Salaam Alaikum all! I'm so glad to have found a community of Brothers and Sisters! I hope to get to know you all soon I thought some people might like to read my revert story, it is quite long so apologies! ------------------------------------------------ I suppose I should begin at the start. I had a loving upbringing which had its traumatic side at times, but generally happy nonetheless. My sister who is two years older than me was born with retinoblastoma, essentially cancer in her left eye. For which she had to receive radiotherapy and sadly the eventual removal of her eye to stop the cancer from spreading. This was all happening while my Mother was pregnant with me, and from a baby right up to around three years of age I was subjected to tests to check I did not have the condition. Thank Allah I did not but a lot of the strongest memories from this time for me are of dark rooms and nurses forcing needles into me to give me anaesthesia. Still apart from those times I had a very happy upbringing in a very loving environment, I was always naturally shy however and did not cope too well with extreme pressure. I had a fairly normal school life which included the usual stints of bullying which while not as bad as what I saw happening to other kids, did leave me more shy and insular. My nerves were getting quite bad around fifteen and sixteen and the school environment never felt safe so I was even more on edge pretty much 24/7 during those years. Still, I coped as best I could and went on to start A level studies. I fell ill with Glandular fever just before the first year of A levels so missed the first term and struggled to catch up, I did ok during exams but that pressure which I had always struggled with only increased with teachers and peers putting a lot of importance on essentially insignificant things. Again I was just about coping and finished that first year of A level study. The second year started off fine but with more pressure, this time learning to drive and more importantly I had developed an extremely close friendship with a girl. We supported each other through the year and became closer as a result, I guess we were each other's rock during this time. I was also starting to go out socially at night and to be honest, I hated it! But it was something I felt I had to do because others were doing it, also my friend would go so I felt extra pressure to go along to look after her. It was about this time that I realised that I had started to fall for my friend, but we were so close by that point I felt unable to risk the friendship so I never acted on it. We talked on the phone for around four hours a night, every night. I couldn't face loosing my support and best friend. Looking back, this was when the cracks really started to show. At Christmas during that final year I started feeling like I had to look out for her more and more, to make sure other boys would not take advantage of her or harm her. During a New Years party we attended I saw the usual drunken boys leering and bothering her but she was also drunk and for some reason that night wouldn't talk to me, nothing had happened to cause her to do this so I just felt put out and hurt, I guess this shows how weak I must have been at the time because when midnight struck she wouldn't even embrace me. I just didn't cope. I carried on like everything was fine and went home as usual but I felt like I had lost my only true friend. Even worse the following day I found out that one of my friends who knew how close we were had been trying to woo her and they had decided to give being in a relationship a go. To my mind at that time I felt broken, I had lost my one best friend and another friend who had previously promised to look after both of us. I see things in a different light now, and realise that I was not well but at the time I just fell apart. I could not go to school and in my mind be laughed at by everyone and at the same time have no one to support me. I lost my group of friends who dropped me in favour of the new couple and more importantly I had still lost best friend; the one thing I had fought for so long against my feelings to make not happen. I realise now I had suffered a breakdown, the actions over Christmas had just been the straw that broke the camel's back. I physically was unable to leave the house, I just felt like the only safe place was my home, like if I left I would see them together on the street somehow, no matter how unlikely that was. I eventually went to the doctors with my Mother and started to get a little help and after a few months I was starting to feel better even though I was not well enough to return to school. By my eighteenth birthday (At the end of that school year.) my parents decided to take me to Rhodes with them to celebrate the milestone. I was coping well. I had not spoken to my friend since falling ill as I felt I could not cope with talking to her while I was in such a fragile state of mind. The night before we were due to fly I got a happy birthday text from my friend and it brought back all of those memories of hurt and rejection and betrayal. Still the next day we went to the airport to set off for the holiday, the whole time in the airport I felt fine but the second I sat down on the plane I started to panic, I suppose being in an enclosed space. Then the pilot came on and said the plane needed refuelling so we would have to wait while this was done. For some reason this flicked a switch for me and I really started to panic and needed to get off the plane. We were still not moving and connected to the ramp but we were not allowed to leave the plane. I don't remember too much apart from just going into myself and being frozen in fear during that whole flight. It was just pure fear. Eventually we arrived in Rhodes and we got to our hotel but I was a wreck, I knew I wasn't able to get back on a plane to get home, I was just a mess. So we spent the next week going to different hospitals trying to arrange for some way to get back home. Eventually ending up visiting a mental hospital on the island and trying to convince the doctors there that I could not cope with flying back home. Luckily we were able to arrange for a private doctor to sedate me and fly back home with us. We arrived back home safely but I was totally broken, I felt like an empty shell. We saw local doctors here in the UK and got medication to calm me down and let me relax at home but I was still in pieces. I contacted my friend who had sent me the text that night before leaving for Rhodes and said that I needed to break off all contact with her, I was still in love with her and just needed time to get better and get over her. That was pretty much when my journey began. While I was unable to leave the house I started exploring everything about life that I could, I just needed some answers. I started reading books on near death experiences and people who had died, experienced the afterlife and then had been sent back. From there I felt like I was pushed from one subject to another; yoga, energy systems like reiki, pressure points and the like. I carried on learning as much as I could, always being constantly bounced from one subject to the next finding little answers and building up a picture of what I could find some belief in. Eventually after about seven years I had settled on a kind of agnostic spiritualism; I knew there was a God but I hadn't found any one system or religion which felt right. I had never real