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I am a new Muslim woman from Richmond, VA. I had never even met Muslims before last year, and had no idea that there was an Islamic center in my own city. However, at that time, I was very interested in Islam, but I could find nothing to read. I read encyclopedias and any books I could get my hands on, but they were all written by non-Muslims. They said that Muhammad (saws) wrote the Qur'an in the 7th centruy, that Muslims worshipped the black stone, and that Islam bred hatred towards women. They also said that Muhammad (saws) copied the Bible, that Islam was spread with the Qur'an in one hand and the sword in the other, and implied (if not stated directly) that all Muslims were Arab. One book even said that the word "Allah" came from al-lot, the moon god of the pagan Arabs. These are just some of the lies I read.

Then, one day, two Pakistani Muslim women (who were also muhajjabas [wearing hijab -ed.]) came to my college. I befriended them, and then I started asking them all kinds of questions. I had already left Christianity when I was 12, so I felt no challenge to my personal beliefs. I was a biology major and had basically no religion. I was amazed at what they told me, and I realized that all of my previous knowledge was lies.

Then, I came home for the summer. I got my own apartment and started working at 7-11. While I was working, a black muhajjaba came in the store. I asked her where she worshipped and when she told me there was an Islamic center on the same street I was working on, I was amazed.

I went the next day, but no one was there. So I went the day after that day (which happened to be Friday) and found some people there. A man told me to come the next week at noon so I could meet some of the ladies. But when he said "noon," he meant "dhuhr," not 12. I didn't know that. So I came at 12 the following week, but no one was there. For some reason, I decided to wait, Subhan-Allah. And wait I did, for an hour and a half (jumaa' [Friday prayer -ed.] is at 2), and finally I meet some people. A lady there gave me a copy of Maurice Bucaille's The Bible, Qur'an, and Science. When I read it, I knew that I wanted to become a Muslim. After all, I was a biology major. I knew that the things in the Qur'an had to be from Allah (swt), and not from an illiterate, uneducated man. So I went the next week and took shahaada [i.e. stated and accepted the creed of Islam -ed.]

When my dad found out, he went crazy. He came to my apartment and tore up everything in it, including my Qur'an. I called the police, and they came out. But they refused to help. They said "Don't you think he's right?" and so on. So I fled to Nashville, TN.

I have continued to talk with my dad, though, because the Qur'an says to honour your parents (it does not distinguish between Kaafir and Muslim parents), and because I remember the story of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (raa). He hated Islam so much that he used to beat his slave girl until his arm grew tired. Al-Hamdu Lillah, Allah (swt) has rewarded me for my efforts. I saw my father for the first time this summer, in full hijaab. He accepted it without too much commentary. I think he realizes now that he can't bully me into renouncing Islam.

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