بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“Yes [on the contrary], whoever submits his face in Islam to Allah while being a doer of good will have his reward with his Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.”
[Al-Qur’an: Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow):112]
My Life Before Islam
I was born into a Christian family in Toulouse, France, in 1985. Toulouse is in the southwest of France. At the age of five, I witnessed my parents’ divorce. It was decided that my mother would take care of me, as I was an only child. However, I frequently visited my father, sometimes traveling a distance of more than 600km on my own. Due to such experiences, I never learnt anything else but to become a courageous girl who could face the struggles of life alone and make her parents proud.
I grew up and eventually accomplished all that my parents wanted of me: I graduated from a Parisian business school, studied the Japanese language, acquired the position of Marketing Manager for a well-known company, and traveled all over the world! Despite all that I was achieving, I remember never really feeling satisfied… Something was clearly missing from my life.
All my “successes” were pushing me to go forward, and with each passing day, I felt the growing need for self-recognition. Deep down in my heart, I still remained extremely affected by my challenged childhood, and I knew that I was not being entirely true to myself. I was just trying to fit the image that my family and the people around me wanted to. perceive me by. I have always been a very shy person; I used to blush for no reason, and I was always the quiet one among people. But I changed myself, because in the world in which I was living, this image was not “popular” enough.
How did I Discover Islam?
Even though I was a Christian, faith was not an integral part of my life, and I never looked at any religion with interest. I never realized that this was the reason I was in such a state of dissatisfaction.
In 2007, I accepted a 2-year project for work in Dubai, and this is when interest in Islam grew in my heart. Initially, I had very little time to spare for research about Islam, as my work required a lot of time and dedication. However, Islam did seem very attractive. I could now witness with my own eyes that all that I had been told in France about Muslims had given me a completely wrong picture of Islam. The smile on the Muslim ladies’ faces and the way they peacefully walked towards the prayer rooms… I never thought that Muslims could pray and yet have time to shop, socialize and have normal lives with normal routines. The reality was in front of my eyes, but my heart was yet not affected…
One day, I heard the adhaan (call to prayer). It moved my heart so strongly that I felt like taking off the armour that I had always tied around me, once and for all. I could not lie to myself again… I decided to be ME.
I called up the only Muslim friend I had, and asked her if there was any place from where I could learn about Islam. She directed me to join a Friday morning class in Karama mosque.
Upon entering the mosque, I found a group of Filipino girls sitting around an elderly sister. All of them welcomed me so warmly that I immediately felt at peace. I quickly learnt that all of the sisters there had humble conditions, most of them working as maids. One of them gave me a two-hour lecture that, to be honest, I did not understand at all. I remained patient, sitting in front of her and observing the movements of her lips, trying to understand the meanings of her words.
She finally asked me if I wanted to become Muslim, and my answer was a straightforward “YES!”
Only Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) knows why I took the decision… I wish I could say that it was because the five pillars of Islam made sense to me that I chose Islam… but it wasn’t that… I guess it was my destiny to become Muslim that day. Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great)!
After pronouncing my shahaadah (testimony of faith), tears ran down my face, and all the sisters came and hugged me. I’ll never forget that day, a day which remains embedded in my heart, as if it was the first day of my life.
وَإِذَا سَمِعُواْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَى أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُواْ مِنَ الْحَقِّ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
“And when they (who call themselves Christians) hear what has been revealed to the Messenger (s.a.w.), you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say: ‘Our Lord! We have believed; so write us down among the witnesses.”
[Al-Qur’an- Surat Al-Ma’idah (The Table Spread): 83]