Why did they become Muslims?
The Islamic religion is the final religion and is therefore at the zenith of perfection. This fact is acknowledged even by (George) Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) [Shaw's clever plays, e.g. Pymalion, are based on faults in moral attitudes and in society.], the well-known Irish writer and critic, whose personal comments on Islam can be summarized as, "Were we to choose a common religion for the entire world, it would definitely be the Islamic religion." This conclusion is quite natural. For the Islamic religion is the sole religion that has preserved its intact purity owing to the promised protection against the interpolations suffered by all the religious systems previous to it. Judaism, one of the greatest monotheistic cults, had foretold about the advent of a Messiah. Issa a.s. (Jesus) was hailed as the promised Messiah, yet the Injil (Bible), the heavenly book of the religion he spread, was lost. Later, various gospels were written in the name of Injil, and these new gospels, which were no more than interpolations themselves, were interpolated again and again. All these facts, along with various other portents, announced the coming of a final prophet, the real Messiah s.a.s. As a matter of fact, the name of this Messiah is literally written in the Gospel of Barnabas. Then, the Islamic religion is the last, the most true, the most perfect religion wherein all the true religions converge and which, therefore, reflects the full approval of Allahu ta'ala. A friend of ours, [namely, Dr. Nuri Refet Korur], who had spent his entire youth among Christians in Europe, said to us: "I am a Muslim born from Muslim parents. I spent my life in Europe, where I had the chance and time to study all religions and to compare them with each other. If I had seen that another religion was superior to Islam, I would have given up Islam and accepted that religion. For there was no one to force me to remain a Muslim. Yet, all the research and the comparative studies I carried on, reinforced by the debates that I, in the meantime, indulged in with Christians, revealed the fact that Islam is by far superior to all the world's present religions and that it is the only intact true religion, so clearly that I became attached to Islam with all my heart."
Sad to say, today's western world still accommodates Christians who insist on the wrong and call Muslims "heretics", "idle-minded", "devil-worshipers", "irreligious". These misconceptions are inculcated in the minds of Christian children by priests, whose real purpose is to distract their young and inquisitive brains. These interceptive activities are fed with the slanderous propaganda that the Islamic religion embodies aspects disagreeable with modern civilization. The fact, on the other hand, is that Islam is the only religion suitable for today's civilized world. Our book Islam and Christianity deals with and refutes these misconceptions. In addition to English, we translated that book into French and German and sent the translated versions to countries all over the world. Thereby we tried to countermand the falsifications spread by priests and thus to state the actual facts. It did not take us long to see how appropriate and useful our work had been. No sooner had we distributed the books to the world than they gave their fruits. We received a letter from India, in which wrote an Indian Christian: "When I read your book Islam and Christianity, I realized that Islam is the true religion and I decided to become a Muslim." We have been receiving similar letters from young Africans. Anyone who has the opportunity to study the pure, clean, civilized and humane aspects of Islam will feel an irresistible attraction to this religion. The Islamic religion is spreading over the world without any such media as propagation and organization. On the other hand, the missionary organizations belonging to those countries whose primary objective is to spread Christianity are spending huge amounts of money and offering various types of social aid, and yet achieving very little success in comparison with their tremendous efforts.
Despite all this wrongful and inimical volley of vituperations carried on against Islam and all the stupendous efforts put forth for the spreading of Christianity, there has been an ever growing increase in the number of Muslims on the earth. Later ahead you will find more extensive information on this subject. Some of these Muslims remained Muslims because they had been born in Muslim families. However, besides these people there are also people who accepted Islam although their parents had been in other religions and they therefore had been given their family education in other religions. Among these people are universally renowned diplomats, statesmen, scientists, scholars, men of letters, writers, and even men of religion. These people studied Islam well, admired its greatness, and became Muslims willingly. In addition to these people, many other universally known celebrities met the Islamic religion with deep respect and admiration although they did not officially become Muslims; they even believed in the fact that Islam is the true religion and did not hesitate to express this belief of theirs. Scientists, philosophers, and politicians, admired by the entire world, first of all believe in the fact that Allahu ta'ala exists and is One and that He is the Creator of all beings. In this chapter you will find the statements and observations belonging to some of these celebrities.
Among the people who accepted Islam, there may be those who became Muslims of necessity, for the sake of some advantages, or for advertisement. For instance, a non-Muslim woman may have accepted Islam without studying and learning Islam well for the purpose of marrying a certain man who happened to be a Muslim, or an Indian pariah may have done so in order to regain his lost civic rights. However, the fact that well-known scholars, scientists and writers accept the Islamic religion only after a long observation bears a lofty import. Selections from the explanations given by these cultured people on why they abandoned their religions and embraced Islam have been compiled from various sources and books and listed in the following pages. As you read them you will hear from the very tongues of these respectable people why the Islamic religion is superior to other religions. Perhaps a person who was born a Muslim and has spent his life among Muslims is totally oblivious of these superiorities. Yet when a person belonging to another religion studies Islam, he will see the difference clearly and will admire Islam. In fact, reading these explanations will provide you with an opportunity to see and admire once again the high merits of our religion, and thus feel and offer gratitude to Allahu ta'ala for having been Muslims.
A conclusion drawn from all these explanations, in other words, a summary of the reasons why Islam is superior to the other religions, has been added in an independent chapter.
We hold the belief that this work will give you fresh information about the Islamic religion and will confirm once again that Islam is a great and true religion.
A FEW WORDS
Allahu ta'ala created mankind. All people are the born slaves of Allahu ta'ala. Allahu ta'ala is the creator, the Rabb, not only of a certain nation or race or only of the world, but also of the entire humanity as well as of all the worlds of existence. In the view of Allahu ta'ala, all people are the same, and no one is different from another. In addition to a body, He has given a soul to each one of them. He has sent them Prophets 'alaihimus-salawatu wattaslimat' to lead them to spiritual and physical perfection and to guide them on the right way. The greatest ones of these Prophets are Adam, Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Issa (Jesus), and Muhammad s.a.s. The tenets of belief that they taught are the same. The final and the most perfect system is Islam, taught by Muhammad a.s.. No Prophet will come after Muhammad a.s.. For the religion he brought is at the uppermost point of perfection and has no deficiency to be made up; and Allahu ta'ala has declared that mankind will never be able to change or interpolate this religion. The well-known German Writer Lessing (1729-1781), in his book Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise), likens the three (heavenly) religions to three identical rings made of sapphire. Yet he feels uncertain as to "whether one of them is genuine and the other three false?" Yet the fact is that all three of them are genuine essentially.
However, as a result of various personal interests, advantages, sordid and biased considerations, jealousies, superstitions, misinformation and misconstructions, men failed to understand this reality, inserted numerous wrong beliefs and ideas into the Musawi and Nasrani religions, and thus changed, defiled these true religions, which were based on Tawhid (unity, oneness of Allahu ta'ala). Only Islam remained in its original purity. Consequently, adherents of these three religions became hostile to one another. This hostile attitude they have assumed means to oppose to the Will of Allahu ta'ala. For, as we have already stated, Allahu ta'ala invites all people to the true religion. In the view of Allahu ta'ala, all people, regardless of race, are equal. All people are Ummat-I-da'wat. And the true religion is Islam, which is the only continuation of the original forms of Judaism and Christianity.
The following passage, which we have paraphrased from Prof. Robinson, reflects the opinions formed in the minds of today's people who are stuck fast in materialism:
"I joined a tour of Israel organized for the teaching staff and students of the University of Orel Roberts. Orel Roberts, the founder of the university and one of the notables of the Catholic Church, was with us. During our scheduled visit to Ben Gurion, a former premier of Israel, Orel Roberts presented a copy of the Holy Bible to Mr. Gurion. The first portion of the Holy Bible was the Old Testament, that is, the Torah. Roberts requested Ben Gurion to read the passage he liked best of that holy book. Ben Gurion met his request with a smile. We sat under a tree in the small yard in front of his house. We were all quiet and ready to listen intently. Ben Gurion opened the Holy Bible, turned one or two pages, and read the following passage: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." [Gen: 1-27] I thought to myself, 'good Gracious! Is this the statement he has found after all?' I frowned because I had been expecting him to read a passage from one of the Pentateuchal parts with meanings of a higher level, such as a verse telling about creation or a passage from the Ten Commandments. I beckoned to the television cameraman shooting the event. This beckoning meant: 'Don't bother! These statements are not worth being televised the world over.'
"Sometime afterwards, however, Ben Gurion explained with enthusiasm verging on ecstasy why he had picked up this statement, as follows: 'Quite a long time before we became Americans, Russians, Israelis, Egyptians, or Christians, Muslims, Magians, Jews, etc., that is, before the formation of differences separating today's people from one another, such as nationality, state, religion, belief, and the like, we were all a man and a woman created by Allahu ta'ala. This is the greatest fact which all religious systems are primarily trying to teach us. Why don't we realize this and why are all these hostilities among us? Let us join hands and supplicate Allahu ta'ala to help us realize this fact.'
"We all hung our heads. Roberts, being a religious man, said, 'Amin,' on behalf of us all. The statement that Ben Gurion picked up really was the wisest choice.
"Throughout my way back from Israel this statement completely occupied my mind. We human beings are all the same. We are the born slaves of Allahu ta'ala. There is only one way leading to Him. This way is the way of belief guided by Abraham (Ibrahim), by Moses (Musa), by Jesus (Issa), and finally by Muhammad s.a.s. People who follow this way shall attain to salvation. By abandoning the way guided by Prophets, mankind has made the gravest error. It is for this reason that they have lost their way and their moral qualities and have even forgotten Allahu ta'ala. The earth's resuming its peace and salvation is dependent upon men's realizing that they have been on the wrong way and returning to the right way."
How right Prof. Robinson is in his statements paraphrased above! Today most people have left the way prescribed by the religions, and material values have become their only concern. These poor people do not know that material values are a mere nothing. They are doomed to destruction and extinction. What is immortal in man is his soul. And the soul, in its turn, will not feed on material nutritives. The soul's primary diet is a correct belief in Allahu ta'ala, who created all from nothing; next comes worshipping Him, observing the duties required from His born slaves. Today, all scholars, scientists and state presidents believe in the existence of Allahu ta'ala. Yet in matters pertaining to belief and worship they mostly get stuck in wrong and misguided thoughts and ideas and thus deviate from the right way. A beautiful description of this case is given by Prof. White, a brain surgeon who has won many scientific awards and has attained international fame for the various operational methods he has found, and who is presently a professor at the University of Cleveland and at the same time the director of the Clinic of Brain Surgery founded in the same city. See what he says, (as paraphrased):
"The child that was brought in for a surgical operation was a six-year-old lovely girl. She was very graceful, lively, intelligent, and cheerful. Yet after examination we spotted a big tumour in her brain. We took her in for operation. A cyst attached to the tumour had made It grow very big. I began to operate on the sac containing liquid. But, alas, the global cystic tumour suddenly contracted and the wide veins on its surface tore. blood was gushing out unto the operation bench. My friends and I were doing our utmost to stop the blood flowing as if from a water pump. It was of no avail. We saw in despair that we were losing the battle. The child was dying in our hands. We were under the hopeless oppression of profound sadness. I was trying to stop the bleeding by putting pieces of cotton on the torn veins. The bleeding seemed to come to an end. Yet I could not lift my hand off. For I knew that if I did so the bleeding would begin again and in that case nothing could be done any more. My assistants began to inject blood into the child's body. My fingers were still on the pieces of cotton. How incapable and powerless I felt! poor me, how did I dare to cut off a tumour formed in a small girl's brain? How on earth could I assume the responsibility of so tremendous a job? How could a pitiable human being even touch that stupendous work of art, which we call 'brain', which manages all the so many various functions, provides humankind with their personality and equips them with a variety of faculties such as intellect, memory, emotions, feelings, tastes, pains, thoughts and fancies, and which Allahu ta'ala, alone, could create? We term this tiny object 'brain'. Yet, in actual fact, it was this very child that lay helpless before us.
