The Revert

A Life Beyond the Mind’s Eye – A Story of Islamic Credence [Part 1]

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem (In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)

The word of Islam will spread throughout the World, enter every home, and no one will be left who has not heard of it.

There are hadiths (a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad that, with accounts of his daily sunnah or practice which constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Qur’an) that indicate Islam will spread throughout the World; and that the World will be ruled according to laws of Islam. Ostensibly, people are becoming aware of the many numbers of non-Muslims from around the world are now accepting Islam. We can read everywhere reverts coming from UK, USA and other non-Muslim countries like The Philippines for one. More specifically a presumed number of reverts increased in France right after Charlie Hebdo Attacks. In fact, one of the famous and controversial personalities was French director Isabelle Matic who was reported to accept Islam early of 2015. – (source)

Islam is viewed as a religion advocating violence, especially to those who do not have any idea of the real teachings of this religion and as depicted by media across the world. Well, it is true that many terrorist groups associated their acts as being Islamic and just. However, people tend to forget that these small number does not represent the whole of Muslim ummah (community). They do not represent the number of born Muslims who are successful, productive and living humbly and harmoniously with everyone else. It is inevitable that there are extremists, not only in Muslim groups but true to other groups as well; may it be religious, political and even social groups. These so-called “extremists/Muslim terrorists” do not represent more so the number of reverts both men and especially women who found a better perspective of life, genuine peace and self-worth after they were given hidayah (guidance).

Another very prominent misconception of the public is about women being oppressed in Islam and further subjected to harsh and authoritarian treatment. From the lens of a non-Muslim society, the mere covering or wearing of hijab/niqab is a sure sign of oppression, which makes the hijabis and niqabis low sectors of society; and accordingly, their human rights are being robbed from them. How can this be possible when Muslim women are not forced to wear such? Instead, it is their will to preserve their honor as jewels of Islam. How odd it is when society restricts nothing but being dressed modestly, that it is acceptable to walk in red carpet with black lace gowns which do not cover anything anymore, but a certain high school student was disallowed to attend school in a long black skirt. But wait, here comes the worse part. When people start talking about polygamous marriage being allowed in Islam, everyone would violently react; yet, it is accepted and has been legalized already the concept of same-sex marriage especially in many western countries. [It is not my intention to sound biased from stating aforementioned because my profession’s ethics taught me how to treat everyone humanely without being subjective and judgemental. Alhamduhlillah! (Praise is to Allah!)]

On the other hand, these and many other negative views and hate comments about Islam could not stop the growing number of reverts. Emphasis put on discussions above because those were actually my thoughts prior my reversion. I was one of the people who had a very nasty view of the religion as I claimed being a devout catholic and I only hear about Islam and Muslims whenever it is the highlight of the regular evening news. In fact I knew nothing about Islam, I personally do not know any Muslim during then, and was unaware (Shame on me….) that Lapu-Lapu, who played an important part of Philippine history, may have been a Tausūg or Sama-Bajau and a Muslim reckoned by some historians although his religion even today sparks controversies.

Now let me take you few years back and perhaps more…

It was during late 2010 when someone I knew was hooked at viewing YouTube videos against Islam and the Prophet (Peace be upon Him), videos containing violence, sex, unfair justice in Sharia law, discriminations, expose’ and a lot more, in short, the usual anti-Islam videos and propagandas. I found myself watching these craps as well, and my ignorance easily drowned me in believing it and took me obviously as a strong opposition of the religion. I had fair share of biases and one-sided views, respectively. I even sworn that I will never accept Islam as my religion even if it is the last thing on earth that I am commanded to do.

I was in the crest of my career where I am swollen with pride being an advocate of human rights, specifically on women and children’s rights, liberation and gender equality. I relayed most of the time that women should not be submissive to husband’s whims and caprices and be assertive of everything as long as it would not be a violation of the law. And, I strongly encouraged women not to be reliant economically from their husbands, and imparted the idea that women must stand firmly for them to acquire equal footing with their husbands by having their own income. This perspective that I have came not just from my profession, but because I grew up in a much empowered family where I learned that there is no much difference between a man and woman except to few physical and biological traits; where everyone has a final say, not just the father; where financial needs are not exclusively the responsibility of the father, nor the wife should be a home maker only; where everyone is free to do what is deemed right and lawful, even without consultation from adults. In short, I grew up in a very dissimilar culture and upbringing as that of what I understood before about Islam, so imagine how I am disdainful of its practice. Now about religious faith and spirituality, I was given a family that has a strong spirituality predominantly on my mother side. I had an uncle who was a catholic monk, my grandparents then were very active members of church and we attend Sunday mass regularly and special church celebrations. Well I could say I was doing my best as a catholic; all catholic sacraments I underwent even regular confessions and fasting during holy week more than any member of my immediate family. So who would have thought…

The sudden twist of fate…

It was in 2012 when I had a change of heart, I thought of looking at the other side of the coin as I wonder why Muslims are such strong believers compared to lax and lukewarm faith of others. Right then, I began to join on-line groups and found myself inclined with discussions regarding the difference between Christianity and Islam. I got a lot of trouble from getting into debates not because of heightened mode of emotions but I am losing my arguments regarding holy trinity and Jesus (peace be upon him) as “The God” alongside with the holy ghost and God the Father. I did not have a solid argument then because being a catholic, I learned to obey and believe the religion and not question any doctrine at all especially about the trinity, clearly as it is a sign of hypocrisy. I remembered talking with my Uncle regarding Prophet Muhammad after Jesus (peace be upon them both) and I mentioned the three Bible verses (Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 42, and John 14) where Muslims use for Qur’anic claims of Prophet Muhammad. My Uncle did not provide me any explanation about it; however he said, that it is the marvel of faith, where you need not question still you believe from your heart. This made me think how Muslims from the group kept telling me that in Islam you are obliged to gain continuous knowledge until such time you can understand the faith. And that no one is forced to neither believe nor indoctrinate and finally get reverted. Guidance is from Allah, as I remembered they say clearly. 

