My journey : From Christianity to Islam, from US to India and from a truck driver to a school teacher

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Doretha Crecelius (Maryam Taiba)

Born and brought up in Kokomo ( Indiana) US,  Doretha Crecelius shares her journey with muslimmirror.com. Her journey from Christianity to Islam, from US to India and from a truck driver to a school teacher .The 58 years old Maryam Taiba teaches English at Shepard’s Path International School in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi. Although facing some difficulties she never regrets her decision to convert to Islam or to migrate to India.

First, A little about me…I am an only child, my parents divorced when I was very young, so it was just my mother and I, as I had no brothers or sisters. I have 2 children, son, 31 and daughter, 33. They both have homes and jobs of their own.  I am divorced and I was raised as Christian, and naturally of course, I raised my kids as Christian.

When my kids grew up and moved out on their own, (Unfortunately, in the Western culture, the families do not have the bond as other cultures have. When the kids turn 18, they are ready to leave home and live on their own, or even the parents want them out of the home.)

I started driving a truck. I drove all over the different states. I was able to come home on the weekends generally for about a day and a half. Since my kids were gone from home, and I was not home much, I stayed with some friends. I helped out with rent for my room and board during the weekends.

It was around September of 2010 that I was able to have the money to buy a laptop. I had always wanted one for a long time. I had it set up to where I could connect it to my mobile phone and get on the internet no matter where I was – at home, or in the truck. In driving, you could only drive so many hours and then you had to park it and could not drive until 10 hours later. So, I spent some of the time on the internet.

I set up a Facebook account with the help of a friend when I was at home as I had no idea how to set it up, and not too much knowledge even of computers. I had about 10 friends that I had as friends on Facebook. One of my friends had a friend from India. I requested friendship with him. (I had stayed with a family from India for several months when I was in my early 20’s, and really like the Indian people, culture, and of course, the food!)

He accepted my friend request. He was Hindu, but was really nice to me. We became good friends and chatted on Facebook every day. We talked about India, culture, politics…just a little of everything. After a while, some of his Facebook friends also wanted to be friends with me, so, I accepted them as friends….then, some of their friends wanted to be friends.

One day, I accepted friendship request from a man, and when he chatted with me, there was something different about him. The way he spoke, or I should say texted me…..was different. He was very polite, respectful, and just had a totally different manner. So, I looked at his profile, and I saw that he was Muslim. Now, I had never heard of Islam, or of Muslims before. I also then, made friends with another man from India that also was Muslim, and he taught me a lot also.

All I ever known about Islam was that I had heard there was a group of people in some foreign country that prayed so many times a day and they would stop anywhere to pray. I didn’t know that this person was “one of these people”. When I had seen “Islam” and “Muslim” I actually thought that “Islam” was a country, and that “Muslim” was a nationality of people.

I was really curious, so, just to learn something new, I asked him if I could ask questions about his religion, and that all my other friends were Hindu, and this was different. He said, “Sure, please feel free to ask anything you want and I will answer your questions to the best of my ability.”

So, my very first question was, “How many Gods do you worship”? Then he explained a little to me, and I thought…this is interesting. I told him that I just wanted to learn something new, and that I only have a limited time each day to chat so would ask more the next day. He said he would send me some links that would explain things to me. So I read the links he sent.

Now, as I read these and asked more questions….I started feeling something I hadn’t ever felt before. It was like something was gently pulling me to learn more, to ask more questions, I was beginning to feel that Islam might be what I had been missing all my life. The best way that I can describe it is when you put a puzzle together and there is one piece that is missing to complete the puzzle. This was the way I was feeling about Islam. Islam was that one piece that I was missing…the piece that completed my life.

I had gone to church all my life, even taught a Sunday school class, but still, there was just too many unanswered questions that did not make sense to me. Things like, why would a God have to die? Why would a God get hungry and need to eat, why would a God be thirsty? In the Garden of Gethsemane, why would a God be scared to die? Why would a God have to die?