"Half an hour later. Utter silence reigned in the operation room. We were all extremely tense with anxiety. Everybody, and I myself, knew that were I to lift my hand the flood of blood would begin again, which meant the death of the child. At that moment I began to supplicate to Allahu ta'ala and trusted myself to His help. I begged, 'O my Allah, do give my fingers the strength I need so that I can prevent the bleeding!' Presently a strong feeling of relief suffused me. For I had now committed my trust to Allahu ta'ala. I had the belief that I could now lift my fingers off and there would be no bleeding any longer. I felt the existence of Allahu ta'ala with all my soul. Slowly, I lifted my fingers. The bleeding had stopped.
"It was now easy to perform the operation. The operation lasted for exactly four and a half hours. I did not leave the child for a whole week. I felt so happy as I observed that the child was gradually recovering. As of today, the child is ten years old, a perfectly healthful, cheerful and happy little dear.
"In 1974 I examined a child who had had a brain haemorrhage and I saw that there was a small tumour in the middle of its brain. Yet the tumour had begun to bleed and suppurate. The situation was dangerous and hopeless. We opened the skull, placed tubes on both sides of the brain, and began to wash the brain with antibiotics. This was quite a new method and I was the first to use it. Because the child was burning with fever, we placed it in a respirator and covered it with cold blankets. In the meantime we continued to wash the brain. This hopeless situation lasted for weeks. I kept praying and supplicating Allahu ta'ala to help me. In my supplications, I was begging Allahu ta'ala not only to have mercy on the child and its parents, but also to give energy and strength to those people who had undertaken this heavy responsibility and who had been working with me continuously for weeks.
"Eventually, the divine help reached us. This event, which had seemed to be a total hopelessness, ended in success. The child recovered. My friends were happy and they were saying that the new method we had used had 'yielded a very good result.' They thought that I did it and they prided on it. Yet I did not think so. I was of opinion that, no matter how hard we worked, no matter how new methods we found, no matter how new techniques we applied, success in operations of that sort depended only on the help of Allahu ta'ala. I have always felt this in my heart in the numerous operations I have performed up to now. However improved our technology may be, the result of a brain operation, like all other things, is within the power of Allahu ta'ala, and success is possible only with His help.
"During the brain operations I have performed for years, I have felt great excitement before the human brain. As I have dealt with the brain, and each time I have seen the brain, I have felt in my heart that it is impossible to solve the mystery of this tremendous work of art, that the power which created it is very great, and that it is necessary to believe in the existence of Allahu ta'ala. Even the most perfect computers made by people today can be only toys when compared to the tiniest brains.
"Now I believe that the brain is a case in which the human soul is preserved. As we perform an operation around this case we perform a religious rite. A brain operation, in my personal credo, is a religious rite, identical with performing an act of worship. The operator's technical knowledge and skill are not the only requirements. He should, at the same time, believe in the existence of Allahu ta'ala and beg Him for help and mercy for a successful operation.
"What happens to the soul kept in the case of the brain when a person dies? The soul is not in the body now, but definitely it is not dead. Where does it go, then? It is not for me as a doctor to speculate on where the soul goes or where it stays. For physical areas of knowledge cannot answer this question. The only guide that will help us in this respect is a religious book. I believe that inasmuch as their brains and souls possess the faculty for reasoning, the humankind should leave aside the material values, attach themselves to the religion with all their hearts and believe in the teachings written in religious books."
This comes to mean that even the world's famous and greatest surgeon sincerely expresses that he believes in the existence of Allahu ta'ala and that without His help nothing can be done.
Now let us lend an ear to a scientist:
You all know Edison,[Edison (Thomas Alva) died in 1350 [1931 A.D.]] the well-known American scientist. About this renowned inventor who, in addition to various discoveries, made the first electric bulb and thus illuminated the world, his closest colleague relates the following memory in a book published several years ago:
"One day, as I entered the room, I found Edison deeply plunged in thought, motionless, looking at some container which he was holding in his hand. An expression of utter astonishment tinted with deep signs of respect, admiration and adoration had suffused his face. He did not even notice me till I was quite near him. When he saw me he showed me the container in his hand. It was full of quicksilver. 'look at that,' he said. 'What a tremendous work of art! Do you believe that quicksilver is extraordinary?' I replied, 'Quicksilver is really wonderful substance.' Edison's voice quivered as he spoke. He murmured to me, 'As I look at quicksilver, I admire the greatness of its Creator. So many varying properties He has given to it! As I think of these I almost lose my mind.' Then he turned to me again, and said, 'People world over admire me. They presume that all these various inventions and discoveries I have managed are wonders and great accomplishments. They want to look on me as a superhuman. What a great error it is! I am a person who is not even worth a penny. My discoveries consist in uncovering only an infinitesimal part of the great wonders that actually exist in the universe but which people have not noticed so far. A person who says, "I made this," is the most abject liar, the most drivelling idiot. Man is an incapable creature who can do nothing by himself. Man is a creature who can talk a little and who can think a little. If he thinks well, he will, let alone being proud, see how void he is. So, as I think of these facts, I realize what a powerless, incompetent and weak creature I am. Me, an inventor? [He raised his hand and pointed to the sky.] The real inventor, the real genius, the real creator is He, Allah!' "
As is seen, scientists believe in the existence of Allahu ta'ala and hold fast to His religion with both hands. Materialists mostly cannot find solutions to their problems and give up hope. This is because their souls are empty. The human soul, like the body, needs food. And this, in its turn, is possible only when one has iman, and the only way leading to Allahu ta'ala is the religion. Even those who deny Allahu ta'ala will some day feel this need.
The famous Russian writer (Alexander) Solzhenitsyn (1918 - -), when he settled his home in the U.S., thought he would now be free from great troubles, mental depressions, and from the state of being only a mechanical tool. One day he summoned a group of American youth around himself in a university and said to them, "When I came here, I thought I would be very happy. Unfortunately, here, too, I feel myself in a vacuum. For we have become the slaves of material values. Yes, there is freedom here, and one can do whatever one wishes. But material values are the only important things. The souls are empty. However, what makes a human being a real human is its matured, refined soul. My piece of advice to you is this: Try to improve and beautify your soul! In that case only will those monstrosities that have infested your country and which have been worrying you begin to disappear. Pay the religion its due importance! The human soul is fed on religion. People adherent to their religion will be your greatest helpers in whatever you do. For the fear of Allah will keep them on the right way. On the other hand, your police forces, no matter how powerful, cannot establish a twenty-four-hour control over everybody. What deters people from iniquities is not the concept of police, but the fear that they feel in the permanent presence of Allah."
As we have stated above, religion is the only source of nutriment for the human soul. Of all the existent religions, Islam is the truest, the newest, and the most comprehensive so that it provides its adherents with an ever during adaptability to the world's changing conditions. In this booklet you will read selections from the autobiographical documents in which some cultured people, who, while formerly belonging to some other religion during their childhood, studied various religions and their books and finally embraced Islam on their own volition and without even any marginal outside influence, give their personal accounts on why they decided to change their religion and become a Muslim.
In addition to these highly cultured people, there are quite a number of celebrities who believe in the existence of Allahu ta'ala and who admire Islam for its greatness. There is mention of these people in the next chapter. In the so-called chapter, we shall paraphrase paragraphs from the reflections on the existence of Allahu ta'ala and the superiority of Islam selected from the statements of Emperor Napoleon (Bonaparte, 1769-1821), (Thomas) Carlyle (1796-1881), Prof. (Ernest) Renan (1823-1892), and the Indian hero (Mahatma) Ghandi (1869-1948), and the statements made by (Alphonso Marie de) Lamartine (1790-1869) about our darling Prophet Muhammad a.s..
As all these indicate, the religion is the most vital necessity for mankind. Those unfortunate people who do not believe in their own religion, and who have not had the chance to study Islam, either, will remain hollow-souled and will get hold of false credos fabricated by liars. For a person definitely needs to believe in the existence of a being superior to him and to attach himself to that being. Even those people living in the most improved and developed countries have sought ways to satisfy this need and finally attached themselves to aberrant ideas and fabricated beliefs. On November 17, 1978, nine hundred votaries of a heretical sect were taken to Guyana in North Africa by a miscreant priest named Jim Jones, the founder of the sect, which he called People's Religion, and thence to a camp which this eccentric priest, again, called Jonestown,[This event is widely known as the "Jonestown Massacre."] where he induced them to poison themselves (by drinking poison together). In Italy, a pair of parents who believed another similar priest killed their own child with their own hands because the heretic priest had told them to kill their child and the child would come back to life and would become even healthier than before upon his sending his prayers; it goes without saying how ruined the parents felt when they saw that the child would never return to this life. If these people, who had left their religion, had studied the Islamic religion like those people who embraced Islam, and whom you will get to know more closely further ahead, they would have found in it what they had been looking for, and the Islamic religion, whose lexical meaning also is 'peace and tranquillity, salvation, trusting oneself to Allah', would have given them the spiritual serenity they had been yearning for.
Very sad to say, we Muslims cannot propagate our brilliant religion to the world as efficiently as we wish to do. One of the deciding factors contributing to this failure is our own slackness in paying our religion due attachment and our contagious remission in carrying out its commandments. The Islamic religion enjoins, first of all, physical and spiritual cleanliness. Spiritual cleanliness is obtainable by believing first in the existence of Allahu ta'ala and then in the totality of His commandments and prohibitions which He sent to humankind through Muhammad a.s., His final Messenger. That the soul has been likewise cleansed is identifiable from the presence of certain characteristic signs, such as never lying, never deceiving anybody, habitual rectitude, not holding heretical dogmas, readiness to help others without discriminating among them, and full submission to the commandments of Allahu ta'ala. This is the sole behaviour expected from a Muslim. Then, if a person means to propagate the Islamic religion, first of all he himself has to be a model Muslim. If we exhibit this model and modest behaviour, people belonging to other religions will observe us with admiration, which in turn automatically prompt them to study the Islamic religion. Our newly converted Muslim brothers explained in their answers to the question, "Why did you become a Muslim?" that they decided to become a Muslim upon seeing true Muslims and their life-styles. These Muslims request us to try to spread and publicize the Islamic religion and to set an example, a model Muslim for others by holding fast with both hands to the commandments of our religion. For all our faults and our insufficient capacity of propaganda, the Islamic religion is growing piecemeal and spreading over the world. In 1954 the population of the world was 2.4 billion. By 1978 it reached 3.8 billion. Between 1954 and 1978 the number of Christians reached 150 million, while that of Muslims became 220 million. According to the statistics of the year 1978 written in the World Almanac, published by an international statistics center, there are 1.7 billion Buddhists and Magians, 950 million Christians (Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians), 10 million Jews, 538 million Muslims 1,5 billions - 1996 - UNO statistics) on the earth. On the other hand, Time, (an American magazine), allotted its April 1979 issue to Islam. It was recorded in this issue that the real number of Muslims was 750 million and the existing statistics were incorrect. Christian statisticians make every endeavour to represent a lower number of Muslims on the earth.
