Towards My Destination
I am a 27 year old Mexican American or as some would say a Chicano. I have been asked to write my story of how I became a Muslim. I think it will Insha'Allah, God-willing, help people understand Islam and why it attracted me. People have a wrong perception of Islam and Muslims. What little they know is usually from movies and television, which is almost all the time false. I think that Islam is the answer to the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story Insha'Allah will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.
My life before was terrible. I had no direction. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out on the streets with my friends "partying," getting high, drinking, and selling marijuana. Despite most of my friends were gang members, I was never in a gang. I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers. I felt it was not a problem. I slowly began to use harder drugs. I had dreams and aspirations but they seemed too far away to make a reality. The more I became depressed, the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.
One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana. I was eager to sample and buy some, so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment. There were a couple of people inside. We sat around and talked for a while and "sampled" the weed. My friend and I bought some, and as we were getting ready to leave one of the guys present invited us to his apartment to give my friend a book.
When we arrived at his apartment, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it. He said that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home, I asked my friend to show me the book he was given. It was the Quran. I had never in my life heard of "The Holy Quran." I began to briefly read some pages. While I was reading, I knew what I was reading was true. It was like a slap in the face - a wakeup call. The Quran is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
The strangest thing is I was not looking for a new religion. I used to laugh at people who went to church. I would sometimes say that there was no God although deep down, I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Quran. I began to read it and study it. I learned about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus, son of Mary (Peace be upon him). The Quran stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son. This was most interesting to me because I never understood the concept of the Trinity. The Quran describes the birth of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) and his mission. There is also a Surah, or Chapter, called Mary and tells her story as well.
As a child, I always went to church. My mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15. The rest of my family is Catholic. I always wondered why we were Seventh Day Adventist, but the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic Church for weddings and Quinceañeras, a sweet 15 celebration.
Muhammad (PBUH) is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind. The Quran tells the stories of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) in a clear and understandable manner. I did months of research on Islam. I bought a Holy Quran at a bookstore and studied about World History and Islam's contributions to Medicine and Science. I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for about 800 years and that Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabella. Later, Christian Spaniards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic. History and my Islamic roots were all becoming clear to me.
After months of study and research, I could not deny the truth anymore. I had put it off too long but was still living the life I was before. And, I knew that if I became Muslim I would have to give all that up. One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth. I found out that there was a mosque by my house, and so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service. I saw that people from all races and colors attended the mosque. I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the athan, or call to prayer. When I heard it my eyes filled up with tears. It sounded so beautiful. It was all bizarre at first but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.
After attending the mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my shahadah, or declaration of faith. I told the khateeb, the person giving the lecture, that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday in front of the community, I said my shahadah first in Arabic then in English. I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (PBUH) is His Messenger.
When I finished, a brother shouted, "Takbir!" Then, all the community said, "Allahu Akbar!" a few times, and then all the brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs in one day. I will always remember that day; it was great. I'm at peace with myself and clear in religion. Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I have received my G.E.D. and work in the computer field. I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj, or Pilgrimage, to the Holy City of Mecca. It was an experience of a lifetime. About three million people from every race and color in one place worshiping one God. Islam is amazing!