How I came to Islam
Aisha Eliza Saleem
“Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those
unto whom Allah hath shown favour, of the prophets and the saints
and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they!” Quran 4:69
I was born in Australia of Polish Background. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and used to attend church almost every Sunday. I have always been a believer and remember strongly believing and engaging in prayers as young as five years of age. By the time I was ten, I didn’t fit in at school. My mind was always somewhere else, searching and pondering. I used to think, “I don’t need these people as my friends anyway because I have God and Jesus.”
Teachers would always say, on my school reports, that I was withdrawn. My games often consisted of my playing “priest” and giving religious sermons to my toys. By the time I was thirteen, I was planning for the coming of the Anti-Christ and came up with all these plans on how not to follow him, when he’d be pretending to be God. At this point, after a lot of reflection, I also decided to no longer pray to Jesus and pray solely to God.
During my teenage years, I used to spend hours wondering about, and searching, for truth and knowledge. I even wrote some letters to Christian organisations asking them for their interpretation of the meaning of life. “Surely it can’t just be studying, working, and that’s it?” I thought, but received no satisfactory replies. I didn’t understand why I could in one way be so interested in God and religion, but on the other hand didn’t connect with the Bible or the masses held at church. Because of this I continued in major confusion but still, even on my lowest days, would manage to thank God for that day and ask for help. In fact I used to frequently ask God to show me the truth and the purpose of life.
At around 19 years of age, I got to the point where I was completely fed up. I was now open to exploring totally different religions. I attended a private college where there were some overseas students of different faith, including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. That was my first encounter with Islam, but unfortunately I couldn’t find anyone to explain it to me. I came to know Muslims, but didn’t know what Islam was!
I went to university and in the second year of my degree course I found out what Islam really was all about, through a Muslim who didn’t drink alcohol or go night clubbing (unlike the other Muslims I had met at the private college). He had an amazing character, and this everyone noticed. So I asked him about the Muslims at my previous college. His reply was that according to Islamic teachings Muslims are not allowed to drink and go to night clubs. “Your friends were not practising Islam, and not practising the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (SAW)” he told me. I asked him to tell me more about this Prophet of whom he spoke. So he taught me about Prophet Mohammad (SAW) and his teachings. I wanted to know more about Islam but we had to finish our assignment.
I couldn’t focus on my studies. In my mind I kept thinking, “Who is Mohammad? Why hadn’t I learned about him at school? Who are Muslims? Why do some Muslims practise Islam, and why some Muslims do not? …….and so on.”
The more I learnt about Islamic teachings, the more I gradually changed. My fear of God increased as I was becoming more aware of reality. I made sure that there was nothing like alcohol in my life, my manner of dressing changed to a more conservative look, etc. Each night I prayed to God, to show me the true religion; each time I would be shown Islam. Surely, “The Truth is from thy Lord; so be not at all in doubt.” Qur’an 2:147.
One night, sometime in 1999 I told God I needed to escape the worldly problems of my life. I needed to focus on Him alone. This was the night I reverted to Islam, right then! That immense fear of God in the context
that I must not disobey Him; that I must start doing good deeds for His sake, and that the Day of Judgement is very real, was the catalyst which prompted my decision. It was a powerful, amazing night for me, and I felt extremely light, almost as if I were floating. I received a lot of guidance from the person whom I later married.
To this day my family is not willing to accept me as a Muslim, even though Islam has brought the best out in me by showing me how to respect my family, and especially my parents, as it says in the Qur’an:
“Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them to attain old age with thee, say not “Fie” unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little. Your Lord is best aware of what is in your minds. If ye are righteous, then lo! He is ever forgiving unto those who turn (unto Him).” Chapter 17 Verse 23-25
My goal is to always strive in the Path of Allah Ta’ala; InshaAllah to some day become an Aalimeh, (an Islamic scholar) so I can help others for the sake of Allah. My thirst for knowledge of Islam continues to increase, (Alhamdulillah) and one thing I have noticed during the time since I became Muslim – I have never been bored – I can’t think of even a single time when I have had nothing to do!