It was in her early twenties that Katja decided to become Muslim. She embraced Islam because she felt that Islam teaches us to be kind and tolerant with all human beings. However, for her family it was really difficult to accept her decision.
Kindness and Tolerance
When I was in my early twenties, I was looking for the way to take in my life. I am originally from Russia but came to Germany when I was a little child.
My grandmother is very religious. I studied the Bible. And I learned about Buddhism. I also learned about Islam. And I was amazed about what Islam teaches about kindness and tolerance. Kindness to our neighbors. Kindness to the orphan. And what was really surprising: kindness to the non-believer and even to the enemy.
It was in 2013 that I took my shahadah. And then my life just turned upside down.
Fear and Prejudice
After I took my shahadah, I started to change my clothing style. I started covering my head and I usually wore long dresses.
My family was not happy at all with my choice. There was fear and lots of prejudice. However, I quickly noticed that all they needed was information and explanations. I took quite some time to sit down with my family and explain to them about my choice. I always tried to be friendly and open and Alhamdulillah with time my family accepted my decision.
The Differences Confused Me
When I first converted to Islam, I was often worried of not doing things correctly. I was confused about the differences in prayer movements. When I attended prayer in the mosque, people prayed in slightly different ways. Everybody claimed their way was correct. There were also different ways to recite Quran. And also different cultural practices.
Diversity is a Blessing
After some years, I finally met one of my teachers. Until today, I see her as a blessing. She explained that slight differences in understanding and practice of the Islamic teachings are normal.
In fact, they are a blessing. We just choose one way that we will follow. That was the time when I seriously started studying Islam. I learned to read Qur’an in one way. I learned the prayer in one particular way. Basically I continue to convert because everyday I learn something new.
The Spirit of Learning
The spirit of learning is also something I really appreciate about Islam. It is not dogmatic. I can ask questions. It is a religion that wants us to understand. For example the Oneness of God, Tawhid. This topic is amazing. It really triggers our logic. We can connect everything in our daily life to His Oneness. It is an open process of getting to know our Creator.
Growing in Confidence
One of the advantages of continuously seeking knowledge is that our confidence grows. Somehow, at the beginning after my conversion, I often felt like a little child. I was new. I did not know anything. And everybody wanted to teach me something.
Somehow this also impacted on my self-confidence and self-worth. With every new knowledge and every new understanding my self-confidence comes back. This is not about feeling better than other people, but about feeling strong in myself. And this is one of the beauties of Islam.
No Difference Between the Genders
Everybody has the potential to become knowledgeable. Every man and every woman can become a religious scholar. And every man and every woman has the potential to become the close, intimate friend of Allah. Praise be to Him.
From the spiritual perspective, all humans are equal. And this is one of the most powerful teachings of Islam. What differentiates us is our obedience to and love for Him.