Islam is the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me; here's why...
Islam is the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me; here's why...
Hannah Nemec-Snider is a twenty-seven year old Muslim convert.
She was born and raised in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.
Her mother, who had raised her throughout her entire life,
passed away from cancer when Hannah was thirteen years old.
This event lead to spiritual enlightenment
and a deeper connection to God.
But, she was always searching for others who shared her beliefs.
After learning about Islam at the age of twenty,
first from a friend
and soon reading the Qur'an herself,
she found what she had always been looking for.
At the time, she was studying Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.
When she felt as though she had learned enough to live life as a Muslim,
she decided to formally convert.
On May 27, 2011, the best day of her life,
she took her shahada in front of Masjid Saad in Toledo, Ohio.
In 2012, Hannah moved to Los Angeles, California
to pursue her career in Real Estate after her graduation.
In 2014 she had a show called Living Differently
by the Oxygen Network filmed about her daily life
as a convert trying to find her place in this world.
In 2015, she fulfilled her long-time dream
of moving to Saudi Arabia.
She is currently pursuing her business consulting career
living between Los Angeles, Riyadh and Dubai.
This blog was created
in order to answer all of the questions she gets
about being Muslim -
from both other Muslims, converts, and nonMuslims.
It's also a place that the author is able to talk about her unique perspective about moments in her life:
from her mother who passed away when Hannah was thirteen,
to her always insightful and hilarious interactions with her grandmother,
to her travels and experiences all over the world.
She hopes you follow her journey with an open mind, an open heart, and compassion.
On May 27th, 2011, I took my shahada, or my declaration of faith in Islam in front of our crowded masjid. However, I did not become a Muslim on that day. I have been Muslim my entire life, but was unaware of it. I have always believed in one God and Him alone. This thought is one of the most basic, but most important, pillars of the religion. The reason I never knew I was Muslim was because no one ever told me. I have a Muslim roommate, have met many Muslim people, but no one ever told me what Muslims believe in. All along I had believed in Islam, but had no idea that my faith was the same faith as millions of people around me.
Finally, after years of trying to understand my beliefs, attending different religious services and only believing in parts of what I would hear, a close friend asked me what I believed in. We had been friends for a while and we never talked about religion. I explained my fundamental beliefs, that I believe in God, but not the trinity, and I believe in heaven and angels, but also noted that it did not fall under any one religion and I “didn’t know what it was called”. My friend told me that I had been wrong all this time and that all of my beliefs are consistent with the friend’s beliefs as a Muslim.
At first I thought my friend was just trying to make Islam “look good,” explaining the most appealing parts of the faith. The friend would send me ayas (or “verses”) from the Qur’an and I agreed with them, but I thought the friend was only picking and choosing the best lines that would make me more interested. The first one I received was Surah Ad Duha. The eleven verses that comprised this surah were the theme of my life. I went out and bought a Qur’an for myself to find things to point out to my friend that I did not agree with. I couldn’t find one single thing. I agreed with every ayah. I easily understood why the literal translation of “ayah” is “miracle”. Every verse is a miracle. As a matter of fact, everyword is a miracle.
It was a miracle in my own life that after searching for twenty years, after being confused, after thinking I would never find anyone else with my beliefs, I found Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) through His will. The best part was, however, that He had always been with me. I would stay up as late as possible reading Qur’an and crying knowing that I was reading the truth. I reflect on how beautiful it is that Allah (swt) gave all of the other Prophets the power to perform miracles for the people of their time to see, but he gave Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa salaam) a miracle that I get to hold in my hands every day, the Qur’an.
I knew I was Muslim and I knew I was so incredibly blessed that Allah (swt) wanted me, a twenty-year old college student, to come to Him. How could I be so lucky? And how could I do anything but seek all the knowledge and faith possible when I was chosen by Him to come to Islam?
There is a hadith that says, “if you draw nearer to Allah by a handspan, He will draw nearer to you by a cubit, and if you draw nearer to Him by a cubit, He will draw nearer to you by a fathom. And if you walk towards Him, He will rush to you.” Well, I drew nearer to Him by miles and miles and He far surpassed my efforts. And I sprinted to Him, and He rushed to me at lightspeed.
That is not to say there were not times when I was terrified. Americans do not think too fondly of Muslims, and after all the negative media portrayals I expected my friends to feel similarly about the subject. Some do, and I do not mind letting them go as friends. A friend should accept you for what you are, and also should draw you nearer to Allah. Spending time with those friends makes it obvious to me that they are not what is best for me. That is not to say I do not makedu’aa (or prayer) for them.
There are friends who support me and love me no matter what my choice is, and to them I am thankful. I can only hope that Allah (swt) draws them nearer to Him. However, what I was surprised to find out of these friends is the complete lack of knowledge about Islam, and oftentimes about their own religions as well. I was ignorant about Islam before converting, but I had not thought that all of my friends would equally as ignorant about Islam and their own religions!
It is my biggest honor in life to be Muslim. It is my second biggest honor to explain Islam to others. I am thankful that people feel comfortable enough around me at a grocery store, or in line at Subway, or at my office, or at the park to ask me about my faith, I just hope that I am eloquent and intelligent enough to speak for my faith.
There’s nothing I love talking about more than what we believe in and why we believe in it. I cannot force others to believe in Islam: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error” (Qur’an 2.256). However, I can educate people who do not know what Islam is with regards to our basic beliefs. I cannot teach faith, that is only in the heart and that is only between you and Allah (swt), but I can help to teach His message. This teaching, or dawah, is a critical part of Islam. Islam does not belong to us, it belongs to all of mankind. Islam, and the Prophet (saws) are a mercy for the entire world.
I have been told to “go back where I came from” in a WalMart parking lot (to which I responded, “I’m from Cleveland!”). I have been told to “shut up” while eating ice cream with Muslim friends for no reason. I have had people make sure their children did not walk anywhere near me at restaurants. I have had people tell me that Jesus loves me (to which I responded, “I love him too!”). I have had a woman tell me she feels bad for the way I dress when I was wearing abaya and she was wearing a tube top and mini skirt (to which I responded, “honey, I feel even worse for you”). And, I have had parents tell their children the reason I was wearing hijab is because I have cancer. And that is perfectly fine. If these people knew the peace we had in our hearts, they would be fighting us for that.
I hope to teach people more about our religion, and I hope that more people are open minded enough to learn. Also, I hope that I continue learning forever. I encourage the Muslim population to get to know people from different cultures and religions and explain ours. Also, I encourage the Muslim population to get to know converts. We have a unique perspective, and oftentimes while you can help teach new converts about ibada, they can help teach you about iman.
With other cultures, there’s no need to fight, but how beautiful is it that we would speak for ourselves instead of letting others speak for us?
May Allah (swt) continue blessing us with the gift of faith, and inshaAllah we will all draw each other nearer to Him. May we all be in the Glory of His Presence and have the honor of being close to Him and His Mercy someday.
“To Him we belong and to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an 2.156)
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
I’d like to warn everyone of the following, as it is EXTREMELY important:
I am a twenty-seven year old convert,
making my place in this world.
Islam is the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me,
and I’d like to show everyone on this planet how beautiful it is.
That being said, I may say things that are controversial, I may stereotype, I may get it wrong.
I’M WRONG A LOT.
Please be clear, however, that my intentions are pure,
I only want to create positivity,
and I only want to show you how much I love this religion and this life.