Sister S, Publisher & Founder of Dawah Monthly Magazine, was born to a Mormon Mother in New Jersey. When she hit grade school she attended a local church. By the time she was in her teens she was visiting a Lutheran Catholic church and had herself baptized, made her first communion, and confirmation. For her confirmation she was given a bible as a gift from her church. Reading this Bible started her journey to become atheist by the time she was 18. After spending 20 years as an atheist, someone invited her to Islam. On October 27th, 2010, at the age of 37, she accepted Islam.
This is her story.
When I was a kid, my mother was Mormon. I really don’t know anything about it, except that as a kid we had ‘elders’ come to the house. I thought it was odd, even as a kid, to call these young guys ‘elders’ but I had respect for them. If I remember correctly, and I’m not positive, young Mormon men will go on ‘missions’ when they become adults. Now as an adult anytime I’d drive around town and see two guys in white shirts, black pants and ties peddling on bikes, I immediately guess they are Mormons. I am usually right.
In about 6th grade I moved in with my Grandmother. She didn’t have elders come to the house. On Sundays “The Church Bus” (that’s what us kids called it) would come and pick us up for church. Those days were FUN! You see, my grandmother would give me like a dime or quarter to give for the collection pot. The pot that they pass around to collect money for the church. And then we’d have this big contest! It was sooo fun! They split us into two groups in the room, left side against the right side. Then whatever side gave more money to the collection pot, got to do various things to the other side. Things like what? Well, I remember one time a friend of mine was on the side that gave less. She was taken to the front of the room, not by force – it was FUN, anyway she stood there while someone from the other side of the room that gave the most money, got to throw a pie in her face! Yeah, that’s what I remember about that church. It was a christian church, but I can’t be positive.
Anyway, I stopped going for a while, then when I became a teenager I had myself baptized at the church. I started going to a Lutheran Church and studying to make my first communion and confirmation. Some things had such an effect on me I didn’t make it to the day of my confirmation. Even though I didn’t make it to confirmation, they sent me my gifts. A wood block with a metal cross on it, and a beautiful bible with my name stamped in gold on the front. I didn’t go to church for many years after that, but I read my bible now and then.
When I became an adult I went to church a couple times when someone took me with them. But never found a place I felt I could trust. I wanted to find something I could believe in. As the years passed, I tried to fight the idea of religion. I tried to fight my belief in god. I was living alone for a long time. I would read my bible to help me to not be afraid of trying to deny god exists. Yes, I would read the bible to reinforce my ideas on why I should be Atheist. I loved science, I thought science would be even more proof. Science would be my religion. Science was logical and made sense. Science doesn’t lie. My favorite to part to read in the bible was in 1 Timothy. The church that I trusted gave me the handbook for how I was suppose to live, with my name stamped in gold on the front. This is what I was told about my position and reason for being on earth.
1 Timothy 2:8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls or expensive cloths, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became the transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
I am not permitted to teach or have authority over a man.
Wow, women should be seen and not heard. Women are less than men. Eve and all women are punished because Eve was tempted by satan. Adam is innocent because he was tempted by Eve. But, no, Adam doesn’t get punished, just kicked out of the garden. Why would I want to worship a god that created me to be worth less than anyone else? God doesn’t love me? That is suppose to be my purpose in life?
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our god will stand forever.
God’s word is forever.
“Forever.” When I ask people about whats in the bible, hardly anyone has actually ever read it, they usually give me a reply about how times change. I get told we are modern now, things are different now, and various like that. “The word of our god will stand forever.” So forever ended in about when? The year… um.. we are in 2011? 2,011 years, that’s not forever.. Not even close….
All this time, I want to believe in god. I am still afraid to not believe. As I’m still fighting my fear and trying to deny god, I always read to see what they say about women….
1 Corinthians 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head
Isaiah 10:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our god will stand forever.
