According to Estabsar Internationl Foundation, Amy Hodgkins tells her journey to Islam.
My name is Amy Hodgkins. I come from a very small traditional Anglo-Irish family. My family is Christian, but we were not practicing at all. What I learned about Christianity was most at school. I always believed in God because it was wise for the world around us to have a creator.
Initiation to Shiism
In the past, when I was with my Muslim fiancé, I used to ask his Muslim friends about Shiite Islam, and they said: Don’t ask about Shiites! They are dirty. They are disbelievers. Shiites do this, they do that. They completely dissuaded me and I never thought about being a Shia.
A beautiful speech
One day, which I now consider a miracle, I was listening to a lecture. From the very beginning of the speech, I felt that this was different from the others that I have listened to, because people were saying salawat, but I did not know what salawat was and what they were doing. I realized very quickly that this was a Shiite speech. A part of me said: maybe I shouldn’t see this, maybe I should turn it off. But out of curiosity, I decided to give this religion a chance. I sat and looked. The speaker was Dr. Seyed Aman. The video was about the Shiite view of the Prophet’s wives. I don’t know why I expected something funny. But the way he spoke was very fluent and dignified and proud. I really liked that he discussed without swearing and was very respectful. His words made sense. Part of me didn’t want to believe because of fear. I was told that insulting the companions and wives of the Prophet is not acceptable. The slightest criticism of them means that you are disbelievers. Although I didn’t believe in this issue, I did not want to do it.
Getting to know Imam Hussain (As)
At the end of the speech, it was very interesting to me that they were talking about Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) and everyone started crying. I said to myself: Why is everyone crying? I do not understand. It was very strange how they would just sit and cry over a man who died more than hundreds of years ago. After this speech, I said: Maybe it would be better to watch one more speech, and I did. I learned many things and Alhamdulillah, all the wrong concepts I had about Shiites disappeared. After that, I read about Ahl al-Bayt and saw the biographies of each of them. I found a new sense of affection towards the Prophet (PBUH) and his family. It was wonderful to know such people. It was quite wise that the Prophet did not leave his Ummah without a leader. Because he was a man who cried at night and worried about where his people were going. Why such a man and why does God himself leave his Ummah alone without any leader? But when I learned about Ghadeer and Imam Ali’s life, I understood that God had prepared him to succeed the Prophet from the very beginning. The turning point for me was when I read about what happened after Prophet’s death. I had participated in the Friday prayer and the Friday imam said that we should hold on to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. I quickly went and researched this statement and wanted to see for myself. When I saw it, I said: My God! They lied to me.
Getting to know Hazrat Zahra (AS)
When I read about the life of Hazrat Fatimah (peace be upon her), I realized that I was lied to. They told me that when her father died, Hazrat Fatimah died of great sadness. But when I really understood what happened to Fatimah, my heart broke and I hated myself for letting others lie to me. The hardships that Fatimah, the Prophet’s beloved daughter, endured and put herself in danger without considering what would happen to her, made me feel even worse that people are trying to cover up this story. After that, the story of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) also impressed me. They used to tell me that Karbala is not very important. But when I learned that the Muslims attacked Imam Hussain and killed him, I was shocked. I could see that Karbala is a division between Islam and non-Islam. When I understood what Imam Hussain was fighting against, I said that I must accept Ahl al-Bayt. I can’t be on the front of Imam Hussein. Because I felt that if I didn’t do this, I would betray him, and betraying him would be betraying my prophet, and I will forever be in Yazid’s front.
Hazrat Zainab’s influence on my life
But what really impressed me was that Hazrat Zainab (peace be upon him) prayed her night prayer even on the 11th night of Muharram. That prayer was not an obligatory prayer. But she did and she never once complained God during those hard times! And this made me understand that the bad things that happened in my life were not by God, but by man. If anyone should be blamed for those events, it is not Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. Allah was always on my side and always wanted me to find Ahl al-Bayt. After that I had to become a Shia. I also decided to choose a Shia name for myself and I chose the name Zainab. Not only because of emotional connections, but also in the hope that I will be a devotee of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) just as Hazrat Zainab was for Imam Hussain.