My Journey to Islam and Why It is the Best Decision

When I was 17 years old woman, I was quite impressionable. I had a yearning for a deeper connection with my creator, a sense of fulfilment as I felt empty and restless. That’s when I stumbled upon Islam.  What attracted me to Islam was the sense of brotherhood and communal values I witnessed the first time I engaged with Muslims. My schoolmate who was a Muslim had invited me to her home for a sleepover.  I was really curious about the Muslim lifestyle.  The visit happened in the month of Ramadhan, my first time visiting Majengo, a low-income area. In this place, residents shared a water point and had common toilets.  I was initially shocked at the level of poverty but was amazed and impressed by their resilience. They looked happy and at peace with themselves.

At the time of breaking the fast, I was amazed to see homes share and exchange food among themselves. Plates of delicacies were passed around yet these people live in poverty. The unity I saw stirred my interest in Islam. My greatest pride and identity became Islam; an identity I take pride in to date and I thank Allah always for the neemah of Islam. On Eid day, I try to do my prayer at Sir Ali Muslim grounds where Islamic brotherhood is demonstrated by the throngs of Muslim Men and Women who come in thousands clad in their best clothes. This scene always leaves me in tears as I feel so blessed to be part of this beautiful community.

Kenya is a predominantly Christian nation yet we enjoy the right to worship. My family are non-Muslims but we have lived cordially as we both respect each other’s beliefs. They are ‘the people of the book’ as they are referred to in the Quran. Indeed, “Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good.”

In recent times, I have seen a disturbing trend where groups of people label fellow Muslims kufaar, disbelievers. This is a dangerous trend as it oversees one of the tenets of Islam on ‘holding tight [together] to the rope of Allah’. The reasons given could be based on not sharing the same ideology or living in a country that is not considered Islamic. As a psychologist, this is emotional abuse as it creates a sense of rejection and alienation. It is dehumanizing to give fellow human beings negative labels. Labelling can ease the path to committing atrocities against them with no remorse. The same labels were used during the Rwanda genocide of 1994. For instance, the term ‘cockroach’ was used to refer to the tribe that was perceived as an enemy. This made it easy to justify killing them. It is not the intention of Allah creating us different tribes and races to despise one another, but that we may know one another. Allah said: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allāh is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allāh is Knowing and Aware” Qur’an 49:13.

My journey as a Muslim has led to me seeking more knowledge of this religion. One of the stories that stand out for me is when Asma bint Abi Bakr told the Prophet (SAW) that her mother who was a non-Muslim wanted to visit her and give her a gift. Asma (RA) was worried that the Prophet (S.A.W) may not permit that. He told her to invite her mother and treat her honourably even though the mother was not a Muslim.  Islam instructs us to treat our parents well and it does not discriminate based on faith.

Islam is very categorical about the treatment of neighbours where Muslims are ordered to respect their neighbours and avoid causing them any harm. These are the gems that have stayed with me on this journey and I get dismayed when I see acts of violence perpetrated against people based on the idea that they are non-Muslim and thus deserved to die.  Islam propagates kindness, humility, respect, and tolerance; and when demanding for their right, to apply wisdom without causing destruction.

Muslims are encouraged to coexist with people of different faiths. This is best exemplified by the beautiful life our beloved Prophet (SAW) who coexisted in Madina with Jews, Christians, and idol worshipers. I learn something new about Islam every day and it keeps me grounded on how to live and have good relations with others.

Riziki Kaluki Ahmed is a Clinical Psychologist and Director at Hidaya Timeless Counseling & Training Consultancy


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