A long letter, but sad! I was raised a Catholic of a not very religious family in the USA. I grew up in the 70's and felt that there was something very wrong with the spirituality of the West. Even though the times were relatively prosperous, following current events one felt that the value system of the West has failed. Many families were broken, the institution of marriage was being questioned, and other philosophies and religions of the world were welcomed. Finishing High School and starting college, I found that I was searching for something that gave meaning to my life and felt closeness to God. I searched around and found Islam. During the same time I met my Muslim husband through a secretary at work. Many people assume that my husband converted me, but that was not the case. When I met him I was ready to dedicate my life to the idea of Islam as presented to me by Maudidi, in Islam in Focus. I was 22, with one semester of college, when I married him. He knew almost no English, but he gave me many books, especially on How to Raise Islamic Kids in North America. I was overjoyed and sure that I found the solution to all the worlds problems. No one told me to cover completely, including my hands and my neck all the way up to my face. In this time my husband was very modern and found me a little fanatical. But he never told me to uncover because he was pleased at my total conversion to Islam. I did it because I wanted to please God more than anything else/I said that Allah has rescued me from sure damnation. Everyday I read more and more and by 1 year I could recite the small surahs in Arabic. I use to go around and talk to the girlfriends of my husband's friends to see if they would convert. At that time, I was very happy with my spouse. We had four kids, one after another. I was in College and worked, so I thought those bothersome things that I read about women in Islam did not apply to pure, unadulterated Islam, because my spouse was very liberal. But the word liberal meant that he let me study and work. Personally, he did not associate or talk to any American. He felt intimidated by the culture of our state and always chose friends from his own Mideast country. He would not let me talk to any American, except limited conversation about Islam...promote the complete separation of the sexes so as to keep society pure. I thought that lack of trust as a small flaw in which I could overlook. Years passed and I graduated from college. But instead of helping my needy family (my husband was so good that he let me study instead of helping out by a much needed second income). When the Twin Towers episode occurred and other Middle-Eastern situations developed, I noticed that my husband grew a beard and started acting very seriously. When Americans threw rocks at our car for no reason, except that I appeared foreign, he decided that I should go to his small city in the Mideast. It was an industrial city in which I would live with his family while he would stay here to make money. I stayed with them for 2 years the first and it was the beginning of BIG disappointments. For example I met this woman crying on the beach. Since she spoke English and folks are sociable over there, it wasn't long before we were talking. It turns out that she had worked as a maid in Saudi Arabia. She married one of the sons of her employer and they had two kids. For no reason whatsoever in her part (I checked this side of the story with some folks in the Mosque who knew the case) he divorced her and kept the kids and had her deported. She had no money to help herself to a legal case. In Islam, divorce is the worst thing allowed by Allah and there are many recommendations on how to do it honorably. But what is recommended is different on what is allowed, and what is allowed is just that. Three pronunciations of, "I divorce thee," a certain waiting period for the women, and that's it. I was shocked. It appears that many American Muslims did not know this because the literature provided to them does not spell these things out. But, was I going to judge something so great in my eyes by Western 1990s standards? When a Muslim is not sure of something he has faith that sooner or later there will be a 'hadith' (written by the Prophet Mohammed and his companions to clarify the Qu'ran). Even though I was treated very well by his family, I became very depressed because there was nobody that spoke English and our kids were feeling isolated. I went back to the US and my life went back to normal. This was the first two of the four years that I was there. I left with memories of wonderful people who, even if I couldn't speak their language, I did not need to. They welcomed me very warmly. But, after a year I thought that I did not give it enough of a try. The public schools here in the US had wonderful teachers and ideals, but there was a certain worldly pressure for the kids to have boyfriends and go to parties in which cigarettes and alcohol may be experimented. What if we moved to a better neighborhood in Egypt? So we went back. This time moving there turned out to be the worst mistake of my life. Shortly after I got there a nurse who spoke English introduced me to the book, "Jesus, a Prophet of Islam." I studied that book and almost memorized certain parts. Now I had lots of friends and spent the time going to mosques and telling folks through an interpreter that Islam is for the whole world. I tended to ask questions that got on people's nerves, for example: "why isn't the Qu'ran in chronological order, and why does one need so many footnotes to explain what it says?" Or, "Why were 220 Surahs amended for later ones, God