Becoming Muslim: Struggle, Doubts, and Faith

Uttering Allah with my lips felt so right. The idea of prostrating my head to the single Creator and standing in awe of Him felt so right.

Uttering Allah with my lips felt so right. The idea of prostrating my head to the single Creator and standing in awe of Him felt so right.

I had reached out via Facebook to the MSA (Muslim Student Association) at my school at the University of Oregon. I was literally so wide-eyed and uneducated, like a newborn baby, seeing the world for the first time.

I became interested in Islam during the second half of my Freshman year of college. I was not on the right path. Drinking alcohol while depressed, smoking weed for some rest. I wanted a way out from my hardships. I grew up Hindu and had never felt serious belief in the religion. It was my family’s religion, so I had taken it without question.

But even while growing up, I had always felt some sort of connection towards Islam. Whenever me and my family would travel to India, we would pass by numerous mosques on our way towards Hindu temples. In my mind, I wanted to see the mosques. I couldn’t explain it, but my heart and head were in awe of Islam.

My text to the university’s Muslim Student Association

In college, I took an Intro to the Qur’an class. We were required to read surahs and analyze them critically. The first surah I read outside of class was Ash-Shahr, or the The Relief. I was outside our Law Library studying. I remember being stressed out with school and frustrated with the way I was living my life. Drinking, smoking, and partying had only given me more sadness. I knew my mother would have been devastated if she knew about my lifestyle.

I folded my arms on top of the table and sunk my head into them. My eyes became watery. I formed a fist with my right hand and pounded the table. I was frustrated with everything in my life. I remembered that I had a copy of the Qur’an in my backpack for class. I thought maybe it could provide me Relief.

I randomly ended up at Surah Ash-Shahr. I began reading, Soon, I felt more tears swell up in my eyes. Not because of despair. But because I found Relief. I found Him. 

Did We not expand for you [Oh Mohammed], your chest? And We removed from you your burden. Which had weighed upon your back. And raised high for you your repute. For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. So when you have finished [your duties], then stand up [for worship]. And to your Lord direct [your] longing.”

The Holy Quran

For indeed, with hardship will be ease. Indeed, with hardship will be ease. After reading the Surah, I became emotionally invested in learning the religion. I kept reading the Qur’an for both class and personal exploration. Eventually, that ended up in me messaging Oregon’s MSA. I was ready to become a Muslim. 

The President and Vice President of the MSA invited me over to the club’s office before me going to the local mosque to take my shahada. They showed me around the small room, and we began making small talk. I was so nervous. It felt like being the new kid in high school. Only the three of us were in the room, but I could feel the eyes of all 1.7 billion Muslims looking at me. Would I be accepted? Am I making the right decision? Heck, I hadn’t even thought about the repercussions I might face from my family if they found out. 

But I couldn’t let those doubts stop me. I knew Islam was the right path. I had done my research, but more importantly I felt Islam was the truth. Uttering Allah with my lips felt so right. The idea of prostrating my head to the single Creator and standing in awe of Him felt so right. 

We arrived at the mosque. I sat down with brothers who were sitting outside. They were preparing a barbecue dinner for later that night. I sat next to a man from Saudi whom I introduced myself too. I told him I was going to convert. He didn’t seem so interested. I thought right then and there I would not be accepted. I am the new guy, no one really cares about the new kid on the block. As time passed, we went inside the mosque.

The President of the MSA informed mosque leadership that I wanted to take shahada. I was somewhat ready. I dressed up, had a fresh haircut, and put on Nivea face lotion before so I would look decent. They called me in front of everyone and had a microphone ready for me. I am getting nervous just recalling this, so you can imagine how anxious I was to stand in front of lots of people. 

The MSA President told me to repeat after him. He said the whole shahada in Arabic in such a rush that my eyes grew wide and I thought, “What…?” To make matters more embarrassing, the people watching began yelling out “Slowly, slowly!” The MSA President took note, and he broke down the shahada for me in parts. Eventually, I repeated it in English. 

“I bear witness that there is no God except God, and that Muhammad is His messenger.” 

“TAKBIR. ALLAHU AKBAR. TAKBIR. ALLAHU AKBAR. TAKBIR. ALLAHU AKBAR,” the people in the mosque shouted. Brothers came up to me with smiles, hugged me, and congratulated me. I was a Muslim! 

One of the brothers sat me down and told me that now that I’ve taken shahada, it is as if I am a newborn baby. All the sins I had committed before were washed away. I smiled wide and felt at ease in my heart. 

Fast forward to today, and there is plenty of obstacles that I have dealt with as a convert, especially with my family. When I’m back home with them, I can’t go to the mosque for jummah. It’s hard to pray at home because I could get caught. As with all Muslims, Allah gifts us with these types of trials and tribulations. They can become difficult. But I have learned that His tests only make us stronger. He has strengthened my Iman, and I know He does the same for you. 

I have a lot to learn. It’s been two and a half years since I took shahada. There’s been plenty of tests along the way, and I am thankful for them, even though some were excruciatingly painful. Regardless, the day I became a Muslim was still the best day of my life.