This is showing that he was scared, and didn’t want to die…so, why would a God be scared? How can a Dod die anyhow? Why would a God, hanging on a cross call out to another God, saying My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  Why did he say “father forgive them for they know not what they do”? If he was God, why didn’t he say to them, “I forgive you because you don’t know what you are doing.”

After this, and other questions were all explained, so many things really started making sense then. I was no longer “just curious” Now, I was definitely doing some soul-searching and taking inventory of my life, sorting things out in my mind…to see where I had been heading, and to where I wanted to head. I couldn’t sleep at night for thinking, and I kept feeling the tug on my heart for Islam. Shaytain was hard at work also…trying most of all to tell me that Jesus PBUH was God, and that if I would reject Christianity that I would be rejecting Jesus PBUH and would go to hell for that.

Finally, after I had really come to grip with the fact that this was the right move, and right decision, I told my friend that I wanted to accept Islam, and what did I need to do. He told me I should find a masjid close to my home and go talk to them, because it would be hard for him to help me much at this point over internet and half a globe away from me in India. (Fortunately, there was a masjid about an hour away from where I lived) I looked up the phone number and I sat there in my truck during a break for 15 or 20 minutes trying to get the courage to call the masjid. This would be the first time that I ever spoke to a Muslim before other than just texting.

Finally, after getting the courage, I dialled the number, and immediately a girl answered the phone. She said that she would be happy to meet me at the masjid and answer any questions and help me any way she could. I told her Saturday would be good because I would be home then. Saturday came, I didn’t tell my roommates where I was going…just only that I would be gone a while.

I found the masjid….walked up to the door. I was so scared and nervous, and having no idea what to expect. (My friend told me to wear modest clothes, and wear a scarf, so I did.) I got to the door… and reached to open it…and I almost didn’t have the never to open the door, but I came this far, I wasn’t going to stop now.

As soon as I walked inside…it was so amazing…there was this overwhelming peace seemed to surround me and I felt relaxed, and safe. I found the sister that I had talked to on the phone. She was a very pleasant and kind person. Soon about six more ladies came in. We all sat on the floor and they asked if I had questions.

We sat and talked for maybe two hours, I asked questions and they answered them. Then, they taught me how to preform Wudu. More ladies came and we talked again for several hours. For the Asr, Magrib and Eisha prayers, they had me just to watch them pray, the Imam came by the door that separated the men and woman’s prayer room and we sat down. He asked me the questions of “Was anyone forcing me to accept Islam?” “Was I being paid, or threatened in any way?” I said no, I want to accept Islam on my own free will.

So then, with his help, I recited the shahada. Just as soon as I finished reciting it, the best way I can describe the feeling I had was, is like I had a backpack or book bag full of heavy bricks that I had been carrying on my back all my life, and then as soon as I recited the shahada…it was like the straps of the backpack was cut into, and the bricks, all fell to the floor. I felt as though I was floating on air. I felt peace inside like I had never felt before.

We talked some more and then it was 11pm before I knew it. It was time for the hour’s drive home. It was 12 December…middle of winter, and as I went to my car, it was very cold outside, and was snowing hard, and roads were bad and it was in the country. No help in sight if I needed. It took an extra-long time to get home, roads were covered in snow and ice and very slick, and you couldn’t tell what was road and what wasn’t, but I felt safe and not scared, and as I drove home, I breathed my first prayer to Allah thanking Him for having mercy on me, and also for His protection going home.

I got home safe and my roommates were still up. All they knew was that I was going to visit some people in the next city. They asked, “Did you have a good time today?” I smiled and said, “Oh yes, I had best time of my life!”

I knew that my roommates, friends, and my kids would not understand, so I decided that I was not going to say anything for a while.

The next day I started reading the Quran and trying little by little to understand it…with the help of my two friends in India, who was extremely happy. I sat in my room, thinking about the night before, and thinking of what changes I needed to make in my life. The first thing that came to me was I needed to change my dress style.

Living in the west, and trying to hold a job, I decided at least I needed to wear loose-fitting clothes and long sleeves. Plus, it is next to impossible to find real Islamic clothes, at least where I lived. So, I started cleaning out the closet that I had my cloths in and I took all clothes that were tight fitting or short sleeves, and threw them in the dustbin. After I did that, I felt good and that I had done the right thing. My closet was so empty after that. ( I went later and bought more clothes that were almost too big for me so that they fit very loose on me.)