did not do this on the Taurat or Ingil (Muslim words for the Torah and the New Testament)." When I took my kids out of regular private school and enrolled them in an American type private school my in-laws got furious with me and things started to change in a drastic way. An uncle slapped me around. Because the school cost a lot of money and they thought it was unnecessary. I tried to get help, and even though I was told that the uncle was out of line when slapping me, they felt I really deserved the "correction." It is amazing how one feels when one sees that the hitter is defended as being the one to put order in a female illogical mind. It is amazing when one sees the TV make fun of women who are hit by spouses. I saw that indeed, many women were hit regularly. But, we follow Islam and not the ignorant Muslims, I was told. Islam does allow a husband to hit his wife (in the fourth Surah, called Nisaa), but never his relatives and the hitting comes contingent on his trying to solve the problem by better means. I lived peacefully, but when my spouse came back, he thought I went out too much and decided to make me more homebound. That wouldn't be bad in itself, had there been books or something for my kids to do but the beach was very polluted, the parks were nonexistent, and there was no place for kids to play. I got very depressed. When once, I was hit very hard by my spouse and went to the embassy, I was told that the US embassy follows the law of the land and they cannot let me take the kids out of that country without my spouse's permission. Indeed, the kids belong to him. There are many women who are not allowed to go out much, and that's all there is to it, because sometimes the pressure to conform to expectations rules a whole life. But, again, I blamed the culture and not Islam. I tried to work, but received no help from my in-laws. Some time passed, and when again, my husband came to visit and acted violent and different, I decided to leave the Mideast forever. Let me note that my husband did not want to bring me back in the USA, but a Muslim man told him about hadithes that say that women must be treated well and allowed to live where they can be happy. It was about this time when I had two dreams in which Jesus came to me and asked me to follow him. I woke up very upset because I am not a believer in dreams. I did a lot of prayers since Satan can take any shape except Prophet Mohamed. But still I cried a lot because I felt spiritually empty. I then took a science based Bible course at the local night school. I thought that I would then prove the Bible wrong and be satisfied with the Qu'ran. How surprised was I when I learned the facts of the Bible. For example, The Bible does not need a complete book of work like the 'Ahadith' to make sure we have the right interpretations. Getting the right meaning is a big part of understanding Qu'ran. For example, you have the interpretations of some Surahs, and then one sees interpretations of interpretations. Every time I talked to my friend R. in Egypt and I said something that bothered me in Islam she said that she read or she asked a certain sheik and he found such and such. For example, I was bothered by the wife beating verse of which I spoke of earlier. She asked a well known imam and he said that the prophet meant that a wife must be hit only with a traditional Arab toothbrush (!!!). It was like that for many issues..It took me a while to know that a Merciful God is able to publish a book that does not need cross references or amendments. It should be for all people and for all times. It would be cruel not to have everything we need for salvation. Israel in the OT was a Nation in which all nations will be saved through and in the OT there were chapters talking of the Messiah and his sacrifice for mankind. Special knowledge or Guru's go against the all-inclusive Biblical Spirit. We hear many strange opinions in our day, I think it would help us to be watchful and ask from where in the Bible it comes from. This is easy, because the Bible is chronologically written. In that time, I was lucky to get books connected to major universities about the Bible, I felt that I could prove it wrong and my need of Jesus would go away. But as I read, more and more I could see that the Bible was a book of prophecies, of scientific accuracy, and much more. A book from God. It took me four years of studying to become a Christian. And with a lot of pain and tears. My husband will leave me when the kids are bigger. I have had 60 Christian books and Bibles thrown away by him. I have had to run thru the apartment buildings where I live, barefoot and in long dress, because he caught me with a gospel cassette tape and wanted to throw it away. He has prevented me from going to church; followed me when I've gone out; and watched me thru the windows to try and catch me reading the Bible or Christian literature. Frightened neighbors have called the police. And, because I am now an apostate, he will be allowed to kill me if we move to an Islamic country. I have no help from the big group of friends of his that I had in yesteryear. So far, I am lucky that my kids have not been taken away by him. And he is doing what Allah told him to do to 'murtadhas'(deniers) in the Qu'ran. Isn't it written somewhere in our Bible that in the last days we will be beaten and persecuted because we offend people by admitting that we follow Christ? And that (those that persecute Christians) they would do it imagining that they would do a service to God? I do not know what will become of me in this world, but I feel held by my loving heavenly Father and that is sufficient.