Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tina Styliandou, a Greek woman embraces Islam who was taught to hate Islam

I was born in Athens, Greece , to Greek Orthodox parents. My father’s family lived in Turkey, Istanbul for most of their lives, and my father was born and raised there. They were wealthy, well–educated, and as most Christian Orthodox who lived in an Islamic country, they held on to their religion.
A time came when the Turkish government decided to kick the majority of Greek citizens out of Turkey and confiscate their wealth, houses, and businesses. So my father’s family had to return back to Greece empty-handed. This is what the Turkish Muslims did to them, and this validated, according to them, their hatred towards Islam.
My mother’s family was living on a Greek island just on the border between Greece and Turkey. During a Turkish attack, the Turks occupied the island, burnt their houses, and in order to survive, they escaped to the Greek mainland. Even more reason to hate the Turkish Muslims then!
Greece was for more than 400 years occupied by Turks, and we were taught to believe that for every crime committed towards the Greeks, Islam was responsible. The Turks were Muslims and their crimes were reflecting their religious beliefs.
This was actually a very wise plan of the Greek Orthodox Church (religion and politics in Greece are the same thing) to build hatred in the hearts of the Greeks against Islam, in order to protect their religion and prevent people from converting to Islam.
So for hundreds of years we were taught in our history and religious books to hate and make fun of the Islamic religion.
In our books, Islam was actually not a religion and Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not a prophet! He was just a very intelligent leader and politician who gathered rules and laws from the Jews and the Christians, added some of his own ideas and conquered the world.
At school, we were taught to make fun of him and of his wives or his Companions. All the "caricatures" and slander against him which are published today by the media were actually part of our lessons and our exams!
Alhamdulillah (thank God), Allah protected my heart, and hatred against Islam didn’t enter it.
Other Greeks have also succeeded to rid themselves of the burden of the Orthodox religious inheritance placed on their shoulders and they have opened, by the will of Allah, their eyes, ears, and hearts to see that Islam is a true religion sent by Allah, and Muhammad is a true prophet, and the last of all prophets.
Muslims believe that Allah sent messengers to mankind as a guidance to them, starting from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them all). But Allah’s final message was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It was a great help to me that both of my parents were not very religious themselves. They rarely practiced their religion and used to take me to church only during weddings or funerals.
What drove my father away from his religion was the corruption he was seeing daily among the priests. How could these people preach for God and goodness, and at the same time steal from the church’s funds, buy villas, and own Mercedes cars, and spread homosexuality amongst them? Are these the righteous representatives of the religion who will guide us, correct us, and lead us closer to God? He was fed up with them and this led him to become an atheist.
The churches lost most of their followers, at least in my country, because of their actions. In Islam a sheikh or scholar of the religion helps and guides others with full passion and only with the desire to please Allah and earn their way to Paradise.
In Christianity to become a priest is a profitable occupation. This corruption "within" drives many young people away from the religion they were born with and leads them to search for something else.
As a teenager I loved to read a lot and I wasn’t really satisfied or convinced with Christianity. I had belief in God, fear and love for Him, but everything else confused me.
I started searching around but I never searched towards Islam (maybe due to the background I had against it).
So alhamdulillah He had mercy on my soul and guided me from darkness to light, from Hell to Paradise God willing.
He brought into my life my husband, a born Muslim, planted the seed of love into our hearts and lead us to marriage without us really paying attention to the religious differences.
My husband was willing to answer any question I had concerning his religion, without humiliating my beliefs (no matter how wrong they were) and without ever putting any pressure on me or even asking me to change my religion.
After 3 years of being married, having the chance to know more about Islam and to read the noble Quran, as well as other religious books, I was convinced that there is no such a thing as a trinity, nor was Jesus God.
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God, Who has no son, nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone! No one shares His divinity, nor His attributes.
In the Quran Allah described Himself. He said:
“Say: He is God, the One. God, the eternally Besought of all! He begets not nor is He begotten. and there is none like unto Him.” (Quran 112:1-4)
No one has the right to be invoked, supplicated, prayed to or shown any act of worship but Allah alone.
The religion of Islam is the acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of Allah which were revealed to His final Prophet Muhammad.
I became a Muslim, keeping it secret from my family and friends for many years. We lived with my husband in Greece trying to practice Islam, but it was extremely difficult, almost impossible.
In my home town there are no mosques, no access to Islamic studies, no people praying, or fasting, or women wearing hijab .
There are only some Muslim immigrants who came to Greece for a better financial future and who let the Western lifestyle attract them and eventually corrupt them. As a result, they do not follow their religion and they are completely lost.
It was incredibly difficult to perform our Islamic duties, especially for me, as I wasn’t born as a Muslim, and didn’t have an Islamic education.
My husband and I had to pray and fast with the use of calendars, no Adhan (the Muslim call for Prayer) in our ears, and no Islamic Ummah (community of Muslims) to support us. We felt that with each passing day we were stepping backwards. Our faith was decreasing and the wave was taking us.
So when my daughter was born, we decided, in order to save our own souls and our daughter’s, if God wills, we have to migrate to an Islamic country. We didn’t want to raise her in a western open environment where she would struggle to maintain her identity and might end up lost.
Thank Allah, He has guided us and gave us the chance to migrate to an Islamic country, where we can hear the sweet words of the Adhan, and we can increase our knowledge and love for Him, and our beloved Prophet Muhammad. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sophie Jenkins, many misconceptions about Islam

I was born into a lower middle-class English family; my mother was (and is) a housewife and my father worked at an electronics firm (he is now a lecturer in electronic engineering). My father came from a Catholic background, and my mother from a Protestant one. They had both shared a short spell in the Quaker church in the early 1970’s, but by the time I came along, they were strong atheists and religion was never mentioned in our house, let alone practiced. My parents had decided that if we wanted to be religious when we grew up, they would support this.
From a young age, I believed in God, despite not being brought up with this belief, but still I got the feeling that what they were teaching in the Christian school I went to was not right, somehow. I didn’t believe in Jesus or the Holy Spirit, it all seemed false, but at school they told us this was the only right way, all other religions were wrong, so I was VERY confused. When you’re a small child, you assume adults are always right with no exceptions: what they say, goes. Still, I could not let this go, so I probably, quite wisely, decided to keep my belief in only one God private. I felt guilty for believing something that was ‘wrong’. I felt ashamed and I hoped and prayed that I would stop being a heretic soon. When I was young, I was exposed very much to the fear of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’, especially with the Salman Rushdie affair at the front of people’s minds, I was very frightened of the Muslims in general. There were two Muslim children at my primary school, but they kept their beliefs to themselves, except for the fact that the younger child Ali refused to pray in Assembly.
I had always prayed for God to show me the right way, I always turned to God for help. There was no doubt in my mind that God existed by the time I was 11 or 12 years old, and in high school I began to realize that perhaps my belief in one God wasn’t wrong. At this time, I had not really heard of Islam, all I ‘knew’ about it was that it was a violent religion that treated women like dirt. We were actually taught in SCHOOL that Islam was spread by the sword (in other words by violent and forceful means), that women in Islam were chattels symbolized by their dress, and that Muslims worshipped Mohammed (Salalah Alaihi Was Sallam). I was really disgusted, every time I saw a Muslim lady when shopping in Manchester (there are few Muslims in my area) I thought, ‘how can you do that to yourself?? I was really incensed. They did teach us one true thing though, that Muslims believe in only one God, which was something I honestly did not know before then.
I looked into all manner of other religions, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, but they all appeared so man-made and contradictory. However one day, I don’t know what hit me, but I just felt I had to check whether what I had been taught was true or not. I was also curious because I had been told Muslims believed in one God, and I wanted to see if it were true or not. I saw a book called ‘Elements of Islam’ in the local library, and secretly I took it out. I turned straight to the section on Muslim women, and I was absolutely astounded by what I read. It was contrary to what I had been taught about Islam and women, and better than anything else I had ever heard of. I didn’t doubt what I read, I knew it was true, I knew deep in my heart that all of my prayers had been answered. Islam was the truth that I had been searching for all of my life! Still I felt bad for feeling this, the old guilt from my primary school days came creeping back; how could I believe in this ‘wrong’ religion? I tried to find evidence to ‘prove’ to me that Islam was not the truth, but it was impossible: all books that said negative things about Islam, I already knew they were lying. All books that said positive things about Islam, I knew they were telling the truth.
I decided I must be a Muslim, although I couldn’t come to terms with it, and I didn’t tell anyone. I read every book I could get my hands on, I got a translated copy of the Quran from the library but I couldn’t understand it, it was all in Middle English. This didn’t put me off - I knew it was only a translation, and what I did gather from it, I liked very much. I knew Islam was for life, that there was no turning back, so I really had to make sure. I ended up studying for two and a half years before chancing upon a chat room in January 1997 that was to change my life. It was the chatroom at [a Muslim website], and the people there were very helpful. The second time I went there I took Shahadah (declaration of faith that makes One a Muslim) in front of people from all over the world. (The Religion of Islam)

