Life is a Journey, Not a Destination…

I’m going to continue on the introduction theme just for a little longer, so that you all can see where my perspective is grounded. I’ll use this post to answer the first, general questions:

Yes, I was born in the U.S. (in fact, I’m the 5th generation here).
Yes, I am a convert.
No, I am not married.
No, I never was married.
Got it? Good.

My family is Catholic. As in actually Catholic, not just by name. So when it came out to my immediate family that I had converted to Islam, it wasn’t the most accepted news. Now, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says,

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” 330

But, as we know, most people don’t practice what they preach – or at least still have a deep-seeded fear for my spiritual well-being. At first, my dad stopped talking to me and took away any privileges I still had from him. My mom cried. My siblings were a little more passive – they at least saw it coming. Things have settled down a little bit now, alhamdulillah. My dad is talking to me again, although with subtle “terrorist” comments buried in conversations. My mom only makes comments about wanting me to marry a Catholic boy about once a month, and we basically just don’t talk about religion in my house for the sake of peace.

This has also been a journey in finding out who my true friends are. I have some friends who have remained consistent since elementary and high school, yet I’ve had many disappear into the shadows. The new friends who have given me advice and mentored me have been extremely wonderful in the manner of easing my personal distraught over lost friends and family tensions. I’ve been blessed with enough supportive people to encourage me in my personal journey through life – to God, through the path which is Islam.

To be frankly honest, it is very difficult to live as a Muslim within a non-Muslim family. I always feel as if I have to sneak away to pray. I have to make excuses for why I’m fasting – “I’m going to dinner with my friends tonight”. It’s not that I’m trying to lie – they know. When I “go to lunch” with my friends around 2pm on a Friday, there is no question on where I am actually going. Trying to figure out a healthy balance between respecting my parents and living my life as a Muslim is difficult. It is a strange feeling when it’s easier to say “dad, I’m going to the bar”, than “dad, I’m going to pray”. It is a fear of the unknown, and inshallah, one day they will realize that the path I am going is not a dark path of destruction.

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5 thoughts on “Life is a Journey, Not a Destination…

  1. Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for sharing your story! When I was reading it I somehow felt identified since I was born in a Catholic family as well and faced in some way some of the things you shared. Thank you for sharing a little bit of you in this space. I am always interested and curious in learning about different people’s journey, I find it very enriching!
    I hope you don’t mind if I ask a couple of questions… If you don’t feel comfortable, I understand, but if you don’t mind I am just curious to know if you have read the Bible and also what do you think about Jesus?
    Thanks again for sharing about yourself, I enjoyed reading it!

    Like

    1. Hi Diana! Thank you for the words of encouragement. I am always open to questions.

      Yes, I have read the Bible. I’ve read it multiple times in different versions as well (although, in all honestly, I do tend to skip the genealogies). While the majority of my religious education was through Catholic Catechism, my family also had a large amount of Protestant friends who my sister and I would often attend Bible studies with.

      Jesus (pbuh) is actually an interesting topic, and perhaps I could write a post at some point expanding on this answer, if that is something you would be interested in. The divinity of Jesus is actually one of the ideas that made me decide that I definitely wasn’t Catholic, and probably wasn’t Christian either. My journey began with that decision on what I wasn’t, and THEN I began looking for what I was. As for his teachings, I still use and apply many of these stories and morals in my daily life. For example, I live in a high-poverty area and make a concerted effort to get food and clothes to the homeless or at-risk.

      Jesus (pbuh) is highly respected in Islam, as well as his mother Mary. For me, the high level of respect paired with the human, Messenger of God status was something that brought peace of mind and was a huge sign pointing me towards Islam as a religion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your response Amanda! and thank you for being opened to questions. I think that is a very positive and healthy attitude that not many people hold, I commend you on that!
    Also I want to thank you for your efforts in helping the homeless and people at risk.

    I totally agree with you on that the topic of Jesus is so fascinating indeed.
    Actually that was one the reasons why I started to learn more about Islam and to learn about other’s opinions.
    Also, I find it interesting that you have read the Bible multiple times!, which by the way increases my curiosity in knowing what exactly made you to conclude about who Jesus really is.

    Thank you again for sharing Amanda!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lol, me too – born into a big happy Irish catholic family, went to a catholic grade school, loved my nun teachers dearly, and loved Jesus more – his hatred of hypocrisy as portrayed very clearly in the New Testament was a wonderful example for me – for sure this point guided me out of Christianity when I discovered the high ratio of hypocrites per square inch at any church I attended. But I was almost 40 before I gave up on Christianity, so fortunately didn’t have to explain my prayer rituals to anyone, unless they came to visit… then I would sneak out just like you describe, lol – even at work, too, I would sneak away to my car to pray. It took about a year to adopt hijab, but by then I was strong enough in my faith to do everything in the open, alhamdulillah! (my mom still thinks I’m a hell-bound terrorist wannabe, tho – no fixing that problem, it seems!)

    When my family members used to give me the grilling on the subject of Jesus (pbuh), I simply asked them, “When his disciples asked Jesus how to pray, what did he teach them?” and if this wasn’t clear enough, I asked them, “Who did Jesus pray to?” These are very basic questions, easily answered in the New Testament, but it doesn’t mean anything to a hypocrite. It does, however, lead to a strong (Biblical) conclusion that Jesus didn’t tell anyone he was God, in fact he was very clearly guiding people to serve the same God that he served!

    I was quite amazed by your quote from the catholic catechism, btw, wow, more people should read that!!!
    peace and blessing, dear sis ❤ ❤ ❤

    ps my own journey to Islam is covered in my Joyride to Egypt posts: https://aishasoasis.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/my-first-cup-of-tea-in-the-oasis/

    Liked by 1 person

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