My first religious experience was in a Congregationalist Church. I was only in Kindergarten so I don’t remember much of it.
After my parents split up, my dad would take us to Catholic Church. I also attended CCD and made my First Communion.
As I started to think for myself, I had questions. Like, “How can Jesus be God and God’s son?” I never received a satisfactory response. I frequently would fake sick just to get out of going to church. Eventually, my dad stopped expecting me to go.
I had a realization as a pre-teen: I thought we were Christian but we don’t pray or go to church. Do we even believe in God? It was disturbing to think that we might go to hell for not participating in religious traditions.
As a clever young thing, I figured that if I sell my soul, I am free to sin and the owner of my soul will suffer in hell, not I!
At age 14, one of the worst times in my life, I prayed to be ill so that I could die. Not long after, I developed asthma and bronchospasms that were so bad that I failed math and English and had to go to summer school.
At age 16 I was dumped by my closest friends. I became angry at God for giving me a miserable life. Another friend invited me over her house. Her parents were going to be painting the walls so we were all allowed to write and draw on the walls. I took this opportunity to write “Fuck God” on the wall.
I was caught in a downward spiral. I was damaging everything I had ever had in my life: my relationships with family members, my schooling, and my attitude.
I was lost for a long time but something inside me said that someday I would have to ask myself the big questions. I didn’t feel ready yet even at the age of 21.
Then, I met Nassim, a Moroccan man, who frequently talked to me about God. At first, it was difficult for me to listen. I think the fact that his English was so broken made me be more patient with him. He got me to start thinking differently. We got married six weeks after our first meeting.
My friend, Jackie, told me she had turned her life around by her faith in God. I think I might have laughed right into the phone. For some reason the concept of God had not become real for me yet.
It was only after I lost my son who I had carried in my womb for five months, and then I found out that my husband had had an affair, that I had a serious, dramatic change in attitude. I believed that my innocent baby must have gone directly to Heaven and that I wanted to do whatever was necessary to ensure that I would be able to join him there. In my mind, that meant doing good deeds and selfless acts for others. I became so grateful to God. I felt free. I felt proud of the person I was becoming.
I tried hard to make my marriage work and we had several trial separations. One of the times that I came back to him, in October 2008, I discovered that he was not willing to be faithful to me and the cheating would continue. When I confronted him, he screamed at me, putting me into a state of misery and sorrow. I stayed up late watching BBC’s Planet Earth. There was a scene where a wolf was chasing a young caribou. The young caribou’s foot slips just a bit but enough to let the wolf catch it by the tail. At that point, the caribou sat down and became still with the look of submission on its face. It was as though God had taken over the caribou’s life and said, “It is my will to let this wolf continue living at the expense of your life.” It was extremely moving.
Later that night, when I was lying in bed, nearly asleep, I received an inspiration. The message came in the form of a vibration which I was somehow able to translate into English. I felt it was so important that I remember it that I dragged myself out of bed and, in the dark, I opened the last page of my journal and grabbed the first thing I could write with which happened to be my eyeliner pencil and I wrote in big letters, “ONE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND”. I was too tired to ponder the message at that point so I went to bed. In the morning, I made an appeal to God. I spoke out loud to my creator, saying that I want to feel guided and not alone or abandoned. I wanted understanding to flow into my consciousness. If God was willing to grant me this, I would do God’s will.
Not long after that, I began a truth seeking mission. I wanted to have a better understanding of the world around me. Using the internet, I read articles and watched videos on any subject that I felt might bring me closer to the truth.
One day, God inspired me to research honey bees. I found it interesting how bees see in ultraviolet. If I see a flower as white, the bee might see it as violet. I figured, if I don’t even know what color a flower is, what do I know at all? I went on YouTube to learn about the bees and a found a video called about the honey bee waggle dance, their way of communicating to the other bees where the flowers can be found. It was a fascinating video of a scientific experiment and I really enjoyed it. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf7WL0Mgil0. I felt in awe of God for all the marvelous creatures in the world. At the end of the video, the announcer said “Allah created the bees and inspired them to do their work. This fact is mentioned in the Quran.” Then, it showed a verse from Sura An-Nahl (Chapter: The Honey Bee). I was overcome with a rush of energy and emotion as it felt to me that God was guiding me, showing me a path to take!
I searched YouTube again, this time for “miracles of the Quran” and “miracles of Allah”. I found many amazing things that started to build my foundation of faith. Then, I found the “mathematical miracle of 19” and subsequently, I learned about the Submitters, a group founded by Rashad Khalifa. I listened to Rashad Khalifa’s translation of the Quran, narrated by Suleman Imdad, and I joined other submitters on Skype for Quran study. The sense of community was very strong to begin with. People seemed mostly welcoming to me. That is, until I started asking too many questions and pointing out inconsistencies. I found that the Submitters were not interested in the message that Allah sent to Muhammad but they would rather follow all the audios, videos, articles, and books written by Dr. Khalifa. I spent about a year in internal conflict before I exposed myself as a disbeliever in Dr. Khalifa’s teachings.
Shortly after that, I found sites like “Mental Bondage In the Name of God”, which questioned traditions even more. I had been participated in the Facebook group “Hadith of the Day!” which had discussions on how the Hadith contradict the Quran. It was in that group that I caught the attention of Farouk A. Peru, a Quranist. I had the honor of chatting with Farouk about the Quran and he really opened my eyes to some amazing things. My passion for the Quran had been reignited and I couldn’t have been happier!
Next came the Facebook group “Quranology Discussions”. In the early days, before we had over 250 members, the group chat features was active. That’s where I met other Quran alone Muslims who were not followers of Dr. Khalifa. The feeling of not being alone in my beliefs is extremely fulfilling. The best part of being a Quranist is having the freedom to interpret God’s message to humanity for myself. It’s as much mine as it is anyone else’s. This allows me to search within myself for understanding and wait for God’s inspiration.