Amber (former Muslim)
Testimony of Leaving Islam
Unlike most converts, I had no Muslim boyfriend introduce me to the faith. I did not convert at the nudges of a man, or a friend. I graduated in May 2008, that November, I decided I would be Muslim. I had watched a short movie called Submission about the horrors of Islam and I started to be curious. I googled. Then I read al-Fatiha, and I knew I would do it. But I didn't care to just jump into something. So I studied. I read everything I could about Islam. I talked to my only Muslim friend about it, who told me it's this beautiful religion and how wonderful it was. Of course, she left out how impossibly incompatible with real life it is. Anyways, I converted at a huge mosque in Atlanta the weekend before I was to start my Sophomore year of college. I did not jump head first into it. Most of my friends didn't believe that I'd stick with Islam, my family surely didn't. But I was determined to do it.
However, I was struggling. I tried to wear the hijab, I really did. But it was hot and people asked too many questions about it. For my Sophomore year, I was a horrible Muslim. Then Summer school came and I don't know what happened, but I became this really "outwardly" conservative Muslim. However, I was sleeping around with my last boyfriend and I found that Islam required my full allegiance, and with the help of God, I stopped. At that moment, my faith in Islam was sealed.
I started hanging out with more Muslims, and I even began covering my face with the niqab, all within my Junior year. I don't know what changed. I was certain that Islam was the truth. I prayed that God would send me and my family guidance everyday, and to me, that meant Islam. I was even beginning to hate the Western society. I wanted to drop everything and devote my life to Islam. I wanted to marry young and never experience life because Islam taught me that the best place for me to be was at home, devoted to God, my Husband, and my kids.
While I was getting closer to God, I was being pushed away by the very Muslims I was trying to establish a community with. I felt like they were very much racist and out of touch of true Islam. I wanted nothing to do with the Arabs because they looked down on my brown skin. I didn't like how the Desi culture was force fed to us as Islam when clearly it was not. And moreover, I was tired of everyone attaching taboos to things decidedly accepted in American society. These "believers" were worse than the hypocritical Christians I grew up with!
But, no, they weren't enough to push me away from Islam. Despite the racism, the judging, the lack of social life, I persisted. I was certain that Islam was the truth. I knew it was. I had begun to watch these online lectures and to even begin sympathizing with Al-Qaeda. I felt like the world was at odds with Islam, which to me was this beautiful and perfect religion. I wanted khilafah, Islamic rule over the world, I was even prepared to die for it.
But of course, God had heard my prayers for guidance, all of them, throughout the years and one day, I was sitting on my porch, thinking. "Am I really a believer? Or am I just afraid to live my life? Am I using Islam as an excuse? Am I too lazy to attempt to reach my goals in life? Can I see a future in this religion? What if I don't ever get married because I can only marry a Muslim guy?" It hit me, I was afraid of living a full life, as ridiculous as that sounds. I knew Islam would only permit me to do so many things, especially since I was covering my face now. I wanted to do so many things before I became Muslim and somewhere that got lost.
Half of me still wanted to do those things but I never had the courage to go for them, afraid of not wanting to remain Muslim. I fought those thoughts off for a while. I went home for a summer, the first time in three years, and learned that the world had not accepted my religion. It was hard. I stopped wearing hijab and niqab for the beginning of the summer. I was weak. But, as a fighter, I put it back on. I had faith. God would deliver me like he did the Jews from Pharaoh. And he did. I came back to school an even stronger Muslim! Still praying for guidance though because all the while I was fighting with myself about the fate of my faith.
One day, my Muslim organization was about to showcase a film when, by the grace of God, we had to cancel because my VP was going to be speaking as the representative of Islam on a multi-religious panel. I had to go to support her. When we got there, I told myself to be objective because I didn't want to be biased to any other views. The pastor spoke and his words were confusing, like he was trying to convince himself with knowledge of only Genesis. The Baha'i man seemed to only want to portray his faith as a open arms religion, he was distant from the crowd. The Rabbi was really arrogant and painted the Jews as self-righteous. And then my VP spoke. I expected to hear all of these Qur'anic miracles and beautiful ayat but what I got instead was a hard slap in the face. None of her answers resonated with me, I thought, who would want to be a part of a religion that relied solely on flawed human effort for salvation? Then it hit me, I labeled myself as a Muslim. Then she went on to say how Islam was the only truth and that if I wasn't a Muslim, I was going to hell. Something shifted inside of my soul. My mother and father, good Christians, were not going to hell because they weren't Muslim. In fact in Baqarah 1-9 it details who can be saved, what was she talking about? Then I felt it, the truth coming at me, flowing from the mouth of a Priest. What I had known all along!
God did not want us to be overburdened with religious obligations. He wants us to worship him out of pure love for Him, not out of fear of His wrath. He didn't want us to sacrifice happiness for religion because in Him we should find the ultimate happiness. He didn't want us to choose between living a full life and heaven. We could get both, in Him.
I began searching. I recalled that when I was in the church, I never felt conflicted. I never felt like I had to stop being who I was to be close to God. I never had to stop living, thriving, and being happy. I could have all this and eternal life in Christ.
Now I believe that God sent me through Islam to show me what I needed to see. I needed to realize that I didn't have to stop being Amber to connect with Him, He made me in His image and that's good enough!
I am happy to say that I am back in touch with myself, my goals, and my God.