My name is Jamie and I converted to Islam a week and half ago.
Before I became a Muslim, I was not a very conservative person, I was not a very good person.
I modeled for about five years, and during that time I did a lot of drugs. And I thought oh, I can do math, and I won’t get addicted because I’m just using it as a weight loss helper. I will just use it every once and a while to just keep myself from eating too much.
Ah right! I thought I was strong enough to not get addicted to a drug that absolutely addicts basically everyone who uses it.
So I started doing math, and I would probably give it a couple of weeks and then I got really addicted to it, and I did it all day and all night for five years. And it really brought me to a place of complete rock bottom. My husband at that time had been doing it with me, and he started getting violent with me, and I was afraid for my life.
So I decided to quit. I decided that that was not what I wanted for my life, and I told him “I said I’m going to quit.” And he laughed at me and said “Yes, right. You are not going to quit!” and I said “You know what, I’m going to quit” I quit that day completely, never again looked back. I didn’t have any time for rehab, no outside help nor support system. I had my husband laughing at me and trying to get me to do it again.
After that I had my little boy. My whole focus on life kind of changed. I had this wonderful little boy who needed a good mother and I loved him so much, I wanted to change everything that I focused on for him.
Back in the day, I could do anything I wanted. I was very involved in basically the Hollywood scene that anybody would want to be involved in. A lot of people are surprised that I gave that up in order to become a Muslim, but the funny thing is when I said my shahadah the desire to do all those things was completely taken away from me. I used to drink, did drugs, and all that stuff. I don’t want to do them anymore. It is amazing to me, I really enjoy and feel peaceful in my heart about being a Muslim.
I was born and raised non-denominational charismatic born-again Christian, and I didn’t find answers for what I was looking for, for 31 years as a Christian, I never really felt God. I tried this as hard as I could. I really did and I never felt Him. The whole thing that started leading me to Islam was that I got married to an Iranian man who was a very devout born-again charismatic non-denominational Christian, and he was mentally and emotionally abusive to me, not to mention that fact that he was poisoning me, just so that he could control me, to keep me at home not being able to leave the house just to know where I would be all the times. So I left him, and that kind started me on a whole new journey to see what was really going on in the world.
Researching Islam and Finding Peace
I researched Islam for a while before I chose to convert. Basically, I wanted to know why people hated Muslims so much because I saw what I saw in the news. I saw oppression and violence and I wanted to know what really existed, and if that was the way that Islam was.
So I started researching it, and the more and more I researched it, the deeper I got into it, I saw the truth in it. I think the main thing that I liked about Islam was the respect for women. There is a large amount of respect for women and the things we do as women. Our lives aren’t easy. We have a lot of things that we have to think and worry about; our families, our husbands, our children and we have to bear children. That’s really a very hard thing to go through.
And you know, a lot of us have to cook, clean, raise children and take care of the house and the husband. It’s a difficult job. And the fact that Islam respects women for that, and they separate us at mosques so that the men are not distracted by us because Islam understands the power that we have behind, I guess you could say, our sexuality. The way we look is really powerful to men, and they are affected by it. Islam respects that. Once I realized that, it grabbed the hold of me, and that’s when I knew I wanted to become a Muslim.
Converting to Islam made me feel different. It made me feel absolutely peaceful. I felt unstable before. I felt like a lot of things in my life were just up and down because they hadn’t been decided on. There was no goal in my mind. There was no reasoning for me being here. I didn’t know why I should be here, and converting to Islam gave me that peace and security and the balance that I needed in my life that made everything make sense to me; that made everything real. And it made everything worth being here for, because I finally have a purpose and I understand what it is.
We don’t always have the opportunity to meet people that we essentially need to meet in order to understand them. So I started going to a mosque in order to really get close to the people and understand them. And the more I got involved in the mosque, the more the women just surrounded me and took me in, and they really showed me the kindness that is Islam.
I never ever in my life would have ever thought that I would become a Muslim. Never ever! My perception of Muslims was so misconceived that I didn’t like them because I believed media and I thought they were bad, and never in a million years would I have thought one day I would be one of them. But now that I’m, I’m so proud and happy. I want to wear Hijab because I want people to know that I’m Muslim, even if they hate me, I don’t care. I want to show them that Allah exists in any kind of person, not just Middle Easterners.
I played drums before I was Muslim, and just because I became a Muslim doesn’t mean I have to stop doing the things that I enjoy. I do a lot of sports; snowboarding, water skiing and I still can be a good Muslim and still wear Hijab.
My dad never really knew about my past with the drugs and playboy modeling and all that stuff. He and I didn’t speak for 8 years. He kicked me out of the house when I was 17 years old and I lived under a freeway overpass for a week. I was homeless. And all I had with me was what I could fit in my back bag and my guitar case.
So we didn’t speak for 8 years after that and he didn’t understand I wouldn’t have understood is that these are experiences I needed to have on my own. I needed to have the pain on my own, and I needed to have the recovery on my own.
The only reason why I started speaking to him again was because I got pregnant with my son, and I figured that my son needed a grandfather. When I did come back and started speaking to him again, we had a beautiful conversation together and we discussed what had happened before and we both apologized to each other and promised we will never do it again. So, … this is my daddy. And he is my best friend in the whole wide world. And it’s something I never thought it was going to happen. But now that it has, I love him so much.
The first time my dad learned about my conversion, I was on my way home from Sacramento. I had just gone to a mosque up there and converted. I was driving home and I was too afraid to call him because I knew he was going to be really mad. So I texted him on the phone and I said “Dad, could you please try to start having an open mind about Muslims? Can you please just stop being so judgmental and believing all you see about Muslims on the news?” He texted me back and said “Why?” So I said “Well, dad, I’m Muslim!”
My father wasn’t too pleased when he found out that I converted to Islam. He was quite unhappy to the point where I feared that I was going to have to leave. We live in the same home. And we work at the same job, and I haven’t gone back to the job since, but living at home has been very tense…
Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.