SHAFAQNA – An Exclusive Interview with Brittany Murray, New Muslim from USA by Bentolhoda Mofakhami
Rahyafte NGO (related to Edoardo Agnelli Islamic Association) appreciates you for accepting the interview. For the first question, please give us a biography of yourself.
My name is Brittany Murray. I am 27 years old and live in Houston, Texas USA. I have my bachelors degree in dental hygiene but I have gone back to school to study the Japanese language. I am married to my high school sweetheart but we do not have any children yet. My favorite hobbies are reading, learning languages, swimming, anime, and K-dramas.
What was your religion before converting to Islam?
I went to a Christian church, however, I never believed in the same things as they did and I was never baptized. I always felt like there was a greater truth out there somewhere when it came to religion and that I just had to find it.
How did you get familiar with Islam?
Honestly, I had never even heard of Islam until I was around 21 years old. I am from a very small town in Kentucky and had never met a person whose religion wasn’t Christianity. I stumbled upon Islam on the internet one day when I was browsing through a list of religions. I went to church often but had never been baptized. I knew since I was a little girl that I didn’t believe that Jesus was God or our savior but there simply was no other religious choices where I grew up. So I decided that I would search the internet for all world religions that believe in the one true God but did not believe Jesus WAS God. My search led me to Judaism, Jehovah’s Witness, and Islam.
What drove you to convert to Islam?
I was immediately attracted to Islam and everything that it stood for. However, my family was extremely Islamophobic and I worried that converting to Islam would alienate me from them. Because of this, I decided to pursue a conversion to Judaism. I spent two years in the conversion process learning all I could. Right before my conversion, however, I had to admit to myself that my heart was truly in Islam so I abandoned Judaism and began my serious research into Islam. When I read the Quran, I had a feeling of being home. I just knew that this religion was right for me and I couldn’t wait to learn everything about it. I took about a year to learn about Islam before taking my Shahada at the masjid during a speech sheikh Yusuf Estes was giving. I am glad for my time learning about Judaism though and I don’t see it as a waste. I am happy to know more about my brothers and sisters of the book.
What specifically attracted you to this religion?
The Quran is the major reason I was attracted to Islam. The messages it conveys are so beautiful and the way of life it describes is so perfect. I also fell in love with Prophet Muhammad (SAW). I fell in love with his character and how he treated his followers and his wives. He is the perfect example of how we should live.
Is your husband Muslim too?
Unfortunately no. We have been together for 10 years and I only converted last year. He is so supportive of my Islam though and I’m thinking that he will come to Islam soon InshaAllah.
What was your family’s reaction after you became a Muslim? Did you have any problem with people who knew you?
I told my family about my conversion a week after I said my shahada. I was very afraid of what their reaction would be, but I also wanted to practice my religion without hiding. My parents are divorced so I had to tell each one of them separately as well as both pairs of my grandparents. My mother wasn’t happy but she reacted the best. She decided that it would be best if we just don’t bring up religion in our relationship. It was my dad who took the news the worst. He had a really hard time with my conversion and said some very hurtful things to me. Thankfully we have been able to work through it now. My grandparents thought that I had been brainwashed and that I had joined a terrorist organization. Shortly after converting I moved halfway across the country in an effort to practice my religion away from my family and to be able to be open and free about it. It was one of the best things I could have done for my burgeoning faith.
How do you see the spread of Islam in your country?
I feel that Islam is spreading quickly in America and that we have many new converts, especially women. However, the political and social climate in the United States towards Muslims right now is awful. Islamophobia is at all time high and hate crimes and mosques burning happen often. It is a scary time to be a Muslim in America and you never know if someone is going to assault you on the street just for wearing your hijab. There is a lot of hate towards Muslims here. I want to know the truth of Muslim countries because in America we are so brainwashed to think that they are dangerous places and it is hard to be a Muslim in this country.
What is the most beautiful ayat of the Quran in your opinion and why?
I think this ayah, “And find you lost and guide?” (Holy Quran, 93:7) is the most beautiful. Because I am a convert, this ayah really speaks to me. I love the thought that Allah took me from not knowing anything about Islam and then bringing me into the fold of the best religion.
What’s your opinion of hijab? Did wearing hijab have any effect on your private life? Do you think it is only dedicated to women?
I love hijab! Hijab makes a woman even more beautiful than she already is but also while maintaining her modesty. You can really play with style and color and express yourself. Hijab is not only for women. Men must also dress in a modest fashion and lower their gazes. It is important that both sexes practice hijab. Wearing the hijab has not changed anything for me. My parents won’t allow me to wear it in front of them but I don’t see them often since we do not live close.
What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
The first time I prayed was right after I took my Shahada. I was confused and didn’t know what I was doing but I just followed everyone else. The feeling was amazing though. Everything felt quiet and peaceful and like everything was right with the world. I am still a new convert and have not worked up to praying 5 times a day yet although I am giving it my best. It is very hard getting used to praying 5 times a day. When I am out of the house it is almost impossible to find a place to pray or to make wudu. I worry that someone will harass me as I pray but InshaAllah I will find the courage soon to begin praying outside of my home.
Thank you very much for your attention. May Allah bless you and keep you strong and firm on this true path.