, by LYNDA
The best way I will describe my journey to Islam is to say that all through my life Allah had been setting stepping stones for me to follow, until the day that I arrived on the straight path.
Going way back to my childhood, God, as I had known Allah as, was always important to me.
I remember not at all understanding when the Catholic Church, which I had been born into, was teaching me that I had to believe that there were 3 Gods in 1 God. A father, a son and a holy spirit. But they seemed to teach the son part of the 3, Jesus, was the most important.
I remember asking questions like if Jesus was born as a Jew, then why we are all not Jews.
I also remember at an early age of childhood being aware that Satan had been mentioned in the Bible. These things played on my mind.
During my childhood I would not have been aware of Islam existing.
I recall my mother pointing out to us when it came on the news, of people going round and round this black cube and many dying each year. Back then we did not have the knowledge why they were doing this or where it was.
As I grew older, I would like going to the church but only when it was empty so I could talk with God.
As I look back, I would consider my next stepping stone but not realising it, one evening while I was out socially in a room full of people drinking and talking. I would have been described as a quiet, not shy but bashful person. While sitting talking to a friend, a man from across a few tables from me leaped forward towards me shouting why she is speaking Arabic, who she is, how she knows Arabic.
This would have been at a time it was very unusual to see a foreign person in Ireland. The people around me calmed me by stating this man was strange and must have been drunk. I had only recalled this about 15 years later. I would now know that he must have been from North Africa by remembering his clothes. I was from cork and my tone would have been different and would have stood out from that of the Dubliners around me.
Early into the 1980’s another stepping stone. I had been at a party as a friend was leaving Ireland. I was speaking with one of her older brothers. I don’t recall how the conversation turned to us speaking about God, but the man informed me that he had met God and God spoke to him.
I was fascinated as to how this happened.
He had told me the only way I could do the same was to read a book called the Qur’ān. The only difficulty was, it was illegal to have this book in Ireland. As back then the Catholic Church did not allow such items in the country.
I had never been outside of Ireland and thought well that’s that, there is no way of me ever reading that book. Subhan ALLAH.
My relationship with God continued with me going to the empty church and talking from my heart to God each day and would pray myself to sleep each night. I had become very displeased with the church in Ireland, because they were preaching to us to live our lives a certain way and privately they themselves were living the complete opposite way. I found no spiritual guidance from them.
By 1992 I had been going through a difficult period in my life, on one of my trips to an empty church I saw huge banners which read ‘I am your Lord; have trust in me’.
I always had a great belief in that everything was written for us.
So I made a deal and said okay Lord I will trust in you and I will put myself in your hands.
In 1994 I was made redundant from my job and my sisters brought me on my first holiday outside of Ireland; and it was to Tunisia. On the coach into out resort we were reminded that this was a Muslim country and to be respectful of the fact.
The mosques were a distance away from our hotel and the only time we heard the adhan was in the quite of the night and we just thought it was a load of noise that the locals made each night. Not knowing it was the beauty of the call to Fajr prayer.
I met lovely people while on holiday. In the group of friends we made was one young man that sat outside the group, didn’t drink and headed for the mosque at times. I had asked could I go to have a look but was told no as I was not a Muslim. I was intrigued about the fact the men went in one door and the women in another.
For three years I returned to Tunisia on holiday alone. Always feeling at home when I had arrived. During one of my many conversations about religion I was speaking with the manager of the hotel and I told him about putting my trust in God as I had made the deal back in ’92. He informed me that there are many times in the Qur’ān when ALLAH asks to have trust in him. This left an impression on me.
I loved the family bond they had in Tunisia. I wanted to work there and thought I might one day settle down there. So I said to myself if I was going to be thinking of getting involved, I would have to know about these people first.
Family and friends in Ireland were telling me to be careful when I went to Tunisia as they were Muslims. At the time there was a film called ‘Not without my daughter’ which didn’t show Muslims in a very good light. I remember not feeling sorry for the women in question as she had married into a different culture but she didn’t know anything about this when she went for the first time to visit her husband’s country.
This made me want to learn more about Muslims. And what better place to find out was to go see what was in the Qur’ān. The Qur’ān was still not freely available and as it wasn’t allowed to be borrowed from the library; I would have go there to read it as a reference book.
This made me search for a new religion as I knew I wasn’t happy with the Catholic one.
I read a few pages of the Torah and found it to be quite nice and calming. I went to visit a Protestant chapel. At this stage the stepping stones were starting to become closer and closer together.
Every new person I began to meet seemed to be Muslim. A tourist stopped me in the street one evening and asked what time the last bus left the city. He was a Muslim from Paris and I ended up writing as penfriends for a while. A customer from where I worked was a dentist from Jordan. He gave me a gift of an ornament with the 99 names of ALLAH in Arabic.
Two people from Albania came to work in the same place; they were Muslim.
In January 1997 I decided to fast for Ramadhan in support of my friends in Tunisia. I lasted 2 weeks; I didn’t understand any of the rules as I used to drink water not knowing. I was delighted with myself. I heard the building of a mosque was being opened out in Clonskeagh, on the grounds of a place I had attended a course years earlier.
A lot of North Africans started to become customers. A group had asked me to help with finding them a place to live. Speaking for them to landlords as their English was not great at the time.
A group of friends had made dinner for them and that evening was the first time for me to see someone praying as a Muslim. I found it to be very peaceful and wanted to do the same.
I had visited a Muslim girl but she was not practising. She gave me a copy of the Qur’ān translated into English. I started to read it. Asked lots of questions. At this stage Ramadhan was coming around again and I decided to fast. So in November 1997 I said my Shahadah and started to pray. Ramadhan was lovely and a little difficult as I was working while I fasted.
By March 1998 I had married the man who was the first Muslim I had seen pray. I made my Shahadah before the Imam to make it official on the day I got married.
By year five after a full year of du’ah I finished my work, a few months later went to Hajj and six month after that was expecting my first and only baby.
Subhan ALLAH she was born on March 26th the day I got married and the day I made my Shahadah in the Mosque.
My English translated Qur’ān I love. The sound that I thought was noise in Tunisia, I now cry at every time I hear the Adhan as it is so beautiful.
Alhamdulillah I have arrived at the straight path I am very happy to be here and InshaALLAH ALLAH will continue to guide me, my family, friends and InshaALLAH will set stepping stones for many many more.