Czech Catholic converts to Islam – Domestic Abuse, Communism
My name is Katerina Caristan and I am Muslim. I have lived in USA for the past 19 years.
I was born in in Czech Republic, country that was under communist regime. Religion was never something to be talked about and if you were religious you were “different”. My parents and my older sister are Catholics. I was never baptized. I loved visiting the churches, not for the message but simply for the atmosphere you felt once inside. The coldness of the stone walls, and the smell of the potpourri.
I have always believed in God, because of my mom, who would often go to church and pray for us.
After coming to USA I have tried a couple of times to connect with different churches and groups and I felt the need to fill a void that I often experienced. It was as If had the belief but not the tools to practice. I tried reading the Bible for the first time in my life and I was only confused. The content and the style of writing were difficult for me to understand.
Islam has been in my life probably for the past 6 years. I have had Muslim friends and I would be witnessing small parts of it, whether in the form of greeting “Asalaam Aleikum” which means “Peace be upon you”, or during the month of Ramadan when my friends would fast. And as my daughter say.”Mom I always knew you were going to be ONE, because you always loved that weird music and you had so many scarfs.”
One of my close friends embraced Islam and got kicked out of her home by her mother and had no place to go, I had offered her my house even though it is small. We lived together for one year, which was really nice and I really got to learn so much about Islam, She used to call me the “haram police” it was really funny because I would always research about different articles and I would be proud to tell her what is allowed and what is not. She used to tell me, you should be Muslim you already now so much and I would just nod my head and didn’t give it any further thought.
I still remember skyping with my family and my mom hearing the Athan in the background and I would explain, that’s the call for the prayer and my mom with fear in her eyes asking me…You will not convert right? And me answering NOOO this is not for me, I’m just here to support my friend.
I was in a long distance marriage for 7 years. It was not easy and there were many issues. In August of 2011, I took two months off work and went to Switzerland on last attempt to try to work it out. Two months were amazing, we traveled all over Europe and went to my sister’s wedding and even flew to the Caribbean to visit his parents. The problem was we had never taken the time and really discuss the upcoming plan, except few things. I was asked to make choice between my friends and my marriage. I kept repeating to him that my friends are the people I spend most time with since he is always away and things would change once he would return to me. He didn’t agree with it and I left Europe without a solution. When I returned back to the States, the arguments continued and I was faced with heartaches. My best friend had moved out and didn’t tell me about it. I felt very lonely and lost.
My husband came in October, but just to fight…
The very first night we had argued so much that it ended up physical. I got stabbed with a knife in my leg and he had to rush me to the hospital and I almost bled to death. My artery was cut and I ended up with nine stitches.
He stayed with me for a week while I recovered, but everything in me wanted to die.
It’s amazing how going through difficult times you seek God.
After he left I fell into deep depression and truly didn’t want to live. I remember that I would pick up the Quran and I would read it and pray and felt better every time I did. I didn’t know how to pray exactly or what to say, but I knew that at that at that point, I couldn’t go any lower. Each day was like I took a step closer to Allah, and closer to be rescued. ..
I became friends with a guy and I would meet with him and ask him many questions about Islam and he would patiently explain. I will never forget the time I had asked him “how do you get the love you have for Allah in your heart? How do you make the connection? It’s easy for you, because you were born Muslim” and he would say to me ”don’t worry Allah already loves you, he is guiding you”. Then I asked him to help me pray. We would sit down and I would write down each and every step of Al Fatiha and how to pray. To this day I have my little paper that, at that time, was most important paper I would carry around.
I went to the masjid because I knew that there was a Halaqa class for new sisters. I have known most of them by name already through my friend and it was nice to meet them in person. I felt shy at the beginning to talk about my problems, but that feeling quickly left me as I was welcomed and I began to feel new support that was offered. There was no judgment and no strange looks or questions. I met truly amazing ladies. And it was on December 27 I said my Shahada and I knew from that day forward I was chosen by Allah. He had guided me towards Him and His love saved me…Alhamdulillah.
Two months later, I started wearing hijab. I loved it! I felt it completed me and I was obeying Allah’s command, I wanted to please Him. At that time I had first mentioned it to my family; my mom and my sisters. It didn’t go great. My mom ended up sending me a 4 page letter about how disappointed she was in me that I couldn’t talk to them about my problems, etc.
That day I removed my hijab but still had it with me in my car because I had class that evening in the masjid with the Sheikh for Quran reading. I went to pick up my daughter from school and she said to me… “Where is your scarf?” And I answered “I have received a letter from your grandma and maybe I am taking things to fast”. I don’t want my family to be scarred. My daughter looked at me and said “but do you wear your scarf for grandma or do you wear it for God?” At that point I started crying because she had said something that was so right. That night, in her house when I got was getting ready I knew that I would never remove it again In sha Allah.
Being Muslim has allowed me to see things in a different light, it has given me the ability to worry less and know that I have the power to ask Allah for anything I need help with and He is always there. Being Muslim has given me the opportunity to start fresh and be myself. Being Muslim has opened so many doors for me and I have met and made amazing bonds with women who all have their own story to share. Being Muslim is truly the biggest blessing.
Posted on September 17, 2014, in ARTICLES and tagged article, atmosphere, baptized, believer, bible, church, communism, converts to islam, country, czech, czech catholic converts to islam, domestic abuse, embraced, experience, God, guidance, islam, katerina caristan, learn, life, pray, Religion, story, usa. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.