- 2 - SELECTIONS FROM THE EXPLANATIONS MADE BY CELEBRITIES WHO WERE FORMERLY NON-MUSLIMS AND WHOSE ADMIRATION FOR ISLAM EVENTUALLY LED THEM TO BELIEVING IN Allahu TA'ALA
The following chapter contains a few paraphrased selections from the statements made by some of the many non-Muslim celebrities who believed in Allahu ta'ala and admired Islam; these statements reflect their views of Islam. So many are the people who share the same opinions that we have had to pick out only the famous ones. Among our selections are great commanders, statesmen and scientists whom you all know very well. Now let us read with attention to what they said:
Napoleon I (1769-1821 [1237 A.H.]), who went into history as a military genius and statesman, when he entered Egypt in 1212 [C.E. 1798], admired Islam's greatness and genuineness, and even considered whether he should become a Muslim. The following excerpt was paraphrased from Cherfils's book (Bonapart et Islam):
The existence and unity of Allahu ta'ala, which Musa a.s., had announced to his own people and Issa a.s. to his own Ummat, was announced by Muhammad s.a.s. to the entire world. Arabia had become totally a country of idolaters. Six centuries after Issa a.s., Muhammad a.s. initiated the Arabs into an awareness of Allahu ta'ala, whose existence prophets previous to him, such as Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail, Musa (Moses) and Issa (Jesus) a.s. had announced. Peace in the east had been disturbed by the Arians, [i.e. Christians who followed Arius], who had somehow developed a degree of friendship with the Arabs, and by heretics, who had defiled the true religion of Issa a.s. and were striving to spread in the name of religion a totally unintelligible credo which is based on trinity, i.e. God, Son of God, and the Holy Ghost. Muhammad a.s. guided the Arabs to the right way, taught them that Allahu ta'ala is one, that He does not have a father or a son, and that worshipping several gods is an absurd custom which is the continuation of idolatry."
At another place in his book he quotes Napoleon as having said, "I hope that in the near future I will have the chance to gather together the wise and cultured people of the world and establish a government that I will operate [in accordance with the principles written in Qur'an al-karim.]"
Prof. (THOMAS) CARLYLE:
Thomas Carlyle of Scotland (1210 [C.E. 1795]-1298 [C.E. 1881]), one of the greatest men of knowledge known world over, entered the university when he was only fourteen years old, studied jurisprudence, literature and history, learned German and oriental languages, exchanged letters with, and even visited, the well-known German writer (Johann Wolf-gang von) Goethe (1749-1832), was awarded by the King of Prussia with the medal of honour called 'pour le mérite', and was elected president by the University of Edinburgh. Among Carlyle's works are Sartur Resartus, The French Revolution, On Heroes, Hero Worship And the Heroic in History, Past and Present, Latter-Day Pamphlets, The Life of Friedrich Schiller, and Critical and Miscellaneous Essays.
The following passage was selected from one of his works:
"The Arabs, Muhammad a.s., and his age: Before the advent of Muhammad a.s., (the Arabs were in such a state that) if a big piece of fire spurted out at the place where the Arabs lived, it would have dIssappeared on the dry sand without leaving any traces behind itself. But after the advent of Muhammad a.s. that desert of dry sand turned into, as it were, a barrel of gunpowder. From Delhi to Granada, everywhere became rapidly rising flames. This great person was, so to speak, lightning, and all the people around him became explosives catching fire from him."
From his conference:
"As you read the Qur'an al-karim, you will presently realize that it is not an ordinary tome of literature. The Qur'an al-karim is a work of art that springs from a heart and instantly penetrates all the other hearts. All the other works of art are quite dull when compared with this tremendous masterpiece. The most striking characteristic of the Qur'an al-karim is that it is a truthful and excellent guide. To me, this is the greatest merit of Qur'an al-karim. And it is this merit that begets other merits."
From his memoirs of a trip:
"In Germany I told my friend Goethe about the facts I had gathered concerning Islam and added my personal reflections on the subject. After listening to me with attention, he said, 'If that is Islam, we are all Muslims.' "
MAHATMA GANDHI (Mohandas Karam-chand):
Gandhi (1285 [C.E. 1869]-1367 [C.E. 1948]) descends from a West Indian Christian family. His father was the chief ecclesiastic of the city of Porbtandar, and he was very rich. Gandhi was born in the city of Porbtandar. He went to Britain for his high school education. After completing his education he went back to India. In 1893 he was sent to South Africa by an Indian firm. Upon seeing the heavy conditions under which the Indians working there were and the utterly inhumane treatment they were being subjected to, he decided to put up a struggle for the betterment of their political rights. He dedicated himself to the Indian people. As he was conducting a vigorous campaign against the South African government for the protection of the Indians' rights, he was arrested and imprisoned. Yet he was too undaunted to give up struggle. He stayed in Africa till 1914. Then, quitting his perfectly lucrative job there, he returned to India to carry on his struggle. He waged a struggle in co-operation with the Indian Muslims Unity, which Muslims had established in 1906 for the liberation of India. All his personal property and his father's property he spent for the promotion of this cause.
When he heard that the British were going to launch a second operation of violence and cruelty similar to the one they had perpetrated in the state of Pencap in 1274 [A.D. 1858], he co-operated with the Muslims, induced his friends to withdraw from the civil service, and waged a silent protest and a passive resistance. By wrapping a white piece of cloth around his naked body and contenting himself with the milk of a goat which he continuously kept with him, he carried over his passive resistance. The first reaction on the part of the British was to laugh at him. It did not take them long, however, to see with astonishment and dismay that this man, who believed his own ideals with all his heart and who was ready to sacrifice all his existence with alacrity for the sake of his country, was with the entire India in tow and resounding with his speechless struggle. Imprisoning him proved to no avail. Gandhi's efforts resulted in India's attaining its independence. The Hindus gave him the name 'Mahatma', which lexically means 'blessed'.
Gandhi studied the Islamic religion and Qur'an al-karim with meticulous attention and finally found himself a sincere admirer of Islam. The following is his observation concerning this subject:
"Muslims have never indulged themselves in bigotry even in times of greatest grandeur and victory. Islam enjoins an admiration for the Creator of the World and His works. As the West was in a dreadful darkness, the dazzling star of Islam shining in the East brought light, peace and relief to the suffering world. The Islamic religion is not a mendacious religion. When the Hindus study this religion with due respect, they, too, will feel the same sympathy as I do for Islam. I have read the books telling about the life-style of the Prophet of Islam and of those who were close to him. These books generated profound interest in me, so much so that when I finished reading them I regretted there being no more of them. I have arrived at the conclusion that Islam's spreading rapidly was not by the sword. On the contrary, it was primarily owing to its simplicity, logicality, its Prophet's great modesty, his trueness to his promises and his unlimited faithfulness towards every Muslim that many people willingly accepted Islam.
"Islam has abrogated monastic life. In Islam there is no one to intervene between Allahu ta'ala and His born slave. Islam is a religion that commands social justice from the outset. There is not an institution between the Creator and the created. Anyone who reads Qur'an al-karim, [i.e. its explanations and books written by Islamic scholars], will learn the commandments of Allahu ta'ala and will obey Him. There is no obstruction between Allahu ta'ala and him in this respect. Whereas many ineluctable changes were made in Christianity on account of its shortcomings, Islam has not undergone any alterations, and it preserves its pristine purity. Christianity lacks democratic spirit. The need to equip that religion with a democratic aspect has necessitated an increase in the Christians' national zeal and the concomitant reforms."
Prof. ERNEST RENAN:
Now let us make mention of a French man of ideas: Ernest Renan was born in 1239 [C.E. 1923] in the Treguier city of France. His father was a captain. He was five years old when he lost his father. He was raised by his mother and by his elder sister. Because his mother wanted him to be a man of religion, he was sent to the church college in his hometown. Here he was given an efficient religious education. His strong interest in the oriental languages won him a full command of the Arabic, Hebrew and Syrian languages. Later he entered the university, where he studied philosophy. As he made progress in educational areas and carried on very minute comparative studies on the German philosophy and the oriental literature, he observed some flaws in Christianity. By the time he was graduated from the university in 1848, at the age of twenty-five, he was entirely defiant towards the Christian religion, and he compiled his thoughts in his book titled 'The Future of Knowledge'. Yet, because the book was of a rebellious nature, no printhouse dared to print it, and it was only forty years later, in 1890, that the book was printed.
Renan's primary objection was against the belief that Issa a.s. was the 'Son of God'. When he was appointed as a professor of philosophy in the university of Versailles, he began to gradually explain his thoughts on this subject. However, it was not till after he was appointed as a professor of the Hebrew language for the university of College de France that he voiced his most vigorous protest. By the time he finished his first class he had had the courage to say, "Issa a.s. was a respectable human being superior to the other human beings. Yet he was never the son of Allahu ta'ala." This statement had the effect of a bomb. All the Catholics, and especially the Pope, rose up. The Pope officially excommunicated Renan before the entire world. The French government had to dismiss him from office. Yet the world was already resounding with Renan's statements. Great numbers of people sided with him. He wrote books, such as 'Essays on the History of Religions', 'Studies on Criticism and Morals', 'Discourses on Philosophy' and 'Life of Jesus', and his books sold like hot cakes. Upon this the French Academy accepted him as a member (in 1878). Also, the French government invited him back to office and appointed him as the director of college de France.
Renan observed Issa a.s. as a human being in his work 'Life of Jesus'. According to Renan, "Issa a.s. is a human being like us. His mother Maryam (Mary) was betrothed to a carpenter named Yusuf (Joseph). Issa a.s. was a superior human being, so much so that, the statements that he made when he was only a small child were a source of astonishment for many a scholar. Allahu ta'ala deemed him as worthy of prophethood and gave him this duty. Issa a.s. never said that he was the 'Son of God'. This is a slander fabricated by priests."
The contention between Catholic priests and Renan continued for a long time. While the Catholics accused him of blasphemy, he in his turn indicted them for their mendacity and hypocrisy. Renan was saying, "The real Nazarani religion is based on the belief that Allahu ta'ala is one and that Issa a.s. is only a human being and a prophet." Before Renan had died, he had prepared a written will enjoining from a religious ceremony in the church and prohibiting priests from attending his funeral procession. So, when he died in 1892, a crowded congregation containing only friends who loved him and people who admired him attended his funeral procession.
LAMARTINE (Alphonso Marie Louis de):
One of France's universally known poets and statesmen, Lamartine (1204 [C.E. 1790]-1285 [C.E. 1869]) made official journeys through Europe and America, which gave him the opportunity to have been to Turkey, in the time of Sultan Abd-ul-majid Khan. He was admitted in an utterly friendly manner by the Padishah (Ottoman Emperor), and was also presented with a farm within the state of Aydin, (which is in the western part of Turkey). See what he says about Muhammad a.s. in his book Histoire de Turquie (History of Turkey):
"Was Muhammad 's.a.s. a false prophet? We cannot think so after studying his works and history. For false prophethood means hypocrisy. As falsehood does not have the power of trueness, likewise hypocrisy does not have convincing capacity.
"In mechanics the range of something thrown depends on the power of the thrust. By the same token, the power of a certain source of spiritual inspiration is assessed with the work it accomplishes. A religion, (i.e. Islam), which has carried so heavy a burden, which has spread to such distances, and which has maintained its full power for such a long time, cannot be a lie. It has to be genuine and convincing. Muhammad's a.s. life; his efforts; his courage in attacking and destroying the superstitions and idols in his country; his bravery and valour in standing against the fury of a fire-worshipping nation; his thirteen year endurance to the various attacks, insults and persecutions inflicted on him in Mecca, among his own citizens; his migration to Medina; his incessant encouragements, preaches and admonitions; the holy wars he fought against overwhelmingly superior enemy forces; his spirit for victory; the superhuman confidence he felt at times of greatest afflictions; the patience and trust he displayed even in victory; the determination he showed in convincing others; his endless devotion in worships; his sacred communings with Allahu ta'ala; his death, and the continuation of his fame, honour and victories after his death; all these factual events (and many others untold) indicate that he was by no means a liar, but, on the contrary, an owner of great belief s.a.s.
