Landisa: My story of converting from Christianity to Islam

2019-10-31 07:45
Aaron Burden, Unsplash

Aaron Burden, Unsplash

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La ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah

If you had told me seven years ago that I would say these words declaring my belief in the oneness of God and accepting Muhammad as God’s prophet, I would never have believed you.

Growing up I was a very good Christian. I read my Bible, took part in prayer meetings. I even used to force my parents who weren’t practicing at the time to take me to church every Sunday.

When I started university, that part of me stopped growing. I no longer felt that I needed God in my life. I stopped reading the Bible. I stopped going to church.

A few years later, at the age of 23, I got married, ironically in a church. My marriage crumbled after six years as I could no longer help my ex-husband fight his demons. I was broken, and I blamed God for what had happened.

A few years after I got divorced I met my partner who is Muslim, and was introduced to Islam. At no point did I consider that I would ever go down the route of choosing the religion, and I remained adamant that God would play no part in my life.

But three years ago, I came across an article that a friend had posted on Facebook. It described how a Jewish man had entered into Islam after coming across a mosque in Canada mostly attended by Sufis. It was somewhere that he felt he belonged. Sufism or TasawwufI is regarded as a mystical form of Islam. Those who practice it follow the five pillars of Islam but also meditate.

There are various orders of Sufism and there isn’t a specific characteristic that can be pegged on all Sufis. Sufis, however, have been targeted in some sectors and regarded as heretics.

After reading the article, I immediately started searching for Sufism in South Africa because it was something I had read about before and was intrigued, especially as I enjoyed meditating. After doing some research I came across an email address and sent off an enquiry. I never expected to hear anything. 

A few days later on a very busy Friday morning, I received a call from Faisal, asking if I would like to come visit. I was apprehensive but thought I would go and see what he had to say.

Faisel as it turned out was not as old as I had expected, nor did he practice whirling associated with the Sufi Dervishes (a little bit to my disappointment).

We chatted for a bit, with his daughter Nazreen joining us. Faisal asked why I was there. My answers, even to myself, were insufficient. I could not explain.

Faisel and his family focus on meditation using the Naqshbandi way which identifies several latifah (or chakras if you will). We did a meditation focusing on the Qalb (heart) latif. I left afterwards, feeling lighter but still unsure of why I was there. At least, I felt, whatever happened I could learn about Islam in a safe space.

I kept on practicing meditation. Sometimes I would cry through it, which I never expected.

I continued to see Nazreen and her father even though I was still unable to give a proper answer on what I wanted.

In 2017, I decided I would try fasting over Ramadan to see if it would become clearer to me and if this was the path for me. At the end of it, I still didn’t have a definitive answer, but the pull was there. I was reading more about Islam and the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) just waiting for that arrow to strike my heart.

Another Ramadan came and I fasted again, still unsure of my direction. Still sitting on the fence.

Each time Nazreen saw me, she would ask if I had decided and I wouldn’t be able to give her a positive answer.

We continued with the meditations. I knew that if I wanted to continue, I would need to decide if I would revert.

A powerful meditation a few nights before Ramadan in 2019 made me realise that Allah was real. This is not to say that previous meditations had not had any impact but during those times I had continued to allow for a bit of doubt.

My powerful meditation came on the same night that my partner’s sister had given me some instructions on how to pray.

I am sure I made a complete mess of the prayer and it came out all wrong but as I meditated and focused on my nafs (ego/soul), I shook for a while. Every time I did this meditation, I would experience the same sensation.

I would pray and read the Quran and the message that was coming across was the same: Allah has sent previous messengers and those who failed to listen, have done so at their own peril.

When I arrived at the Faisel’s house on May 18, 2019, I was not expecting to say, yes, I was ready to revert when Nazreen asked. It just came out of my mouth and it felt right.

We went through the process of getting ready. With the family gathered, I nervously said my shahada (Islamic creed). I’m sure I mangled the words, but my intention was there. Later Nazreen’s father said that my face was filled with light as I said the words: La ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah.

It’s been five months since that day. I don’t think I am always a good Muslim but I am trying. I try bear in my mind that the first Muslims didn’t learn Islam in a day. It was a process. While technically I’ve been on this journey since 2016, my heart finally feels happy that I have committed to Islam. I have come home.

* A pseudonym was used to protect the identity of the writer.

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