By Marina Bolotnikova, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Philip and Sherry Snow grew up Catholic in predominantly Christian towns on opposite sides of the country. Today, Philip and Sherry go by Ibrahim and Safiye, live on the North Side with their four children -- and are devout adherents to Islam.
When Sherry met Philip, a convert to Islam, online in 1996, she had been questioning her Catholic faith but had no interest in learning about his religion.
"I went through the whole gamut of stereotypes that I'd heard about Muslims," she said. But as she learned about Islam from Philip, she realized not just that her preconceptions about the religion were wrong, but also that Islam filled the gaps she perceived in Christianity.
Mr. Snow, who works as an arborist, and Ms. Snow, a graphic designer, are two of a large and diverse community of Muslim converts in Pittsburgh. This week, the holy Islamic month of Ramadan will draw to a close, calling for increased piety from Muslims around the world.
Muslims believe that God revealed the Quran to the prophet Muhammad on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. For many converts, successful completion of the obligation to fast during Ramadan is one of the most tangible changes in their transition to Islam.
"I officially converted when I completed Ramadan correctly," said Julie Webb, outreach coordinator at the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.
Though it is difficult to track precise rates of conversion to Islam, about 20 percent of American Muslims are converts. Converts come from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds, and most report that Islam agreed with them on a deep, intuitive level.
"It didn't take me long to realize that Islam was nothing that I thought it was. As I started learning more, I realized Islam appealed more to what I already believe about God," Ms. Snow said. "Being raised Catholic, they teach about the Trinity, and the Trinity never resonated with me. It never made sense. When I found out Muslims believe God is just one, that made more sense to me."
After three years learning about Islam from Mr. Snow, reading the Quran and learning about other belief systems, Ms. Snow knew that Islam was the one that agreed with her understanding of the world. (Read the full article)