They met at Uni. Lisa was staying at a friend’s place when Danyal appeared one night with Lisa’s brother for a friday night pizza. They clicked immediately – his warm brown eyes, dark hair, and flashing smile made him irresistible. She was flattered in his interest and found herself spending more time at her friend’s place in order to see him, where he entertained her with lively discussions on every topic under the sun.
It was during one of those discussions that Lisa learned that Danyal was a Muslim, that he believed in a God. She hadn’t really met many religious people before, and certainly not a Muslim- the only people she knew who were Muslim were some girls who wore a hijab in some of her lectures and some people on TV. So, she was intrigued, she wanted to know more. What do Muslims really believe? Do you have to be a certain ethnicity or race? The discussions lasted hours into the night, as Danyal responded warmly and enthusiastically to her questions. He was encouraging and warm, and most importantly was patient with her misunderstandings.
Along with her understanding of Islam and respect for Muslims, Lisa’s attachment to Danyal grew. The more she learnt of Islam’s values, the more she appreciated the man who bore this message; the more she felt like Islam was the truth, that the Qur’an was the unaltered Word of God Himself. Islam was the path of truth, and Danyal was her guide – it seemed that Danyal felt the same attachment as their relationship grew closer, until he spent most of his nights with her as well as his days.
After her shahada, Danyal encouraged Lisa to find out more about Islam herself, to develop her relationship with God independently. It was during her independent searches that she realized something was wrong – men and women were not allowed to have an intimate relationship outside of marriage, it was something hated by God. That was the last thing she wanted – to begin her journey to God by doing something prohibited. She was fraught with worry and anxiety – how could they make up for this sin? They must stop and get married immediately, she thought to herself, and smiled inwardly at the surprising joyous leap her heart gave at the thought! Marrying Danyal! She couldn’t wait to tell him!
Danyal didn’t respond with the enthusiasm she had expected. In fact, he seemed strangely reticent. He gave excuses – “it’s ok, if you didn’t know, it’s not counted as a sin” he would say in his soothing voice.
“Yes, I hope so, Insha’Allah” Lisa would reply, “but I know NOW, so we have to stop.”
“I haven’t finished studying… I don’t have the means to support you… a man is supposed to support his wife…I need a job…my family won’t allow it, they are traditional…” the excuses went on while he tried to maintain their relationship status quo.
Lisa felt conflicted – she loved Danyal, she loved spending time with him. She loved Allah and had fully embraced Islam as her way of life going forward. Danyal was her guide on this journey though, wasn’t he? She couldn’t imagine going forward without him. He was a good Muslim, wasn’t he? Then why didn’t he seemed bothered about their relationship being haram in the sight of God? Why didn’t he want to marry her as much as she wanted to marry him? If he was not authentic, could his message still be trusted to be authentic? If she didn’t believe his personal promises, could she believe what he had taught her about Islam?
Lisa began to doubt everything in her life from the moment she had met Danyal. Had all her decisions been based on her attraction to him? She couldn’t understand how a man who had guided her to something so beautiful could cause her so much pain and doubt. She tried to bring it up with some of the “sisters” she had met at Uni, but she felt a bit shy- she didn’t really know them that well, and she didn’t want them to think badly of her, but she desperately wanted to talk to someone and get some perspective. She wanted some guidance and help. She couldn’t see a life in Islam without him, but she wasn’t sure she could continue with him the way he was.
Then a sister told her she was doing a sponsored Bike Ride for a charity called Solace. “What do they do?” Lisa had asked.
“They help reverts like you when they need support and when they don’t have family to help them.”
Lisa couldn’t believe her ears. That very day she had made a crying heartfelt duaa to Allaah after Fajr prayer that He help her and guide her to the right way, that He show her how to move forward, and now this random sister was telling her about this charity that specialized in helping reverts! She googled Solace as soon as she was alone, and called them that very day, pouring out her entire heart and every doubt that plagued her thoughts.
The support that Solace provided helped Lisa to move beyond her relationship with Danyal, she learned to appreciate his input and his part in her journey to Islam, whilst acknowledging that just because he helped her start her journey, he didn’t necessarily have to be a part of it forever. Her weekly meetings with her support worker were always at the coffee shop near the local masjid, where they would pray together, to give Lisa the added boost and confidence of feeling part of her local community. Slowly, Lisa built her own relationship with Allaah, started to wear the hijab, learned to read the Quran, and even had support in her journey to tell her family about her conversion.
Solace helps revert sisters like Lisa, who don’t have the support they need.
Be their solace this Ramadan. Support revert sisters in difficulty: givesolace.uk/behersolace
The Revert Stories are in aid of Solace UK’s “Be Her Solace” campaign, which are 4 simple ways you can give our revert sisters solace in Ramadan.
Disclaimer: These stories are derived from multiple real stories to depict real-life events and circumstances experienced by revert sisters. While the stories are based on real-life events, none of the stories belong or refer to one particular person. Full anonymity and confidentiality has been upheld in the writing of Revert Stories. Solace takes the privacy of its service users seriously. All names, characters, locations and events have been changed.
This Revert Story was written by Romina.