Saumya, a Hindu’s journey to Islam

When the truth is revealed to you and you stand face to face with it, how long can you refuse to accept it? How long would you run away denying it?
There comes a point in your life when you have to break free from all the chains that hold you back from answering the True Call.
It is a moment where nothing else seems significant and equivalent to the call of the Almighty God and His path of freedom, bliss and satisfaction.
All the lies with which you have been living with start fading and your beliefs as a disbeliever fall like a pack of cards. And what you witness is an Eureka moment, a moment when you realize the truth, when you realize the beauty of Islam.
Then you take no time to accept it. You just have to take a bold step lest fearing the societal pressure and disagreement. For you should always fight for the Truth and stand firm on to it, no matter be it against your own kin.
I remember the day when I stood in front of the mirror in my room, looking vaguely, trying to search for something but failing to find an answer. In retrospect, I was never an atheist,
I always believed that God existed and being a Hindu it existed for me in thousand forms: from a stone to a tree, from a tree to a river, from a river to a well (funny but true). All were objects of worship for me as I was told by my family and other traditions.
I took pride in being a polytheist, considering that all objects made by God are worth worshipping and that there exists a part of God in them, in every single being; so all are worthy of worship. It could be a cow, a tree, a river (as I said also a well), idols and even human beings themselves.
I detested Islam for being so rigid and stubborn on this. I found the Muslims static, living in the past, while the world is moving far ahead of them. For me all their beliefs were unreasonable (maybe because I never looked for reason), impractical, cruel and outdated.
Probably, it was not my fault; I was made to look at them this way. It was a pre-conceived notion, which I inherited from this society which has often kept a negative image of Islam in majority of its opinion.
My first encounter with Islam was in high school where the majority of my classmates were Muslims and during free classes we used to have discussions on Islam (largely because of the anti-Islam propaganda by the Hindu Organizations post 9/11 and the Gujarat riots).
During these talks they tried to clear various misconceptions that I carried regarding monotheism, rights of women, their status, and other popular myths which have become clichéd more or less.
Yet, it was not convincing for me, I still kept those beliefs and my pride in being polytheist. Though I was not anymore an anti-Muslim, I was moved by the sufferings of the people who were one of us, simply dying because they practiced a different faith. I became more secular in my outlook.
I give the major credit of becoming a monotheist to Arya Samaj, a Hindu organization that believes that Hinduism preaches monotheism and not rituals and idol worshiping. After coming under its influence I stopped worshiping idols, performing any sort of rituals and going to temples.
These are what I call the steps I was taking to finally reach my destination that is Islam. Though Arya Samaj has its own flaws, I again found myself in the same cob-web; where rituals and fire worshiping became an integral part.
Reading Vedas, Manu Smiriti, and other scriptures only confused me. It was all philosophical, nothing material which could help you precisely find an answer for your daily life queries.
While in college studying Law, it was the first time when the clarity of Islam dawned over me. It was nothing but a small course of Family Law - Hindu Law and Islamic Law regarding marriages, divorce, succession, etc.
While Hindu law was riddled with various technicalities, confusions, differences of opinions and lack of stability, Islamic law on the other hand was clear, precise and certain.
My opinion here changed overnight. What I used to find static, appeared stable to me. This made me curious to read more in this regard; I spent hours online talking to friends who used to tell me about Islam.
I read various links and participated in forum discussions. My outlook towards Islam started changing which was reflected when I spoke with my friends or discussed things with them.
Of course this change was not appreciated by them, they warned me against the so-called ‘brain washers’ whose sole aim is to divert Hindus to Islam.
All this used to bother me, I felt scared of their disagreement. I felt as though I were cheating my friends and family by doing what they sternly disagreed of.
But, as I said earlier, how long can you run away from the truth? You cannot live with a lie and accepting the truth needs courage. And as the Holy Quran says:
“Believers, uphold justice. Always bear true witness, even if it be against yourself, your parents, or your relatives-and regardless of whether the person against whom you are speaking is rich or poor. God is close to people regardless of their material circumstances. Do not be led by emotion, as this may cause you to swerve from the truth. If you distort your testimony, or refuse to testify, remember that God is aware of all your actions.” (Quran 4:135)
And that day all the fears just drifted away, because if I wouldn’t have converted then I guess I would never had. I would have stayed stuck in the complexities of of the material world where false emotions stop us from doing the right thing.
Though my friends and family members are yet unaware of it, but certainly I will tell them sooner or later and I hope Insha’Allah (God-willing) that they will respect my decision.
Alhamdullilah, I’m a Muslim today, trying to learn more and more about the Holy Quran and the guidelines of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him. Insha’Allah, I will walk on his path in a better way.
With the help of a few friends and an organization, I’ve learned to pray; I’m praying 5 times daily alhamdulillah. I pray to God to give me more strength so that I could always stand firm on my decision. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sara Hermansson, found her “way to the most beautiful gift…Islam.”

How was your life before finding your way to Islam?
My life before Islam was empty in a way. Just the feeling to live for the day and not knowing the meaning and purpose of life. My self-confidence was quite weak. I didn’t feel that I belonged anywhere in the society, something was missing. I was searching for something, I just didn’t know what it was at that time.
What was the turning point that led you to choose Islam?
It was a long journey and it took time. I knew there was and is a God, I just couldn’t identify myself with Christianity. God for me has always been something so great and big that my mind is limited to understand what He is. This, as God has such great power and can not be compared to a human being. God has no limitation, he is capable to do whatever He desires.
I searched for a long time among different religions and the more I came to know about Islam, the more I felt Islam is the full truth and it made complete sense. Islam described God as I had always imagined Him.
What do you love most about Islam?
What I mostly love about Islam is Allah’s love and mercy.
What does being a Muslim mean to you?
For me, being a Muslim means to live in peace with yourself and your friends, family and the whole society. And to show the best behaviour as possible, according to Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Sunnah and how he treated people and how he showed love, charity and mercy. And also to please Allah (swt) [Editor’s note: (swt) is an abbreviation for Subhanahu wa Taala, used by Muslims, meaning Almighty] and follow His words and ask for forgiveness and thank Allah (swt) for everything.
What would you like to tell people about Islam?
Islam gives you a rich life, in the sense that life has a purpose and you feel peace and love in your heart.
Do you think Islam is relevant to today’s world? How?
I believe Islam is very much relevant to the world today. There is so much hatred in the world and a lot of people have the wrong concept of Islam, which is in many ways our own (we Muslims) mistakes in showing Islam in a wrong way. We need to show Islam in a peaceful way and with patience.
What do you think Islam has to offer the world today?
Islam has many things to offer the world today. For example, charity is very much emphasized and to not be greedy regarding money and material things. To share love with your neighbors and with strangers. To keep self-respect, to show that confidence is not to show your body, it is to protect it; which is the ground to confidence and good morals.
What are the obstacles that you faced after embracing Islam?
- From family, friends, and associates, etc.
There are unfortunately many misconceptions about Islam. For example, that women are oppressed and forced to do whatever men say. So, it was not strange that my parents were not happy after I told them that I reverted to Islam, but they knew that I started to read about Islam since a long time before that.
They had and still have a negative view about Islam. Very much due to what is portrayed in media, but also because of the many bad actions done by Muslims who fail to correctly represent their religion. Unfortunately, I am held responsible for other peoples acts.
My parents do accept me and they love me very much and when I’m there at their house they always cook food that I can eat as well. In that way they respect me, but they do feel ashamed if I need to pray somewhere.
What’s positive is that they think that I’m helping them a lot and that I’m very caring.
Some of my friends reacted in a negative way when I became Muslim. I have no longer any relationship with some of them, unfortunately.
Others, I still got a relationship with, but I try not to discuss Islam too much with them, as some could feel uncomfortable with that. However, they do sometimes ask me things.
My parents are not keen on discussing Islam. With time, I pray they will start asking and become Muslims inshaAllah (God willing).
It’s in the hands of Allah. I try to be kind to them, help them as much as possible, respect them and just show good behaviour.
I guess my relatives think I’m strange to revert to Islam, but none of them ever commented about it.
- From the Arabic language and/or specific acts of worship.
I have felt frustration on not understanding Arabic. I have also not felt completely free to pray in any place, even in Islamic countries.
What methods of dawah (Islamic Propagation) were used to invite you to Islam? Were they effective?
Friends who showed charity and love and open arms had a great effect on me.
What were you unhappy with in your own religion/lifestyle?
I felt I did not see a purpose with life. I had an empty feeling; no peace.
After accepting Islam did you embrace a whole new way of life; or did you experience just isolated changes to your life style?
I embraced a whole new way of life with daily prayers, etc. I’m still doing the things I liked to do before that are permissible.
How difficult was it to believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him)?
It was not difficult for me to accept the belief in Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). When you read about his beautiful way in dealing with people with understanding and love and his respect and love to people as well as animals in addition to how logical his acts were, it’s easy to believe in him.
What role did current events have on your journey to Islam?
Current events had the effect of “A wakeup call”.
Did the search for a spiritual path lead to other religions before finally finding Islam?
Yes, I read about Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism before embracing Islam, I believe that knowledge about other religions is very relevant to be able to compare and to get a larger understanding for your own religion and for other religions.
If we, as Muslims, want people to understand and respect us and our religion; we must act in the same way to others.
What is your current state after embracing Islam?
Islam has given me a feeling of peace and harmony. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that I found the truth. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Sally, a bad experience but beautiful end!