"It was this belief and this trust in his Creator that made him put forward a two-staged credo: The first stage consisted of the belief that 'there is one eternal being, who is Allah;' and the second stage inculcated that 'idols are not gods.' In the first stage he informed the Arabs about the existence of Allahu ta'ala, who is one and whom they had not known until that time; and in the second stage he shook from their hands the idols which they had looked on as gods until that time. In short, at a single stroke with the sword he broke the false gods and idols and replaced them with the belief in 'One Allah'.
"This is Muhammad a.s., the philosopher, the orator, the Prophet, the law-giver, the warrior, the enchanter of human thoughts, the maker of new principles of belief, the great man who established twenty gigantic world empires and one great Islamic empire and civilization s.a.s.
"Let all the criteria used by humanity for the judgement and evaluation of greatness be applied. Will anyone be found superior to him? Impossible." s.a.s.
I wish to free myself from fancies and whims;
My eccentric nafs will not leave me alone.
I wish to free what is good from the bad;
My eccentric nafs  will not leave me alone.
I wish to discipline my essence;
I wish to know what's good for me, 'n what's bad;
I wish to come to my senses;
My eccentric nafs will not leave me alone.
1. Nafs is a malignant force in human nature. It is recalcitrant, stupid, and evil. It always urges man to behave against the commandments of Allahu ta'ala. It is the only creature whose all wishes are against itself.
If we behave in a manner befitting a true Muslim, the number of Muslims will increase even more rapidly, which in its turn means that, as will be stated in the following explanations made by people who converted to Islam from other religions, wrong beliefs will gradually disappear from the earth and the human race will attain their long-awaited peace and happiness.
PEOPLE WHO CHOSE ISLAM
There are a number of people who abandoned their former religion and accepted Islam. These people belong to various races, countries, nationalities, colours and professional groups. Forty-two of these people were asked several questions, such as, "Why did you become a Muslim?" "What are the aspects of Islam that you like best?" by some magazines or societies, or by their own friends. Their answers were quite clear and sincere. These noble people decided to embrace Islam after thinking over the matter for a long time and studying the Islamic religion with meticulous attention. Each and every one of their answers, which we have compiled from various books and magazines and we will paraphrase in the following passages, is of documentary value. There are many lessons to be taken from these answers, and those who read them will once again feel in their hearts the sublime nature of our religion.
These documents have been arranged in an alphabetical order of the initial letters of the nationalities to which our new Muslim brothers belong. These countries are:
America, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Malaya, Poland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Zanzibar.
1 - MUHAMMAD ALEXANDER RUSSEL WEBB (American)
Diplomat, Author & Journalist
(Muhammad Alexander Russel Webb was born in 1262 [1846 C.E.], in Hudson, United States of America. He studied in the university of New York. In a short time he was a very much loved and admired writer and columnist. He published magazines named 'St. Joseph Gazette' and 'Missouri Republican'. In 1887 he was posted as the American consul in the Philippines. After embracing Islam, he thoroughly dedicated himself to the promulgation of Islam and presided over the organization in the United States. He passed away in 1335 [1916 C.E.].)
I was asked by quite a number of people why I, as a person who was born in the United States, a country with an overwhelmingly numerous Christian population, and who listened to the preaches, or, rather, foolish talks, made by Christian priests throughout his growing years, changed my religion and became a Muslim. The brief account I gave them on why I had chosen Islam as my guide in life: I became a Muslim because the studies and observations I carried on indicated that men's spiritual needs could be filled only with the sound principles established by Islam. Even as a child I had never had a disposition to completely dedicate myself to Christianity. By the time I reached the adult age of twenty, I was completely defiant towards the mystical and annoying church culture which interdicted everything in the name of sin. Gradually I disengaged myself from the church, and finally abandoned it for good. I had an inquisitive and curious character. I would always search for causes and purposes for everything. I would anticipate logical explanations for them. On the other hand, the explanations provided by priests and other Christian men of religion did not satisfy me. Most of the time, instead of giving satisfactory answers to my questions, they would dismiss the matter with evasive prevarications such as, "We cannot understand these things. They are divine secrets," and "They are beyond the grasp of human mind." Upon this I decided to study, on the one hand, oriental religions, and on the other hand, books written by famous philosophers. I read various works on philosophy, such as those written by John Stuart Mill (1806-73), English thinker; On Liberty.], by John Locke (1632-1704), English Philosopher], by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German philosopher; Critique of Pure Reason], by George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), German thinker], by Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), German philosopher], by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British writer; Brave New World.], and others. The books written by these philosophers always dealt with such subjects as protoplasms, atoms, molecules, and particles, and did not even touch on reflections such as "What becomes of the human soul?" "Where does the soul go after death?" "How should we discipline our souls in this world?" The Islamic religion, on the other hand, treated the human subject not only within the corporeal areas, but also along the spiritual extensions. Therefore, I chose Islam not because I had lost my way, or only because Christianity had incurred my displeasure, or as a result of sudden decision, but, on the contrary, after very minutely studying it and becoming thoroughly convinced about its greatness, singularity, solemnity and perfection.
Islam is based on belief in the existence and the unity of Allahu ta'ala, entire submission to Him, which spontaneously entails worshipping Him and thanking Him for His blessings. Islam enjoins fraternity, goodness, and friendliness upon all the human race, and advises them to be cleanly, spiritually, physically, verbally, and practically. Definitely, the Islamic religion is the most perfect, the most superior and the most conclusive of all the religions known to humanity so far.
2 - Colonel DONALD S. ROCKWELL (American)
Why did I accept Islam? For a long time I had been greatly impressed by Islam's clear logic and formal simplicity, by the magnetizing attraction felt towards its mosques, by the great solemnity and deep affection with which the adherents of that religion had devoted themselves to their faith, by the profound respect and pure sincerity in which Muslims all over the world had been prostrating themselves simultaneously five times daily. However, all these things were short of causing me to become a Muslim. Only after a thoroughgoing analysis of the Islamic religion, which resulted in my exploring a myriad of beautiful and useful aspects in it, did I become a Muslim. A solemn and, at the same time, sentimental, attachment to life, [which was Muhammad's a.s. personal approach]; a mutually consultative method in doing daily chores; a habitually soft behaviour flavoured with mercy and compassion in social lives, indiscriminately; charity for the poor; property rights, which women had been given for the first time; all these things, which were only a few of the many other revolutions that could only be evaluated as 'the most tremendous', and how aphoristical and concise a language it is through which Muhammad a.s. expresses these concepts! By cautioning, "Place your trust in Allahu ta'ala; yet do not forget to tie your camel!", Muhammad a.s. conveys also that Allahu ta'ala commands His born slaves to put their trust in Him only after taking all sorts of necessary precautions. Then, contrary to Europeans' assertions, the Islamic religion is not a religion for those idlers who expect everything from Allahu ta'ala without doing anything for their part. The Islamic religion commands everybody first to do their best and only then to put their trust in Allahu ta'ala.
The justice which Islam rendered to people of other religions was one of its aspects which had had a great impact on me. Muhammad a.s. commands Muslims to be benign towards Christians and Jews. Qur'an al-karim acknowledges the prophethoods of the other prophets as well, beginning with Adam a.s. and including Musa and Issa 'a.s. This is an exalted sense of faith and a great model of justice, which other religions do not possess. While the believers of other religions are casting inconceivable aspersions on Islam, Muslims are answering them favourably.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Islam is that it has completely purified itself of idols. Whereas pictures, icons and signs are still being worshipped in Christianity, things of this nature do not exist in Islam. This is an indication of how pure and unstained a religion Islam is.
The facts stated and taught by Muhammad a.s., the Messenger of Allahu ta'ala, have reached our time without any interpolation. And the Qur'an al-karim, which is the Word of Allah, has been preserved in its pristine purity, exactly as it was revealed, without losing anything from the limpidity it had in the time of Muhammad a.s.. The fabricated superstitions and legends with which Christians have defiled the religion of Issa a.s. are not the case with Islam.
Of the determinants that motivated me to become a Muslim, the last one was the fortitude and the will power that I observed in Islam. Islam induced an overall cleanliness, not only spiritually, but also physically. Examples of the features that make up this superior nature are not to overload the stomach when eating, to fast for one month every year, to be moderate in every respect, to be neither extravagant nor parsimonious in spending money, etc. In an exquisite style, facts that would guide humanity not only temporarily but also ever after were being inculcated into individuals. I visited almost all of the Muslim countries. I saw in person how all the Muslims in Istanbul, in Damascus, in Cairo, in Algeria, in Morocco, and in the other Muslim cities observed all these rules and thereby led a peaceful life. They did not need ornaments, pictures, icons, candles, music, or other trivialities of the same sort to initiate themselves into the life-style leading to the sympathy of Allahu ta'ala. The sense of awareness of the fact that they were the born slaves of Allahu ta'ala and their acts of supplication before Him afforded them the greatest source of spiritual peace, happiness and flavour.
The qualities of freedom and equity inherent in the Islamic religion have always magnetized me towards it. Among Muslims, a person occupying the highest rank position and the poorest member of the society are equal before Allahu ta'ala, and they are merely two individuals in the general recognition of fraternity. Muslims perform their acts of worship side by side in mosques. There are not any special places allotted for the leadership.
Muslims hold the belief that there is not a third person to act as an intermediary between Allahu ta'ala and His born slave. The Islamic acts of worship are performed between Allahu ta'ala and the slave. They do not appeal to men of religion for the forgiveness of their wrongdoings. Every Muslim is the only person responsible for his personal behaviour.
The mutual fraternity among Muslims has always been helpful in my personal life. This fraternity was one of the factors whereby I was charmed towards Islam. I know that, wherever I go, a Muslim brother of mine will help me and sympathize with me. All Muslims the world over, of different races, colours and political views as they may be, are brothers and they look on it as an obligation to help one another.
These are the causes for my becoming a Muslim. I wonder if it could be possible to conceive of causes more beautiful or more exalted than these?
3 - SALAHUDDIN BOART (American)
In 1338 [1920 C.E.], I was in the waiting-room of a doctor's office where I had gone for a medical examination, when I saw two magazines printed in London, namely 'Orient Review' and 'African Times'. As I was skimming through them I read a statement that said, "There is only one God," which impressed me deeply. Christianity dictated three gods, which we were compelled to believe although we could never explain it to our own minds. From that time on, that statement, "There is only one God," never left my mind. This holy and sublime belief, which Muslims bear in their hearts, is an invaluable treasure.
Now I grew more and more deeply interested in Islam. By and by, I decided to become a Muslim. After embracing Islam I assumed the name Salahuddin. I believed in the truth that Islam is the truest religion. For Islam is based on the fact that Allahu ta'ala does not have a partner and that Allah, alone, has the authority to forgive sins. How compatible this law is with the laws of nature! In a field, on a farm, in a village, in a city, in a school, in a government, in a state and, in short, everywhere, there is one single ruler. Dualism has always brought about separatism.
The second proof that showed me the fact that Islam is the truest religion was that the Arabs, who had been leading a completely barbarous life before Islam, had developed into the world's most civilized and the most powerful state in a very short time and carried the most ideal concepts of love of mankind from the Arabian deserts all the way up to Spain, and all this was owing to Islam. The Muslim Arabs had found Arabia as a wilderness. And they cultivated it into a rose-garden. John W. Draper (1226 [1811 C.E.]-1299 [1882 C.E.]), an honest historian, in his book 'The Intellectual Development of Europe', enlarges on the extremely great and important part that Islam played in the development of contemporary civilization, and adds, "Christian historians, on account of the grudge they have been nursing against Islam, try to cloak this truth and cannot seem to get themselves to acknowledge how indebted Europeans are to Muslims."
