Talker: Hatice Sari

This month we reached overseas. This is the story of Brittnye who is a new Muslim from Texas, USA. When I offer her to interview, she began to answer my questions by saying "bismillah."

First of all tell me about yourself please.

I am 24 years old, and I have lived in Texas my entire life. I am the oldest of 3 children.

How did you meet Islam?

I have always been a spiritual person, and though my family is Christian, I began to read Qur`an when I was 14, as a way to understand and reaffirm my Christian beliefs. I had always felt that there was something missing from the practice that my family and I had when I was small, so my original intention in investigating religions had more to do with finding a branch of Christianity that suited me, as there are a great many and they are all different. This led me on a path to attempt to understand all religions, so I began to study Hinduism, Judaism, and eventually Islam, and while I felt there were many similarities and valid points in all of them, the one that spoke to me most was Islam. It was so strange to me to discover a religion that already believed what I knew in my heart, but as I mentioned before, my entire family is very conservative Christian, and I knew that I could not practice the way I wanted to should I still be living with them.

What kind of difference did you find between Islam and Christianity?

In Christianity, it is consistently repeated that if you do not actively accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, you will not be allowed into Heaven. This means that huge populations of people who live in areas where there is no literacy, and no hope for higher knowledge, that all those people will be condemned for their ignorance, even though it is no fault of their own. Muslims understand that the only way to Allah is by devoting your life to Him, by submitting yourself to His will, and in so doing having the pure intention of doing everything in your life for Allah. How amazing, how powerful is it, to know that you can brush your teeth for Allah? That you can sleep for Allah, and have it be as a prayer? When every action of your life is focused around pleasing the Creator, your entire life becomes as a constant Du`a. What a beautiful way to live.

Well, what did you do after feeling this?

I studied Islam for 6 years, quietly and without the knowledge of my family, until tensions in my home became too great, for reasons other than my closeted Islam, and I chose to leave.

This is too difficult to leave home. What did you do when you left?

The day after I left my family`s home, when I had no car, no job, no home, and no money, instead of thinking about all the nothing around me, the only thing I could think about was that I had all the freedom in the world to live my life in any way I saw fit, and so I became Muslim. On December 18th, 2009, I took my shahadah by myself, in a small room in a friends` house, and the next day I emerged from that room in full hijab, and I haven`t removed it since.

Mashaallah sister. Well, what did you feel when you wear hijab?

I practiced wearing hijab two years before I chose Islam, when I was working at DisneyWorld in Orlando, and I knew it was what I wanted for myself. I have since strengthened my practice, learning more and more about Islam through independent study, as I didn`t know any Muslims in my area, until I became friends with a wonderful woman, Cheryl, who invited me to the Turkish Center, where I found my first Muslim friends, and the relationships I built there eventually led to an amazing job in a Muslim daycare, as well as an Islamic Montessori, and I have been awarded a full-ride scholarship to North American College that allows me to stay in the dormitories and basically get a Bachelor`s degree for free. I am going to Turkey to teach English this summer for 4 months, and I cannot be grateful enough to Allah and to all of the people He has put in my path to protect me and help me to be happy.

What was your family`s reaction?

My family is still resistant to accept my Islam, and I find that praying in their home can be challenging, but they have begun to understand my eating habits, as I keep halal all the time, and while my mother, who is a cosmetologist, cannot fathom why I would want to wear a scarf to hide my beauty, she can`t deny how much nicer my skin is! :) I have hope that my parents will one day understand how beautiful and tolerant Islam is, and that it is not the violent and hate-filled religion that is vilified daily on their television. Islam has made me a better daughter, and a much kinder and more patient person, and while it can be trying at times, I have never once doubted that it was the right choice, the best choice, for me and my life.

Well, I wonder about that; what is the difference between Chirstian Brittnye and Muslim Brittnye?

I would have to say that as a Christian, I felt that there was something missing in my life; that I could not trust my intelligence to guide me, as there are many facets of Christianity that are so based on faith that you cannot accept science, Allah`s way of showing Himself to humankind, as true or valid. Christianity has its merits, and there are certainly portions of the Bible that have valid scientific evidence to support them, but eventually it comes down to "faith" that what the Bible tells you in more true than anything science has to say. Islam, in contrast, fully supports scientific discover in all aspects, including the Big Bang theory and that of evolution, to some extent. I never feel like I have to prevent myself from learning in order to keep my faith strong, which is what happened to me as a Christian. I can also say that I do not have doubts anymore, about myself, about my practice, about anything related to my life on this earth. Christianity is based on the belief that acceptance of Jesus, who even in the Bible tells himself to be a man, not God or otherwise, will get you into Heaven, and that while living your life for God is important, the acceptance of Jesus is what truly absolves you of sin. It would be comparable to taking shahadah over and over again; each time you get a new chance, and each time the Bible tells you that you are assured to go to Heaven. It is not like this in Islam. Judgement is passed only on intention, and because of this, even the most ignorant of believers, without any knowledge of Sunnah or Qur`an or even of Mohammed (PBUH), can be closer to entering the gates of Jannah because he lives his life completely in the worship of Allah. When you know you are being judged on your intention, not what you actually do, it holds you accountable for how you live your life, not just what happens to you. This is what brought me to Islam in the beginning: that someone who has never heard the Word of Allah will be able to pass into Heaven, because he holds no blame for his ignorance.

May Allah always be with you sister. Thank you so much for the interview.

Inshaallah sister, thank you, too.

Hatice Sarı Tan'ın Yazısı.