It was about 4 a.m. after another heavy night of drinking. I remember feeling heavy in my body, mind and soul and looking for some semblance of peace. In my dimly lit kitchen, I saw the small pile of English Translations of Qurans that my friend kindly lent me, picked one up and opened it to a random page. I read the first few lines of “The Bee” and started crying.
For a brief moment, I let myself have a heart-to-heart with God and in that same moment, I finally felt tranquility and comfort through a religious context, something I personally never experienced through the Catholic Church.
I thought I’d be the last person to ever have faith in any religion. Through Islam, I have discovered a love and connection with God that still surprises me.
This year is my third consecutive year of observing and participating in Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and heightened spiritual reflection and worship. While my first time fasting had its challenges, at the end of the month, I felt a spiritual enlightenment that I did not feel during Lent.
Going long hours without food, drink (yes, water, too), cursing, negative talk, etc. made me realize how much of our time is spent on these actions alone. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and discipline once Ramadan is over.
Growing up Catholic, the hours spent memorizing scripture and prayers for Catechism felt robotic and empty. To me, it was all phony.
Maybe it was my own personal experience and feeling like my prayers were never acknowledged. Maybe it had to do with learning about how many Catholic priests have abused children, continue to do so and rarely face any consequences. Maybe it had to do with people telling me I would go to hell for being a lesbian, unless I gave myself up to be “saved.”
Why would I want to believe in a God that doesn’t accept me as is? Sometimes I wonder if I’d be accepted into any religion because of my sexuality.
The Pew Research Center found that more people are converting to Islam in the United States, with the percentage of Muslims expected to double by 2050. Out of the estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the U.S., Latinx folks make up about 8 percent.
Despite common misconceptions about Islam fueled by U.S. media and islamophobia, more people seem to be connecting with Islam.
In the 2017 report, “Latino Muslims in the United States” from the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, a survey of 560 Latinx converts reported that about 94 percent of Latinx Muslims desired a more direct and personal experience of God.
I was able to find that personal connection with God through Islam. My mind and spirit have felt lighter and more at peace since the first night I opened the Quran and read. Those verses from “The Bee” were grounding, humbling and assured me that everything was going to be okay.
This is my own personal journey with religion, as well as my own opinions on Cathlolicism and Islam.