The following passage is (the paraphrase of) an excerpt from Draper's writings on how Muslims found Spain:
"Europeans of that time were completely barbarians. Christianity had proved short of delivering them from barbarism. They would still be looked on as wild people. They lived in filth. Their heads were full with superstitions. They did not even have the ability to think properly. They lived in roughly-made huts. A rush mat laid on the floor or hanging on the wall was the sign of great wealth. Their food consisted of vegetables like wild beans and carrots, some oats and, sometimes, even barks. In the name of garments, they wore untanned animal hides because they lasted longer, and therefore they stank awfully."
"Cleanliness was the very first thing that Muslims taught them. Muslims washed five times daily, which caused these people to wash at least once a day. Later on, they took the stinking, tattered, lice-infested animal hides off their backs, dumped them, and gave them their own garments, which had been made from textures woven with coloured threads. They taught them how to cook, and how to eat. They built houses, mansions and palaces in Spain. They established schools and hospitals. They instituted universities, which in the course of time became sources of light illuminating the entire world. They improved horticulture everywhere. The country was soon awash with rose and flower gardens. Gaping in astonishment and admiration, the uncivilized Europeans watched all these developments, and gradually began to keep pace with the new civilization."
Educating so wild a nation; imbuing them with sentiments of civilization; rescuing them from the depths of darkness, nascence and superstitions; all these inconceivably tremendous tasks were accomplished by the Arabs owing only and only to the Islamic religion. For the Islamic religion is the most genuine religion. Allahu ta'ala helped them for their success.
The Islamic religion, commanded by Allahu ta'ala and taught and publicized by Muhammad a.s., and the Qur'an al-karim, which is the Word of Allahu ta'ala, changed the course of the world's history and freed it from the fetters of darkness. Had it not been for the Islamic religion, humanity would not have attained the present heights of civilization, nor would knowledge and science be in such advanced levels today. Muhammad a.s. states, "Even if knowledge is in China, (go and) acquire it." This is the Islamic religion which I accepted willingly.
4 - THOMAS MUHAMMAD CLAYTON (American)
It was almost noon time. Dazed with the sweltering heat of the day, we were trudging along a dusty road, when, from afar, a singularly mellifluous voice began to caress our auditory senses. So rich a voice it was that the entire space seemed to be sated with it. As we walked past a cluster of trees, a bewildering scene came into sight. It was such a scene that we hardly believed what we saw. Mounted on a small, wooden tower, an elderly Arab in an extremely clean long robe and wearing a white turban was performing (calling) the adhan (or adhan). As he performed the adhan, he was in a trance, almost completely isolated from the world, and in the presence of his Creator, Owner. As if hypnotized by this noble sight, we halted, and then, slowly, sat down on the ground. We did not know what the sounds and words reaching our ears meant, yet they somehow moved us and instilled a mood of elation, relief into our souls. Afterwards, we learned that the sweet words uttered by the Arab meant, "Allahu ta'ala is the greatest. There is no god to be worshipped other than Allahu ta'ala." All of a sudden, many people appeared around us. Till hardly a moment before, however, we had seen no one around us. We did not know whence these people came, and there was an expression of great deference and love on their faces. There were people of all age-groups and classes among them. They were different in their clothing, in their manners of walking, and in their appearances. Yet they all had the same expression of earnestness, great dignity and, at the same time, geniality on their faces. The number of comers increased incessantly, so that we felt as if the process of their increasing would never come to an end. At last the comers assembled. They all took off their shoes and clogs and stood in rows. To our great amazement, no segregation of any sort was observed in the formation of the lines. White people, yellow people, black people, rich people, poor people, tradesmen, civil servants, workers stood side by side without any discrimination between their races or ranks, and performed their worship together.
I admired so many different people's brotherly coming together. It is three years now since I saw that sublime scene for the first time. In the meantime, I began to gather information about that lofty religion which brought people so closely together. The information that I collected about Islam brought me all the closer to this religion. Muslims believed in one Allah and professed that men were not sinful by birth, which was quite contrary to the Christian inculcation. They looked on them only as born slaves of Allahu ta'ala, displayed profound compassion towards them, and wished them to abide by the right path and thus lead a comfortable, peaceful and happy life. Whereas in Christianity even an evil thought was deemed as a sin, Muslims defined sin only as a result of disobeying Allahu ta'ala or violating the rights of born slaves, and acknowledged man free as to his thoughts. According to the Islamic religion, man was responsible "only for what he has done."
For the reasons I have cited above, I accepted Islam willingly. Despite the three years' time since, I sometimes dream of the Arab muezzin's touching and effective voice and multifarious people's running from all directions and standing in lines. It is a doubtless fact that these people, who prostrate themselves altogether and indiscriminately, are doing so sincerely to worship Allahu ta'ala.
Haqq ta'ala avenges Himself on the slave through the slave,
In the ignorant's eyes the avenger is the poor slave.
Everything belongs to the Creator, the slave's a mere tool,
Without the Creator's command you cannot move a leaf!
5 - DEVIS WARRINGTON (Austrian)
As the Spring's mellow, warm hand thaws out the earth after an awfully frigid winter, likewise Islam had a similar effect on me. It warmed my heart and clothed me with a new and lovely dress of knowledge. How beautiful, how true, and how logical Islam's teachings are! How clear, how genuine, and how charming a word it is to say that "Allahu ta'ala is one, and Muhammad a.s. is His Messenger." How could one ever compare it with the unbelievable, unintelligible Christian credo which imposes the absurdity of "Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit"? In contrast with these formidable, fearful and never satisfactory tenets of Christianity, this simple and logical belief draws you towards itself. Islam is an undefiled heavenly religion. Despite the centuries that have elapsed since its advent, it answers all the material and immaterial needs of humanity, not only today, but also forever. For instance, Islam clearly states that men are equal and that before Allahu ta'ala there is no difference of rank and position among men, and it enforces this equality in actual life. The Christian churches profess the same equality, yet there are various echelons among them, such as priests of different ranks, archdeacons, deacons, bishops, and many other ecclesiastics. These people intervene between Allahu ta'ala and the slave and use the name of Allahu ta'ala for their personal advantages. In Islam, on the other hand, no one can intervene between Allahu ta'ala and the slave. Allahu ta'ala communicates His commandments through the Qur'an al-karim to His slaves. In the following lines, I will quote a commandment of Allahu ta'ala. It is only an example. This example shows very explicitly how simple and clear the commandments are.
The two hundred and sixty-seventh ayat of Baqara sura purports: "O ye who believe! Give of the good things which ye have (honourably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you, and do not even aim at getting anything which is bad, in order that out of it ye may give away something, when ye yourselves would not receive it except with closed eyes. And know that Allahu ta'ala is free of all wants, and worthy of all praise." (2-267) As I read and learned these profound and beautiful commandments of the Qur'an al-karim, my soul attained peace and I embraced Islam willingly.
6 - Mrs. CECILLA CANNOLY [Rashida] (Austrian)
Why did I become a Muslim?
Let me tell you sincerely that I became a Muslim without even noticing it myself. For, at a very young age I had already completely lost my confidence in Christianity and had begun to feel apathy towards the Christian religion. I was curious about many religious facts. I was disinclined to believe blindly the creed they were trying to teach me. Why were there three gods? Why had we all come to this world sinful, and why did we have to expiate it? Why could we invoke Allahu ta'ala only through a priest? And what were the meanings of all these various signs that we were being shown and the miracles that we were being told? Whenever I asked these questions to the teaching priests, they would become angry and answer, "You cannot inquire about the inner natures of the church's teachings. They are secret. All you have to do is to believe them." And this was another thing that I would never understand. How could one believe something whose essence one did not know? However, in those days I did not dare divulge these thoughts of mine. I am sure that many of today's so-called Christians are of the same opinion as I was; they do not believe most of the religious teachings imposed on them, yet they are afraid to disclose it.
The older I became the farther away did I feel from Christianity, finally breaking away from the church once and for all and beginning to wonder whether there was a religion that taught "to worship one single God." My entire conscience and heart told me that there was only one God. Then, when I looked around, the events showed me how meaningless the unintelligible miracles that priests had been trying to teach us, and the absurd stories of saints they had been telling us, were. Didn't everything on the earth, human beings, beasts, forests, mountains, seas, trees, flowers indicate that a great Creator had created them? Wasn't a newly born baby a miracle in itself? On the other hand, the church was striving to indoctrinate the people with the preposterous belief that every newly born baby was a wretched, sinful creature. No, this was impossible, a lie. Every newly born child was an innocent slave, a creature of Allahu ta'ala. It was a miracle, and I believed only in Allah and in the miracles He created.
Nothing in the world was inherently sinful, dirty, or ugly. I was of this opinion, when one day my daughter came home with a book written about Islam. My daughter and I sat together and read the book with great attention. O my Allah, the book said exactly as I had been thinking. Islam announced that there is one Allah and informed that people are born as innocent creatures. Until that time I had been entirely ignorant of Islam. In schools Islam was an object of derision. We had been taught that that religion was false and absurd and infused one with sloth, and that Muslims would go to Hell. Upon reading the book, I was plunged into thoughts. To acquire more detailed information about Islam, I visited Muslims living in my town. The Muslims I found opened my eyes. The answers they gave to my questions were so logical that I began to believe that Islam was not a concocted religion as our priests had been asserting, but a true religion of Allahu ta'ala. My daughter and I read many other books written about Islam, were fully convinced as to its sublimeness and veracity, and eventually embraced Islam, both of us. I adopted the name 'Rashida', and my daughter chose 'Mahmuda' as her new name.
As for the second question that you ask me: "What aspect of Islam do you like best?" Here is my answer:
What I like best about Islam is the nature of its prayers. In Christianity prayers are said in order to ask for worldly blessings such as wealth, position and honour from Allahu ta'ala through Issa a.s.. Muslims, in contrast, express their gratitude to Allahu ta'ala and they know that as long as they abide by their religion and obey the commandments of Allahu ta'ala, Allahu ta'ala will give them whatever they need without them asking for it.
7 - MUHAMMAD ASSAD LEOPOLD WEISS (Austrian)
This is a note from the webmaster - The file on Muhammad Assad /Leopold Weilss might contain errors. A brother has written with some facts that does not match these in this revert story. I'm not going to dig into this, but if anybody has any facts in either direction - please contact me!
(Weiss was born in 1318 [A.D. 1900] in the Livow city of Austria [in Poland today], visited Arabic countries as a newspaper correspondent when he was twenty-two years old, admired and professed the Islamic religion, then visited all the Islamic countries, including India and Afghanistan, and published his impressions in 'Frankfurter Zeitung', one of the greatest newspapers world over. Weiss worked as the publication director for Frankfurter Zeitung for some time, then, after Pakistan's winning its struggle for liberation, he went to Pakistan with a view to co-operating with that country's government in the establishment of a system of a religious education, and later he was sent to the United States Center to represent Pakistan. He has two books, one entitled 'Islam at Cross-Roads', and the other 'The Way Leading to Mecca'. Recently he has rendered the Qur'an al-karim into English. His attempt to write a tafsir (translation of Qur'an al-karim) without the indispensably required background in the basic Islamic sciences indicates that he is not in the Madhhab of Ahl as-sunnat and that, consequently, his tafsirs and other (religious) writings may be harmful. Wahhabis and other groups outside (the right way guided by the four) Madhhabs present this ignorant heretic as an Islamic scholar.)
