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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

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    If you are a revert please add your story here, because it is very inspiring Alhamdullilah.

    There are several stories on this site:
    http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/

    I'll post a few:
    Lara


    Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem
    DISCOVERING ISLAM: A CANADIAN MUSLIMA'S STORY
    April 25, 1996


    As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmahtullahi wa Barakatu (May the peace, the mercy, and the blessings of Allah be upon you).


    I am Canadian-born of Scandinavian and other ancestry, and I was raised in Canada. I have been a Muslima since February 1993 when I was 23. While growing up, I was never affiliated with any religion nor was I an atheist. When I was in my mid-teens I started to think somewhat about religion and at that time I did believe in the Oneness of God (Tawheed). Christianity never interested me.


    My first contact with Muslims occurred when I was introduced to some Muslim international students in 1988. Through them I learned a bit about Islam, such as Ramadan fasting. But it was really not until 1992 that I became interested in Islam. In the summer of that year a Canadian newspaper published a series of articles attacking Islam by using examples of anti-Islamic behaviour of some Muslims in an attempt to vilify Islam itself. Non-Muslims tend to judge Islam on the basis of the behaviour (which is not necessarily Islamic) of Muslims. I was not yet a Muslima but the articles were so outrageous that I sent a letter to the editor in defence of Islam. Now I was curious about Islam. I re-read some articles I had picked up several months earlier from the MSA Islam Awareness Week display at my university. One was about 'Isa (Alaihe Salam) [Jesus] as a Prophet of Islam. Also, I asked a Muslim to get me some books about Islam; they were about the overall ideology of Islam and were written by two famous Muslim authors. Impressed, I thought, "This is Islam? It seems so right." Over the next few months in my free time while attending university I continued to learn about Islam from authentic Islamic books, for example The Life of Muhammad (Salallahu Alaihe wa Salam) by Dr. Muhammad Haykal. One certainly does not learn the truth about Islam from the mass media! Also, newcomers to Islam especially must be careful to avoid the writings of deviant groups which claim ties to Islam so as not to be misled. And just because the author has an Arabic name does not necessarily mean that he or she is a knowledgeable Muslim or even Muslim at all. Also, I learned about Islam from some kind, knowledgeable Muslims and Muslimas who did not pressure me. Meanwhile, I had begun to Islamize my behaviour which did not require huge change. I already avoided consuming alcohol and pig meat. Also, I always preferred to dress conservatively/modestly and not wear makeup, perfume, or jewellery outside my home. I started to eat only Islamically slaughtered meat. Also during this time I visited a masjid (mosque) in my city for the first time.


    Until I discovered Islam, I knew almost nothing about it. I say discovered because the "Islam" that I had always heard about through the mass media is not true Islam. I had always assumed that Islam is just another man-made religion, not knowing that it is the Truth. I had also assumed that a person had to be raised as a Muslim to be one. I was not aware of the fact that all humans are born Muslim (in a state of Islam - submitted to the Creator). Like many "Westerners" I associated Islam with the "East" and did not know that Islam is universal in both time and place. However, I never had negative feelings about Islam, al-Hamdulillah. The more knowledge that I acquired about Islam, the more I felt that I too can actually be Muslim as I found that many of the beliefs that I already had were actually Islamic not merely "common sense."


    So after familiarizing myself with what Islam is basically about and what are the duties and proper conduct of a Muslim person, as well as thinking and reflecting, I felt ready to accept Islam and live as a Muslima. One day while at home I said the Shahada (declaration of faith) and began to perform the five daily salawat (prayers), al-Hamdulillah. That was in February 1993, several days before the fasting month of Ramadan began. I did not want to miss the fasting this time! I found the fasting to be much easier than I had anticipated; before I fasted I had worried that I might faint. At first there was a bit of an adjustment period getting used to the new routine of performing salah and fasting, and I made some mistakes, but it was exciting and not difficult. I started to read the Qur'an (Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation) when I was given one soon after accepting Islam. Before that I had read only excerpts of it in other books. Also in the beginning, I found The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam by Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi to be a useful guide.


    In January 1996 (during Ramadan) I started to wear the Islamic headscarf (hijab). I realized that I could not fully submit to Allah (SWT), which is what being Muslim is about, without wearing it. Islam must be accepted and practised in its entirety; it is not an "alter-to-suit-yourself" religion. Since becoming a Muslima I was aware that the headscarf is required of Muslim women and I had intended to wear it eventually. I should have worn it immediately upon accepting Islam but for many Muslimas (even some from Muslim families) it is not easy to take that step and put it on in a non-Muslim society. It is silly how so many persons get upset over a piece of fabric! Also, it is interesting to note that Christian nuns are never criticized for covering their heads. Never in my life did I have negative feelings toward muhajjabas (women who wear hijab) when I saw them. What made me hesitate to put it on was fearing receiving bad treatment from others, especially family. But we must fear Allah (SWT) only, not others. In the few months before I permanently put on hijab I started "practising" wearing it. I wore it when I travelled between my home and the local masjid on Fridays when I started attending the jum'a salah (Friday congregational prayer). (Of course, since becoming Muslim I always wore it during every salah). A couple of weeks prior, in du'a I began asking Allah (SWT) to make it easy for me to wear it.


    The day I finally put it on permanently I had reached the point where I felt that I could no longer go out with a bare head, and I thought "tough bananas" if others do not like me wearing it since I alone am accountable for my actions and am required to perform my Islamic duties, and I could never please everyone anyway. Sometimes opposition to hijab is a control issue: some persons just plainly do not like those who are determined and independent especially if it is their child.


    Upon wearing it I immediately felt protected and was finally able to go out and not be the target of stares/leers from men. At first I felt a bit self-conscious but after several weeks I felt completely used to wearing hijab. Sometimes other persons look puzzled/confused, I think because they are not used to seeing pale-faced, blue-eyed Muslimas! By the way, wearing hijab is da'wah in a way as it draws attention to Islam.


    Since accepting Islam I continue to seek knowledge about the Deen (religion) which is a lifelong duty for all Muslims--male and female. Currently, I am learning Arabic and hope to be able to read the Qur'an in Arabic soon, insha'Allah. Reading, discussing Islam with other Muslims, and the Friday jum'a khutba are all educational. Striving to be as pious as one can be and fighting against one's own evil traits (jihad al-nafs) takes effort and is continuous and never ending for Muslims.


    I find Islam ever-more fascinating, and I enjoy living as a Muslima.
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 05-04-2005 at 02:40 AM.
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Exclusive! From The Ui Forum!

    Here's an interesting one:

    Quote Originally Posted by Shirley
    Bismillah al Rahmaan al Raheem
    With the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

    All praises are due to God, alone with no partners, and may the peace and blessings of Almighty God be upon His final Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his family and all his companions.

    For as long as I can remember, I have believed in one God, and my relationship with God developed from wonder at and gratitude for everything around me that He had created.

    I grew up in the seventies and eighties in rural Ireland. My family is Catholic and in my childhood the only religion I was exposed to was Catholicism. Despite this, there were things I was being taught which offended my instinctive sense of the oneness of God. For example, one night my Grandmother, after saying her prayers, took a plastic crucifix over to my bed and asked me to "kiss God". I was just a little kid, and didn't like to disobey by Grandmother, but I just couldn't do it, saying "it's just plastic. That's not God". Needless to say, my Grandmother was shocked and I was upset too to hurt her feelings, but I could not betray what I knew in my heart to be true.

    In school, the religion lessons taught in the early years were things I could relate to; looking at what God had created, and hearing stories from the life of Jesus (peace be upon him). I found everything to do with religion enthralling, and especially loved to learn about angels. However, this changed when the time came for the class to prepare for Confirmation. This was the first time I became conscious of the concept of Trinity. Suddenly, the teacher was saying "Jesus is God". I was stunned, could not believe my ears! I looked at the girl sitting next to me to see how she was reacting, but she did not appear to find anything wrong! Then, I became frightened, and decided not to speak about my feelings on the matter. At that vulnerable age, I could not face the conflict between what people in authority were telling me and what my heart was telling me.

    I was very successful at subduing my doubts about Catholicism, to the point that, as a teenager, I was able to overlook the contradictions which were so obvious to me as a child. All through my teens and early twenties, I was a regular Mass-goer, and found solace in the readings from the Gospel and the Old Testament. The Church was a source of peace and comfort. I liked to read about religion, and wanted to learn more about other religions, not because I felt dissatisified at that time with Catholicism, but wanted to see what truth there might be beyond it, the common truth shared by different faiths.

    This was before the internet became widespread, and information was difficult to come by. The only books I could find that mentioned Islam, seemed to paint a picture of a terrifying fanatical people who inexplicably attached themselves to a man (Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) about whom I could find no-one to say a good word. However, this only made me more curious. Why did people choose to be Muslim? There had to be more to this religion than what I had so far seen. I got a chance to learn more when I went to work in London after finishing college.

    Walking home from work one day, I noticed the local library was having a sale of some old books. I had a browse, and found one booklet called 'The Revelation'. In it were some verses of the Qur'an, and the story of how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) went to the cave at Hira and received revelations from the angel Jibreel. It was a delightful surprise to me that the angel Gabriel who had visited Mary was also known in Islam. Now Islam became less alien-seeming and more accessible, but at that time, that was as far as I was ready to go in studying it.

    I returned to Ireland a few months later, and spent the next few years concentrating on getting a career going. And it was at work that I met the man who was destined to become my husband. As we got to know each other, we soon realised we wanted to spend our lives together. I set myself the task of learning as much as I could about my husband's native country, Pakistan, and his language, culture and beliefs. When he spoke about Islam, his face would light up with love and reverence, which opened my heart to wanting to learn more about it.

    He offered a Qur'an for me to read, but I was actually frightened to read it at first, because I thought 'what if I read something in here that I have to believe - I might have to change my whole life!' I was frightened of the truth, and what it would mean for my comfortable, complacent life. But soon, I realised it was foolish to be afraid of the truth, and when I did read the Qur'an, it was like coming home! I describe it as like hearing again a long lost and most beloved voice; it was a sense of recognition deep within, that this is from God.

    I also read about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his character, how he prayed, what he endured for the sake of Islam, and found a man of incomparable God-consciousness. The graciousness with which he prayed was so striking - I asked myself if his were the words of a false prophet. I could not believe that. And if he was truly a Prophet of God, then it was incumbent upon me to listen to him. He called to absolute purity of worship, with the message that your God is one God, therefore worship Him alone. Was this not the same message of Jesus and all the Prophets (peace be upon them)?

    Among the Muslims I met during this time, some were more devout than others, but it was the women for whom Islam was the centre of their lives who showed me that 'the straight path' of Islam is the path of a true human being. It seemed to me their faces glowed with strength and peace, and I wanted some of that for myself! A good example of this is my mother-in-law. I spent quite a lot of time with her before and after I reverted, and she continues to provide me with a standard to live up to of generosity, kindness and devotion to prayer.

    Although there were good people to support me, coming to the decision to revert to Islam was something I had to do alone, because I had to reach a point of certainty in my own heart. Turning back from the path I had been on, to walk the path of Islam, was a movement of my heart towards God. No-one else could do it for me. I reached the point where my mind was full of questions, and all the time my heart was yearning for the truth, praying, begging God for guidance and light.

    If it was possible to be Christian and Muslim at the same time, I would probably have tried to do that! There were positive elements apparent in both, and I could see similarities between the two; both believing in one God, in the virgin birth of Jesus (peace be upon him), in the resurrection, judgement and heaven and hell. However, the differences between them were irreconcilable, and there were for me three issues in particular about which I had to choose either the Islamic or the Christian view, as I could not believe both. These were the questions of original sin, trinity, and the crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him).

    I asked myself - is it justice that a newborn baby carries on her soul the sin of her earliest ancestor, Adam (peace be upon him)? Is it justice that we should be held to account for a sin we did not commit? Is it justice to send an innocent man to be tortured to death for the sake of the guilty? Why would God require a human sacrifice in order to be appeased? Is God a bloodthirsty tyrant that he will not forgive unless innocent blood is spilled? And if Jesus (peace be upon him) is God (aoudhubillah), does that mean that God sent Himself to be sacrificed to Himself as a ransom to... Himself? And when Jesus (peace be upon him) prayed, was he praying to himself? Again, if Jesus (peace be upon him) was perfect, then surely he lived the most commendable life possible, so why then do his followers neglect to follow his example i.e. he was circumcised, never ate pork, performed ablutions, adhered to the law of Moses (peace be upon him), but what Christians do any of this today?

    On the other hand, there was the guilt factor. Wouldn't embracing Islam be a betrayal of Jesus (peace be upon him)? And of my dear family who sincerely love their religion? And my ancestors who suffered persecution because of their Catholic religion, and yet did not abandon it?

    And one day, I was no longer left with unanswered questions. On that day, serenity covered my heart, and at last it arrived at a peaceful rest, believing that each soul is born in perfect purity; that no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another; and it is not justice that a Messenger of God, one of the best of all human beings, should be executed as a criminal; God is perfect, and God's mercy and justice is perfect; God can forgive whatever sin He wishes; God does not want blood, it is not blood that reaches God. When God wills to create, He has only to say to a thing 'Be', and it is! Exalted in the highest Glory is God from what is ascribed to Him of having a son! Jesus (peace be upon him) was a messenger of God, calling his people back to the right path, one in a long line of messengers, performing miracles by God's permission. And the people of old, who were completely ignorant of Islam, who is to say they might not have become the most devout Muslims if they had the opportunity to know about Islam?

    None has the right to be worshiped but God alone, and all power and all praise belong to Him, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds, the sole Source of Guidance.
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 05-04-2005 at 02:39 AM.
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    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

  4. #3
    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Exclusive! From The Ui Forum!

    Our very own Br. _salam_'s story!

    Quote Originally Posted by _salam_
    Well, seeing as how I am a revert to Islam I think I should jump in here, so here we go from the begining.

    I was born and raised in a Catholic family, not an extremely religious family, but we did go to church every Sunday and on occasion it was more of a part of our lives than other times. My Mother had put me in Religious Education classes, or what you could call "Sunday School", starting at the time I was in grade school and going up through high school. I had gone through all the sacraments up to Confirmation but despite all of this I had never really been a religious person. I always believed in God, and had always believed in what I had been taught about the Bible for the most, but like I said religion was never really a big part of my life.

    Around the time I was in high school was when I started to have my doubts about my religion. I can't say there was any one thing that caused me to start having doubts. I think it was that I was learning more about my religion and certain things within it just didn't seem to be right to me. Like the whole story in Genesis, and how when taken literally it completely goes against everything we know today, that just didn't fit with me. In my view I beleived that God was all knowing, so why would God have given us something so ridiculous. I remember being confused about how I viewed God and how the church had explained God to me, it just didn't seem to add up. So after a while I had kind of formed my own personal view of who God was and how God should/would act. However, this wasn't a huge deal for me because like I said earlier religion wasn't something that was on my mind a lot or a real part of my life.

    Also around this time I went through some really rough times. I had become very depressed about life, and one of the main things that bothered me was that I couldn't figure out what the meaning of this life was. What was my purpose for being here, what was I suppose to do with my life in order to be happy. Religion didn't seem to answer these questions for me because at this time in my life I had adopted a somewhat Deist view of things. That is I believed that there was a God but that He just stayed out of our affairs and had left everything to run itself. And that religion was meaningless, after all there seemed to be no proof that religion had any truth to it anyway. All the proof, and evidence, and science of today seemed to show all the errors of religion and that the Bible just contained mere stories, and most of them appeared to not be true. After having held this view for a little while my extreme lack of faith in religion and God in general, eventually led to my disbelief in God. I had now, in my later years of high school at about age 18, considered myself an Atheist.

