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From a Military Household, End of the Cold War, Beginning of the War on Terror: Convert Story (USA)

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Today's guest is Kadijah.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Information on how she had been involved in her Catholic faith.
  • Her upbringing in the Catholic church.
  • Difficulties with some of the practices in the Catholic church.
  • How she learned about the doctrine changes in the Catholic church over time.
  • When she realized her disbelief in her Catholic faith, she discusses how this impacted her and her values.
  • How she first learned about Islam through her religion class in high school.
  • Her first encounter with Muslims.
  • Her first visit to her local Masjid.
  • How she was able to further learn about Islam through reading and asking questions of other Muslims.
  • Her shahadah and her first Ramadan.
  • The process of learning about Islam and how knowledge in Islam is an ongoing process.
  • How difficult it was to learn to pray and how few other Muslims she initially encountered.
  • Receiving advice from those who may not have knowledge versus those who do.
  • Work/life balance.
  • Building an Islamic library to increase knowledge.
  • Wearing and not wearing the hijab, and the reasons to wear hijab.
  • Judging others and the 'Haram Police'.

This is what Kadijah says:

My name is Kadijah, but I was born Michelle Kastriba. I converted the day before Ramadan in 2004 when I was 24 years old, and I will be 41 in a couple months.

I grew up as an Army Brat. I was born on a Military Installation in West Germany (it was still the Cold War), and moved frequently between the U.S. and Europe as a child until my father retired from the Army and we settled in Pennsylvania in 1995.

For several years, I was a pharmacy technician until I decided to go to college to pursue a degree in Economics, and I am currently a Junior at Penn State. I am also a proud and happy homemaker. I am an avid reader, and I love crochet.

I am extremely passionate about volunteering and also empowering women. Most of my volunteering has been fundraising activities for Muslim organization including several years that organized and led many campaigns for my local Islamic School.

Through the years, I have been asked by different groups in the Harrisburg, PA area to speak about my experiences as a Muslim including a panel at the Harrisburg Masjid and also at Harrisburg Area Community College. Lately, though, I have stepped back from volunteering and fundraising to focus on gaining knowledge. My focus now is to become an Islamic Educator for Women. I believe we desperately need them.

I think what is most important about my experience is that I was born and raised Catholic. Even though I went to Church and Catholic school, I always felt something wasn't right, and I would pray for God to guide me.

I grew in a military household at the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the War on Terror. Before I became a Muslim, my family and I had a very negative opinion of Islam and it's followers because that was the culture that we were exposed to. Then I started working as a clerk with two wonderful Muslims, and I started learning that Islam is not what happened on September 11, but so much more...it was the answer to my prayers. Alhumdilillah.

Links on how to pray that Kadijah used:



Other links mentioned in the episode:


Islamic book store:

Mufti Menk

Yusha Evans


What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam

Not Without My Daughter: The Harrowing True Story of a Mother's Courage

The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Qur an and Sunnah

The Ideal Muslim: The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim as Defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah

The New Muslim's Field Guide

About the Becoming Muslim Podcast

Do you have questions about Islam? Are you looking for a new direction in life?

The Becoming Muslim podcast at https://untoislam.com is made for those who are in the midst of researching Islam. It also suits newly converted Muslims.

Our podcast offers a wide variety of audible resources. From captivating stories of converts to discussions on day to day Islamic practices, Unto Islam allows for each individual to cater to their spiritual needs.

Find out:

(1) How to convert to Islam

(2) What it means to be Muslim

(3) Why Islam has helped others

As Muslims do not engage in missionary work, our site is only here to help those who want to know more about our faith and creed.

Episode Host: Gina Marie DeBarthe (USA)

Gina Marie DeBarthe converted in 2019

Her mother is from Honduras, a small country in Central America, and her father is from Missouri.

She was born in California.

Her father was in the Navy and then in Civil Service, so she lived all over the US and she spent time in Germany.

She currently lives in Independence, Missouri.

Gina is a Speech language pathologist.

She works with adults and children with communication disorders, developmental disabilities, and those who have had strokes, or traumatic brain injuries.

Gina states, "I feel very blessed for being guided to Islam. I have had a few trials and difficulties in life. More than once, I almost died. When I read the Qu'ran, so many things in my life made sense. Also, after taking shadada, I found I was truly able to forgive and let go of those things from my past that had been encumbering me".

More career details:

Experienced Speech Language Pathologist with a demonstrated history of working in Acute Rehabilitation and with Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). Skilled in E-Learning, Instructional Design, Tele-practice, Bilingual Speech Therapy, Research, and Science. Strong healthcare services professional graduated from University of Kansas.

See full profile page here.

Gina's Episodes (27)

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Our podcast offers a wide variety of audible resources. From captivating stories of converts to discussions on day to day Islamic practices, Unto Islam allows for each individual to cater to their spiritual needs.


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