In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
I had been on a spiritual quest for a very long time in my life. It started early in my childhood as far back as I can remember. However, to put it down in a figurative way, the last twenty years of my life have been a quest. Complete desperation sent me searching on the long trek. Searching for what – I did not know or even realize! But I was searching…
From the moment I was born I felt something was terribly wrong. I can remember feeling very unhappy and alienated at birth, and just wanting to “get out of there”. I do not wish to imply vanity or conceit, but I can remember being born. I have learned that babies are born with a high intelligence level, and have expert “newborn knowledge”.
From that moment at birth, I felt that “someone” would come at anytime and take me away – take me “back home” – but little did I know where home was. Little did I know what I would go through to get there. It is like the quote, “I have been through hell and back” which I hope you can understand and read into.
Being frightened of the world is quite a disincentive to follow, but I felt that something was wrong with my being there, that this was not where I was supposed to be! Right from birth and into later years of life, I just wanted to leave that environment. Of course since I was just a baby and was not able to speak, all my thoughts were kept in my head and could not be released. Thus, anxiety and sadness built up in my mind.
I grew up in the city of Toronto of an Italian culture, and raised in the Roman Catholic religion. Both the culture and the religion were very strict at all times. We were not allowed to speak or associate with anyone of a different religion, whether it was Christianity, Judaism or otherwise. This was considered sinning, and we were not to commit sins – not purposely and not at all! The other Christian faiths were called Protestants and were considered evil since officially, they broke away from the Vatican which is the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Jewish people were the real bad guys in our eyes, because they had crucified Jesus Christ and He was the Son of God as we were told and taught by our peers.
The son of God was a part of the Deity, also called the Trinity which represented three persons in one God. I found it difficult to understand and accept this concept at any time during my upbringing.
Later in years as I was growing up, I became more introverted. I felt trapped and alienated in this environment with continued anxiety and depression building in me. I was very unhappy with having to live my life here. I remember crying both inwardly and outwardly in my frustration. I felt I did not ‘belong’ here. I hated where I was, and longed desperately to go ‘home’. I was living in a“concrete world.”
I detested having to pray before statues and I hated the idea of going to the weekly confessional for which I had to tell the priest all the sins that I had committed in the past week. This was done in order to be forgiven by him, so that we would be able to receive the Holy Communion every Sunday morning at Mass.
Holy Communion represented the body of Jesus Christ and we had to be in a pure state of mind before we could take communion, which is a thin white host made from bread. This host represented the body of the Son of God. However, we did not drink the wine – it was only for the Priest performing the Mass at the time. Later in life, after spending some time with the various Protestant religions, I did learn that the other Christian faiths drank wine at their ceremonies as well however their wine was made of grape juice and had no alcohol in it.
This bread and wine were a representation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and was meant to remind us that Christ was the Son of God, who had sacrificed his life for us. He had made our escape from the Jews, and created the ‘real’religion of God, which we were to follow and live throughout our lives.
I had never been taught, nor had I ever heard the word Muslim. I never knew that Islam existed. We were led to believe there were only Christians and Jews born into the world by God and that they were rivals of one another in a sense. Our books were all chosen and programmed in advance for our curriculum. We studied only what we were given to read by the school and the church for our learning, and the world history we studied was limited to American and British.
Being of Italian descent, it was an accepted part of our culture to drink wine with all of our meals from early childhood. It was a part of the food and the procedure at meal times, except for breakfast. The wine was made by all the families in the church and shared with others who came to eat with them. We did not drink it at any other time, only with our meals. However, I was not able to acquire a liking for its taste, and would ask for water or ginger ale pop to drink.
It tasted horrible in my young mind and it made me shiver whenever I tried to drink it. I wondered how the others could swallow it. To me, it somehow seemed wrong to be drink wine and thus, I never wanted it. My parents used to laugh at my peculiarities and as a young child, they discovered I had many (more) according to their way of thinking.
I was always looked upon as being ‘odd’ and since I was the only daughter in the family, along with having three brothers, I held a special place in my father’s heart. However, the older I grew, the more ‘odder’ I appeared to be becoming to my family. My father worried about my behavior, and he and my brothers always kept strict supervision over me as I was growing up.
Although I was a very quiet and shy child, I felt open enough to be rebellious to their ways. Naîve and stubborn, I was also a very slow moving person in my actions and in use of words. The ways in which I tried to express myself got me into trouble every time I spoke.
Unfortunately, I am still slow, but I accept it as a part of the being that Allah made me. People, it seemed, had no patience with me in the past. I also felt that I was ugly since as a baby, I had to wear eyeglasses, and everyone laughed at me when they saw me. I had been born partially blind and required surgery by the age of one in order to see and correct my horribly ‘crossed eyes’.
I did not have many friends simply because I chose not to. Having friends who were involved and taught the same philosophy that I belonged to only kept me entrapped in their way of thinking. They were constant reminders of that which I was trying to escape.
Reacting out my rebelliousness against their beliefs in physical, emotional and mental personalities, I isolated myself from the other children in school, preferring not to play or talk to them, except for four girls that I sometimes chose to associate myself with. I was not allowed to play or speak to boys at any time, other than my brothers.
Later in years as I was growing up, I became more introverted and rarely spoke. I no longer willed to comply with what was said or being taught to me. I thought deeply about my life and how I was living it. I was in a constant battle with fear, which to me, was entrapment by the devil himself and as I would later on learn – my own worst enemy.
I continuously questioned my peers and my father about God, whom we were never taught anything about except that He was a Divine Supernatural Being who was always around us and could not be seen visually by our eyes. We were taught about Jesus who was the Son of God, and since Jesus was the Son of God, he was therefore God in Himself. I refused to accept this theory as a child as I could not understand how he could be both the Son of God and God.