Salam! My name is Gabriela Busmar and I am a Colombian Muslim revert living in Bogota, I reverted to Islam when I was 14 years old because I had a dream about the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) before I even knew who he was. I didn’t realize it was the Prophet – I discovered who the man in my mysterious dream was three years later. To this day, it seems miraculous to me just how Allah chose me and guided me in such a dark time.
From a young age, I always believed there was a God. My upbringing definitely had to do with this- especially my mother. Because my family was Catholic, I had a strong faith in God but I just didn’t feel at peace- it wasn’t enough.
From a young age, I always believed there was a God. My upbringing definitely had to do with this- especially my mother. Because my family was Catholic, I had a strong faith in God but I just didn’t feel at peace- it wasn’t enough. I began to research on all religions on the Internet. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I needed to practice a religion, and needed a higher presence that would guide me. I knew that I loved and felt safe with God, I just didn’t know how to follow His religion or what to do.
And then I read about Islam. It gave me everything I needed to hear. It was the answer to my prayers and search for so long. I knew it would be really tough to become Muslim, especially with my family and my being only 14 years old. With everything going on in the news, I knew my Catholic family would have a distorted view on this religion. In general, my family was not very accepting since the version they had of Islam was the bad character from the TV and media. I was still on the fence of things and what to do, if I truly believed in Islam or not, when I saw the dream with the Prophet Muhammad SAW.
In my dream, I was in a dark place, alone and terrified. I saw a bright light but it was not a normal light and I could make out an arm that was waving at me. It wasn’t like someone greeting you hello, it was someone gesturing you to “Come here”. I remember in the dream being rushed with a positive feeling. I ran over to where the person was and the wait was so long. There was a green garden with lush plants and grass everywhere. I finally saw the man who was there- he wore a thobe, had a very thick, black beard, and had so much light shining on his face. I remember trying to see his eyes, but couldn’t because of the amount of nur everywhere. All I knew in that moment was that this man was a Muslim. He did not say a single word, but just nodded in affirmation.
When you are 14 years old and convert to Islam, people think it is a phase, as did my family.
It was after seeing him nod that I woke up and knew for a fact, that I had dreamt of a Muslim man. I had no idea it was the Prophet Muhammad SAW, but on a lecture in the mosque years later, as well as the positive energy of the dream, I knew for sure it was him. After that dream, my entire life changed. I found the bravery to tell my family that I was Muslim. When you are 14 years old and convert to Islam, people think it is a phase, as did my family. My family were very concerned about me being so young and sure about my decision. However, when they noticed all the positive changes in my life, they began to respect me even if they did not agree with me. I also had a sister who would be involved in parties and other things, and my parents were happy I was choosing a different path.
As a single mother, I think she understands the importance of being an independent woman. She also was a huge reason for my desire to seek a higher purpose in life. I would attribute my unshaken belief in God from my mother.
A positive female influence during this time was my mother. Eventually and after the initial shock, she was a huge supporter for my decision. Even when the aunties would say bad things about me behind my back and my conversion to Islam, she would defend me and my choices. As a single mother, I think she understands the importance of being an independent woman. She also was a huge reason for my desire to seek a higher purpose in life. I would attribute my unshaken belief in God from my mother. She would always believe that God would come through for her in any difficult trial or challenge. Growing up with this type of mentality really helped me find the answers I needed when I grew up.
My mother was also a huge help in my family accepting me. I feel like now, my family and I have come to an agreement where they accept me as a Muslim, not because they have to but because they want to which I find very beautiful. Little gestures go a long way. For example, now they have a vegetarian menu instead of only pork at parties which means a lot and makes me feel more accepted.
When you are a revert and you have no Muslims around you, it becomes very frightening and alone. I started to become really worried. How do I pray? How do I fast? I sought support in one of the mosques in Colombia and a beautiful thing is that most of the women in Colombia mosques are reverts, it was easy to be understood. These sisters became a very important part of my deen and identity because they were my support in learning Islam. They understood just how hard it was to be alone. We became friends and carry our lessons with us wherever go because we discovered Islam together. That is something that I will always hold dear.
