Some call it reversion, rather than conversion. Such a complicated word, considering what that means to us LGBT people who have encountered in any way the notion of "reversion therapy" aimed at us in one way or another.
But this is a nicer way of thinking about "reversion." It is said among some Muslims that all babies are born Muslim. It's a simple faith, in my view, in that it's not complex theologically. One God, one big huge creation, and messengers (prophets). A God of love and peace and joy.
So when one converts to Islam, they are really reverting. Going back to their natural state.
I don't share this in order to try to convince anybody of anything. I just find it pleasant and comforting.
On Sunday night, I sat with an older, experienced man who came from a Muslim country, and did my shahada. This is the declaration of faith you make to become a Muslim. Accepting Islam. There is none worthy of worship but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his messenger. Except you say it in Arabic.
So Sunday night, around nine p.m., I became a Muslim myself.
I've done religious conversions before. I've spent most of my religious life in Christianity (especially Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and a year or so as an active Episcopalian) and Wicca. In all cases, while I sometimes felt connected to God, I had trouble accepting certain key beliefs even though I wanted to. I have spent quite a bit of time reading about Islam, discussing with other Muslims, and contemplating this decision. I was led to a Sufi group which has a chapter here in town. While this particular Sufi lineage does not require conversion to Islam, the praying and chanting and singing there has been very powerful.
In one of my conversations online, someone told me that from what I had said, I was probably already Muslim in my heart. I just hadn't made the declaration yet.
So I have done so. From a positive place. Because while there are cultural aspects I am not accustomed to, and while I do not know Arabic, and while I have mostly stayed in contact with the more progressively identified Muslims, I really was already Muslim, and have been for a long time. I had to learn more about Muhammad to be comfortable with the decision, but that wasn't very difficult, it turned out.
I'm still me, not changing much. That's why I am attracted to the progressive side of things. I'm still gay. I still want a boyfriend, Muslim or not. The prohibitions on pork and non-halal meat and alcohol are not a problem, as I've been trying to be a vegetarian for years (mostly successfully), and haven't had a drink in over a month for health reasons. What has changed is that I have finally found a home, a home with God, and that struggle which has consumed me for so many years I can finally call complete.
What has changed is the inner peace bit. The focus on the positive. I'm finding it easier, so far, to stay level with myself, to recognize the negative emotions and get back into my heart.
I don't write this for kudos or expressions of any kind. I just wanted to share with everyone this huge next step. I'm in big transitions in so many ways. As the pieces of the puzzle, the joints of the body, start to click together for a more cohesive Andrew, this is the one that finally brings some order, some reason for me to move forward, an impetus to be a better person.
Currently reading: Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey Through Islamic America, by Michael Muhammad Knight, a road-trip book. Interesting, readable, quirky.