How I Became a Muslim
by Maimuna Quddus, Southend
The Islamic Guardian (UK), April to June 1982 Issue (Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 12–13)
(In this article written in September 1981, our esteemed sister-in-faith from Southend, who has previously contributed to this magazine, briefly traces her conversion to Islam. — Editor)
As an English child, I attended Sunday schools of several Christian churches — Methodist, Baptist, Free Church, etc. Although my family were not churchgoers, yet believing in God came as natural as breathing. I was about 13 when I became intensely religious, and dreamed of even “taking the veil” as a nun. I remember my Confirmation ceremony into the Church of England, wearing a white veil and dress, and feeling so “holy” as the Bishop blessed me. Inevitably, my childish piety came to an end one day, and I experienced the pain of doubt. I had prayed for something, and for the first time in my life I saw my request rejected. I was shattered, and felt lost and cheated.
Then I began to look at the world through bitter eyes, and to see “proofs,” as I thought, of the non-existence of God: handicapped babies, illness, disasters, and even the fact that many eyes were imperfect and needed glasses. Everything had pointed to the fact that there was NO All-knowing, All-merciful Creator. These doubts hurt me and I felt very lonely and afraid: after trusting God all my life, I now “needed” a faith. My prayers called: “Lord, I cannot believe in Thee, but ….”
I left the church, and found speech with clergy and believers a strain. I felt sorry for them because they were conned into believing a lie. Yet I so longed to believe as they did. So, I wrote to monasteries of strict monks and nuns, those who lived away from the world in prayer and meditation, and who seemed closest to God, if anyone was. They counselled me, guided me, and were loving and kind. Gradually, slowly, I believed even more firmly that GOD IS.
However, my trust in the complicated doctrines of the Church never returned — the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, the Communion of Saints and the so-called Real Presence of Christ during the service of the Mass. I could not follow or believe any of this, and the more I tried, the less I knew.
For a Christian to refuse to accept these ideas, not least the Sonhood of Jesus — this was impossible. I asked myself and the priests, “If Jesus is called God’s son, why do you say he is also GOD?”; or, “If he prayed in agony to God before his death, how could he pray to himself?” No clear answers were forthcoming, and I was advised to “have faith.”
I began to read avidly about all religions, including Judaism and Islam. I never understood Hinduism, but the Jewish faith seemed simple and clear.
Then I found that converts were not fully encouraged, and that the Jews were clannish and believed themselves to be special (“The Chosen People”).
I was living in Hampstead and used to walk past the old mosque at Regents Park often. One day I entered bravely. There I saw women and children at prayer together, and the sight of noisy toddlers being welcome in a place of worship told me that family life must be very important in Islam. I started to attend classes with a ladies’ circle, and overcame my misconceptions about Muslims, one by one. I had really imagined that Muslim men married four wives at the same ceremony! I talked at length with the Raja of Mahmudabad, and pronounced my Shahada in the simple way. Arabic, and the prayers to learn were, I admit, very difficult for me. But, thank God, I managed, and found that I already believed the same things that I always had — the Oneness of God.
I loved the close family life of true Muslims and the way children and the aged were cherished. I became close with good people from Pakistan, and I eventually visited that country. When I look at the West and how godless it has now become, I know that Islam is the true answer to the world’s problems.