1 Corinthians 14:34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to be speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
It is shameful for me to speak in church
Geesh, god doesn’t even want me to speak to him…. Is that what he thinks of me? I also just realized ‘him’… Many people believe god is a man up in the sky. Why does god have to be a man? So I read about man being created in god’s image. I will find that verse. But the more I read, the more I think.. Man created god in his image.
Now my thoughts on religion had changed. It’s not that I didn’t trust god, it’s that I didn’t trust this book. This bible that they gave me to celebrate my confirmation. So then what is god? I mean.. What do I believe in? Well, Science… I still liked religion, but I loved science. Science didn’t lie. I was still open to learning about other religions, but started focusing on Stephen Hawking, Einstein and other great minds.
My surgery was a major event for me. It wasn’t major surgery, but what happened during. Well, more about what DIDN’T happen. I usually have good dreams. I love dreaming. It always feels so full of.. I don’t know. My dreams always seem meaningful. I thought it could be possible to live outside my body. My soul living in heaven, or somewhere, since dreams were so vivid. I even had lucid dreams. Only about 4 times in my life. But those 4 times were amazing. I had to get surgery and was lying the table. They knocked me out. Later I woke up in the recovery room. I had a weird feeling. Usually when I sleep, I can feel time pass. Sleep for an hour or two, or sleep for 5 minutes, I can feel the time. When I woke up and ‘felt’ the time for my surgery, it didn’t exist. I felt like a knife came and cut out that part of my life. No dream. Nothing. Dead. That’s what it felt like. Like that time was just taken away. Now, that’s what I thought it would be like to be dead. Like nothing. Gone. Thinking of the missing time from my surgery, made it easier to believe nothing would happen when I died. Just dead, in the ground. Lights out.
Deep down inside I still wanted to believe.
I missed my grandmother a lot. She died many years back. I was still crying ten years later. One night I was driving down the street with my niece. I thought to myself, wow, I wish my grandmother could see her. Then, right at that moment the overhead passenger light had come on. I started crying. I thought somehow, someone, somewhere wanted me to know that there was more than just me and my niece driving down the street and we weren’t alone. But could have also been some type of electrical glitch…
Genesis 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.”
ok, so did Eve to force him to do this or did he do it on his own? Anywayyyy. Just throw Eve under the bus….
Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”
So me, every woman before me, every woman after me. we are all punished forever because it was all Eve’s fault that Adam at the apple along with her. Painful childbearing is punishment. Becoming a mother is punishment. Shouldn’t that be a good thing? “he shall rule over you”…. wow.. I bet this is the reason there are men who have no respect for women and women who accept it.
Isaiah 10:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our god will stand forever.
This is the bible… This is what the church gave me to read to learn about god. A god that only created me for a man, for a man to rule over me. I thought god loved me….. but apparently, god doesn’t like ‘foreigners’ either. It is also very specific about slaves and how much they are worth. And since god’s word is forever, then slaves today cost about $8. My father doesn’t have to care for me either, he can even sell me as a slave, but not to a foreigner, of course..
Exodus 21:7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave….
I’ll deal with this area later…
Ok, I now is the time to deal with bible permitting men to sell their daughters as slaves. There are special rules about it, like she can’t be sold to a foreigner. Wait a second, ‘foreigners’? If we are all here on earth to worship god, whether big strong man or low inferior woman, who are the ‘foreigners?’
Exodus 21:7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter.
Fathers are allowed to sell their daughters as slaves for life.
So she has no say in this? The father can sell her to man to be given to his son? and about this how it says the daughter won’t “go out as the males slaves do.” The male slaves are to go out after 6 years of service, and other conditions, yet the daughter is a slave for life. What are we? Property? Oh yeah, the bible does say that too.. Slaves are property… It is permissible to breed slaves and keep the children.
Exodus 21:4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.
God permits the capture of slaves from the nations around me.
I am guessing god also doesn’t think of inflation or the future when setting rules, since god’s word is forever..
