How I became a Muslim

How I became
a Muslim
Updated 25 October 2013

How I became a Muslim

How I became
a Muslim

Zahra Baintner is a German woman who traversed a turbulent phase of life to finally embrace Islam. In this first of her three-part story, Baintner says she was not lucky enough to be born in a Muslim community.

THERE is no new born child who is not born on fitra (the natural disposition and inclination to Islam). It is his parents who make him a Jew or Christian or Magian.” (Hadith)
Some people are lucky enough to be born into Muslim households and brought up according to the principles of Islam. Azan and Iqamah is whispered into their ears, thus right from their birth they are taught Allah’s name, that He is one and has no partners. No concept of Kufr and Shirk contaminates their pure souls, poisons their young minds.
There is nothing to hamper their spiritual progress as they were presented with the invaluable gift of Islam from the very first day of their lives. And maybe the reason why so many of them choose to waste this precious asset is that they fail to realize the value thereof, as they had acquired it so effortlessly.
Others, however, are not so fortunate. They are born into Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian or atheistic households, where they are brought up according to the creed of their families, and are left to live and die with those erroneous believes, unless Almighty Allah takes pity on them, unless He, in His infinite mercy guides them to the truth.
I was born in 1978, in Germany, in the free state of Bavaria as the only child of an average Roman Catholic couple. Neither of my parents was particularly religiously inclined, which would manifest itself in their hardly ever visiting the church — except on such holidays as Christmas or Eastern — nor would they eagerly engage in any other of the communal activities. The married life of my parents was not a too happy one, so they split up when I was about four years old.
The right to care for me was given to my mother. We left the town where my parents had lived together and went to my mother’s ancestral home. To sustain ourselves my mother had to take up work again, so I was most of the time left with foster parents, who would give me my lunch and help my mother in looking after the household.
Life, though not a bed of roses, went smooth and eventless.
I was sent to school, completed four years of primary education, which passed eventless, too, and for reasons not known to me, very friendless. Thereafter I was admitted to an institute known as Gymnasium, in order to acquire secondary education. The first two years were marked for nothing but indescribable loneliness and a feeling of helplessness and dejection. By then also my foster parents had passed away, and I was left on my own, whole day long. Since I had hardly any friends, I spent lots of time reading or in prayers.
Although the spiritual aspect of my education had been pretty much neglected, I soon tried to somehow make up for that. At times I would go to church also, not to attend service, but just to enjoy the hallowed atmosphere and to read the hymns. I also began to collect pictures of the holy family, saints, in short anything related to religion. In the evening, I used to pray to God, the Father, to Jesus, to the Virgin Mary and all the saints I had so far heard about, secretly always worrying that maybe I am forgetting one.
In school we were introduced to the basics of the Roman Catholic catechism, such as trinity, redemption, Jesus being the son of God, the status of the Virgin Mary and so on. These concepts seemed rather obscure to me, and whenever I approached my teacher –a catholic priest after all- to elucidate the matter, I was left to realize that he probably was as much in the dark about his faith as I was, which was indicated by his stating that ‘this is the secret of faith’ (a phrase which is also repeated in every service). I was quite confused. I was maybe eleven, twelve years old, then.
My state of confusion aggravated when once our history teacher, in order to make classes more interesting, showed us a film about Haj (at that time the subject of our lessons was ‘The beginning and spreading of Islam’ and ‘The Arabs in Spain’). This film presented a married couple, Christian converts, telling the audience about how they came to embrace Islam, the true spirit of Islam and the profound inner peace they had attained after their conversion in general and after having performed Haj in particular. In this film were shown many breath taking sights of the holy places, the Haram Shareef, the Holy Ka’bah, the thousands of pilgrims clad in ihram, united in their quest to please the lord. The scenes I saw deeply touched me, whatever I heard appealed to me, made sense, soothed my upset soul. It seemed as though in Islam lay the answer to all my questions.

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