No one could have ever imagined me to make such a decision! Even in my wildest dreams, looking back five years, I could not have foreseen this turn of events. Those who knew me uttered in disbelief, “Teresita converted to Islam? What got into her?”. My decision devastated my parents and my entire family all of whom were devoted Catholics from the Philippines and caused me to lose all my friends. However, Allah (Subhanawataala), Al-Alim (The All-knowing), Al-Wali (The Protecting Friend) and Al-Jami’ (The Gatherer) had opened my heart and made me realize that I had been worshipping a false deity; There was simply no turning back. This is the story of my conversion to Islam. After 11 years of marriage which ended in 1992, my life was filled with black clouds. Everything seemed to be falling apart. Raising a young boy all alone was not easy and I often sought help of our Lord. I tried to distract myself by being around friends, spending time in the mall with my son, or just keeping busy at work; but, that did not change my feeling of loneliness and loss. Then, one day I met and befriended an Afghan family. I spent most of my free time with them and became acquainted with their culture and their delicious food.
Yet, what I found most intriguing was their devotional worship and belief in God and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). As a firm Christian, I furiously debated with them and stated that Christianity was the only way to salvation, but they insisted that Islam is the way to everlasting paradise. We spent hours discussing the merits of one religion over another and at the end of these friendly debates, we felt exhausted and reached nowhere. Finally, I decided to study Islam for myself and understand the message of the religion which instigated such devoted faith in my friends.
I obtained an English translation of Qur’an and began reading through the chapters of the book. To my amazement, I was unable to stop reading and went on for hours. I found the Qur’an very simple, clear, and easy to understand. I began to experience an overwhelming sense of upliftment and rejuvenation; it was simply wonderful. It felt almost like Qur’an was alive and speaking directly to me. I experienced an inner change and knew that things would never be the same.
A few days later, I visited my Afghan friends with my copy of the Qur’an and told them of my intention of becoming a Muslim. Well, knowing now, the first pillar of Islam is Shahadah (to proclaim belief in God and His Messenger) which I sincerely uttered “La-ilaha illaha Muhammad ur Rasulullah” (There is no God except Allah, Muhammad is His Prophet), in their presence. They were all so happy about my decision that even grandmother (as I called her) burst into tears.
Now what? Or what was next? I had no idea how to practise Islam. Due to distance, going over to my Afghan friends to learn Islam was not very convenient. I checked out the phone book and looked for a Mosque where I could get more information and be religiously involved. I found one with an Islamic Library and paid it a visit.
The librarian helped me find books that were suitable for beginners and put me in touch with a sister also from the Philippines who patiently helped me with my questions. My first Qur’an was now replaced by an Arabic / English text. I started to learn to pray in English and slowly memorized them in Arabic. Then, I started wearing hijab (head scarf) and changed my manner of dressing. Gradually, I began paying attention to the halal (allowed) and haram (forbidden) food.
Seeing the change for the better in me, my son also declared his Shahadah and (alhamdullilah) tries to be a good Muslim, the best he could possibly be at the age of nine. We started getting involved with our local Masjid’s activities and I obtained more Islamic books and literature which we have studied at home. Since then, I have tried to convey the message of Islam to as many non-Muslims as I can; some of them, even, have become interested and embraced the religion of truth.
Life is a never ending journey to know God and culminates only after death. My journey has just begun.
“Whoever receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit; whoever goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another, nor would we visit with our wrath until we had sent a Messenger” (The Holy Qur’an, Al-Isra, 17:15)