Whenever people ask me how I became Muslim, sometimes it’s so hard for me to answer. It feels like I’m put on the spot of something so deeply personal to me. I often liken my journey to Islam to falling in love. So, when people ask me, “How did you become Muslim?” all I hear is, ’How did you fall in love with Islam?’
I didn’t need to fall in love with Allah because I always believed in one, loving, merciful, powerful, omnipresent God. In fact, from a young age I was confused about the relationship between Isa, Jesus (alayhi salam) and God in Christianity. It was a moment that I don’t take for granted, now that I’m Muslim. I remember feeling so confused and uneasy after a Church service I attended with my extended family. My Mum didn’t attend, but would let our Grand Parents take me, so long as I was happy to go. When my Mum sat down to plait my hair for the night, I blurted out, ‘ Mum?! Why do they tell me to pray to Jesus? I don’t understand! Why don’t they pray to God?’ My Mum’s answer was plain and simple, “Don’t worry! Just pray to God!”
Who knew that that would be the beginning of where I would inherently begin my path to Islam at such a young age and know there is no one worthy or worship besides God. La ilaaha illallah.
When I began my journey to Islam almost 9 years ago, I was surprised to read that all previous Prophets of Allah bowed down in prostration and that this is also written in the Bible (such as Genesis, 17:3, Matthew:26:39, Psalms 95:6). This was totally new to me!
“Those were the ones upon whom God bestowed favour from among the prophets of the descendants of Adam and of those We carried [in the ship] with Noah, and of the descendants of Abraham and Israel [i.e Jacob], and of those whom we guided and chose.
When the verses of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell in prostration weeping.”
The Qur’an 19:58
I became curious about what it felt like to be in prostration to Allah. I remembered The Civil Rights Leader, Malcolm X’s story and how hard it was for him to prostrate to Allah (Subhanu wa ta Allah):
“The hardest test I ever faced in my life was praying…bending my knees to pray that act well, that took me a week… I had to force myself to bend my knees. And waves of shame and embarrassment would force me back up. Again, again, I would force myself back down into the praying-to-Allah posture. When finally I was able to make myself stay down- I didn’t know what to say to Allah.” (The Autobiography of Malcolm X with the Assistance of Alex Haley).
I however, didn’t experience a similar resistance, I just thought it would be a little weird, but my curiosity was much more powerful. Alhamdulillaah!
So, one night, I decided I would give this sujood a try. I found a scarf and wrapped it around my head the best way I knew how. I didn’t have a prayer mat, but I knew prayer had to be on a clean surface so I used a large pink pashmina scarf I had never worn and carefully placed it down on the floor. In the position of prostration (sujood) with my forehead and nose on the hard floor, and my hands near my face, it felt unusual, yet, it didn’t feel uncomfortable. I somehow felt a sense of release, a moment to exhale, a moment to just ‘be’. I remember rising to my knees, only to return to the position of prostration once again. It felt like a “home-coming” and a huge sense of comfort.
I immediately knew from this point that I would love to learn how to pray “properly”! That first sujood created a natural thirst to know more. I wanted to know what were all the ‘movements’? When do you do them? What do they mean? What are you saying in Arabic? What does it mean in English? I was well and truly hooked!
When I learned that whilst in sujood we should recite “Subhana Rabbiyal-A’ala”, ‘How glorified and perfect my Lord is, The Most High!’ It totally made sense to me, as the position embodies your relationship of servitude with Allah (subhanu wa ta Allah).
“O you have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good that you may succeed.” -The Qur’an 22:77
I began to go into the position of sujood daily and I would tell Allah (subhanu wa ta Allah) my concerns, worries and ask that He would make it easy for me to be guided to the straight path. I continued to do this most nights for a week or so. I’m not sure how long it was after this that I took my shahada. Yet, before I took my shahada, although I felt in my heart my love and desire to practice Islam, I wanted to try to pray 5 times a day to see what it felt like. I knew prayer was an imperative pillar to being Muslim, it was one of the few things out of many that people knew about Muslims: they pray! A lot! But 5 times a day?!
I wanted to see what it felt like and if I could do it! I didn’t know how to do Salah properly, I just had a vague idea of the movements. So, one day, I found out the prayer times for London and I prayed in my own way throughout the day. It was Winter so the time between each prayer was short, and it felt as if it wasn’t long before I was returning to my bedroom and laying out my pink pashmina to do another prayer. By the end of the day, I felt a sense of achievement, I didn’t feel burdened! All I knew is that it confirmed that I wanted to draw closer to Allah (subhanu wa ta Allah) through Salaah. I considered it to be such a unique way of praising Him. It confirmed that I wanted to be Muslim! I wanted to practice Islam!
This first experience of sujood really was the catalyst for me embracing and practicing Islam. I didn’t need to read many reasons why we were obligated to pray. All I knew was that the feeling of being in sujood was like no other. I spirituality connected to it before anything else.
I learned to love the expression of praising Allah the Almighty, in such a unique way, connecting our mind, body and speech in one. I found it to be such a unique exchange. We are praising Allah, fulfilling our duty and in that we are given peace calm and comfort. SubhanAllah! How Merciful is He!
“This is Salah-the most beautiful way to worship! An act that brings such satisfying comfort, a true quenching of that spiritual thirst! Your body maybe on earth, but your soul is floating around The Most Merciful’s Throne! Salah is Allah’s greatest gift to us. In it is peace and happiness that we all yearn and search for,” Love of Allah, Al -Mehri, The Qur’an Project.
About the author:
Mallikah b. Murray is a UK revert to Islam who writes to inspire and connect with others and uses writing as a form of self-therapy and growth. Due to her own health struggles she has become passionate about alternative/natural health and women’s health issues. She finds nature’s beauty an immense reminder of the power of Allah (swt).