The hardest part was telling her mother. For almost two years Liz Sealing had been learning more and more about Islam. A Muslim friend told her about the rules against drinking and dating. She didn't understand it, but began reading about Islam. She began to believe what she read. Eventually, she had to make a decision. She couldn't keep believing and not act. She became a Muslim, and then had to tell her Christian family. "I sent them an e-mail explaining it," Sealing said. "I couldn't call them." Sealing looks comfortable now. Wearing a long black dress and a long-sleeved burgundy blouse with a white hijab covering her head, she moved easily through a festival of Arabian culture Wednesday on the University of Northern Colorado campus.
When members of the Muslim Student Association gathered for a picture, she giggled and shuffled into position with the other girls. She covered her hair with a hijab for the first time at the beginning of this semester, the second of her senior year at UNC. Her mom replied right away to Sealing's e-mail. She called later that night. She'd had no idea her 20-year-old daughter was becoming a Muslim. She had lots of questions. She was worried. She'd heard Muslims were violent and they treated women poorly. She still asks Sealing if she's going to be all right, if there's any possibility she'll get sucked into some kind of trouble with the government. Sealing's Arabic teacher, Essam Aldwayan, was at the Arabian Nights festival Wednesday. He volunteered to teach the class twice a week for anyone who wants to learn the language. Between 20 and 30 students make it to one of the sessions each week.
Aldwayan, 32, said he's amazed at Sealing's progress. "She's doing great," Aldwayan said.
"Whenever you're interested in something you learn really fast." Sealing's 23-year-old brother still doesn't understand. He points to violence on the news and asks her about brutality toward women. She just tells him that's not the way Islam is supposed to be practiced. Sealing's close to her family, but it can be difficult being around them. They ask her questions better suited for a scholar. Sealing has been a practicing Muslim for 51/2 months. (MORE) ALSO SEE: