April Fuller grew up in a devout Christian family in a small town in rural Mississippi. Her uncle was a pastor in the Southern Baptist church of the town of Raleigh.
“I always grew up believing in something, so I knew there was a god, I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to be, but I knew Baptist wasn’t for me.” she said.
After high school, April went to the University of Mississippi to study English Language and Literature. There a mutual friend introduced her to a Muslim student.
Being a practicing muslim he started talking to her about Islam: “I started talking to my friend, and he was telling more about it, and I thought this kinda makes sense. In Islam, you use logic; in Christianity you have to go on blind faith. A lot of times, when I tried to question Christian beliefs, I was shut down. With Islam, they welcome doubts and attempt to dispel them.”
April kept asking questions for about six months. Every time she thought she had all the answers she was looking for, more questions would pop up in her mind. She was convinced that Islam was the truth but was afraid of how people around her would react if she became Muslim. “Finally, I knew what was being said to me was true, and I could no longer care what people said about me. So on April 30, 2012, I converted.” she said.
“I finally have a peace I didn’t have in Christianity, I know what I believe, who I am, and how I want my life to reflect on this. For the first time, I actually feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s strange; I found peace in a religion where many only see hate.”
April knew her conversion would be received with mixed feelings, but she did not expect the amount of backlash she received after revealing that she had become Muslim.
“Why did I expect anything less,” Fuller’s former youth pastor wrote. “I am an infidel according to your cult so therefore I am your enemy. Such a shame you have chosen to turn your back on a loving God and serve a false prophet who preaches hate for anyone not of said cult.”
“My heart is sad for the teenage girl I admired so much in church,” a member of Fuller’s former church posted on her wall. “You were such an inspiration to all the teenagers who saw you stand up for what you believed and not ashamed to be a Christian. Don’t be a stumbling block April to all these young souls.”
Her grandfather was particularly harsh “A few days after I came out as Muslim, he called me to ask if I was going to be blowing up any buildings soon,” April said.
“My mom has always encouraged me to follow my heart, and this is no different,” Fuller said. “She educates herself on what I believe, can eat and all that so that she can understand what I’m going through and how she can best help me.”
April joined the Muslim Student Association at the University of Mississippi and later became the director of women affairs. She says that the MSA provides a place where she can be herself, it was like a new home to her.
“I love all my friends, don’t get me wrong, but since I joined the Muslim Student Association, I have a close group that I can talk about Islam with, as well as a group that won’t pressure me to do anything that goes against Islam.”