Recently I was getting feedback from one of my readers (non-Muslim) on what she thinks has been working and what she would like to see more of, when she said she would love to read more about why I specifically chose Islam, why not another religion, and why I decided to begin looking beyond Christianity in the first place.
So here is a bit of an attempt to answer that question.
I will begin with the last question because it makes the most sense to talk about that first: why I even began to look beyond Christianity.
There are a lot of factors that went into this, and actually a lot of it was just kind of timing.
I was baptised when I was young, and we went to church every Sunday as well as on Christmas and Easter, and all that jazz. I participated in Sunday school when I was young, and Youth Group when I was older, and sang in the church choir all the way until I left for university when I was 18.
As a kid, I was really into it all. I loved the stories of the prophets that they would tell in Sunday School, I loved making crafty puppet Noah and his popsicle stick ark. I loved my pretty golden-paged Bible with the floral-y carrying case I used to carry it around it. I loved my little Jesus figurine, and the little angel windchimes that made me feel safe at night.
The problem was that as I got older, I began to develop some more sophisticated questions, and long story short, they weren’t being answered.
They were the same kinds of questions you will hear about from other converts: why are there so many sects of Christianity, and even versions of the Bible, what exactly is going on with the Trinity business, the nature of the sacraments, Jesus’ divinity, etc. etc.
Because of these questions I kind of started to drift away from any sort of sincere belief, though I kept singing in the choir and going to Youth Group as a kind of social gathering every week.
Then, as I wrote about in my convert story, I headed to London in my third year of university to study abroad. If you haven’t already, go read that post. It explains all about the rough time I was having in London, and how I decided to start going back to church to try to rekindle some form of spirituality in my life.
But the problem with that was, the Anglican church was leaving me with the same old same old questions.
From there, Islam pretty much just fell into my lap, so to speak. I had a friend from Iran and I had met my Algerian (then) fiance. Meeting all of these people from all over the world made me realise how little I knew about the world outside of my own perspective, and I began to read about Islam and study Middle Eastern history. I even began to learn the Arabic alphabet on my own.
And the more I read about Islam, the more my left over questions from Christianity were answered. There is no Trinity, God is One. There is no question of Jesus’ divinity, he was a great prophet. No need to question the sacraments, every single ritual in Islam has a meaning and a wisdom behind it that is open for everyone to know. No need to worry about different versions of the Holy Book, the Qur’an is exactly the same as it was 1,400 years ago.
So there I was. How could I not convert when I had learned so much, and Islam had all of the answers I was looking for? It just clicked, and everything made sense to me.
To answer the other part of the question about why not Judaism or some other religion, I have to say that firstly I strongly believe in a monotheistic view of God, which rules out quite an amount of other religions.
As for Judaism, I have never actually had the access to study it as in depth as I have been able to study Islam. Often times I get the feeling that Judaism is part culture, part super-exclusive religion that I don’t get access to unless I am chosen or born into it.
I remember a friend of mine telling me about how difficult of an experience her mother had in converting to Judaism; she was turned away by the rabbi three times before he allowed it.
Not to mention half of the Jews that I have ever met/been friends with describe themselves as agnostic for the most part. I never really understood how you could not really believe in God but also be part of a religion where God is the creator of all there is…
Don’t get me wrong, all of the Jewish people I have ever met have been super warm and friendly.
But for me personally, I don’t want to be part of a religion that is difficult for an outsider to study or access. I don’t want to be part of the “chosen” people. I want a religion that I believe is the truth, and that I can then share with everyone that I love. I loved that too about Islam—Islam welcomes you with open arms. No matter where you are from or who you are, as long as you say the testimony of faith you can be a Muslim.
So I hope that is a decent insight into why I left Christianity and why I turned to Islam instead of other religions. Like I said, a lot of it was about the timing. What can I say, God works in mysterious ways!