I do not know if I mentioned it before, but I am an American convert to Islam. I think my journey to Islam began with my immigrant Irish grandmother. My great- grandmother was a VERY devout Protestant Christian. The rest of my family had no religion. That includes my parents, my grand parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Through my 38 years of life, I never saw them enter a church, except for a wedding or funeral. I had no brothers or sisters. I was an only child.
I lived my life in Rural Central Indiana. My parents were city folk from Chicago who wanted a more simple life. They were middle class working people. When the summer time appeared each year, they needed someone to look over me while they went to work each day. That ended up being my great grandmother. She lived in Chicago, and they would drive me there every June and pick me up in August. My grandmother was thrilled to have a helper and a companion each summer.
She was a meticulously neat individual, who would have me cleaning everything in sight. She was also an individual who had a wonderful green thumb. Everything she seemed to touch grew lush and beautiful. Outside she had roses that smelled of the most expensive perfume, she also had snap dragons that I could not wait to pinch. She had a small garden where she grew fresh herbs. She would have me clip the chives each night for the salad at dinner. On the inside of her house she had many African violets. I remember always wanting to touch their leaves because they felt like velvet. To this day, I keep several of them in my house. Another notable quality of my grandmother was she was extremely devout in her religion.
Every summer, it would be memorize verses from the Bible, go to church, go to Sunday school. She was always after me to be a strong believer. I really followed her advice and tried to be as devout as she was. At the end of the summer, it was back to my parents who never went to church. My grandmother called and wrote my all the time to find someone to take me to church. I always did, but the variety of churches would be many. It was Baptist, Methodist, Pilgrim Holiness, Wesleyan, and non-denominational, to name a few. With all of this variety, I would eventually be confused.
When I reached college and was able to expand my horizons outside the small town churches of rural Indiana, I found Islam. It was 15 years ago and still seems like yesterday. Islam was introduced to me in college and it made so much sense to me. Shortly after my conversion, I married my husband. Shortly after this, my grandmother died. I was living in Florida and it was very far from my grandmother. I never told her that I converted, but I always felt she was the one to inspire me to become a Muslim because she always encouraged me to believe in God.
A year or so after her death, I become sad at the notion of my grandmother dying and not a Muslim. I was so convinced that she was the one who ultimately led me to Islam. This is when my husband told me that you do not know if she ever really received the message. You do not know how Allah will deal with her devotion. You really do not know what she believed in her heart. That night I went to sleep feeling much better about my grandmother. In my dream that night, I saw my grandmother. In the summers, when I stayed with her, she would get her square vinyl cushion and put it on her retro metal chair. She did this just before maghreb each day. She would sit in that chair and read from the newspaper or her Bible, or a book she liked. In my dream, she was sitting on that retro metal chair, but she was reading from the Glorious Quran. She was even reciting it in Arabic. I could not wait to share my dream the next day with my husband. I really felt better about her not being a Muslim, and Allah is the only One who knows her Final Abode.