I was brought up in a devout Catholic family and raised with Catholic values and traditions. At fifteen, I entered the monastery. While inside the monastery, I was happy because I could perform my duties as a nun and the people around me including my family were also pleased with me.
Until such time when I began to ask myself every night, “What am I doing here inside the monastery?“ I stayed in our small and humble chapel and started to ask God if he is really listening to me, because I had learned in our catechism that god is present in the blessed sacrament.
Many question were lingering my mid. Doubts were cropping up particularly concerning the reality of Jesus Christ. However, I did not have the courage to ask the priest nor my co-nuns who were with me that time. I was so afraid that they might take it against me.
So I let all doubts linger. I even allowed myself to profess my first temporary vows. I kept renewing it every year for TEN YEARS! Until such time I could not take it anymore; my perpetual vows of chastity and poverty; professing the Jesus Christ as my God; and that he is Lord and son of God.
I started to pray harder, asking God for guidance and to show me the right path.
If I were to leave the monastery, it would bring great pain to my mother! My father actually didn’t mind if I leave the church and have my own family.
But I did not want to hurt my family, particularly my mother, my two brothers who are both priests, and my four sisters who happen to be all nuns!
Above all, I do not want to be a hypocrite and pretend that I am happy practicing something which is against my underlying principle.
So I did not submit my application letter of perpetual profession. I talked to my superior general, informing her that I am leaving the monastery.
Without informing my family, I left to find a work to survive. After awhile I met a close friend of mine who is a priest and offered me to work with him in his church in Marawi City, as a parish coordinator.
Incidentally, my family heard the news that I left the church, and it was very hard for them to accept the fact. But they were hoping that one day I might come bask to serve the church.
While working as parish coordinator, the priest who hired me was not treating me so well.
He did not even pay me salary and he tried to sexually abuse me. But, thank God, he was not successful with his evil intentions.
Again I started to pray asking God to be with me and to make me happy, because I have never been at peace with my life. My heart and mind were miserable.
A New Day
On June 17, 2001, early morning, I heard a beautiful sound but I did not understand what it was. I thought it was coming from the mosque nearby. As soon as I heard the sound, I felt like I was dipped in refreshing water. I cannot explain the feeling.
That day I felt happiness entering my heart, even though I did not understand what I heard. After hearing this amazing sound, I said to myself these few words, “There is a new day, there is new beginning.”
I woke up that morning asking what the sound was and they told me it was call for prayers of the Muslims. Strange! I came to this city (Marawi) on the first week of May 2001, but I could hardly hear the sound until one morning of June 2001.
That day I decided to find out about Islam and the Muslims. I started to research through reading books until I finally left my work. I went back to my family in Pampanga and found out that my father had already passed away.
I was depressed for a while, but I did not stop researching Islam. So I went back to Manila hoping to find someone to explain to me about Islam. In my heart, I was ready to embrace Islam but I did not know how!
I did not give up, I search on internet. I went to the extent of joining chatting rooms, hoping to find a Muslim who can enlighten me about Islam.
On June 16, 2004, I met the brother in Manila. He started to explain about Islam. On the day, I declared;
La ilaha illalah muhammadur rasulullah wa ‘isa ibnu maryam abdullahi wa rasuli (There is no god worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger and that Jesus son of Mary, is a slave and messenger of Allah.)
That fateful day, I finally found a new home, the home of Islam: a home where you can find love, happiness and joy. Now I can smile, a smile that comes from my heart. On that day, I slept very well.
Every time I pray, I cry, not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. A joy which money cannot buy. It is indescribable.
Now I remember when I had a conversation with my grandfather who is a Catholic priest ( my mother’s uncle) He said; “If you want to change your religion, go back to Islam!” God is Great!
May Allah open the hearts of my family to the light of Islam, and may he protect us from Satan. Amen.

O brother and sister Muslims! Include me in your prayers!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Noora Alsamman, describes her struggles with her family as a young convert

I became Muslim when I was 15 years old. My mom is Syrian (family from Haleb) born in Detroit, and my dad is American with parents from Polish/Slovak background. I was also born in Detroit Michigan. My grandma is Maronite, my and my mom and dad are both catholic. When I was fifteen I wanted to be a nun. I was in my World History class in high school and we were studying all the major religions. When we got to Islam I was very interested, and there was an Egyptian brother (Muslim) in my class who was correcting the teacher when he would make a mistake, and I thought “Wow!” he must have strong faith to be correcting the teacher like this. So one day, I asked him what is the difference between Catholicism and Islam. He said that there was not that much. Well I was not satisfied with this answer so I asked his mom if I could have a copy of the Quran in English. She gave me one and when I started to read it, I couldn't put it down. I just keep reading it and I knew it was from Allah. You just know there is NO way a man could write this. And me being a person who appreciates poetry, I loved it very much I found it to be amazing. So I became Muslimah in my heart.
And then all the hardships started. I started praying and fasting, etc. My parents, especially my mom, started giving me a VERY hard time. Me being so young, I imagined they would love Islam the same way I did, but for them it was completely different. They would take away my hijab, my prayer rug, my Quran, and materials about Islam. My dad would search my room everyday, and I would hide my hijab in the closet. My mom started trying to forbid me from being friends with Muslims, and she would call my friend's parents and tell them stop telling my daughter about Islam, and that they are confusing her.
My parents made me go to church, and I would just sit there thinking these people are SO lost, and this priest how he lies to the people and reads from the bible only what he wants them to hear, and then manipulates the meaning. One day my mom set up a conference with me and one of the priests. I would say I love Islam and why would you think something so beautiful is so bad? He would tell me this and that and say some quotes from the bible. He even told me that my dream (I had a dream I was going to a Muslim country and to the desert wearing hijab) he said this was from Satan, I seek refuge in God. This man looked like he had Satan in him when he said this! I will never forget the look on his face. I asked Allah to forgive me.
My mom would cook pork for me on purpose and say it was beef, but I checked the wrapper and it said pork. And my dad, who's parents are Polish/Slovak ancestors would tell me in this house you are either catholic or you leave. I even had to hide my Quran in the air conditioning vent so they wouldn't get it, because they would throw it in the garbage. They even took the lock off my door, so praying was VERY hard. They would make fun of me praying. I learned the prayers in Arabic my self with a small prayer book. I can't explain how much it would hurt me that my parents were this way towards me and Islam.
I started telling my younger sister than me about Islam. My parents told me if I didn't stop I had to leave. I stopped, but I told my sister many things and now she questions why Catholics can't just pray to God and why confession and many other things. I said a prayer that when I was older, I would practice Islam totally. I stopped praying for a while, may God forgive me. I had no one to support me or give me guidance except my friends parents who said listen to your parents. My Muslim friends didn't understand what I was going through, and they weren't mature or knowledgeable enough to teach me and answer the many questions I had.
One day (when I was 20) while I was in university I called up the lady who had given me the Quran because I heard there was a mosque just built nearby. Before then the closest mosque was 45min-1hr. away. She said they were having a dinner. So I went, and when I heard the call to prayer, I was so happy and cried. I repeated the Shahada public during Ramadan, and I made a commitment to be steadfast and not care what my parents or anyone else said or did. I felt I could relate at this point to Yunus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him who was in the belly of the whale. I was/am determined. So I stopped bad habits and left bad company. And surrounded myself with Muslims.
I started wearing hijab and my parents would say you are not going outside like that. But either I did anyway or wouldn't go. Sometimes I would put on my hijab in my car so they wouldn't see me because my mom would always says Islam says to obey your parents, so you must listen to us. She said you will not wear that thing on your head and you will wear shorts and be stylish. She told me I look like an old woman wearing Islamic clothing and hijab. One time my mom didn't want my sister's friends to see me wearing hijab so her and my sister grabbed it off my head. And in defense I hit my mom, may God forgive me.
She told me I was selfish for wearing hijab and embarrassing my sister and the whole family. She doesn't like to be seen with me in public in the city she lives. I really got a hard time from my grandma. I would be praying sometimes and she would yell at me and say, “Don't you hear me when I am talking to you!”
She even said one time she couldn't believe Jesus was born miraculously. They would hear me playing the Quran and literally make fun and laugh and curse at the words. My grandpa stopped talking to me, my mom told me to go to hell and so did my grandma. My mom even tried to take me to a psychiatrist when I was younger. She explained to him I had become Muslimah, and he tried to give me psychotic medicine. I threw it in the garbage. I found it VERY hard to study in school with all this craziness going on. I wanted to study Islam and become like a scholar. So I started looking to get married.
All praise is to Allah, I found a good Muslim from Damascus Syria. I got married and moved from Atlanta to Houston. A year later I had a boy named Yousuf. All praise be to Allah, I am very happy and I hope, God willing, to move to Medina. All is very generous. Recently, I met a sister who was Jordanian who also became Muslim. She went through a hard time like me. I hear amazing stories about people embracing Islam like this Jewish guy from New York who moved to Jerusalem and he became Muslim, and his Moroccan Jewish wife became Muslim and kids and he moved to the Muslim localities and learned Arabic. All praise is due to Allah. I just thank Allah for giving me guidance to Islam. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Nichole Arel, the search for the true religion led her to Islam

