While I am extremely blessed to have been born into Islam, I always wondered how converts felt this connection with their faith. What did they feel that drew them closer to Islam? How did they know it was the truth?
Growing up as a muslim, I was told to love Allah and love my religion. But how can you love someone [or something] you don’t get to know?
A confession: Praying was difficult for me.
I felt discouraged because I could never focus during my salah, and I thought, “if I can’t even pray right what’s the point if Allah won’t accept it?” Prayer felt like a chore to me, like a nuisance my parents just kept telling me to do. I distanced myself from my faith because I didn’t understand it.
I had a friend who once took my phone and downloaded a prayer app. It was kind of like the app I used to track how much water I was drinking in a day, but instead this app helped you log the 5 daily prayers. I never really thought much of it at first, but it didn’t make an impact until I actually started using it. Every time you completed a prayer you could check it off, and the app would always send encouraging messages like, “you can still make all your prayers” and “if there’s a will there’s a way.”
I started to pray not because I felt like I had to, but because I liked building a connection with Allah.I learned about his abundance of mercy. I understood what it meant to fear Allah, while also loving Him. I liked sitting after salah and just talking to Him about everything in my life. While it terrified me at first knowing that Allah is closer to us than our jugular vein, it was comfort in that He knew what was going on in my life. I made Allah my friend simply through getting to know my Creator.
Starting college at a small school close to home where nearly a quarter of the population is muslim, I never realized how much of an impact the people you surround yourself with make. Having a prayer room in school encouraged me to pray in school, something I had never had the courage to do before. But the best part was that having friends to pray with me, which made me feel more comfortable going.
Over the past couple of months I’ve noticed that the closer you try to get to Allah, the more content you’ll feel with your life. Islam fills this emptiness in your heart you never thought you could fill. There is a reason the first word revealed in the Quran was iqra (read), and it’s because in order to know your religion, you have to get to know who Allah is. You have to understand his mercy and love and the beauty of Islam to not only feel content in your religion, but also within yourself.
I realized that those converts found that connection in Islam because they asked for knowledge and through Allah’s mercy, that was exactly what they got. I also realized that this newfound connection was not something exclusive to newcomers to Islam, but to muslims regardless of their stage of imaan.
I’ve learned how to trust Allah. It’s hard in the moment to try and realize why things aren’t working out the way you planned them to, but I’ve found that by trusting Allah and believing that his plan is better than yours could ever be, you’ll find that in the end he knew what was right for you more than you knew yourself. I remember all those times I was frustrated with why things weren’t working out the way I had hoped they would, but looking back at it all now I’m glad at where I ended up.
Allah gave me what I needed, not what I wanted in the moment.
I don’t consider myself the perfect muslimah, for I am far from perfect. I still make mistakes and I am still growing and learning about my faith. But the point from all of this is if you want to get closer to Allah, you have to make the effort to get to know him. Trust Him, you won’t ever be disappointed.