My roommates weren’t sure what was going on, they noticed a change in me, but they didn’t say anything. They just gave me strange looks. I had to go to work the next day on the truck. I took few clothes, those were decent to wear with me. A couple days later, as I was driving down the road in the truck I was listening to music. I loved music…I had to have music going, whether at home, in the truck, or my car, sleeping, or anywhere. It had to be blasting in my ears 24 hours a day. I reached over and a CD in and started listening to it.

Then, it was almost like Allah had spoken to me…I thought, how can I glorify Allah by listening to this music, and the beat of it, the lyrics, etc. What good can it possibly be doing? I pulled the cd back out…looked at it for a second, then I threw it out the window. I reached over and got all my CDs…maybe 40 or more of them, and started throwing them out the window. I decided right then, no more music. I never knew at the time music was haraam in Islam, but Allah showed me in His way, ever so gently. I didn’t have anyone to tell me I shouldn’t listen to it, or that it was haraam.

The next week, when I reached back home for the weekend, my roommates had figured out, thanks to Facebook, and new Islamic friends posting on my wall, that I had accepted Islam. My notes I had written down that were Islamic they would hide or throw away. They told my friends, and soon my friends in around town either unfriended me, or when they came over to visit my roommates they would laugh and make fun of me. They said racist remarks, and the typical things that Muslims are accused of or called.

I was not wearing hijab at the time, I knew I should be, but with driving the truck all over the country, some places would not be safe to, Muslim truck drivers have been shot just because they were Muslim, or from the Middle East.

I told Allah that if I could get a different job, and move closer to the masjid, that I would wear hijab.

Shortly afterwards, I ended up losing my job driving the truck, and I was without a job. My roommates gave me so much trouble that I just packed things up and went that night to the city in a shopping mall parking lot close to the masjid and spent the day and that night in the car. I went to Friday prayer at the masjid next day. I was not going to tell anyone of my problem. But Allah had other plans. I went in and they asked how I was, I said good, but one lady looked at me and said, No, something is wrong.I said well, my roommates giving me problems so I shifted out of the house.

Long story short, they pinned me down and found out I was staying in the car. They put me up in a hotel for a week and during that time; I found a place to stay and a job in that town. Allah had given me a different job, and a place close to the masjid. So, I kept my promise to Him and started wearing hijab. It felt very awkward at first, I felt as everybody was staring at me, well, actually, they were, but Allah gave me courage to wear it.

The new job I had working at an old age home lasted about four months. Too many people didn’t like me, or refused to work with me. My boss decided she didn’t like me either. It went on like this for close to a year. I had about five different jobs in one year, and they would find a reason to get rid of me. One lady in particular didn’t like me. She said, “I was in the US military and I fought against people like you.”  I soon lost that job also. Then, I got a job at a factory.

My kids also found out I had reverted to Islam. My son just thought I was crazy and I tried to explain to him, he said, “Whatever, its your life.” My daughter was more upset. She said it was the Muslim group just like you are in that bombed the World Trade Centre. They are all terrorists. You are not my mother any more, I don’t even know you.”

It got to where I was really discouraged, but, not about to give up. By now, I had made many Muslim friends in India. They gave me a lot of support and encouragement. I really don’t know what I would have done without them. The local masjid was good, but later as I learned more of Islam, I realized that there was a lot of things that I didn’t agree with that I had read in the Quran, like I was told, “This is the west, its ok to eat meat that is not halaal because it can’t hardly be found around here”, or, “Don’t wear hijab to job interviews or you won’t get hired.”

I soon relied more and more on my brothers and sisters in India for help. I was starting to really get discouraged, but still determined not to give up.
One night, I prayed to Allah to help me, I didn’t know how, but I knew needed His help. I wished I could escape it all…go to another country, and India was way in back of my mind when I prayed.

