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BLESSED WITH ISLAM
Tara bint Curtis Gregory
October 26, 2002
I was born and raised in the Midwest, but both sides of my family are from the South. They are Christians and as far as I know I am the only one blessed with Islam. My mother was
raised as a Baptist Christian and later switched to Methodist. My father died when I was 19, one year before I became Muslim, so I never had a chance to understand what sect of
Christianity he was from. I do know that his father was Baptist and his mother was Catholic but switched to Baptist after she married my grandfather. My mother believes in God and
so did my father, they taught my siblings and I that there IS a God. They didn’t force us to become Christians and we were never baptized. My brother doesn’t believe in God…at
least that is the impression that I get from him. My sister believes in God but is confused as to which sect of Christianity she should belong to. I, however, was left upon the fitrah. I
did not have a religion and called myself nondenominational. I believed in God, that He was everywhere (in His knowledge) and that He was a light. I prayed only to Him and I didn’
believe that Jesus was the son of God. I read the first three pages of the Bible and put it down because it was confusing and hard to understand. I think that this early experience
helped ease my transition to becoming a Muslim.
After I met my exhusband I was so interested to know about Muslim culture and counrties and especially Muslim women. I was like a sponge soaking up water in my pursuit of
Islamic knowledge. I could never get enough! I read Islam for about five years before I made the first trip to Morocco. I would talk to the natives and they were tickled pink to know
that I knew the history, culture, and most importantly the religion of their country. One Moroccan made a comment that I sounded like I was already a Muslim, alhamdullilah. Back in
America, I remember I used to watch my exhusband pray in the bedroom and I would sit up on the bed and watch him. It was very nice to observe. At other times I would
accompany him to the mosque. I would go sit in the back of the women’s prayer area and watch them praying. And when everyone said “ameen” together there was a shiver that
went up my spine. What a wondeful practice and I felt so left out! There was something missing from my life.
My exhusband gave da’wah to me and told me that he was afraid that I was going to hell unless I became a Muslim. Maybe this type of approach would scare others away from
Islam but it worried me. Meanwhile I was still reading about Islam and suddenly one day I asked my exhusband out of the blue to teach me how to pray. He agreed and drew
illustrations but sometimes he was too impatient with me. However I do thank him for enlightening me. I declared to him that the next time we go to the mosque I was ready to take
shahada. And May 1996 that is exactly what happened! The Imam and my exhusband witnessed my shahada. At the time I struggled to repeat the kalimah in Arabic but I said it in
English too. A feeling of peace came over me and I felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
I was very happy and wanted to announce to everyone that I was Muslim! But when I told my mother and sister they were angry and ganged up on me. They said that I chose Islam
over them and accused my exhusband of brainwashing or forcing me to convert. How funny since I had no religion before! And how scary because this coming from the people I
loved the most. I cried but was adamant and wouldn’t leave the fold of Islam.
For a while my mother didn’t believe that I was Muslim and had stopped eating pork. She would try to tempt me with pepperoni pizza or ham, two of my favorite foods before I
became Muslim. In spite of my mother and sister’s disapproval of my new religion they never stopped talking to me or disowned me as often happens to new reverts. These days
they are more understanding and accepting. They realize that in the beginning they were wrong in believing that my exhusband forced me to Islam because now I am divorced from
him and still Muslim alhamdullilah. Finally, they recognize that it has brought about only good changes in my life.
And no matter what bad happens to me I will never leave Islam insha’Allah. I live for Allah and when I die I hope that His name is on my lips before I take my last breath.