Talker: Hatice Sari
This month our guest is from overseas. She`s from Ohio, US. When I offer her to interview, firstly I told about young magazine and association`s works. She prayed for us and said; `May Allah bless you for your organisation. He increases your faith, and accept you to His heaven.` This is so good to get these prays from about 10.000 kilometres. Here you go Lauren`s story of being Islam.
First of all tell me about yourself please.
Well, I`m a 20 year old college junior, studying veterinary medicine, focusing on horses! I have a younger sister (Hayley, age 16) and a younger brother (Ian, age 11), 2 great parents, and a dog that I love to death! I live at school (3 hours from my parents house) in a house with my 4 best friends, and try to visit home about once a month! I love reading, being outside, swimming, traveling, and learning more about my new-found love Islam :)
How did you find Islam and how did you be a Muslim? Tell me about that.
The first time I had heard of Islam was in my 2nd year of high school in a world history class. We were learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to give us some background info, the teacher took us all the way back to the beginning, with Isaac and Ishmael. From there we had a "crash course" on Islam! We watched many films, learned about the 5 pillars of Islam (I remember on an exam, I couldn`t remember Fasting in Ramadaan....how embarrassing now to think of that!! :D ) I had always been interested in the culture, art, architecture, music...everything about the Middle east, and I have (and still do, often!) dream of traveling all around it someday, inshallah! So I decided to learn a little more on my own. I had been struggling in my faith as a Christian, having a lot of questions that no one could really answer, just going through the motions, not really feeling God in my life. What I had learned about islam had really struck a chord with me. But I didn`t really think about conversion or anything, my mother was very upset that I was not focusing on Christianity so she forbade me from learning any more, or bringing books about Islam in to the house.
Fast forward three years, and I`m my second year of college. Still struggling with my faith, not going to church, not going to Bible study....not doing anything really! Astragfirallah! So I decided I needed a change. I began looking up masjids in my area (thankfully there are a lot of Somalian people where I live, so there are TONS of masjids!!) And I found one that is mostly converts, and twice a month they have a "New Muslim Support Group" class, teaching new muslims and non-muslims alike more about Islam, the prophets and the Quran. So I went to a few of those. The first time I walked in the masjid, I finally felt the presence of God, alhamdulillah! I cried, it was like the feeling of finally coming somewhere where I belonged.
So that was December of 2011. I consider myself a Muslim and I practice as much as I can with what I know. My mother, is very against Islam and me converting has asked me to at least wait until my studies are done next year. She is very strong Christian, and is very afraid of Islam, and we unfortunately can`t even discuss my faith. She doesn`t at least forbid me from going to the masjid, so I still practice and go as much as I can! As soon as I`m done with my studies though, that`s the first thing I plan on doing :) to make it official what I feel and know to be true in my heart, inshallah!
What an interesting story. :) I read it twice, and was really effected. I always think about that; my mother and father are muslims. All my family, too. I was born as a muslim technically, you know. However I always think about that, your mother isn`t a muslim but you`re searching everything about Islam. Your spirit is more valuable than ours. Because you found everything yourself. It is so diffucult to succed. May Allah bless you my sister. I can ask other questions. :) When you say your friends `I want to be a Muslim.` what did they say?
Well, all of my friends are christians ( a few atheists too)!! The only muslim I ever knew was a Somali girl in high school in my math class (she wore hijab!) So when I was looking into converting, it really took my friends by surprise! I mean, they were supportive, but it isn`t every day a small town, american girl decides to convert to Islam! So they`re pretty great about it :) they ask some great questions and we have some wonderful conversations about faith and religion!
What`s the difference between chirstian lauren and muslim lauren? :)
As for the difference in "Christian Lauren" and "Muslim Lauren"....Muslim Lauren is much more calm and centered...she has the peace of Allah SWT in her heart and knows that no matter what happens, everything will be ok :) She is more respectful, watches what she says, and has more patience :) How can that be a bad thing?! :)
Is there any Islamic society in your university?
Well, my university is technically associated with a christian church. I only know of 6 muslims in my school of 3500!! So alhamdulillah, a large university (Ohio State University) is only 10 minutes from where I live and they have a very large muslim population. Ohio State University has a Muslim Student Association. I go to meetings sometimes when my class schedule permits!
My masjid is very active in the local community, promoting understanding of islam in the communities. Through my masjid, I attend many interfaith events (muslims, jews, christians, hindus, etc) to promote peace and dialouges in our religious communities. For example, during Ramadan, a local church hosted an Iftar meal, and we had a wonderful evening of socializing with eachother, some people of the church even prayed with us! It was really beautiful thing to see :)
Thank you so much for your responds sister.
Thank you, too.