The female convert to Islam is sometimes viewed with a mixture of pity and contempt by non-Muslims. Such was my experience after I took shahadah. People around me came up with all kinds of theories in their attempt to make sense of it. On a messageboard that I had frequented for a good eight years, people actually devoted a thread to psychoanalyzing my conversion. I was called mentally unstable and stupid. I was accused of converting to Islam just to immerse myself in another culture, as I supposedly had no culture of my own as an African-American. Others said that I must have converted to marry a Muslim man. It seemed that no matter how clearly I tried to explain my reasons, few would actually listen to me.
The truth wasn’t nearly as sensational or dramatic as my critics made it out to be. The motivation for my conversion was quite simple. I had reached a point of serious stagnation. I was a nominal Christian at best and was quite disillusioned with the Church in general. However I was not ready to let go of organized religion altogether. Though I was able to question church doctrine, questioning the Abrahamic faiths was still something I could not do. The idea that Christianity, Judaism and Islam could be false was just untenable. Abandoning organized religion was impossible for me, as I had been programmed to believe that anything other than strict monotheism would lead to eternal torment. I realize now that I clung to organized religion more out of fear than anything else. The idea of burning forever gripped me.
Islam seemed like a way out of my stagnation. The doctrine of Tawhid called to me. Tawhid, the uncompromising monotheism which distinguishes Islam from Christianity,was a sensible escape route from the confusion of the Trinity. The Five Pillars of Islam seemed beautiful and simple when compared with Christianity as well. Following them would give me the structure and guidance I found lacking in my own religion at the time. I didn’t view coming to Islam as a downgrade, but a step up and away. Everything about Islam seemed to be based on oneness- the oneness of God and the oneness of the Ummah. I couldn’t help but contrast that oneness with the divisions within Christianity. I read more about Islam and talked to Muslim acquaintances. After three months of reflection, I took my shahadah in April 2010. On the day I become part of the Ummah I felt like I was where I belonged.