Often I find myself reflecting upon how blessed I am. The life that I lead now is a world away from the one I expected to lead just a year ago: my first thoughts upon waking in the morning, my imagined path in life, and especially my heart and soul. I would never have dreamt that in less than a year my life would take such unexpected turns. Not only that. The path I now take has led me to roads I never knew existed. Indeed where you start your journey is in no way indicative of where you end up.
As a child, I longed to be taken to church. The feeling of community and worship held my mind in fascination. I longed for the feeling of drawing close to God even before I could formulate such thoughts in my own mind. Something incomprehensible held my young soul in awe, so much so that I made a habit of waking my father every Sunday by begging him to take me to church.
Unfortunately my family was much like average American Christians, content to call themselves religious based on their twice-yearly attendance to Catholic Mass: on Christmas and Easter Sunday. Thus I grew accustomed to hearing the phrase, “not today, maybe next week.” Dejectedly, I would sulk back into my room and wait for next Sunday to arrive, only to repeat the disappointing process all over again.
As I grew older, I learned to stop asking since my attempts had all been in vain. I became content to spend all my free time in solitude reading, usually books on world cultures and religions. As I learned more about the history of my religion, Catholicism, I was repulsed by its condemnation of questioning the doctrine. “Surely this cannot be the right sect of Christianity,” I thought.
Time ticked by and still I had not found the religion that seemed to speak to my heart. Perhaps I was expecting to find something to stir the same feelings that I felt as a child in church, although I knew this was a naïve wish. The alienation from religion occurs only when one begins to understand religions’ claims and contradictions.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around the claim of the Trinity no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to believe in concepts that were incomprehensible. I was angry that reason was assumed to have no place in Christianity and the act of questioning doctrine was considered a sign of weak faith. What then could be the reason God gave man the ability to rationalize?
Eventually I gave up altogether and assumed that I would never find the truth. I was resigned to believe that there was a God but that humans would never be able to know God’s nature or the true religion for man until we met Him one day.
I lived many years with this belief until very recently when it seemed that something inexplicable was urging me back to my quest for the truth. This urge was almost a voice but not in the normal sense. It was an insistent nagging that never left me alone no matter what I did to drown it out.
So naturally I bought a Bible to read, thinking that the truth must be hidden between the pages. Maybe I just missed it all those years ago. This was closer to the truth than I could ever have guessed.
During my reading of the Bible I happened to be obsessed with the current events of the world. I found myself spending all my free time alternating between writing letters to my government’s officials pleading for the rights of the Palestinians and the Sudanese as well as against wars that are so commonplace around the globe, and reading about sects of Christianity.
I planned on volunteering in Palestine if I could gather the money to travel there. Naturally, given the turmoil in the region and my travel plans, it seemed necessary to read about Islam and understand the faith of the people that I yearned to help.
I was enthralled by what I read about the Muslim faith.The concept of One God not a trinity, the reverence for all of the prophets which I found lacking in the Bible, the scientific aspects of the Qur’an, the all-encompassing facets of Islam, the respect for mothers, the sanctity of family. This was the only religion that I had ever happened upon which made sense to a rational mind yet was still filled with the mystery of God.
But Islam had to be an Arab religion, right? It can’t be the faith that young American women gravitate to, can it? I soon discovered that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, that the majority of Muslims are not Arab, and that some of the most rapid growth of Islam in the West is among my demographic group of young white women.
The thought of actually turning away from Christianity, no matter how little sense the religion itself made to me, was terrifying and confusing. I decided to attend a non-denominational church on Sundays and devote more time to reading the Bible. I prayed that I would find what I was searching for but all I came away with was more confusion. I still couldn’t accept the Trinity and I was shocked that I couldn’t find one passage in the Bible where Jesus claimed to be God.
How could we propose to think that God would come to earth to die for our sins? How could I explain the shocking parallels of Christianity’s doctrine with the Pagan myths at the time of Christianity’s rapid spread during the Roman Empire? What about Christianity’s claim that we can live the life we want and still go to Heaven as long as we believed in Jesus? What could it mean when Jesus supposedly cried out that his God had forsaken him if Jesus was claimed to be God incarnate? Who did these passages refer to when it said that Jesus would send “a Comforter” after him? Who was the “Spirit of Truth” that was foretold to come after Jesus?
I was crushed by the questions that plagued me so I did the inevitable. As I sat at work, I prayed that God would show me the religious path that I should follow. If I was supposed to be a Muslim would God send me a sign?
Then I grabbed my purse and headed down to my car in the parking lot. To my astonishment, there was a Muslim woman standing next to my car while she searched for her keys. Could this be the sign I prayed for? “Impossible,” my mind said, but I decided not to waste this opportunity so I approached her.
“Miss, may I ask you something? You are Muslim, right?” She seemed to flinch as she awaited the typical ignorant comment that is so common among people who, on average, have no knowledge of different cultures or religions. “Yes, I am,” she replied. I asked her if she attended the masjid I knew of. I told her briefly that Islam seemed to be the only religion that made sense to me. She insisted that I go to the masjid on the way home but I claimed that I wanted to read the Qur’an first.
As I drove home I found myself parked in front of the masjid. I momentarily thought that this could be another sign but, again, my mind refused to believe it. I walked up to the door shaking like a leaf while I told myself to get back in my car and go home as fast as possible. But instead my legs carried me forward, paying no attention to the commands of my brain.
As I found my way to the women’s section I was met by the most cheerful face I had ever encountered. This Muslim woman was my age and an American convert! Not only that, but she and I had the same name and when we compared our pasts and family life there were undeniable similarities. Needless to say, I declared my Shahadah then and there, not knowing that my future husband was in the masjid that very minute, al-hamdu lillah.
A couple of months after declaring my Shahadah, I felt educated and firm enough in my religion to finally break the news to my father and stepmother. My father responded by saying that as a clear-headed Christian he could tell me that I was making a mistake. I didn’t bother to point out that he doesn’t practice his religion and that his anger at Islam and prejudice against Muslims are sorely misguided. I just bit my tongue for the sake of God.
My father didn’t contact me again after that, but when I emailed him a month later to tell him that I had gotten married, he told me that I was dead to him and not to contact him again. I still email my stepmother to keep in touch with the family but my brother, father, and my old friends have severed their contact with me.
I have spent the following year growing in my new religion, gaining knowledge from wherever I can, and trying to convey the message that has brought me such peace and contentment. I am in the process of learning Arabic and the recitation of the Qur’an, and trying to become a good Muslim wife.
My life has no resemblance whatsoever to the life that I lived before. I spend my days studying God’s commands, the Prophet’s life, and what is required of me in order to be a good Muslim. As a Muslim, I find such peace in every day, so much so that even if Paradise was not the reward for such deeds, I would still be thankful for the joy that comes with living a life dedicated to God.
I said in the beginning that the road you travel does not indicate where you end up, and that life is not merely full of surprises but can altogether change beyond recognition. Sometimes these changes can bring trials but often enough the person who survives these trials is blessed with more than what is ever dreamed possible. In my case, I was blessed with Islam and not only a better life but also a hope for the hereafter. God is the Most Generous and the Most Merciful. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

La Bianca, Australia

This article is based on an interview with Sandra La Bianca, a Muslim revert who lives in Perth, Western Australia.
La Bianca is a country girl; she was brought up on a farm in Western Australia. When she was a child, she had a pet kangaroo and helped with taking care of the cows and sheep. She used to go hunting rabbits and foxes. There was not much religion in her upbringing, but she believed in God and she was taught traditional Italian morals. In an Italian household, girls are protected and quite sheltered.
She used to go to church with her family on Sundays, but it was superficial; she didn’t really understand anything. When she thought about Holy Communion, all she knew was that she would get a white dress and have to recite some words — it was all expected of her and she did it. As far as La Bianca was concerned, Jesus and Mary (peace be upon them) were just statues in the church. Still, she used to pray to God.
While she was growing up, she had no knowledge of Islam or Arabs; she did not even see a city until she was 16 years old! She acknowledges the fact that she was gullible and naïve. Of her own admission, the positive part of this is that it has made her more open and natural; she says that she wears her heart on her sleeve. She has found that city people are emotionally tougher and are often more stand-offish and critical, whereas country people tend to take people as they are.
In the country, men mostly stay on the farm and enjoy the country life. With its trucks, motorbikes, shooting, and horses, the country life is a man’s paradise! Young women usually look for the city life — pursuing fashion, being hip, getting excitement, and partying. La Bianca left the country when she was 16 years old looking for the bright city life. Having a big Italian family spread throughout Australia, La Bianca had no difficulty finding an aunt with whom she could stay in the city.
La Bianca got her first job working as a receptionist, and there she met a Muslim girl named Tasneem, a South African Muslim, albeit not a practicing one. Tasneem did not wear hijab or pray but always made sure that the meat she ate was according to Islamic dietary regulations. Even though she was not unchaste nor drank alcohol, Tasneem would still go clubbing, and she was allowed to by her parents as long as she came home early. The main thing La Bianca learned from Tasneem was fasting in Ramadan.
La Bianca reminisces that she always felt attracted to Muslims because the people she met were warm, friendly, and accepting with gentleness, directness, and a love of family. She enjoyed socializing with her Muslim friends and the atmosphere in the family reminded her of her country girl upbringing (good food and hospitality). She comments that she feels comfortable with people who are comfortable in their own skin. She further observes that people often pick on others a lot because they do not like themselves.
She especially likes African people because of their warmth and sociability. but finds European culture to be quite cold with a lot of barriers between people. She observes that when she was growing up she and her siblings loved the Aboriginal people more than the Europeans. Her father respected anyone who worked hard and did the right thing. He was not at all racist. However, La Bianca’s mother was racist and thought that Europeans were superior to others, and she easily criticized other people.
As La Bianca mixed with more and more Muslims, she learned that Muslims pray five times a day, but it was not until she met her husband that she really learned what Islam was all about.
La Bianca remembers that as soon as her husband met her, he took her home to meet his mother (his father had died some years before). Both he and La Bianca wanted a long-term commitment — the whole package; marriage and family. She started going to Islamic classes and changed the way she dressed. She donned long skirts and loose shirts. She observes that as she was learning about Almighty God, everything made sense; everything was beautiful and harmonious.
She comments that she liked the idea that there are consequences for what people do; that every one should try to do the right thing. This was unlike the Catholic religion whose teachings she was raised upon: People can do anything and that Jesus will cover for them.
Every one has a test, and La Bianca’s big test was wearing hijab. She reveals that it was changing her image that affected her most. At home, in the country, on the farm, or in the workplace, people would ask her why she was wearing “that.” Nevertheless, La Bianca wore long dresses and a scarf.
At first, her Dad felt she was not respecting his friends if she did not dress in a way that would please them. She admits that in the beginning, she felt guilty for making him feel disrespected, but her growing consciousness of Almighty God made her realize that she wanted to please God more than she wanted to please any human being.
She had told herself that she did not want to make any concessions, because she knew she was doing the right thing and she knew that if she started to make compromises, it would never stop and she would be left with no Islam at all! She certainly did not want that to happen.
Despite her initial difficulty in wearing it, hijab made so much sense to her. She found that after she started to cover up, she was not approached by men and she felt much more respected. It just felt right in her heart. La Bianca observes that she loves the idea that women are a treasure and that they should be protected and seen only by those who deserve to see them.
La Bianca pronounced the Shahadah (testimony of faith) in the company of a small group of friends. She felt that Islam was the truth, and she was hungry to learn more. Her husband and his family encouraged her to wear hijab, but it took some time for her to wear it properly because she had to wean herself from being defined by how she looks to the outside world.
When asked about the reaction of the Muslim community to her conversion, she said that at first she was “flavor of the month” simply because she was a new Muslim. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Lana, a Romanian falls in love with Islam

