Yesterday a new friend, let’s call her Michelle, was telling me the story of how she became Muslim.
She was born in the South, into a staunchly Christian family, Baptist. She grew up going to church on Sundays. As a young woman, she worked in one of the offices at a small university. Nobody that she lived or worked or interacted with was a Muslim.
But one day as she ate lunch, she glanced out her office window and noticed something bizarre. There was a woman with something covering her head outside and way across the parking lot who would stand, bow, and fall to the ground under a tree. When she’d finish this odd thing, she would sit with her back leaning against the tree and read a book.
Every single day during the lunch hour, this unknown woman would do this same strange routine.
Michelle was puzzled by the action itself and its meaning, and also by its unfailing consistency. What was that woman doing? And why did she do it every day at the same time? What did it mean?
Michelle was so baffled by this that she continued to watch for the woman every day. She even asked her co-workers in the office, “Anyone else weirded out by whatever that woman out there is doing? What is she doing that for?”
The other women in the office shrugged, mostly unconcerned. One woman told her, “Honey, that woman over there is a Muslim. Don’t you worry about her? That’s just something they do.”
Michelle learned that this was something from Islam, but that was it. The only piece of the puzzle she got only served to make her more intrigued and piqued her curiosity further.
She’d heard of Islam distantly, from the hubbub around 9/11 and Muslims being terrorists. Now she had another fact to connect to it: Muslims for some reason did this standing-bowing-prostrating thing with trees on their lunch break.
She dropped the subject.
A few years later, she went to get her car fixed at a mechanic shop. As she waited for the mechanic to wrap up with another client, she heard him saying some unknown words in some unknown language as the client left.
“What did you just say to that guy?” she asked the mechanic curiously. “What were those words?”
“Assalamu alaikum,” the man said. “It’s in Arabic. It means “peace be upon you.” We say it because we are Muslims.”
She was surprised. This was a white American man telling her about what Muslims say and do! He was Muslim, a convert.
Sensing her interest or curiosity, the white revert gave her some pamphlets on Islam that he kept in his shop and an English translation of the Quran.
He fixed her car and she got on her way, thanking him.
She got home and read the pamphlets. She leafed through the English meaning of the Quran. What she read was new, interesting, like a breath of fresh air. She thought it over in her mind, uncertain.
A while later, she went back to the same mechanic to get an oil change. The mechanic recognized her and asked her gently about Islam.
She said, “I want to learn more about it because I think it’s interesting. But I don’t know any Muslims.”
He gave her the phone number of a Muslim sister and told her to call her, to talk about Islam. He assured Michelle that this woman would be happy to hear from her.
But when she got home that day, Michelle hesitated; she wasn’t used to cold calling strangers! So she didn’t make the call to the Muslim woman whose number she held on a scrap of paper in her hand.
But the following day, the woman called her! She was a friendly, kind Muslim woman who taught Michelle the basics about Islam and answered her questions. The two women talked regularly and met up as well.
After a while, Michelle was ready. She said her shahada!
As I listened to this story, mesmerized and smiling, I asked Michelle, “A lot of my revert friends tell me that they had a specific moment when they realized Islam was the Truth, or that there was a particular thing about Islam that really spoke to them and they just *knew* that this was it, that they were Muslim. Did that happen for you, Michelle?”
“It was the idea of One God,” she answered me immediately. “I had never really understood or believed that whole Christian thing with the father, son, and spirit. That had always, always been confusing to me. I had tried asking my pastor about it so I could understand, but he got annoyed with my question and told me “It just is.” So when I found that in Islam there was none of that confusion, I knew that this was the right thing. This is Truth. Finally.”
Tawheed is the antidote to the trinity.
Michelle is now happily married to a Muslim husband and they have six beautiful children, mashaAllah.
But twelve years ago, she was a dissatisfied woman working at an office, looking out her second-floor window beyond the concrete parking lot at a nameless, faceless Muslim woman who was praying there and reading Quran on her lunch break by a tree.
“To this day, I don’t know what that sister’s face looks like or what her name is. I wish I could meet her so I could thank her and tell her the impact she inadvertently had on me. I make du’a for her.”
Imagine the influence you as a Muslim may have on another person, without you ever knowing.
عَنْ سَهْلِ بن سعدٍ، أنَّ النَّبيَّ ﷺ قَالَ لِعَليًّ: “فو اللَّهِ لأنْ يهْدِيَ اللَّه بِكَ رجُلًا واحِدًا خَيْرٌ لكَ من حُمْرِ النَّعم.” [متفقٌ عليهِ]
Sahl ibn Sa`d narrate that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said to Ali, “For by Allah if Allah were to guide a single person through you, it would be better for you than an entire lot of red camels.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
May Allah use us for His sake, Ameen!