Karla’s conversion to Islam  by: Admin 
    “How could you, an educated American woman convert to Islam - a religion 
that oppresses women?” - Blonde-haired blue-eyed, former Christian, Karla, 
explains how her theological dissatisfaction with the doctrine of Jesus as God 
and her discovery of the rights given to women in Islam led her to become a 
Muslim.
  My conversion process to Islam was a long one (it took 20 years!). It started 
when I was 12. I went to this over-priced private school…very Anglophile…made 
us wear uniforms…had us in Forms, rather than grades, etc. Anyway, we were 
studying the major religions of the world–had a little book on Christianity, 
one on Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. I remember being really 
fascinated with Islam, and thinking that Muslims weren’t hypocrites like the 
Christians I knew. I remember two things really standing out for me. One, being 
the focus on one God alone. I had always had questions about Christianity’s 
viewing Jesus as God–and how that went against the first commandment. The 
second item that stood out was salat. Not just praying five times/day, but how 
the majority of the prayer focused on worshiping God. In Christianity, our 
prayers tended to be “gimme prayers.” “God, give me this…God give me that.”
  I went to college in Washington DC, which has a pretty large Muslim 
population. My interest in Islam was still definitely there–although I was way 
too shy. I used to do “drive by mosquings”–going by the Islamic Center on Mass 
Ave., too shy to go in. Once I called to see if they had classes for people 
interested in Islam, but I never received a call back. I did buy myself a copy 
of the Qur’an, and began to read it. It was amazing. It just kind of went into 
my heart, y’know? The thing that really amazed me about Islam from the 
beginning, were the rights given to women. I know many people today would laugh 
at me for such a statement, but as somebody who has read the Bible–I saw rights 
given to women in Islam that were never given to women in the Bible. Women were 
given the right to refuse a partner in marriage; whereas, in typical Christian 
Western Culture at the time (600s CE), women were basically viewed as their 
father’s property–to marry as he saw fit.
 Women were guaranteed a portion of their father’s and husband’s inheritance; 
whereas, in the West, that inheritance typically went only to the eldest son. 
Women had the right to own property and enter into contracts. A right that 
women in the United States did not obtain until the mid-Nineteenth Century. The 
Prophet Muhammed preached against female infanticide–a common practice of the 
time, and one that is still a problem in India and China. Of course, today it 
is a high-tech female infanticide–abortions done after an ultrasound to 
determine the sex of the child. Both men and women were admonished to seek 
knowledge from “the cradle to the grave.” Unfortunately, culture seems to 
interfere with some of those rights these days.
  During my senior year, I found a dawa program on TV called, “Islam.” It 
featured a western looking woman anchor who would interview people on various 
topics regarding Islam. I believe it was put out by the Islamic Information 
Service, but I’m not sure. I became totally addicted to this show…actually 
setting my VCR to tape it, if I was going to be out. I don’t remember which 
channel it was on–just that it was shown on Fridays, and that each show began 
with “In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Gracious.” When the shahadah show 
came on, I knew I believed…so I said it with my TV. In God’s mind did I become 
a Muslim then? I don’t know. Unfortunately, I did not know any Muslims to talk 
to about Islam. I was also very worried about what my friends and family would 
think. Sometime following graduation (I think this was 1990 or 1991), the Saudi 
Embassy sponsored an Islamic Art exhibit downtown. I remember asking one of the 
exhibitors if they had any
 additional information on Islam–and the guy said, “No.” I was crushed. I just 
didn’t know where to turn to find out more about Islam. Who to talk to about my 
questions. I was just too shy to go into a mosque. I didn’t even know if I 
could go in, as a woman. I didn’t know if I’d be properly dressed…or if I’d be 
the only non-Arabic speaking person there. I just kept reading my Qur’an, and 
asking God the questions. Hoping God would answer my prayers.