On July 30, 2006 / Rajab 4, 1427, with Allah’s will, I declared my Shahadah.
I believe this is my destiny, to become a Muslim, to return to my true religion. My story is now in front of you to read!
There is not much to say about my religious background. I was baptized as a Christian Orthodox, yet I rarely entered a church or actually practiced the religion. In Romania, when I was little, religion was a taboo due to the strict Communist rules. Even when Communism fell,I was 11 at the time, many people returned to religion, but my parents continued to neglect it, and the country remained mainly secular.
The only time Mom would attend church was at a time of a wedding, a funeral, or a baptism of a child. Sometimes she used to take me along to church to light a candle for the dead and the living. Strangely, I never liked the smell of burning candles, nor the general “atmosphere” in an Orthodox Church.
In a typical Orthodox Church in my country there are no benches and when there was a sermon, people used to push to be closer to the altar. During the sermon, your legs would hurt so much, that you couldn’t concentrate on the sermon anymore. In general, I never liked the sound of a sermon; elders used to gossip, it was crowded, and I never felt any religious “call” within Christianity.
Back home, two of my best friends were Muslims, yet not practicing ones. I used to attend a few Muslim weddings! It was an interesting experience. Then, during my university in the United Kingdom, I had classmates from all around the world and some were Muslims.
By coincidence, I was attracted to my Muslim classmate from Morocco and my other two from Indonesia, simply because they were calm, joyful, down-to-earth persons with interesting hobbies and never used to drinking like most of the students. Personally, I rarely drank alcohol; I can count on my fingers how many times I drank.
In my last months of my master’s degree, I met, by pure coincidence, a wonderful Muslim man who would later become my husband. I reckon everyone reading this would say my conversion to Islam was because of my husband. On the contrary, I believe it was Allah’s way and wish to bring this man into my life to guide me to the right path.
My husband never mentioned Islam and never raised the issue of me converting. I asked him once why he didn’t talk about Islam, and he said he believed a person’s religious choice should come from the heart, not convinced or forced by others. As long as I was one of the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], he was happy.
In the time when I was unsatisfied with the overall teachings of Christianity and especially the Orthodox branch of it, I still believed God existed. I was driven to Islam by the fact that its teachings gave me a sense of direction, a sense of belonging to something I originally felt in my heart. I didn’t have any financial or sentimental problems. I just simply felt that Islam was what was missing in my life.
I was at the local Islamic center, in a building with a beautiful minaret, on the seaside, ever since I moved to Qatar (where I now live), I always admired the building; it’s simply breathless to me. I thought it was only a mosque, but when later I found out it was actually an Islamic center with a Shari`ah court, I made a promise to myself that if or when I would ever take the Shahadah, it would be in that beautiful building. And Allah answered my wish.
On the morning of July 30, on the spur of the moment, I just took the car and stopped at the Islamic center and decided to take my Shahadah. My husband didn’t know anything at all. He found out afterwards, when I invited him out in town to share with him the big news. He became speechless.
I can say my family-in-law’s reaction took me by surprise. What I wanted to share with my husband went further to my father-in-law and the rest of the family. Happiness and tears of joy were a spontaneous reaction. As for my own parents, in sha’ Allah, whenever I go back home, there will be a proper time for them to find out and they won’t be upset.
I wish more and more people in my country would go beyond the biased mass media’s view on Islam and start reading the Qur’an and understand the depth of this beautiful religion called Islam.
By Allah’s will, people will stop finding illegal ways of making more and more money (sometimes at the expense of friendship and moral integrity)and they will stop fighting and there will be peace in the world. By Allah’s will, people will start seeking, or will continue, their inner call to religious duty. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gerda, has firm belief in God

I am from a little Eastern European country called Lithuania where Christianity is the dominant religion, and where a baby in his first days in the world is made a Christian. I‘ve never been an atheist, but I never called myself a good Christian. It was the time when I was going to the church every Sunday, not just for prayer, but to help the priest and to sing in the church choir that I had God in my heart the most, even though I would ask my parents why they baptized me without asking me if I would like to be a Christian or not.
All my life, as I remember, I couldn’t be a good Christian, and I couldn’t understand the meaning of the Christian religion. But I was looking for meaning. I would read a lot of books about Christianity, while continuously asking the priest for help. I could say that I felt and I believed that “Somebody’s” watching over me, but I could not call myself Christian.
Life without God Almighty’s guidance was difficult, scary, and lonely wherever I went. I was looking for God all the time, and yet I felt that He was so close to me. I was feeling God’s help all the time with me; I felt like He was talking to me. I saw how He was taking care of me and letting me find the way of life that He had already chosen for me. I was trying to understand a lot of signs that he was sending me daily almost like He was speaking to me.
I am the second child in my family, and my mother’s delivery pains with me were much harder than with her first baby. I was very lucky to survive the delivery, and I believe God saved my life. After two really serious accidents later in my life, which people said that nobody could possibly survive after, I started to really appreciate my life. I felt how fragile human life is and that only God knows how long I will live.
God let me trust Him every minute of my life and this helped me to enjoy my life even when I was sick or feeling bad. I know that God is giving us everything, wanting us to appreciate Him, so we will understand that He is doing it just for us.
I had a car accident right after my graduation exams, and I was told to stay in a bed for no less than six weeks. I could only move my head and arms, but with God’s help I nonetheless finished my school and enrolled in university while still lying in bed. Even my doctor couldn’t believe that I accomplished that much! Most people would be screaming with pain or asking for a pill to make them sleep. It couldn’t just be luck - it was a miracle from God for sure. After this, my faith increased but “SomeOne” still kept me away from church. I can now understand what was going on - for me, church wasn’t the way to God.
True understanding of God, what I had been wanting for so long and which would be my only way to real happiness through the calmness of my soul, I found through my husband. How we met each other was one of God’s miracles too. In the beginning, we never talked about religion, and we never had disagreements about it. One day, when I was in a really happy mood because I had just met an old friend, he (in that time we still weren’t married) told me that he wanted to give me the best thing in his life - faith. God put the correct words on his lips that day, and I was really interested to hear what he had to say about the Holy Quran, about miracles written in it, and about the meanings of every motion of his body while he prayed. Though it was just one conversation about the topic, it was enough to make me read as many books as I could get my hands on. With every book, with every page, I started to understand what I was missing in my life, that is, what I had been looking for all those years when I was asking priests for answers. Books would talk to me - God was talking to me through books. I found answers to a lot of questions; I found calmness in my soul while those around me were still searching.
I became Muslim just a few months ago, and it’s amazing to feel the miracle of a rebirth in faith. God loved me so much that He let me be born again though I was already 21 years old, an age when I was able to appreciate His amazing gift. Now I am a Muslim. Nobody can believe how different it is to be Muslim!
God made me see the sun in a different way than I used to see it when I was a Christian. The sun has a different meaning for me now. I know that this sunshine that God is sending to us everyday is His way of showing us how much He cares about us, how much He loves us. Because of His mercy, we do not feel cold, and we can see the world in many colors. God created night in order to show us how amazing His light is. He made us trust Him that after a cold and dark night, He will bring forth a nice, fresh morning. In this way, God is showing us signs. He gave us eyes to see His words in every miracle.
I’m so happy and thankful for God’s gift to see this world anew - to finally appreciate my life. He gave me a new and fresh light in my life, and now I can see His signs all around me in a different way. Everything I do, everywhere I go, God is saying welcome to me. In miracles that He is showing me, I see that I’m on the right way, that He is with me (in His Knowledge). The world didn’t change in one day, it didn’t even change in 21 years. All that has changed is the quality of my life when true understanding of God came into my heart.
I wish the whole world would change too. Now people are angry and tired of looking for calmness through worldly success. They are tired of hating each other, and of being jealous of one another. Nations try to survive by fighting each other; countries try to live in peace but cannot stay without war. Each day, the world is sinking deeper and deeper down. The only way to stop it is to make Islam the way of life of humanity. With love and knowledge of God in everybody’s heart, we will find and enjoy the life that we are now just dreaming about. We will build an optimistic future for our children; we will not be scared to meet each other and live as a single humanity. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Anne Collins, after a long journey finds Islam

