From Heinz 57 to Islam
Zawaj.com Editor’s comment: I want to state clearly that I don’t approve of the way sister Mary went about things here. She and Ahmed carried on a secret affair and were unfaithful to their spouses (in spirit, if not in deed). I understand that she was abused by her first husband, and I’m happy that things worked out for her, Alhamdulillah – if indeed they have worked out. But it could easily have been disastrous. She could have ended up in a secret relationship, not given her full rights, and with a new husband she could not trust. With that said, here’s the story:
By Mary Farrag
Reprinted from ReadingIslam.com
Before reverting to Islam I was, well, let’s say Heinz 57 (Editor’s note: for those of you not familar with American colloquialisms, Heinz 57 is a sauce with a lot of different ingredients – in other words, a mix).
I was baptized Catholic, made my confirmation as a Lutheran, and we attended whatever church was near to our house. Which probably turned out to be a good thing.
I left my family’s house when I was the age of 17. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved into the one bedroom apartment that my boyfriend had. We only lived there for a very short time. Then we moved to a larger apartment.
At this time I really wasn’t going to church anymore because I was too busy working for God. My boyfriend wasn’t religious at all. Actually he was agnostic. Always, he needed things proven to him.
Well, eventually we married but never had any children. We stayed together a total of 18 years.
I didn’t know anything about Islam at all until my current husband wanted to start chatting with me. We were both using a program called Freetel. I don’t think it is even available anymore.
I was used to chatting with many people but never chatted with an Arab. One night I saw on the top of the screen: Ahmed is Calling. I had never even heard of this name before, so I was reluctant to accept the chat.
After a few times of him trying to call me, I accepted. We started off with the usual chat. Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have any children? Then we continued from there.
We were both very unhappy in our marriages. So we became friends. After six months of chatting everyday, I decided that I needed to know this man that I was now in love with. So I came to Egypt and stayed for 23 days.
It was confirmed that yes, we were actually in love. Neither one of us could imagine this was true. We toured most places in Cairo and some parts of Alexandria. At this time, I still didn’t know very much about Islam.
So after the 23 days, I returned to USA. My visit to Cairo confirmed what I needed to do. I needed to get a divorce from my current American husband.
He was very bad to me. He physically and emotionally abused me. During the next six months I was away from Ahmed and fell into a very deep depression.
Learning About Islam
Also during that time, Ahmed, now my husband, started to tell me about Islam. I was interested in anything he had to say.
I was working for low income public housing at the time of all of this. One day, one of my tenants came into the office to pay her monthly rent. Her name is Aminah.
She said to me “Miss Mary, you look different, something has changed in you.”
I told her about my trip and how I was in love with an Egyptian man who was a Muslim. She said that it was so cool. She said that her mom also is a Muslim and she asked me if I would like to meet her mom.
So I agreed and I met Rashida and we instantly got along. She also was a revert, but had reverted 25 years ago. So we started to meet more often, and she also started to teach me about Islam. So between Ahmed and Rashida, I became very interested in Islam.
I started to also study on my own. I started to go to meet Rashida; she had a shop that sells incense, oils and Islamic clothing. So now I was on my way with Islam.
One day I asked my husband-to-be, Ahmed, if he was going to make me become Muslim? On my trip here to Cairo, we got engaged, even though he was still married. So, he said “Mary, look I love you, but I can not make you become Muslim”.
He said, “That is between you and Allah.”
This is exactly what I needed to hear. So, Rashida started to take me to many places where Muslim sisters were. I loved them. They were so nice and peaceful and loving.
So 3 days before I was to move to Egypt to marry Ahmed, which was 6 more months after getting engaged to him, I called Rashida and told her that I wanted to become Muslim.
She told me to come to her and bring a hijab. So off I was to Rashida’s house. We stood outside on her balcony and she started to say “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllah”. I said, “Wait, please.”
She said, “Ahh, you have changed your mind.”
I said, “No, no, wait.” I went into my purse and took out my cell phone and called Ahmed in Cairo .
I said, “Ahmed, I want you to hear something.”
He said, “What is that?”
I said, “Here, listen.”
So Rashida said, “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllahwa Ash hado anna Mohammadan Rasollah,” and I repeated after her word for word.
I started to cry and heard Ahmed crying on the mobile and looked at Rashida and she was crying, Masha’Allah. So then I left Rashida and went home, took my ghusl (special shower). I am sure I did it wrong but Allah knew my niyyah (intention).
So then three days after, I came off the plane. I didn’t tell Ahmed that I wore the hijab.
I walked past him just a little to see if he would know me.
He didn’t, so I walk back and said, “Excuse me, are you waiting for someone?”
He looked at me and just kept saying, “SubhanAllah”, maybe four or five times. I thought he was going to have a coma. I told his friends to watch him until I came past the people to make sure he wouldn’t fall.
Then we were off to get married.
So that is basically my story of coming to Islam. It was so hard for me in the beginning, but now I am so happy and thankful to Allah for guiding me to the straight path.