  My hunger for God did not cease, however….so I decided to go with a more 
conventional religion, and became a Christian sometime during my mid-20s. The 
problem was, I always had questions/doubts regarding Christianity—mainly about 
the concept of the Trinity/Divinity of Jesus. Jesus as God just didn’t make 
sense to me–as it would go against the First commandment and what Jesus himself 
seemed to practice. He always focused on God the Father, so to speak. When 
asked, he said that the Greatest Commandment was to love the Lord your God with 
all your heart, soul, and mind. God–singular. That’s something I’ve always 
strived to do, and hope to improve at still. I asked a few different pastors 
about my doubts, and the response I would get would be, “You simply need to 
have faith.” I remember in one Bible study class this guy started saying all 
these lies about Muslims. I spoke up, and said, “That’s not true.” and began to 
tell the people in my Sunday School
 about what Muslims really believed. See…even then…I couldn’t deny the 
shahadah. I still believed that there was only one God, God, and that Muhammad 
was the Prophet of God.
  While at grad school in Tennessee, I contacted the Muslim Student Association 
on campus. Two sisters met me at a local bakery for tea. Unfortunately, they 
didn’t really understand that I wanted to convert–and the whole meeting was 
rather bizarre. I decided that I would just consider myself a Monotheist, and 
call it a day. I would read on all of the major Monotheistic faiths–Judaism, 
Islam, and Christianity. I became more and more uncomfortable with 
Christianity, though. If I went into a church, and there was a crucifix on the 
wall…it would weird me out. It seemed like an idol that people were 
worshipping. I did enjoy learning more about Judaism–and found it to be the 
closest to Islam. Sadly, the two brothers fight way too much these days.
  I joined my current company almost two years ago. Coincidentally during my HR 
orientation, there was a guy who I would work a lot with there. He ended up 
working for me on numerous projects, and we became friends. He was just out of 
college, and a rebel. I started asking him how he could drink, if he was a 
Muslim (threatened to tell his Mom)….asked him why he didn’t go to Jummah 
(Friday) prayer, etc. Over the course of a year, I realized that in talking to 
him, I was really talking to myself. (I don’t drink though–never have.)
  So around last February, I went to our local Islamic Center’s New Muslims 
class on a Wednesday night. There was nobody there. One of the brothers kept 
saying…just wait for Isha (the evening prayer)…the Imam (religious leader) will 
be here…but I felt too uncomfortable. I left. About four weeks later, I tried 
again. There was a class going on. That night, 10-11 years after I had first 
said shahadah in my apartment in DC in front of a TV set, I said shahadah in 
front of the Imam, a Muslim Sister, and a whole bunch of people interested in 
Islam. Since that time, I’ve learned to pray (something I had tried to teach 
myself through the Web and videos for years!)…and begun to study Arabic. 
Insha’Allah (God willing), one day I’ll be able to read and understand the 
Qur’an in Arabic. I’m totally amazed that I can already read certain bits of 
the Qur’an; although, my vocabulary does not allow me to understand much…yet.
  Monday, October 8th 2001, was a momentous day in my life as a Muslim as well. 
I wore hijab (Muslim head covering) for the first time ever to work as part of 
the Scarves for Solidarity campaign. I was the celebrity at work–people kept 
walking by my office door, etc. I had posted articles about “Scarves for 
Solidarity” as well as Islam on the door. And when people asked me, “Are you 
one of them?” or “Are you a Muslim?” I said, “Yes.” So now I’m out of the 
“Muslim-closet” at work. I guess people just assumed that a blonde-haired 
blue-eyed person could not be a Muslim. The main question people seem to ask, 
is “How could you, an educated American woman convert to Islam–a religion that 
oppresses women?” They are quick to try and equate the rights of women in 
Afghanistan with the rights of Muslim women everywhere. Basically, what I tell 
them, is that the Qur’an gives women more rights than the Bible does–in print. 
That was one of the things that
 first drew me to Islam. Unfortunately today, Islam is no longer the leader in 
women’s rights. I had a choice–deny what I believe (i.e. that There is only one 
God, and that Muhammed is a Prophet of God)…or accept what I believe, but work 
to change the problems that exist within the Muslim community. I chose the 
latter.
  Sister Karla



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