Ms. Natassia M Kelly

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I was raised to believe in God from childhood. I attended church nearly every Sunday, went to Bible school, and sang in the choir. Yet religion was never a really big part of my life. There were times when  I  thought  myself  close  to  God.  I  often  prayed  to  him  for guidance and strength in times of despair or for a wish in times of want.  But  I  soon  realized  that  this  feeling  of  closeness  soon evaporated  when  I  was  no  longer  begging  God  for  something.  I realized that I even though I believed, I lacked faith.  

I perceived the world to be a game in which God indulged in from time to time. He inspired people to write a Bible and somehow people were able to find faith within this Bible. As I grew older and became more aware of the world, I believed more in God. I believed that there had to be a God to bring some order to the chaotic world. If there were no God, I believed the world would have ended in utter anarchy  thousands  of  years  ago.  It  was  comfort  to  me to  believe there was a supernatural force guiding and protecting man.  

Children  usually  assume  their  religion  from  parents.  I  was  no different. At the age of 12, I began to give in depth thinking to my spirituality. I realized there was a void in my life where a faith should be. Whenever I was in need or despair, I simply prayed to someone called Lord. But who was this Lord truly? I once asked my mother who  to  pray  to,  Jesus  or  God.  Believing  my  mother  to  be  right,  I prayed to Jesus and to him I attributed all good things. I have heard that religion cannot be argued. My friends and I tried to do this many times.  I  often  had  debates  with  my  friends  about  Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Through these debates I searched within myself more and more and decided I should do something about my emptiness. And so at the age of 13, I began my search for truth.  

Humankind  is  always  in  constant  pursuit  of  knowledge  or  the truth. My search for truth could not be deemed as an active pursuit of knowledge. I continued having the debates, and I read the Bible more. But it did not really extend from this. During this period of time my mother took notice of my behavior and from then on I have been  in  a  "religious  phase."  My  behavior  was  far  from  a  phase.  I simply shared my newly gained knowledge with my family. I learned about  the  beliefs,  practices,  and  doctrines  within  Christianity  and minimal beliefs and practices within Judaism.  

A  few  months  within  my  search  I  realized  that  if  I believe  in Christianity  I  believed  myself  to  be  condemned  to  Hell.  Not  even considering the sins of my past, I was on a "one way road to Hell" as southern ministers tend to say. I could not believe all the teachings within Christianity. However, I did try. I can remember many times being  in  church  and  fighting  with  myself  during  the  Call  to Discipleship.  I  was  told  that  by  simply  confessing Jesus  to  be  my Lord and Savior I would be guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. I never did walk down the aisle to the pastor's outstretched hands, and my reluctance even increased my fears of heading for Hell. During this time I was at unease. I often had alarming nightmares, and I felt very alone in the world.  

But not only did I lack belief but I had many questions that I posed to every knowledgeable Christian I could find and never really did  receive  a  satisfactory  answer.  I  was  simply  told  things  that confused me even more. I was told that I am trying to put logic to God and if I had faith I could simply believe and go to Heaven. Well, that was the problem: I did not have faith. I did not believe. I did not really  believe  in  anything.  I  did  believe  there  was  a  God  and  that Jesus was his son sent to save humankind. That was it. My questions and reasoning did, however, exceed my beliefs. The questions went on  and  on.  My  perplexity  increased.  My uncertainty increased. For fifteen years I had blindly followed a faith simply because it was the faith of my parents. Something happened in my life in which the little faith I did have decreased to all but nothing. My search came to a stop. I no longer searched within myself, the Bible. or church. I had given up for a while. I was a very bitter person until one day a friend gave me a book. It was called "The Muslim-Christian Dialogue."  

I took the book and read it. I am ashamed to say that during my searching never did I once consider another religion. Christianity was all I knew, and I never thought about leaving it. My knowledge of Islam  was  very  minimal.  In  fact,  it  was  mainly  filled  with misconception and stereotypes. The book surprised me. I found that I  was  not  the  only  one who believed there was a simply a God. I asked  for  more  books.  I  received  them  as  well  as  pamphlets.  I learned about Islam from an intellectual aspect. I had a close friend who was Muslim and I often asked her questions about the practices. Never  did  I  once  consider  Islam  as  my  faith.  Many  things  about Islam alienated me. After a couple months of reading the month of Ramadan began. Every Friday I joined the local Muslim community for the breaking of the fast and the reciting of the Quran. I posed questions that I may have come across to the Muslim girls. I was in awe  at  how  someone  could  have  so  much  certainty  in  what  they believed  and  followed.  I  felt  myself  drawn  to  the  religion  that alienated me. Having believed for so long that I was alone, Islam did comfort me in many ways. Islam was brought as a reminder to the world. It was brought to lead the people back to the right path.  
 
Beliefs  were  not  the  only  thing  important  to  me.  I wanted  a discipline  to  pattern  my  life  by.  I  did  not  just  want  to  believe someone was my savior and through this I held the ticket to Heaven. I  wanted  to  know  how  to  act  to  receive  the  approval  of  God.  I wanted a closeness to God. I wanted to be God-conscious. Most of all I wanted a chance for heaven. I began to feel that Christianity did not give this to me, but Islam did. I continued learning more. I went to the Eid celebration and jumua and weekly classes with my friends. Through  religion  one  receives  peace  of  mind.  A  calmness  about them. This I had off and on for about three years. During the off times  I  was  more  susceptible  to  the  temptations  of Satan. In early

February of 1997 I came to the realization that Islam was right and true.  However,  I  did  not  want  to  make  any  hasty  decisions.  I  did decide  to  wait.  Within  this  duration  the  temptations of  Satan increased.  I  can  recollect  two  dreams  in  which  he  was  a  presence. Satan was calling me to him. After I awoke from these nightmares I found solace in Islam. I found myself repeating the Shahadah. These dreams  almost  made  me  change  my  mind.  I  confided  them  in  my Muslim friend. She suggested that maybe Satan was there to lead me from the truth. I never thought of it that way.  

On March 19, 1997 after returning from a weekly class, I recited the Shahadah to  myself.  Then  on  March  26,  I  recited  it  before witnesses and became an official Muslim. I cannot express the joy I felt. I cannot express the weight that was lifted from my shoulders. I had finally received my peace of mind. It has been about five months since I recited the Shahadah. Islam has made me a better person. I am stronger now and understand things more. My life has changed significantly.  I  now  have  purpose.  My  purpose  is  to  prove  myself worthy of eternal life in Jannah. I have my long sought after faith. Religion is a part of me all the time. I am striving everyday to become the best Muslim I can be. People are often amazed at how a fifteen year old can make such an important decision in life. I am grateful that Allah blessed me with my state of mind that I was able to find it so young.  

Striving to be a good Muslim in a Christian dominated society is hard. Living with a Christian family is even harder. However, I do not  try  to  get  discouraged.  I  do  not  wish  to  dwell  on  my  present predicament,  but  I  believe  that  my  jihad  is  simply  making  me stronger.  Someone  once  told  me  that  I  am  better  off than  some people who were born into Islam, in that I had to find, experience, and  realize  the  greatness  and  mercy  of  Allah.  I  have  acquired  the reasoning that seventy years of life on earth is nothing compared to eternal  life  in  Paradise.  I  must  admit  that  I  lack  the  aptitude  to express the greatness, mercy, and glory of Allah. I hope my account  helped  others  who  may  feel  the  way  I  felt  or  struggle  the  way  I struggled.  

as salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahee wa barakatuhu,
Natassia M. Kelly


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