    I was still having a lot of very hard times in my life, dealing with depression and still wondering what this life was all for. I thought certain things would give my life meanig and make me happy, and I would offten hope or fantasize about having these things, but even when I attained some of them, things didn't change and in the end I usually fealt worse about life anyway. My whole life at this point was just being with my group of friends that I had and partying and drinking, and that was about it. Now some might say that having friends around you is a good thing and I would agree, however, the group of friends I had were not "good" friends. These people were nice and everything but the truth is that they could have cared less if I was there with them or not, and those aren't good friends to have. I had become your typical American college kid who went and partied as hard as he could on the weekends, and sometimes during the week, and then spent the rest of the week waiting for the weekend to come around again. This was about all the meaning I saw for my life, with the exception of hoping to attain those things I fantasized would make my life better.

    I was now into my second semester of college (or what was the second semester of just last school year) and had chosen to take a world relgions class, not because of an interest in religion (cause I didn't have one) but because I thought it would be an easy class. It was about half way through the semester that we started learning about Islam, which I didn't know much of anything about. I mean I knew/had heard, from an old friend I had in high school who was Muslim, some basic things like the 5 pillars and that Muslims believed in Jesus (pbuh), but that was about the extent of my knowledge. Then one day in class, shortly after having started talking about Islam, our teacher had us watch this brief video about Islam. Little did I know, this video was about to change my life, dramatically, forever!

    I was sitting there in class somewhat paying attention to the video and somewhat thinking about other things when they recited the begining of surah 96, the very first surah to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

    "Proclaim! in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created, created man, out of alaaq: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, He Who taught (the use of) the pen, taught man that which he knew not."

    I can't remember what word was used to describe alaaq, but it didn't matter because right after the verse was read, a Sheik (unfortunately I don't remember his name) explained that what the word was refering to was a zygote, and how could a human living 1400 years ago know about such things. This verse immediately grabed my utmost attention, and has not ceased in holding me within it's grasp since then. I was completely dumb founded saying to myself, "How could this be? Science is actually coinciding with, and proving religion?" After class I immediately went home and started doing my own research about Islam online and I was absolutely amazed at what I found. Not only did I find proof supporting this religion, it's view of who God is was exactly the same view that I had come to on my own some time before. It was like I had believed the same things that are taught within Islam all along, with the exception of my brief touch with Atheism.

    After doing quite an extensive amount of my own research about Islam I was sure that I wanted to become a Muslim. It happened a short while afterwards when I finally got up the courage to go to one of the local masjids where I was asked by one of the brother's if I wanted to take shahada, and I agreed. Around this time, either shortly before or after I took shahada, I remembered an event that took place a couple of months before when I was in the car driving. I remember I was driving to a friends apartment, most likely for a party or something of the sort, and I was in a very depressed mood at the time. I remember wondering what the purpose of my life was, and I remember being in tears crying out desperately (despite me being an Atheist at the time) "What is the purpose of me being here, why? Oh God, if there is a God, please help me, please give me some sort of answer, please give me a sign!" When I remembered this event I was trully astonished. I was astonished at how after sincerely asking for some sort of help I had recently been guided to Islam. I was astonished at how, what seemed to me to be the first time in my life, my prayers had been answered. I was astonished at how I had asked for some sort of sign and now here it was before my very eyes. And I was astonished at how Allah had bestowed His mercy on me and answered my prayers and guided me to Islam even after all that I had done in my life. My realization of this event really made true certain verses in the Qur'an such as verse 13:11

    "For each (such person) there are (angels) in succession, before and behind him: They guard him by command of Allah. Allah does not change a people's lot (or condition) unless they (first) change what is in their hearts. But when Allah willeth a people's punishment, there can be no turning it back, nor will they find, besides Him, any to protect."

    Just as a popular hadith says, I had to take that first step towards Allah but once I took that step Allah came running towards me. Whenever I think back on all that has taken place, all I can think to say is;

    Alhamdulilah, Alhamdulilah, Alhamdulilah!
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 05-04-2005 at 02:38 AM.
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    Masha'Allah. Revert stories are always interesting. I always enjoy readin' them.

    Jazaka'Allah Khairun bro

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    One of the greatest stories has to be Napoleon form the Outlawz, coming back from all that happened to him to accept Islam.
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
    Would someone please post some stories they really liked?


    I really liked this story of a boy who converted at the age of 10 !!!!!
    just read on :
    By Waa’il Abdul Salaam



    My story of becoming a Muslim at the age of ten years old might be unusual, but it was very real for me. I want to share my story in case other kids might be going through the same problems I went through. I was born into my birth family, with a mother who was Roman Catholic and a father who was Baptist. When I was born I had one sister who was a year and a half older than myself. When I was six weeks old, my birthfather took me from my crib and ran off with another woman. He left my birthmother alone with my sister. He hid me and was involved in drugs. I remember the first few years of being very hungry and alone. I remember how I was very angry and had a bad temper.



    During those first few years, my birthmother’s friends got her a job as a bartender, so she could support herself and my sister. After awhile one of my birthfather’s friends went to her and told her where I was because he was afraid something bad was going to happen. My birthmother came right away and found my birthfather and his friends doing drugs. She saw me running around being neglected, so she picked me up and left with me. I didn’t really know her. I guess maybe I thought I was being kidnapped or something, so I threw temper tantrums every chance I got and became even more angry.



    Eventually my birthmother finally got me to smile, learn how to hug, and even say I love you, all things I didn’t know how to do when she found me. My birthmother then had two of us kids to support and herself, so she wound up spending more time working at the bar, which meant we had to stay with different babysitters. One day my birthfather came to the house where we lived and took me back where he was living with another lady. By the end of that year, he tried to put me in school which did not work. I did everything I knew that was bad just to get into trouble.



    The school called and said I couldn’t come back because of my behavior, so he took me back and dumped me at my birthmother’s doorstep. She was happy I was back and took me to my sister’s school. I thought I was getting left again, so I threw a fit, hit my teachers and other kids, and the school called my birthmother and said I couldn’t go to school there either. I was mad at everyone. I did the worst things I could think of to do every chance I got. This time my birthmother got on a plane with me and we flew to her mother’s house, (my grandma’s) far across the country, in another state. She was nice and loving to me, but she was very strict about my throwing fits. She didn’t yell at me or anything, but whenever I destroyed something or had a tantrum, she would take hold of my hand and walk me outside to a pile of small wooden blocks, on the side of the house. She would tell me to move all the little wood blocks from one side of the driveway to the other, and when I was done to come and let her know. Then she would go back inside and leave me there to do it by myself. At first I was so mad at her, but by the time I finished moving the little blocks, I wasn’t mad any more. It was kind of like a game.



    By the end of the eight months I lived with my grandmother, I stopped throwing tantrums, and I used to sit on her lap and listen while she read bible stories and poems to me until I fell asleep. I learned all my school lessons, knew how to ride a horse, and I absolutely knew how to move blocks around. At the end of that time, it was time for me to go back home, and I was doing so well that I got to ride on a plane all by myself (with an escort of course). I felt very grown up and very happy. She told me that I was going to be just fine, and that whenever I got angry or sad or lonely, I should think about God. She said I should always remember how He took care of all the people in the Bible and if I would ask him she knew he would take care of me too. She told me whenever I got upset of angry that I should never hurt someone. Instead I should just pray to God until I wasn’t angry anymore.



    After I got back home, my mother was happy because I wasn’t hurting people. I wasn’t throwing tantrums. I was eating well and not afraid to sleep. I was happy almost all of the time. Then, again my birthfather came one day. He saw how good I had turned out and just like before, he took me away again. He knew my birthmother had to work to take care of us kids but he would never give her even one penny to help. He even divorced her without telling her. She worked all the time, babysitters took care of my sister and a new brother that had born while I was away, and I was gone again. The new lady my birthfather was living with was so cruel. I lost a lot of weight and I am not sure how things happened, but it was during that time that I supposedly split my head open on monkey bars at the school, and supposedly was hit by a jeep in front of their home. I don’t remember those things too clearly, but I do remember his girlfriend picking up a two by four and hitting me with it in the front yard. I also remember my birthfather slamming my head into the kitchen table because I didn’t write fast enough. He and his lady friend would threaten me by convincing me that the devil would come out of my bedroom floor and take me to burn in hell if I got out of bed while they were having drug parties.



    This went on until I was in fourth grade. My birthfather used to show me a big baggie filled with drugs he was then getting from a doctor and telling me how good they made him feel. His house was filled with dirty magazines and MTV movies and it all seemed normal because that was all I ever knew back then. I didn’t know there was any other way to live. I had long forgotten how my grandmother had taught me to pray and I couldn’t remember the wonderful days I spent with her, or riding the horses, or being hugged and read to, about God. All the bad stuff at that age seemed to push the good stuff away. When it was time to start fourth grade I became uncontrollable at school, figuring I would get sent back to my birthmother or grandmothers. I didn’t stop until I got what I wanted and it worked. I was taken back and left with my birthmother. By then, she was working around sixty hours a week, would come home tired, be yelling and screaming, expecting us to take care of ourselves, and not to give her anymore trouble. I wanted attention from her, so I went back to being a brat and being mean to my sister, and by then my new little brother who I resented even more.



    By the end of the first month of that school year, I was the worst I had ever been. My birthmother couldn’t cope with me one minute longer. My birthfather had already made me go to doctors and they put me on five different kinds of medicine from Ritalin to even worse drugs, to try to control me and even that didn’t work. In fact, that stuff made me worse and none of it worked. I beat up other kids, started fights, accused them of doing things they didn’t do, stole things, lied, refused to obey the teachers, or do any work. School to me was a place I was going to play and do whatever I wanted to do. I knew they couldn’t do anything about it. I thought I was really something and all I thought about was me. They sent me to the hall, to the office, home, even put a box around me in class to keep me from bothering other kids, and I still didn’t give up.



    Don’t get me wrong here, I am NOT saying all this to sound cool. I was an idiot to say the least. I know that now. I want other kids to know it doesn’t have to be that way, regardless of their family problems. So, if I don’t say how bad it had gotten they won’t be able to understand. I was only ten years old. I am thirteen, almost fourteen now, and I think back when I was ten and I cannot believe I was even the same person or that the kid I am telling you about above was for real. He was for real and he was me! Most people wouldn’t believe that a ten-year-old kid could be as bad and do as bad of things as I did, but this is true. It all finally came to the end for me, when I called another kids home, pretending to be another kid and saying the boy was missing. You can image how much trouble I was in then! That only got me put on more drugs from the doctor. All those drugs made me see things and hear things that weren’t there and made me angry enough to be dangerous. I don’t believe anyone should put their kids on those drugs even if the school insists. Adults just have no idea what those drugs do to kids or what they make kids think about. I am proof to tell you that kids are not going to admit to parents or doctors or anyone, when they have horrid thoughts, because of the drugs. Anyway, when the drugs weren’t helping and I was getting into even more trouble, it was at that point they threatened to put me out of the family forever. All of a sudden, my birthmother didn’t want to put up with it anymore and my birthfather didn’t want me either. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.



    When I least expected it, there was someone who offered to take me into their home and try to help me. They didn’t have children living at home, so there would be no one for me to hurt and they would homeschool me, until my behavior got in check. Neither of them drank and they didn’t use drugs. They were not going to give me any drugs and promised I didn’t have to go to a bunch of doctors unless I was physically sick. It was my last chance. I said okay and I was put on a plane and sent to their home. They picked me up from the airport. It was Jumaana and her husband Waseem. All of a sudden I felt different. Here was a new couple. I thought I would get away with more stuff. The family back at my home already knew my routines, so they caught me right away everytime I did something wrong, but these two wouldn’t know how I operated. At first, I tried to be loud and a real brat. I did a good job for a few days, reminding them both that they said I didn’t have to take all those drugs. They looked like they didn’t know what to do with me exactly but they re-assured me that their promise was good.



    They had a room all ready for me when I arrived. The walls were pale blues, my favorite color. It had a blue carpet and blue drapes and even a blue bedspread. There was a desk, just for me to use, and even a small fish tank with a light that stayed on all night and fish that swam in and out of the rocks. It was incredible. I had never had anything like that for myself. I used to sleep on the floors on a blanket or on a couch in the living room before. As the days passed, the drugs were draining out of my body. It made me tired and drowsy most of the first few weeks and I slept a lot. I was ten years old and weighed forty-eight pounds because the drugs make you too sick to eat. By the end of the first month, I gained several pounds and felt better than I had in a long time. I did NOT want to get put back on that stuff ever again. The second month, my homeschool box was delivered to the house and Jumaana began to teach me every day, when Waseem was at work.



    I could see how different it was in Jumaana’s and Waseem’s house. Not just because it was in Denver, but it was lots of things. At certain times, Jumaana would leave the room to go to her room. I would pretend to keep working, but I couldn’t help but notice that she would put on a long scarf over her head and a small rug on the floor and I wasn’t sure what she was doing back then, but she would be praying. I watched her do that every day and finally one day, I asked about it. I think that was when I stopped being so bad and started wondering about other things. See the house there was different, quieter, more peaceful, something I wasn’t sure about, because for ten years I had only known people who were either drugged up or drunk, or just plain mean. This was like a different planet, I think you could say. I didn’t exactly know what to think about it, but I did start liking being there. I tried not to get too attached because I figured one day I would get sent away again, it always happened and I didn’t want to think about it. That’s why I would have a couple good days and then I would go back to my old ways, just in case I guess.



    Every day I asked more and more questions. Jumaana or Waseem would do their best to answer them. I wanted to learn to pray too, so one day I asked if I could pray with her. She said I could and even opened her closet and gave me new blue velvety prayer rug. I followed everything she did and I listened to every word, but I still couldn’t seem to be still, always wiggling and moving around, but after a couple weeks I could be still, and I felt so peaceful inside. I never remember feeling that way before. One evening, after I had gotten settled into bed for the night, Jumaana came into my room and ask if I was doing okay. I told her yes and she said she thought I had become more quiet lately and wondered if there was anything I needed. Waseem and her always talked nice to each other, and I never heard them fight or anything like the people back in my old home did. I couldn’t believe they talked so nice to each other and they were talking to me that way now too. I couldn’t quite figure things out. I thought maybe it would be okay if I told her I wanted to be a Muslim too. I really did want to be and I didn’t know how to do it. So, I just came out and said it. “I want to be a Muslim”.

    She smiled and asked if I knew what being a Muslim was. I told her I didn’t but I wanted to be one. She tucked me in, gave me a hug, left the room and came back with some children’s books on Islam. That night I read them until I fell asleep. The next day I finished the books and I couldn’t get enough to read. I read about saying Shahada and so I told her right away that I needed to say it, so that I could be a Muslim. They reminded me that I was only ten years old and so maybe I would need to study more first. I told them that I had already read all the books and I had to say the Shahada that very day. I know I was young, but it didn’t seem that way to me at the time, because all I knew was that I had to become a Muslim. It was right for me and I knew it, right from the beginning. Later that night, on December 29, 2000, I officially said the Shahada to Jumaana and Waseem, and I became a Muslim.



