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Conversion Stories New Muslims

A Colombian Young Woman: Islam Brought Me Back to Life

Turning her life around, a Colombian young woman became a Muslim. What kind of life had she been living? What did she find in Islam? What meaning does Islam give to one’s life?

The most important thing is that I have God in my heart and He has given me love, happiness and peace.

The most important thing is that I have God in my heart and He has given me love, happiness and peace.

Sometimes is hard to accept other people’s decisions, but we have to respect it. Lately I went to celebrate a special date for Muslim people. As always it was a beautiful day and one more day I had to be grateful with the sisterhood that I’ve found here in Irvine. I did a speech about why I reverted to Islam.

At the beginning, I didn’t know what to say. I said to myself, “What can I say? I’m shy.  I don’t speak English well!” But I decided to say what my heart wanted to say, and after that I feel that my words couldn’t stop there. So, that’s why I am writing this. First, it’s hard for me to say in public why I chose to revert, because my friends and family don’t support my decision. But I am going to do this.

My name is Maria Clara Castellar. I live in Cartagena, Colombia. I am 21-years-old, and this is my story.

First Hearing of Islam

This story begins last year in my second semester of the year at my university. I was taking a class with one of my favorite teachers and in one of her classes she spoke about Islam and other issues of Islam as a subject. After that, I was extremely interested in Islam and I didn’t know why.

I started to read and was surprised to see that the page described the religion of Islam as a religion of peace, and a religion in which you can find God, love and happiness. When I learned this, I admit that something in me found an answer to a question I’d been asking myself for many years. I’d been looking for God in my life. I’d been looking for Islam.

My family is Catholic and I spent my life following the conservative traditions of the Catholic religion. I attended the church and assisted in the Catholic school for six years to become closer to God, but I couldn’t feel him in all of those years. I admit that I was completely lost.

One day, one of my friend told me about an opportunity to do volunteer work in other country. I signed a paper and quickly got my mother’s permission. I was interviewed, and that was all it took. Soon I found myself preparing to do volunteer work, but I needed to choose a country. I considered going to Egypt, but I needed to contact people. So, I searched until I found a man who works in a volunteer organization.

After contacting him, he offered to help me go to Egypt and complete my volunteer work. The man told me he could find some work for me, but I decided I couldn’t accept it because my mom wasn’t willing to let me go there. Instead, I went to Brazil, but my friendship with him never finished. We began speaking every day, and he fully introduced me to Islam as a religion, not just as subject in school. He taught me many new things.

Searching for the Truth

After that, I decided to read everything I could find about Islam and chose to do my final paper on the topic as a final step to receive my graduation. My mom bought me a lot of books about Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), books explaining Islam, and most importantly, my first Qur’an.

I tried to read it, but there was difficulty. I spoke with the director of my university about my plans, and became more encouraged to learn and read more. My director sent me new material and recommended me an interesting book to me called, “The Girls of Riyadh”. I had a lot of information, but something was still missing.

In 2013, this year, I decided to learn English and French, and did everything necessary to go to Canada with a friend of mine. Unfortunately, the embassy wouldn’t allow me to do this. I was so upset with myself because I didn’t get permission, and I hated the idea of not being allowed to study abroad. My mom said to me, ” Calm down.  Everything happens for a reason…God knows.”

And yes, she was right.

After that I decided to go to the United States, although this wasn’t my first choice.  I wanted to go to another country less like USA, but I came here because it was easy and because I could study here with my Columbian friend, and live in his mother’s house.

My mom assisted me in everything, and  in less than one month I got my student visa and left to study at Irvine. I didn’t choose Irvine because I wanted it. My mom chose it because it was the closest city to Huntington Beach, where I was going to live.

The weekend that I arrived in California, I went to a city close to Huntington Beach because of a market place there. In the corner I found  four men giving da`wah, I stopped there and they give me information about Islam, books Sometimes is hard to accept other people’s decisions, but we have to respect it.

Newborn

Finally, on February 25 I began my class in Kaplan International Colleges- Irvine – USA. I was bored to study here, but soon I began to like it. I met a lot of Muslim and non-Muslim friends. I didn’t say my intentions about Islam until I met a beautiful person who taught me even more about Islam,  and this person actually helped me to revert to Islam on May 28, 2013.

After many days I spoke with her again and told her I was completely sure to take my Shahadah (Testimony of Faith). She and her husband took me to the masjid, and I repeated the words after her. They congratulated me, and we celebrated with some Arabic food.

When she took me home, I took a long shower and I cried because I knew that my life changed in that moment. I had been wrong. My destiny had been to stay here. God brought me here, and I felt guilty because I hadn’t trusted in Him in the beginning, but Alhamdulillah! God gave me the opportunity to begin again, and I remember feeling alive -feeling like I was born again- and absolutely, I was born again.

The first person I told about reverting to Islam was my mom. As always, she supported me! My mother offered her congratulations, and I couldn’t help but wonder why she would be congratulating me? I couldn’t understand her words, but I think that she was happy that finally I found God in my heart.

What It Means to Be Muslim

I am a Muslim girl, and I’ll always be a Muslim girl. It doesn’t matter what people say about me, or about my decision. The most important thing is that I have God in my heart and He has given me love, happiness and peace. That is something that will never change. Islam is not a religion of terrorism. It isn’t anything bad. It’s the religion of the one true God; my religion.

Now my life is better than before. I have a lot of beautiful people around me. I have sisters. I have brothers. I have a family! I’ll always be grateful with all I have now and everything I’ll have in my future.

Islam has completely changed everything in my life. I am better person. I’m kinder and I’m lovely with my family, my friends and above all always grateful and in love with Allah!  Alhamdulillah.

Thank you to my admirable mom, sisters, sisters and brothers who help guide me and help me as a new Muslim!

_________________________

Source: The Daily Telegraph and The Sydney Morning Herald

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By Hanif Kruger

BIO for Hanif Kruger

Hanif is the manager at the Assistive Technology Centre of the South African National Council for the Blind with more than 30 years of experience in the assistive technology and IT fields. Hanif’s passion is assistive technology and advocating for key issues affecting people with disabilities and more specifically the blind and vision impaired. He shares his love for Assistive Technologies through sharing information through his work and via social media and relevant events in order to spread the knowledge and awareness around new technologies and the challenges relating to AT for PWDs. A strong believer in the rights of persons with disabilities and the philosophy of “nothing about us without us”, he regularly push for the affordability and accessability of AT and matching the correct assistive technology solutions with a person in order for them to reach their full capacity. Hanif enjoys a good Netflix and Apple TV+ binge but can also be found walking both his guide dogs looking for cookies .

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