Through fasting and through reading I became closer to Allah (swt), closer to the Prophet's (pbuh) message and closer to converting. I wanted to celebrate my new life, and everyone around me remarked how happy I seemed, how at peace I was with myself. But they also noticed other things that had changed. I had stopped drinking, and my non-Muslim friends saw this as a warning sign. "You're not becoming a Muslim are you?", one remarked. Another begged me not to convert, without me even hinting that I was, "please don't do it, it would be a shame for the world to lose you. They'll stop you being the powerful woman you are." I shrugged off the remarks, though I would sometimes try to defend Islam, I realised it was falling on deaf ears, so I just laughed it off.
I began to tell my Muslim friends about this, who were happy but apprehensive, making sure I knew what I was getting into. Inevitably conversation turned to how I would dress, in my life and during prayer. Such a personal choice became a running theme, and I felt that for the rest of my life I would have to defend my decision to not wear a Hijab. Sadly, as a woman in this world, it seems we will forever be defending our choice of clothing, whether we choose to cover or not.
The night I converted, I did it surrounded by people close to me. They were all Muslims and it was a special moment for us all. I felt happiness, but at the same time a terrible sadness, as I was hiding one of the most special moments of my life from some of the closest people to me.
It is a difficult feeling, to rejoice in Allah (swt) and the guidance we have been given to protect our fellow human beings, our animals and our Earth, whilst also realizing that my decision may cost me my friendships, my family and even my job. I go forward as a new Muslim in this increasingly intolerant world with trepidation. To many Muslims who don't know me, I am just another Western woman. Many non-Muslims who don't know that I am a Muslim, will assume that if I don't hate Islam, then I at least view it with suspicion. I am trapped, alone in the middle with only my faith in Allah (swt) to guide me.