    Jumaana continued to teach me at home and I passed the fourth grade and the fifth grade all in one year. I also was given privileges to read whatever books I wanted from the shelves of books Waseem and Jumaana had. They had books on all the religions, but I read every one they had on Islam. I asked lots of questions about the difference in religions because I didn’t know why everyone in the world wasn’t following Islam. I went to the little town library where we lived and got to know the librarian there. She ordered me lots more books on Islam and would ask me questions about it too. She said I knew a lot for my age and was surprised about how much I knew about Islam. Then after I read everything they had, I would go to the big public downtown library and find all kinds of books on Islam. I knew I could never be any other except a Muslim.



    My birthparents did not want me to come back to live with them ever. They only remembered me the way I was when they sent me away. I really didn’t want to go back to live the way I had before or live with them with the drinking, drugs, fighting, and chaos either. They had not sent any money to take care of me the whole first year I lived with Jumaana and Waseem. Waseem was ready to retire but he kept on working just to take care of me, and Jumaana had given up her writing to teach me at home. They had done these things because they cared about what happened to me. I really didn’t want to ever leave them. So, after I lived with them for a year, the courts granted me a legal adoption. It would be the only way they could have the right to make decisions about my schooling and other legal issues that they couldn’t do, because they were not considered my parents. Because my birthparents hadn’t had contact with me and never sent any support for the whole year, the court could make me go into a home or foster care, if they wanted to. I was so afraid that if my birthparents all of a sudden wanted to take me back because I was so much better, that they would do the same things to me they had before and I also knew they would never let me stay a Muslim.



    I prayed so hard every day, five times a day and more, asking Allah to help me. Adoption in this country is the only way to assure legal rights and I wanted Waseem and Jumaana to adopt me more than anything. I was so happy when the courts felt it was the best thing for me too. The papers were filed and my birthparents were notified that adoption requests were filed. They didn’t even bother to contact the courts to contest it, in fact they quickly signed the papers to give me up. Actually I was happy about that. Then on the day of the adoption, the judge even told me I could change my name. I chose Waa’il because it meant ‘one who returns for shelter’ and I felt like I went to Jumaana’s and Waseem’s for shelter. Also I felt like I had returned to ‘Islam’ so that was a shelter for me inside. It was the best thing in my whole life that ever happened to me. Because of the delays in removing the parental rights of my birthparents, the date for my adoption was changed, making it fall on the first day of Ramadhan in 2001. It was like Allah was blessing me over and over again.



    So, in these last three and a half years, my life is so incredibly different. Sometimes it is hard to think back what it used to be like before becoming a Muslim. Having had such a stubborn and defiant attitude those first ten years of my life still affects me sometimes, but I am really so different than I was back then. People don’t think I am only thirteen and a half when they meet me. Most of them think I am a lot older. I think it is probably because I had such a tough life from the time I was born until I came to live with my new parents. They encourage me to keep at least some kind of contact with my birthfamily, but it’s okay now because I know they cannot come and take me away or tell me I can’t be a Muslim. I know that I am safe and I believe Allah allowed all of this and made it all happen, which makes the bad parts I remember bearable now, because I found Islam and maybe I would never have found Allah if all that stuff hadn’t happened. Well, at least I think that way now.



    My sister even came and spent a week during her school break this last December/January. I hadn’t seen her in over three years. She is fifteen now and flew here on her own to stay with us for the week. She was shocked at the change in me. I had grown to five foot ten inches in height from being half her size when I left, which made me tower over her by almost a foot. I also outweighed her by fifty pounds, after having last been seen a scrawny skeleton of a kid. When I left I was wearing a ‘rug rats’ hat and ‘harry potter’ clothes from television and cartoon shows. When she saw me this time, I was wearing a Kufi or one of my other kinds of Islamic caps and a Kurris. When I left I had been a loud, troublemaking, obnoxious brat, who had failed three out of five grades and who couldn’t even write a complete sentence. This time she saw me polite, quieter, having passed all my grades, skipping a whole grade which put me in the same grade as she was. She would see me stop whatever I was doing, to go to Prayer five times every day. She really hated me when I left home at age ten, and was expecting me to be the same. She told me after a couple days of being with us, that she could hardly believe I was the same person and she really liked me as her brother now. She found out I was a Muslim. Because I had changed so much, she asked a ton of questions about Islam, took back a bunch of Islamic books I gave her, and told everyone back there that they just wouldn’t believe how different I was. Now, every once in a while, my birthmother will let my brother and sister call, and she even talks to me a few minutes. I send books for them to read about Islam and I hope someday they will all become Muslims too. I know they would be so much happier if they did.



    My life seems a hundred years away from the way it used to be. I have become a Muslim now going on four years, been blessed with new Muslim parents, had my adoption finalized on the very first day of my very first Ramadhan, learned my prayers in Arabic, read my new parent’s entire library of books on Islam, exhausted the public libraries of their Islamic books, been given a new name and a new life. I don’t know what else I could ask for. I am studying very hard to finish my high school in another two years. I will be sixteen, but I feel like I am a lot older. I know now that I didn’t need drugs to make me behave. I didn’t need anger to get me through all those years of chaos. I didn’t need to be so hurtful to others, just to get attention. I didn’t need to cause such chaos for others. What I needed all along was Islam. I needed Allah. The way I see it is, that instead of these schools and parents putting their kids on Ritalin and other junk, they should put their time and money in studying Islam and teaching their children about Allah. When nothing else worked, and believe me a lot of people tried to get me straightened out, Allah did it. Allah can do anything. He can do everything. When he does something for you, it is the way it is supposed to be.



    I am Waa’il Abdul Salaam and this is my story.
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    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!



  9. #7
    leena.noor's Avatar
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    Coming to Islam part 1 and 2

    Asalaamu Aleykum Brothers and Sisters. Since my conversion, I have had so many people ask me to write down my account, so I think that right now is the time. As with many reverts, something happened in my old life that led me to where I am now. When I was in high school, in history class we were all assigned a religion to study, and the religion that my group picked was Islam. I found it very interesting and I really got involved in the project, but after it was over, I forgot most of it. From time to time I remember hearing about Islam from my mom (she loves Cat Stevens, and I remember her telling me about his conversion.) I was brought up in a family that is very open minded and never attached judgment to any of these things. I was baptized into the Catholic Church when I was eight years old because my parents thought that religion would help give some form of stability to my family. My parents were Christians one day a week at best, and never really impressed religion beyond what we learned in church upon us. My senior year in high school I started my search for religion. I became a devoted Christian going to a different church every Sunday, and going to Bible study. I went to Nicaragua the previous summer on a mission trip, but while there found a verse in 1Timothy that had me angry with God for days. Going to Nicaragua made me more convinced that Christianity is used as a coping tool because with out it, the people would not have the hope to survive. I attended more than 15 different denominational churches in my search for God.
    I study religion because I am able to see the part that it plays in the lives of individuals, but I never felt fulfilled. The more I learned, the more questions were being raised for me, and the more and more unsatisfied I felt. I ignored these feelings and came to a Catholic College, and became active in the Campus ministry. It was at college that I met Muslim sisters that began to teach me about Islam. Looking back, I was so ignorant, and they were so patient, teaching me over and over. My friend went back and looked at our first conversation and laughs at some stupid things I said. I remember not being able to say the whole greeting, and then how happy I was when I realized that I could say it correctly. My Muslim sisters I met gave me websites and people to talk to about Islam, and through these people I learned more and more.
    I never intended to convert. I still was misinformed about the roles of Women in Islam. Because of what I read and because of the media, I did see them as silent and subservient. I had my eyes open when I met some wonderful Muslim sisters. When I saw a Sister pray I knew that I wanted to convert. It was so beautiful and fluid, and I could feel the closeness with God. I kept telling people I didn't want to convert but when the fact that I believed Shahadah was pointed out to me; I couldn't stop thinking about religion. All day in my classes, before I slept, all my time awake I studied Islam and kept questioning why I was here on this earth. I came to the realization that it was to worship Allah. I took Shahadah in my heart long before I took it with witnesses. When I was put on the phone with someone that pointed out that I believed in Islam, it was then I cried. I cried because I realized that my life was about to change, and I couldn't ignore it. I was scared to go to the masjid to say Shahadah so I put it off. When I did go, I was so nervous. It was a fun experience for me to go to the masjid though. Someone even took my flip-flops to make wudu. In the following months, I have faced a lot of difficulties and obstacles in my faith. I hope to InshaAllah learn more about Islam everyday, and have my eyes opened more and more everyday. Thank you to all of the wonderful brothers and sisters that have helped me on my journey...and my I grow closer everyday to the relationship that Allah wants me to have with HIM.
    Part two:

    Sometimes I think that living in IN ruined me. It makes me care what other people through of me, too much, and it didn’t expose me to as many cultures and religions as I would like to have been exposed to. My grandfather is a Catholic priest and more than anything else in my life, I fear his finding out that I converted. I was at one time completely encompassed by fear about what my parents would think. Even before I converted I was so incredibly afraid of what other people would and will think about my conversion. I spend hours explaining Islam to people and dispelling their unguided incorrect information, but never tell them that, I am in fact a Muslim. I don’t look like a stereotypical Muslim. I am white, with light brown hair and blue eyes, and I look like a good little American Christian girl. I don’t wear hijab; once again for my fear of people paying me undo interest. I remember going to the masjid and I have to walk about half a mile from the train station, and being terrified because I put hijab on and was afraid that someone was going to do something to me while I was walking to the masjid. Nothing happened though, and I am starting to realize that all of my fears from living around close-minded people aren’t necessary here. People in this area are used to seeing women in hijab. People in Indiana would think that I’m a nun. I am very picky with the people I tell that I’m Muslim. It took a month and a half and there are still a couple people in my office that don’t know I’m Muslim. When it came to finding a Muslim for a speaking engagement though, guess who they looked to J me…..hahaha that was rather interesting.
    Anyways though this was supposed to be about my telling my parents! I went home about three weeks ago, and I knew that I had to tell them. It was eating me up inside. I didn’t eat for three days before I went home, and I was just so incredibly nervous. I was having panic attacks and alternating between sleeping all the time and not sleeping at all, and it was all I could think about when I was awake, and when I was asleep I was dreaming of the worst-case scenario. It really wasn’t a good situation. People kept telling me, either, don’t tell them, or trust God.
    After I returned home, I was making a grilled cheese sandwich and my mother said something, I can’t remember what having to do with religion and looking into ‘Muslim’. I first couldn’t believe that she already knew I was looking into Islam and secondly couldn’t believe how uninformed about Islam she was. I told her not to tell my dad, so of course she leans over and yells out the window ‘hey John, I have something to tell you’. He comes over and is like ‘what’? My mom says in all her glory ‘your daughter is studying Muslim’ ….I about died, but I replied ‘Islam mom, its Islam.’ “Oh…she’s studying Islam then’. My father’s response was… “Where did you want to me to plant this?” I almost died with relief.
    When I went to pray my mom wanted to see my hijab and all of my Islamic paraphernalia that I had cleverly hidden in a backpack. I showed her and she was moderately interested. See, my parents have always taught my brother and I to be the most open minded, kind, charitable people that we are able to be, to ignore the chains of modern society and be our own person. Because of this, my mother now has a Wiccan son and a Muslim daughter. I think she is quite happy.
    While at home, my mother was making mac and cheese with ham in it and I explained that I didn’t eat ham and explained why. She the proceeded to make me my own little batch with no ham in it. When I left, I left her a book to read and that she did read and apparently took to heart. See, I am convinced that my mother would be a wonderful Muslim. After reading my book, she says out of solidarity with me, she stopped eating pork or anything containing pork products. The one thing is that she forgot to tell me this lol. I found out through my moms friend. I was completely shocked. My mother loved ham and all that stuff, and I cried because I realized that moment how much my mother loved me and would always support me, unless I became a Republican. That would seriously be the only way to get disowned in my family. Anyways, inshaAllah I can show my mother the way, and she can become a Muslim. I know that it’s in her heart, and I can show her the path. Salaam Aleykum brothers and sisters. Thank you for your support
    Please e-mail me with any comments because it will take a year to find any on here...thanks
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  10. #8
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    Subhan'Allah sis leena.noor, that has to be one of the most inspiring revert story that I've read so far. All Praise is due to Allah. Welcome to Islam sis. Insha'Allah, with Allah's guidance, I pray to Allah SWT that your mother also embraces this wonder way of life.

    Jazaka'Allah Khairun for sharin' sis and once again, welcome!!

    By the way, Ansar , that's her story!


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    A Jewish Man's Story of Finding Islam

    A Jewish Man's Story of Finding Islam

    Odyssey to Islam
    By Dr. Moustafa Mould

    After a spiritual journey of almost 40 years, a Boston Jewish linguist finds Islam in Africa.

    An odyssey is a long, wandering journey. The word comes from Odysseus (in Latin, Ulysses) a hero of the Homeric epic poem, The Odyssey. His journey home took ten years and was fraught with many mishaps, detours, dangers and adventures. In retrospect, my road to Islam – my journey home- seems like an odyssey. As I look back over my life, from my early childhood up until I finally made shahadah, a journey of almost 40 years, it seems that there were many signs, many turning points, many incidents, some significant, some trivial, that were all preparing me for and pointing the way to Islam.

    I grew up in Boston. It was very much a Catholic city, mostly Irish and Italian, with small but significant communities of blacks, Jews, Chinese, Greeks, Armenians and Christians Arabs, and in those days especially, each group had its own neighborhood. There were lots of Greek and Syrian restaurants, and I grew up loving Greek salad, shish kebob, lahm mishwi, kibbi, grape leaves, humus, anything with lamb, etc.

    My family were mostly working-class, conservative Jews. My grandparents had fled the anti-Semitism and pogroms of czarist Russia around 1903. They and their families had found work in the sweatshops of the garment district, a few were in craft skills, and they were quite active in their labor unions. I was to become the first in my family to get a university degree. Our home was not strictly kosher, but we would never dream of eating pork. All the holidays and fasts were observed, and for years I went to the synagogue every Saturday and holiday with my father and uncle.

    The synagogue we belonged to was conservative, close to orthodox but modernist: it was very traditional, but women were not totally segregated. I began " Madrasah" Hebrew school) at age six. It was 1948, which saw the birth of the state of Israel, and Zionist propaganda filled the atmosphere, as did conversations and sermons about the Nazis and concentration camps, and there were many recent immigrant refugee survivors.

    At that time there was still a lot of anti-Semitism in the U.S., especially in the South and the Midwest, but also in Boston. The Greeks, Syrians and Italians were fine, but the Boston Irish were a big problem, dating back to my parents’ generation in WWI and the 1920s. During my childhood I was often chased , spat on, insulted and beaten. They even held me down and pulled my pants down - in addition to the humiliation they wanted to see what a circumcision looked like.

    My Hebrew teachers were two Israeli brothers, who were orthodox, and veterans of the 1948 war. From them I learned modern Hebrew and absorbed a lot of Zionist ideology along with the religious teachings. I became more religious and an avid Zionist. I believed that Jews needed their own country in case of another Hitler - those Irish kids were doing nothing to allay my fears and I did not feel "at home" in America. I decided I would go and spend my life on a kibbutz ( communal farm).

    My father was a musician and a cantor (prayer leader). He had a beautiful tenor voice, preferred the more traditional, rather oriental, melodies, and chanted the prayers with lots of huzn (sorrow) ( when I learned that word recently I began to wonder if it might be related to Hebrew hazan = ‘cantor’). In our synagogue, the Torah reader used a very oriental sounding tajwid which I loved listening to.
    Believe it or not, I recently heard a friend reciting from the Qur’an and it sounded almost identical.

