Converting to a new religion is never an easy thing. There’s a lot to learn and, of course, the issue of how to break the news to family and loved ones. Things can be even more complicated for non-Muslim women who convert to Islam … most of the time.
‘I feel really blessed because my family reacted much better than other families I’ve heard about.’
Sarah Thompson is a native of Noblesville, Indiana. She grew up in what she would call a Christian household but says she always felt like something was missing and eventually left Christianity. It wasn’t until she began exploring Islam that she says she felt like she found a spiritual home. Thompson converted a few years ago after taking several months to learn about the faith.
A Family’s Reaction
‘My mom was like, ‘Okay, great, this is wonderful; what can I do?’ Thompson says of her mother’s reaction. ‘And she went out and bought me like fifteen scarves. I mean, she was just amazing.’
Although not everyone has been amazing, some of her family did have a difficult time understanding Thompson’s decision. Her father and stepfather, in particular, began to take it hard once they realized ‘just how real’ Thompson’s conversion was.
Most of her close friends were also supportive of her decision, although Thompson says she did have a few who thought she was crazy.
Feminism and Islam
‘I’ve always been a really strong feminist, so when I say they thought I was crazy, that’s what they meant,’ Thompson says.
‘They have a very limited idea of what Islam is. It is the woman in the hijab and it is this woman in the veil that’s being oppressed and that’s sort of the image (they have).’
The funny thing is, Thompson says, that she feels more liberated as a Muslim woman than she ever did as a Christian one.
‘I didn’t feel oppressed, but I didn’t necessarily feel liberated in Christianity,’ she says. ‘I definitely feel more liberated, and more free, in Islam. The way that some women are treated in other countries is more cultural and it’s definitely not Islamic. In the Qur’an it says ‘men have this right and women have this right’ and it’s the same right.’
The Beauty of Islam
Thompson says she was drawn to Islam because of what she calls the ‘peacefulness’ of the faith as well as the personal nature of Muslim religious practice.
‘It is a community religion but it is really focused on you and your relationship with God and you making your prayers every day and your intent being right every day,” Thompson says. “Only He knows what you’ve done.’
Thompson says that, in many ways she feels she’s the same person she was before the conversion. The big difference is that, instead of just saying she’s putting her faith in God, as a Muslim Thompson’s actually doing it.