I am a baby Muslim, only eight months old. That means that I know very little about the Qur’an, the ahadith and the Sunnah, or which actions are haram and which halal. When I read articles about Islam on the Internet or in Muslim magazines, I don’t know what they’re about because of all the Arabic terms that are used. I know a smattering of Arabic, but not nearly enough to enable me to navigate around the Muslim world. I’m still startled whenever someone says “Asalaam alaikum” to me and I stutter when I reply “Wa alaikum asalaam.” This isn’t exactly coming easily for me.
Not that I expected it to be easy. But I had no idea how much I didn’t know until after I said my Shahada. Some of the things I’ve learned have surprised, even shocked, me. And I’ve been confused by all the different opinions of the various shayks and scholars. Some of what I’ve read in the Qur’an has concerned me but I don’t feel that I have anywhere I can go to get a better perspective. It seems like so much I read on the Internet only emphasizes what you must not do (or you will never see Paradise.)
I do have Muslim friends, Alhamdulillah. In fact, they were instrumental in my becoming a Muslim. That and some courses I took in college had the greatest influence on me. They answered all my questions, and still do when I get a chance to ask them. But some things I don’t even know to ask about. Like what do I do now that I’m a convert and my husband is not Muslim? I found out months after my conversion that our marriage was considered void and/or we should get a divorce.
That really threw me. I have the most supportive husband in the world. When I first approached him about my desire to become a Muslim, he said, “Go for it. I’m behind you all the way.” He’s not even threatened by my wearing the hijab (in fact, he likes it). We talk about Islam all the time and he even looks things up on the Internet for me, or brings me home books from the library that he thinks will be helpful to me. He’s the one who designed this website. He’s proud of the fact that I’ve become a Muslim, even defends me to people who don’t understand how I could have made this decision.
And I’m supposed to divorce this man?? What about the emphasis on marriage in Islam? If you have a good one, are you just supposed to throw it away because you said the Shahada and your husband hasn’t?
I admit that this was a turning point for me and not in a good way. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t judge Islam by Muslims. (And it was Muslims who told me that.) But when I found out that my Muslim friends were concerned about my marriage to a non-Muslim, I felt betrayed. When I asked what I should do, I was told that I should pray about it and Allah would tell me what to do. Well, I have prayed about it, and I’ve made my decision: this marriage stays. But I’m haunted by the knowledge that there are some Muslims who think what I’m doing is wrong.
One of the things I like about Islam is the emphasis on patience and perseverance. I’m not the most patient person in the world, but I am stubborn. I don’t give up easily. Now that I’ve found my true home, I’m not going anywhere.