I was raised in a religious Christian family. At that time, Americans were more religious than they are now—most families went to church every Sunday, for example. My parents were involved in the church community. We often had ministers (Protestant “priests”) in the house. My mother taught in Sunday school, and I helped her.
I must have been more religious than other children, although I don’t remember being so. For one birthday, my aunt gave me a Bible, and my sister a doll. Another time, I asked my parents for a prayer book, and I read it daily for many years.
When I was in junior high school (middle school), I attended a Bible study program for two years. Up to this point, I had read some parts of the Bible, but had not understood them very well. Now was my chance to learn. Unfortunately, we studied many passages in the Old and New Testament that I found inexplicable, even bizarre. For example, the Bible teaches an idea called Original Sin, which means that humans are all born sinful. I had a baby brother, and I knew that babies were not sinful. The Bible has very strange and disturbing stories about Prophet Abraham and Prophet David, for example. I couldn’t understand how prophets could behave the way the Bible says they did. There were many, many other things that puzzled me about the Bible, but I didn’t ask questions. I was afraid to ask—I wanted to be known as a “good girl.” Al-hamdulillah (Thanks to God), there was a boy who asked, and kept asking.
The most critical matter was the notion of Trinity. I couldn’t get it. How could God have three parts, one of which was human? Having studied Greek and Roman mythology at school, I thought the idea of the Trinity and powerful human saints very similar to the Greek and Roman ideas of having different so-called “gods” that were in charge of different aspects of life. (Astaghfir-Ullah!) (I seek the forgiveness of God)The boy who asked, asked many questions about Trinity, received many answers, and was never satisfied. Neither was I. Finally, our teacher, a University of Michigan Professor of Theology, told him to pray for faith.
I prayed.
When I was in high school, I secretly wanted to be a nun. I was drawn to the pattern of offering devotions at set times of day, of a life devoted entirely to God, and of dressing in a way that declared my religious lifestyle. An obstacle to this ambition, though, was that I wasn’t Catholic. I lived in a mid-Western town where Catholics were a distinct and unpopular minority! Furthermore, my protestant upbringing had instilled in me a distaste for religious statuary, and a healthy disbelief that dead saints had the ability to help me.
In college, I continued to think and pray. Students often talk and argue about religion, and I heard many different ideas. Like Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), I studied the Eastern so-called religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism. No help there.
I met a Muslim from Libya, who told me a little about Islam and the Holy Quran. He told me that Islam is the modern, most up-to-date form of revealed religion. Because I thought of Africa and the Middle East as backward places, I couldn’t see Islam as modern. My family took this Libyan brother to a Christmas church service. The service was breathtakingly beautiful, but at the end, he asked, “Who made up this procedure? Who taught you when to stand and bow and kneel? Who taught you how to pray?” I told him about early Church history, but his question made me angry at first, and later made me think.
Had the people who designed the worship service really been qualified to do so? How had they known the form that worship should take? Had they had divine instruction?
I knew that I did not believe in many of the teachings of Christianity, but continued to attend church. When the congregation recited pieces I believed to be blasphemous, such as the Nicene Creed, I was silent—I didn’t recite them. I felt almost alien in church, almost a stranger. I knew that I did not believe in many of the teachings of Christianity, but continued to attend church.
Horror! Someone very close to me, having dire marital problems, went to a curate of our church for advice. Taking advantage of her pain and self-loathing, he took her to a motel and seduced her.
Up to this point, I had not considered carefully the role of the clergy in Christian life. Now I had to. Most Christians believe that forgiveness comes through the “Holy Communion” service, and that the service must be conducted by an ordained priest or minister. No minister, no absolution.
I went to church again, and sat and looked at the ministers in front. They were no better than the congregation—some of them were worse. How could it be true that the agency of a man, of any human being, was necessary for communion with God? Why couldn’t I deal with God directly, and receive His absolution directly?
Soon after this, I found a translation of the meaning of the Quran in a bookstore, bought it, and started to read it. I read it, off and on, for eight years. During this time, I continued to investigate other religions. I grew increasingly aware of and afraid of my sins. How could I know whether God would forgive me? I no longer believed that the Christian model, the Christian way of being forgiven, would work. My sins weighed heavily on me, and I didn’t know how to escape the burden of them. I longed for forgiveness.
I read in the Quran:
“…nearest among them in love to the Believers you will find those who say, ‘We are Christian’: Because amongst them are Men devoted to learning, and men who have renounced the world and are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you will 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 God and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?” (Quran 5:82-84)
I saw Muslims praying on the TV news, and wanted to learn how. I found a book (by a non-Muslim) that described it, and I tried to do it myself. (I knew nothing of Taharah -- ritual purity -- and did not pray correctly.) I prayed in my own strange, desperate way, secretly and alone, for several years. I memorized some parts of the Quran in English, not knowing that Muslims memorize the Quran in Arabic.
Finally, after eight years of reading the Quran, I found this verse:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor for you, and chosen Islam as your religion.” (Quran 5:3)
I wept for joy, because I knew that, way back in time, before the creation of the Earth, God had written this Quran for me and for others. God had known that Anne Collins, in Cheektowaga, NY, USA, would read this verse of the Quran in May 1986, and be saved.
Now, I knew that there were many things I had to learn, for example, how to offer the formal Muslim prayer. The problem was that I didn’t know any Muslims.
Muslims are much more visible in the US now than they were then. I didn’t know where to find them. I found the phone number of the Islamic Society in the phone book, and dialed it, but when a man answered, I panicked and hung up. What was I going to say? How would they answer me? Would they be suspicious? Why would they want me, when they had each other and their Islam?
In the next couple of months, I called the mosque a number of times, and each time panicked and hung up. Finally, I did the cowardly thing: I wrote a letter asking for information. The kindly, patient brother at the mosque phoned me, and then started sending me pamphlets about Islam. I told him I wanted to be Muslim, but he told me, “Wait until you are sure.” It upset me that he told me to wait, but I knew he was right, that I had to be sure because, once I had accepted Islam, nothing would ever be the same again.
I became obsessed with Islam. I thought about it, day and night. On several occasions, I drove to the mosque (at that time, it was in an old converted house) and circled it many times, hoping to see a Muslim, wondering what it was like inside. Finally, one day in early November 1986, as I was working in the kitchen, I suddenly knew, knew that I was Muslim. Still a coward, I sent the mosque another letter. It said, “I believe in Allah (God), the One True God, I believe that Muhammad was his Messenger, and I want to be counted among the witnesses.”
The brother called me on the phone the next day, and I said my shahadah[1] on the phone to him. He told me then that God had forgiven all my sins at that moment, and that I was as pure as a newborn baby.
I felt the burden of sin slip off my shoulders, and wept for joy. I slept little that night, weeping, and repeating God’s name.
Forgiveness had been granted. Alhamdulillah!
(The Religion of Islam.htm)

[1] The statement a person makes when accepting Islam (and many times a day thereafter: I testify that there is no deity other than God, and I testify that Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was a messenger of God.

Amina, visit to Jerusalem took her to the Oneness of God

I was born in Canada to Christian parents from European descendants. I was raised in Canada for the first several years of my life. Then my parents became missionaries. We moved all over the U.S.A. and Europe, while my family tried to make people become Christian. Finally we moved to Jerusalem. There I discovered so many things about life. I never knew what was a Jew or a Muslim before this, but I soon learned. I remember the first time I visited the Old City of Jerusalem and I saw Muslims for the first time.
I was fascinated by their culture. I soon found myself attracted to the Old City more and more. I made many friends there. I went to a Christian school that was first located on the Jewish side of Jerusalem but was later moved to the Arab side. I found my self going to school with these Muslim people. My parents soon forbid me to be their friends, or to even talk to Muslims, because she said they were filled with demons. At this time I was very young, a teenager, but I still never believed her. I saw no demonic actions from these warm hearted people. I made many friends, and I snuck away to visit them. Soon my mother found out and beat me. I was told I also had demons for loving these people. Soon after this my mother threw me in the street to live.
I lived in a boarding school after this and worked to pay for my schooling. Eventually, my family left Jerusalem for Canada. And I was left all alone in Jerusalem. After 3 years I went to Canada to visit my family. They were less than hospitable to me, their own daughter. I was told I was demon possessed and thrown into the street. I stayed in Canada for 3 months. I felt lost and alone. I went back to Jerusalem and got a job in the Old City and moved there. I worked for an Arab family who helped me and took care of me, even more than my own family.
Everyday I felt my self drawn to the Large Majestic Dome of the Rock. I would go there and sit in the gardens listening to the call to prayer. As I watched the faithful Muslims gather for prayer, I felt a longing in my heart. I wanted this, this peace of heart that most seemed to have. Despite the Intafada, the torture, and killing, that happened to them everyday, they had peace. Peace of heart. I saw many horrible things in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza.
And I heard the world cry for peace!!. But always for the so called “poor Jews”.
I hardly ever heard a cry for the poor children trying to defend their mothers and sisters from rape and torture. These people had the bravest hearts I have ever seen. Small children would corner soldiers toting guns in a corner, with just stones as their weapons. I hope one day to have one quarter of their bravery. When I moved to Canada I met some Muslims here from Lebanon.
They seemed to be able to answer all the questions I had. And If they didn’t have the answers, they said they could find them by asking scholars of Islam. I was very impressed by this because they were not afraid to say I don’t know. They never lied to me or tried to fool me. There is no shame in saying I have to ask. In fact this proved to me their honesty and love for this religion. I was told by many people that women are oppressed in Islam. So of course this was a major concern of mine. So I asked questions of them concerning this.
They explained to me that women are precious, like the most valued treasure. They also explained to me that men are not better than women and women are not better than men, they are just different. Different in feelings, thought, and emotions, among other things. They also told me that in Islam, there is no prejudice at all, and in fact being prejudice is against Islam. Muslims do not judge a person on their skin color, place, status of birth, male or female. The only way a person can be better than another is if they are a better Muslim. And this makes sense because we cannot help our birth place or to whom we were born. The same as a murderer or a rapist cannot be placed on the same platform as a man who has been good all his life.
I asked these people to explain to me all about the fighting and so called terrorism that is going on in this world. And the answer they gave me was, there are people who practice Islam and people who do not. The fault is not with the religion, but with the people who disobey the religion. And besides, we do not know all the circumstances of what life is like, other than our own. I didn’t really know how one becomes Muslim and they explained the belief of Muslims to me. And here it is, as it was explained to me and to all Muslims dating back to the first Prophet, Adam, peace be upon him:
1. God is One Indivisible.
2. God does not resemble any of his creations.
3. God exists without a place.
4. God has no beginning.
5. God has no end.
6. God has the attribute of hearing.
7. God has the attribute of sight.
8. God has the attribute of Kalam (speech)
9. God has the attribute of Will.
10. God has the attribute of Power.
11. God has the attribute of Knowledge.
12. God has the attribute of Life.
13. God does not need anyone or anything.
When one looks at the belief of Islam it becomes so logical and obvious. It is logical to believe that there is only One God. For example, If someone said there were 2 gods and one wanted a person dead and one wanted a person alive, a person cannot be dead and alive in the same time, so one of these so called gods would be weak, and anything weak does not deserve to be worshipped.
Let me explain to you what is the definition of perfection, because when I heard this, it all made sense. Perfection is something that does not change and has no flaws or weaknesses, because if something changes, it either changes for the better or for the worse. And if something changed for the better, that means it was bad and then became good. Nothing changes and stays the same. And if something changed for the worse, this means it is no longer perfect. So God is Perfect. God does not change. Anything that is weak does not deserve to be worshipped. When we say God exists without a place we mean that everything other than God is a creation. And all creations have a beginning and a possible ending.
Therefore all creations need One to give them their beginning and ending. Some people do not think about the extent of the creations. Place, time, light, imagination, thoughts, as well as all the humans and animals are creations, among many many other things. For example, a place is a creation. It has dimensions or a body just like the other creations. And they need One to give them their shape form and dimensions. Therefore we say that God exists without a place before God created place, and since God does not change, then God exists without place after God created place. How totally logical!! So this is the correct and Logical belief in God. And this is the belief of every Muslim on this planet no matter where or when he or she lived.
When Islam is practiced accordingly, it is a beautiful sight. I hope I have shed some light on those who have questions about Islam. You are also welcome to e-mail me ( if you have any other questions. I ask God to show you the right path, or to keep you on the right path.
If one wants to become Muslim, it is very simple. All you need to do is say [La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah] “I believe there is only One God (Allah), and Muhammad is the last Prophet and Messenger of God.” One says this loud enough for themselves to hear. You don’t need to go to a mosque or a person in order to become Muslim, but after you become Muslim, go and learn more about Islam from a Mosque. They will be happy for you, no matter where on this earth you are. And they will help you as much as they can. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Akifah Baxter, strolling through a bookstore in search for guidance

