I have always believed in God, since I was very small. My family was not religious, but for a period my mother prayed for us children, by the bedside every night. Since then I have seen Gods existence as a fact of life, and for me the question was how to live according to Gods will so that I could be admitted into Paradise.
When I was about 12 years old, I started to study the Bible, to seek guidance. But I was dissapointed, I could not sence Gods nearness in these words attributed to him. The more I read about the Christianity, the more confused I felt. My concept of a religion did not support important teachings of the Church. God was in my eyes someone raised above all, I could not accept the idea of God having to let his 'son' die for humans to be saved. God, who says "be", and it is, whatever He would please? Seartenly He could forgive the humans whithout such arrangements? Jesus could be no more than a wise man with guidance and knowledge from God, for God does not take a human shape. And why are all humans born sinful because of what Eve did? What is the meaning of the trinity? How can one say the Bible is Gods word, when it is clearly written by humans?
When I was seventeen, I moved away from home to attend a Christian school. I thought perhaps staying with Christians would help me understand the religion better. And I did enjoy their company very much, the non-alcoholic parties, their concern for each other and their tolerance. I told them of my doubts, and they told me that it was a part of the wonderful mystery which I just had to accept. They said it was all a matter of faith, I just had to keep believing Jesus gave his life for me, and I would be saved. But i found it illogical and unjust. What about all the righteous believers around the world who never heard of the crusifiction, would their faith and work be in vain? Would God deny MY faith and deeds, in spite of the fact that I believed in him with all my heart? This could not be the Truth!
A year later I was married with a Muslim by origin. Religiously I was at a point of zero, my only knowledge was that I believed in God, I knew nothing else. Some of my husbands friends had Norwegian wifes who had converted, and I was provoked by the thought of a Western woman embracing Islam. We discussed religion until early morning hours, but I remained sceptic towards Islam. So they challenged me: Why wouldn't I join them in the mosc to learn some Arabic and find out more? I wanted to learn Arabic, and I had never been in a mosc, so I came. It became an emotional and very surprising experience!
I remember watching myself in the mirror in the mosc, wearing the hidjab, and it felt so right. I remember watching the muslims pray, and I wishedso much I could join them in their prostrating for God. I had an overwhelming feeling of submission to God. I did not know how to pray, and I cried inside of not being able to do so. I bought the English translation of the Qur'an, and when I read it, I could sence Gods voice, the words hit my heart.
Though, everyone warned me from embracing Islam. I knew too that this was just too emotional, and I needed more knowledge, so I spent the next seven months reading and studying Islam. But only to find out that Islam matched my concept of a religion and my concept of God.
Then, in May-1988, I went for a holiday in Greece. It was a perfect holiday, a lot of sunbathing, swimming, good food and drink, lots of nice people, and so on. I enjoyed it all, at least the first week. But then I became more and more annoyed with the same things. It seemed meaningless and empty. Why did one have to drink to have fun, something must is missing in peoples lives! Why did not the men respect me, though I was married and probably they were too? I found myself by the swimming pool when I made the decision. This was enough! I wanted to go home to embrace Islam! I started to pray three weeks after, and I have never regreted since.
Today I am happy to be reminded again of the favour and mercy God has given me.
Wa alaikum salaam!
Chahida (Elisabeth Zanabi)