I converted to Islam in Ramadan of 2003 (I think Ramadan was in November of that year). I was married to my husband (a born Muslim) for 2 years at that point. Let me first say that mashallah, Allah gave me a patient, kind and gentle husband who never, ever once forced me to become Muslim. Yes, he was the first Muslim I ever had contact with (except for one girl that was in my high school, that I never talked to, subhanallah), and yes, he taught me the first things I ever knew about Islam. But, I need to make clear that he was not the reason I converted.
I always get asked this question, even before I am asked about my conversion 'oh, where is your husband from?', assuming that HE is the reason why I am Muslim. Sometimes, I feel like saying that I converted before I met him, but that would be lie, so I don't. :)
I was raised as a Christian, I suppose, although I never really attended church or ascribed to a certain Christian religion. God wasn't a big part of my life. I did, however, say the typical prayers in my head before falling asleep for God to watch over me and family and protect us, etc etc. But, what stands out the most now, is I can clearly remember each night asking for God to guide me and keep me on the straight path....those exact words, I'd say in every little 'prayer' each night. Subhanallah!
Anyway! So, my husband and I had been married for 2 years, and he always answered any questions that I had. We used to get into friendly debates about the trinity, and me, being the stubborn girl that I am, would know deep down inside that what I was saying made absolutely no sense, I would still keep on and be firm in my position. But, afterward, I would think about everything that was said, and it would scare me, how much it made sense to me.
When I was in college taking a humanities class, I remember being enthralled with the things I learned about Islam, and slowly it opened my mind to think less one-sided.
I would watch videos of debates that Ahmed Deedat would have with various Christian leaders, and still, even at this point, I knew he was right, but for some reason (?) I didn't think Islam was for me. Again, the stubbornness. I remember hearing the questions 'Is Jesus God? Or is he the son of God?' "If Jesus is God, how does God die??" "What happened to the rest of the world when 'God' was crucified and killed??". These were major questions for me, and I knew that I needed answers, but I kept it to myself.
Then, one day, I heard that a former Pastor from Texas who converted to Islam was going to be giving a speech about Islam at a nearby hotel (Yusuf Estes!). I begged my husband to go, and so we did. Brother Yusuf of course, mashallah, gave a great dawah speech, and did many comparisons between Islam and Christianity, and even Judaism.
And it wasn't the comparisons that sealed the deal for me, it was the similarities. It was that Allah swt had been sending the SAME message and prophets (Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jesus, etc--peace be on them all) to mankind since the beginning, and he sent our beloved Prophet (salallahi wa salaam) as the last and final one.
The word 'perfected' in the verse "This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion." (quran 5:3) really stood out for me, because Islam (not Muslims---Islam) is perfect, and is the seal of the religions.
After the speech, Yusuf Estes looked at the non Muslims in the room and asked if any of us wanted to take our shahada. Mashallah, another woman in the room and I took our shahadas.
I was shaking, but it was a calm shake, if that even makes sense. I was crying, but they were tears of joy and of renewal, and mostly of relief.
I felt relieved because I no longer had to fight with myself about the truth I knew inside, and because now I knew that Allah was really listening to my silent prayers all those years, and had indeed guided me. I worried about what my family would think/say/do, and I also worried that they (among others) would think that I did this only because of my husband. But, alhamdulillah, as my iman (faith) got stronger and increased, those worries became less. And, alhamdulillah, although my family does not agree with my beliefs, they are supportive and loving.
So, that's it in a little, tiny nutshell! Alhamdulillah, I am so glad I did this, because I know a lot of people from my past wonder about my life now, especially because it is entirely different than how I was raised. I am not one to push religion on people, but I do believe that we as Muslims have a responsibility to speak the truth when the opportunity arises. Hearing stories like these, from real people, are a far better way of hearing about Islam than watching TV or reading about it from some unauthentic website.
My wish is that people would think outside of the box. Outside of the illusion of this world we live in. Go back to the basics, keep an open mind, ask questions, ask questions, and ask even more questions, and inshallah (God willing) you will find your answers.