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Finding Something Familiar in Islam

The close identity of Islam with the prophets, with the emphasis on Allah as the same God the Christians and Jews worship, with the acceptance of Jesus as a great prophet and teacher, with the tracing of their roots to Abraham-all these make a familiar setting into which Prophet Muhammad came to bring the final word, to set right with direct revelation God's word of "the way" to the people. This familiarity may have been part of the easy transition for some of the American-born women when Muslim beliefs were explained. +After meeting my husband we shared our religious beliefs, which were similar. I began exploring my religious feeling after he asked me about my beliefs of Jesus being God, and he explained about prophethood and Muhammad. I agreed with these Islamic interpretations. I began studying from interest about Islam. Six months after we had married I began doing the prayers. After another six months, I participated in the fast during Ramadan. I found at this point that Islam defined my belief I could no longer deny my belief in Islam just to prevent hurting people's feelings.

When I met the man who would become my husband and learned that he was Muslim, I was scared and asked all the questions that caused my fear. I also took a course in college called "Islam and Social Change" and learned even more about Islam. As I learned more and more in the course, the more questions I had and the more afraid I became. This fear, however, was different than the fear of the unknown; this fear was a fear a self- discovery. I found that all along I shared the beliefs taught through Islam but never had a name for it. This course, the Qur'an, and my husband helped me realize that for a number of years I had been living a Muslim life without knowing it. (It wasn't until I learned the Five Pillars of Islam that I began completely practicing as a Muslim.) So when people ask how long I have been a Muslim I can't tell them, but I can think that it has been eleven years. If they ask me when I converted, I can tell them in 1992. As a matter of fact, my husband knew before I did that I was Muslim but let me come to that realization on my own.

And so began the faith journey for these women that would affect those around them-the families in which they were raised, their friends, their colleagues at work or school. Most of all, it would change the direction and flow of their own lives, not just in a religious sense but in every facet of their existence.

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