My name is Zayd Mikhail and this is the story of how Allah SWT helped me find Islam.
I am from New York, United States and I accepted Islam in 2010 when I was 25 years old. I was born into a Catholic family. I don’t remember how practicing my dad was because my parents divorced at a young age, but my mum has always been dedicated to her religion. She never forced it on me, or any of my brothers, but it was important to her that we attend church once a week with her as part of spending time together.
As a young adult my mum actually almost became a nun for the Catholic Church, but met my dad just before she entered into a nunnery. After church on Sundays, I went to “Sunday School” like many Catholic children do, but I was inquisitive and had dozens of questions after every sermon. I asked things like “If Jesus is God how can he be the son of God?” And “If Jesus died for our sins then we can sin as much as we want and go to heaven?” No one ever gave me any real solid answers for these types of questions.
Once I got to high school, I decided I was an Atheist and that there was no God. It was a very tough time for me as my mom’s fiancé had just passed away and my mom had some serious health concerns. My mom used to actually say to me that God is just testing us, but that does not mean he does not love us. I ignored her completely. I started to listen to “death metal” and play in a band in high school. This does not imply I was a bad person, but I adapted this image as a way to cope with the challenges of life we all go through.
My first introduction to Islam was in my high school global history class. I felt my teacher was very biased when she was teaching it. She made us watch a movie called “Not Without my Daughter”. Based on a true story, it is about a woman who marries a Muslim man and he forces her to stay in her country. I knew inside that no religion teaches violence. I found some parts of Islam interested, but I still didn’t think it was for me.
The same year I took this history class, the September 11 attacks happened and it was complete chaos at school. Living in New York, the schools were put in lock down and every T.V. was turned on school. Some people cursed Islam when this happen, I just felt so bad for the families and for the Muslims who were going to get treated as if they were responsible. A few weeks after this happen my cousin reverted to Islam SubhanAllah. I was completely shocked, but felt happy for her. She is now married and living in a Muslim country Alhamdulillah.
A few years ago, I was studying at the university. I had a few Muslim friends who were the kindest people I have ever met. There was just something about them; they seemed to just give off this peaceful and content feeling. I wanted to understand more about them so I asked a little about their faith and how it was important to them. They described some of the simple things, but I needed to learn more on my own. I started with reading about the Prophet SAW. I read about when he was in Mount Hira and Jibraeel AS came to see him. Reading the part when Jibraeel AS squeezed the Prophet SAW, I started to have chills on my body. I could only imagine how scared he was. When he ran to Khadija RA, she comforted him and didn’t say you are crazy, I began to cry. She had such love and dedication for him, plus she knew he was al amen. I continued to read more about Prophet Muhammad’s SAW life and I couldn’t believe how good and peaceful of a person he was. These and the many other Islamic stories I read and my deeper understanding of the Qur’an led me to accepting Islam and becoming a Muslim.
For new Muslims, I think the best advice is not to overwhelm yourself, or let other people overwhelm you. I remember that when I first reverted to Islam several brothers spent hours talking to me about everything I should learn, but a week later it seemed like they had forgotten about me. I think they should ask around for one person to be their contact when they are having trouble and also as a guide on what to read. You do not need to learn everything at once, but focus on the basics (learning to pray, Islamic pillars and beliefs, learning to read Arabic, reading the Qur’an, etc).
Facebook has become integrated into most of our lives so it is a great reminder to sign-in and see a Hadith of the Day post about a hadith. It has also helped me integrate certain practices into my daily life. Plus, the reminders about parents and making dua for them is great. Jannah is at the feet of our parents.