faith growing up and had only been given the 'Christianity lite' that school in the UK gives you. I've always loved History with a passion so while some parts of Christianity felt true, I knew that the Bible had been changed and edited over time by people with ulterior motives. But now I felt happy, I had found common themes and answers in all of the subjects I had learnt and researched and created my own belief system out of what was common across them all. Then a year ago I was contacted out of the blue by my best friend. She had previously tried to contact me before a few years previously but I still had not felt strong enough to talk to her and I was still in love with her. This time however I felt strong enough so we began to talk. We talked just like we had as teenagers, for hours and hours on end. She was now in her final year of medical school and was nearly a qualified doctor. We made our peace. We both knew we had not been coping with the pressures of that time in the past and we just came to be like we had been before. It was nearing her birthday around five months after she had contacted me and I had bought her a book which had helped me when I was feeling down a few years ago. 'What Dreams May Come' by Richard Matheson. I was due to go away to Northumberland for a week with my parents for a break so decided to just post the book when I got back. The break away went fine, I had strangely had my first big panic attack since that holiday in Rhodes the night before we left, but I had coped and we left and had a great holiday. Getting back into the house I turned my computer on and found messages waiting for me on facebook. It turned out that my friend had dropped dead a day before we went on holiday. I eventually found out that during the past few years she had not been coping well and had developed an eating disorder, spent time in intensive care and had luckily recovered. She had not however told me this, even though we had talked for hours on end on the phone during our new friendship. She had said she was suffering with her nerves but nothing else. Even though she had recovered, she had unknowingly permanently damaged her internal organs and so eventually her body had just given up. I just felt destroyed again. I can't describe what I felt like inside, but I didn't cope. I grieved for her every day, I missed my sister's wedding later that year because my nerves were so bad I couldn't leave the house and I started having huge panic attacks where I would collapse and black out. This continued for six months or so and the grief got worse every day instead of better. I had been given new tablets to help with the panic attacks but the grief was tearing me apart, worse than any other feelings over a death before, even when very close family members had passed away. I eventually did something I had never done seriously before and prayed for help, anything just to let me have some life again. About a week later I stumbled onto a documentary on youtube called 'The Arrivals' and even though it was nearly eight hours long, I sat and watched it in two sittings. By the end of it I felt like my heart had been replaced with a new one. I still felt grief as strong as before but I felt fresh and had a yearning for knowledge that I had never felt before. The documentary was based around Islam and I just knew I had to research the subjects it had brought up. I bought an English version of the Quran and the second I started reading the first sura, I physically felt in love. Not happy but that feeling in your chest when you are in love with someone and see them at the end of the day. I had never felt anything like it before in my life apart from when I had been in love with my friend all those years ago. I read and read and I knew before I was even half way through that I had come to the end of my journey for finding the answers in life. The Arrivals documentary had somehow started to answer nearly all of the questions that nothing previously had been able to do. The Quran finished those answers and felt like my very own personal book of answers, any question I had it answered! I also had stumbled onto the online talks and lectures by Imran Nazar Hosein. His wise, clear and often fun talks opened up the world of Islam to me. A few weeks later I finished reading the Quran and each time I had opened that noble book I felt that same huge feeling of love and contentment. I decided I felt ready to start to pray and clumsily bowed on my knees towards Mecca. The second my forehead hit the floor I felt that same love and contentment that I had received when reading the Quran. I started smiling and just knew that I had found myself and the right path in life. I jokingly said in my head to Allah I would have to now start imagining him with a beard and turban, at that instant I felt, not heard, but felt the happiest laughter go through my body. I could do nothing else but start to laugh back! I must have looked like a complete loon but I felt a personal connection that day and it has continued to this day each time I pray. Sometimes I feel a comforting pressure on my shoulder but there is always the physical warmth in my chest of being in the presence of a loving and caring Allah. I never thought these type of connections could exist, to have actual physical feelings happen to me from a higher power. That was exciting and mind blowing enough, but to know and feel that this power loved me and was guiding and protecting me, words can't describe that feeling. I was however still unable to leave the house or have visitors, so eventually I decided to take the shahada by myself and immediately I felt a feeling of acceptable wash over me and I knew that it had been accepted. I also felt the urge to help people with eating disorders. I had always felt that maybe I should do something like that because of what had happened to my friend but this time it was a push, a real need. So I joined a forum which was for supporting people fighting eating disorders and from day one, I felt the grief in my heart start to leave me. Within a few months the grief had completely gone. I realised that my friends death had not been a punishment or a sad event but the complete opposite. Allah had brought her back into my life right at the end of hers so we could make our peace, one last gift from her. Now a little over seven months after taking the shahada I am praying five to seven times a day, eating correctly according to Islam and reading through the Quran a second time and both of these still fill me with huge feelings of love and contentment. I still have that loving connection each time I pray and every day I am thankful to Allah for bringing me back to him. So that is my story, so far! I am still not well enough to visit a mosque or take part in my local Muslim community and that saddens me but I know that if and when I am ready, Allah will guide me to those things. The only part of my life now which fills me with sadness is not having someone to share my Islam with. I pray that one day Allah will see fit to find me a kind and loving Muslim wife who I can learn the more traditional parts of Islam from (I can almost see the smiles and hear the happy laughter from Allah at my clumsy praying!) and who will love me as much as I love her. One day I would love to walk to Mecca on pilgrimage from the UK with her, a long but beautiful walk to complete Hajj. For now I am just happy to live my life under the love and protection of Allah.