How did I come to Islam? Or did Islam come to me? I have no idea of just when it began but happen it did and here I am. Sometimes I don’t think I am a very good Muslim. I miss my prayers and do not read the Qur’an often enough. But when it comes to day-to-day living, I am right on target. According to Muslim beliefs I was born Muslim and steered on a different path by the family I was born into. They say I was born pure and that by reverting, was purified of my old life and “crimes”. Being born pure always made more sense to me than the concept of being born in “sin” as Catholicism teaches. That never made sense, that guilt for the past, at birth. How could a baby be dirty in spirit? However I have long since realized that that element of spiritual pollution is a strong building block of most organized religions that creeps in and dangerously effects the health of your very soul.
Mine was the privileged life of suburban North America in the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Big Roman Catholic family, Dad working “in the city”, full time at-home Mom, white picket fence, family dog, dinner of meat n potatoes on the table every night by 6, Mass on Sundays and all the usual holidays; it was a very sheltered but good life when I look back on it. We were allowed to be children. There was no TV until I was 7. My first TV memories are Elvis Presley and the A-bomb film that haunted me all my life. It still does bit at times only now I understand why. My parents had an enduring marriage that lasted through thick and thin, fully committed to family and their vows; thoughts of separation, I am sure, never even crossed their minds. And believe me, we were a lively rebellious Irish brood that pushed their limits at times.
To escape housecleaning and my four younger brothers, I tended to disappear a lot into fields and forests around our suburban home. A book, an apple, and I was off for hours at a time. My father had built a log cabin up on our very large forest plot on a private lake in the Muskoka area of Ontario that the family used extensively. I was conceived there on my parents’ honeymoon, so the place is definitely in my blood! My childhood is filled with memories of that wonderful place where most of my character was shaped. From June to September we lived there, long days spent in the waters and forests, canoeing, learning about the natural world. I would imagine this is where I became the natural pagan child that I finally expressed when I grew older. I certainly became a loner and a seeker in this environment.
Every Sunday, however, was the detested ritual of waking early, breakfasting on juice, toast, bacon and eggs, then, dressed in our Sunday best, speeding old curved roads for 50 miles to the closest Catholic Church for Mass. I still gag at the thought of fried eggs! But, as I say, my parents were devout Catholics, active in the local church, and raised us according to their standards. Despite all the Catholic propaganda, and we had a lot of it in private school, I turned out a free thinker, oftentimes, attending Mass with a good novel in the covers of my prayer book. There, during Mass I absorbed such books such as The Agony and the Ecstasy or treatises by Jean Paul Sartre. I delved into philosophies that, with no life experience, I did not understand and applied inappropriately, often with miserable results, to my life. (Existentialism is surely an accursed movement inspired by the imps of Shaytan.)
Eventually, in high school, I managed to fail religion class and be transferred out into the regular school system. Fail religion class? Easily done! All one need do is defend a position that goes against formal Catholic doctrine and no matter your argument, you are failed! In my case the issue was a woman’s rights to control her own reproduction. Nor did they ever answer serious questions to my satisfaction. I would ask about creationism or the trilogy and be put off, told to trust or some such nonsense which I just could not accept. I wanted to KNOW, goddammit.
It was a natural transition, although I never realized it, to paganism and then on to witchcraft over the long years that followed. I was a child of the times and fell for the lies we were fed by the popular press. For example, despite growing up in a solid home provided for by a good albeit patriarchal man, I fell into the women’s liberation male-bashing movement never realizing to where it would lead us, as a nation, me as an individual. My generation declared God was dead, only to be found reborn within oneself. With the loss of a God or dogma to follow, and much behind the scenes manipulation, we became lost and when “free love” was thrown into the mix, marriage as an institution just fell to the wayside in importance. We explored other options. Who needed “god” or “dog” anyhow? We were omnipotent human beings!
Many of us found some obscure religion from a far part of the world. Personally, I never felt much of a draw to the Far East and concentrated on Egypt and even more ancient times. Eventually I dumped college, joined the hippie movement and, foole that I was, went along with the majority of my generation and became a lost drugged soul for many years. Despite physical and psychological abuses, I remained a very spiritual person and managed to avoid the pitfalls that befell so many of my peers. Even Hells Angels called me “mom” and treated me with respect because of my ethics! Of course, I was never so foolish as to go party with them either! My phobia of needles certainly served its purpose at the time, a phobia that I have long since overcome. Perhaps Allah had other plans for me. Alhamdulillah, I survived this time with minimal difficulties.
