From Muslim to Mormon

Senior sticks to personal beliefs despite the restraints organized religion tends to impose

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From Muslim to Mormon

Juliana Gary, Reporter

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More likely than not, religion is something you’re exposed to when you’re young. More likely than not, the religion you are raised is the religion you stay, making slight adjustments here and there to make it work for you as your life evolves and changes. What is less likely is that you officially convert to a different religion. Senior Faiza Saleh chose to convert to Mormonism in September of last year.

Raised as a Muslim, her parents were dismayed when they found out about her interest in Christianity, but they grew tolerant of her desire to convert. She claims her decision has benefited her in many personal ways. Only her close family knows that she’s a convert.

“Most of my family doesn’t know at the moment and I’d like to keep it that way,” Saleh said. “Only my immediate family knows and they aren’t exactly accepting of it but they tolerate it.”

She was not met with much aversion from the Mormon community and had little trouble finding her niche in the church.

“I jumped into the church like a full-on cannonball and was very devout,” Saleh said. “Now that I’ve had time to see my own beliefs and the church’s beliefs, I can see that not many of them line up. There are a few [beliefs] that I do like, but not many.”

Saleh’s beliefs are some textbook, and some personal.

“The church’s stand on being gay, from what I was told, is actually pretty accepting compared to some of the others I’ve heard,” Saleh said. “The church has an online set up of videos that are there to teach certain principles, and I really do love those videos. I think they’re great and I feel like I’ve learned a few things about myself by watching them. Things like the Word of Wisdom, I don’t like. I understand that its purpose is to keep anything harmful out of my body, but things like coffee and tea should be fine, as long as they’re consumed as a part of a balanced diet.”

The Word of Wisdom basically said what Mormons aren’t allowed to take into their bodies, like caffeine and drugs. Saleh said her biggest issue was with the tea and coffee restrictions.

“It was hard for me because things that were routine for me weren’t allowed all of a sudden,” Saleh said. “Mormons live by the Word of Wisdom which outlines what we can and can’t consume: coffee, alcohol, tea, tobacco and substances. I live in Texas, so I do love tea. And I’m a teenager who’s about to enter college, so coffee is one of my first instincts for road trips, long nights and early mornings.”

Modesty is another aspect of the religion that Saleh struggles with since she is involved in outdoor physical activity and modest clothing is not practical or comfortable the majority of the time.

“Modesty with clothing is another big thing,” Saleh said. “We live in Texas, summers are long and hot, so I’m always wearing shorts during the summers. And I’m really big on marching band, too, where I either rehearse in shorts and a tank top if I’m with a school or in shorts and a sports bra if I’m with one of my independent groups. Changing my diet hasn’t been that big of a deal, but I won’t change the way I dress, especially during rehearsals.”

Although there are restrictions she cannot necessarily agree with, she felt accepted and welcomed in her church. But all things aside, religion has always been something Saleh said she has struggled with.

“My relationship with God is something I’m not really sure about,” Saleh said. “I’ve prayed before, and all it’s led me to was disappointment and sadness. I’ve never had the feeling that ‘This is where I belong and where I’m meant to be,’ when it came to church.”

Mormonism has been a great guide for Saleh as it taught her more about herself and has shown her that some of her beliefs carry value and importance for others. But her religion is more about her personal beliefs, and she is okay with that.

“All in all, I think organized religion just isn’t for me,” Saleh said. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it has never worked out, personally. I have my personal beliefs, and I think I can live with that.”

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