Exodus 21:32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
What is 30 shekels worth today? About $8 American? Something like that…..
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
I couldn’t trust religion if I couldn’t trust this book. This book to me was written to get people to follow orders. It was written by men who didn’t respect women. Men who wanted to scare good people. Good people that believed in god and had their belief used by evil men to control them.
I put my distrust in the bible, in religion as a whole. The bible was all I knew of god. I knew no other way. So what was I to do? By this time, science is my religion, I trust science. 100%. And I lived my life learning more about science and still reading my bible.
Other things I questioned about the bible, and other stories that I had heard growing up, had to do with Jesus Christ. I can’t remember exactly when or where I learned it. It’s just one of those things that we take in as we grow up. The way it went was that Mary was married to Joseph. She was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. Jesus was the son of god. He was here to die for our sins. He was crucified on the cross.
Now some questions. If he was the son of god, how could he be hurt? And if Jesus is god’s son, not god, why do we worship him, if there is only one god? Doesn’t that mean there are 2 gods, if we worship both? And who is the holy ghost? I really NEVER knew who or what the holy ghost was. I still have no idea. Does that make it 3? And If he was here to die for everyone’s sins, why do we have to be good now? Doesn’t that mean, since he died for our sins, everyone is going to heaven? Why bother trying? What about Eve’s sin that all of us women are being punished for? We don’t get forgiven for that and maybe take it easy on us with the childbirth now? If he died for our sins, then why not stop making painful childbirth a punishment? So even if I do my best to be good, pray every day, I could still be standing right along side a murderer or rapist in heaven? Also his last words on the cross…..
Matthew 27:46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “E’li, E’li, le-ma’ sa-bach’tha-ni?” that is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Dictionary.com says…. for·sake [fawr-seyk] –verb (used with object), -sook, -sak·en, -sak·ing. 1. to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert
Kinda doesn’t sound like he had planned it that way…
Now, I have given up on my search. I was an atheist. Living my life still trying to be the best I could. Of course I’m not perfect, far from it. But I tried to be good to people. I still believed how I treated people would come back to me. I believed in an energy. I’ve always had strong dreams, which led me to believe it could be possible to exist without my body. I figured the only thing I could relate to what I felt about any higher power or being or anything was karma. What goes around, comes around. Ok, so someone may ask now, why was I trying to so hard to put a label on it? What was this strong need to be able to define what it was that I believed? Well, I guess being an artist is one thing that makes me big on details. Also, not being able to just leave things alone if I can’t figure them out. Puzzles, riddles, trivia, problems and religion. I’m not a glass is half empty person. I’m also not a glass is half full person. At least, not without more information. Was the glass originally full and then someone took half out? Or was it originally empty and then someone put half in? Or is the amount of liquid correct, but the glass is the wrong size? Can I even measure it to make sure it’s exactly half? So the question stays on my mind, until I find the answer. Yes… this is the way I think….
People who spoke to me about religion would get very upset about my opinions. Some got to the point, actually many, got to the point where it would just turn into insulting me. I would ask them if they ever actually READ the bible…. I would quote some of my favorite verses. Especially to women. I couldn’t understand how they could believe it. But in a way I could understand it. They didn’t know anything else. This is what was drilled into their mind since birth.
After being continuously told that my opinion was wrong and I would burn in hell, I asked someone why. Not why would I burn in hell, that didn’t bother me. Why do they get so upset about my opinion? Why does what I think have an effect on them? Her reply was, “I want you to be saved.” Insulting me into believing what she believes will save me? Oh .. yeah.. I’m sure that has worked for others… What about some facts? Some logic? Some… um…. well, nothing would change my mind.
This is what they accepted without question. Even if someone sees a “wet paint” sign on a bench, they touch it to see if the sign is right. If people would put as much thought into why they chose their religion as they did when buying their car… well……. These conversations had now changed my thoughts on religion again. Well, not on religion, but people who followed this bible. I couldn’t understand how someone with any ounce of intelligence couldn’t see that this just doesn’t make sense. I even would lose a little respect and trust for some people after I found out they believed these stories. Fairytales….
I also considered the idea that their anger came from a place that didn’t exist for me. In my mind, I was just here and I would die. For them, it is for eternity.
A lie is still a lie if every one believes it, The truth is still the truth even if no one believes it….
I don’t remember who said that. Pretty sure I got it from an Atheist website. The quote has new meaning to me today…
I’m not gonna get into my opinions on the pope’s rulings. I am not going to focus on others that bring negativity to a religion. Everywhere we look we can find good people and bad people. Even the woman I spoke about that insulted me is my friend and can be very caring. Not every one can be lumped into one category. Maybe some people only read verses that bring positive thoughts. But that’s just it, it’s our duty to find the truth. Not to just be led like sheep. Anyway, it wasn’t the people that influenced my decisions. It was my bible.
Then someone introduced me to Islam….
My first impression of Islam, unfortunately, came from the Nation of Islam. From what I knew of the Nation, they thought white people were the devil. Okaaaayyyy…… So I knew this wasn’t for me. How can a religion preach about a race being good or evil? I didn’t ask to be born this way. Being born this way means this is the way god wants me to be. I’m just doing my job, how can I be punished for that? Although someone did tell me once, it’s not my fault I’m white… geesh, thanks… I’d see the men in their little bow-ties downtown passing out their literature and would avoid them.
The Muslims I had met through the years didn’t have answers for my questions. I had asked some questions that I think people may usually ask. I had asked why would a man marry a 6 year old child? I was told that some girls develop faster than others….. This wasn’t for me…..
I had gotten an English translation of Qur’an and flipped through it…. It didn’t really ‘say’ anything to me. The pages I flipped to also didn’t give me anything deep to catch my attention. I didn’t get around to reading it. The beginning was a bit interesting though. It surprised me that the Qur’an mentioned Adam and Eve. So it has something in common with the bible. I wondered how much they had in common. I didn’t take the time to figure out what those things were. I didn’t really put any thought in Islam. What I had heard in the past formed my idea of it. I very rarely take a person’s word about something without some proof. I guess working at the newspaper has me always looking for more details before accepting it. It was up to me to learn what Islam really was and I was just reading out of curiosity.
Like millions of people, I chat on the internet. There was one person I was chatting with for over a year, maybe two. Can’t remember how long it was…. Anyway, we had never met. Once in a while we would talk on the phone. Then one day, on the phone, we got into a debate about religion. He was Muslim. We had talked about it before, but this time it was little more….. um… intense. All the time he had thought that I was christian and just didn’t like talking about religion. As we were talking I told him… look, a lot of people don’t like speaking to me after they hear my opinions on religion. I told him what I thought. He now knew that I just didn’t believe in god. He asked me what I believed. I said science. He asked me how did we get here. I said we came by nature. I told him religion was just to control people. He asked if I believe there is no god, who do I think created me. We got on the topic of evolution. He asked something about coming from monkeys. I said something came before monkeys. The conversation went on for a very long time. Me explaining why religion can’t be trusted. Him explaining that it can. The basis for my argument was the bible. His was the Qur’an. He explained about how somethings haven’t lasted through the years. The bible, before it was changed to what it is today, could have been trusted. The Qur’an, is the same today as it was 1400 years ago. Anyway, we agreed that we’d meet up and he’d explain some things to me. I told him I’ll listen, but don’t expect me to change my mind. In my mind I’m thinking it’s just gonna be a waste of time but we’ll hangout anyway.
This posting isn’t complete.. Inshallah I’ll update it soon with the specific verses about science, WOMEN being treated with RESPECT and dreams that influenced my decision.
The day we met, the first video he showed me was from Joshua Evans.
Joshua Evans – How the Bible Led Me to Islam –
He chose this video because Joshua says things that are common to what people like me believe. As I started to watch the video, I could relate to many of the things he experienced. His laid back attitude and humor during the video helped to make it feel like natural. I felt like I really related to to it. The video was almost an hour and a half long. This made me want to learn more.
This guy knew I was a big fan of science. The next video was Maurice Bucaille. Maurice Bucaille is the author of “The Bible, The Qur’an, and Science.” He was a scientist from France who went to Egypt to study a mummy that was found. What he discovered caused him to become Muslim.
View that video here…
He also found verses in the Qur’an that related to science. There was one about the creation and expansion of the universe. Other verses explaining how embryos are created.
Wow… So I CAN believe in Science AND religion! I don’t have to ‘just believe’ or ‘just have faith’… Now I am even more interested. It’s not just a religious book, it’s a science book. Especially since it’s ok to actually search for the truth, cause the answers seem to be there.
But what about women? What does it say about women?
I went back home and continued to study on my own. I found IslamReligion.com. It was loaded with information. Of course my favorites were the sections that most related to women & science. It also has a live chat that I used to ask questions. I found lots of websites that I could find information. I also found a lot that seem to be authentic but are actually loaded with false information. It’s actually pretty dangerous to rely on google searches for authentic information about Islam. There seems to be many people out there that just want to spread lies about it. The more I read, the more my confidence in Islam grew. I started trusting the Quran. I was confident the more I read, the more I would agree with. I was not worried about finding anything that wouldn’t have a logical or sensible reason behind it. I wanted to find someone I could speak to. I didn’t know if I’d even see the guy again that I spoke to. Even if I did, I didn’t want him to be my only source for information.
I was ready but I was afraid. I wanted to be Muslim but I couldn’t let anyone know. I’d have to give them time. I asked if I absolutely had to wear hijab and was told yes. I couldn’t do it. It was all so sudden. I had debated religion with people for years. My mind was focused on Islam. I was torn. I was constantly crying. Day and night the thought of converting was on my mind. The world was different to me now. It all felt so natural. It all made sense. Even verses about the existence of Jinn made more sense than nothing existing at all.
A lot of people think we are invulnerable. Nothing is going to happen to us. We are the only things that exist with any intelligence in the universe. Aliens don’t exist. Animals are dumb. There was even a time when people believed the sun revolved around us. In fact, there ARE still people that believe that today. The existence of Jinn also makes sense to me. It answered another question I had. We are simply a spec of dust with an infinite amount of space surrounding us. With god being so powerful, being able to do absolutely anything, Why just create us and some animals?
I went on IslamReligion.com. I was ready. I opened the chat and someone offered to call me to help me pronounce the Shahada.
I became Muslim.
You’d think that is the end of my journey… But it’s not….
Some months before all this, a friend of mine had a cookout. She asked me to stop by and pick up something from a restaurant. I went in and placed the order. As I was waiting I noticed some Arabic writing on the wall. It had the translation underneath, mentioning something about Allah and Muhammad. I didn’t know what it was.
Now I knew what was hanging up on the wall. It was the Shahada. That was where I went to find someone. I needed a woman to help me. I didn’t know any women who were Muslim. I didn’t really know anyone who was Muslim. When I walked in someone pointed out the menus to me. I didn’t know who to ask or what to say. I grabbed a menu and pretended to look at it. I wrote my phone number on it. There were no women around to ask. I don’t remember how the conversation started. Someone started talking to me and I started crying. I asked if he could introduce me to a woman to help me because I needed to learn to pray. I wasn’t wearing hijab. He asked me if I was Muslim.
I said yes.
A feeling came over me. I had pronounced Shahada on the phone. This was the first person to see me and know I was Muslim. I gave him my number and left.
The feeling inside me. Everything I read. Everything I learned.
It felt so natural. This was me. I am Muslim. I found my answer.