Known only by her initials, S.B., the British woman had nearly turned to atheism when in the holy month of Ramadan when she accidentally experienced live TV broadcast from Makkah she got the feel of Islam for the first time. She says it was the beginning of her quest for truth that ultimately made her convert to Islam.
MY father was very much inclined toward Christianity. When I was a child he would tell me stories from the Bible about prophets like Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). As a result I grew to love them and also had a great admiration for my father.
As I began to mature I felt growing unrest in my heart. Something was missing in my life but I didn’t know what it was. I wanted to return to my childhood state when I was innocent, but as each day went by my situation worsened. My character was in need of reform, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I looked at my community and society at large and felt alienated from them. At weddings and other social occasions, I’d sit, looking at everyone around me, wondering what on earth I was doing there. Surely there had to be more to life than this. When I told my mother about how I felt, she asked, “Well where do you belong then? You have to fit in with other people and be like them if you want to get on in life.” Her advice did nothing for me. I knew this life was not for me, but what alternative did I have? It seemed there was no hope. I sank deeper and deeper into depression, often feeling suicidal.
It was then that events occurred leading to the most terrifying experience of my life. In the middle of the night I would wake up and walk around in a half conscious state, thinking it was daylight. I could see what I was doing and what I was saying, but I was unable to either stop myself or understand why this was happening. I felt as if I was on the verge of insanity, finally beginning to crack up. During the day, I was normal, and so to the rest of my family it was a joke. However my mother insisted on taking me to see the doctor. Her reaction was the same. She laughed and told me I was sleep walker, maybe I should have a hot drink before I went to bed. No one realized how afraid I was, feeling anxious every time darkness began to fall.
A couple of days later, while I was asleep I saw the face of this being, not entirely human. Its skin had a greenish-black tinge and it had something on its head. It`s face was turned away from me, to the side. Then it looked straight into my eyes, with eyes amber in color. I jumped up in fear, and seeing this it threw its head back and laughed at me, an evil laugh. All I could hear were voices; screaming, laughing and something being chanted in a rhythmic tone, which I was unable to understand.
I leapt out of bed and switched the light on. This was no nightmare. I was fully awake, but the voices were still there. I began to scream, covering my ears, frantically running around the room in an attempt to drown out the voices that were hounding me and to try and wake the rest of my family. But they just didn`t seem to hear. I was crying out loudly, weeping profusely but still the voices would not subside. I felt such fear, the like of which I could never have conceived before. No one could help me. I was all alone and powerless to do anything.
In desperation I got down on the floor, covering my face and ears with my arms, between my sobs, I began to pray; “O God! Please help me! I’m sorry for all the things I’ve done wrong. I’ll do whatever You tell me, whatever road You want me to take, I’ll take it, but You have to help me. I don’t know what You want me to do.” I kept pleading in this way, repeating myself again and again.
Then all of a sudden everything stopped. The voices had gone and I sensed the atmosphere had changed, but I was too afraid to look around the room, and still kept crying. After some time I managed to find the courage to uncover my face. Everything was peaceful, serene. God had saved me.
It’s difficult to convey to others exactly what happened and how I felt. A person can only comprehend something like this if they have been through a similar experience. After a while I forgot how afraid I had been when this incident took place. But I was now convinced of God’s existence.
Sometimes later, during the month of Ramadan, I was sitting home in front of the television, flicking from channel to channel. I accidentally switched to an Arabic channel where there was a live transmission from the Ka’aba in Makkah at prayer time. The image moved me; people bending down, prostrating, standing side by side, from different parts of the world wearing the same clothes worshipping the same God, the One True God. Everything seemed so clear now. It was almost like looking into a mirror. I saw my true self.
I went to the library and picked up a translation of the Qur’an. I didn’t know quite what I was going to find, but what I read left me in wonder and exceeded all my expectations. I began to read about Jesus and his mother Mary (peace be upon them). Prior to this I had never thought of Jesus as being a prophet of Islam, in fact I was under the impression that Muslims disliked him. Then I turned to some verses about the prophets Lot and Solomon (peace be upon them). God spoke of them as being noble prophets, unlike in the Bible. Even before this I could never understand how these people could commit such crimes as they were accused of in the Old Testament when they were the ones sent as examples for us.
This was my first encounter with the Qur’an. I had feelings not only of joy and amazement, but also of relief. I didn’t know a book like this actually existed, it seemed almost too good to be true!
I really believe that in the life of each and every person Allah Almighty makes Himself manifest to them in some way or another. In their heart everyone knows the reality of His existence, even though externally they may try to cover up the truth.
Looking back at my life when I started to think about religion, it never occurred to me to even consider Islam. Maybe this was due to the inward fear I had of Islam, or Islamophobia as it is called. Whenever I saw a man with a beard and Islamic dress, a woman in hijab, I felt threatened.
The words fundamentalism, violence and terrorism sprang to mind. I let the media do my thinking for me instead of considering the facts for myself. I used to think of religion as something that was not supposed to make sense, you shouldn’t think too deeply about it or ask too many questions, but just believe. In fact I was afraid that by getting an education and going on to university I’d end up becoming an atheist!
But with Islam, the more I look into it the more I realize how beautiful this deen is. The laws are just and unparalleled. It is the Truth, the universal message, and the greatest blessing Allah Almighty has bestowed upon mankind.