Kristin Szremski is a 53-year-old mom from Palo Hills, Illinois. Born into a Missouri-Synod Lutheran family, she first converted to Catholicism before finding her place in Islam. This year, Szremski was one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who were drawn to Mecca between October 2 – 7 to complete the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj.
She tells Huffington Post about her experience below. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
1. How did you come to Islam and what was it about the religion that moved you?
I was a special assignment reporter for the Star Newspapers in suburban Chicago in 2000. I was assigned to cover the Arab community. At that time, I didn’t know anything about Islam — I was raised as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran and we had been taught that all religions and prophets that came after Jesus were false.
During the six weeks I had for research, I interviewed many, many Arab Muslims. My conversion was not something that happened overnight; it probably took more than 18 months. I was fascinated to learn that Islam had all the same stories as the Bible as well as the same characters…
(Photo: Kristin Szremski is the Director of Media and Communications for American Muslims for Palestine, a national education and advocacy organization.)