23 Nov Zaynab’s Story
I grew up in an orthodox Christian village with my family, in a pretty traditional environment.
I loved talking to God since I was little. Even though I knew that God already knew everything, I was making sure I’ll tell Him all again after the end of my night prayers. I always felt that God guided me each second of the day.
I grew up, moved away and started to get my religious education .After time passed; I started to not feel any connection between my God and Christianity. I loved praying, listening to Bible recitations, to its stories and learn from them. I felt the Bible contained some sort of Divine guidance. I’ve actually wanted to become and nun and dedicate my life to the Lord since that was the only way I could serve my Creator. I used to go with my religion teacher and local priest at churches, isolated monasteries and spend their entire days one after another.
However , I started to have an issue with core principles and concepts of Christianity like the trinity , the baptism , confessing your sins , praying to saints , icons, even deceased priests and so on .My fellow Christians weren’t talking about my God when they were preaching . My God, just didn’t fit their description… I started studying Christianity properly and found more and more concepts I didn’t agree with. I felt as if everything was contradicting itself.
It was hurtful .My world crushed into pieces. Everything around me was crumbling. I was suspended between the earth and the skies. Nothing was working anymore, nothing felt right. I spent about 2-3 years with depression. I isolated myself, no one could change the way I felt, I didn’t find happiness in anything, and my health wasn’t good either. I started to go to priests and ask questions. No one was giving me any satisfying answer, in some cases, they even ignored my question. No one was telling me about my God. My God wasn’t in the church. My God was somewhere else.
My heart was missing entirely. I felt hopeless. I knew my God was ruling over us, and by His mercy there HAVE TO be guidelines for us to follow in order to get closer to Him and serve Him properly. My job was to discover those guidelines. I couldn’t think about or concentrate on anything else. I remember I used to spend my nights praying for guidance and help, wake up in the middle of the night crying and asking for forgiveness. It’s been such a tough period of my life. I begged my God, the real God, the one that created me and everyone else, the only one that deserves to be worshipped, to show me His way. I wanted my God back. I was missing my God. I wanted the connection I had with Him as a kid.
I wasn’t a Christian. Maybe I’ve never been one. But I remember I asked God to make me love Christianity ,open my heart , make me get closer to it . I was afraid. I used to regret that sentence one second after saying it since something inside of me always told me that God had another path. I was disappointed in myself.
I started looking into all the main religions of the world, other sects of Christianity, tons of other things that supposedly help you connect with God. Nothing was right. Nothing felt like my God. Nothing felt like home. I kept crying and begging for guidance. I thought I should go back to the roots of Christianity, Judaism, and start my journey from there. Prophet Jesus had such a big impact on me; I just couldn’t spend a lot of time on their theological creed. I’ve always known that Jesus wasn’t God in flesh, but his great character couldn’t let me leave his teachings. I felt so hopeless, tired and misguided I got to the point of wishing to not believe in God at all. People who didn’t believe in anything seemed happier than me .From that point, things started to get worse and worse. I was trying to make myself believe what I said. I wasn’t able to. I was lying to myself. My God was there and I knew it with all my heart. My one and only purpose in life was to please Him. I kept researching, praying and asking for forgiveness.
One day, someone, a friend I will forever pray for, suggested me to not go back to the roots, but rather take a step forward and look into Islam. If I couldn’t find my God in the first 2 Abrahamic religions, what were the chances to find Him in the last one? I didn’t know much about Islam, but I admired and respected my sister, so I decided to give it a try. I started by reading a few articles on its history and creed , watch lectures and listen to explanations , but I ended up leaving those , since I believed that the only way to understand a religion is by going to the Scriptures directly .
Over the time I learnt that I should follow my heart. I asked my God to shed light over my path, open my eyes and heart guide and protect me. I downloaded a PDF format of the Qur’an in my own language and started reading. It took me less than 2 pages to start crying. I was shaking out of humility. I wish I could put in words what I felt in that moment. It felt as if a wave of love and affection hit me.It was indeed the sign I was waiting for .I felt loved and protected. I found endless peace and comfort .I kept reading and reading .I learnt how to offer Salah and short Surahs by heart .I used to recite my shahada so many times a day. Later, a priest bought me a Qur’an.
It amazes me how everything came to me exactly at the right time! Glorified be God! How everything was planned with utmost precision, how my Imaan had time to grow and reach a level that ended up giving me hope even during the most difficult period of my life! My dad, the only person that had ever understood my struggle, my best friend, my role model, passed away a few years ago. Without Islam, without my God, I couldn’t have made it. My God prepared me, gave me strength, guidance and support. I happily started to call my God, Allah.
I make mistakes and I have so many things to learn. May Allah forgive me.
But I keep falling in love with Islam every single day …
A family friend asked me recently what exactly made me choose this path, why the credibility of the religion I was raised in started to concern me. The truth is , I just wanted to please my Creator and dedicate my life to Him.The thought of disappointing the One and Only that always loved me and cared for me was killing me inside and brings tears to my eyes all the time.
What I fear the most is the fact that one day I might stop being grateful for all the guidance I’ve benefited from , that I will forget how lucky I am , how dependent on His Mercy I will forever be…
It’s been about 4 years since I started to get closer to Islam .I officially recited my shahada on 23 May 2016. It felt as if a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders within a few seconds …
I am a Muslim, Alhamdulillah ! And Insha’Allah, this is just the beginning of my story.
Ya Rab , please forgive my sins, keep my heart on Islam and give me the strength to oppose myself when I disobey You , for I am my biggest enemy.