Some of my earliest memories revolve around Church, I was taken to many church related activities from the time that I was a little girl. As I grew, my family attended less and less often and soon we spent Sundays watching television and at other leisure activities. When I was 9 years old we began attending a small, independent church that was heavy on doctrine such as spare the rod and spoil the child and wives obey your husbands. They never mentioned any responsibility on the husband's or parents part. I was really frightened when I went to school, church and sunday school that I would either be whipped or shamed. They would not let the girls lead the flag salute or pray since girls were suposdly less than boys. We only went to that church for a few months, but it made a huge inpact on my life.
After a major move when I was 12 years old, we began attending church regularly again. I recall being happy to feel a part of a "church family" but what I did not see at the time was this was one of those churches known for "having a form of Godliness but denying the power within." I attended regularly, even though my parents began to attend less and less. Soon I was the only one from my family attending. I listened to the Pastor's stories of goodness and faith, but they never really made sense when the members of the congregation were involved in lying, cheating each other and showing off who had the most money. By the time I graduated for high school I was attending only sporadically at best.
I went away to college in 1990 and began to live my life as an agnostic, radical feminist. I did not want to believe anything that religion had to say about women being submissive. After a relationship that I was in fell apart, I began to turn back to God and religion in general. A large group of Muslim students began attending the University around this time and I began to talk to them about the way of life called Islam. They told me that Islam was a way of life and not simply a religion. I became fascinated by all the aspects and more and more interested in the fact that Muslim men were duty bound to take care of and treat their wives with care and gentleness. I was told that the prophet Mohammed told his followers that "the best of you is the one who is the best to his wife" but no one told me about the sura that states that if your wife is disobedient, you may beat her until she is. I wanted a good husband who would support me and treat me right.
I became a Muslim in November of 1991 and soon things began to fall apart in my life. I was so convinced that I had found the proper path that I became belligerant to my co-workers and was soon fired. I began to look for another job and was told by the Imam that I had to return to my parents home since Islam forbids single women from living alone. I moved home in January of 1992. Understandably, my parents did not like the idea of me wearing the traditional Muslim garb and they tried to forbid me from wearing it at any chance they got. Of course this only made me more adamant about wearing it. Soon my family and former friends were all reluctant to be around me and I spent more and more time exclusively with Muslims.
In February of 1992 I was introduced to my future husband. I was simply led into a room and told that he was the man that I was supposed to marry and I had no choice in the matter. We married in May. I soon entered hell. I was not to leave the apartment without his permission and was not to turn the airconditioner on for any circumstances. This was during 100 degree weather in the summer. I sweltered my way through the rest of the summer with heat rash and an eventual case of heat exhaustion. Mohammed forced me to relinquish control of my car to my parents in September, so I was truly stuck at home. What I did not understand about my new husband was that he would spend inordinate amounts of time away from home and never ask me to go with him. I soon learned (painfully) that Islam forbids the listening to music. That was the first time that he hit me.
After our first year of marriage, he was preparing to return to Morocco (without me) to visit his family. Shortly before he left, we had been on a day trip to Dallas where he had not allowed me to have any food except a small bag of chips. As we did not have anything in the house to eat, I called one of his friends who knew that Mohammed often left me without anything to eat.
I waited for him to bring me just a small sandwich for dinner when Mohammed came home unexpectedly. He had heard of the call and was furious. He told me to get my stuff together and leave the next day, he began to beat me and scream at me, rupturing one of my eardrums. I ran to a friend's house gain help. Mohammed tearfully apologised and we stayed together.
After he returned from Morocco, I was able to get a job and be able to pay some of my bills and have enough to eat (he let me have my car back). But I began to understand that this was no marriage. We were simply roomates and one was terrorizing the other.
I began to question some of the things about Islam, the hypocrisy and infighting as well as the treatement of women. I was abruptly informed that I was not to question and all that I had to do was to read and I would understand. I began to look longingly at women who did not have to wear the heavy oppressive clothing and endure the rude looks from others. I was accused of causing a miscarrage with the evil eye since I was trying desperately to become pregnant. I would cry and ask God why he would not let me achieve the supreme Muslim woman's duty of bearing children. I became more and more depressed and even prayed for God to take me out of this world. Little did I know that he would answer my prayer in a way that I had not dreamed of.
At the end of the third year of our marriage, Mohammed decided that he needed to go to Morocco again. He told me that he did not care where I went or what I did; he was going home. Well, I got my own apartment and when I did not hear from him in a month, I filed for divorce. My faith was destroyed and my health and finances were also destroyed. I began to attend church again.
I went from church to church until I really gave my life to Christ in December of 1998. I was Baptised with the Holy spirit in April of this year and my life has really changed for the better. I praise God every day that he has brought me home and given me a wonderful Church Home with people who love me.