The newspapers for which I worked as a correspondent and writer sent me to Asia and Africa in the capacity of 'special correspondent' in 1922. In the beginning, my relations with the Muslims were no more than ordinary relations between two parties of foreigners. However, my long stay in the Islamic countries enabled me to know the Muslims more closely, which in turn made me realize that they had been looking at the world and the events taking place in the world from angles quite dissimilar to those of Europeans. I must acknowledge that their extremely dignified and composed attitude towards the events, and their approach that was much more humanistic than our own, began to stir up my interest. I was from a fanatical Catholic family. Throughout my childhood I had been inculcated with the belief that Muslims were irreligious people worshipping the devil. When I came into contact with Muslims I realized that they had been lying to me and I decided to study the Islamic religion. I acquired a number of books written on this subject. When I began to read these books with close attention, I saw in amazement how pure and how valuable a religion it was. Yet the manners and behaviours of some Muslims I had been in contact with did not conform to the Islamic principles that I was reading about. First of all, Islam dictated cleanliness, open heartedness, brotherhood, compassion, faithfulness, peace and salvation and, rejecting the Christian doctrine that "men are ever sinful," it substituted it with quite an opposite belief which tolerated "all sorts of worldly pleasures with the proviso that they should not cost someone else's harm and that they should not overflow the free area defined by Islam." But I also met some dirty and mendacious Muslims. To understand the matter better, I began to run an experiment on it, putting myself in the place of a Muslim and adapting myself to the principles I had been reading in the books, and thus examining Islam from within. I came up with the conclusion that the main reason for the increasing degeneration and decline of the Islamic world, which was already on the brink of a collapse, was Muslims' becoming increasingly indifferent towards their religion. As long as Muslims preserved their perfection as true Muslims, they always made progress; and a downfall began the very moment they relaxed their grips of Islam. In actual fact, Islam possesses all the qualifications required for a country's or a nation's progress. It contains all the essentials of civilization. The Islamic religion is both extremely scientific and very practical. The principles it lays down are completely logical, intelligible to everybody, and do not contain one single element that would run counter to knowledge, to science, or to human nature. There is nothing unnecessary in it. The grotesque passages, the sophistries, and the superstitious mysticisms, which are the common properties of other religious books, do not exist in Islam. I discussed these subjects with most Muslims and castigated them, saying, "Why don't you adhere more tightly to this beautiful religion of yours? Why don't you hold fast to it with both hands?" Eventually, in 1344 [A.D. 1926], as I was discussing these matters with a governor in Afghanistan, he said to me, "You have already become a Muslim without you yourself noticing it. Only a true Muslim would defend Islam as earnestly as you are doing now." Upon these words of the governor's a lightning flashed in my brain. When I was back home I plunged into deep thoughts, finally saying to myself, "Yes, I am a Muslim now." Presently I pronounced the statement called Kalima-i-sahadat.[The statement called Kalima-i-shahadat is: "Ash-hadu an-la-ilaha il'l'Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa Rasuluhu," which means, "I testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and I testify, again, that Muhammad a.s. is His born slave and Messenger." Every Muslim has to make this statement at least once in his lifetime and has to believe in its meaning.] I have been a Muslim ever since.
You ask me, "What aspect of Islam attracted you most?" I cannot answer this question, for Islam has penetrated and invaded my entire heart. There is not a specific aspect, therefore, which affected me more than the others did. Everything I had not found in Christianity I found in Islam. I cannot tell what principle of Islam I feel closer to me. I admire each and every one of its principles and essentials. Islam is a gorgeous monument. It is impossible to separate any of its parts from its entirety. All its parts are pivoted, clenched on one another in a certain order. There is a tremendous harmony among the parts. There is not a single part missing. Each and everyone of its parts is in its proper place. Perhaps it was this extremely admirable order which attached me to the Islamic religion. No. What attached me to the Islamic religion was the love I had for it. You know, love is composed of various things: Desire, loneliness, ambition, elevation, zeal for progress and improvement, our weaknesses mixed with our strength and power, the need for someone to help and protect us, and the like. So I embraced Islam with all my heart and love, and it settled in my heart so as to never leave there again.
8 - Dr. 'UMAR ROLF FREIHERR VON EHRENFELS (Austrian)
(Rolf Freiherr (baron) von Ehrenfels is the only son of Prof. Dr. Baron Christian Ehrenfels, who is known as the founder of Gestalt psychology all over the world. He belongs to a well-known family. He was only a small child when he felt a growing concern for the orient and began to study the Islamic religion. His sister Imma von Rodmesrhof writes about this inclination of her brother's in detail in a book of hers, which was published in Lahore in 1953. At a very young age, Rolf travelled in Turkey, in Albania, in Greece, and in Yugoslavia, and joined prayers in mosques although he was a Christian. Eventually, the warm feelings of closeness that he had been harbouring towards Islam resulted in his embracing Islam in 1927, from then on he chose the name 'Umar for himself. In 1932 he visited India, and published a book entitled 'The Place of Woman in Islam'. When the Germans invaded Austria during the Second World War, Rolf fled to India. Accepted and supported by Akbar Haydar, he carried on anthropological studies in Assam, was appointed as a professor of anthropology for the University of Madras in 1949, and was awarded with a gold medal by the 'Royal Asiatic Society', which was located in Bengal. His books were also published in the Urdu language.)
You ask me why I became a Muslim. In the following lines I shall give an account of the factors that formed the cause of my becoming a Muslim and realizing that Islam is a true religion:
1) Islam contains the good aspects of all the world's religions known to us. All religions are intended for men's living in peace and tranquillity. Yet no other religion has managed to teach it to people as explicitly as Islam does. No other religion has been successful in imbuing with such deep love towards our Creator and towards brothers of the same faith.
2) Islam enjoins a perfect submission to Allahu ta'ala in a mood of peace and tranquillity.
3) A retrospective look into history will automatically expose the fact that the Islamic religion is the final true, heavenly religion and that no other religion will appear.
4) Muhammad a.s., who communicated the Qur'an al-karim, is the final prophet.
5) It is doubtless that a person who enters the Islamic religion will automatically have separated himself from his former religion. Yet this separation is not so big as it may be anticipated. The tenets of belief are the same in all the heavenly religions. Qur'an al-karim acknowledges the heavenly religions before itself. Yet it rectifies the wrong beliefs inserted into these religions afterwards, exposes the religion of Issa a.s. in its essential form, and declares that Muhammad a.s. is the final prophet and that no prophet will come after him. In other words, Islam is the true and perfect form of other religions. Various clashes of interests and contrasting ambitions have made men inimical towards one another. And this animosity, in its turn, has been exploited by other people, who have tried to change religions into rival camps and thus to build their worldly advantages on religions, which, in actual fact, are essentially paths guiding to knowing Allahu ta'ala. In fact, it takes a little alertness to see that the Islamic religion acknowledges the other heavenly religions and that it purifies them of the human interpolations that they had been subjected to in the course of time. To accept Islam, therefore, means to render a spiritual and material service which is needed by all people, men and women alike.
6) In no other religion has the concept of brotherhood among people been stated so expressly as it has been in Islam. All Muslims, regardless of their race, nation, colour and language, are brothers of one another. Whatever their political views are, they are brothers of one another. No other religion possesses this beauty.
7) Islam is a religion which gives women great rights. The Islamic religion has allotted women the most proper place. Muhammad a.s. stated, "Paradise is beneath a mothers' feet."
The Islamic religion respected the works of art made by people of other religions, and did not demolish them like barbars. As they were building mosques like Fatih and Sultan Ahmad (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul, they did not feel averse to modelling some of their architecture after that of Saint Sophia. Throughout history, Muslims have displayed greatest justice and mercy towards people of other religions.
For reasons such as these, I chose Islam for my faith.
9 - THOMAS IRVING (Canadian)
To tell you why I became a Muslim, I have to explain what I felt before and after embracing Islam, my first contact with Islam and the faith that it inspired into me. First of all, let me tell you that thousands of Canadians and Americans think exactly as I used to think before becoming a Muslim; they have the same feeling of dissatisfaction; and they are awaiting the scholars of Ahl as-sunnat who will teach them the essence of Islam.
As I was a child, I held fast to my faith, Christianity, with both hands. For I needed a religion to feed my soul. However, as I grew older, I began to see a number of faults in Christianity. The stories told about the life of Issa a.s. and his being the son of God, -may Allahu ta'ala protect us against saying so,- sounded like superstitious tales to me. My personal logic would never accept them. I began to ask myself questions, such as, "If Christianity is the true religion, why are there so many non- Christians in the World?" "Why do Jews and Christians share the same basic religious book and differ in other respects?" "Why are non-Christians doomed to perdition though they have no other apparent faults?" "Why do many nations choose not to become Christians?"
It was in those days when I met a missionary who had been serving in India. He complained to me, "Muslims are very obstinate. They insist that the true religion is Islam, and not Christianity. So all my efforts to Christianize them end up in failure." These statements were at the same time the first definition I had heard of Islam. A sensation of curiosity towards Islam, seasoned with a high degree of admiration for Muslims who had been so staunchly attached to their religion, began to blossom in my heart. I felt that I should observe Islam more closely, and began to attend lectures on 'Oriental Literature' in the university. I saw that what the oriental people had been rejecting in our belief was the doctrine of 'trinity', and that they accepted the belief of 'One God', which was perfectly agreeable with common sense. It was certain that Issa a.s. had announced his religion as one based on belief in One God, and himself as a mere born slave and Messenger of that One God. The God he had mentioned should be a merciful God. Nevertheless, that beautiful and true belief had been smothered with meaningless legends, superstitions and heresies inserted into Christianity by idolaters, and the pure belief in the One Merciful, Compassionate God had been adulterated into a tripartite godhood, which was accessible only to priests and which, so to speak, created mankind with a share from the original sin. Then, a new religion with a new prophet was necessary to restore the humanity with that pure and intact belief in One God. Europe, on the other hand, was awash in semi-barbaric cruelty in those days. As savage tribes were invading countries, on the one hand, a small minority was perpetrating all sorts of vices under the mask of religion, on the other. The human race was moaning desperately under the talons of idolatry and irreligiousness, when, [according to historians], seven centuries after Issa a.s., in the oriental horizons, there rose Muhammad s.a.s. the final Prophet of Allahu ta'ala, and he began to communicate to people the true religion of the true God, which was based on belief in One God.
When I read and learned all these facts, I believed in the fact that Muhammad s.a.s. was the final true Messenger of Allahu ta'ala, because:
1) As I have said above, people needed a new prophet;
2) All my thoughts concerning Allahu ta'ala conformed with the religion spread by that great Prophet s.a.s.
3) As soon as I read the Qur'an al-karim, I sensed that it was the Word of Allahu ta'ala. The facts communicated by the Qur'an al-karim and the hadith ash-Sharifs [utterances] of Muhammad s.a.s. satisfied me in every respect and infused a sense of peace into my soul. And this is the reason why I became a Muslim.
You can be sure that, as I have already said, thousands of Americans and Canadians sense the same deficiencies and errors in Christianity. Sad to say, though, they have not had the same chance I had to do a thorough research into the Islamic religion; they need a guide.
