'I Am A White Western Woman—I Converted From Christianity To Islam'

I'm a pretty typical European woman who was born into a non-practicing Christian family and lived all her life in the Western world. I was born in London but I am originally Polish, so I have lived one third of my life in Poland, one third in Spain and have spent the past decade in the U.K.

In my early twenties—which I believe are a crucial time for anyone's personal development—I went through a depression and developed bulimia. It happened right after I left Poland for Spain to pursue my dream of going to university there and finding an exciting job in advertising.

Instead, I ended up being disappointed with the degree, feeling very lonely and without a job. I knew that life quite often doesn't happen as expected, and realized the problem wasn't in the situations and people around me, but rather in the way I reacted to challenges in life.

I have always been interested in personal development, spirituality and meditation, but I never thought then that it would lead me to converting to Islam, or that becoming a Muslim who eventually lead me to start a business focused on wellbeing.

Back then, I had started to look for a "cure" that would help me overcome my mental and physical problems. I looked at various areas of psychology, psychotherapy, Buddhism, astrology, yoga, meditation and other New Age practices. I wanted to try and learn from them, and find answers that might help me with my depression.

In 2012, moved to the U.K. to work in fashion, I was still struggling with bulimia, but I met a man, Ibrahim,— who is now my husband—who seemed to have an interest in personal development and spirituality like I did.

Despite being from a traditional and quite conservative Brahmin family of Hindus from India, he, like me, was searching for answers outside of his cultural upbringing.

He told me about a Sufi silent meditation—Sufism is an aspect of Islam—he was attending and took me to one of their sessions in London.

It was a very pleasant experience as the sessions were held in absolute silence, just like I'd expected a meditation to be like. I was touched by the people's behaviour—which was contrary to what you often find in a crowded, stressful big city like London—they were incredibly kind, calm and there was no pressure of expectation of payment.

Instead the Muslims there served us food and were very hospitable. I was also inspired by their healthy lifestyle especially their eating habits: they didn't overeat and cooked wholesome and tasty food; some of them fasted twice a week from dawn till dusk—in addition to fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Only later did I realize that their way of life was very much aligned with the Sunnah—which means, in Arabic, "the way" of the Prophet Muhammad, and is considered a guide to living for all Muslims.

Until then, I knew very little about Islam. But after meeting a community of dedicated Muslims, many of whom were converts who had consciously chosen this spiritual path, I started doing more research on Islam and was shocked to see how misunderstood this religion was by many, including myself.

Islam, Muslim, Religion
A stock image shows a Muslim woman looking out of a window. iStock

I discovered that the principals are very simple: the belief that there is one God who created us and therefore we submit to Him. And He sent various messengers—including Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad— to deliver His message to humanity and set an example of how to live.

I knew that committing to this faith would be controversial to my family, friends and the Western community I lived in. I was aware that most of them—just like myself initially—perceived this religion as something very foreign, harsh and strict. I felt they would oppose my decision and make my life very difficult. I wasn't ready to take this step even though I felt in my heart it was the right path.

I then found out that Ibrahim had already converted. A year later—in 2015—I finally felt ready to take my declaration of faith at the London Central Mosque and to marry him. Thankfully he hadn't met anyone else in that time!

I don't drink or party and I don't socialize with the opposite sex and I donate part of my income to charity.

We decided to secretly get married so that we could be in a "halal", a permissible, relationship. We found an Islamic book shop in London's Baker Street which has a marriage center and went there with two witnesses to complete the marriage contract.

Our families and friends didn't know we had converted to Islam and we felt they wouldn't understand our decision. Indeed, when they eventually found out about our marriage a year later they were very upset.

Becoming Muslim does change your life completely—I don't drink or party and I don't socialize with the opposite sex and I donate part of my income to charity.

Naturally I ended many friendships and did not participate in family events the way I used to. It was very stressful to oppose everyone, but it also gave me a sense of peace as I felt I was doing the right thing rather than living a life to please others or society.

It's definitely challenging when you are surrounded by families of different faiths.

My husband and I have been married for five years now, we have a three-year-old child and one more on the way. We hope to bring up our children as righteous Muslims.

It's definitely challenging when you are surrounded by families of different faiths. People needed time to adapt to our new situation and after a while they saw I had changed for the better, and accepted my new ways.

We have also found our community of reverts—people who have converted to the Islamic faith—in London. To my surprise, the community is huge and includes people from all over the world. And born Muslims tend to be very supportive of new Muslims and welcome them to their community wholeheartedly, although I suppose I may still come across that "annoying lady" in the mosque who will tell me off for not wearing my scarf properly.

One of the most important events that happened in my life after becoming Muslim was learning incredible things about human health which lead me to launching my own company, Bee Like a Bee. I have also overcome my eating disorder which I believe is partly a result of educating myself about health.

I discovered there are many mentions of "healing foods" in the Quran and Sunnah and one of the most appreciated substances is honey. According to the Quran it is made by the bee from, "whose belly comes forth a syrup of different colours which contains a healing for mankind."

I decided to combine my learning from Islam about healthy eating and the appreciation for bees to start a bee product business. After my own experiences with disordered eating I want to promote healthy eating in others, and I'm now planning to do a PhD in Nutrition so I can learn more to build on my work. Life is full of surprises.

It's been five years now and I have no doubts about choosing Islam as my religion. It has been the best, and most life changing, decision I have ever made.

Monika Holc is a marketing manager who has spent years working in the corporate sector and at the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Monika recently launched Bee Like a Bee—a health and wellbeing brand where she created the unique "wellness praline". Her mission is to promote healthy tasty and balanced nutrition through making conscious food choices. You can also follow her brand on instagram @beelikeabeeuk.

All views expressed in this piece are the writer's own.