When you are a revert and you have no Muslims around you, it becomes very frightening and alone. I started to become really worried. How do I pray? How do I fast?
During my process of learning the religion, I began to get sick. My family and I went to the doctor, and upon tests, we discovered that my backbone started to twist on the sides. It was really dangerous because it was progressing so fast and could press into my heart or lungs. I was not scared because I was focused on my Deen and knew Allah would protect me. After seeing that dream, I had a sense of peace, unlike anything else I had ever experienced in my life.
I had a very excruciatingly painful operation, which required a full year in recovery. I was on the kids floor during my recovery and there would be a lot of crying, so I also could not sleep well. I had to teach myself how to walk again and only after 4 months could I even think about going back to school. Alhamdulillah I recovered and now, looking at me, you wouldn’t even know everything I went through medically.
Currently I am one of the only Muslims in my area. I studied Design and Production of Fashion at University as well. As can be expected, I was the only Muslim in the entire institution. Being the only one has actually helped me because I knew I could be shy and insecure or I could take up space and be confident. I started hijab when I started University, which was very challenging. Now, however, it is a huge part of my identity. I definitely faced some exhausting people during my semesters, especially with teachers, who had a problem with anyone who was different such as Muslims, people who were gay, etc. When this semester was finally over, I felt very alone and drained and was so happy all I needed was an internship to graduate. As a result, I took a lapse from it because I ended up feeling exhausted mentally, emotionally, physically from the time in University passing by all that heavy environment of intolerance, I currently work as an agent of customer experience for a ride-sharing company in which I learn a lot. I love it because it was new for me and because I meet new people and can develop my skills.
As can be expected, I was the only Muslim in the entire institution. Being the only one has actually helped me because I knew I could be shy and insecure or I could take up space and be confident.
Now, after taking my time for healing I am back to university, ready to grab my diploma in my degree. I feel like a better version of myself and am sure that nobody can make me feel like I do not belong here. I know I belong here just as much as anyone else.
My experiences in my reversion to Islam, sickness, and University have taught me that Allah is not going to give any person more than they can bear. There is always a way for what you want if you believe, there is always someone you can turn and pray to. This concept and the knowledge that you are never alone, even if you are one of the only Muslims in your area, is something that gives me peace and comfort.
During my reversion to Islam, I did realize a few things the Muslim community could do for their Muslim revert brothers and sisters.
During my reversion to Islam, I did realize a few things the Muslim community could do for their Muslim revert brothers and sisters. It’s important to realize that people take their time to come close to Deen- there is no timeline. There could be people who were Muslim for years and not make half as much progress of other revert who accepted Islam a few months ago. Often, from the outside or someone who has just converted to Islam, it is easy to look at other people and say “Oh, I wish I could read Quran like they do” or other wishes like that, but it is important to not compare your progress with others. Especially here in Columbia, the resources for Quran in Spanish or Latin American languages is very scarce.
I think the women who guided me during my first few years as Muslim really helped me understand that it’s easy to think learning a new religion is so hard. However, if you find your little community, whether in person or on social media, you will understand that Allah will find a way. If reading Quran is hard for you, then maybe there are other things Allah has made easier for you than say, for another Muslim. All you have to do is have faith, and things will fall into place.
Lastly, not less important as the reader of this short intro of myself, I do not want you to compare your life with mine, but instead take a moment to look at your life and be thankful for every single experience you have been since they have brought you here. If you do not feel like the situation you are in is acceptable for you for any reason, please remember that having the desire to change is the first step in getting what you deserve. You are beautiful, strong and Allah created you with abilities that you only have, so you need to take advantage of that. We all fall, but it’s our choice in how we rise again. InshAllah, we become stronger and rise even better in the name of Allah, The Most Loving, The Most Kind.