Michelle Hutchins: Why I Embraced islam ?
I was born to wonderful parents who were not always so wonderful. But as a child your parents are all you have, and no matter what they do you think they are wonderful. My parents especially my father drank, did drugs, and occasionally my dad would hit mother. My parents divorced when I was six and my brother was not even a year old, later remarrying again.
At the age of six I was pretty much the caretaker of my brother while my mom worked. We would visit my dad and step-mom on the weekends and that is when I began going to church with them. Junior year of high school was when I decided to except Jesus into my heart and live my life as a dedicated Christian, although I had my struggles to live right. It seems that for everything I did I was going to go to Hell, and therefore I struggled to be perfect so I would not end up in Hell.
As my spiritual relationship with God grew I began to take on roles in the church. I sung in the choir, taught Sunday school and children’s church. I became the vice president of the ladies minister, and also had a clown ministry going. I decided, in 1999, to take my dedication to God to a higher level by taking a class called the M.A.P (Ministerial Affirmation Program) in the Church of God, which was to affirm that one truly wanted to go into the ministry for the Church of God. In 2000 I finished this class and started the M.I.P. (Ministerial Internship Program), which is basically to complete the internship.
I began my intern under a male pastor in the Church of God. This pastor did not want women to have any authority at all. During this internship some things happened that really hurt my spirit. I began questioning myself and my relationship with God. I did not know whether I should or should not obey this pastor. I felt I needed to obey him because he was grading me on the program. I continued and eventually graduated from M.I.P in May of 2001.
I stayed at that church and continued working there. However, I never took my license test to be an ordained minister in the Church of God because of the hurt this man had caused me. But I realize that because of the hurt he caused me, God blessed me and that is how my journey to Islam began.
Meeting the First Muslim
In September of 2001 we all know the tragedy that happened but for me September of 2001 was where my life began to take shape. On September 14th 2001, I went to a ladies conference to hear a lady pastor speak. That night really started me on a life long journey to worship God and only God. The speaker was Janice Jostrand and she spoke from Hosea Chapter 2. She talked about how God wanted to get us into a one on one relationship with Him. I always thought I had that type of relationship with Him but because of the things that had happened in my internship program, I felt as though I worried about people more and Him less. That night I prayed to God to give me this type of relationship with Him. Janice Jostrand said that if we prayed for this, then people and things that keep us from God would slowly fall by the waste side. She was right. The choice I made that night changed my life and my journey to Islam soon began.
After that, I met a young man whom was not of American decent and I was not sure what his religion was. When I found out that he was a Muslim we talked about his feelings of Sept. 11th and politics. He was very knowledgeable about his religion and to my surprise my religion as well. Unbeknown to me, Allah had just placed the first step for me toward Islam.
We began to talk more frequently about religion. I never tried to convert him, and nor he tried to convert me. He would ask me questions about my religion. I thought I knew the answers but when asked to back them up by scripture, I could not. This became frustrating to me because despite taking all these biblical classes and tests, I did not have any evidence for my answers.
I began to do an in-depth study into Christianity and Islam. I started to find a lot of similarities between the two religions, but also differences. I found that Muslims believed in the Prophets I believed in, in the miracles, in Virgin Mary, in the Day of Judgment and Hell, and in Jesus’ return to earth in the final days. The main difference that I found was that Islam rejects the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.
Studies in Christianity
I am a little different from most converts in that I believed whole-heartedly in the Trinity. I could not comprehend what would happen to me if I denounced Jesus by saying that he was not the Son of God. This is where my struggles began. I had to find out for myself what the Bible said about Jesus. The first thing I studied was the authenticity of the Bible which I found to be disturbing. I found that the original manuscripts of the Bible were not available. I knew that we had many versions of the Bible but that never bothered me until I realized that people took it upon themselves to change the Bible starting at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
I went on to study about the differences in the Old Testament and the New Testament. I always heard that we should live by the New Testament now because Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament by God becoming flesh and dying on the cross to save all mankind from their sins, provided that they only believe in him. I found scripture that disproved this theory in Micah 7:18, Psalm 78:38-39, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 36:3, Isaiah 55:7, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 16:6, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Ezekiel 18:21-30, Proverbs 21:3, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 1:11-18, and in many other places.
I also found that Paul, who was a Jewish Pharisees, is really the true founder of Christianity. In Matthew 23:15, Jesus (peace be upon him) had something to say about Paul’s sect:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Paul was a very big persecutors of the followers of Jesus and here are some places that refer to this: Galatians 1:13-15, Acts 8:1-3, Acts 9:1-2, Acts 9:41, and Acts 6:5. Paul took everything that Jesus said and worked against it. Jesus said in Matthew 5:18-19:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be Fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Yet Paul abolished many laws that Jesus observed. Here are some sayings of Paul:
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law (Gentiles), as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law" (I Corinthians 9:20)
...I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some (I Corinthians 9:20)
...all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (I Corinthians 6:12).