The next day, a miracle happened; Allah answered my cry for help. A brother from India texted me, and said, “Sis, Why don’t you come to India and learn more of Islam. You are my sister and are family, come and stay with my family”. I said that I would pray about it, and that also, it would take several months because it would be expensive. I would have to get passport, visa, round trip ticket, and enough money to live on for 6 months. So I worked hard and worked a lot of extra hours and saved all I could.

I made plans to leave 1st of March. I prayed all the while for His will. I sent off for my passport first, they said it would take about 6 to 8 weeks to get it. I prayed that if it was not His will for me to go, to not let passport go thru. The passport came —in 3 weeks.
I took that as first sign that is was Allah’s will.
Then, closer to the time to leave, I sent off for the Indian visa. I was told it would take approximately 2 weeks to get it back in the mail…again, the same prayer, if it was not His will I go, to block the visa from being granted.

Well, I mailed my passport to the Embassy on a Monday…..passport came back to me five days later on Friday with my visa pasted to the passport! I took that as second sign from Allah. During the last few weeks, I had got online and was checking different online travel agencies for the best rate of air fare. The prices kept going up a little by little each day. Then, when the visa came, I had to go to work, I was excited, I could not keep my mind on work. As soon as I got home, I got online to book my ticket…hoping that the fares had not gone up more, as each day I had been watching, the fares were going up and up. I got online and found another surprize, there had been a big drop in the prices. I booked my ticket then immediately. I took that as 3rd sign from Allah, and that one I had not even prayed for Him to show me a sign. Later, just being curious, a few days later I got back online to check the prices, and they had gone back up again.

So, with getting passport and visa in record breaking time, and the drop in airfares just at the time I needed, was Allah’s Hand in assuring me this was right thing to do. It was another two weeks before I left because everything was done so smoothly and quickly. The two weeks seemed like two years! The day finally came. I had got rid of most of my things, and put the rest in my car, and left my car with a friend. My trip was very smooth without problems. I arrived in Delhi and was met by a brother at the airport.It was on a Friday, before Jummah  namaz time.

I spent the first day at a hotel and then at family’s home. I got in my hotel room that first day there, and then for the first time ever…I heard it…..the call of the Azan. I went to the window and listened. I cried like a baby because it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, as there is no azan in US.

I spent a week in Delhi, and then visited around different families in India for the following six months. They all were ones I had met on Facebook that had helped me so much…and it was really nice to get to meet these people. I went to some lectures, studied a lot.. and learned so much.

Then time came that I had to go back to US for 2 months because of my visa expiring.

I got my last job back that I had when I left.I left most of my things in India when I went back to US, because I made up my mind…In sha Allah, I was going to come back to India and stay for good. I actually was praying that Allah would provide me a good husband and one that would teach me of Islam and guide me to jannah.
When I came back, again, Allah answered my prayers.I found a very good husband and couldn’t be happier.

Allah has been good to me, I have learned a lot about Islam, and I still have so much more that I want to learn. The last six years that I have reverted…a lot of times weren’t easy, there was ups and downs, sorrows and sadness, but…thru it all, Allah was there. I would go thru it all again if I had to for Islam.

When I first reverted, I think the hardest thing for me was to accept and realize that Jesus PBUH was not a God, as I had been taught all my life… but he was a prophet. A born Muslim doesn’t even think about that, or can even imagine it. Needless to say, Shaytan put a lot of thoughts and doubts in my mind many times. Sometimes, still does. Then, of course I had no idea who Muhammad PBUH was…so it took a while to read about his life and come to know, love and respect such a great man as he was.

Now, I am learning new things, making more friends, things that I went thru the first year of Islam, is more like just a faded dream. It taught me a lot, made me who and what I am today. And Insha Allah, I will continue to grow and be the best I can, not for me, or the world, but for Allah.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Masha Allah! Such a great story! May Allah strengthen her further in her Iman. Despite being a woman she went thru all these is amazing to know. It’s a blessing for her. She made a Hijra to feel Islam at home. A great step. Enough to enter her Jannah, Insha Allah.

  2. Mashaallah sister really inspiring your journey to islam we have to learn from u ….u r like a real muslimah……allah guide u…

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