"Najla" T. Ilhan has a bachelor's in business administration, is a wife, mother of two, and enjoys sports and doing volunteer work at her children's school in her free time.
How did you come to embrace Islam? Is there any "one" incident you can pinpoint?
My embracing Islam was a process that started from before I was born I suppose with my father's at the age of fourteen choosing a church that he found truer to the teachings of the Bible. Having been raised in that church, I also strove to understand God's will through what I then knew to be the only available teachings sent by Him. Although I prayed, fasted, and went to church, there was something lacking. I prayed for wisdom in my pursuit of the true religion, the one that would finally bring me to God and give me peace.
Although there were several signs along the way that I didn't realize until later, the turning point for me was the two nights in which I sat with a young Muslim just becoming aware of his own faith reading and discussing a short book of forty sayings of the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him). With these few flawless words and even before ever reading the Qur'an, the last Message from God, I found the wisdom I had been searching for, accepted Muhammed as the Prophet he was, and began the mental, physical, and spiritual process of becoming a Muslim.
How can you compare the notion of prophethood in Christianity and in Islam?
Wonderfully, the concept of prophethood in Islam far exceeds the corrupted versions that I grew up with in Christianity. It was so comforting to learn through Islam that the prophets were sinless and actually worthy of being chosen by God to guide their people. That purity and righteous was just what I and all of humanity need as an example of our potential and the best of ethical conduct and moral goals.
What did you find closest to your heart about our Prophet? What was the most appealing thing about him?
The most appealing characteristic of Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) is that I could trust him. Everything he said and did was right and wise. He was simply the living example of the Truth.
How is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) perceived and received in the part of the world that you come from?
Given that I was totally ignorant of who Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) was having never even heard of him in the almost twenty years prior to learning of Islam, it would seem that he was simply ignored or considered too insignificant to mention. Of course since then, many things have changed and at the very least his name has been mentioned in the news even if it was in a negative manner. And yet, I have hope that people in Texas and the rest of the US have kept open minds and sought out the truth about who he was and will eventually understand his value and the Message he received.