I am a muslim. I converted to Islam on October 25, 2003 - the 1st day of Ramadan that year.. I pray five times a day, I fast for a full month during Ramadan, I pay zakat, and God willing, one day soon I will go for Hajj. At lot of you said you wanted to hear about how or why I converted to Islam, and I'm going to be writing about that soon.
I'm not really writing about religion much on this blog and there's a reason for that. I want this blog to be what I WISH had been available to me 6+ years ago when I first met M. Intercultural relationships are such an enigma, and there's just so much to learn and so many questions. Even without a religion difference. Had there been someone out there writing about their own experiences in this then (and there probably were, I just never found them,) I would have had a place to go where people understood. Where I could see a glimpse into my possible future and avoid the pitfalls and bumps and bruises that come with trying to navigate these kinds of paths alone.
But I also know that intercultural marriage does not have to include religious conversion. In fact, one of my biggest concerns about a permanent relationship with M were religion. And I felt decidedly different than the converts I met. I know that I was biased.
I remember that M did have one Pakistani acquaintance who had married a white American girl. About a year into M & my relationship, when things were still in the we-can-never-be-together stage, but maybe he and I were starting to feel like we couldn't settle for "No," he contacted his friend. I guess they talked about the possibility of marrying a non-Pakistani, and the friend told his wife to contact me. I received a lovely email from her with a little description of this woman, a few tips about how to wear hijab, and a link to a website about her. The website was mostly about her conversion to Islam. In my mind, all possibility of communication with this woman shut down. That wasn't going to be me - she and I had nothing in common - how could I possibly talk to this woman?
It's my own stupidity. I was struggling with Islam at that point in my life, and I couldn't see that life for myself, so I didn't pursue what could have been a very valuable resource. I'm sure that had I contacted her, even if I had told her I wasn't a convert and didn't plan on converting, she still would have been willing to talk to me about the intercultural aspects of dating and/or marrying a Pakistani. She even had a child from a previous marriage and had already travelled to Pakistan - how interesting would THAT have been to hear about?!! And maybe if I had talked to her, it could have made my own journey to Islam quicker and less difficult.
I feel like I need to be the resource that *I* needed back before I dived headfirst into this thing. At that point, any talk about religion would have just closed avenues of dialogue for me. That doesn't mean I WON'T talk about religion here. Like I said, I'm going to be posting my conversion story soon. And if any of you have any specific concerns or questions, I'm happy to discuss anything via email. I'm no scholar, but perhaps I can point you in the right direction. There are plenty of things I'm still looking for answers to myself, though, so maybe I won't be able to answer your questions, but I can try.
I know some of you may disagree with this policy, or my motivations for it, but I really need to find a balance for this to be the place I needed six years ago and who I am now. For now, this is it.