Why We Embraced Islam, Books 9 & 10. Edited by Dr. Arafat El-Ashi (1419H/1998), Toronto, Canada
Madonna Johnson "..all of my turmoil and anxiety was gone.."
Looking back on my past, I say that the turning point in my life was without a doubt the birth of my daughter.
Before she was born, I spent my life on a day to day basis, concentrating my time and attention to whatever crisis I could get my hands on. If there wasn't one, then I made one.
When I became pregnant, I knew I would be raising my child alone. If it weren't for the love, devotion, and determination of my mother, things would have been different.
When my daughter was 5 months old, she died of "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" (SIDS), which is a medical term for "No known cause".
I had never experienced such pain, panic, and complete emptiness. However, throughout the funeral, I was consoling other people, telling them I believed with all my heart that God would not cause me such pain if He didn't have something incredible waiting for me in the future; all I had to do was stay on the right road, and God would show me when I was ready.
Friends would say, "You'll see her again someday." I would question them openly; how does anyone know that I'll be going to heaven? Just because I was a Christian was no guarantee, since I couldn't bring myself to swallow all of Christianity. There were too many unanswered questions.
So my quest for the "One True Religion" began out of a desire to insure that I would indeed see my daughter again.
I went through all the Christian religions diligently. Having been a Christian all my life, I found it very hard to look outside the church, even though my heart wasn't totally Christian.
People would say things to me like, "Jesus spoke to me today," or "Jesus is with you, all you have to do is invite him into your heart and you will see your daughter in heaven."
I was beginning to think I was doomed. I looked at Tarot cards, crystals, and even entertained the thought that all religions would take you to heaven, if you followed their beliefs.
Eventually I put my search on hold for awhile and got a job at a bar in Indianapolis. It was there that I met a girl, who later turned out to be a good friend for a while. She had three or four businesses running out of her home, none of them doing very well, and some of them questionable.
One day, she asked me if I wanted to go to Malaysia. She said she wanted me to buy some Malaysian style clothes, get pictures taken of them, and find an importer-exporter to handle the business. Without thinking I said "I'm there!"
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur during the middle of Ramadan. I'd never heard of Islam before, and had no idea that Malaysia was an Islamic country. Almost every woman I saw had a scarf on her head in 95 degree heat!
I also noticed that people went out of their way to be nice to me. It took a very special friend (plus, he was one of the few who could speak English fairly well) to explain that Malaysia was an Islamic country, and Muslims believe that whenever we do something nice for someone for the pleasure of Allah (SWT), then we will be rewarded for that deed on Judgement Day, Insha Allah.
However, all I could see where the negative aspects of Islam, the same things others see, who are ignorant about Islam; so I bought some Islamic books (including a Qur'an) and began studying Islam.
I asked many questions, such as why do women cover their whole body, except for the face and hands? Why is everyone so happy and willing to fast throughout the day? How could anyone be happy about starving themselves? It seemed suddenly that no one could speak English well enough to satisfy me, so I turned to the Qur'an.
Ever since I can remember, I have felt out of place in Christianity , like I was the only one in the whole church who didn't know the joke was on me.
The more I studied about Islam, the more I began to wonder if this was the road to my daughter; would this religion get me into Heaven?
Although my biggest obstacle was the Islamic concept of Jesus (PBUH), and how would I explain this to everyone at home, I found the answers to some of my questions and realized that Islam was what I had been looking for.
But I had a problem, should I take the challenge - become a Muslim and walk the straight path to heaven? Or deny the Truth I knew in my heart out of fear of disapproval and persecution from family and friends - only to abide in the hellfire forever?
I constantly carried with me a feeling of doom and anxiety. This was my state of mind everyday while I was deciding whether I should revert to Islam or not.
For me, this decision was not as easy. Islam is not a part time religion; a true Muslim doesn't practice Islam one day a week. Islam is a full-time challenge with enormous struggles, as well as benefits. The more you learn and understand, the more you realize you have only just begun to scratch the surface, which makes you strive even harder to learn more.
One day I woke up with the words, "OK, I believe, I will go and revert to Islam", and from that moment on, all of my turmoil and anxiety was gone Alhamdulillah.
All of the pain I had felt from my past experiences, including my daughter's death, were gone. The nightmares stopped, and I felt the most incredible peace.
I went to PERKIM, the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organization, and took my Shahadah, filling my life with the peace and love of Allah (SWT) , Alhamdulillah.
Looking back, I can say all of the things I experienced on my path to Islam were well worth the effort and pain, because now, Insha'Allah, I will be able to see and hold my daughter again, if I can stay on the right path.
Sure, I still have challenges, being Muslim doesn't mean I won't have problems. But being a Muslim does mean that for every challenge I came across, the solution lies in following the path of Truth. And at the end of that path lies Heaven, my daughter and numerous other pleasures that the human mind can't begin to comprehend.
All praises are due to Allah for bringing me to the Truth and for His grace in making me a Muslim.