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Changing Path American Women Choosing to Become Muslim

We were with Jodi for two days one summer attending a friend's wedding. She and Reza had been married or two years and were studying at the University of Arkansas, about an eight-hour drive from our home. She seemed so different, yet I liked her mature manner and her kindness. When making a hair appointment, she was careful to insist on a female rather than a male beautician. Even though it was in the middle of a hot summer, she wore long sleeves. Her conversation was serious as she spoke of what she was learning about Islam. On the way to the wedding, we talked. Jodi sat with her dad in the front seat. She turned around to look at me sitting in the backseat and said, "Mom, who do you believe Jesus was?"

"Well, Jodi, you know. You've been going to church all your life," I replied. "But, Mom, I want to hear you tell me now." And so I told her what I thought was basic to the Christian belief of Jesus' birth, of his ministry, of his being the Son of God, of his death and resurrection for our salvation. "Then Jesus is God?" Jodi asked.

"Yes, Jesus is part of the Trinity," I replied, "and throughout his teaching and ministry, he points us toward God." I felt frustrated. Somehow her responses left me feeling inadequate. Why couldn't I do better? Even though she didn't say so, I could feel her moving toward an Islamic viewpoint. Well, no chance of her going all the way, I comforted myself. All too soon Jodi was gone again, back into the world of university studies with her husband, Reza. We, too, returned to our home and jobs. We kept in touch with Jodi by phone. With each call, we felt the gap widening. She was a natural at imitating others and often sounded like an Iranian trying to learn English as she imitated her friends' accents. She talked of cooking-not American foods but Iranian cuisine. She spoke only of her Muslim friends-not Christian or even American friends. We couldn't quite define it, but there was a shift.

November came and Jodi and Reza came home for Thanksgiving. We had been apprehensive but looked forward to it. We really loved those two, and we missed them. Jodi came through the door. She was wearing a long dress over her jeans and sweater. She carried a scarf in her hand, and her hair was flat against her head. We embraced, then sat and talked in a rather stilted, surface manner. It was late and time to retire. Reza went out to carry in the suitcases. As I got up, Jodi came over by me.

"Mom, I need to talk to you." I turned my back and headed for the kitchen. Tears were welling up in my eyes. No, I wouldn't talk with her. I couldn't stand what I thought she had to say. "Not now," I answered without looking at her. The next day was Thanksgiving. We were all heading to Grandma's house, an hour's drive away. "Mom, we won't be eating the turkey or dressing. We're only eating approved meats." Well, big deal! See if I care! I wouldn't look at or acknowledge her. She had the long dress on over her jeans again, and as we walked out the door, she put on the scarf so it covered all her hair. I sat in the front seat and sulked the entire trip. The rest of the family seemed to carry on as usual-Reza and Jodi, her two brothers, and her dad. I managed to avoid her the whole day until that night back at the house.

"Mom, we have to talk."

"I don't want to hear it." "You've got to hear it, Mom, please." I finally gave in, and we sat down. "Morn, I've converted to Islam. I was already Muslim this summer, but I wasn't ready to tell you then. I needed to grow stronger before I told you." The signs are often there that our young adults are changing from the path we want for them, yet we aren't sure just what to do about it. Consequently, we frequently ignore it, hoping the whole situation will go away, and we won't have to deal with it. As young adults, our children are beyond our control; they encounter many new ideas and new perspectives in the world, and they make their own decisions.

Adapted from: "Daughters Of Another Path (Experience of American Women Choosing Islam)" by: "Carol L. Anway"

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