I have always been aware of the existence of God. I have always felt that He was there. Sometimes that feeling was distant, and often times I ignored it. But I could never deny this knowledge. Because of this, throughout my life, I have been searching for the truth of His Plan.
I have attended many churches. I listened, I prayed, I talked to people from all different faiths. But it seemed that there was always something that didn’t feel right; it felt confusing, like there was something missing. I’ve heard many people in the past say to me, “Well, I believe in God, but I don’t belong to any religion. They all seem wrong to me.” This was my feeling exactly, however, I didn’t want to just let it go at that and just accept it. I knew that if God exists then He wouldn’t just leave us with no direction, or even a warped version of the truth. There had to be a plan, a “true religion.” I just had to find it.
The various Christian churches are where I concentrated my search, simply because that is what I grew up with, and there seemed to be some truths in some of their teachings. However, there were so many different views, so many conflicting teachings on basic things like how to pray, who to pray to or through, who was going to be “saved”, and who wasn’t, and what a person had to do to get “saved.” It seemed so convoluted. I felt I was near giving up. I had just come from yet another church whose views on God and the purpose of our existence, left me so completely frustrated because I knew what they were teaching wasn’t true.
One day, I had wandered in the bookstore and I went over to the religious section. As I stood there gazing over the vast array of mostly Christian books, a thought occurred to me to see if they had anything on Islam. I knew virtually nothing about Islam, and when I picked up the first book, it was solely out of curiosity. But I became excited with what I was reading. One of the first things that struck me was the statement ‘There is no god but God,’ He has no associates, and all prayers and worship are directed to Him alone. This seemed so simple, so powerful, so direct, and made so much sense. So from there I started reading everything I could about Islam.
Everything I read made so much sense to me. It was as if suddenly all the pieces of this puzzle were fitting perfectly, and a clear picture was emerging. I was so excited my heart would race any time I read anything about Islam. Then, when I read the Quran, I felt like I was truly blessed to be able to read this. I knew that this had come directly from God through His Messenger [may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him]. This was it, the truth. I felt like all along I had been a Muslim but I just didn’t know it until now. Now as I start my life as a Muslim, I have a sense of peace and security knowing that what I am learning is the pure truth and will take me closer to God. May God keep guiding me. Ameen. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amber Acosta, finds in Islam what she was searching for in Catholicism

Why did I become Muslim? I can clearly remember the day I officially converted at Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, I came right from the state of Connecticut (US), but what lead up to that day remains as a somewhat subconscious, yet continuous quest for God.
As a child, I was always sure of religion and God, but never in the way it was presented in Catholicism. I could never grasp how God could be three (with the Trinity), how we could pray to many people such as Jesus (peace be upon him), Mary and assorted saints, the concept of original sin, how priests could just “forgive” your sins, or why there were hundreds of completely different bibles.
Consequently, these are just a few of the things that anyone, including priests, could ever address or even explain. It was amazing that I went to church and religious education but came out without knowing exactly what I should be doing to be a good Christian. I learned I was supposed to be “good,” “giving,” “caring,” “merciful,” and many other desirable traits, but there was never any practical application for how I should go about doing that.
Without knowing it then, I was searching for a way to connect with the One God I knew and always prayed to, as well as a structure from God that would teach me exactly how I should be carrying out my life. But life went on, and with pressure from my family and objection from me, I went through the initiations into the Catholic Church. Up until college, religion was nothing more to me than a bother on Sunday mornings. God though, was still present.
I happened to go to a Catholic college and thought I would give Catholicism one last chance. I wanted so desperately to reach God. I tried my best once again to find my way through the only means I knew possible and it did not work. I finally renounced Catholicism, so that meant it was time to explore other options.
Catholicism and Christian denominations were out because of my previous troubles with them and so was Judaism because of its disbelief in Jesus. Although I had issues with Christianity, I was always sure Jesus had a powerful message to humankind — the message of worshiping one God. I could never understand how Christians ended up worshiping Jesus himself. I felt sure that he would have never wanted that. This left me with one more option — Islam.
I happened to be familiar with Islam through previous travels in Egypt, so I was open to the possibility of this faith. It was not alien to me, although at the time I did not know any Muslims other than a friend or two in Egypt.

Diana,started to look at Islam by her own interest

I was raised in a moderately Christian home in Colorado. Religion was never much of an issue in my house. My father was raised as a Mormon, my mother as a Protestant. As I grew into adolescence, I became curious about God, wondering whether He existed, and if so, what did that mean to humans. I studied the Bible and other Christian literature earnestly. Even when I was in high school, I noticed that there were apparent discrepancies in the Bible, particularly concerning the nature of Jesus (may God raise his name). In some places, it seemed to say he was God, in others, the son of God, and in others, only human. However, I thought that these discrepancies existed only because I did not truly understand what I was reading. I first turned to the Church of God after receiving literature from them in the mail. I was impressed because they approached religion in a more logical and scientific manner than I had seen before. They followed such practices as not eating pork, keeping the same holidays as Jesus, etc. I attended their services once, but for some reason, I did not keep going.
When I went to college, I became involved in Bible studies through Campus Crusade for Christ. I wanted to really understand God’s truth, but I just couldn’t see what it was, and I thought the Bible studies would help me. They did. Around the same time, I met a Muslim man. I became curious as to why he prayed the way he did, so I started to read the Qur’an. I soon realized that there was an aspect to Islam which I had really missed in Christianity: worship. All the prayers I had ever heard consisted mostly of “I want this, I need this, please give it to me,” with the only real worship being “thank you Jesus for dying for my sins.” I wondered, what about God? I was convinced that the God of Islam was the same as the God I believed in, but I was still unsure about who Jesus was. I was afraid to believe that he was not the son of God, because all my life I had been taught that such a belief meant eternal punishment in hellfire.
The leader of my Bible study had done missionary work to Muslims in Algeria, so I decided to ask him some questions, because at the time I was quite confused. I asked him what would happen to my Muslim friend, and he told me he would go to hell, without a doubt. I asked him how the Qur’an, which was so similar to the Bible, could be false. He said it was an instrument of the devil to persuade people to disbelief. Finally, I asked him if he had read the Qur’an, intending to next ask him a specific question about something I had read in it. He answered, “No. I tried, but it makes me sick to my stomach.” I was astounded and quickly left. This man, whom I respected as a knowledgeable leader, who had worked with Muslims several times, did not know as much about Islam as I had learned in a few months. And yet, he was not questioning or curious. He was sure that my friend was going to hell and that the Qur’an was the work of the devil. I suddenly realized that there was no way he could be sure unless he had studied, and he clearly had not. This was my biggest clue that Islam was the path of God’s truth. Alhamdoolellah (Thanks be to Allah) that I had that conversation.
I began to study Qur’an more, and in several months I said the Shahada [i.e. stated and accepted the creed of Islam]. That was less than a year ago. I am still learning, striving to find God’s truth. I am so grateful that God has guided me so. Here is a religion of truth, which can stand up to any test of logic and reason! Just as I always thought religion should be. It should make sense, it should be logical.
This is how I came to Islam. However, I think it should be said that I am grateful I did not meet many Muslims before I became Muslim. At the university I attend, the majority of Muslims are cold and distant. They seem to be judgmental of anyone who is, or appears to be, non-Muslim. If I had known these people, I would have been turned off from Islam because its representatives seem so cold. Muslims have an incredible message to share -- the message of truth! I had no idea what Islam was before I met my friend, if Americans just understood what it was, they would be more open to it, because it is TRUTH.
Also, I think it should be said that this was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Converting to Islam has forced me to be disobedient to my parents, because they do not agree with such things as fasting, wearing the veil, or avoiding forbidden foods. They think it is nonsense, and I have had to struggle all the way to do what I believe and at the same time try not to lose my family. I have not begun wearing the veil yet, but I very much want to shortly. I fear that in doing so, I may be disowned (at least temporarily), but I am still eager to do it, because I long to be modest before God in the manner ordained for women. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Jim Cate, a fundamentalist Bible believing church

I was raised as a Christian and went to a fundamentalist Bible believing church. I made a profession of faith to Jesus in 1969. In all of my years as growing up Christian, I read and studied the Bible regularly. Later on, I enlisted in the US Marines and led Bible studies with my troops. In 1988, I started my own church reaching out with a special Spanish ministry to the Hispanics. In 1990, I got out of the Marines and joined the US Navy reserves.
In 1991, I was ordered to active duty for operation Desert Storm. I remember being impressed with the Arabs worshipping 5 times a day and I never forgot about hearing the Athan (call to prayer) 5 times a day over the many loud speakers in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. I purchased several prayer rugs while I was there.
As I continued in my Christian faith, when I got home, I started to become unsettled regarding it. I went to several different churches and faiths over the years and studied their doctrines. I studied and read the book of Mormon quite a bit and became fascinated with the Mormons. However, I eventually found many conflicts between the Bible and the book of Mormon.
I later joined a 7th Adventist Church and thought this was the true path. I studied and read several of Ellen G. White’s books concerning the 4th commandment of keeping the Saturday Sabbath. However, I eventually saw some conflicts between the Bible and one of Ellen G. White’s vision of heaven.
I stayed home from all churches after that and got a job working for the Kansas City Star newspaper. I came across a couple of Muslims at work and observed them daily, becoming impressed with their humble and pious character. One day, I went to my favorite used book store and saw an English translation of the Noble Quran in Jan of 2008. I took it home and began reading it. I started to feel a drawing to the Islamic faith after about 4 weeks of reading it daily.
One January early morning, I was looking up on the internet on how to convert to Islam. I found and repeated the Shahada very prayerfully and did this 2 or 3 times while meditating on it and with a prayerful attitude. I suddenly felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders as I discovered that God had forgiven me of all my past sins. This website ( then sent me several books on Islam from Saudi Arabia. Since saying the Shahada, I immediately began performing wudu (ablution) and salah (prayer) 5 times daily. It has now been 9 weeks since I converted to Islam and I am reading the Quran and studying the Islamic books daily.
On a side note, my wife has become upset with me over my conversion and has been trying to get me to renounce Islam. I tell her I can never turn my back on God and continue to lead a humble Muslim life before her and being patient with her in the hopes of her one day embracing Islam. I am now mentally, spiritually and physically feeling my best since converting to Islam. (The Religion of Islam.htm)

