We wanted to get married, but he had made it clear I would have to convert to Islam. I felt conflicted. Could I do it for him? It seemed wrong to lie about my beliefs, and surely it would lead to problems down the road. He said, patiently, just try to have an open mind and an open heart, but we were both worried about the future.
I needed space to think. I gave myself a few weeks break and took lots of walks in the countryside, thinking and reflecting. I tried to meditate, I researched mindfulness, did yoga stretches, anything I could think of to try and calm that anxious feeling. Muhammad gave me a translated copy of the Qur’an but I struggled to connect with it, and the threats of hellfire frightened me. I could see that a secular life had so many holes, but was Islam really the answer?
Muhammad suggested we meet with the imam at the university. I hesitantly agreed; I felt nervous and worried that he would judge me. To my surprise, he was pleasant, funny and kind. He asked me lots of questions about myself and what I believed.
I told him I believed in the possibility of a higher power but wasn’t sure. I said there were things that I liked about Islam, the discipline, structure, sense of morality, and the way it seemed to offer an antidote to the materialism of modern life. He remarked that I was very spiritual; I was confused, the word ‘spiritual’ conjured up images of new-age trends, what did spirituality have to do with Islam?
He told me Islam is not just about the hereafter, it can benefit me in this life too. He talked about Sufism (Tasawwuf), the inner, spiritual aspect of Islam, and how it had inspired some of the most beautiful poetry and art of the Islamic world. He talked about certain people who have developed such a strong connection to God they were able to weather life’s storms with grace. I was fascinated, I had never heard anyone explain faith in this way before.
He asked me to try something. He said; during the last third of the night, when everyone else is sleeping, God descends to the lowest heavens, and this is the perfect time to reach out to Him. I was sceptical, but I said I would try it. “What have you got to lose?” he was right, what did I have to lose?
So one night that following week, I set my alarm for 3 a.m. I woke up, sat on the floor, and talked to God.
At first, I felt silly, like I was talking to myself, but I persisted and after a while, I felt calm. I found myself asking Him for help, thanking Him, praying for loved ones. Slowly I felt a realisation dawning: “What if there is someone actually listening right now?” I felt my hairs stand on end. I crept back under the covers feeling somehow unsettled and elated at the same time.
Several months passed, I had started a new job and was reading about Islam in my spare time. I bought a couple of books about Sufism and a compilation of poems by Rumi. They became my bedtime reading. I would smile as I read the beautiful words full of wisdom and light, they seemed to speak directly to my soul. I felt my heart warming to Islam.
Around Christmas time, we arranged to meet with the imam again and talked for a while. Feeling inspired, I told him I wanted to learn how to pray. Hold on, he said, first of all, we should establish a couple of things: Do you believe in God? And do you believe that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was a Prophet and Messenger of God?
I was now certain that God existed. I knew little about the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, but in my heart, I believed him to be truthful, and I believed Islam to be the truth.
Once we had established this, we said the Shahada. I was smiling. The imam told me my slate had been wiped clean and all of my previous sins had been erased. It was an amazing feeling, like a weight had been lifted.
And so I became a Muslim! That day was the 2nd January 2019. Since then I haven’t looked back. My fiancé and I hope to get married soon InshaAllah, and I pray for a long and happy future together worshipping Allah ﷻ.
 The testification of faith to become a Muslim.