"I found myself reading a book that claimed that the proof of God's existence was in the infinite beauty and balance of creation."
Ioni Sullivan is a 37-year-old authority worker from East Sussex. She shares her story of how she fell in love with Islam, and how her life has changed since she became a practicing Muslim.
I'm married to a Muslim and have two children. We live in Lewes, where I'm
probably the only hijabi in the village.
I was born and raised in a middle-class, left-leaning, atheist family. My father was a
professor and my mother a teacher. When I finished my MPhil at Cambridge in 2000, I worked in Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Israel.
Back then, I had a fairly stereotypical view of Islam, but became impressed with the strength the people derived from their faith. Their lives sucked, yet nearly everyone I met seemed to approach their existence with a tranquility and stability that stood in contrast to the world I'd left behind.
(Jordan. Photo Credit : MBRAND85 / SHUTTERSTOCK )
In 2001, I fell in love with and married a Jordanian from a fairly non-practising
background. At first we lived a very western lifestyle, going out to bars and clubs, but
around this time I started an Arabic course and picked up an English copy of the
Qur'an. I found myself reading a book that claimed that the proof of God's existence
was in the infinite beauty and balance of creation, not one that asked me to believe
God walked the Earth in human form. I didn't need a priest to bless me or a sacred
place to pray.
Then I started looking into other Islamic practices that I'd dismissed as
harsh: fasting, compulsory charity, the idea of modesty. I stopped seeing them as
restrictions on personal freedom and realised they were ways of achieving self-
control. In my heart, I began to consider myself a Muslim, but didn't feel a need to shout
about it; part of me was trying to avoid conflict with my family and friends.
In the end it was the hijab that "outed" me to wider society. I began to feel I wasn't being true to myself if I didn't wear it. It caused some friction, and humour too; people kept asking in hushed tones if I had cancer. But I've been pleasantly surprised at how little it has mattered in any meaningful relationship I have.
Ioni's story is one that many converts can relate to. Sometimes, by Allah's grace, the beauty and wonder of Islam finds someone despite the odds, and changes their lives forever.
Source : The Guardian, article written by Veronique Mistiaen