After attaining that belief in Islam, I embarked on a study of the books published about Islam. I would like to touch upon a few of the works that I could recommend in this connection. An Indian well-wisher sent me a book captioned 'What Is Islam?', written by Q.A. Jairazby H.W. Lovlegrove. I would specially recommend the book. It is a book that describes Islam in the best way. Spreading the book world over would be a useful service for the promulgation of Islam. I read an English version of Qur'an al-karim rendered by Maulvi Muhammad Ali, and I liked it. In addition, I read some other books, and I did not neglect magazines publicizing Islam. In Montreal, I found many works published in French about Islam. Some of them praised Islam, while others were intended against it. But Islam's greatness could not be buried even under books written for the purpose of reviling it. Instead, they were no more than other sources of evidence corroborating for me the fact that Islam is the true religion.
10 - Dr. BENOIST [ALI SALMAN] (French)
I am a doctor and I come from a fanatically Catholic family. Yet my vocational choice, medicine, provided me a career in positive, experimental, and natural sciences, which in turn caused me to develop a growing hatred against Christianity. With respect to religion, I was at complete loggerheads with the other members of my family. Yes, there was a great Creator, and I believed in Him, i.e. Allahu ta'ala. Yet the absurdities concocted by Christians, especially by Catholics, various mysterious gods, sons, holy ghosts, the preposterous fibs fabricated for the purpose of proving that Issa a.s. is the son of God, a myriad of other superstitions, ceremonies and rites pushed me away from Christianity, instead of attracting me towards it.
Because I held the belief in one God, I would never accept trinity, nor would I by any means recognize Issa a.s. as the son of God. That means to say that, long before knowing of Islam, I had already accepted the initial half of the Kalima-i-Shahadat, i.e. the part that says, "La ilaha il'l'Allah... (There is no God but Allah...)" When I began to study the Islamic religion and read the Ikhlas Sura of Qur'an al-karim, which purported, "Lo; Allahu ta'ala is One. He is not begotten, nor does He beget. There is no being bearing any likeness to Him," I said, "O my Allah. My belief is exactly the same." I felt immense relief. I realized that it was of paramount importance to study Islam more deeply. And as I studied Islam I saw with admiration that this religion was completely agreeable with my ideas. Islam looked on religious men, and even on prophets 'alaihim-us-salawat', as ordinary people like us; it did not divinize them. Giving a priest authority to forgive people's sins was something which Islam would never accept. The Islamic religion did not contain any superstitions, any irrational rules, or any unintelligible subjects. The Islamic religion was a logical one, exactly as I wanted. Contrary to the Catholics, it did not smudge human beings with the consequences of the so-called original sin. It enjoined physical and spiritual cleanliness on human beings. Cleanliness, which is an essential principle in medicine, was in Islam a commandment of Allahu ta'ala. Islam commanded to clean oneself before acts of worship, and that was a quality which I had never seen in any other religion.
In some Christian rites, such as Baptism and the Eucharist, people consume the bread and wine offered by the priest in the name of the flesh and blood of Issa a.s., which is intended, so to speak, as a simulated unity with Issa a.s., i.e. with God, [may Allahu ta'ala protect us from holding such beliefs!]. I saw the resemblance between these rites and those of the most primitive heathens, and hated them. My mind, which had improved under the guidance of positive science, vehemently rejected these puerile rites which did not suit to a true religion. Islam, on the other hand, did not accommodate any of those things. There was only truth, love, and cleanliness in Islam.
Eventually, I made up my mind. I visited my Muslim friends and asked them what I should do to become a Muslim. They taught me the (statement called) Kalima-i Shahadat, how to say it and what it meant. As I have mentioned earlier, before becoming a Muslim, I had accepted its first half, i.e. the part that meant, "There is no God but Allah,..." It was not difficult, therefore, to accept the remaining part, which said: "... and Muhammad a.s. is His (born slave and) Messenger." I was now studying momentous books written about the Islamic religion. When I read one of them, namely, 'Le Phénomène Coranique', a very lovely book prepared by Malak Bannabi, I saw with amazement and admiration what a tremendous book Qur'an al-karim was. The facts written in that book of Allah which was revealed fourteen centuries before now are in precise conformance with the results of today's scientific and technological research. Both from scientific and technological points of view and with respect to sociological activities, the Qur'an al-karim is a guide book not only today, but also forever.
On the twentieth day of February, 1953, I went to the Paris mosque and accepted Islam officially in the presence of Mufti Effendi and the witnesses, and I was given the name Ali Salman.
I love this new religion of mine. I am very happy and I emphasize the firmness of my belief in Islam by frequently saying the (statement called) Kalima-i-Shahadat and pondering over its meaning.
11 - CAPTAIN (JACQUES) COUSTEAU (French)
[In France Islam has been spreading at a high velocity among people who have made fame in various areas. The number of people who have abandoned Christianity and chosen Islam have reached one hundred thousand already. This score has been confirmed by the Archbishop of Paris, the highest Catholic rank in France.
It is noteworthy that people who have preferred Islam are not only from among workers and civil servants but also from among people renowned in every respect.
Among people who have chosen Islam is Captain Cousteau, whom the whole world closely knows for his explorations about life under water.
As the groundswell of embracing Islam was spreading among France's universal celebrities, Captain Cousteau, the world's most eminent undersea explorer, announced that by accepting Islam he had made the most correct decision of his life.
Captain Cousteau, who has revealed the secrets of oceans one by one with the films that he made and which are being televised world over in a program sub-headed The Living Sea, said that what actually prompted him to choose the Islamic religion was, after observing that the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean did not mix with each other, his seeing that the same phenomenon was written in the Qur'an al-karim which had been revealed fourteen hundred years before.]
Captain Cousteau told of the event that had caused him to become a Muslim, as follows:
"In 1962 German scientists said that the waters of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean did not mix with each other in the Strait of Bab-ul-Mandab where the Aden Bay and the Red Sea join. So we began to examine whether the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean mixed with each other. First we analyzed the water in the Mediterranean to find out its natural salinity and density, and the life it contained. We repeated the same procedure in the Atlantic Ocean. The two masses of water had been meeting each other in the Gibraltar for thousands of years. Accordingly, the two masses of water must have been mixing with each other and they must have been sharing identical, or, at least, similar properties in salinity and density. On the contrary, even at places where the two seas were closest to each other, each mass of water preserved its properties. In other words, at the point where the two seas met, a curtain of water prevented the waters belonging to the two seas from mixing. When I told Professor Maurice Bucaille about this phenomenon, he said that it was no surprise and that it was written clearly in Islam's Holy Book, the Qur'an al-karim. Indeed, this fact was defined in a plain language in the Qur'an al-karim. When I knew this, I believed in the fact that the Qur'an al-karim was the 'Word of Allah'. I chose Islam, the true religion. The spiritual potency inherent in the Islamic religion gave me the strength to endure the pain I had been suffering for the loss of my son."
12 - MUHAMMAD AMIN HOBOHN (German)
(Muhammad Amin Hobohn is both a diplomat and a missionary. He is a man of knowledge and religion with a social career:)
Why are Europeans abandoning their religion and becoming Muslims? It has various reasons. Among them is the 'Haqq=Truth; Right; Reality'. The principles that Islam is based on are so logical, so true and honest that it is out of the question for a wise and educated person seeking for truth and reality in a religion not to accept them. For instance, the Islamic religion professes the existence of one god. It appeals to the human common sense, and never descends to inculcating people with superstitions. The Islamic religion states that people all over the world, regardless of their races, are the born slaves of Allahu ta'ala, equal and similar. We German people essentially believe in the fact that Allahu ta'ala is a great creator who gives us power and energy and who guides our souls to perfection. The concept of Allah infuses security and peace into us. Yet the Christian religion falls short of giving us this sense of peace. It is the Islamic religion, alone, that teaches us the greatness of Allahu ta'ala and which, at the same time, guides us in regard to where the human soul will go after death. The Islamic religion guides us not only in the world, but also in the Hereafter. It teaches in a plain and logical manner what should be done in the world in preparation for a comfortable life in the Hereafter. An awareness of the fact that Allahu ta'ala will subject human beings to an equitable interrogation in the Hereafter on what they have done in the world, will urge them that they should abide by justice and integrity in the world. For this reason, true Muslims never attempt to do something before thinking well and being firmly convinced that what they are going to do is really something useful. Thereby this great religion establishes control over human beings in such a degree as could be managed by no worldly police organization, and permanently keeps them on the right way.
Another aspect that makes Islam an attractive choice in the eyes of Europeans is its norms of worship. The namaz (the five daily ritual prayers) teaches punctuality to people, and fasting drills a strong sense of will power into them. What other factor could be as essential to success in life as punctuality and determination? Great men owe their accomplishments only to these two determinants. Now I come to a most beautiful aspect of the Islamic religion: While educating people in the ethical and humanistic areas in the most logical styles, the Islamic religion never compels them beyond their capacities. On the contrary, it offers them many opportunities to lead a prosperous and comfortable life. Allahu ta'ala wishes people to live in comfort and happiness. To this end, He commands people not to commit sins. Muslims believe that they are perpetually in the presence of Allahu ta'ala. They avoid committing sins. Neither in the other religions nor in any of the systems established in Europe is there another arrangement as lovely or as useful as this.
I have been to many places and districts of the world on diplomatic and religious missions. I have studied other religions and social systems minutely. I have seen neither a religion nor a social system as faultless or as immaculate as Islam. At first sight, communism may seem to be a correct system of thoughts. Likewise, the western-born democracy, which has been looked on as the most capacious administration system in worldly matters, and Nazism may contain some factual aspects. And then none of these aspects is complete in itself. All of them have a number of deficiencies. The one and only perfect and faultless system is Islam. It is for this reason that many a person with common sense and perfect reasoning accepts Islam without any hesitation. And so did I. Islam is a practical religion, not a theoretical one. Islam means submission to Allahu ta'ala, who is compassionate and forgiving and who always shows the right way. What on earth could be more beautiful?
13 - Dr. HAMID MARCUS (German)
(Dr. Marcus is a renowned man of ideas, a writer, and the founder of a magazine, i.e. the magazine entitled Berliner Moslemische Revue.)
I was only a child when I took an interest in Islam and began to collect information about Islam. In the library of my hometown I came across an old translation of Qur'an al-karim that had been printed in 1164 [1750 C.E.]. According to a narrative, Goethe had read the same translation of the Qur'an al-karim during his research on the Islamic religion and had expressed his admiration for the book. As I read the Qur'an al-karim, I was deeply impressed by its exceedingly logical and fascinating style of expression that penetrated deep into the soul. How genuine and useful the principles formulated by Islam were, was manifest in the fact that nations honoured with Islam had been attaining the zenith of civilization in a very short time.
When I left my hometown and went to Berlin, I made friends with all the Muslims living there, joined them and attended with rapt attention the interesting and instructive conferences held by the members of the Islamic Mission. The more friendly I became with the members of the Islamic Mission, the more closely was I able to examine Islam. After a while I reached the conclusion that Islam was the true religion I had been aspiring after, believed in it, and accepted Islam.
According to Islam, Allah is One, and belief in One Creator is Islam's most sacred credal tenet. The Islamic religion does not contain any irrational or unbelievable tenet. There is not a creator besides Allahu ta'ala. In Islam you cannot find a single dot dIssagreeable with or contradictory to modern sciences. All its commandments and inculcations are entirely logical and useful. In Islam, belief and logic do not contradict each other, which is the common blemish of other religions. Consequently, for a person like me who has dedicated all his life-time to natural sciences, what could be more natural than preferring Islam, which is in full conformity with the scientific results that he obtained from his lucubrations, to the other religions that are quite the other way round?
Another reason I feel compelled to add is that the other religions are awash in a score of grotesque and ridiculous ideas that suggest only a far-fetched mood of spirituality. They have nothing to do with real life situations. Islam, on the other hand, is a practical religion which guides man also in his trek of life. Commandments of the Islamic religion lead a person to the right way not only in the Hereafter, but also in the world, and, in the meanwhile, they never restrict his freedom.
