I have been asked many times for the story of how I learned about Islam and came to convert, so with the help of Allah (swt) I will make an attempt to share it.
I was born to American Christian parents in the southern state of Arkansas in the United States and that is where I was raised. I am known as white-American to my Arab friends but Alhamdolilah, Islam knows no color, race, or nationality. I was raised in the country on a farm. My father worked on our farm and also preached in our local Baptist Church. Baptist is a sect of Christianity such as Catholics, Methodist, etc. They just have different doctrines. But basically they believe in the trinity and that Jesus (pbuh) was God's son. My mother stayed at home as a homemaker. I am an only child.
The town I was raised in was completely white-anglo and all Christian. There were no other religions or races within 200 miles of us for years, so I was never exposed to anything outside of our little town. I had always been taught that we were all created equal in the eyes of God. Later I found out that this was not really how my parents, family, or friends felt. But as long as these 'other people' didn't bother them, then these were very easy words to speak. This would soon change.
The first time I ever saw a Muslim was when I attended the University of Arkansas. I stared at the strange clothing the Muslim women wore and could not believe that they covered their hair. Being a curious person, I introduced myself to a Muslim girl in one of my classes the first chance I had. It was a meeting that would change the course of my life.
I will never forget her. Her name was Yasmin and she was from Palestine. I would sit for hours and listen to her tell me about her country, culture, family and friends that she loved so much, but even more was the love that she had for her religion, Islam. Yasmin had an inner peace about her like no one I had ever met. She would tell me stories of the Prophets (pbut) and about the Oneness of Allah (swt). This was when I learned that they didn't worship some other 'God', it was just that in Arabic, Allah meant God. Everything she told me made so much sense to me and was so pure. Even though I had never voiced this to any family or friends, I had never believed in the Christian concept of the trinity and why I had to pray to Jesus (pbuh) and not to God directly.
Yasmin convinced me that Islam was the only true religion and also a way of life. The most important thing to her was not this life but the hereafter and that someday she and I would meet again in paradise. When she left to go back to Palestine we knew that we would probably never see each other again here on earth and she cried and begged me to continue to learn about Islam so we could meet again...in Paradise. I can still hear her words in my ears. Yasmin had called me Amirah the first time we met. Amirah means princess in Arabic. So when I embraced Islam, I chose this as my legal Muslim name in her honor. I am not a real princess, but Islam makes me feel as though I am.
Two weeks after Yasmin returned to her country, she was killed by Israeli soldiers outside of her home. My soul mate was gone and I felt like a part of me had died. With Yasmin I had made friends with Muslims from all over the Middle East and I came to love the sound of Arabic. It was so beautiful, especially when I listened to them read the Holy Qur'an. I still love having someone read the Qur'an to me or listen to Quran tapes. Most of the time I have no idea what is being said, but in some way it still touches my heart and soul. I am learning to read Qur'an and write Arabic, and with time and practice I will, Insha'allah.
After I left college and returned to my little community, I didn't have the honor of being around Muslims any longer. But the thirst for Islam and the Arabic language never left my heart. This upset my family and friends greatly. Years later, Allah (swt) brought someone across my path that was a wonderful example of Islam and once again I began to ask questions and read everything I possibly could about it. For many months I read and prayed and finally on April 15th, 1996 I embraced Islam. It wasn't one thing in particular that convinced me. It was everything about Islam that did and I will never give my Islam up.
When my family and friends discovered that I was studying about Islam they became enraged and rarely spoke to me. But, when I embraced Islam (converted) they totally disowned me and even tried to have me committed to a mental hospital. They were convinced that I was crazy. They didn't succeed, Alhamdulilah. All of this was very destroying to me as I loved my family and friends with all my heart, and still do. Occasionally they will call and wish hell on my head...but even these calls have become less frequent. I just thank Allah (swt) that my Iman(faith) was strong.
I spoke to my family two days after the bombing in Saudi Arabia. They called to tell me that my Uncle had been killed and that me and my terrorist friends were responsible, and that his blood was on my hands. I cried for days and days...but again my Iman stood strong and I continued. I have made repeated attempts to contact my family but still they refuse and have gone so far as to have their phone numbers changed. Some have even put legal restrictions on me so that I can not go near their homes, my mother being one of them. But Insha'allah, I will keep trying to reach them. It has been over 9 months since I have heard from them.
About four days after the bombing, I returned from shopping and found the words "terrorist lover" spray painted down the side of my vehicle. When the police arrived to make a report I asked them to check for any damages that might have been done that would keep me from driving it to a place of safety...as I no longer felt safe in my home. They refused, stating that I could have had some of my terrorist friends plant a bomb for them somewhere on the vehicle. I could not believe what I was hearing. But things were only going to get worse. A lot worse. I was beaten and stabbed in a parking lot by a man one night. He was caught and is serving his punishment, doing community service picking up trash in the street, mowing the mayors' yard and running errands. At least this is what I have been told.
So many times I have had people from all over the world ask me where I was from, what nationality I was, etc. and so I said, "Muslim American" which I am. But I recently found some startling information. It seems that I have some bloodline in me that I didn't know about and this is where my search begins: I finally discovered why I faced so many problems with my family on my choice to be Muslim. My real father is Kuwaiti. My real mother is American. I was adopted at birth by an American couple, the same one's you read about in my conversion story. And although I still consider them my family and love them, I have a REAL biological family somewhere, and Insha'Allah I will find them. Here are the only details that I know...and as scarce as they are...I am bound to find my real father. My birth mother I recently learned died in Oregon in 1986.
My real mother and father were married and living in Anaheim, California which is near Los Angeles. My mother was pregnant with me. During the last few months of my mothers' pregnancy, my father had to return to Kuwait, as his mother had passed away. (May Allah bless her soul.) At some point my mother decided to give me up for adoption. We don't know the circumstances for this decision. She called my father and his family in Kuwait and told them of her decision. At the time, my mother worked for an American couple who owned a business called "Tibia Ranch", also located in Anaheim. This couple could not have children, and they approached my mother when they found that she was putting the baby up for adoption. She agreed to let them adopt. A few months later, on September 17th my real mother was admitted into the "Orange County Hospital", in Los Angeles County, California under the woman's name who was adopting me. Although this was very illegal, it was a common practice at that time. A very short time after my birth, my father returned from Kuwait and started his search for his child and wife. I was told that my mother divorced my father and left the state, never to be heard from again. I have to say that it hurts me deeply that someone could give up a child, knowing that the child was very much wanted by the other parent. I know my father wanted me because after he returned to the US the first place he went was where my real mother worked to inquire about her and the baby. He was told that they had no knowledge of either. My father was told this by the very people that had illegally adopted his child. My real father was also an acquaintance of an adoptive Uncle, from whom he also sought information. My Uncle was kinder to my real father than the others, but he did not provide any information either. My father continued to contact the people that had adopted me, only to be told, repeatedly, that they had NO information for him. At some point he became suspicious when he went to their business and upon seeing me, demanded to know if I was his child! He was told no of course, but my adoptive parents fearing what would be next, sold their business and fled to Arkansas. My real father continued to go to my Uncle pleading with him for any information, but none was given to him.
Still, he continued to search and probe my Uncle, until my Uncles death, in 1995. My father searched for me for many years. I was told that he attended my Uncles funeral, and then went back to Kuwait some days later. The only other thing right now that I know about my real father is his name: KHALED AL-MAZIDI. Insha'Allah, some day we will meet.
Editors Note: If you have any information you would like to share, please contact us at the Islamic Bulletin.
The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
Jumaada Awal 1419
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