Why Did You Convert to Islam?

ImageThe longer answer is: for every reason I can think of. I converted the same day I married my husband, but my change of heart began long before I met him.  To become a Muslimah was the natural progression of my growing spiritual awareness.

Sister Zahara

The most common question that I am asked by both Muslims and non-Muslims is, "Why did you convert to Islam?"  This is a simple question, but the answer is both easy and extremely complicated for me to answer.  I could write a book pondering this question; actually, I aspire one day I to do so.  The short answer is that it felt right.  

The longer answer is: for every reason I can think of.  I converted the same day I married my husband, but my change of heart began long before I met him.  To become a Muslimah was the natural progression of my growing spiritual awareness.  As my mother fought terminal cancer several years ago, I was reminded every day of how life is short, precious, and full of moral lessons.  When she passed on, I was completely devastated.  My eyes began to turn inward in search of answers to my questions, such as, how do I live my life?  Why did this happen?  

While studying geological sciences at the university, I was amazed at the beautiful systems in nature and how we are all connected in some necessary way on Earth.  In Chapter 2, Verse 164, the Qur’an describes how Allah "sends down water from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after [the cloud's] death and spreads in it all kinds of animals and the changing of the winds" to begin again.  As a scientist, it was a pleasure to find science in the Qur’an, and find that science is a highly respected Islamic discipline.  I greatly appreciate how in Islam, science and religion do not contradict one another.  All the religions of Abraham teach us that we are the stewards of our planet and we are responsible for maintaining its bounty, beauty, and peace.  

I recently read a biography of the Prophet and gained a greater understanding of the life and deeds of this great man.  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) was a prophet, a leader, a humanitarian, a chief, a feminist, and the founder of a nation.  It is unfortunate that Islam has a reputation for being a religion of the sword, because I discovered from my own studies that in ideology it is far from it.  The Prophet himself would not allow people to be coerced into his new religion and only fought when it was necessary, and always in self-defense.  He conducted himself in a dignified, humble, and pious manner with all people – those of his religion and not.  When a funeral procession passed him by, he stood up in respect, knowing well that it was for a Jewish man.  In response to being asked why he did so because the deceased was not a Muslim, the Prophet replied, "because he was a human being."  

The Prophet also had great respect for women and conferred with them often, especially his wife Khadija (peace be upon her).  He encouraged women to learn religion for themselves and seek education and taught everyone the Islamic ideals of equality, justice, and charity.  His only daughter, the esteemed Sayyida Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her), was also a great speaker and highly respected during her lifetime.  The Prophet would often tell others to consult Sayyida Zahra if he was going to be away, because her opinions on things would be the same as his.  Sayyida Zainab (peace be upon her) was also an Islamic scholar in her own right, and given the title "Alimah Ghayr Mu’allamah", ("she who has knowledge without being taught") by her nephew Imam Ali Zaynul Abideen (peace be upon him).  

To treat women as equals and consultants in political matters was a brand new concept.  This is one of the reasons that I am a Muslimah today: the Prophet achieved more for women in his lifetime than anyone else in religious history, and I am proud to follow his teachings.  I find the stories of the Prophet and Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) incredibly inspiring.  The Qur'an and these amazing people illustrate to me how the religion of Islam has the power to change the world into a better place.  If everyone lived by similar principles of justice, dignity, and respect perhaps there would be a much different Earth to wake up to every day.  

That is not to say I haven't had the occasional fear or doubt, but after my first Ramadan, those just about disappeared.  I could sense Muslims all around the world fasting from sunrise to sunset, praying, and reading the Qur’an in its entirety if possible.  I felt a great connection to all Muslims, as we endeavored in this incredible, mystical task assigned to us by Allah in the Qur'an.  

I believe I have found a good path.  Prophet Mohammed said that obtaining knowledge is mandatory for every man and every woman.  I have always been a firm believer in education and compassion for the betterment of our world.  I am always learning, searching for truth, and remembering to stop and be grateful.  To me, Islam is like the ocean.  It is beyond singular perception, vast, deep, amazing – and beautiful.  Only those who have courage and faith can venture into the deepest depths and discover all its secrets.  Insha'Allah, one day I shall be one of those.

Zahara Abdi received a baccalaureate degree in geological sciences from SUNY at Buffalo and currently works at an environmental consulting firm.  A newlywed and recent convert to Islam, she aspires to write about her experiences. 

Show More

Related Articles

  • UmmZahra

    MasllahAllah, welcome to Islam. There’s an online forum and association for reverts (and born Muslims too!) to join. It’s called Revert Muslim Association and is located at There will be a conference in Toronto at the Masumeen Islamic Centre (actually it’s in Brampton) October 11th and 12th. I’d love to see you there!

