----- Original Message -----
From: Suzy Ashraf
Sent: 27 August 1999 20:52
Subject: Ok, if you insist - conversion story
As-salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu
As requested, this is my attempt at describing the process which led me to
where I am now: unbelievably, a Muslim of 3.5 years.
There are many details which have guided me on this path, I may mention some
of them in conversations, but it is too long a list to include in one single
The outline of events is being fond of Central Asian dance, a visit to
Daghestan, making friends with a family from Azerbaijan, then a "Festival of
Republics" where our class was presenting Azerbaijan, and because of this
festival I came across the poetry of Nizami, Vagif and Vidadi. This led to
One Thousand and One Night of Medieval Muslim literature, I was trapped in a
literary "harem", which I did not want to leave for reality. In reality, it
was represented by the Oriental motives in my dress, and a taste for
dark-eyed, dark-haired, dark-skinned boys.
So no wonder I ended up marrying an Indian Muslim, mainly because he matched
the "Arabian nights" profile.
My interest in Orientalism was strong enough to lead me to study it, so I
ended up at SOAS, and considering the courses I was taking, I was among
Muslims most of the time as well. Well, if Muslims frequently complain
about peer pressure turning their children away from Islam, my case was
exactly the opposite, Alhamdulillah.
After about a year of being rather devoted, ignorant and salafi-oriented, I
came to thinking about Islam's spiritual, rather than technical aspects, my
own place within it, with all my cultural and ideological baggage (not that
a course in Islamic Law had nothing to do with it). At this point most
Muslims around me became rather less sympathetic and encouraging, I was
obviously digging deeper than they considered appropriate. And I was not
the type of revert who in his/her speech constantly blesses Allah for making
him/her a Muslim. I was rather reserved about it, considering the confusion
it created in my mind not purely a blessing. I have no doubts, I would have
benefited from going through all this before I took my Shahada.
In fact, the only reason I took shahada when I did was that it was the
middle of Ramadan, I was fasting, and wanted to join the prayers. But the
Muslim sisters around me would not allow me to join them, believing that a
prayer with a non-Muslim would not be valid; and I was constantly told that
there was no point in my fasting, for there was no reward for a non-Muslim,
so I might as well not trouble myself. I got fed up, and went to the
Central Mosque to discuss things. Now you can guess what happened: I was
told that I should just take the Shahada, as my belief is already that of a
Muslim (no, no-one bothered to explain to me a dreaded topic of "the
implications of the Shahada, which lifted my hair up the moment I read it,
for I hardly could accept any of it).
Alhamdulillah, a little more than a year ago I found the Web, and I could
call myself an Internet Muslim, for most of my interaction with my brothers
and sisters occurs here, over this year I became incomparably more confident
about my Muslim identity, so if anyone ever attacks modernity and progress,
I silently bless Allah for leading me to the PC screen, after being on the
verge of giving up Islam altogether.
InshaAllah, I could further benefit from the contact with fellow reverts in
this group, drawing strength and inspiration from them, sharing the joys and
trials of being a Muslim.