    One thing that stands out clearly in my memory, even now during salah, is that in the Jewish prayers there are regular references to prostration (sujud). In fact, it is a custom in the more orthodox synagogues that during Yom Kippur , the holiest fast day and the equivalent of ‘Ashurah’ , the cantor, on behalf of the congregation, actually makes sujud, while still chanting. This is no mean feat, and my father, with his powerful voice, did it extremely well. I remember thinking then that it would be really nice if we all actually did prostrate, instead of just bowing as a symbolic sujud.

    Around the age of eight or nine, I chanced to discover a radio station that broadcast programs of the local ethnic communities. I began to listen to the Yiddish, Greek and Armenian ones, and especially to the Arabic Hour. I fell in love with the music and the sound of the language. Using the Hebrew I knew, I tried to understand the news and figure out the sound correspondences; I noticed the differences between hamzah and ‘ayn, kh and h, k and q, distinctions which modern Hebrew has lost. This greatly improved my Hebrew spelling and I won prizes in Hebrew class. I also remember helping my friends cheat during spelling tests by repeating the words under my breath in an "Arabic " accent.

    By High School, I had discovered the Boston Public Library and its record section: besides classical, I discovered ethnic folk music from all over the world, but I especially gravitated to the Middle Eastern: Arabic, Turkish, Persian, then Indian-Pakistani. I learned to identify various regional styles, instruments and rhythms. I most loved the ‘oud, and I taught myself to play the dumbeg and accompany the recordings. Once, a group of Yemeni Jews came to Boston from Israel to perform folk songs and dances. I was fascinated by their appearance, costumes and music. They even pronounced Hebrew like me during a spelling test.

    I mention all these little things because there is an undeniable cultural component to Islam: the language, the melodies of adhan and Qur’an, social interactions and other features, which are really quite exotic and strange to the average Westerner, including westernized Jews, but which, by the time I encountered them years later in a different context, were already very familiar and pleasant to me, even to the point of nostalgia, and which helped make Islam easier for me to accept and follow. More on that later.

    My best friend in high school was also a strong influence on me. He read a lot of philosophy, poetry and religious literature. I didn’t care much for the first two, but I did read some of the religious writings, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist – and the Qur’an. I noticed that its stories were quite similar to the Bible stories, but I felt it was anti-Jewish. I was quite impressed, though, by its depiction of Jesus as a prophet, not just a rabbi. I accepted that, and that became my answer to my Catholic classmates when they would ask me what I believed about Jesus. They seemed not too displeased by that.

    I also attended an advanced "Madrasah", studying Jewish history, Hebrew, Torah, and added Aramaic and Talmud ( Jewish fiqh); the languages, though were still my chief interest. Also around that time, age fifteen, I lost my faith, my belief in God. Earlier, I’d concluded that if God commands us to do certain things, how can I not do them; so I tried to be more orthodox. Then, one day I found myself saying, if God says to do all this I must; but what if there is no God? Do I believe in God? I really don’t know, maybe not, I guess not. And if God doesn’t exist, I don’t need to be doing all this stuff. And I stopped.

    You can well imagine how upset my father was. Many people, particularly Roman Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants who grow up in a harsh religious environment, full of the threat of Hellfire and ****ation, beaten by the nuns at school and made to feel guilty about things that are merely a part of fitrah ( nature) – like their bodies - are happy to get out of the religion, become very anti-religion, and feel freed as if from a prison. My feeling was not like that; I felt sad, more like I’d suffered a loss, but there was nothing I could do; I knew it would be comforting to believe, but I couldn’t. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s I occasionally got these gnawing feelings and yearnings.

    As Jeffrey Lang said in his book about his conversion to Islam, there is an emptiness and a loneliness that an atheist feels, which people of faith cannot understand. The world is absurd, an accident. Science has, or will have, all the answers, but life has no real meaning or significance. Death is final. You can have influence and an impact on the world through your children; you can do well, be remembered in the history books for hundreds, even thousands of years; when the sun dies mankind may colonize other star systems, maybe even other galaxies.

    But ultimately, even if it takes 15 Billion years, the universe itself will die, or collapse into a black hole or whatever, and the end is absolute nothingness, the only thing that is infinite is a void. Life, then, is meaningless and death frightening. Truth and morality can become relative, which may lead to moral confusion, hedonism, and worse. But instead of the contempt for religious people that many atheists claim to feel, I respected them, and often envied them the security, the certainty, the comfort they experienced.

    I went overnight from almost orthodox to an atheist, though I still loved Jewish languages, culture, music, food, history. I was an "ethnic " Jew, and still a Zionist. Zionism was still largely a political philosophy, not so much a religious one. In fact, at that time there was still significant opposition to Zionism among many of the orthodox. The current religious, messianic type Zionism really didn’t develop until 1967 – 1973 when Israel seized Jerusalem. I also decided I wanted to be a historical linguist specializing in Semitic languages; but then the universities I chose didn’t accept me, and the one that did didn’t offer Arabic, or even linguistics.

    At my university in the early 60’s, I came into contact with a wider variety of people. For the first time I knew a large numbers of Protestants, more blacks, and most of the few foreign students, a couple of were Muslim. I was no longer encountering anti-Semitism, and I was beginning to enjoy and appreciate the diversity of Americans and my exposure to the international students. By the end of my sophomore year I was eating bacon and pork chops; at the same time I helped organize and was the president of the campus chapter of the Student Zionist Organization. I was New England vice president in my senior year.

    Many of us were politically left-wing, coming from working class families whose spectrum ranged from liberal democrat to communist. We were pro-labor and the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-McCarty, Nixon, the House Un-American Activities Committee. We revered Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson. We were into labor Zionism and the kibbutzim. One thing I want to emphasize, because of the profound effect it had on me years later: at that time most Jews were still socialists or liberal democrats, many were still working class, not quite so successful as now. I clearly remember right-wing Herut party, their expansionist ideology and terrorist activities in the 40’s. We considered them fanatics and lunatics.

    I took a seminar on the Middle East. At nineteen I thought I knew everything. My professor was Syrian, and I think a Muslim. I was going to teach him a few things. He was remarkably patient and tolerant with me, considering his obvious anti-Zionist, anti-Israel position. His criticisms of my papers were objective and mild, mainly that they were too one sided. I began to pay more attention to the other side, and I realized how much propaganda I’d absorbed and how much information had been ignored, if not hidden from us. I didn’t get a very good grade, but I learned a great deal. Professor Haddad made much of the rest of my life, secular and religious, possible.

    At the same time, I was becoming more and more involved in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements. I joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the NAACP, and participated in sit-ins at lunch counters. I helped found our campus chapter of the then mildly radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I majored in government, taking several courses in constitutional law and international relations. I went to Washington, D.C. in August, 1963, in the March on Washington and was standing about 60 feet from Dr. King when he made that wonderful speech.

    I’d lost my faith at 15; by 22 I’d lost Zionism. I still had my ethnic heritage, though I’d begun to feel uncomfortable with the clannishness of many Jews. I felt like a normal American fighting for American causes. I prepared to be a social studies teacher, but the job market was not good. After two years of substituting, and a temporary position at my old high school, I joined the Peace Corps, for the adventure and idealism improved my job prospects later – and to avoid being drafted and sent to Vietnam. I was selected to go to Uganda, East Africa.

    I was extremely happy in that beautiful country, living where the Nile flows out of Lake Victoria, teaching students who wanted to learn in a society where teachers were respected. I was learning new languages and cultures. I developed a taste for African and Indian-Pakistani cuisine. Since there wasn’t much else to do in a small, up-country town, I began going to Indian movies. I particularly liked Mohammed Rafi, the famous playback singers, especially his qawalis; he reminded me of my father’s cantorial music. I also enjoyed the Islamic, Omani Arab ambience I found on the coast: Mombassa, Dar es-Salam, Zanzibar.

    It was the first time not in a Hollywood (or Bombay) movie that I heard the adhan. Even in the movies its plaintive melodies always sent a thrill through my body. I was learning two African languages, Swahili and Luganda. Swahili was a very easy one for me; over half its vocabulary is from Arabic and practically the same as Hebrew. But Swahili is a Bantu language, and I was fascinated by the similarities and differences between Swahili and Luganda. I made up my mind: here was my (last?) chance to do what I’d always wanted – linguistics – but now with Bantu instead of Semitic languages. I applied to graduate school.

    I returned home through the Middle East and Europe – first stop Israel. It was 1969. I was no longer a Zionist, but even so, I was surprised at how disappointed I was. I know that part of it was the culture shock of leaving a small, up-country African town, people and a job that I loved; still, I was surprised by the brusqueness and arrogance of the Israelis I met – much like the American stereotype of the French. From an archaeological and historical perspective it was a good experience, but I couldn’t get over how alienated I felt from the culture and from what were supposed to be my people.

    I refused on principle to visit the West Bank – that was before they started building settlements – except for East Jerusalem; I couldn’t resist that. Standing at the wall of Solomon’s temple, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa gave me an intense feeling I could not describe at the time. I can describe it now: I was sensing a feeling of holiness; it’s no wonder the Islamic name is Al-Quds. But it upset me a great deal to see first-hand the discrimination and second-class status of the Palestinians, even the citizens. I had grown up in an American subculture where Jews had always been in the forefront of civil rights, labor and civil liberties struggles. To me, what I found in Israel wasn’t Jewish.

    The next ten years, ’69 - ’79, I spent in Los Angeles. I had missed 1968, one of the most important and turbulent years in modern American history. Though not surprised, I was very disheartened upon my return to the U.S. Blacks were separating from Whites by choice; SDS had become a bunch of raving Maoists, free speech was degenerating into filthy speech. I couldn’t be political again, except for an occasional anti-war or anti-Nixon demonstration. I was both attracted to and repelled by the hedonism of 70s California. I was tempted to indulge and half-heartedly did so, but - thank God for my fitrah and my good Jewish upbringing – I didn’t go very far; I mostly grew my hair and beard long. I was too absorbed in my studies, getting my doctorate, teaching, getting married then divorced, and looking for a decent academic position.

    Two things during that decade are relevant tom this story. Briefly, the Likud government in Israel, the building of settlements and the brutal treatment of the Palestinians, not to mention its alliance with South Africa, revolted and infuriated me, and turned me from a non-Zionist to a vocal anti-Zionist. Even worse to me was the knee-jerk support of the American Jewish community, which I’d though would oppose Likud at least quietly. Didn’t we all agree just a few years before that Begin and his ilk were lunatics?!

    Many of the settlers interviewed on the TV news were obviously American Jews. How could they have grown up in this country with these American - and Jewish - values, live through the civil rights revolution, and go do what they were doing there? There was more Jewish opposition in Israel than there was in the U.S. I felt betrayed, ashamed, disgusted. There were, of course - and are - other Jews who felt as I did, mainly those on the left, but only a few spoke out. Notable were I.F. Stone, a radical journalist and one of my heroes, and Noam Chomski, whose political writings on the Vietnam war and Palestine were as revolutionary as his theory of linguistics.

    In 1979, recently divorced, unable to land a tenure-track position, and missing Africa, I returned as an assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Nairobi. My father has passed away just a couple of months before I was to leave. I became friends with several faculty members, particularly my department chairman and a history professor, both Muslims from Mombassa, and the Arabic professor, my Sudanese next-door neighbor. I often ate lunch in the faculty dining room with them, and out of respect for them (and embarrassment, because I knew they knew I was a Jew) I never ate pork when I was with them. Before long I stopped eating pork completely. We often discussed the Middle East, Islam and Judaism, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they could be anti-Israel without being anti-Jewish; they were surprised that I could be a Jew and anti-Israel.

    Having more time on my hand than I’d enjoyed in a long time, I decided to catch up on my ever-growing reading list. I re-read the Bible: the Old Testament to clarify some confusion about chronology in ancient history, the New Testament because I never had and I though I ought to.

    I re-read the Qur’an. I knew nothing then of the early Islamic history. Sirah or Hadith, but I appreciated it more this time. I got that reaction again, though; why does it have to be so critical of the Jews; but, my memory recently refreshed, I recalled that the Torah itself and the rest of the Old Testament were equally critical, if not more so, than the Qur’an.

    But didn’t the Jews finally learn their lesson and truly become the People of the Book when they were expelled from Israel and Jerusalem the second time, and when the rabbis, synagogues and prayers replaced the priests, temple and sacrifices? What was it, then, about the Jews of Madinah; they were clearly reprehensible but they sounded so different from us European Jews, even from the Sephardi Jews of the time of the Caliphs; had they, like the Ethiopian and Chinese Jews, lacked the Talmud? I’m still curious about that. Anyway, that insight was later to prove to be a barrier removed.

    Someone wise once said that if your faith is weak, just pretend to have faith, and that will strengthen it. Africans, whether Christian, Muslim or Pagan, are spiritual people. To be an atheist is incomprehensible and ridiculous to them. Knowing this, I never said I was an atheist when questioned - as I constantly was- About my religion. I would reply that of course I believed in God, one God, but not in any particular religion. I was almost true, or at least what I wanted to believe if I could. I cannot say that I had a sudden flash of inspiration, like Paul on the road to Damascus, or a near-death experience ( I did have two, but without religious effect). It seems to me that, just by saying it and pretending it, it gradually came back to me.

    I’d become a deist, like another hero of mine, Thomas Jefferson. Maybe I would join the Unitarian Church, a popular group, especially in New England, which accepts Jesus as a prophet, and which includes many socially conscious, formerly Jewish and Trinitarian Christian, liberal intellectuals.

    Another contributing factor was my joining at that time the Nairobi symphony orchestra/chorus. It was an amateur group but they were excellent. I’d gone with some friends to their Easter concert to hear them perform the Mozart Requiem – music for a funeral mass. That music, intensely religious, was gorgeous, sublime awe-inspiring and inspirational. It wasn’t only the beauty of the music, though it was a major part, but the message – glorifying God, speaking of death, resurrection, the final Judgment and eternal life – moved me to tears. The next day I went and signed up to sing in the chorus.

    For the next three years I sang other masterpieces: masses, requiems, oratorios – Beethoven, Brahms, Bach, Verdi. It is all Christian, and some of it of course makes reference to Jesus as divine, but those words had no effect on m e; I was just helping make beautiful music. But the parts that spoke of God did touch me deeply and helped me gradually regain my faith and belief in Him. Of course today I would not sing such things as " I know that my redeemer liveth," but consider the beauty and power of "The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, and he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah (=’Alhamdulillah’)."

    Then I fell in love. She was Somali, intelligent, witty, charming, and a young widow with two handsome young sons. Her English was very limited then, and my Somali was non-existent, but we could communicate quite easily in Swahili. We discussed marriage, but there were a few practical problems.

    I knew I could not stay much longer at the university of Nairobi; they were trying to africanize it as quickly a possible, and to them I was just another white foreigner. Before I got much older I needed a new job, probably a new career, maybe with the State Department or a non-profit agency. From her point of view the obstacle was simply I was a not a Muslim. I had mistakenly though that any Muslim could marry one of the People of the Book; she set me straight on that very quickly; men yes, women, no.

    She was telling me about Islam, and I'd learned some things from my colleagues and others. I already believed in the One God,. The Creator of the universe and all that is in it; I already believed in the Islamic concepts of tawhid and shirk and avoiding belief or trust in anything like astrology or palmistry; I’d long believed that Jesus was one of the prophets. I believed that I believed that Muhammad (pbuh) was a prophet ands a messenger, and it had long ceased to be relevant to me that Muhammad (pbuh) was not a Jewish prophet.