  • Zahara

    Salaam sister! Please email our editor, Arsalan Rizvi to get my email address. I’d love to meet you at the conference; thank you for telling me about it. I’ll try to go!

  • LP

    Hi Zahara,
    Thank you for your article. I am a caucasion catholic born woman in a serious relationship with a muslim man. The past year of our relationship has been wonderful. I have never been very religious despite being baptized catholic and raised with mainly christian traditions (christmas, easter, etc) . About 6 months into our relationship my boyfriend began to speak to me more and more about islam. I have to admit that all I knew of Islam is what the american media shows us on tv, which is not good… I have to say what I have learned has deeply touched me and the more I learn the more I grow to love islam. My boyfriend would like me to convert in order to be married and I understand why it is important to him, so we can raise our children together with the same beliefs. I have never been a very spiritual person so accepting a religion, especially one as demanding as islam intimidates me. My greatest fear is that I will not do it justice. I am trying to learn everything I can so when the time comes I am fully ready to become part of the muslim community, but there is so much to know! How do you know when you are ready to convert? I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons, not only for the love of my future husband but because islam is fulfilling. Where can I look for guidance? My boyfriend has graciously answered any and all questions I have but I am still unsure if I have it in me to be a dedicated muslimah. Is there somewhere else I can look? Thanks in advance – LP

    • SHall

      As-Salamu Alaykum…As reading this article…I truly got more undertanding also about converting to Islam I also is in the same situation as LP because I am in a relationship with a muslim man…yet we both know that it was God..Allah that brought us togother because I had a 22 yrs crushed on him..we haven’t seen each other for 11 yrs..than on a bus ride on June 17 2010..i was on the bus with his brother and that is how we connected once more…we have been talking every since..I am even relocating to the city he is now living at the end of the month…we also planning on getting married in December…yes I also willing to convert to Islam. We just came off the Ramadan & I did the fasting & reading of the Quran…it was truly a blessing and I know within that Islam is were I truly need to be…I know that I have alot to learn and willingly to learn all that I need to learn…I definitely want to be a devoted yet also decdicated muslimah for the community…Thanks Shall

  • LP

    Also, I will be fasting during Ramadan along with my boyfriend. I am hoping this experience brings me clarity.

  • LP

    I am also a caucasian convert to Islam, but I converted way back in 1994. I would tell you that you know you are ready to convert if:
    1. You believe that the Qur’an is really from God and what it contains is true.
    2. You therefore believe that Mohamed was really a prophet of God, and that God is One, Undivided.
    That’s it. Everything else follows. You can learn as you go, but if you believe those things you are already a Muslim even if you don’t call yourself that or realize it. If you don’t believe those things, then you shouldn’t convert.
    There is an online forum for converts that can answer any questions and offer support:
    Also, there is a nice blog for the month of Ramadan that might also help you:

    • SHall

      Thanks for this information because I know that in my heart that the Quran is really from God and what it contains is trues..(especially after reading it for the first time during was truly a belssing and I am so glad that I read it..entirely) Yes..I beleived that the Mohamed was really a prophet and that God is One, Undivided…. I also know that I am on the right path because I never been more excited about covering my body because Allah said so…yet seeing it totally different than what the world had to say about women that is covering up their body…It’s a BEAUTIFUL thing and the world don’t truly know the meaning of the covering up…now they will because I am ready to speak to the community…REACH OUT & PULL IN to the people.

  • Salam!

    Awww cuteee article Sr. Zahra! jA! =) Happy Ramadan!

  • LP

    thank you to the lovely lady who wrote back to me. 🙂 i have already visited both links and look forward to learning more. I feel I am on the right path…

  • Yusuf

    I was born in a devoted muslim family and I lost my faith when I mastered arabic and pondered over the true meaning of quran and hadis and sunnah. I advise all those new to Islam to do their own study and dont get influeced by tafsirs by diffrent scholars. Please dont mail me back-I am on a right path.(No Im not arrogant).

    • Abbas_12

      [quote name=”Yusuf”]I was born in a devoted muslim family and I lost my faith when I mastered arabic and pondered over the true meaning of quran and hadis and sunnah. I advise all those new to Islam to do their own study and dont get influeced by tafsirs by diffrent scholars. Please dont mail me back-I am on a right path.(No Im not arrogant).[/quote]

      Wow…you’ve mastered Arabic, become an expert on a religion, and now are on the right path. That’s a mighty accomplishment. I suppose now you’re able to compose Arabic poetry better than all the greatest poets in Arabic. No, I think then you should start your own Madhhab. That is an easier task.

  • Roog Doog

    Mohammed was a feminist? Yeah, just like Joseph Smith was a feminist. Like any man who controlled a lot of people by acting as God’s mouth piece, he ended up with a lot of different women in his bed. I can see any number of reasons for converting to Islam, but to list feminism as one is…well… mind boggling.