I am Merlyn, 38 years old, an unmarried nurse with 3 beautiful kids, a Filipino Muslim revert. I know it may seem quite confusing and surprising how I have kids without being married My complicated situation led me eventually to embrace Islam and this is my story.
I was born in a Catholic family, 9 siblings in all, the second-born and the eldest daughter. We had a normal life but I’m really amazed how well my parents were able to raise us all, they were struggling I know but we lived a comfortable life. I believed somehow God has been guiding us all the time. As I recall, our family were trying all our best to fulfill our religious duties like going to church every Sunday to hear the mass, but we were not that consistent. My confusion and soul-searching phase started during my late years in high school and it went on till I established my nursing career. I was not satisfied with my spiritual being, something was missing in my life, and I was not happy and contented at all. This feeling led me to having a relationship with a married man who was entangled in marital problems which eventually caused him to separate with his wife. I stayed in this relationship for 12 long years, out of wedlock Astaghfirullah, and was blessed with three children. I always thought maybe sooner or later we would be able to get married. But it was not a life of bed of roses at all; it was full of hardships; we were struggling; I realized so because it was not right from the start.
I received a job offer in Jeddah as a private nurse for a Muslim elderly woman and I accepted it without any hesitation although my ex-husband was opposing to. He was working in Dubai that time and up to this moment. Primarily I took the job because his earnings were not sufficient to cover all our expenses so I had no other choice. I flew to Jeddah on August 2010, Ramadan 1432, leaving my children in the care of my parents, with only hope that this journey will suffice our needs without knowing that it was the first step that changed my whole life completely.
The sweet old lady (I’ll name her Mama) that I’m caring for influenced me somehow towards my closeness to Islam. I arrived in her house at the time of Ramadan so I have witnessed right away her close family ties – full of love and respect. Everyone seemed to be happy, delighted to see each other every day to break their fast, praying together and the generosity I’ve experienced although I was just new to their family. I felt I was home right away, because they welcomed me with their wide open arms. I had a basic knowledge of the religious routines of Muslims because of my previous work; this came in handy as I needed to assist Mama with her daily activities. I had learned how to assist her in performing ablution and adorning her prayer cloak.
Mama and I were getting along well because we liked to tell stories, stories that you can find both in the Quran and the Bible. It was like comparing notes, the similarities of the stories in the two Books. Once she asked me “How many gods do you believe in?” It was a very simple question and I gave her a simple answer “Only one.” And she replied, “Then it’s enough, that’s the most important thing that you believe in the existence of only one God. And that you should worship Him alone.” Right there and then, everything flashed back to me, the sight of churches with all the statues inside, lighting candles for it, images of saints, the feasts of saints. Am I really worshipping only God? Aren’t all these things are form of idolatry? I asked myself.
This led me to start reading all about Islam through the Internet. I started surfing every Islamic Learning about the 5 pillars of Islam, reading about “Tawheed”, the oneness of Allah, understanding its fundamentals. It was a great revelation for me, I was lost and confused in my beliefs all the while and Islam showed me the truth. I finally found my inner peace, SubhanAllah!
I continued with my research, I watched the movie “The Message” which really moved me, how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived all his life for Islam. It was in July 2011 when I had the chance to visit a Dawah Center; Mama was in Makkah and since I was not yet a Muslim then, I wasn’t able to accompany her. I grabbed this chance to learn more about Islam formally. Initially my intention was to attend regular classes to understand the Islamic concepts; I can’t read nor speak Arabic so I thought this could be a hindrance. But the sisters in the Dawah Center were all very supportive and encouraged me to do Shahadah already since I had a strong will to learn about Islam. They said Allah would make everything easy for those who are willing to learn. Alhamdulillah I did my Shahadah on the 8th of July 2011, all the sisters in the center warmly welcomed me, giving me all the reading materials I needed. It was a very nice feeling, indescribable but all I knew in my heart was that I was doing the right thing. Right there and then, I adorned the hijab and from then on it never leaves my head when I am out in public. I started praying with the help of a guide given by the center, memorised the sequence of prayers in 2 days and after 2 weeks, I was able to pray without the guide, SubhanAllah! Indeed, Allah makes it easy for those who are willing to learn.
It was not an easy road for me at first from the moment I became a Muslim. I had to deal with my family and my ex-husband with hope that he would eventually embrace Islam too so we could finally get married. But it didn’t happen that way, he wouldn’t accept me being a Muslim and blamed me instead for bringing shame to his family. I knew right then that we were never really meant for each other. I had to end my relationship with him since I was a Muslim already, and it wouldn’t be acceptable in Islam. My thoughts were with my children, worried how I may be able to raise them well now that I had separated with their father. I put my trust instead in Allah and believed He will guide me and my children and I was right. He was there all the time, letting me learn from all my mistakes and always finding my way back, Alhamdulillah! He created me as a fighter but now it made more sense because I was standing for the truth. Alhamdulillah, my family respected my decision and supported me with my new faith, being cautious of our beliefs, do’s and don’ts. All they want is my happiness and I’m so blessed to have them, Alhamdulillah!
I have celebrated Ramadan for 2 years now, performed Umrah for few times and performed Hajj recently, Alhamdulillah! Life may have never been easy for me before but since I became a Muslim, things are getting better now, Alhamdulillah! I am so grateful to Mama and all her family for they have been very supportive of me all the way, for their generosity that has enabled me to raise my children on my own. May Allah reward them with good.
A big challenge for me now was to raise my children to be practicing Muslims while under the care of my non-Muslim family. I decided to buy a new house near to an Islamic community so that soon they could start their Islamic schooling. One step at a time, with Allah’s grace, everything is happening as planned, Alhamdulillah! May Allah continue to strengthen my Iman, that I may be able to raise my children in His way, that I may influence my family, that soon they will all accept Islam, Insha’Allah.
“My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Qur’an 28:24) I will continue to live by these words, I will continue to follow the Right Path, and I will remain Muslim until my last breath, Insha’Allah. I don’t regret anything in my past because it all led me to Islam, SubhanaAllah!