by Cynthia

I awoke early in the morning on October 24, 2004 and took off my silver necklace that had the name, Allah, written on it in Arabic. It felt strange to not feel the silver plate dangling from my neck, but I knew that it was the right thing to do. As I unclasped the necklace I could feel a presence standing behind me. Even though this visitor was invisible, I knew that it was the devil. I was very scared, but at the same time felt the love and protection of God surrounding me. “Please protect me, God,” I whispered as I turned around and walked to the kitchen.

Then in one swift movement I tossed my necklace into the trashcan. A feeling of intense relief came over me and I asked God to forgive me for the past seven years of my life.

My name is Cynthia and at the age of 21 I denounced Christianity and converted to Islam. I was introduced to the Muslim faith when I was seventeen years old by my boyfriend, who is now my husband. At first I thought the religion sounded crazy, because all I had ever known was Christianity. I would look at my husband’s mother and think that she was probably being forced to cover her hair and wear shapeless dresses that went all the way to her ankles. As the years went by I grew closer with my husband and his family. I began to love and respect his mother by watching the way she lived her life and treated others. She was one of the kindest and most moral women I had ever met. Suddenly, Islam did not seem so strange and surreal with its steadfast prayers, fasting, and rituals. I began to read the Qur’an and other Islamic material his parents would give me with gusto. Then I would sit quietly and listen as my husband’s father picked apart the Bible in an effort to convince me that Christianity was wrong. Finally, after years of being brainwashed I decided to become Muslim. I remember sitting in his parents’ bedroom with a black shawl covering my hair and converting to Islam at one o’clock in the morning. My parents were horrified when I told them and said that they were going to pray for me. I scoffed at their remarks and then tried to convince them that Islam was the right religion. I explained to them that Jesus was just a prophet and that, Allah, was the same God worshipped by the Christians and Jews. I told them that Islam was a beautiful and peaceful religion and that anyone who believed that Jesus was the son of God was going to hell. I began to feel so strongly about my new faith that I taught myself how to read and write Arabic and learned many Islamic prayers that I would repeat until I had them down perfectly. My entire life became obsessed with praying five times a day and adhering to all the Islamic rituals. I could not go to sleep at night if I had not prayed the last prayer of the day, because I knew that Allah would punish me if I did not. I began to live in a constant state of fear that became worse when I, my husband, and infant son moved to Egypt with his family. After a few months of residing in Cairo, I began to cover my hair. Nobody ever forced me to do it, but I had read that I would hang from my locks in hell if I flaunted it to the world. My fear of Allah became so intense that I hoped to get cancer and therefore be punished for my sins on earth instead of after death. I would cleanse my body for prayer so obsessively, that my hands became cracked and bloody. Still, I continued to believe in a religion that on the outside looked so moral and just. There was also the fact that all of the Egyptian people I met were very humble and kind. I rationalized that these were the type of wonderful people that the Islamic faith produced. I completely blocked out the fact that I had subconsciously started to develop a tiny hatred for Jewish people by living in Cairo. This was due to comments I heard by random people as well as a shirt I saw an Egyptian man wearing one day. I will never forget the gray hooded shirt with a bloody knife stabbing through Israel detailed largely on the back. The shirt stopped me in my tracks and I think it was then that I started to question my Muslim faith.

We returned to America with a second son three years later, because I was becoming increasingly depressed living in Cairo. I thought being back in America with my family would lift my spirits, but I still felt scared and lost. I kept waiting for the inevitable to happen. When I became pregnant with our third child I thought I would most likely die in childbirth as punishment for making my husband and family leave Egypt. I truly felt that I deserved whatever Allah was going to do to me. I remember praying fervently while I was in labor begging for my life and the life of my child. I was so happy and relieved when I left the hospital alive carrying a healthy baby girl in my arms. Life went on as usual and I continued to practice Islam unfailingly until one night my husband received a very frightening e-mail that planted a tiny seed of thought in my mind. Someone had sent him the video of Nick Berg being beheaded via the internet. Although I refused to watch the horrific sight, I could still hear Nick Berg’s deathly screams as Islamic terrorists slowly sawed his head off. Even my husband, who was born a Muslim, seemed saddened and shocked as the hooded men chanted, “Allah Akbar,” while killing poor Nick Berg. I began to cry softly for Nick Berg and the terrorists who truly thought they were doing their duty to Allah by beheading another human being. I was confused and terrified as I tried desperately to block his screams out of my mind. For the next week, I continued to pray five times a day, but instead of the word Allah I substituted God. I figured that since I had been taught that Allah was just the Arabic word for God, it was okay. Then I did something that I told my parents and myself I would never do. I rented the movie, ‘The Passion of The Christ.’ I told my husband that I just wanted to see what all the hype was about and he agreed. We sat down that Saturday night and watched the movie together in silence. I could hardly stand to watch Jesus being beaten and whipped, but something told me to continue the movie until the end. I held back tears that threatened to fall from my eyes until the short scene in the movie when Mary Magdalene reverts back to the day when Jesus was the only person who would accept and love her. I began to cry as I suddenly realized what my mother had been trying to tell me for years. Finally, I understood that God loved me and was not out to get me or do me harm. It was also at that moment that I knew that Allah was not God. The next week I could feel the devil trying to reel me back in with his scare tactics, but I was not afraid. Finally, I felt the love and protection of God all around me. I was no longer scared to live and no longer scared to die. The world looked so beautiful and I couldn’t stop thanking God for saving me.

I honestly believe that Allah is the devil. I can open the Qur’an to any random page and read something about death and hellfire to the infidels. I had overlooked it in the past, because I was concentrating more on the rituals and basic concepts of Islam. I failed to look at the core of the religion which I feel is based on evil. I think the Islamic faith is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. To some people it looks very wholesome and good from the outside, but at the same time produces terrorists and extremists who will die trying to kill anyone who is not a Muslim. Please do not think that I feel that all Muslims are evil Satan worshippers, because this is far from the truth. Many Muslims I know are some of the kindest and loving people I have ever met. I love my husband’s family and know that their hearts’ are filled with the best intentions. I truly believe that they, along with millions of other Muslims, think that they are worshipping God. I also believe that Satan lost a soldier when he lost me. My greatest asset when I used to preach Islam to anybody that would listen, was my physical appearance. I looked so different from what most people perceived as a stereotypical Muslim. I was a twenty-eight year old, white, American, female with light hair and green eyes who was walking around praising the Islamic faith. I was such a strong contrast to what people were used to picturing when they thought of a Muslim woman. I can only pray that I never convinced anyone to convert or think of converting to Islam.

It has only been two weeks since I was saved by Jesus Christ, and they have been the happiest two weeks of my life. Everyday that I wake up I am so grateful that God never left my side during my seven year hiatus. I feel like he was just patiently waiting for my return. I now live my life with an inner peace and love for God that I cannot put into words. Thank you Jesus for never leaving me.