Finally I left the drug movement, got my license as a professional Massage Therapist, and established my own little business in a house of aesthetics. I will leave out all the stuff in between, but suffice it to say I had an over-abundance of spiritual adventures, studies in tarot, astrology, yoga, vibrational healing, and other such new age pursuits. I found I had a definite “power” that I could use for good or bad. In my naivite, at the start, I even studied the works of Aliester Crowley, a creature whom I quickly yanked from my life and instinctively developed zero tolerance for. Oddly, these many years later, I know my instincts served me well! Little did I know then that this vile creature had already changed the very world I lived in! I always only wanted to do good, selfishness was not, I thought, part of my equation. Even when I wished to conduct a healing, I contacted the person I wished to help for their expressed permission. Nor did I ever dabble in love spells simply because they are unethical. However, it all caught up to me but that comes later.
Eventually I met “the guy” and in the way of the times, we began to live together and over the years had two beautiful daughters together. Although I stuck with him for 13 years, things finally came to an end when his abuse and alcoholism were becoming just too much for me to handle. I did not want our daughters to deal with such damage and became a single mother, a very full time career. I know I did well, my daughters are fine young women of solid values. While with him, my spiritual tendencies had been dulled and parenthood had taken over. As it should, of course. After we parted, to reclaim my womanhood, I threw myself into ever deeper studies of female power. I never really did goddesses or gods, the usual pagan image, as such. It seemed to me to be a strange thing to do having rejected the patriarchal Christian god, but I did embrace the duality concept based on natural energies. Finally I found the balance of the two and moved onward.
It would take too long to go into the adventures and levels of learning I absorbed as I incorporated these things as well as reincarnation into my life, my daily life. By now I already was doing much spiritual work working with astrology and begun to incorporate it into my medical and reincarnational studies. I had begun this path in the early 1970’s and my many powerful experiences left me in no doubt of the thin veil of time between me and the past. Foolishly, blithely unaware of the dangers, I purposefully probed and went to places I had no business being in. Oftentimes memories resurfaced and I learned and grew from the experience ~ or so I thought ~ at the time. Certainly much of my life today, including the one to have children and become the parent I did, was the result of decisions I made at that time.
However, one evening I met a man who immediately sparked memories we had ostensibly shared long ago. I know now he and his companion were satanic in intent and purposefully set out to drive me to madness. Over the months the memories he sparked took over my life and I almost lost my mind. I became as one possessed and did not know what era I lived in, 11th century Wales or 20th century Canada! This was a most tragic time of my life and I became truly lost. I managed to function as a parent but my tears and so on frightened my children. The mail sat unopened for months at a time.
I do not know how it happened, but that is when I met the great love of my life, who recognized my danger and basically brought me around to the present again. He was a Gypsy born to Catholicism, a very powerful man spiritually. We met and he immediately set out to rectify the mess I was in. It was very hard work for both of us but our mutual devotion was staggering and if I believed in “soul mates” I would say he was the one. Alas, our time was short and I was widowed all too soon. But his family recognize their own and tend to keep them within the family if possible and so I was “adopted” kept within the clan. There I was, a modern liberated western woman, involved in a new (to me) culture of which I knew absolutely nothing. All I recognized was the deep spirituality that encompassed their every action, their every thought. I loved how they lived, their clear speech, which I realize now is the traditional pre-Biblical form of Islam, long before division set in.
The Patriarch of the clan introduced me to his son, in hopes that we might suit each other and ease each other’s souls due to mutual loss of our partners. It was a good match and, in our way, we fell very deeply in love. Little did I know, I was paired to one of the finest Sufi dancers around! I did not even know I was amongst Sufi, for these secrets were not mine to have as of yet. He was taking his time telling me about his family life in some ways, for fear I might reject him as a Muslim. Sadly health issues got in between and I lost this love as well. However, he gave me gifts that have only recently have I truly understood the value of.
A few months after his passing, I had a full day of visions that I cannot deny. I knew nothing of Islam at the time but one vision was still impossible for me to put into words and even remembering it thrills me to the core. I know now, he took me as close as possible to Allah. Constantly I look for art that even remotely captures what I saw, and only the work of John Pitres even comes close to capturing what I saw.
After his passing, I was lost, ready to end my life to join my darling. It was only my children who kept me alive. Two beloveds passing in under a year was almost too much to bear and I became almost lost in the process of grieving. I still wear the jewellery they gave me, however, and shall till the end. I had ferocious anger and began to manifest many dark emotions. I was irresponsible and called down curses on people I loved when the fits took me. This is a dark period of my life.
Around this time, as I began to become uncontrollable in my anger, a certain gentleman of the tribe took an interest in me and my spiritual welfare, although I had no idea of this at the time. I knew he was highly esteemed because of the honour given him by everyone of the clan, and they addressed him formally, but because I was his western Barbarian, (my nickname was Barbie Barbarian) I got away with being much more casual with him. I had no idea how privileged I was to be given such freedoms let alone his tutoring and attentions.
