When I was 11 or 12, I became curious about God. Did he really exist? If so, why did he permit such evil and suffering? How could I please him? Owing to the situation I was in, I would not experience a strong desire to know God until my late 20’s. Constant beatings and abuse would make God seem not real, though from time to time people would give me books about their God, but mostly there was nothing in the way they related to others that drew me to their life. In America, you can be any religion you like, or none at all. It was easy to see that everyone thought theirs was the best. Which was the best, or was there a best? So, I was 27, and we had a 5 year old girl, and a 7 year old boy. It was clear that we were not being good parents and we knew this. I still remember one night standing on our porch and watching the sun set. “Is this all there is? How do I know to do the right thing? I need help.”
It was only a few days when I borrowed a Christian book called, “The Late Great Planet Earth” and I spent the next two weekends reading it and the several Bibles that we had around the house. I had no idea at all how they got there. By Saturday night of the second week end I was convinced that God existed, that I had sinned, needed his help, and I should study the life of Jesus Christ. I was Christian for 32 years, and worked very hard to be a better person, more pleasing to God, and learned that in Western belief, Jesus Christ through his death on the cross was the savior of Man. Still, it bothered me how much some extremist Christians said bad things about other people; the list is endless. Wait! Was it not that God told us to love him and love each other? How could we do this and say hateful things about others? (I would later learn about Surah 49, but not for years) Then came the 9/11 attack. After the attack, I became more afraid of my own government. The Media and my work became too much and I became very sick. I sinned and my family, my church, my friends and my job all threw me out. At this time, I was alone and the much talked about Christian forgiveness and repentance was absent. I was done with Christians. So, I looked for a religion that worshipped only God (Allah SWT) and no other. I still believed in Jesus the Christ but he is a servant of God. In doing research on the Internet, it was easy to find information on Islam, and soon I was saying Shahadda. Even though I am now Mormon, the Shahadda is still true for me. Allah SWT used Rasoolallah to guide me to the Mormons. I am both. I now believe in Muhammad PBUH as a prophet of Allah SWT, but not the last one. In my opinion, the Mormons do more to try to be pleasing to Allah SWT and love others more than any religion in my experience. And the love for Allah SWT and the love for others that we show is the only way to measure anyone. That down through the ages many have used various excuses to make wars is bogus and haram. My experience in Islam was hard and taught me much. For a Western woman who does not speak Arabic it can be really hard. I often felt frozen out by other Muslims. And then there was an issue I will not speak of that caused certain Muslims to doubt me. To them I say, Allah SWT knows your heart and what you do. I committed no offenses. Thankfully those who were hateful were few, and we run into them where ever we go, Muslim or not. As a Muslim woman, the prayers to Allah SWT were meaningful, though I had to look them up on Youtube many times to get the translation for what they were saying before I understood. I tried to learn Arabic but it is so hard for woman alone. Observing halal is pretty hard where I live because there is not large Muslim population so the Halal meat comes in from somewhere else, and is frozen and thawed many times, and smells rancid. I do the best I can.
The observance of Hijab is more than just a head scarf. It is about our inner meekness and the way we relate to others and Allah SWT.
Still my experience in Islam was mostly good. The Saudi style of beliefs about Isa PBUH grew to feel oppressive because I felt that both West and Middle East were misunderstanding each other and the reality of our beliefs was very close. The conflict about whether Jesus was crucified or not is a real disagreement. But surely not worth hating each other over. It was the fact that Muslims are often hateful to each other to the point of killing each other and the women and children eventually drove me to practice Islam in a very limited way. The Mormons have been uncommonly nice to me and I fully endorse their beliefs. Still I never turn my back on the good things I learned in Islam, and will never leave those things, Inshallah. In the practice of Mormonism, many good things and healings from old hatreds have occurred, and in a way that makes me know that Allah SWT is acting in my life. There is no more hatefulness.