    I’d stopped eating pork; I didn’t gamble, I rarely drank anything besides a glass of wine with an occasional gourmet dinner. I was, since my Peace Corps days, already more comfortable with African and Islamic notions of modesty, child rearing, etc. than with the "sexual revolution", and the me-ism and disintegrating families of the ‘70s and ‘80s America. There didn’t seem to be much to prevent me from becoming a Muslim. I was so close, so what, in 1983, was the problem?

    In fact there were two. First, there was the matter of my identity and my heritage. I imagine that it is not so traumatic for a Christian to change from one religion to another. If a German Catholic becomes a Lutheran, or even a Jew or Muslim, he remains a German. I certainly felt like an American first and a Jew second – I could never consider myself Russian. But in America, nation of immigrants, even the most acculturated attach some importance to their families' national or ethnic origins. Even though I had no desire to deal with Jews as Jews or as a community, I was reluctant to lose that identity.

    The second obstacle was my family. Though not orthodox, most were strongly traditional, all pro-Israel, some were avid Zionists; many considered Arabs as enemies, and I expected they would also consider Muslims as enemies. I feared they would disown me as crazy, even traitorous. Worst of all, because I still loved them, they would be hurt. First things first: I left that problem up in the air, and when my contract expired I did not renew it, but returned to the States hoping to find another job, preferably back in East Africa.

    It was terribly hard. I had no home, no income, not even an interview suit. I invested in a wool suit, three ties and a winter coat – it was my first winter in twenty years – got books on how to write a resume and a SF171, and stayed with a friend in Washington, trying all the government agencies, consulting firms and PVOs that had anything to do with Africa, until my many ran out. I had to return to Boston and stay with my sister, where I had food and shelter, but it was far from where the jobs might be. In addition, I was going through a severe case of culture shock. So there I was: broke in Reaganomic America, in the winter, in culture shock on top of a mid-life crisis, in love – and on anti-depressants.

    I can joke now, but the pain and fear were unbearable then. For the first time in my adult life I began to pray. I prayed often and hard. I vowed that, if I could get back to Africa and marry my beloved, I would declare my submission to Allah and become a Muslim.

    I got a really awful temporary job in a warehouse that at least paid for food, bus fares and dry cleaning, then a better, but embarrassing one as a receptionist in the counseling office at a local college. I could see that the four yuppie psychologists figured me for some 42-year-old loser, and I pretty much agreed with them. Out of embarrassment I didn’t tell anything about myself, but when the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook with students panicking over mid-terms, I was reading job notices and typing applications letters. I found that a government agency was hiring ESL teachers for Egypt - close enough - and I applied immediately.

    A week later another agency I’d applied to six months earlier invited me to D.C. for interviews. As soon as I got to Washington I called about the ESL jobs to see if I could get an interview, "as long as I’m in Town." The jobs were already filled! Can I meet you anyway, in case something comes up later? OK, four o’clock? Great. She apologized – my resume had been misplaced – and would definitely keep me in mind. Thank you , delighted to meet you.

    As I was leaving, she said hesitantly, "By the way, there is one position opening soon, but it’s in Somalia."

    "Somalia!" I nearly shouted, " That’s wonderful!"

    "Is it ?" she asked incredulously.

    "Sure, I’d love to go there. I’m already familiar with the culture and the religion," I said aloud, but thinking to myself how it’s only an hour from Mogadishu to Nairobi, and how maybe I’d get to meet my future family in-laws.

    I told her my references, all of whom she knew personally. She would call them, and as far as she was concerned if I wanted the job I could probably have it. I finished up my interviews at the other agency. They even showed me the cubicle in windowless office where I would probably be working, and I returned to Boston, elated. I might even have a choice, praise God. But what a choice it was: a one year renewable contract at a hot, dusty – but African – hardship post on the Indian Ocean, or a career civil service job with a pension plan in a windowless office in northern Virginia.

    Two weeks later, she called to offer me the job of English program director in Mogadishu, would I take it, I had 48 hours to think it over. Everyone said it was a no-brainer; I should take the career job with pension in Washington, otherwise I’d be back t square one in a year or two. I argued that I was an Africanist, the experience would help me and I’d make good contacts. I accepted the job and starting getting my shots. A couple of weeks later the other agency sent me a brief note, no explanation, informing me I did not get the windowless job.

    Alhamdulillah, Allahu ‘alim. I could so easily have ended up with neither, but Allah had guided me to the right decision. I was employed. I was a person. I might even getting married. I gave my notice at the college, and on the last day I typed a letter to the psychologists informing them that I was leaving to take up a position as a project direct at the United States Embassy in Somalia, signed M. Mould, Ph.D. Of course I "had to" stop off in Nairobi for a few days on my way to Mogadishu.

    We had a tearful reunion and tried to make some future plans. I’d been hired as a single man, no chance of benefits or housing for a family, and I had no idea what Somalia or my job would be like or how long I would be there. For the time being, I’d remain a single man in Nairobi. Maybe I could visit often, and there was always the phone. Maybe she could come and visit her family, whom she hadn’t seen since childhood.

    The job was interesting, a little teaching, but mostly administration and management, and dealing with embassy officials. Most of my own students were senior government officials and a few of them became good friends. Outside of work was a whole different story. The culture and atmosphere in urban Somalia is more Middle Eastern than African. During my seven years in Uganda and Kenya I knew the languages, people were open and friendly, and I never had trouble adjusting or getting around; I’d always felt completely at home.

    Mogadishu gave me culture shock. I didn’t know the language, no one knew Swahili, educated Somalis knew Italian, not English. All the signs were in Somali. The worst thing was communications. Home phones were overcrowded, sweltering post office. Only telegraph service was usually efficient. The mail was totally unreliable except for the diplomatic pouch. It was impossible to contact Nairobi.

    Don’t get me wrong. I was quite happy there, enjoying the sights and smells, the Italian and Somali food, my views of the ocean, which was within walking distance of my house and my office, discovering a new culture. I was living downtown, in one of the older sections, behind the Italian embassy, and I was awakened early morning by a beautiful adhan from the loudspeaker of a nearby mosque. We worked a Muslim schedule: Sunday – Thursday, 7 – 3. On Fridays I would walk around and often found myself outside a little mosque behind the American Embassy, and while myrrh and frankincense drifted from the doorways in the alleys I would stop and listen to the sounds of Jumu’ah.

    The first thing I noticed was the murmuring of many voices as men read from the Qur’an while waiting for the imam to give the khutbah. I was instantly transported back in my mind to my old synagogue and the identical susurrus of old men reading from the Psalms (Zabur) at the start of morning prayers. It gave me a comfortable and comforting feeling of nostalgia. A little while later, walking back the other way, I would hear the imam reciting a surah. It sounded much like the Torah readings I’d enjoyed on Saturday mornings, again comforting and nostalgic. Not that it made me want to return to any synagogue; rather, it made Islam feel more comfortable and familiar to me.

    I’m a linguist, and had been a specialist in field research. I found a book on beginning Italian and, there being no grammar in English on Somali, I hired myself a tutor, who was a better friend than a teacher. I quickly learned the greetings, common nouns, and verbs, kinship terms, numbers and telling time. Some of the vocabulary, borrowed from Arabic, was just like Swahili and Hebrew. Somali is also very distantly related to Semitic languages. The grammar was something else, though, really hard to figure out, and as I got busier and more tired at work, our lessons turned more to conversations about culture, politics and religion.

    He was knowledgeable enough to distinguish between genuine Islam and some prevalent aspects of indigenous, pre-Islamic culture and superstition that had bothered me.
    Before long, he offered to bring a sheikh to my home so that I could make the shahada. Despite my vow I still felt hesitation, thinking of my family. But they were ten thousand miles away, my fiancée a few hundred, and I was living in, being touched by and feeling comfortable with this Muslim society. I had good friends and colleagues, and it was clear to me that much of their goodness was due to Islam.

    I asked him to bring the sheikh and he did. He questioned me about my beliefs, and I told him I’d been a Jew, not a Christian ( no problems with the trinity), and that I’d long ago given up pork, alcohol, gambling and zina, and after he was convinced that I understood what I was about to say and knew the five pillars, I declared the shahadah. My fiancée had suggested the name Mustafa, which I liked very much.

    After all the hesitation and procrastination I felt enormous relief, and a restored sense of belonging that I’d missed more than I’d realized. All my Somali friends were of course delighted and very supportive.

    They began calling me seedi (‘brother-in-law’). As soon as I could get away I bought some gold jewelry and flew to Nairobi. To get married I had to go to the office of the chief qadi and declare the shahadah again, with witnesses, in order to get an official certificate of conversion, there being no such thing in Somalia.

    We went to the qadi and made our nikah. A couple of days later I had to fly back to Mogadishu and my work. Less than a year later, at 43, I was overjoyed and blessed by Allah to become the father of a wonderful Muslim baby boy. I flew to Nairobi, and after a brief discussion we agreed on my wife’s suggestion for a name. Now I even had a kunya (nick name); I was Abu Khalid, and he was named after the great Companion, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid.

    You are probably wondering if I told my family about my converting to lslam, and the answer is, not for quite some time. Of course I told my family about my marriage and they were neither surprised or upset.

    I was a middle-aged man who ought to know what he was doing, and they were mainly happy for the sake of my happiness. When Khalid was born they were positively delighted and were most eager to meet him and his mother. When Khalid was a little over a year old, I went to Boston on my vacation and brought my wife and son with me. The two boys, Ali and Yusuf, were away at a Muslim boarding school in north-eastern Kenya.

    The reception was as warm and loving as anyone could wish for and we had a great visit. There's no question that a baby, especially a grandson, has a most salutary and beneficial effect on people. My wife had brought little gifts for my mother, sister and aunts, and they all had little gifts for her. I suppose they all assumed, as I had once done, that Muslim can marry a Jew or Christian. They knew my wife and our sons were Muslims, that Khalid was being raised as a Muslim, and they had no problem with that.

    They knew I hadn’t been a practicing Jew for nearly thirty years, and I’d married a non-Jew before. I’d decided that if they asked I wouldn’t lie, and if they didn’t I’d just wait for a more opportune time – some other time. A few years ago they finally asked me and I told them. I cannot say they were pleased, but neither were they surprised, angry or cold to me, and we still have warm, loving relationships.

    Another year, another contract went by, and then I lost my job. Like the new Pharaoh "who knew not Joseph", a new director came, who saw no value in the English programs and decided to end them. I kind of saw it coming and had applied for a similar job in Yemen, so I didn't fight it very hard, but in the end the job in San’a fell through, and, as my family had predicted, I was back to square one – well, not quite.

    In 1988, leaving my family in Nairobi, I returned to the States alone and jobless. It was again vary tough (winter, too), but this time I had some savings, new skills and a stronger resume, I knew better how to job-hunt; I knew my way around Washington and had a few contacts. I still had the suit. Best of all, I had my faith instead of anti-depressants. I quickly got a couple of part-time teaching jobs and a job in a men’s store. The teaching jobs dried up, so I sold suits full-time for over three years, always looking for a better job, but finally – it took two years – I managed to bring my family over and we did our best, trusting in Allah.

    Then, four years ago, a Muslim neighbor told us about a new Islamic institute that had recently opened, where they were looking for an English teacher. I immediately called, made an appointment and met the director. By the grace of Allah I was hired to teach some of the staff and do some editorial work. Ironically, I am now in a cubicle in a windowless office in northern Virginia, but what a difference!

    I am in an Islamic environment, surrounded and inspired by good Muslim brothers, many of them excellent scholars and all of whom I love and respect very much, and whom I learn from daily. And what is my job? To read books on Islam, to edit manuscripts on Islam, to write about what I read. In essence, I am being paid to study Qur’an, Hadith, ‘aqidah, Fiqh, Sirah, Islamic history and Arabic. I thank and praise Allah every day for leading me to Islam and for showering me with all these blessings. Alhamdulillah, ash-shukrulillahi Rabbil-‘alamin.
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    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
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  13. #10
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    Re: Stories of Muslim Reverts



    JERUSALEM - Joseph Cohen moved from the United States to Israel as a devout Jew in 1998, but within three years he had converted to Islam and become Yosef Mohammed Khatib, a supporter of the militant Hamas, according to a report broadcast Thursday on Israel TV.

    Now he refuses to say the word Israel, choosing instead to call the area "Palestine." His four children study the Quran, the Muslim holy book, instead of the Torah, its Jewish counterpart.

    It was while living in the desert town of Netivot that Khatib met a sheik from the United Arab Emirates through an Internet chat about Israel. Khatib said he spent hours corresponding with the sheik, discussing theology. Gradually he began to see Judaism as racist and turned toward Islam after reading the Quran, he told Channel 10 TV. The report did not say where he lived in the United States or give his age.

    Last year he told his wife of 10 years, Luna, also a devout Jew from the United States, that he wanted to convert to Islam.

    "I said, `Listen, I love you very much ... and I have to be honest with you,'" Khatib said in the TV interview. "I read the Quran and I agree with everything it says in the Quran, and if I continue saying that I'm a religious Jew, I would be a liar."

    The family converted together and moved from Netivot to an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem. The children went from being top in their classes on Judaism studies to being well-versed in Islam, he said.

    Instead of supporting the Israeli Orthodox Jewish political party Shas, Khatib now supports the radical Islamic Hamas and believes an Islamic state should be set up where Israel and the Palestinian areas are now located.

    He praised Hamas for setting up social services for Palestinians but dodged questions about the other side of the Islamic group — suicide bombings and other attacks against Israelis. The United States has declared Hamas a terror group.

    Khatib differed from most Israelis and Americans in his views about Osama bin Laden, the top suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

    "I think that he's number one, Muslim number one," Khatib said with a strong New York accent about bin Laden. "But I don't think that he's responsible for the World Trade Center (attacks)."

    Wearing the white skullcap and robes of a religious Muslim, Khatib denied his Jewish past, insisting that he is 100 percent Muslim. He made a parody of a blessing that observant Jews say every morning, in which they thank God for not making them gentiles.

    "Blessed are Thou, Lord Our God," Khatib began in the traditional Jewish blessing, but ended it with, "for not making me a Jew."

    Live Dialogue here: http://www.islamonline.net/livedialo...GuestID=KzI47I
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

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    Re: Stories of Muslim Reverts

    By Sarah de Andrade Siqueira


    I have always kept interest in the Muslim world; it passed to me a sense of peace. On the Brazilian Educative TV I watched a documentary about the life in some Muslim country. Those mystery women dressed in those beautiful long clothes and veils raised my curiosity. When a Muslim woman mentioned that it is not a matter of culture only but that her religion was a complete way of life (Deen), I wanted to know more.

    The idea of a religion ruling all aspects of humankind’ way of life is not common where I live, not to mention having anything to do with economy, politics and social issues.

    I decided to look into Islam. My first question was: How could I do this? No books were available at my University or in the bookshops.

    1999 I earned my Bachelors degree in Languages. It was a moment that brought tears in my eyes, because my beloved family always did a lot of efforts to provide me with the best education they could, despite of our humble life. The present my parents chose to give me upon that was a computer. They saved long months to be able to pay for the gift they thought would enable me pursue a career. When I saw those big boxes in my room I felt such gratitude to them.

