‘My Incredible Discovery of Islam’: The Story of Carla (Part 2)

The concluding part of an American Catholic’s discovery of Islam. The first part of this article was republished from The Islamic Bulletin in the January 2014 issue of Young Muslim Digest.

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hat I admire most about my son is his dedication to almost everything he does. He is a sweet, gentle person, but has strong ethics and aims to achieve whatever he puts his mind to, which I respect a lot. I admire his ability to keep a level head in the most stressful of situations. He’s very logical and won’t dwell too long over a problem. He just attempts to find solutions and neutralize situations as much as possible. I continued to pray that my son would find it in his heart to convert to Catholicism. I so badly wished that he would become a priest—I felt he would make a fine preacher. He was a good boy, and God-fearing at that. Good qualification for the Priesthood.

When I once told him that he would make a wonderful priest, my son smiled and replied that it would be more likely that I would become a Muslim rather than he become a Catholic priest. After six months, though, my son expressed desire to leave for the United States. He eventually settled in America and made a home in Miami, Florida.

Meanwhile, I became a widow with one teenager daughter left in the house. My son really wanted for me to join him in America, so I left to the States with my 17 year-old daughter. We very much liked it in America and my daughter quickly started to make a life for herself. Nothing had changed for my son and me—we continued talking about Catholicism and Islam and neither one of us would ‘give up.’

Sometimes, when the subject of the Trinity came up and I could not find any answers or rebuttal to him, I would just put up my hand and walk away. I would get very angry for what I saw was his attacking my religion. “Why can’t you be like everyone else,” I asked. “Other Muslims accept me and do not try to convert me.”

“I’m not like everyone else,” he answered. “I love you. I am your son and I want you to go to Paradise.” I told him that I am going to Paradise—I am a good, honest woman, who doesn’t lie, steal, or cheat. He begged me to read and learn and discover Islam. Books were brought so that I might open my mind. I refused. Born a Catholic, I will die a Catholic. For the next ten years, I remained living near my son, his wife, and family. I desired, though, to also spend some time with my daughter, who was still living in Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t easy to get a visa. My son joked that if I just accepted Islam, I would be able to get an Umrah visa. I told him sternly that I wasn’t a Muslim. After much hard work and a few connections, I was given a visitor‘s visa to visit my daughter, who was now the mother of three children.

Before leaving, my son held me in a bear hug, and told me how much he loved me, how badly he wanted Paradise for me. He then went on to say how he had everything he had wanted in this life, except for a Mother who was a Muslim. He told me that he prayed to God (Allah) every single day that He (swt) would change my heart to accept Islam. I told him that that would never happen. I visited my daughter in Saudi Arabia and fell in love with the country, the weather, and the people. I didn’t want to leave after the six months so I requested an extension. I would hear the athan (call to prayer) five times a day and would see the faithful ones close their shops and walk off to prayer. Although that was very touching, I continued reading from my Bible every morning and evening and would constantly say the rosary.

Not once did my daughter or any other Muslim person ever speak to me about Islam or try to get me to convert. They respected me and allowed me to practice my religion. My son was coming to Saudi Arabia to visit me. I was so happy—I had missed him so. No sooner did he come was he again after me, talking religion and the Oneness of God. I was angry. I told him that I have been in Saudi Arabia for over one year and no one, not once has anyone ever spoken about religion to me. And he, on his second night here, is so quick to begin the preaching. He apologized and told me that he wanted for me to accept Islam. I again told him that I would never leave Christianity. He asked me about the Trinity and how could I believe in something that just did not make any logical sense. He reminded me that even I had questions about this. I told him that everything does not have to make sense—you just have to have faith. He seemed like he accepted this answer and I was happy that I finally won a discussion on religion.

My son then told me to explain the miracle of Jesus to him. Aha, I thought! I am finally getting somewhere. I explained the miracle birth of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Jesus dying for our sins, God breathing His Spirit in him, Jesus as God, Jesus as the Son of God. He was quiet the entire time I was talking—no rebuttal—my son, quiet? He then quietly asked, “Mamma, if Jesus died for our sins on a Friday, and then as you say, he was resurrected three days later on a Sunday, then who ruled the world for those three days? Mamma, explain that to me?” I thought about the logic to this question and at that moment, I knew that it did not make any sense. I said, “Jesus was the son of God. Jesus and God are one and the same. My son replied, “Cows have calves; little cows. Cats have kittens; little cats. Humans have children; little humans. When God has a son, what is he? A little God? If so, then do you have two Gods?” Then he asked, “Mama, can you ever become a God?” What a ridiculous question – I told him. Humans can never be a God. (Now, I was really getting angry) He then asked, “Was Jesus a human being?” I replied, “Yes.” He then said “Therefore, he could never be God.”

