Twelve years ago, it was in autumn/winter 2002, I’ve spent six months in Marrakech for work. At that time I still was a practicing Christian. I have ever been a seeker and was always interested in religion and faith; I always believed in God, in Jesus and all that. So, during that stay, while having been in close contact with Muslim colleagues, I had my new testament as a shield with me and a strong portion of preconceptions against Islam; but I also had a lot of questions and was very interested in that other religion and in what Muslims believe.
My colleagues were all very respectful and educated, yet simple and almost poor Moroccan people. They lived and shared their faith, they all seemed to be very attached to their religion and they practiced it in the everyday.
They, like most of the Moroccans I met, were very proud of their Islam, proud in a touching way, not like being vain, but more like being satisfied, happy and sure to have the right faith. They all liked to talk about their religion and I loved to ask questions to learn more about it.
So we discussed a lot during work. I often asked them about all the preconceptions in my head; I asked questions about the role of the women, about polygamy and all the forbidden things and why they follow such traditional orders without adjusting them to modern circumstances.
They patiently listened and then peacefully responded. They always had explanations based on the Qur’an and on what their prophet said. And I often had then to nod my head and to agree. I often was very surprised to hear about things I knew from the Bible and I couldn’t argue against most of what they told me. How they explained the things just sounded to me very reasonable, it made clear sense and it often seemed to be a continuation of my own faith; it seemed to be a development of what I’ve learned in Christianity, with new answers to what I’ve always looked for.
Then the month of Ramadan came. I decided to fast with my colleagues; simply to share the atmosphere and to be really able to feel and to understand what they experience.
The fasting wasn’t as hard as I expected. Even to pass the whole day without water wasn’t that difficult and after a few days I felt very comfortable.
During that holy month I found a copy of the German translation of the Qur’an – Now I wanted to know more about the source of this exotic yet very familiar religion.
First I almost feared to open that book. I feared to learn more about a religion of which so many of the people in Germany had warned me about. I feared to get brainwashed or enchanted.
But I also felt a strong power and attraction to it.
Before I began to read I decided to pray to my Christian God first, I asked Him to protect me against the evil of Islam and to guide me to the truth.
Then I opened the book and started to discover with eagerness and a healthy portion of distrust.
Wow that was a huge thing: a simple yet difficult language spoke to me; a literary style that switched from the first to the third person all the time; so many harsh and brutal expressions; so many strong orders and clear warnings about hell and the hereafter.
But there was also an equal amount of loving and merciful sayings, of beautiful parables and wonderful examples of paradise and God’s care for humanity. Many verses spoke about the bounties and blessings from God. There were the stories of all the prophets I already knew: Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Joseph and all the others, and there were a lot of scientific explanations and proofs.
The more I read, the more I was fascinated.
I didn’t get brainwashed, I got convinced.
Every time when I didn’t understand something, I went to work and discussed it with the colleagues. And again: How they explained things sounded very reasonable, it made clear sense and it often seemed to be the continuation of Christianity.
Slowly I turned towards Islam. It took me a while until I really was ready to bear witness that I can accept Mohammed as the last prophet of God the Almighty. There were still many things I didn’t really understand.
But more and more I felt that the Qur’an is the ultimate truth. I felt that this is the real and original word of God. I strongly felt that these are not stories from our ancestors, told and written by man and changed over the centuries to please the people.
I began to understand that Islam is a perfect concept for a good life that provides all the guidance humanity needs.
Suddenly I could say “yes”, I could now trust in God’s wisdom behind everything and accept even those things which my intellect didn’t get at that time.
So my journey as a new Muslimah began, Allahu akbar, and my whole life changed, subhanallah. Living became much more meaningful and the direction of my life got a real purpose: to worship and to please my creator and to always give my best.
Since then I am on a learning path. There are still many things I don’t know or still cannot understand, but I try to climb the ladder and I believe in the wisdom behind everything.
And every year during Ramadan I remember this beginning of my journey, that turning point of my life, subhanallah. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an and it is then when I concentrate again on the fundamentals of my faith.
Ramadan is the month when Prophet Mohammed received his first revelation of the Qur’an by Archangel Gabriel. So every year, during the month of Ramadan, we remember this. Then Muslims honour the holy book by reading, reciting and praying out of it every night. The Qur’an is for Muslims not only a book with old parables and stories, no, for us it is our main source of knowledge and truth. It never loses its actuality and represents the law and the guidance for our whole life. For us, the Qur’an (the original in classical Arabic language) is the direct word of God which is universal and eternal and we totally believe in every single word written in it.
Today we enter the last ten days of Ramadan. And those ten nights are said to be the most sacred and important nights of the whole year. Worship gets more serious now, as I’ve already explained a few years ago.
A good way to gain the most out of these nights is to go with the three R’s of Qur’an-connection: Reading, Reflecting and Reciting in prayer.
“And We send down of the Qur’an that which is a healing and mercy for the believers” (17:82)
I wish for sacred and blessed nights for all of us. I wish for the energy to stay awake and that our faith increases. Ameen.