I lived with my mother. My mother doesn’t have a strong religious background. She comes from a Christian background. Because of my mother’s and I lack of compatibility, I had to live in the street for a couple of months where I was then found and I was placed into a foster care.
I was in three different foster homes before the last one that became my permanent home where I stayed for six years. During that time I was completely alone. I had no mother, no father and no friends, nothing that I could hold on to, and I think that’s what really opened the doors for me and why I had to start my search because I was alone.
My mother never really installed any firm roots, so I myself got involved. I guess you can say I put my suffering in Christianity then. And I started attending a Pentecostal Church. So every Sunday I would look forward to going to church. I felt like it was my spiritual education that I was not getting from home.
So every Sunday I would go and I would have questions to ask about who Jesus was because again we had like prayers and basic teachings from my mom but just basically a prayer before dinner and a prayer before bed but that’s as far as it went.
So when my Sunday school teacher would tell me about Jesus, I got the classic egg theory: the theory of the shell, the yolk and the white; how the three compose an egg. If you take one away, then you don’t really have the whole egg, so that’s how the trinity was described with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. So I acknowledged that but I still felt there was something missing in that teaching.
It wasn’t until much later I was in high school actually and I started becoming more involved again with the church because in my childhood I was involved, but then I strayed out of the church. As most young teens, they are involved with their friends and things like that but I really questioned everything about life.
There was a boy in my high school who was a Muslim. I tried to explain to him more about Christianity and he wanted to explain to me about Islam. So I remember just talking to him and he was denying certain things about Christianity and it really struck me like how he could say such things about Christianity.
I thought instead of me being pulled one way from someone’s opinion, I wanted to find my own opinion. I didn’t want to be led any more by pears or by other influences. So I started going to the library and researching more about what religion is; Islam, Christianity and all faiths and that’s where the doors started to open for me.
What attracted me to Islam was the beauty in it. I hadn’t been exposed to all the stereotypes or the media or the negative connotations. So when I started reading these books about what Islam had to say I was confronted with myself from my childhood teachings, from my life style at that time, which was basically just living your life with no particular direction, and now this, Islam.
And my soul came into a trauma. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t live properly any more I didn’t know what was proper, nothing made sense any more. I would stay up around the clock just trying to get my hands on anything that would talk about God to find out who He really was because up until this point, I think he was just a name, He wasn’t alive, He wasn’t alive in my heart as yet.
I remember just running outside late just crying out to whoever was there, this creator, and I was saying “Please answer me, give me direction, give me footing, give me something that I could hold on to because I’m lost". I was desperate. I didn’t want to live but I knew I couldn’t take my life because I knew that wasn’t something for me to do, but at the same time I didn’t know which God to call on, do I call on the God that they called in the Christian background or do I call on the God in the Islamic background do I just drift as I’ve been drifting. Who do I call? So I called to this above the name above the language. I said “please give me an answer, I need to know, I can’t go on like this.”
Alhamdulellah (all praise is for God), within 2 days of me calling my creator, I received that answer. I was inside my grade 11 math class and I was reading a book and everything I have been rejecting about the elements of the faith, I can’t fully explain it but it just flooded in. I believed, I believed in everything and I had already learned the shahada on my own just by reading books. I had learned about Muhammad and other things about Islam and all these things came in and I was just overwhelmed it was like “this is it.
This is it” … “I found it”, and my eyes got full with tears and my heart just filled with this joy and ran out of the classroom, and my teacher said like “Tanya, where are you going?” and I couldn’t even respond. I was just like language wasn’t in my head. I didn’t know how to talk even. It was just so overwhelming. I ran to the washroom and I didn’t know what Wudu was, but I was like flushing my face, trying to get clean. I tried to make my own Wudu I guess! And I just said “this is it, I found it.
I ended up seeing a sister who was in my school at that time and she was wearing a hijab and I said to her “Are you a Muslim?” she said “Yeas” I said “I need to talk to you because I think I’m a Muslim too”. So alhamdulellah I just went from there and she took me to meet her family. With open arms, they invited me to their house.
They would give me their clothes, their books, food and everything, they just showed me their hospitality and they drove me to the Masjid. It was here at the Islamic foundation. I was there and I took shahada with the family that took me and a sister who was working inside the office and I made my shahada “La Illah Illa Allah, Muhammad Rassul Allah” those words could barely come out of my mouth because I was so overwhelmed.
My life has completely changed. Now I have a belonging, it’s a deeper belonging. With my mother, we had different opinions for so long about faith, about actually nationality because I’m mixed; my mother is white and my father is black and I wasn’t raised with my father so I was always questioning, people would ask me where are you from, what’s your background and I didn’t know what to say. I’m Canadian, I only know my mother’s side.
Basically now I belong I have something to ground me I have something to look forward to. I know now why I’m here and where I’m going to, I’m going to my creator and it makes me want to learn. My past started off with that learning, with that exploring and it’s an ongoing process until Allah commands that to stop but I encourage everybody to continually strive for that inner peace.
This feeling that I have inside of me, I want to share it with others, and sometimes some people are willing to embrace that in Islam, and even if it doesn’t come through Islam just with our example to non-Muslims we can show what it’s all about, and alhamdulellah that my goal is to share that little light that Allah has given me with others.