Hello Mami and Papi,
I don’t know how else to approach you in order to explain my reasoning behind my life-changing decision and have you listen and understand at the same time.
Since before I can remember, I have never been a strong believer in Christianity. There was a lot that did not make sense to me—for example, why do I have to beg a priest for forgiveness? Why must I pray to saints and not straight to God? Why is Jesus the son of God?
Why are there so many versions of the Bible?
Prior to the beginning of my sophomore semester (September 2005), my curiosity took its place and I went ahead and began doing some research. This research, of course, was mild, but when Ramadan hit in October 2005, I observed the way my Muslim friends worshipped Allah (God) and how they were so true to their religion. It was beautiful.
The religion became a fascination to me and I truly wanted to know more. I purchased a few books in the UK and read some pamphlets on the religion. I did not make any decisions, but I continued to read and become more familiar with Islam.
Islam began making sense to me—the idea that we pray only to Allah, that we ask Allah for help and to forgive us, how a book (the Quran), that was written thousands of years ago, remains unchanged as of today (there are different translations but no different versions). Also, how does this book that was written eons ago manage to explain scientific situations that were only discovered by man a couple of years ago? How has the Quran managed to explain how babies develop in the womb? How would anyone thousands of years ago know this—in
such detail? Especially since scientists discovered the explanation of these situations less than 100 years ago? How can we explain the wonders of this book? Also, how can I deny the holy book when it has been so clear in explaining advanced technology, how the day turns into the night, the creation of human beings by water (as it is scientifically known that we are made of cells), layers of heaven (which we describe now in scientific terms as the atmospheric levels)? Furthermore, it explains the beginning of the universe and the movement of tectonic plates—and there are numerous other examples of science in the Quran.
What has also touched me is that Islam believes in all the prophets—Jesus, Moses, David, Abraham, and Mohammad.
They all coexist in the Quran; the Quran also tells us that we must respect all religions. Mami and Papi, I can not explain how many times I have made myself and what I believe clear to you—I could not have given myself away anymore! Like, every time I spoke for hours and hours on end about Islam, and how I knew so much.
I began interacting more with Muslim friends; I felt that they would be able to give me a clear explanation of Islam.
Islam played a major part in self-respect, and it helped me appreciate myself more and realize that I should stay away from harmful situations, such as drinking, smoking, going out with people who only mean trouble. I told you what my friends were like—they were heading the wrong direction and I did not want to be in that direction. Believing in Islam made it easier for me to walk away from the powers of Satan and do better.
Islam was and has been the reason for my success in school. I have placed my mind in my studies, instead of going out all the time as my old friends did. Trust me, you would not like me to be like them, because if I had been, then you would have every single reason to think I was a bad person, that I was irresponsible and that I was a disgrace to the family. After almost one year of studying Islam, I had no doubt in my mind that it was the right religion.
I was prepared to become a Sunni Muslim. In early June 2006, I attended the mosque in Westbury, NY to ask further questions about Islam and after speaking to a sister and the imam of the mosque, I knew that it was time to make the right decision. Around two weeks later, I did Shahada, the Islamic creed; it means to testify or to bear witness in Arabic, the declaration of the belief. I stated in front of 80-100 Muslims, “Ash hadu anla ilaha illallah, wa ash hadu anla Mohammad roosul Allah,” which translates to “I believe in the one and only God and Mohammad is his messenger.” It was such a beautiful experience. I had been accepted into the Islam. I was welcomed by every single Muslim at the mosque with open arms—I felt so special, it felt so right, I knew I
had made the best decision in my life, and it was something that was going to bring out positive sides of me. It is so hard to explain the rush, the emotional and faith satisfaction that I had at that moment, but I knew there was something wrong. I was not able to celebrate my happiness with the people in my life that I loved the most, that meant to most to me—you and Papi. The moment was wonderful but not complete. I really wish you could have been as proud of me as I was of myself.
It hurt so much to think and feel that my biggest challenge would be to openly tell you about me and Islam, about me and my faith, about me and my happiness. I know that you both want the best for me, you want me to be happy and you want me to be responsible, and you want me to be independent and make the right decisions. I have made the right decision, I made it all by myself, I read about Islam all by myself, I discovered Islam in me all by myself, it was me who made every decision from the point where I began in the Islamic interest to the point where I am now.
I can’t lie to you and tell you I had no influences because how else would I have been influenced by wanting to know more about Islam? Well, from observing other people. How do we know as humans whether eating a chocolate cake would taste good or not? We taste it, we try others to compare, and then we make a final decision. If we like it, we continue to eat; if we don’t, then we disregard it.
Mami and Papi, I know I might seem weak sometimes in certain situations, and I know I display signs of vulnerability, but converting into Islam was decided by me. It’s hard and it hurts to think that all my studying, research, and conversion might be credited to someone else, but at the end of the day, the only one that knows the truth is God and it is to Him that I will be standing in front of on the day of Judgment, and it is He who knows
I believe in Islam, I believe in God. The only difference between Christianity and Islam that I don’t believe in is that Jesus is the son of God, but I do believe that he was a messenger of God.
It is stated in the Quran that all the prophets were messengers of God—they all came to spread the news and religion of God, but that they all came in their own time and that Mohammad was the last messenger of God.
I know my word is hard to believe after the incidents these past two days, but there is nothing more that I can do to prove to both of you when it comes to the decisions that I made about Islam.
And most importantly, I want you both to understand that it is virtually impossible to explain all of my reasoning behind my belief in Islam; this article is not even 1/100th of it all. I have spent hours and hours and hours speaking to others about my feelings towards Islam, and I wish and pray to Allah that one day I will be able to
express everything I feel about Islam with both of you.
I still remain the daughter that you had almost twenty-one years ago. It has not changed the way I feel about you. You still are the most important people in my life and I love you both more than anything; I just have a different belief and it’s one that will bring you no shame nor physically hurt you. I will not patronize our relationship.
I love you both very much and I only pray for the best,
Carolina Amirah DeFonseca