Zahara’s Story

May 18, 2020 | Conversion Stories

I took my shahada[1] in September 2010 but my interest in Islam had started about a year before. I always had a connection to God growing up even though neither of my parents followed a religion. I would talk to Him, nothing too deep, it would be more along the lines of: “If you can hear me make the rain stop.” Ha! I was young and curious. I even planned out my own christening and told my mum when I’m old enough to do what I want I’m getting christened.

Skipping many years later, I found myself working in a majority male Muslim environment, it wasn’t the best environment but I guess light comes even in the darkest of places. Just through observing the guys celebrating Eids and Friday Prayers, I guess I just got nosey, I wanted to know why! I could see different sides to them but this driving force they had, to keep up the fasting and Friday rituals was ‘different’. So my overly-confident self started: “Well okay, they only eat halal, I can do that!” And when I tell you I only ate tuna for a month straight because I didn’t know where to buy halal meat or any other products, it shows my stubborn competitive nature. It carried on like that for a while, they don’t drink – okay I can do that too, wear full sleeves, full pants – yup can do that too. Whilst I was challenging no one but myself with this I was also reading, reading, reading and more reading. I wanted to know everything. Who was Allah ﷻ? Why do they say it a lot? Who is Muhammed ﷺ? Why do they love him so much? Where is a woman’s place in Islam? Where is the man’s place? I would watch Yusuf Estes on YouTube over and over just listening and agreeing. I wasn’t shocked or surprised, I felt more acceptance I think it was. Like my heart knew but now my brain was catching up.

Now I know this all sounds very cheesy to say and it all wasn’t without hiccups; I would rebel against myself a lot! If my friends were going on nights out, half of me wanted to stay home but I’d tell myself: “No, this is your world, go out, enjoy yourself” and I would go but I had guilt in me and it stopped being as fun, I even became the driver of the group so I had an excuse not to drink. Now this period was very confusing, I went back and forth like this for a month or two. I can’t really remember what the turning point was or if there was one but I remember feeling like okay a shahada is what’s needed now, I know it. I was put into contact with an amazing sister who became one of my closest friends, and she invited me to an iftar[2] dinner at the mosque. I remember her saying to me: “Come along, don’t worry you don’t have to wear hijab or anything just come as you are.” I laughed awkwardly because I had already started wearing the hijab when I knew that I wanted shahada. Anyway, I went along, I was like a deer in headlights! The mosque was so busy, women and kids everywhere, I didn’t know what was going on but the sister, bless her, kept me close. When Maghrib[3] came in, she asked me if I knew how to pray. I wasn’t 100% sure so she took me into a different room where it was less busy and told me to just think of Allah ﷻ and follow her actions. We got into the second sujud[4] (forehead to the floor) and I just cried, I couldn’t even get up to carry on. I was trying so hard to stop, thinking this sister is going to think I’m crazy. I had calmed down by the time she had finished her prayer but she knew and hugged me so hard. She asked if I was ok, then took me back into the main room to eat. It was a few weeks later and she rang me Friday morning checking I was coming to jummah[5] because the Imam had said I can do my shahada straight after prayer if I wanted….. And I did!

 

[1] The testification of faith to become a Muslim.

[2] The meal for breaking the fast.

[3] The sunset prayer.

[4] Prostration.

[5] The congregational Friday prayer.

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