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August 12, 2009
Hello NPR, Thank you for this opportunity. I was born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father in Concord Massachusetts in 1946. My mother's immigrant Russian parents disowned her when she married my father in 1940. As a result of this heartache, my parents moved to Southern CA, (the Mohave desert) where several of my father's brothers and their families had relocated from Mass. I was barely 5 yrs. of age when they moved. My mother was determined to let me pick my faith as she did not want me to relive her experience. She exposed me to all of the Christian faiths. She insisted that I attend the Seven Day Adventist School for four years to develop a strong knowledge of the bible. On Sundays, I attended the local community church where my aunt played the piano. My father's family in CA were from the "born again" Christian faith. There were no synagogues in the desert in those days, and my mother told me very little about her faith, as Jewishness in the 1950's was kept a secret in this heavily Christian community. Jews and Blacks were not allowed to join the Community Swimming Pool. She told me not to tell people that she was Jewish, although my father's family knew, but kept it hushed up. I could never understand this as a child. Children are so pure of heart. At any rate, I became a mainstream Christian (so to speak) but with little passion for God, Jesus, or religion. I hated being intimidated by my Christian relatives who would say, "the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ, so you need to accept him as your Lord and Savior." I felt there was a creator, but I could not find him the way everyone else had. I felt very guilty inside. I thought that perhaps I was a child of Satan, a pure sinner. I felt I was headed for hell throughout my teens and first marriage to an Episcopalian. That religion left me cold, as I saw no real passion other than the Sunday worship. Other times we just enjoyed each other's company, and it seemed more about social status than saving ones soul. Then I found Islam through a man who was caring for my father when he became ill. He did not try to convert me. I just kept asking questions and found what I was looking for, not the "pat" answers of just "have faith" that I kept getting when I asked questions of my pastors and relatives. I found proof in the Qur'an, (the word of God that has never been changed) through the miracles that were cited. Now I had proof that there was a God. This unchanged book sent by God through Gabriel to Mohammed cited things they could not have known 1400 years ago. My hard heart started to soften and open to this information; I wanted to stand in the light of this book and now the real God whom I had been searching for. These proofs, that I had been missing in the bible, opened my mind to the fact that God really existed. For instance, God describes the exact look of the forming embryo in the womb and that it is three layers deep in the belly of the female; That the mountains are as deep as they are tall to form the balancing pins of this spinning earth; that there are three different waters that divide as the river meets the sea with different fish in each; that the world is a sphere and not flat, and much more. None of this could they have known 1400 years ago, as there was no microscope to see the minute embryo, and only in the 19th and 20th centuries did we have the science and technology to confirm the hundreds of scientific statements made in the Qur'an. God says that on the day of judgement he will bring back even the tips of our fingers. Back then it meant nothing. What does it mean now? We now know that we each have an identity through our finger prints. These things were all I needed to follow this book and to realize this is the straight path. Not the crooked path that I had been on. I love wearing my hijab (head covering) and my jelbab (long dress) to let folks know who I am. I am a Muslim woman who guards her body with modesty for her husband, and places God first in her life. Thank you NPR for letting me share this beautiful religion that comes with an instruction book to take us to the promised land.
Paula Safiyah Blake, Columbia, Maryland 410-381-2420 443-472-6464