Sally Keller grew up in Connecticut, in a family devoted to the United Church of Christ but she says she always had unanswered questions about her religion "In Christianity, there were always certain things that bothered me. But with Islam, I've never had a moment of doubt."
After the birth of her daughter Yarrow, Sally says she had a near-death experience, caused by fever and illness due to an Rh blood incompatibility with her baby: "I felt like I was going to die. When I came back, I could see myself laying on the bed. I thought it was too late."
Over the course of 3 to 4 days, Sally remembers several out-of-body experiences, including one where she was transported to a "beautiful place" where she was told that she could come back to the living world provided she started bringing her 3 children to church.
"I don't think I could ever put words to it. It was bright, beautiful, and peaceful," she said. "It was really beautiful, but then I thought of my 3 kids and realized I couldn't stay."
These experiences made Sally start taking her kids regularly to the local United Church of Christ. She said "Prior to that, I was an atheist. I loved it when people from different religions came to my door. I made a Mormon cry when I was 24."
All 3 of Sally's kids are still religious to this day: Daughter Yarrow and middle son Zach converted to Islam, while her oldest son Vernon became a pastor at the Second Congregational Church in Attleboro, Massachusetts.
Zach was the first in the family to convert to Islam. Sally said he met some Muslim students at Stanford University where he was studying history. He would later meet Shaykh Hassan Cissie, an Muslim scholar and founder of the African American Islamic Institute, who would help him convert after traveling to Senegal in the late 1990s.