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I was raised in a religious Christian family. At that time, Americans were more religious than they are now - most families went to church every Sunday, for example. My parents were involved in the Church community. We often had ministers (protestant "priests") in the house. My mother taught in Sunday school, and I helped her.

 

I must have been more religious than other children, although I don't remember being so, For one birthday, my aunt gave me a Bible, and my sister a doll. Another time, I asked my parents for a prayer book, and I read it daily for many years,

 

When I was in junior high school, (middle school), I attended a Bible study programme for two years. Up to this point, I had read some parts of the Bible, but had not understood them every well. Now was my chance to learn.

 

Unfortunately, we studied many passages in the Old and New Testaments that I found in- explicable, even bizarre. For example, the Bible teaches an idea called Original Sin, which means that humans are all born sinful. I had a baby brother, and I knew that babies were not sinful.

 

The Bible has very strange and disturbing stories about Prophet Abraham and Prophet David, for example. I couldn't understand how Prophets could behave the way the Bible says they did.

 

There were many, many other things that puzzled me about the Bible, but I didn't ask questions. I was afraid to ask -1 wanted to be known as a "good-girl”,

 

Al -Hamdu Lilian (Thanks to Lord), there was a boy who asked, and kept asking.

 

The most critical matter was the notion of Trinity. I couldn't get it. How could God have three parts, one of which was human? Having studied Greek and Roman mythology at school, I thought the idea of the Trinity and powerful human saints very similar to the Greek and Roman ideas of having different so-called "gods" that were in charge of different aspects of life. (Astaghfiru Ullah!)

 

The boy who asked, asked many questions about Trinity, received many answers, and was never satisfied. Neither was I. Finally, our teacher, a University of Michigan Professor of

Theology, told him to pray for faith. I prayed.

 

When I was in high school, I secretly wanted to be a nun. I was drawn to the pattern of offering devotions at set times of day, of a life devoted entirely to God, and of dressing in a way that declared my religious lifestyle.

 

An obstacle to this ambition, though, was that I was not Catholic. I lived in a mid-western town where Catholics were a distinct and un-popular minority! Furthermore, my protestant upbringing had instilled in me distaste for religious statuary, and a healthy disbelief that dead saints had the ability to help me.

 

In College, I continued to think and pray. Students often talk and argue about religion, and I heard many different ideas. Like Yusuf Islam, I studied the Eastern so-called religions; Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism. No help there.

 

I met a Muslim from Libya, who told me a little about Islam and the Holy Qur’an. He told me that Islam is the modern, most up-to-date form of revealed religion. Because I thought of Africa and the Middle East as backward places, I couldn't see Islam as modern.

 

My family took this Libyan brother to a Christmas Church service. The service was breathtakingly beautiful, but at the end, he asked. "Who made up this procedure? Who taught you when to stand and bow and kneel? Who taught you how to pray?"

 

I told him about early Church history, but his question made me angry at first, and later made me think. Had the people who designed the worship service really been qualified to do so? How had they known the form that worship should take? Had they had divine instruction?

 

I knew that I did not believe in many of the teachings of Christianity, but continued to attend church. When the congregation recited pieces I believed to be blasphemous, such as the Nicene Creed, I was silent -I didn’t recite them. I felt almost alien in church, almost a stranger.

 

Horror! Someone very close to me, having dire marital problems, went to a curate of our church for advice. Taking advantage other pain and self-loathing, he took her to a motel and seduced her,

 

Up to this point, I had not considered carefully the role of the clergy in Christian life. Now I had to. Most Christians believe that forgiveness comes through the "Holy Communion" service, and that the service must be conducted by an ordained priest or minister. No minister, no absolution.

 

I went to Church again, and sat and looked at the ministers in front. They were no better than the congregation - some of them were worse. How could it be true that the agency of a man, of any human being, was necessary for communion with God? Why couldn't I deal with God directly, and receive His absolution directly?

 

Soon after this, I found translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur’an in a bookstore, bought it, and started to read it. I read it, off and on, for eight years. During this time, I continued to investigate other religions.

 

I grew increasingly aware of and afraid of my sins. How could I know whether God would forgive me? I no longer believed that the Christian model and the Christians were forgiven, would work.

 

My sins weighed heavily on me, and I didn't know how to escape the burden of them.

 

I longed for forgiveness.

 

I read in the Holy Qur'an, "... nearest among them in love to the Believers, you will find those who say, 'We are Christians": Because amongst them are men devoted to learning, and men who have renounced the world and are not arrogant. "

 

"And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you -will see their eyes over flowing with fears, for they recognise the truth. They pray, "Our Lord! We believe. Write down among the witnesses. "

 

What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the Truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?" (The Holy Qur’an Surah: 5, 82-84)

 

I saw Muslims praying on the TV news, and wanted to learn how. I found a book (by a non-Muslim) that described it, and I tried to do it myself. (I knew nothing of Taharah - ritual purity -and did not pray correctly). I prayed in my own strange, desperate way, secretly and alone, for several years. I memorised some parts of the Holy Qur’an in English, not knowing that Muslims memorise the Holy Qur’an in Arabic.

 

Finally, after eight years of reading the Holy Quran, I found this verse: "This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour for you, and chosen Islam as your religion." (Surah5:3)

 

I wept for joy, because I knew that, way back in time, before the creation of the Earth. Allah had written this Qur’an for me. Allah had known that Anne Collins, in Cheektowaga, N.Y. USA, would read this verse of the Holy Quran in May 1986, and be saved.



 

 

 

 

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