Paul was the major player in Christianity and I followed him because I did not know all the details. I continued to find that Jesus (peace be upon him) never said he was God. He always talked about God as being greater than him and he prayed to God just as we do. It made no sense to me that if he were God, then why he would be praying to himself.
One should understand that these conclusions came only after intensive studying. I truly believe that Jesus was God before I began to study. Now I see many references where that he tells us to worship God, such as John 4:2, John 4:23, Matthew 7:21, Matthew 22:37, and where he prays to God, such as Matthew 26:39, Matthew 26:42,44, Mark 1:35, Mark 14:35,39 Luke 5:16, and Luke 22:41.
The more I read the bible the more I found that there was only one God and I was to worship Him only and that was exactly what I had prayed for Sept 14th, 2001. The Bible says:
Know therefore this day, and consider [it] in thine heart, that the LORD he [is] God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: [there is] none else. (Deuteronomy 4:39)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God. (Exodus 34:14)
Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, [even] I, [am] the LORD; and beside me [there is] no savior. (Isaiah 43:10-11)
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I [am] the first, and I [am] the last; and beside me [there is] no God. (Isaiah 44:6)
That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else." Isaiah 45:6 "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else. (Isaiah 45:18)
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else. (Isaiah 45:22).
I started to study more about Islam after this and I found that Islam was different from many religions. It was the only religion that was not named after a person. It simply meant submission to the will of Allah (God), which again is what I prayed for on Sept 14th, 2001. I began to see Islam and Muslims for who they were not as the media project them to be. In November 2002, I found a local mosque here in Greenville, SC, and that was my second step to Islam. It took several visits to the Mosque to finally meet up with one of the sisters. I was very persistent and I began asking many questions. Alhumdulillah, the sister I met was very knowledgeable about Islam. She had some knowledge about Christianity but not much. I began to attend the mosque regularly and in January 19th 2003, I converted to Islam.
Challenges Faced as a Muslim
If I tell you that my life as a Muslim was easy I would be lying and so I will not commit that sin. After submitting to the will of Allah my challenge as a Muslim began. My first challenge was praying. I could not pray like the Christians and I did not know how to pray as a Muslim. I went back to the sister whom I first met and she taught me along with other sisters how to pray. I had one advantage: the wonderful Muslim man in the first part of my story was teaching me Arabic and verses of the Qur’an to help me say my prayers in the original language instead of in my mother tongue. Alhamdulillah, I learned how to pray very quickly and I was off to my next challenge: my parents. How could I break my parents hearts! They knew me as a faithful Christian lady. They would not be happy to know that I was now a Muslim. Their understanding about Muslims was that they worship a false God, have a false Prophet, and, of course, had to be trained to be terrorists. I decided to hold off on telling my parents about my conversion until I gradually tell them Islam. I began by talking to them about what I had studied and showing them things I had found in the Bible to be questionable, and they began to question themselves as well. Almost a year passed before I told them that I was a Muslim, but by then they were already used to my way of thinking and it was not to shocking for them. My parents could only respond to me by saying: “Well we know you are much more happier now and you seem to be at such peace with yourself.”
Now that my parents accepted my decision, my biggest challenge came. And that was to obey Allah and begin to wear Hijab. It really was a challenge. I wore hijab to the mosque and that was it. I chose not to wear it out in public or around my family for fear of what they would say. I did wear hijab in public but only sometimes. I made the choice to wear hijab full time in May of 2004 when I got married so I could follow the Qur’an and protect myself. Hijab came with occasional remarks, such as “You aren’t going to wear a diaper on your head are you? What are you suppose to be?” A young man once pointed his finger at me and saying, “Bang! Bang!” But my decision has been the best one of my life. I chose to not fear the people and only fear Allah and that helped me a lot. I also answer those questions and remarks with “I’m a Muslim” or “Grow up!”
Faith and Reliance on Allah
My life as a Muslim has just started but yet it is not easy, and no one said it would be. There is a verse from the Quran that I hold fast to. It says:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. (2:256)
I know that I have grasped the most trust worthy hold that will never break. I fear Allah and only Allah, and I know since the first time I came in contact with Islam that He heard my prayers.
Allah has blessed me in so many ways. He has given me a wonderful family who is very accepting of me, he has given me a wonderful husband whom I can come to with all my needs, a husband who lives Islam and teaches me more and more about Islam everyday. Allah has given me opportunities to share Islam with others and I am forever grateful to Him for His many blessings.
Whoever reads this story, I request him or her to pray to Allah to guide my family to Islam so that on the Day of Judgment we can be there all together. The seed has been planted. Let us hope that it will grow.
Posted 7/25/2004. Exclusively contributed to www.welcome-back.org by Michelle Hutchins.
(The International Association for New Muslims. Muslim World League)