    Now I could access the Internet and be able know more about Islam. I was surfing on the web looking for information when I came across Yusuf Islam’s (formerly Cat Stevens) website. After I read about his journey to Islam and how a famous pop star could give up the great world of music and find his certainty on the straight path. He chose Islam as a way of life based on pure love, charity, humbleness and the submission to the one and only God. When I listened to Yusuf’s lecture named “One God, One Community” my appreciation for Islam became greater than before. Since that day I have been studying Islam with an eager will to learn about the pillars of Islamic faith and way of life as well.

    When I had a blessed opportunity to read the Holy Qur’an which narrates with scientific accuracy the development of the baby in mother’s womb, since his first moments of life; I have decided to embrace Islam. Beyond this, I also have to say that the submission to only one God and the complete way of life established by Allah through his last Prophet Muhammad had touched my heart.

    During my “web Islamic research” I have met in an Arab chat room some Muslim friends, who helped me a lot in my journey to Islam, Alhamdulilah. The one I met first was a Sudanese Muslim student, who taught me my first words in Arabic language and always was by my side (with the famous web instant messengers), despite our distance, to solve my doubts in respect of Muslim women issues. The other one was a brother from Egypt, who was amazed with my path to Islam and gave me a blessed help shipping to me the Holy Qur’an (a bilingual version in English and Arab), the prayer carpet, books about Islam and even Hijabs, to allow me to practice the beautiful and honored concept of Islamic Modesty. My parents, are Christian, however they never opposed my religious choice-God bless them.

    I thought there were no Islamic Centers in my Brazilian city. All websites about Islam I had visited were not Brazilian either and few of those I’ve found in Portuguese refer to Islamic Societies far away from my home. Hence, Allah and my Sudanese sister were my witness that I had embraced Islam.

    After sometime, Alhamdulilah I have found an Islamic website developed by a Brazilian sister, who gave me the brilliant information that there was a small, but very serious and lovely Muslim Society in my hometown. She introduced me to The Imam and sisters there. It was a beautiful moment of my life, to get know a part of our Ummah in the city I was born and live in.

    My mum is now considering converting to Islam. May Allah show her the right path. The last thing I would like to say from the bottom of my heart is:

    “Ash Hadu Anlaa Illa Allah wa Ash Hadu Muhamadan Rasululah”

    May Allah bless our Ummah!
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

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    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    Yusuf Islam is the founder of Britain’s most Famous Muslim School Chain “Islamia Schools”, his company Small Kindness supports thousands of orphans and children around the world, Is a active participant in the Campaign against Aids, Is the author of several Islamic Booklets and Audio/Video Lectures, His company MOL has produced many video/audio cassettes CD’S Of songs about “World Peace and Harmony”. But his past was very different.

    Ex Cat Stevens was one of the Greatest British POP/Folk Singer-songwriter, at just 19 His first solo album Matthew And Son was a hit, after which many of his songs reached at first position in Britain as well as America even against stiff competition by the “Beetles”. Still a teen he was every were ,media was after him ,fans were crying for him .He was in the front cover of many world magazines including Rolling Stones .His name was taken with the “Beetles”, “Rolling Stones”. He was declared as one of the “Golden Artist” of all time in the USA. In his Country he was just sensation .In a short music career he sold more then 40 million LPs through out the world.

    Born in London in 1948 to a Swedish mother and a Greek Cypriot father, Stephen Demetri Georgiou aka Cat Stevens was educated in Sweden, where he studied native songs and dances as well as classical music. He grew up in the city, amidst the steady rumble of traffic, the rush and bustle that never stopped, the smoke and dirt, the bright lights and the few patches of grey grass.

    Cat himself writes” I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature - it is only his parents that turn him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents”


    The boy and his parents were Greek, so the music played to him while growing up was the music of that wise and ancient country. Full of richness, emotions, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, it was a good music to have as teacher (sic), and the boy learned well. As he grew older, the boy started to write his own music. He was very good, and before long he came to the attention of a very important man who knew how to make people famous. Now, not only was the boy very talented, he was also very handsome, so before very long he and his songs were well known from one end of the land to the other.


    Still a young teen, fame and wealth was all over him. Huge number of people bought his songs and magazines printed pictures of him which girls stuck on their bedroom walls, so as to have him near them in their dreams. Tunes such as, "The First Cut Is The Deepest "I Love My Dog , "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun ", and "Here Comes My Baby ", were all highly representative of the diverse ability that this artist had to offer. Finally, in 1967 cat was only 19, there came his first album "Matthew & Son” It became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and opened up many an ear and eye to the talent of the young man.
    The boy became very famous, worked very hard at his new job, traveled a lot, appeared in a lot of shows, and wrote songs for other people, who in turn became famous.

    But all the time the boy became more and more unhappy. The songs people wanted him to sing were not the songs he wanted to sing. He was writing songs which were far better than the ones he was famous for, and try as he would to change their minds, the people who controlled his fame and fortune did not want him to sing those songs. Then in 1969 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis .He was so ill in fact that when he saw a doctor he was told to spend at least three months in a hospital or he would die. So the boy went into the hospital for three months, and while he was there he was able to think seriously about himself and his life. He did not like what he saw in himself, and so he determined to make a complete break from the past


    While recovering, Stevens underwent a spiritual crisis and began studying Eastern religions, practicing vegetarianism, and writing highly introspective songs.

    Cat writes himself about the hospital time-

    (”After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me? Was I just a body, and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in bed?" - and I started looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power,' and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body. This awareness came to me at the hospital. One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized, 'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will lead you where it wants to go. Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path. I also wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out." I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society. I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed”)


    For more than a year he did not work, but concentrated on his new writing. The money he earned from his early fame was enough to give him complete freedom, and gradually what he felt to be the real him surfaced. Eventually, he was sure he was ready. A changed man, Stevens signed a new record deal with Island, who had just landed a U.S. distribution agreement with A&M, and began recording new material With the help of some friends and sympathetic people, he went into recording studios for a month and recorded a collection of his new songs.

    Stevens' first A&M release, 1970's Mona Bone Jakon, was a solid album that established Stevens' new image as a sensitive singer-songwriter. His next record, Tea for the Tillerman, was released later that same year to overwhelming success. With the hit singles "Wild World" and "Father and Son," the album became an instant folk-pop classic and went to No. 1 in the U.S., earning gold status.

    1971's Teaser and the Firecat repeated Tillerman's success and contained the international anti-war hit "Peace Train." The album also spawned a children's book and short film. 1972's Catch a Bull at Four was Stevens' first No. 1 album, and was followed the next year by The Foreigner, which went to No. 3.

    He was in the front cover of many magazines including Rolling Stones .His name was already compared with the “Beetles”, “Rolling Stones”. He was declared as one of the “Golden Artist” of all time in the USA. In his Country he was just sensation. But then what happened was absolutely unexpected.

    In 1973 Stevens' brother David visited Israel and, aware of his brother's fascination with religion, returned with a copy of the Quran as a souvenir. Cat Stevens Writes about the incident himself-

    When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find something in it also. And when I received the book, a guidance that would explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim. I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap the other. Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space. They become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah. When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says, "Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers." Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers”)

    From then right up to 1977 Cat Stevens composed and sang many hit records including Mathew and Son, Here Comes my Baby, Wild World, Morning has Broken and Moonshadow, selling over 40 million LPs throughout the world.

    Finally in 1977 Stevens made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In December of that year Stevens formally converted to Islam at a London mosque, taking the new name Yusuf Islam. Cat Steven writes-

    Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what my name was. I told him, "Stevens." He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jumma' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) at this hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, "You don't understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the Salat(Prayers). This is the process of purification. Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Ameen! ”

    A&M released what was to be the last Cat Stevens album, Back to Earth, in early 1978; by 1979 Yusuf Islam had married and retired from pop music.

    During the 1980s Islam settled in London with his wife and five children and became very involved in the local Muslim community, founding one of Britain's top Islamic school chains.

    His Islamia School has become one of the most famous Muslim School. In 2000 ,Prince Charles visited his school ,congratulated Yusuf for his efforts towards the development of Peace And Harmony through education. And also declared himself a fan of Cat’s songs in 70’s.

    In 1995 Yusuf established a company MOL(mountain of light) and released his first "record" since retiring from pop music, a two-CD set called The Life of the Last Prophet which features one disc of Muslim chanting and another disc of Yusuf Islam reading a 66-minute biography of Great Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). Though it was ignored in the West, the double-album reached No. 1 in Turkey and was a hit in most of the Muslim world.

    Since then Yusuf has continued to release many albums for children, including recently released album for Iraqi Children, he has released many Video, Audio CD’S ,Cassetes of DA’WAH(Spreading the correct message of Islam).

    His works include 30 plus DA’WAH Audio/video releases ,booklets on the different topics of Islam including Booklets on misconceptions of non-muslims towards Islam, has participated in many functions to discuss the message of Islam.He has and is working for many charity Trusts, collected money for Sep 11 victims, Kosovo Children, Iranian, Aids Charities. His own charity company Small Kindness is supporting 2,500 orphans of Kosovo, and working on 100-homes Project in Turkey, and with UNICEF Small Kindness is working for Iranian Children.

    Official Site- www.yusufislam.org.uk

  16. #13
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    Jewish Scholar Zaid ibn Su`nah Accepts Islam

    Moved by the Prophetic Temperament:
    Jewish Scholar Zaid ibn Su`nah Accepts Islam

    The blessed Companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Abdullah ibn Salaam (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that when Allah willed to guide Zaid ibn Su`nah (the great Jewish scholar of Madinah), Zaid ibn Su`nah said, "I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad save two signs that were not immediately evident: That his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness."

    Zaid ibn Su`nah reports [the story as follows]:

    "One day, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) came out from his apartment with `Ali ibn Abi Talib. A Bedouin, riding his camel, came to him and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! A group of my people of such and such a clan have accepted the faith and embraced Islam. I used to tell them that if they embraced Islam, there would be great abundance in their provision [due to divine blessing]. Now, however, they are facing famine due to lack of rain. I fear, O Messenger of Allah, that they will leave Islam out of greediness as they embraced it out of greediness. If you think it proper, send something that would suffice them.'

    The Prophet looked to the man next to him, who I believe was `Ali, who replied, 'O Messenger of Allah! Nothing is left with us.'"

    Zaid continues, "I approached the Prophet and said, 'O Muhammad! If youdesire, rent me such and such garden of dates for a fixed period of time.'

    He replied, 'No, but I'll rent you a certain amount of date [palms] until such and such period without specifying the garden.'

    I replied, 'Alright.' Thus, he rented them to me, and I opened my purse and took out eighty mithqaal of gold (350 grams) to pay for the particular dates for a fixed period. The Prophet handed the gold to the man and instructed him, 'Help them through this and distribute it justly.'

    Zaid ibn Su`nah goes on, "Two or three days before the fixed period was to end, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) came out with Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them), and a number of other Companions to offer the funeral prayer.

    When he finished the prayer and approached a wall to sit against it, I came to him, grabbed him by his shirt and cloak, and looked at him angrily and said, 'O Muhammad! Why don't you pay off my due?! By Allah, I know nothing of your family except deferment [on debts]. I know well of your people.'

    Saying this I looked at `Umar whose eyes were bulging and turning out of anger. He glared at me and said, 'O enemy of Allah! Did you actually just say what I heard to the Messenger of Allah? Did you really just do to him what I saw? By the One Who holds my life in His hand, if I were not concerned with [the Prophet's] leaving us, I would have struck your head with my sword.'

    The Messenger of Allah, who was looking at me quietly and patiently, said, 'O `Umar! We don't need this. I was more in need of your advice to pay off his loan well, and he your advice to deal courteously. Go with him `Umar, pay off his loan, and give him twenty extra saa` (44 kilograms) of dates because you frightened him.

    Thus, `Umar took me, paid off my debt, and gave me an extra twenty saa` of dates. I asked him, 'Why this increase?'

    He replied, 'The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered me to give you this for my scaring you.'

    I asked, 'Do you recognize me, `Umar?'

    'No,' he said.

    'I am Zaid ibn Su`nah,' I said.

    'The scholar of the Jews?'

    'Yes, the same one.'

    'Then what made you behave and speak with the Messenger of Allah as you did?' he asked.

    'O `Umar!' I replied. 'I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad save two signs that were not immediately evident: That his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness. Now I have recognized these two signs as well. Bear witness, O `Umar! I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my prophet. Also bear witness that I give half of my wealth - and I have plenty of wealth - in charity to the nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).'

    `Umar said, 'Perhaps to some of them because your [money] won't suffice for all of them.'

    'Alright, to some of them.'"

    `Umar and Zaid returned to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and Zaid publicly announced, "I bear witness that none is worthy of worship besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger and I believe in him."

    Thus, Zaid testified to the Prophet Muhammad's message and took the pledge of allegiance on his hand. Zaid participated in a number of battles along with the Prophet and was martyred in the expedition of Tabuk whilst facing the enemy and not in retreat. May Allah be pleased with him.

    The story has been transmitted by Tabarani (al-Mu`jam al-Kabeer), to which al-Haithami says that all of the narrators of the Tradition are sound. Also transmitted by Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and Hakim, among others.
    The Arabic version of this story has been taken from Muhammad Yusuf Kandhlawi's Hayaat al-Sahaaba (The Lives of the Companions).




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    Re: Stories of Muslim Reverts

    by request from Ansar Al-‘Adl, here's my story

    Where to begin... It's a long story, but I hope others may find support/inspiration in it.
    Also, please excuse my many spelling and grammatical errors. English is not my native tongue and on top of that, I'm dyslectic.

    I was raised as a Christian but lost my faith somewhere at the age of 6. Things just didn't make sense for me. I guess I've been quite critical all my life. I even remember thinking that my teacher was a moron when I was 7 because he had claimed that time-traveling could be possible. "If time is the speed at which things change how could these changes be undone for a traveler?" was the first thing that popped into my mind smile.gif As I grew older I went trough some hard times and had to deal with serious matters at an early age. The worst of them all was a depression of my father in which he tried to kill us in order to commit suicide afterwards. The fights, fleeing home, the divorce, I’m sure one can imagine...

    It seemed like every time I trusted someone, loved someone, they 'd betray me. It didn't take long for me not to trust anyone let alone believe in a higher being without any proof of such. I'd even say at one point I fitted all criteria from the definition of paranoia. Not that I seemed to have any problems, I functioned perfectly in today’s society, but inside I always felt like a big mess. I studied science and was quite good in it; I even became passionate about it, for they seemed the only certainties in life. Morality and ethics were pointless words, leftovers from old wives tales and so called holy books.

    Until one day I was smoking pot for the first time of my live with a friend. I don't know what really happened that day but it was the scariest experience of my life. I was convinced of being dead and in hell. The friend sitting next to me was the devil. Every move I made was anticipated. Every sentence had an answer ready before I could even complete it. I felt like a play ball being psychologically tortured for fun. And the fear was worse than any imaginable pain. I was told by my doctor later that most likely LSD was sprayed on to the weed. I had my urine tested but since it happened in the weekend and visited the doctor on Monday, It was possible for the test to come out negative even though it did had LSD on it . The test result turned out negative, and the uncertainty was killing me. For a month I slept with the lights on. I started to better my ways out of fear. As time went by, the fear diminished but the morality and ethics kind of grew on me.

    It took me about 3 years of self-reflection and philosophizing. But I was finally able to find answers to all my questions, basically get things lined out once and for all so I wouldn't have to bother myself with them anymore. I concluded to believe only in science as I have always done before. Basically, because I refused to believe science left any room for free will. An indispensable aspect of any religion containing words as hell and heaven, punishment and reward.

