Diary of a convert: 'It is my first Ramadan as a Muslim'
Dubai - 'I am looking forward to spending a meaningful, spiritual and happy Ramadan here with my Muslim friends.'
I am a Colombian who stepped into this beautiful country UAE three years ago. Although I live here alone, I have made plenty of friends here and most of my interactions are with Muslims. Never did I imagine that coming to the UAE will bring about a sea-change in my character, my values and my whole being. And although I was gradually changing, the best and most drastic change that came in my life was early this year - January 2018 - when I became a Muslim. And it is my first ever Ramadan fast as a practicing Muslim,Alhamdulillah (all praise is for Allah).
I and my fiance - who also embraced Islam here in the UAE along with me - are so looking forward to fasting for the first time ever and at the same time we are a bit anxious and nervous about it as we have never done this before. For me I think the first few fasts may be a bit of a challenge not so much because of the food but because is very hot and I may crave water. But I know Allah will guide me and strengthen me so that I can fulfill my duty as a Muslim.
I have lived my life mostly in Colombia and also in the US but never had any exposure to Islam. I knew no one in my circle who was a practicing Muslim and whatever idea I had of Islam was a negative on because of the media in the West. However, when I came to the UAE, I started reading up and researching about Islam and within my first week here in the UAE I got a copy of the Quran. It was an eye-opener for me as it made a lot of sense and completely changed my opinion about the religion. I have always liked the concept of the oneness of God, one creator and the practicality and spiritualty I found in learning about Islam has left me awestruck.
Ramadan is a month of the Quran, the month of gaining proximity to Allah, pondering on His creations, and praying and being grateful to God and I am so looking forward to experience this spiritual-high in my life. I am lucky that this country has also reduced working hours during this holy month and therefore I will be starting my work at night after prayers at 9.30pm until midnight. I feel the more steps I take towards Allah, the more easy He is making things for me. Earlier I was a Christian but since I read and researched a lot, I found out that so many traditions and rules were not authentic and were never preached by Jesus and I was quite disappointed with that. However, when I read, investigated and researched about Islam, I found it answering all my questions logically, being very straight forward and transparent about its teachings which were uniform and same for all.
My family lives in Colombia, and although they are not Muslims they know about Islam and they respect it. I am looking forward to spending a meaningful, spiritual and happy Ramadan here with my Muslim friends.
Luis Carreno is a 36-year-old from Colombia who embraced Islam in January 2018. He embraced Islam at the Islamic information center, Satwa. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt coach for the UAE Armed Forces in Dubai.