For the six speakers at “Beyond My Story: On Issues and Aspects of Conversion to Islam,” something was missing until they found Islam.

In the Charles Carroll room of stamp, in front of an audience of people from all different backgrounds, ages and races, each panelist took turns telling their journey to faith, acceptance and Allah.

Damani Ingram, a convert of 22 years, talked about his disconnect to Christianity, something he was raised in without question as an African American. He said his biggest question always stemmed from the concept of the Trinity, the idea that there is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three separate forms of God. He always believed there was only one God, and when he found Islam, with Allah being the one and only God, everything clicked.

Almost every other panelist echoed this, saying they always had questions in Christianity, mostly in regard to the Trinity. Attrice Abdul-Adl even recalled questioning the concept in Sunday School when she was young. “I would always get in trouble, they would say go sit in the corner when I would say, ‘This doesn’t make sense,’” she said.

Alejandro J. Beutel, the son of a Jewish-Italian and a Catholic-Latina, credited Islam for helping him come out of his shell in college. He told the story of sitting on a staircase during his first week of college and telling himself he would introduce himself to the next person who rounded the corner. That person just so happened to be Muslim.

After this, he began researching and looking into Islam and had a group of Muslim friends who answered his questions and opened his mind. He took his Shahada 13 years ago.

Beutel had difficulty with his family after converting. He recalled telling his father, to which his response was “Well don’t get involved in any terrorist stuff and I guess we’ll be okay.” Other panelists had similar, more serious anecdotes.

Nick Lardas, the son of a Russian-Orthodox priest said his grandfather has disowned him due to him converting. He said Russian-Orthodox’s “hate” Muslims;this created a lot of tension within his family, causing him a lot of pain. But, he said, the pain is worth it because after trying many other religions and finally finding Islam, it “felt like coming home.”

Hui Amatullah, a convert from China, has also faced a lot of strife within her family since converting a year ago. She said in China, you are told there is no God and people have pretty much no idea what Islam is. When she came to the United States and found Islam, she said she found it beautiful and immediately connected with it.

When she returned to China and tried to spread Islam to her family though, she said she was shunned and her mother told her she no longer wanted to have a relationship with her. But she has found a supportive community in the U.S. and even some people, like her cousins, in her family have been willing to hear about the religion Amatullah holds so dearly in her heart.

A passage from the Quran repeated a couple of times over the course of the night was “with hardship comes ease,” something many of the panelists said resonated with them on their journeys to Islam. lthough conversion caused contention within many aspects of their lives, they said, the ease they found within Islam is worth it.

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikilmages’ Pixabay account.

WritersBloc_Headshots_12Kira Sansone is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at ksansone@terpmail.umd.edu.

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