Its coming up on three years of being Muslim for me, only three years. See, I feel like its been my entire life already, like I was never anything else but Muslim. How is this that in three years I've lived one whole lifetime?
Maybe it was because I was half-Muslim for about 4 months before I took the plunge.
Maybe it is because the sleeping soul inside of me was Muslim long before I ever existed.
Maybe its because I really was recreated and born again the moment I took my shehada.
I don't know, but to me its been a lot longer than 3 years as a Muslim.
Its been my whole life.
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I don't remember the exact date I took my shehada, I think this is better and it may have been subconsciously intentional to not mark the day. I feel like to have marked it would mean I would have had to celebrate it every year that it came around. Like a birthay, I guess, which it is in its own right. But I don't think it is the day which is remarkable, but the event instead that changed my life.
As I said above, I playacted at being Muslim for about 4 months before I actually converted. It was like I knew I was, but my heart hadn't yet told my brain. I had never really been in denial before then so I didn't realize that while I was putting on hijab for an Islamic History class at the U I was really being who I was, and everything else was just an act.
I don't know how to explain it, its a singular insanity that is all my own.
I would be at halaqas in abaya and khimar and when other sisters asked me, "So, how long have you been Muslim?"
I would pause for a second and then answer quite matter of factly, "Well, actually I'm not."
What a strange creature I must have seemed.
And when that moment finally came where I realized that my thinking had changed from "if I ever became Muslim..." to "when I become Muslim..." it hit me like a bucket full of cold water. I probably even made a funny face.
I had denied it while living it for far too long.
I was reborn in my life the moment I took shehada. Wiped clean like a slate pockmarked with ground-in chalk. I swear I even felt like I sparkled from the inside. And thats when the real change began.
I made baby steps, I stumbled a lot, I never fell down but I emerged with the same scars an adolescent would carry on her knees. Bruised but still striving to become a fully-fledged adult. I even carried my Muslimness like the awkward limbs of a post-pubescent, unsure and wobbly, and not exactly comfortable inside her skin.
I grew and I rebelled, and I hit the point where it was fight or flight. I took off my hijab and tested the strength of my convictions, and in the end the only person I could rebel against was myself.
I put the hijab back on unhappy with the absence of what truly defined 'me' and I knew at that moment that there was nothing on earth that could make me return to what I had been. Not even the empty promises of a spit-shined dunya could tempt me away from the beauty of my religion.
And the instant I stepped out of my door and faced the world with my hijab again, the stares of my uni mates who had seen me with and then seen me without and then saw me again with, I grew up in my Islam. Like a graduation, I had passed.
I married my soulmate, possibly the only man who can tell me what to do and still have me love him for it. My patient teacher, my lover, my best friend, and my confidante.
With him I fulfilled the final half of my deen.
And in three years I find myself an adult in my Islam, having lived an entire life in so short a time.
So pardon me if, when asked, I reply that I have been Muslim my whole life.
Because in a sense, I truly have.