"And when they finally ended the secret African chant, I came into a room with three shadowy figures dressed in nothing but sunglasses and covered in feathers. Then, I gave the pledge. They put me in a plastic bag and I sat in the closet for 45 minutes listening to Linkin Park's Greatest Hits. They lit a candle of solitude and I took 4 passes around the table of knowledge - counterclockwise - while drinking 7.2 ounces of lamb's blood".......
Becoming Muslim is not entering a fraternity in college. It's not a cult. I didn't have to do a naked run or chug 49320490 beers. It was simple.
When I decided that I felt like I was just about ready to convert, I actually found some girl on Facebook that I had seen around quite a lot at school. I felt like every where I went, this one hijabi kept popping up on campus. She was my hijabi soulmate.
So, one day, I randomly stumbled onto her Facebook and sent her a message saying that I was interested in converting and that I would like to talk more with her.
I met with her and she was amazing. She's still one of my dearest friends now - (love you Foof). She talked to me about a lot of things, she introduced me to another convert - another dear friend of mine (love you too Michelle LoL) - that she felt would understand me well. She took me to the masjid for halaqa (our version of Bible study), she took me to a woman's house for lessons in the meaning of Qur'an. She introduced me to her friends. She was so helpful.
And, she introduced me to the sweetest woman, Fadia, who held a weekly halaqa for converts. I contacted Fadia, who was a local doctor, and spoke with her about how I was interested in converting. She said she wanted to meet with me. She was like the gatekeeper for converts. She helped to organize people taking their "shahada" or declaration of faith in Islam.
So, I met her at a Wendy's one afternoon and we talked. I thought there would be steps to converting. I thought she would want me to go very slowly. And she did. We started talking and she asked me what I knew about Islam.
Now, I had been reading Quran and studying and going to halaqa from November to May for 3 or 4 hours a day. I didn't just wake up one morning and say "I'd like an omelette, and I'd like to be Muslim!"
So, I started talking about everything I knew. At first, she asked if I knew the pillars of the faith, and I listed them off. She asked about certain things that Muslims would know, and I knew them. Then, we went deeper. I talked about differences in Shia and Sunni, I talked about hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) - AND, I said "sallah Allahu alayhi wa salaam" after I talked about him. She could see that I REALLY know what I'm talking about.
Then we talked about WHY I want to convert. How I felt like I was always Muslim. How my mother passed away and what that taught me from a young age about life and religion, and all of the faith I had that I was making the right decision - and a decision that would be permanent. We both cried. Like babies. In Wendy's. Eating Frosties.
At the start of the conversation, she was putting me on a plan to convert maybe in a month or two.
By the end of the conversation, she wanted me to convert that week.
She knew I knew what I was talking about. I don't make brash decisions.
When I knew, I knew.
So, I met her on that next Friday, May 27th, 2011, outside the masjid. In a white hijab and white tunic. And we talked. I got her a little gift, and all of my Muslim friends came. She asked if I was sure. And I was.
People I knew from before I was Muslim even that wouldn't typically come to the masjid for Friday prayer, they came to see me.
IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, (and I sat front row of a Spice Girls concert when I was 7, so that's really saying something!).
And I sat there next to all the girls I knew from the mosque, nervous that I would have to speak in front of all of these people.
I've further described the day I took my shahada in another post, and the details of the day. Even the khutba (Muslim version of "sermon") applied to my life.
So, the Imam announced my intent to convert. And, I went to the side of the masullah ("prayer hall") and took my shahada in front of the crowded masjid.
I didn't have to do some crazy ritual. I didn't have to be baptized. I didn't have to go through a 6 week training course, like when you convert to Judaism. I just said, in Arabic and English, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger." And that's it. That's all you have to do.
Yep, that's all.
The women were crying, people brought me gifts, and they really treated me amazing. I was very thankful - and I still am thankful. I'll never forget that treatment. Whenever I hear of someone else taking their shahada I go out of my way to congratulate them.
In Islam, when you take your shahada, you are wiped clean of all your sins. All of the things I did before that day vanished. And, I started with a blank slate. Alhamdulilah, what a blessing.
I got a Get Out of Jail Free card! Jealous, much?
After taking your shahada, you go home, take a shower, and you're done. (By the way, this shower feels amazing. Imagine a shower after you roll around in the mud and you're getting all the dirt off, this one actually felt like all my sins were washing off. I know that's so damn cheesy, but I swear to you).
That's all the steps. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.
Literally, all you have to do to becoming Muslim is this:
- Have a true intention in your heart
- Say (in ANY gathering of more than 2 people - doesn't even have to be the mosque): "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger"
I've made casseroles that took longer.
One request I have of you - whoever you are: Please pray (make du'aa) for the three women who helped me most in taking my shahada: Afaf, Michelle, and Fadia. May Allah protect them and reward them all with Jannah for being such a wonderful help, guidance, and role models for me (and in Fadia's case, a LARGE quantity of other women).
May Allah (swt) guide us all to His truth, May He reward all of the people who helped me in my conversion or were part of the process in ANY capacity, and may He make conversion easy on all of us as it is intended to be. Ameen.