    So I defined my personality disorder and found out the source of it on my own. Well at least, I had some clues. Memories of myself in the corridor of the house I grew up in looking at the bathroom door, sounds of my mother and father struggling, My mother screaming to my older sister: pick up that knife and get rid of it – It's funny how those memories came back. I can see myself standing in that corridor and know what is happening, but I can't recall what I saw. I only see myself in 3rd-person view.

    I always knew I was different from everybody else and figured that finding out the cause of my problems would help me deal with it, solve the problem. But somehow that didn't help. I had everything figured out, but I was back at square one, everything seemed pointless. And nobody's to be trusted. So I gave up the fight and continued life. Without realizing it my morality diminished again. My life had no meaning, trusting no one, nor anything except for logic and science.

    But then help came from an unexpected corner. In retrospect I'd even say right before my point of view would become problematic
    23;62 On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear.
    I was trying to bend my mind over the difficult theory of time traveling and einstein-rozenberg-bridges but it all didn't make any sense. 'Till in very small amount of time a series of unrelated events, one after another seemed to point something out to me, It was as subtle touches pushing me towards a point of view. At first I thought my paranoia was finally getting to me, but then It finally hit me, as if the puzzle came together: science doesn't deny religion, no far from it, science needs religion to complete it. When I posted this on another forum I'm active on, I was told of the miracles of the Qur’an. How certain things which were unknown in the time the Qur’an were written are in it. Being so fond of science this immediately got my attention. So I started reading....

    Seas of emotions went trough me as I was reading, I cried of sadness and laughed of joy, I felt safe and afraid at the same time. The words were so strong yet deliberating; so plain, yet irreplaceable in their sentences. At some times it even seemed as if the book interacted with my thoughts. No other than the creator of all things could have made such a masterwork. I never knew religion could be this logical and rational. About a week and 15 soera's later I converted. I felt alive. I believed. I no longer mistrust. And my heart found piece as promised.
    13;28 Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!
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  19. #15
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    Another Catholic priest enters into Islam!

    Guess what just happened (again)?

    Another Catholic priest entered into Islam. I am so happy because this one actually came in by learning from our books, tapes, CDs and the combined efforts of brothers and sisters that we work with in Florida.



    Bismillah Rahman Raheem
    Salam alaykum to all:

    Guess what just happened (again)?

    Another Catholic priest entered into Islam. I am so happy because this one actually came in by learning from our books, tapes, CDs and the combined efforts of brothers and sisters that we work with in Florida.

    What is really strange is that a brother there in Florida asked me to ship some CDs to him and that he was trying to get a grant and he would pay me later (?) I wondered about that - but I figured, what the heck. I'm not doing this for the money and if even one person comes to Islam from our efforts, then it is all worth it. You know? So we sent him hundres of CDs and materials. He never wrote back. So, I figured, "Oh well."

    But now this letter comes in and I want to just sit and cry, remembering how the first priest came to Islam along with me and my wife and father - over 12 years ago. . .

    Here is the letter to me (last name is delete and email address removed for privacy):


    Dear Yusuf:

    My name is Father Daniel, living in Miami, Fl, and studying Special Education at the local university (Florida International University). I always see this Muslim group of students in one of the halls of the Student Center, offering books, Cd's, and time there to whom it may be interested.

    One day, as many, I saw them, and only by curiosity I stopped by, and ask for something to read about the whole thing of Islam. I used to be catholic. In fact, more than simply that. I was a catholic priest. I've been a priest for five years in my country (Argentina). But my personal faith slowly decreased after finding out many contradictions in faith and practice within the catholic church. Tired and disappointed, decided to quit and change my life.

    Since my sister lives here, in USA, I decided to come, and study what I liked, and re-build my life. So far I was considering myself a simple agnostic.
    Until that day... I started to read, and read and read. And a Light has been growing and growing in my heart, more and more. It has started about three months ago.

    I don't want to rush, I want to learn more (not only curiosity), I want to get into little by little. I need time to process all this new "thing" that is coming through.... and I still don't know how to deal with it.

    To be honest with you, I do believe that in Islam is the Truth... but I need and want time.

    Yesterday, those students gave me a CD. It was you teaching about Islam, I think after that terrible 09/11. I was astonished. I enjoyed every single word. I listened the CD in my car all the way to my house. Today I listened it again.

    I really appreciate your testimony, may be you can not imagine how much! Well, Allah knows it very well, I believe.

    Question: Since I am a student (and no money for now), do you know how to get the Holy Qur'an, I mean, a good one... I would like to read it, but if I go to a book store, I feel lost... What can you recommend?

    Thank you for reading this long e-mail.
    Respectfully,

    Father Daniel (last name deleted)
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

  20. #16
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    And another priest.....................................

    "Thou wilt find the most vehement of mankind in hostility to those who believe (to be) the Jews and the idolaters. And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth: they pray: "Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses." 005:82-83



    Former Arab Priest Accepts Islam

    I was born in an Arab city on the 13th of January 1919 and was sent to American Mission schools until I got my secondary education certificate there. In 1942 I got my diploma from an Arab university and then I specialized in religious studies as a prelude to join the Faculty of Theology. It was no easy task to join the faculty, as no candidate could join it unless he got a special recommendation from the church, and also, after he should pass a number of difficult exams. I got a recommendation from a few Churches after passing many tests to know my qualifications to become a man of religion.
    My entrance was sanctioned into the Faculty of Theology in 1944 as a boarding student.
    I was supposed to be appointed in Jerusalem had it not been for the war that broke out in Palestine that same year, so I was sent elsewhere.
    My acquaintance with Islam started in the Faculty of Theology where I studied Islam and all the methods through which we could shake the faith of Muslims and raise misconceptions in their understanding of their own religion.
    In 1952 I got my M.A. from Princeton University in U.S.A. and was appointed as a teacher in the Faculty of Theology in an Arab city. I used to teach Islam in the faculty as well as the faulty misconceptions spread by its enemies and the missionaries against it. During that period I decided to enlarge my study of Islam, so that I should not read the missionaries books on it only. I had so much faith in myself that I was confirmed to read the other point of view. Thus I began to read books written by Muslim authors. I also decided to read the Qur’an and understand its meanings. This was helped by my love of knowledge and moved by my desire to add more proofs against Islam. The result was, however, exactly the reverse. My position began to shake and I started to feel a strong internal struggle and I discovered the falsehood of everything I had studied and preached to the people. But I could not face myself bravely and tried instead to overcome this internal crisis and continue my work.
    I was sent to an Arab city as secretary general of the German Swiss Mission. That was only my apparent position for my real mission was to preach against Islam in an Arab country especially among Muslims. A missionary conference was held at that time at a hotel there. That day I spoke too much, reiterating all the repeated misconceptions against Islam; and at the end of my speech, the internal crisis came to me again and I started to revise my position.
    I began to ask myself: Why should I say and do all these things when I know for sure I am a liar, as this is not the truth? I took my leave before the end of the conference and went out alone to my house. I was completely shaken. As I walked through [a] public garden, I heard a verse of the Qur’an on the radio. It said: (Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur’an). They said: We have really heard a wonderful recital! It gives guidance to the Right, and we have believed therein: We shall not join (in worship) any gods with our Lord.) (Surat Al-Jinn: 1-2), (And as for us, since we have listened to the Guidance, we have accepted it: and any one who believes in His Lord, has no fear of either a short (account) or of any injustice.) (Surat Al-Jinn: 13)


    I felt a deep comfort that night and when I returned home I spent the whole night all by myself in my library reading the Qur’an. My wife asked me about the reason of my sitting up all night and I pleaded from her to leave me alone. I stopped for a long time thinking and meditating on the verse; (Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah.) (Surat Al-Hashr: 21) And the verse: (Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and the Pagans, and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: Because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: “Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?”) (Surat Al-Ma’ida: 82-84)
    That same night I took my final decision. In the morning I spoke with my wife from whom I have three sons and one daughter. But no sooner than she felt that I was inclined to embrace Islam than she cried and asked for help from the head of the mission. His name was Monsieur Shavits from Switzerland. He was a very cunning man. When he asked me about my true attitude, I told him frankly what I really wanted and then he said: “Regard yourself out of a job until we discover what has befallen you.” Then I said: “This is my resignation from my job.” He tried to convince me to postpone it, but I insisted. So he spread a rumor among the people that I had gone mad. Thus I suffered a very severe test and oppression until I moved to the capital of the country I was in.
    In the capital, I was introduced to a respectable professor who helped me overcome my severe trial and this he did without knowing anything about my story. He treated me as a Muslim for I introduced myself to him as such although until then I did not embrace Islam officially. Dr. Jamal was highly interested in Islamic studies and wanted to make a translation of the Qur’an to be published in America. He asked me to help him because I was fluent in English since I had got my M.A. from an American university. He also knew that I was preparing a comparative study of the Qur’an, the Torah and the Bible. We cooperated in this comparative study and in the translation of the Qur’an.
    When the professor knew that I had resigned from my job and that I was then unemployed, he helped me with a job in a company. So I was well established after a short while. I did not tell my wife about my intention to embrace Islam thus she thought that I had forgotten the whole affair and that it was nothing but a transitory crisis that no more existed. But I knew quite well that my official conversion to Islam needed long complicated measures and it was in fact a battle which I preferred to postpone for some time until I became well off and after I completed my comparative study.
    In 1955 I did complete my study and my material and living affairs became well established. I resigned from the company and set up a training office for importing stationery and school articles. It was a successful business from which I gained much more money than I needed. Thus I decided to declare my official conversion to Islam. On the 25th of December 1959, I sent a telegram to the head of the American Mission in the country I was in informing him that I had embraced Islam.


    My wife left me at that time and took with her all the furniture of our house


    When I told my true story to Dr. Jamal he was completely astonished. When I declared my conversion to Islam, new troubles began. Seven of my former colleagues in the mission had tried their best to persuade me to cancel my declaration, but I refused. They threatened to separate me from my wife and I said: “She is free to do as she wishes.” They threatened to kill me. But when they found me to be stubborn they left me alone and sent to me an old friend of mine who was also a colleague of mine in the mission. He wept very much in front of me. So I recited before him the following verses from the Qur’an: (And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: “Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?”) (Qur’an Surat Al-Ma’ida: 84). I said to him, “You should have wept in humiliation to God on hearing the Qur’an and believe in the truth which you know but you refuse.” He stood up and left me as he saw no use. My official conversion to Islam was in January 1960.
    My wife left me at that time and took with her all the furniture of our house. But all my children joined me and embraced Islam. The most enthusiastic among them was my eldest son Isaac who changed his name to Osman, then my second son Joseph and my son Samuel whose name is Jamal and daughter Majida who is now called Najwa. Osman is now a professor of philosophy in Sorbonne University in Paris teaching oriental studies and psychology. He also writes in Le Monde magazine.
    My wife left the house for six years and agreed to come back in 1966 provided that she keeps her religion. I accepted this because in Islam there is no compulsion in religion. I said to her: “I do not want you to become a Muslim for my sake but only after you are convinced.” She feels now that she believes in Islam but she cannot declare this for fear of her family but we treat her as a Muslim woman and she fasts in Ramadan because all my children pray and fast. My daughter Najwa is a student in the Faculty of Commerce, Joseph is a pharmacologist and Jamal is an engineer.
    During this period, that is since 1961 until the present time I have been able to publish a number of books on Islam and the methods of the missionaries and Orientalists against it. I am now preparing a comparative study about women in the three Divine religions with the object of highlighting the status of women in Islam. In 1973 I performed Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) and I am doing activities preaching Islam. I hold seminars in the universities and charitable societies. I received an invitation from Sudan in 1974 where I held many seminars. My time is fully used in the service of Islam.
    My faith in Islam has been brought about through reading the Qur’an and the biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. I no longer believed in the misconceptions against Islam and I am especially attracted by the concept of unity of God, which is the most important feature of Islam. God is only One. Nothing is like Him. This belief makes me the servant of God only and of no one else. Oneness of God liberates man from servitude to any human being and that is true freedom.
    I also like very much the rule of forgiveness in Islam and the direct relationship between God and His servants.


    (Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and submit to Him before the Chastisement comes on you: After that ye shall not be helped.”) (Surat Al-Zumor:53-54).
    Last edited by Khattab; 05-10-2005 at 02:39 AM.
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

  21. #17
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    Dr. Hofmann, who accepted Islam in 1980, was born as a Catholic in Germany in 1931. He graduated from Union College in New York and completed his legal studies at Munich University where he received a doctorate in jurisprudence in 1957. He became a research assistant for the reform of federal civil procedure, and in 1960 received an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School. He was Director of Information for NATO in Brussels from 1983 to 1987. He was posted as German ambassador to Algeria in 1987 and then to Morocco in 1990 where he served for four years. He performed umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) in 1982 and Hajj (Pilgrimage) in 1992.

    Several key experiences led Dr. Hofmann to Islam. The first of these began in 1961 when he was posted to Algeria as Attaché in the German Embassy and found himself in the middle of the bloody guerilla warfare between French troops and Algerian National Front which was fighting for Algerian independence for the past eight years. There he witnessed the cruelty and massacre that the Algerian population endured. Every day, nearly a dozen people were killed - "close range, execution style" - only for being an Arab or for speaking for the independence. "I witnessed the patience and resilience of the Algerian people in the face of extreme suffering, their overwhelming discipline during Ramadan, their confidence of victory, as well as their humanity amidst misery." He felt it was their religion that made them so, and therefore, he started studying their religious book - the Quran. "I have never stopped reading it, to this very day."

    Islamic art was the second experience for Dr. Hofmann in his journey to Islam. From his early life he has been fond of art and beauty and ballet dancing. All of these were overshadowed when he came to know Islamic art which made an intimate appeal to him. Referring to Islamic art, he says: "Its secret seems to lie in the intimate and universal presence of Islam as a religion in all of its artistic manifestations, calligraphy, space filling arabesque ornaments, carpet patterns, mosque and housing architecture, as well as urban planning. I am thinking of the brightness of the mosques which banishes any mysticism, of the democratic spirit of their architectural layout."

    "I am also thinking of the introspective quality of the Muslim palaces, their anticipation of paradise in gardens full of shade, fountains, and rivulet; of the intricate socially functional structure of old Islamic urban centers (madinahs), which fosters community spirits and transparency of the market, tempers heat and wind, and assures the integration of the mosque and adjacent welfare center for the poor, schools and hostels into the market and living quarters. What I experienced is so blissfully Islamic in so many places … is the tangible effect which Islamic harmony, the Islamic way of life, and the Islamic treatment of space leave on both heart and mind."

    Perhaps more than all of these what made a significant impact on his quest for the truth was his thorough knowledge of Christian history and doctrines. He realized that there was a significant difference between what a faithful Christian believes and what a professor of history teaches at the university. He was particularly troubled by the Church's adoption of the doctrines established by St. Paul in preference to that of historical Jesus. "He, who never met Jesus, with his extreme Christology replaced the original and correct Judeo-Christian view of Jesus."

    He found it difficult for him to accept that the mankind is burdened with the "original sin" and that God had to have his own son tortured and murdered on the cross in order to save his own creations. "I began to realize how monstrous, even blasphemous it is to imagine that God could have been fallen short in his creation; that he could have been unable to do anything about the disaster supposedly caused by Adam and Eve without begetting a son, only to have him sacrificed in such a bloody fashion; that God might suffer for mankind, His creation."

