And thats the way it was... By Dawns Early Light

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By Dawn's Early Light. I wanted things to go back to the way they were before we began talking about religion, but they would not. It was never the same again. When I went to Church, I no longer felt a spiritual connection and as the pastor spoke, I found fault with everything he said. I knew I could not go on living like this, so I eventually put my own fears aside and finally answered Qasim's call. He began taking me to classes at the mosque where all the questions I had about Christianity were answered, from the Islamic perspective.

Suddenly on the day of April 4th , less then two months after my 18th birthday, it all clicked. I felt more spiritually connected to God, to Allah, then I ever had before. On that night, Qasim and I ended up at Denny's - talking about religion. He asked me what, if anything, was holding me back form converting, and I proclaimed, "Nothing. I didn't sign the pledge until a year or two later, but on that day I was a Muslim.

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Since then I have continued to grow spiritually. I have read more religious books and my thirst for knowledge continues. Looking back, it was hard to integrate at first because I only really knew Qasim. But as I began attending MK A retreats and going to the mosque, more people reached out to me, and that brotherhood was definitely a factor in helping me to stay with Islam. Otherwise, you get this feeling that you are all alone in this and wonder whether you have made the right decision. Thankfully, I now have a lot of Ahmadi Muslim friends and they help me in my faith. Short Stones by American Converts to Islam 29 Belonging to a Community with a spiritual leader like our Khalifa means a lot to me as well.

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There was a group of us standing outside the Mosque, ready to receive His Holiness, who would be attending. When he got out of the car, there was a whole row of people standing along the sidewalk waiting to shake his hand. I was standing behind everyone so I would not be able to reach out to shake his hand.

When His Holiness got to about where I was, he not only noticed me standing there, behind everyone, but he must have known I was too shy to move up front, so he stopped, moved the people in front of me aside, reached out and shook my hand. That is one of the greatest moments of my entire life. Islam also taught me the importance of a good education, so after graduating from high school, I continue my education at Northern Illinois University, where I received my Bachelors of Science in Accountancy.

I now work as a tax accountant and am also currently in the process of obtaining my CPA. My goals for the future are to reach as many people who are willing to hear the teachings of Islam Ahmadiyya. In I began talks on producing a Spanish newsletter for American Latinos in the hopes of reaching out to more of them.

I hope to begin publication in the near future, InshaAllah. I pray my spiritual growth will never end and to those that are reading this, my hope is that yours never ends either. Whatever your religion and to whichever God you pray, I urge you to put your fears aside and learn as much as you can to satisfy your spiritual needs. Some surprises bring to us the glad tidings towards truth, and some bring to us trials to protect us from falsehood.

There is a reason for everything. Have you wondered why you are reading this chapter about a stranger? How did you get a hold of this book? My search for answers to similar questions have led me to the Ahmadiyya, the True Islam, which put together all the pieces of my life's puzzle, thereby allowing me to see the final painting of Allah that was printed over my life. Allow me to explain. I was born in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, in a middle class Sunni Muslim family.

All the members of my family are devout yet liberal Muslims. Since my parents were working professionals, my upbringing and religious training was mainly done by my widowed maternal grandmother. It is important to note that my grandfather was martyred during the liberation war of Bangladesh in He was a civil servant, working for the food department of Pakistan, and was shot during the war by "Muslim" Pakistani soldiers while he was praying. I often wondered how a Muslim can kill another Muslim, especially while the other is praying!

The deteriorating conditions of Muslims directly influenced my childhood.

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I grew up knowing that Islam is true but the Muslims are far from the teachings of Islam. This was very evident in the eyes of my widowed grandmother! She taught me the truth of Islam through her pious example, but her loss reminded me that Muslims are far from the truth. Perhaps that is why very early in my childhood, I had a desire to serve Islam so that the condition of Muslims can be improved.

I was fortunate to have a deep sense of serving Islam and serving Short Stories by American Converts to Islam 31 humanity instilled in me. At this early age, I developed a habit of praying five times a day and regularly fasting during the month of Ramadhan. I went from a Catholic school to another English medium school, which taught Islam as a subject.

Although my primary education of Islam took place at home, it was reinforced at school through an academic review of Islamic history beginning in the 4th grade. One of my hobbies was to visit different mosques for prayers since there are so many mosques in Dhaka. I did, however, once read about the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam in a Bengali newspaper. I asked my grandmother what it meant, and she said that this group does not believe the Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet.

Little did she know that one day she will follow her grandson to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community! Due to some unusual family circumstances, I had to migrate to New York with my mother and sister. Here I was confronted with a multicultural society with a variety of religions - as if Allah had prepared a well planned trial to test my love for Islam.


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Every action of mine that was never questioned in an Islamic society was now being scrutinized by the materialistic society of America. Why do I believe in Islam? Why do I pray five times a day? Why can't I date?

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Allah had not only answered most of these questions in my heart but also had created a desire in my heart to learn more about Islam. This was the beginning of my exploration of the different Muslim groups in New York. My high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Gabay, was like a Godsend angel in my life. She took care of every minute detail of my academic career, resulting in my admission into Columbia University.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light

As a Christian, Mrs. Gabay had done so much for me than any Muslim brother or sister during my high school years. Deep in my heart, I always thought if Allah admits me to heaven, I would plead for this African American Christian lady to be admitted to heaven with me. But up to that point, the Islam I was taught never allowed any non-believers to heaven.

During this time, I came to know of a few brothers who belonged to some Sufi sect of Islam. One of these Sufis told me that Hell is temporary, contrary to most commonly held belief among Muslims. He also explained to me how Allah will judge the followers of each religion from the teachings that were given to them, thus meaning that a Christian has a chance to enter heaven, provided he or she followed true Christianity. Alas, my dear Mrs. Gabay has a chance, I thought! I was very close to joining Sufism, when out of the sheer grace of Allah, during that summer vacation, I visited a distant cousin of mine in Los Angeles, who happened to be a devout Ahmadi Muslim.

My cousin's husband took me to the mosque in Chino, California, which was my first visit ever to an Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque. Although I have visited many mosques in my life, the moment I entered this Ahmadiyya Muslim mosque, I could feel the difference - a peace and tranquility was all over this mosque.