The claim that God became man is also an absurdity. It is not befitting of God to take on human characteristics because it means that the Creator has become His creation. However, the creation is a product of the creative act of the Creator. If the Creator became His creation, it would mean that the Creator created Himself, which is an obvious absurdity. To be created, He would first have to not exist, and, if He did not exist, how could He then create? Furthermore, if He were created, it would mean that He had a beginning, which also contradicts His being eternal.

By definition creation is in need of a creator. For created beings to exist they must have a creator to bring them into existence.God cannot need a creator because God is the Creator. Thus, there is an obvious contradiction in terms. The claim that God became His creation implies that He would need a creator, which is a ludicrous concept. It contradicts the fundamental concept of God being uncreated, needing no creator and being the Creator. Knowing I did not have an answer to him, I replied, “Let me think about the answer.”

That evening, I thought long and hard about what my son said. The idea that Jesus as the son of God did not make sense to me anymore. I also could not accept the fact as Jesus and God being one in the same. Before going to sleep that night, my son told me to pray to God before going to sleep and ask Him alone to guide me to the right path. I promised my son that I would sincerely supplicate to God for the answer. I went to my room and read from the book my son had given me. Next, I opened the Holy Qur’an and began to read. It was if something had been lifted from my heart. I felt different. I saw the truth in Islam. What had I been fighting against all these years? That night I prayed to God alone—not to Jesus, not to Mary, not to the angels or saints or holy spirit. Just to God I cried and asked for guidance. I prayed that if Islam was the right choice to please change my heart and mind. I went to sleep and the next morning I woke up and announced to my son that I was ready to accept Islam. He was astonished. We both began to cry. My daughter and granddaughter were called out and watched as I submitted, “There is no God except Allah and Muhammad (pbuh) is His Messenger and Last Prophet.”

I felt a changed woman. I was happy, as if someone had lifted a veil of darkness from my heart. Everyone who knew me couldn’t believe that I had converted. Sometimes I couldn’t even believe it! But Islam felt so right, so peaceful, so serene! After my son left back to the states, I learned how to recite Surah-al-Fatiha in Arabic and have since learned how to perform the prayers. I continued with life as before; except now I am a Muslim. I always loved attending family gatherings with my daughter, and social events as well. I would attend family and friends weddings, henna parties, baby showers (aqiqah) and the gatherings when someone died.

About six months after I had converted to Islam, I was at a funeral gathering that really touched my heart and reinforced what a beautiful religion Islam is. A young boy had died from a sickness. As my daughter was getting ready to leave for the condolences, I asked her if she knew the family well. She answered that she did not. “Then why go?” I asked. “Because the family is grieving, and it is my duty in Islam to go and perhaps offer any support that I can.” I decided to dress and go with her. I went along with my daughter to pay condolences to the boy’s family and was overwhelmed at the number of people in attendance. I was surprised and touched that so many people would come to give the family support. All I could think of as I saw the family grieving was what a beautiful religion Islam was that so many people felt it their responsibility to give their support. And that one event, where Muslims where showing an outpoor of sympathy is another moment that proved the beauty of Islam.

I have been a Muslim for three years now, Alhamdullilah. Since that time, I have performed Umrah twice with my son and daughter. My son, daughter and I visited the Kabah and the Holy Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. I just celebrated my 70th birthday Alhumdullilah. Sometimes I think back to all the hardship and heartache that I must have caused my son. I also wonder if my daughter would have applied a little pressure on me, I might have become a Muslim sooner. But my son reminded me that Allah is the Best of Planners. And it is only He (swt) that can give a person Hidaya (Guidance), and read a verse from the Quran, “Indeed, it is not such that you can guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He wills”  (Qur’an 28:56). I thank Allah every day that He honored and blessed me by guiding me to the path of Islam and making me a Muslim. Ameen.

(Concluded)

(Courtesy: The Islamic Bulletin Volume XX No. 25, p. 7-10)