Yousef al Khattab, born and raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish

I was born to a Secular Jewish family, and at the age of 18 years old decided to look “deeper” into belief in God. Like most people, I looked at religion from a view point that was closer to me. Being that my family was Jewish and I was raised to attend Jewish schools I looked into Rabbinical “Orthodox Judaism”.
In the year 1988 I entered a Yeshiva and started my journey into the Orthodox Rabbinical racist cult. In 1991 I wed my 1st wife (then) Luna Mellul now Qamar al Khattab.
She was from the Moroccan town named Tetouan and was attending the racist Orthodox Jewish girl’s seminary known as Breuers or Sampson Raphael Hirsh Bet Yaakov aka Bais Yakov.
1992 bought us the birth of my 1st child Abdel Rahman (formally Rachamim Cohen).
Alhumdulilah[1] he was then as he is now my pride and joy. Upon the birth of Abdel Rahman we were living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the Satmar Hasidic community. I used to see all the lying and cheating, government scams and money laundering using the Synagogue and Yeshiva bank accounts and the poor hygiene of these folk, and was nervous for my new born son not to grow up like these folk.
We tried broadening our horizons and moved to the Ocean Parkway area of Brooklyn, later that year.
1994 till 1998 bought us the birth of 3 more wonderful children alhumdulilah. Hesibeh, Abdel Aziz (formally Ezra), and Abdullah (formally Ovadia) during these years I tried to convince myself that Judaism was a true path and I just didn’t understand it because I never read the entire set of Talmud and it 3 different ways of understanding it including the “hidden level”. You see this is the trick in the rabbinical cult, you will not EVER finish learning all the rabbinic text thus u are subservient to the Rabbis (aka Elders of Zion) who will interpret Judaism for you. During this time frame the Rabbis saw that we doubted there beliefs thus constantly followed our family contacting all new friends and employers etc. The Rabbis MUST ALWAYS know where you move to and who are your friends. The Rabbis were starting to be a big nuisance as were the Rabbinical Jews, so seeking a better future elsewhere we loaded up the family and moved to Palestine. (then like most westerners we were brainwashed to refer to the Jew entity as Israel).
September, 1998 we now arrived in Ghaza [Gaza] , or what the Jewish squatters refer to as Gush Qatif. Quickly my wife was turned off by the lies of the folk there and my son Abdel Rahman came running home from school one day saying “Daddy, my teacher doesn’t cover her hair properly, her dress is to short, they don’t learn Torah here and all they do is play”!!
Maashaallah[2], my son was very correctl, so with no possessions or money we set off to find a home in the nearby Jew settlement of Netivot in occupied 1948 Palestine. Shas, a “religious political party” immediately helped us by providing a home and their private school system and my kids went from knowing NO Hebrew to being tops in there class alhumdulilah. During our stay in Netivot I met a Muslim from UAEm, and we had conversations for about two years where he would ask me questions about Jewish Aqeedah or Jewish creed, and then compare it to Tawheed al Elohiya a part of Islamic Monotheism. I would then go and ask major Rabbis questions about the Jewish creed and always got 60000 different answers. The Jews can’t even tell you where there God is based on text; rather they say God is everywhere! (authubilah[3]) One day I decided to go to the Arab souk and buy a translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the English language. Subhanallah[4]!!!!! I could not put it down!! Every problem I had with Jews and Judaism was being addressed by Allah the Most High, in the 1st three chapters of the Quran Allah answered most of my doubts about Judaism. The Quran is firm with the Jews and invites them to a just truth (Islam) to save them from the hellfire their ancestors are currently in.
When I finished reading the entire Quran, I could no longer associate with Jews any longer, thus I was obliged to tell my wife I am a Muslim. Alhumdulilah within 2 weeks my wife decided to read the Quran and became a Muslimah!!! Then the kids after her alhumdulilah. Soon after this we moved to the Palestinian Authority and East Jerusalem where we lived for almost 6 years.
Today 2006 alhumdulilah we live in Morocco
My kids’ alhumdulilah no longer remember Hebrew and their 1st language is Arabic. All are learning in Islamic Arabic schools alhumdulilah, and we thank Allah subahanahu wa tala [5] for blessing us with Islam.
(The Religion of Islam.htm)

[1] All praise is due to God – IslamReligion.
[2] A statement of praise, “Whatever Allah wills.”
[3] We seek protection in Allah!
[4] Glory be to Allah!
[5] Glory be to Him, the Most High.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yahya Schroder, Germany

My name is Yahya Schroder. I am a “European” Muslim. I became Muslim 11 months ago when I was 17. I am living now in Potsdam, Germany and I want to share my experience with you as a Muslim in a non-Muslim state.
As a convert to Islam, I think it’s much easier to follow the deen (religion) than a born Muslim who is been raised up here. Almost all young born-Muslims I know want to become German. For them Islam is only a tradition and they think that they have to give up their tradition (Islam) to be accepted by the Germans, despite the fact that the Germans won’t accept them even if they gave up their religion.
I grew up in a little village. I lived with my mother and my stepfather in a huge house with a big garden and a big pool. And as a teenager I “lived a cool life;” I had some friends whom I used to hang around with, do stupid things and drink alcohol like every young German teen.
The life of a Muslim in Germany is quite difficult than one would think especially for me as a German Muslim because when someone asks a German what they know about Islam; they would tell you something about Arabs. For them it’s like mathematical operation, Islam = Arabs.
They still don’t know about our big nation. When I converted to Islam I had to leave my family and I moved to the community in Potsdam near Berlin. I left this huge house and all my material valuable stuff.
When I lived with my mother and my stepfather I had everything; a big house, my own money, TV, Play-station. I was never concerned about money, but I wasn’t happy. I was searching for something else.
When I turned 16 I met the Muslim community in Potsdam through my biological father who became Muslim in 2001. I used to visit my father once a month and we used to attend the meetings of the community which were held on Sundays.
At that time, I was interested in Islam, and my father noticed this and told me one day that he wouldn’t speak about Islam when we are together because he wanted me to learn from people of greater knowledge so that other people won’t say: “Oh he became Muslim just because he’s 17 and does everything his father does.”
I agreed and I started visiting the community every month and learned a lot about Islam but at that time something happened and changed my way of thinking. One Sunday, I went with the Muslim community swimming and I broke my back twice by jumping in the pool and I hit the ground with my head.
My father brought me to the hospital and the doctor told me:
“You have broken your back quite bad and if you did one wrong movement you’ll become handicapped.”
This didn’t help me much, but then just a few moments before they bought me to the operation room. One of my friends of the Muslims community, told me something. “Yahya, you are now in the hands of Allah (God), it’s like a rollercoaster. Now you are on the top enjoy the ride and just trust in God.” This really helped me.
The operation took five hours and I woke up after 3 days. I couldn’t move my right arm but I was feeling like the happiest person on this earth. I told the doctor that I don’t care about my right arm I’m so happy that God has let me survive.
The doctors had told me that I have to stay in the hospital for a few months. I stayed for only two weeks there, because I was training very hard. One day a doctor came and said: “today we will try to take one step on the staircase,” the exercise that I did on my own two days before the doctor told me.
Now, I can move my right arm again and I was just two weeks there Al-hamdu lillah (thanks God). This accident changed a lot in my personality.
I noticed when God wants something; the individual’s life can be turned over in one second. So, I took life more serious and started thinking more about my life and Islam, but I was still living in this little village.
My wish to become Muslim became so strong that I had to leave my family. I left my stepfather, my mother and the nice luxury lifestyle to go to Potsdam. I moved to my father’s apartment which is rather small and I had to stay in the kitchen but it was okay because I had nothing just a very few clothes, school books, and some CDs.
It must sound for you like I lost everything but I am very happy, I’m as happy as when I woke up in the hospital after the dreadful accident. The next day was the first day of Ramadan. The day after this was my first school day in my new school.
The day after my first day in school I said Shahadah (the testimony of becoming a Muslim), praise be to God. So, everything was new for me, new apartment, new school, and first time without my family. Like in my school when they first noticed that I am a Muslim they started to make jokes at me.
I think this is usual because of what they learned from the media. “A terrorist,” “Osama bin Laden is coming,” “Muslims are dirty,” some people thought I am just a crazy guy. And they even didn’t believe me that I am German.
But now after 10 months the situation changed. I made a lot of dawah (inviting to Islam) to my classmates and now I even have a praying room although I’m the only Muslim in my school.
My classmates changed from making jokes to asking serious question about Islam and they noticed that Islam is not a religion like the other religions. They noticed Islam is cool!
They see that we Muslims have Adab (good manners) in dealing with each other. They noticed that we are independent from all this peer pressure; we just keep it real we don’t need to be in a special group like in my school.
At my school there are three main groups: the hip hop guys; the punks; and the party people. Everybody tries to be a member of one group, so as to be accepted by others.
Except me! I can be friends with everybody. I don’t have to wear special clothes to be “cool.” So what happened is that they are always inviting me and my Muslim friends to their barbecue parties.
The special thing on this is that they respect me as a Muslim and even more, they get Halal (allowed) food especially for me and they have organized two barbecue grills one for them and one for us Muslims! The people here are very open for Islam.