I used my alone time to explore books about philosophy, psychology, poetry, and religion. Little by little, I began gravitating towards books about Islam. The more I read about Islam, the more I realized that it was more than just a beautiful concept; it was a way of life.
I sought out a mentor who could show me what that life entailed, and I eventually found one. She was an established career woman, with a loving and supportive husband and two incredible children, and most importantly, she had an insatiable love for Islam. She was the kind of woman who I aspired to become. We met weekly. She shared stories about Prophet Muhammad and his closest companions. She reiterated Islam's belief in the prophhethood of Jesus and its denial of original sin. She showed me how to pray and gave me my most beloved copy of the Quran.
Then, my mentor lent me a CD series called Purification of the Heart by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. I listened to those CDs daily, deeply connected with its messages, and felt these incredible reverberations in my heart when the shaykh recited passages from the Quran in Arabic. I even felt the same reverberations in my heart when I recited the first chapter of the Quran, syllable-by-syllable. As I listened and I practiced my Arabic, I felt as if I was strengthening my communication with God.
As I prayed and fasted during my first Ramadan, I felt this magnificent closeness to an essence that I had never encountered before, and consciously nurturing that essence filled me with immense bliss. It was in those moments that I felt the most connected to myself; it was in those moments that I felt the most connected to God. I knew then that I was ready to accept Islam as my chosen faith.
Through God's tremendous grace and my mentor's tenacious planning, on the 27th day of Ramadan 2016, I found myself sitting alongside the scholar whose words in both English and Arabic transformed my heart into a Muslim one: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. He led me through my Testimony of Faith, which were the sincerest words that I had ever spoken.
As a Muslim of Irish-Catholic descent, I'm not quite sure where I fit in just yet. But in the early morning hours, right before dawn, and as I pray alone, facing Miami's Biscayne Bay, I feel right at home. For me, that's all that matters right now.
Source: Huffington Post