Over five years of conversations and lessons, often held over the backgammon board, this Imam changed my thinking, my complete approach to the universe. He opened my mind and showed me different ways to look at everything. He told me I had many things that made me special and different from most Western women but I really had no clue of what he spoke about; I was just myself and not even aware of how he was reshaping me. I learned objectivity and impartiality, and how to ruthlessly seek and evaluate my every thought and action, to take full responsibility for my actions and to always look beyond the obvious. In everything! He taught me not to judge but to still know what is right and what is wrong, a very fine line today ~ and to adhere to the straight path. He deepened my understanding of the universe in ways I cannot begin to describe. Needless to say, over the years, I feel deeply in love, as did he.
Finally about three years ago, this man I loved above all else proposed and I eagerly accepted. In the Islamic way, we hammered out our marriage contract, had it drawn up and set a date 8 months in advance due to immigration and his occupation. He drew up plans, had his house built on to and created my “woman’s quarters”. I was ever so excited. Before he went away for a 6 month business assignment, he asked me to consider wearing the hijab while he was away to see if I could handle it. He added, “I cannot wait to get your a$$ out of those jeans and into modest skirts, woman!” There was never a word about my reverting to Muslim; this was just to see if I could live by the conditions he expected of his wife. Immediately I went out, bought a few scarves, and learned to make headwraps and my hair has been a private thing ever since.
In his absence, I began to explore Islam. I read and compared sites with a few on line sisters I had known for many years and we supported each other a lot. Bit by bit I learned and liked what I found. Once I found out that many of the family were devout Muslim/Sufi, doors were opened and my acceptance reached a new level. Everything I learned from foods to polygamy made complete and utter sense to me. I was ready for this religion but had to be sure before taking my Shahada. I had a long lifetime of powerful spiritual adventures to come to terms with first, many of them very unIslamic in scope and I could not bring myself to damn them for they had been part of what brought me to the beautiful place I was in at the time. I don’t take these things lightly at all.
Then, just before we were to marry, due to horrific life circumstances, our wedding was cancelled. He was gone ~ I was abandoned and alone with only Islam to console me as I wrestled with my anguish. Despite the strong emotions and the pain I suffered I never lost track of what this man had done for me and the gifts he gave me over the years. These spiritual gifts are beyond price so that, no matter what happened, I will always feel warmth towards him for bringing me to Allah in his slow thorough fashion.
Six months later I took my Shahada witnessed by a group of Muslim women studying up at the university. I just went there to do it because I knew I would find Muslims there! Otherwise all my support was from my Sisters on line whom I had known for 10 years or so, also reverting at this time. They all cried; it was beautiful. There are very few Muslims in my town, and I go for many months without seeing another scarf, but that is ok. I went to the small local mosque a few times but I can truly say that, as a single, older white revert, I had little in common with the young muslimahs who spoke no English and absorbed completely in their hordes of beautiful dark eyed children.
My family accepted my reversion because I went about it rather slowly. When it was time to tell them I had taken my Shahada, they did not bat an eyelash. They always stock sparkling waters for me at family meals and offer an alternative if pork is on their menu. I found, to be honest, giving up bacon about the hardest thing to do, but now the thought of all that grease makes me gag. Alcohol? Well despite my youthful excesses, alcohol was never one of them. I am proud of being Muslim and wear my scarves with pleasure. It is funny because I am still very much a western woman and prone to enjoy good rhythm n blues, rock n roll and the pleasure of dogs. But all in all, Insha Allah, I am happy as a Muslim, albeit a tolerant one.
No one has ever challenged my decision. I get asked questions by all sorts of people but since I am an easy going person, I always handle them with lightness, honesty and humour. Usually, the questioner knows a bit more about Islam when I am done with my 30 words or less spiel. When I am in full hijab and walking big dogs I must admit I get a few looks from strangers, but I am a dog person, always have been, and have known all the dog owners around for years. I figure I set a bit of an example actually, just by remaining myself while being Muslim.
So, that is how I got to this place now, my friends ~ the place of, I pray, a good Muslim woman. Perhaps one day my daughters will revert, but I am not holding my breath, just setting an example and praying they do the right thing some day. I have had a few very times where life has almost overwhelmed me since reverting, but have found that implicit trust in Allah has saved me at the last possible moment several times. I think of the worst possible scenarios, my options in case, and then just leave everything to Allah. So far, I have found this works beautifully. It is a feeling of peace that avoided me previously for all of my life.
It is the strength of Islam that enables me to delve into the horrors I study and stay sane, to face the filthiest of realities, and not weaken. It is Islam that has enabled me to have the over view of humanity that I have, that encompasses thousands upon thousands of thousands of years and opened my eyes to so many wonderful things. It is Islam that tells me, no matter what happens today, goodness shall prevail eventually. So here I am. Thanks for reading this ramble. This was long but you have NO IDEA how much I omitted LOL. Be grateful for small mercies…