    He went back to the very basic question of the existence of God. After analyzing works done by philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, Pascal, Swinburn, and Kant, he came to an intellectual conviction of the existence of God. The next logical question he faced was how God communicates to human beings so that they can be guided. This led him to acknowledge the need for revelations. But what contains the truth - Judeo-Christian scriptures or Islam?

    He found the answer to this question in his third crucial experience when he came across the following verse of the Quran: "… no bearer of burdens shall bear the burdens of another." (Quran 53:38). This verse opened up his eyes and provided the answer to his dilemma. Clearly and unambiguously for him, it rejected the ideas of the burden of "original sin" and the expectation of "intercession" by the saints. "A Muslim lives in a world without clergy and without religious hierarchy; when he prays he does not pray via Jesus, Mary, or other interceding saints, but directly to God - as a fully emancipated believer - and this is a religion free of mysteries." According to Hofmann, "A Muslim is the emancipated believer par excellence".

    "I began to see Islam with its own eyes, as the unadulterated, pristine belief in the one and only, the true God, Who does not beget, and was not begotten, Whom nothing and nobody resembles … In place of the qualified deism of a tribal God and the constructions of a divine Trinity, the Quran showed me the most lucid, most straightforward, the most abstract - thus historically most advanced - and least anthropomorphic concept of God."

    "The Quran's ontological statements, as well as its ethical teachings, impressed me as profoundly plausible, "as good as gold," so there was no room for even the slightest doubt about the authenticity of Muhammad's prophetic mission. People who understand human nature cannot fail to appreciate the infinite wisdom of the "Dos and Don'ts" handed down from God to man in the form of the Quran."

    For his son's upcoming 18th birthday in 1980, he prepared a 12-page manuscript containing the things that he considered unquestionably true from a philosophical perspective. He asked a Muslim Imam of Cologne named Muhammad Ahmad Rassoul to take a look at the work. After reading it Rassoul remarked that if Dr. Hofmann believed in what he had written, then he was a Muslim. That indeed became the case a few days later when he declared "I bear witness that there is no divinity besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's messenger." That was September 25, 1980.

    Dr. Hofmann continued his professional career as a German diplomat and NATO officer for fifteen years after he became Muslim. "I did not experience any discrimination in my professional life", he said. In 1984, three and half years after his conversion, then German President Dr. Carl Carstens awarded him the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. The German government distributed his book "Diary of a German Muslim" to all German foreign missions in the Muslim countries as an analytical tool. Professional duties did not prevent him from practicing his religion.

    Once very artistic about red wine, he would now politely refuse offers of alcohol. As a Foreign Service officer, he occasionally had to arrange working lunch for foreign guests. He would be participating in those luncheons with an empty plate in front of him during Ramadan. In 1995, he voluntarily resigned from the Foreign Service to dedicate himself to Islamic causes.

    While discussing the evils caused by alcohol in individual and social life, Dr. Hofmann mentioned an incident about his own life caused by alcohol. During his college years in New York in 1951, he was once traveling from Atlanta to Mississippi. When he was in Holy Spring, Mississippi all on a sudden a vehicle, apparently driven by a drunken driver, appeared in front of his car. A serious accident followed, taking away nineteen of his teeth and disfiguring his mouth.

    After doing surgery on his chin and lower hip, the hospital surgeon comforted him saying: "Under normal circumstances, no one survives an accident like that. God has something special in mind for you, my friend." As he limped in Holy Spring after release from the hospital with his "arm in a sling, a bandaged knee, an iodine-discolored, stitched-up lower face", he wondered what could be the meaning of the surgeon's remark.

    He came to know it one day, but much later. "Finally, thirty years later, on the very day I professed my faith in Islam, the true meaning of my survival became clear to me."



    Sunday : 01/02/2004
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    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

  22. #18
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    Pilgrim's revert story

    From ‘Me alone’ to ‘God Alone’


    I was born into a family without any particular religious propensity.
    This in turn meant that my religious experience was pretty much limited to school time religious education classes, which I always found intriguing, (though playground etiquette demanded I show no external evidence of this).
    As I entered my teenage years, spiritual issues went somewhat on the back burner as I focussed on more financial and temporal concerns. Upon leaving school, I started a publishing business which produced a youth focussed magazine. This was to be my pathway to success and riches. Due to my lack of experience in the publishing arena, the business eventually failed and I had the unpleasant duty of laying off the 5 people I employed. This dented my confidence somewhat and I was particularly gutted at letting down my employees.
    My early adventures in the publishing world benefited me in as much as it gave me experience which other publishing firms sought to utilise and I found myself gainfully employed and earning a large salary for someone under the age of 20.
    The questioning of my life in a spiritual sense really began in this period of my life. I had always expected that upon cementing myself into a lucrative career, I would reap the promised satisfaction and fulfilment inherent. Sure, I had a good life with lots of fun and socialising etc. but as time progressed, I found myself becoming more and more depressed at what I increasingly found to be the futility of my shallow life.
    A serious examining of major world faiths ensued, (excepting Islam though, as it seemed so archaic and extreme to me at the time) I spoke to Hare Krshna’s, Buddhist’s and street preaching charismatic Christians, but found myself unable to commit to any particular path, fearing the seemed encroachment on my freedoms.
    But still, deep within me, this pain kept growing, I was the loneliest man in the world, an anguished and tormented lover, vaguely sighting the object of my affection but without the strength or courage to reach out and embrace.
    I continued in this style until my early Twenties, when a mixture of apathy, weariness and what I can only remember as a complete and total disinterest in life, led me into experimentation with drugs. I very soon found the days and months becoming an accelerating roller-coaster ride of ever harder to attain highs and ever decreasing lows. One evening, I returned home exceptionally drunk, feeling hopeless, despondent, I had physically, mentally and most importantly spiritually reached the end of myself. I had always been self-sufficient and jealously guarded my right to self determination, but I was an exhausted and powerless wreck, the personal freedom I had refused to relinquish had now virtually destroyed me and I fell onto my knees weeping, crying out to God to forgive me, to save me.
    At this point, my memory took me back to a conversation I had with a young Christian street preacher I had been mildly mocking, one drunken night out, several years previous. This young lad had said to me, in all sincerity, that if I wanted God in my life all I had to do was invite his son Jesus into my life and he would surely come. As I lay in my bed late that evening, it became profoundly apparent to me that God had always been there waiting for me, but I had been unprepared to release control of my life, it was my property and belonged to me alone. God was never going to impose his will upon me, in time I would discover for myself that I was not in fact the architect of my own destiny. A new reality entered my life, my whole existence is from God and too him, I gave my life, I then prayed as suggested by that young street preacher for Jesus to come into my life. I was a Christian.
    To be honest with you, I really did not have much concept at this time of the complicated nature of the Christian faith. All I knew was that I had repented of my past life and accepted Jesus as my saviour and now I needed to find me a church to belong to. As my understanding of the different types of churches was limited, my choice of denomination to attend was pretty much decided by my fear of perma-grinned Jesus people types, I just knew I didn’t want to end up with them. So I chose the United Reformed Church, a haven of tradition and gentility, just the ticket for a burnt out junky.
    The church I joined was named St.Columba’s, Columba was an Irish monk who settled a small island off the west coast of Scotland called Iona and established the first Scottish monastic community. Though I enjoyed my time at this church and relished the opportunity to preach and lead groups within it, the protestant tradition seemed unable to guide me in what was most important to me, communicating with God through prayer. I was offered formulaic written scripts for prayer, but I wanted to share my very heart with him, I began to feel disheartened with church life, a simple progression of one administrative meeting to the next, left me feeling spiritually barren.
    Explaining my feelings to the Minister of the church, he suggested that I take a trip to the aforementioned monastic island of ’Iona’, as it would be a good place to ’recharge my spiritual batteries’. A couple of weeks later I had arrived on this tiny weather beaten outpost of Christendom and experienced my first taste of early Celtic monasticism.
    It was to become a notable milestone on my quest towards the imminence of my creator.
    Iona was a revelation to me, although there was no monastic community in existence there anymore, there was a thriving community of laymen and women living in the restored monastic buildings. The Iona community as they are called, consist of folk who come from the world over to dedicate a certain period of time to living and worshipping God in this ancient place. The attitude and ethos of the Iona community is very much grounded in the form of contemplative prayer and life rhythm of the monks who once lived their lives out on this remote island. My time on the island instilled within me a great admiration for the commitment undertaken by the monks, lives given in totality to God, out of pure love for God.
    This life of complete abandonment to God began to haunt my every thought. I somewhat naively at the time surmised, that as these men gave everything of themselves to God, he must surely make himself closest to them in response. I couldn’t get it out of my head; I wanted to live totally and completely for God alone.
    Upon my return from Iona, I began to make contacts with Roman Catholic monasteries. This communication brought to my attention the vast spiritual writings of the Catholic Church and I devoured them, one after another, feeding on their ancient wisdom and guidance. I soon decided that the path I must follow was to become a monk and therefore a Roman Catholic. I in time decided to join a Benedictine community in Scotland. My routine within the monastic confines was regimented by the ’Rule of St Benedict’ calling me to prayer 6 times a day, the earliest at 6am the latest 9am. The rule also clearly designates periods of study, manual work and refreshment. I found the monastic life incredibly rich and rewarding, the time portioned for silence and prayer helped me to a stillness and point of surrender it is hard to fully describe.
    Never having experienced such a vast quantity of silence before, it was impossible to know how one would react in such circumstances. What I would say now is, silence is the most relentless stripper of the many personas we as modern people fabricate to hide our true selves. The initial monastic experience is painful, as God shines the light on you and reveals the ugliness shadowing what you have the potential to become. It does eventually become easier and less painful, but never stops being revelatory. After about 3yrs, it became quite apparent to me that I was not called to monastic life, thoughts of loving a wife and having children filled my thoughts to the point where I had to make the sad decision to leave. I still have contact with the Brothers and in hindsight, feel very much blessed to have been granted the time to grow and develop in that atmosphere.
    Another personal and spiritual development I put down to my time in direct prayer with God at the monastery was, a certain distaste for the idolatry inherent within the Catholic Church, I also found it very hard to swallow that I needed to communicate my sins via the medium of a priest in order to receive forgiveness from God. I knew just through personal experience that this was untrue, as I repented of sin everyday to God personally and knew I received forgiveness there and then.
    After leaving the monastery, I drifted somewhat spiritually as I attempted to re-adjust to the world outside the monastic compound. In the mid 90’s because of my involvement in the church, I was offered the opportunity to study at Oxford University, which I grasped eagerly (as who wouldn’t). I studied in Social Administration and psychology.
    The next step in my journey brought me somewhat back full circle as I moved back to Scotland, left the Catholic Church (as my conscience would no longer allow me to remain) and rejoined the Protestant fold via the Congregational Church. The polity of the Congregational church suited me fine, no huge hierarchical church structure, we made our own decisions for our own community. No idols in the sanctuary and a nice straightforward evangelical theology. I eased back into preaching and was asked to become an elder which was great.
    Praying for God’s guidance re my next step, I became of the firm conviction that he was calling me to full time ministry in the church. I put this to my local church, who upon voting agreed that they would nominate me for training at seminary.
    Upon arrival in Manchester for my training, I was immediately struck by how ’Liberal’ the theology and lecturers were at the college. Within the first 2 months a death blow was dealt to the doctrine of the Trinity, the validity of vast swathes of the Gospels and Epistles of Paul were shown to be incredibly shaky at best and the Godhead of Jesus himself was given up to our own interpretation. Over the next year or so I was amongst a number of students who left training, after much further research after having my eyes pretty much ripped open theologically speaking by the college, I decided that I in conscience could no longer preach the Christian message, as I no longer believed in the most important parts of it.
    During my period in theological training, I had taken the opportunity to read into Islam. This was the first time I had done so, as it had never interested me previously. What I found within the Qu’ran was an answer to my many irritations within the Christian scripture. The Qu’ran confirmed a progression of revelation from Abraham and the many proceeding Jewish prophets including Jesus through to the final and seal of the prophets Muhammad. The irregularities in the Christian scriptures become very much apparent when measured beside the testimony of previous revelation and particularly so when highlighted by God himself in his last scripture, Qu’ran.
    Finding myself very much in agreement with Islam at a theological and conscience based level, I took to scouring the internet for information and contacts re reverting and how one should go about it. The response I received from Muslims on the net was always helpful and encouraging, but I myself was beginning to run into what I would call emotional barriers to embracing Islam.
    All in all, I spent nearly 3 yrs leading up to my decision to finally embrace Islam publicly. One of the things that prolonged my decision was an imbedded fear that as one who had previously preached the Gospel, my apostasy would make me about as damned as you can get (as per the Christian scriptures). Another fear that kept me from embracing was how my wife would respond, bearing in mind she fell in love with a Christian preacher, I wasn’t sure if she would be able to handle ending up with a Muslim. And, believe it or not, having to give up alcohol felt like a massive bind, not that I’ve ever been the world’s biggest drinker, but the fear of losing the choice to drink made me really uneasy.
    On the 25th April 2005 a few days after finding my way onto the ‘Why Islam’ website, I contacted a fellow revert of 2 yrs standing and asked if he would take me to local Masjid. Upon arrival there I said my Shahada and became a muslim. I was greeted into the Deen enthusiastically by all the brothers present (and even got a free meal at a special table!).
    I consider myself very fortunate to have been guided through so many varied and enriching experiences by Allah, but his greatest gift he saved till last, he has made me a Muslim by his grace, from ’me alone’ I have been led to submit my life to ’God Alone'.

    Only by his Grace and mercy,

    Your Brother in Islam

    Gavin(Pilgrim)
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 05-16-2005 at 05:45 PM.

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    Re: Pilgrim's revert story

    Alhamdulillah what an inspirational story.


    Brother gavin have you heard of Shiek Yusuf Estes, his website is http://www.islamtomorrow.com/ he is a former preacher and priest, his family where preists and preachers before as well as his friend who was a catholic priest before they entered into Islam, inshallah you may find his site of use.

    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 05-12-2005 at 08:20 PM.
    Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!

    "Lo! the Hour is surely coming, there is no doubt thereof; yet most of mankind believe not." (Al-Ghafir:59)

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    Re: Stories of Muslim Reverts! - Post yours here!


    Here is my story.

    I grew up in a family comprised of Jews. The strongest sense of religion was withheld in my maternal grandparents. As you went down the family tree, religion became softer and softer. Even for a time, I did not even consider myself Jewish. But verily, I always believed in Ar Rahmaan.

    Then, out from the smokey haze in which my faith was guided in, a friend called out to me. He showed me Islam and introduced me to it. His name is Jameel (peace and blessings be upon him! He is a great friend). This was in the year of 2003 during Ramadaan. I was introduced to Islam, learned a great deal, and I converted. Everything about Islam felt so...right. When I was first learning about Islam, I felt as if I was completely blind to the truth. I had to learn more, and my knowledge could not be quenched. Infact, that same incredible thirst for knowledge and purification still burns within me. I want to do as much as I possibily can do devote myself to Islam. Unfortunately, I do not know how to pray yet (I still have not visited a Mosque! I undoubtably will be visiting one soon. Most likely next weekend!). This one boundary is keeping my heart from believing that I am a true Muslim. Once I learn how to pray, a new spark of joy will be within me.

    Infact, as of now, I decided it would be great to remember the ninety-nine perfect names of Allah! Tonight, I memorized the first ten. Each night I will memorize the next ten and so on untill I know all ninety-nine. Truely, Islam will guide me to the right path and I will recieve Al Mu'min's shade. Verily, Allah's shade is better than all shade.
    1 | Likes Abz2000 liked this post

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