I'm sorry if it's a long story, but it's a process that took years, for me anyway.
I grew up in a atheistic family. In fact my family hated religion (in particular Catholicism). I remember my mother told me that we she was a child it was the tradition that when the local priest past by the people had to bow down, and she told me that her mother and father refused to do that. Because they wouldn't bow for anyone.
But my mother always was interested in other religions especially Islam, but not because she believed in God (she didn't believe in anything - may Allah forgive her), but in her spare time she was involved in social work with Moroccan people (youth, organising a new mosque, ...).
She visited Morocco in total 4 times (once with an organisation of social houses, twice with me (before I was Muslim) and the last time 2 months before she died) - because she loved the country and culture so much.
She also studied at the university when she was 45, comparative religions - especially Islam; we moved also to a neighbourhood where there lived lots of Muslims. Because she liked the people so much.
I also grew up with Moroccan people (especially in my teen-years I had lots of friends - may Allah forgive me for the things I did); but Alhamdulillah He always protected me, because I was in lots of dangerous situations and nothing really bad happened to me.
The boys I knew never were very religious, lots of them didn't even do Ramadan or anything like that. But then at age of 18 I met my latest boyfriend (before I entered Islam). He wasn't practising either, but he told me things about his religion. And that's how I became interested in getting to know religion.
I was always unhappy growing up, feeling like there was something missing. I didn't know why I was living and felt that everyone would be better of if I wasn't around. I never actually committed suicide (Alhamdulillah), because I knew it would hurt my mother to much. But I did horrible things so that people would like me (I didn't have a mind of my own).
So when he told me about God and other things I started to think that believing in God would give me a reason to live.
But he wasn't good to me, he took my money, he beat me, he betrayed me with other women, he insulted me, ...
But while I was with him, I started to change bit by bit
First I stopped smoking (by force because of him, but now I'm glad I've stopped), then I quit drinking alcohol, eating pork, began watching my clothing, ...
But still only more for him than for Allah.
But then my mother died suddenly and that was the time I began to realise that life could be over at any minute so I had to make a change.
I knew my boyfriend wouldn't marry me, because if he would he would've let me know me a long time ago (we where together 4 years). At the time I moved into a new apartment (the house I lived in with my mother was to expensive to pay alone). And he moved with me (only to sleep at night). He didn't pay anything and all day and evening I was alone till he came home at night and demanded (you know what I mean)
But meanwhile I was getting to know sisters and going to meetings where I learned the true Islam. I started to where hijab (I didn't pray yet), because I felt that was for me the easiest thing to begin with, to protect myself and to show others that I was changing.
He wouldn't go out with me anymore while I was wearing my hijab, he said he was ashamed to be seen with me like that (can you believe a Muslim boy saying that?), when I asked him questions about the religion (prayer, moral things, ...) he wouldn't help me, in fact he became angry because I 'nagged' him about it.
I remember also one night a was crying because I missed my mother (this was only 4 months after her death) and he said "Are you still crying about her, get over it !!"
That was for me when my 'love' for him was over. I had to get him out of my house.
I did my Shahadah hoping that that would get him to realise that what he was doing to a Muslim was haram, and that he would leave.
He wouldn't leave, but bit my bit I became stronger against him (I had no more fears, because I felt Allah was on my side). Almost every day I would ask him when he would leave (he hit me every time I did, but I didn't care he had to go). He realised that I became stronger and he began to look for a new girlfriend. Eventually he find her and he left.
I was free, I began to learn to pray and everything else that came with Islam, I began to go out more and meeting new people. And I met people that have introduced me to my husband now.
I am stronger now and don't let people take advantage of me, although sometimes I am still to naive and I see that people who I thought were my friends aren't really. But I have my family and my faith to keep me going and to keep me strong.
That was my story, but it's still changing everyday because it's a life long process
Thanks for your time & interest
(forgive me for my poor English)
Ex Atheist Sister