This writing is taken from http://www.muslimness.com/
In the name of God, compassionate & merciful بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم
It is December 3rd soon. That date, December 3rd, is unlike any other day. It is very meaningful for me, because it was the first day when I welcomed Islam in my life.
As some of you may already know, my name is Lucia and I was born and raised in Mexico City. This country is just an awesome mix, a clash between pre-Hispanic culture, traditions and beliefs with the culture and religion of Spaniards, creating as a result a country with an almost tangible soul, unique to all countries in South America. This country has a population of over 100 million people, that is A LOT of people, but only a little over 3000 persons are Muslims. Even though we Mexicans are warm-hearted, welcoming and accepting, we are a little bit reluctant when it comes to religion.
Catholicism is ‘The Main Religion’ in this country. Most Mexicans are totally devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe, they trust blindly in saints like St. Judas Tadeo or the Holy Death, which is a new cult that has gained popularity among the poor. If you are smart, then you are not supposed to mess around with religion in this country, or else you can get yourself into trouble.
The first time I had contact with Islam was through a dear friend I met in my first years of university, his name is Navide and he is from Afghanistan. He said to me that he arrived in Mexico attracted by our culture, and the “sexiness” of the Spanish language. When he started talking to me about Islam, I have to confess, it was like love at first sight. I was amazed by the beautiful simplicity of it. Unlike Catholicism it doesn’t impose dogmas; it is never compulsory, because it gives you enough to base your faith in solid backgrounds instead of basing it on given ideas which, most of the times, mean nothing to us; besides, it encourages tolerance and love above all for our fellow men, despise race, religion or beliefs.
All these are by itself great, but as many of you know, I still had some doubts. So I started doing some research about it. I bought books about Islam history, Islamic societies, dogmas and beliefs… I searched through the internet and found massive amounts of information as well, but I had no clue of where to get started. Navide suggested I should make friends amongst the Muslim community, and since I had no idea of where to find them here in Mexico I had to rely on social networks.
These were quite interesting, but a bit disappointing: people on online networks talked about everything but Islam and some of them were rude when they knew I was not Muslim. I could still manage to find a few good people, who thought it would be a good thing to guide me through my search.
One of those was my dearest friend currently living in the UK, his name is Sajad. We could spend hours talking about lots of things, Islam included of course. In one of our talks he made me realize that our life is like looking at our own reflection on a pond: at first we are only aware of our own image, then when we gain consciousness we realize there is much more than that; there are all kinds of creatures living inside and outside the pond, there is the wind blowing, there is the sun shining… Islam is for me the gaining of that consciousness; knowing that there is more than my own needs and my own thoughts, something greater that gives me the opportunity of contemplating all the marvels surrounding me and interact with them so I can, at least, attempt to understand and enjoy its greatness. Perhaps this explanation is a bit extreme, but I have to point out that Sajad is Sufi, which is why he understands religion in such a mystic way.
The more I read about Islam, the more I liked it. Besides being Muslim I’m also a scientist… or at least I try to be. Through science I get an opportunity to wonder about the meaning of existence, and how everything works. It allows me to contemplate, analyze and ask myself so many questions about the smallest details of life, many of which we just don’t find an answer, and when an answer arrives a thousand more questions are generated. Unlike Catholicism, in which everything is kept in the utmost secrecy, Islam encourages the search for knowledge and truth, which totally fits what I call my “Muslimness lifestyle”.
Talking about lifestyle, Islam is precisely that, not only one of many religions already existing on this planet. It makes me aware that I’m surrounded by many other living things, which deserve all respect and admiration just for the fact that they were created by Allah. I’m also aware that I have duties to carry on just to have the satisfaction that I’m doing something right, and with that I’m pleasing Allah.
If you put all of this together, it sounds pretty and attractive, but the reality is totally different. As I said earlier, if there is something that you should not mess around with Mexicans, you should not mess around with religion. I was still having doubts of whether or not revert to Islam, especially because of the opinion my family would have about me. In the other hand, it would be the reaction of people surrounding me; I was uncertain about the kind of treatment they would give me if they found out I am Muslim.
I have to admit I was difficult for me to put aside all my fears, but I am also ashamed of the series of events that made me realize I was making a mistake. Precisely on last year’s December 3rd, one of my best friends died.
He had always been a great guy, full of vitality and good intentions, some of which were frustrated by his shy temper. Finding out that he had passed away was a huge shock for me; a few weeks before this incident we had had a conversation about him fearing his profession, for he was a fully fledged pilot. He had confessed that he was afraid that he might die due to a plane crashing; I had joked about it, telling him that it was more likely that he would die taking a shower, slipping on the tiles and hitting his head against the wall or some other object. How ironic, because that was precisely the way he had died.
My head was a total mess, I was confused and sad, but among all that confusion I could clearly understand that we just don’t know what might happen tomorrow; we always leave things for tomorrow, but that tomorrow might never come. I realized that there were things in my life that needed to be changed, and so I did: that night, after the funeral, I told my friend Sajad about it. He had been my friend for such a long time that he immediately understood that I had made up my mind, so he took my Shahada right that day. I was no longer afraid, for I could finally see that my fears were only keeping me from what I really wanted.
The next week I found myself searching for a mosque here in Mexico City with the sole purpose of making my Shahada official; it was a difficult thing because back then, there were only three mosques in the second biggest city of the world. One of them was open only during Thursday nights and was located 2 hours away from where I live, the other one was facing problems and they were trying to find a new location, and I think that kept them from paying attention to me. Finally they received me in the third one, a salafi mosque. My family was shocked by what I wanted to do, and they decided not to participate on it, they thought I was messing with traditions and accepting something that did not belong to our culture. It was pretty tough, but with only 7 people keeping company to me inside the little apartment functioning as mosque, I took my official Shahada on January the 15th of this year. I was given the Muslim name of Noor Sabiya.
Almost a year has already elapsed; I still find it difficult to pray the 5 times a day that are required, and even more difficult to do it on time. Because of school and work I haven’t had much time to study about Islam, and I can’t help but feeling guilty about it. I have to admit I have lost a bit of the confidence my family, my friends and some of the people I work with used to have on me, but in exchange I have gained inner peace, which I had searched before without success; I have gained new good friends as well, and I wouldn’t change them for the world; but I think the most important thing for me, I have finally found the place where I belong.
Thank you for accepting me as your Muslim sister.
Peace & respect ★
*Mexican flag was added by inksensei