Religious faith has been a part of my life since I was a small child. My newly divorced mother carried my older sister and me back to her childhood home in Louisiana to get her bearings and make a new go at life. In small town America there is not much to do except work hard and worship God.
I still remember sitting on my mother’s lap in the choir loft of Riverside Baptist Church. The rocking and singing and the smell of wood were soothing to my soul. I was baptized at the age of 3 by my own choice. I remember how terrified I felt going into the water dressed in a white gown and the applause as I came up a new creation.
The singing, sermons and prayers were nice, but I had one desire: to know God. I wanted more than anything to have a personal relationship with my source. I felt in my heart I truly knew Him, but had not found a way, with the religious language I had been given, to experience Him.
Easter Sunday when I was 10 years old, I sat next to my mother during a traditionally loud, passionate and protracted service. We sang songs about Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us. I liked this Jesus, but I wanted to know something. I leaned toward my mother and whispered “I like Jesus, but what about God”? She placed an index finger to her lips indicating the subject was closed. I spent the next 20 years in unconscious search for an answer to that question.
I want to make clear that I have nothing against Christianity. It is because of the years I spent in church that I am the Muslim I am. In the church I was taught to study the scriptures instead of following blindly. I was taught a love for my Creator above all else and to let that love overflow to those around me. I also learned the difference between pretended faith and true faith which is usually harder to detect.
When I began studying Islam, I attended classes and inquiry sessions and began asking, “Who is Allah”? The answers were good, but rhetorical. After failing to get a satisfactory answer, I turned to the Qur’an.
To tell the truth, the first time I read the Qur’an, I wasn’t impressed. Ignorant of the History of Islam, I missed the sublime beauty in its pages. I got no great spiritual lesson, no lightning until I read Surah Al-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Qur’an. In four succinct verses, Allah reveals Himself. Looking at my Source oriented me to life. I lack the language to explain the secret that was revealed to me that day. I took Shahadah on the 2nd of Ramadan that year. Allah did not make me a new creation. He created me right the first time. All praise is due to Allah!


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