Assalamu Alaykum, my name is Hafsa. I was raised by my mother, who has always been anti-religion. She’s not even atheist, she just hates the entire subject of religion with a passion. When I was nine years old, I saw my neighbor-friends getting picked up by the Christian church bus. I wanted to spend more time with my friends so I asked my mom if I could go next week. Between me and my friends asking, she let me go. I quickly became entranced by it all. I was ‘saved’ as a Christian – baptized and all, at age eleven. My mother was furious that I’d done this, and I started being persecuted for my faith (lightly at first). As time progressed, and I attempted to do what was preached, such as wearing dresses, no tattoos/piercings, etc., my mom grew more angry, and we started actual fighting over the issues. As I grew (trying to avoid the anger), I spent more time at church, seeking refuge. What I started to realize however, was that there wasn’t enough answers. I got the line “God works in mysterious ways” more often than not.
After many years of stupidity (of my mothers and my own), I was married and moved out. The marriage was to someone of no faith, and it didn’t go all that well either. This was about the time I started to give up on Christianity, ending up pretty jaded about religion in general. After the fact, I was soon homeless. I had no family or friends to turn to for help, so I lived on the streets, living from charity of food pantries and a few good people. I met a number of good people in that time, most of which were also homeless. A few of us came together, shared resources and as we slowly got money, got a place to live. Our mini-commune was a good idea, but with no money for clothes or food, we still couldn’t get a job to get ahead.
It was in this part of my life, I turned to Paganism. It seemed more ‘pure’ than other religions, the “original faith” of sorts. I ended up a Norse shaman (think Viking runes), with one other patron deity that deeply resonated with me and my ideals. One person in the group/commune (who I now consider my brother) was like-minded and we ended up living together to save money. It finally worked! We both had income and started to get back on track. I had MANY encounters with supernatural occurrences and entities (one of which I roughly assume was coming face-to-face with a Jinn possessing a friend of mine – but that is another story entirely).
Of course that didn’t last either. Things fell apart and we had to bail. My friend’s friend had inherited a house out of state and we didn’t know what else to do, so we went along with her. I finally got another job but it didn’t last long (due to lay-offs). The others had issues with jobs as well. The entire state’s economy was pretty bad, as we discovered. That fell through as well, so she (the home-owner) decided to rent the house out and get an apartment in another state. She hoped to make a small profit, and increase odds for a job. My male friend decided to go back to our home state, but I followed the female friend to the new apartment. In all these changes, I frequently turned to the runes (fortune-telling) and to my patron goddess. Things were continually getting worse, and even the runes seemed to stop giving answers.
So I moved in with her and her now-fiance. The fiance got a job, my friend got a job and I eventually got a job as well. Things were finally looking up – until our shared-car broke. The mechanic quoted 3 days to fix it all. My friend rented a car to get everyone to work, kept it for a week, before having to just quit her (driving) job. Her fiance had issues getting to work regularly and I was pretty much just stuck at home. Throughout my life, I’ve had a number of dreams that have evoked strong emotions in me. Right around the time of the car breaking, I had a shocking dream involving myself and the patron goddess I used to worship.
I woke up completely in shock and I felt almost abandoned. I immediately started an in-depth research of most world-religions, current and ancient. With no job and nowhere to go, I focused all my energy on this new topic of research. I started as a way to know what occurred in the dream, by the end however, I was searching for who I should give authority to. I made a spreadsheet of all these religions, comparing most facets of their faiths (heaven/hell, angels/demons, amount & types of gods/goddesses, etc.). I started to cross off the ones I could never believe in (Over nine million gods in one religion!!) and over time, got down to a top five. Islam was one of those top five. I did more reading into each of them. I found a website that sent out a free Qur’an and ordered it. As I read websites (luckily I am not the average American, so I had no preconception that all Muslims were terrorists or such), I found more and more truths and answers.
In the time of the shared-car being broken down (a total of four months), I had nothing but time to learn about Islam. Being in a group of three people with only one having a job, facing homelessness again, having little food and no way to do basic things like clean clothes … having this free time allowed me to learn about Islam in a way I wouldn’t have (if I was working).
My Qur’an arrived and I also wondered how the Muslims were in real life (not just through happily edited books and sites). I started reading the Quran and around the same time I looked for Muslims online (as I had no way to get around without a car or money for transport – and the closest Mosque was about a 3-hour walk away in the middle of winter). I found there were Islamic servers on Discord. I joined one and the people were so friendly. They were so excited I was asking questions and I felt right at home. By the time I finished reading the Quran, I had more files and books to read with my new friends’ help. I was already helping some of the newer people coming to the server with basic questions. I thought about it a good while after, and realized I had no idea why I hadn’t become Muslim yet. My only fear was that it would end like my time as a Christian, jaded. I looked more into those same questions I’d asked years ago and was shocked to find the answers to those questions, and more – all logically shown and answered in Islam. Reading the Qur’an more, I started praying (following YouTube) to Allah(SWT), asking for Guidance, asking if this was the right path. Shortly after, I had no more doubts, and over voice chat in a Discord server, I became a Muslimah.
The community on this platform has been incredible, I have learned so much from my new family. I have started more in-depth studies of Islam, and even come across a shocking fact. My former patron goddess was one of the few mentioned in the Qur’an itself:
“So have you considered al-Lat and al-‘Uzza? And Manat, the third – the other one?”(53:19-20)
I never knew her original name (al-Uzza) until going through more research and connected the dots. I was floored to find the connections that led me here today. If it were not for going through such hardships, I’d never have had the chance to revert to Islam. Had I never been a Pagan, I wouldn’t have such a profound understanding of what some Aayah mean regarding idols and Shirk. Had I never been Christian, I wouldn’t have known what to look for or how to ask those questions.
I can look back now and see how everything, even the current trials I face, are part of a much greater plan. All the sorrow and pain, were nothing, when I see where it led me. I no longer fear homelessness or hunger. I no longer feel angry about the situation. Even if I’m on the streets again tomorrow, it’s worth it, knowing that it’s all temporary – and that I had this chance to find Allah(SWT) before the end. HasbunAllah.
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