Thursday, June 2, 2011
Its been almost 5 years since I accepted Islam. In late August of 2006 I took my shahada. A lot has happened since then. Good and bad, but I trust that Allah has chosen a path for me that will not be more than I can bear.
When I first accepted Islam, nothing really changed for me. I didn't change the way I dressed at all. Still had the mini skirts and low cut shirts. I had already given up pork and alcohol, so I didn't have to do anything with that, and I knew I was supposed to be praying, but I had no idea what to do.
As I started to learn more about my new faith, I made changes in the way I lived, dressed and interacted with others. I started to wear long sleeves and long skirts, I was careful about what I said, and I started to TRY to learn to pray. Our first Ramadan we fasted (although I'm sure we did lots of things wrong), and we tried to pray taraweeh on our own. I didn't get to the masjid until January of the following year and when I did I was so nervous.
Once I started going to classes at the Masjid, things started to change quickly for me. I met other Muslim women who were so nice and helpful. They taught me how to pray, and they taught me the basics of Islam. I started to read more books and ask more questions. With every passing day I felt more comfortable acting, and dressing like a Muslim. I didn't make the changes in my life because someone told me to, but because I understood why I should make them and I wanted to do it. Everything made sense, and it was all clicking.
Meanwhile, I did make some bad choices about forums and the Internet. The Internet is not the place to learn Islam. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great resources, but you can get so confused by the information that it can be overwhelming. As for Islamic forums.... I really can't say that they are good for anyone. At first, it is great because you can find others that are asking questions just like you are, and then there are all of the 'great' answers you get. WRONG. Depending on what forum you go on, you will get everything from super mush to super strict, and neither are any help. People will make the haram halal and the halal haram. You will find that people will insult each other to make a point, or get angry when the truth is presented. Its an emotional roller coaster that is best avoided. I did meet lots of great people on forums and have kept connections with some of them.... others, were not so great and to this day continue to hold a grudge about things that happened years ago.
When someone becomes very passionate about something, they can make pretty big mistakes when defending what they believe. I am totally guilty of that. I was not very subtle or gentle on forums. At the time, I could not understand why anyone would think differently than I did about Islam. To me, it was very black and white, and there was no grey. I still don't really see grey, but I do understand how some people can, and I've learned to either be more gentle about it, or just leave it alone.
I guess the whole point of this post is to say that the best way for ME to learn about Islam is through books, classes and people that I trust. Not the Internet or forums. That has been made overly clear to me lately and I thought I needed to get it out there. I made mistakes in the past, and I can admit that. Inshallah others can get over the past and move on as well.