I move further with my own research based from curiosity and mainly to discover loopholes which I can use to throw during rebuttals because I had this intense feeling to find something negative about the religion. Well, it was true that I presented the common arguments of a non-Muslim like why Islam pushes the agenda of jihad (the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin), when all the while I thought of this only as war against unbelievers. But each and every argument I had, they have explanations and would quote a Bible passage in relation to it at times and it amazed me because I feel I knew less of my the Bible compared to what they discern. What struck me more is their manners and attitude while expressing their opinions. They were calm, polite and were indeed patient even I sounded like an antagonist most of the time. I was always assured that no matter how opposite my views were, still they understood where I am coming from and that how appreciative they were for taking interest in reading about the religion and perhaps one day because of doing so I will accept it by heart. Each and every time I would just smirk of this idea.

Nevertheless, I continued reading scholarly articles and just about any posts over the net, viewed many clips and hand in hand comparing with the teachings of Catholicism. Little that I know, I started to assimilate and imbibe Islamic concepts about one true god. My faith was shaken already and I started to have doubts. I questioned the trinity concept and whatever I do, I just couldn’t find myself in sound mind. All the things I learned so far stirred the belief that there is only one true God; and, He doesn’t have any other personality or counterpart nor he begets a son. I remembered crying much because I felt guilty and have betrayed Jesus Christ whom I worshiped and loved as my God since the time I was aware of the importance of spirituality and religion. I was enlightened very early since I grew up with religious grand parents. I would pray holy rosary before I sleep even during elementary years. I felt so shattered and confused at the same time denying the fact that I am slowly accepting Islam deep within. Finally, I decided praying sincerely to my “Creator” and not to any particular God for guidance and that I would be able to resolve the self conflict I am facing for the time. One Muslim brother on-line from the group I was with, advised me to just bow down and humble myself to God because He will all-the-way endow me with clarity and conviction. TRUE INDEED, the first time I bowed down to God it brought shiver to my spine and felt very strange but deep emotions as if I am in ecstasy. No words could illustrate the feelings and I wept for long hours.

Then is one to whom the evil of his deed has been made attractive so he considers it good [like one rightly guided]? For indeed, Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So do not let yourself perish over them in regret. Indeed, Allah is knowing of what they do. – {QUR’AN 35:8 Sahih International}

Taking Shahada…. and it didn’t conclude from here, Wallahi! (Swear by Allah)…

March 21, 2014, after few years of scrupuleyeemfiltered1431316738002ous contemplation, this     individual finally had the audacity to make it official. The declaration of faith happened at the Islamic Studies Call and Guidance Philippines located in Dasmarinas, Cavite through a sister named Iman. It was convenient because I am employed at De La Salle Health Sciences Institute which is not far from ISCAG. I was hesitant to enter the center as I am the only one in jeans (although I managed to wear long sleeve-blouse and brought a shawl), still it was very observable that I do not belong inside where sisters wears abaya and in full hijab. Unexpectedly, everyone was warm and accommodating. I was welcomed with hugs and smiles. They were very excited to tell everyone both brothers and sisters why there is a sudden appearance of a woman in jeans.

ASH-HADU ANLA ELAHA ILLA-ALLAH WA ASH-HADU ANNA MOHAMMADAN RASUL-ALLAH”. “I bear witness that there is no deity (none truly to be worshipped) but, Allah, and I bear witness that Mohammad is the messenger of Allah.”

These are the words which are articulated during every Shahada, and which I found myself speaking the same and exact words to confirm finally the Muslim faith which is Islam. Surprisingly I was little off after, there was emptiness or perhaps the state of being wiped clean of everything from past. Sister Iman asked how I was, after whom I answered that the feeling is like an empty basket that must be filled in or else the vagueness will succumb to non-desirable emotions. My feeling was different compared with other reverts who at times cry after Shahada and somewhat melodramatic, which I can understand why.

However, this new Muslimah then is very objective and impassive. I, for that moment, was stunned of how bare I feel opposite from what I had expected. It was not very long that the reality descended in my mind. I panicked not because of the decision of accepting Islam but all the worries and anxieties related to family and societal acceptance donned on me, as well as the pressure of acquiring Islamic knowledge in order to justify the reversion and fulfilling obligations gearing towards embodiment of this faith. Stress started to build up; however, it wasn’t a hindrance to master what is required that time, like familiarizing salah (prayer), memorizing surahs (chapter of Qur’an) and getting further knowledge about the Pillars of Islam. None except for the self effort paved way in establishing small understanding of the newly accepted religion. But of course, all those time Allah “Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala,” (Glory to Him, the Exalted) was with me. Undeniably my new life instigated after the shahada, a life that is beyond mind’s eye.

 

For part 2 of this story, please click here.

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