As a Muslim I have been studying my religion for many years. In every new situation I see even more clearly how perfect a religion it is, and this in its turn gives me all the more mental peace.
How exquisite a passageway it is that Islam lays between the individual and the social life! Islam arranges these two lives. Islam is a religion of perfect justice and its sole aim is to guide people to the good end. Islam embodies all the good aspects of all the world's social trends.
14 - Mrs. AMINA MOSLER (German)
Why did I become a Muslim?
My son was asking me various questions, and I was unable to answer them. When he asked me, for instance, "Mummy, why are there three gods?" I was at a loss as to what to say because I myself did not believe in trinity, and yet I could not find another answer to convince him. Eventually, it was sometime during the year 1346 [C.E. 1928], and my son had reached a maturer age, when, one day, my son came to me, his eyes welling up with tears. He begged, "Mummy, I have been studying Islam. They believe in one creator. Their religion is the truest one. So I have decided to become a Muslim. Join me!" Upon his request, I, too, began to study the Islamic religion. I went to the Berlin mosque. The imam of the mosque gave me a cordial welcome and told me the essentials of Islam. As he spoke, I saw how right and logical his words were. Like my son, I, too, began to believe in the fact that Islam was the truest religion. First of all, Islam rejected trinity, which I had never been able to understand or accept since my youth. After examining Islam thoroughly, I realized the absurdity of such things as redemption, looking on the pope as an innocent being never prone to sin, baptism and many other rites of the same sort, I rejected all these falsities and embraced Islam.
All my ancestors were fanatical Catholics. I was raised in a Catholic monastery. I grew up totally under Christian education. Yet this sheer religious education that I had received helped me to choose the true religion that would guide me to Allahu ta'ala. For, all the good things that I had been taught throughout my education I found not in Christianity, but in Islam. I am so lucky to have accepted Islam.
Today I am a grandmother. I am so happy because my grandchild has been born as a Muslim. I know that Allahu ta'ala will always guide those people whom He has brought to the right way.
15 - Hajji LORD AL-FARUQ HEADLEY (G.B.)
(Lord Headley possessed the title of excellency. Sir George Allanson was born in 1855 and descended from the oldest British family. He occupied very important political positions in Britain, and at the same time made fame as an editor. He graduated from Cambridge University. In 1877 he won the title of Lord. He served as a lieutenant colonel in the British army. He was an engineer by vocation, but a powerful writer by avocation. Among his publications, his work entitled 'A European's Eyes Are Being Opened And He Is Becoming A Muslim'. Lord Headley became a Muslim in 1913, performed Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage), and adopted the name Shaikh Rahmatullah Faruq. In 1928 he visited India.)
Why did I become a Muslim? Perhaps, some of my friends and acquaintances are of the opinion that I became a Muslim as a result of persuasion on the part of my friends and acquaintances. But it is not the fact. My accepting Islam was the result of long-time research and contemplation. It was after a meticulous examination and forming an opinion about Islam that I made contact with Muslims and, seeing that their belief in their own religion was in conformity with mine, I realized and became happy that I had entered into a good religion.
The Qur'an al-karim commands that a person should accept Islam after his heart's full confirmation, rejects a conversion under coercion. Likewise, Issa a.s. said to his Apostles, "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. ..." (Mark: 6-11)
During my former life-time, I had seen many bigoted Protestants. They would go to Catholic student hostels and try to force the Catholic students. These unwanted efforts and coercive attempts would cause various fights, offenses and controversies and would sow discord among people. The same meaningless methods Christian missionaries used with Muslims. They ran all sorts of risks for the purpose of Christianizing Muslims. They resorted to all sorts of stratagems to trap Muslims.
They promised them money, work, and posts. Those poor ignoramuses did not know that Islam was the religion where the commandments of Issa a.s. found the best practice and confirmation. Christianity has been defiled, to the extent that the real Nazarani religion communicated by Issa a.s. has been lost completely, and the tenets of humanity he preached have been forgotten. These things exist in Islam today. Then, by becoming a Muslim, I have also attained the Nazarani religion in its pristine purity. Principles commanded by Issa a.s., such as brotherhood, solidarity, good will, generosity and others, are observed not by Christians, but by Muslims today. Let me give you an example; The Christian sect of Athanasians insistently inculcates the tenet that Christianity is based on a belief in three gods (trinity), that a slightest doubt as to this belief will lead one to immediate perdition, and that a person who wishes to attain salvation in this world and the next should definitely hold a belief in the three gods, i.e. 'God, the Son of God, and the Holy Ghost'.
Another example: When I became a Muslim, I received a letter. It said, "By becoming a Muslim you have damned yourself to perdition. No one can save you. For you deny the divinity of God." The poor man thought that I no longer believed in Allahu ta'ala. According to his belief, the divinity of Allahu ta'ala depended on trinity. The idiot did not know that when Issa a.s. had begun to preach the pure Nazarani religion, he had stated the unity of Allahu ta'ala, and he had never claimed to be His son. Islam, by expressing that "There is only one Allah," rediscovered the original essence of Nazarani religion. Today, nothing could be as logical as a sane person's believing in the existence of one Allah. By becoming a Muslim, I believe in one real Allah and reject all the fibs that were inserted into the pure religion of Issa a.s. afterwards. The person who wrote me that letter and the other people who share his ideas are only pitiable. Day by day Christians are abandoning their religion and becoming atheists. For today's Christianity is no longer satisfactory for a normal and cultured person. People refuse a blind belief in superstitions and entertain doubts about the Christian creeds. On the other hand, all through my life-time so far, I have never heard of a Muslim feeling doubts about his faith. For the Islamic religion satisfies all the spiritual and physical needs of human beings in the most perfect and rational manner.
A fact I am positive about is that thousands of Christians, men and women alike, have examined Islam and have already identified themselves with Islam intrinsically. However, for the fear that they might lose their jobs or posts in case they officially announced their choice of Islam, or lest they should arouse derision on the part of their friends, they do not dare to become Muslims. In our schools Islam is still being taught as the religion of people who do not believe in Allahu ta'ala. Running the risk of being cursed as 'a man with a damned soul' by all my friends and acquaintances, I embraced Islam, and for twenty years I have been holding fast to Islam with both hands.
After giving this brief account of why I chose Islam, let me add that by becoming a Muslim I managed also to become a more true and pure follower of Issa a.s.. I wish to be an example for other Christians. choosing Islam will not make them enemies of Christianity, but, on the contrary, it will teach them the true Issawi religion, and it will raise them to a higher level.
16 - ABDULLAH ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (G.B.)
(Sir Archibald Hamilton, a well-known British diplomat, served as a naval officer during the First World War. Coming from a widely known family, he possesses the title of baronet, (which means a candidate baron). He was honoured with becoming a Muslim in 1923.)
Since reaching the age of puberty, I had been allured by Islam's simplicity and crystalline limpidity. I had been born as a Christian and I had been given a Christian education. Yet I had never believed in wrong credal tenets, and I had always preferred truth, right and reason to blind beliefs. I had been aspiring to worship one Allah sincerely and with a peaceful heart. Yet, both the Roman Catholic Church and the English Protestant Church had been short of serving this pure intention of mine. It was for these reasons that I answered the call of my conscience and accepted Islam, which satisfied me fully, and only after that did I begin to feel myself as a true and better born slave of Allahu ta'ala.
Sad to say, various Christians and ignorant people have misrepresented Islam as a religion of falsities and concoctions that are intended to induce torpor into the humanity. But the fact is that it is the only true religion in the sight of Allahu ta'ala. Islam is a perfect religion which brings about unity between the powerful and the weak as well as between the rich and the poor. Economically, there are two main classes of people. The first class contains people whom Allahu ta'ala has blessed with worldly riches. The second class is made up of those who have to work for a living. There is yet another class. People in this class live in utter destitution because they cannot earn enough, because they have lost their jobs, or because they can no longer work, none of which cases is their fault. Islam enables all these three classes to come together in a harmonized society. It commands the rich to help the poor. It provides a social setting where humiliations and afflictions are extirpated.
The Islamic religion lays emphasis also on personal abilities, efforts and skills. According to the Islamic jurisprudence, if a poor peasant, for instance, cultivates an ownerless piece of land on his own for a certain length of time, the land becomes his personal property. The Islamic religion is not destructive, but it is restorative.
The Islamic religion prohibits gambling and all the other vicious and deleterious games. The Islamic religion prohibits also all sorts of intoxicants. Indeed, the majority of afflictions people suffer in the world are caused by gambling or alcohol.
We Muslims are not people who hold the belief that everything is a slave in the hands of destiny. Destiny in the Islamic sense does not mean to sit idly with your mouth opened in the celestial direction and to expect that Allahu ta'ala will give you everything. On the contrary, Allahu ta'ala enjoins work in the Qur'an al-karim. Man should do his best and hold fast to all the apparent causes; only after that will he put his trust in Allahu ta'ala. Not without working, but while working, should he beg Allahu ta'ala to help him for success and earning. The Islamic credal tenet which says that "good and evil come from Allahu ta'ala" means, "Allahu ta'ala is the Creator of all." Islam does not contain a tenet encouraging people to idle away their time. Destiny means Allahu ta'ala's knowing in the eternal past all the events that will take place and His creating everything when the time in His knowledge comes.
Islam never accepts a credo based on the belief that human beings are originally sinful, that they are born with sins, or that they have to expiate their sins throughout their lives. Islam states that human beings are the born slaves of Allahu ta'ala, men and women alike, and that with respect to mental and moral qualities the two sexes are not very different from each other. Only, because men are more powerful and stronger by creation, onerous and tiresome duties such as supporting the family have been given to them, while women have been blessed with a more comfortable, more cheerful and happier life.
I do not want to say much on how Islam establishes brotherhood among all Muslims. For the entire world knows how Muslims love and help one another. In Islam all people, the rich, the poor, the nobles, villagers, civil servants, workers, merchants, are equal in the presence of Allahu ta'ala, and they are brothers. Throughout my travels in the Muslim countries, I felt as if I had been in my own home and among my brothers, wherever I went.
A final remark I would like to add is this: Islam invites people both to work honestly all the day long and to carry on his acts of worship, his duties as a born slave to Allahu ta'ala. Today's Christianity, on the other hand, induces into people a life style consisting in Masses in the name of worship only on Sundays and a complete oblivion of Allahu ta'ala covered with worldly occupations and sins throughout the rest of the week.
It was for these reasons that I became a Muslim, and I am proud of having become a Muslim.
17 - JALALEDDIN LAUDER BRUNTON (G.B.)
(Sir Brunton, who comes from an eminent family and who possesses the title of Baronet, graduated from the Oxford University and made fame with his publications.)
I am grateful to you for giving me the chance to explain why I became a Muslim. I grew up under the influence of Christian parents. Theology was one of the subjects that I was interested in when I was young. I met some missionaries and closely concerned myself with the activities they had been carrying on in foreign countries. My heart felt like helping them. Without being officially appointed, I joined them in their journeys. To say the truth, although I had taken religious lessons, the Christian theory that "People come to this world in a sinful state and they therefore must be sure to expiate," sounded bizarre to me. For this reason, I was gradually developing hatred against Christianity. I could not tolerate the idea that Allahu ta'ala, with all His infinite power to create anything He wished, would have to create only sinful creatures, which would run counter to His almightiness and compassion, and I therefore harboured doubts as to the genuineness of a religion that described Allahu ta'ala as such. These doubts developed into curiosity about the instructions that the other religions gave in this respect, and consequently I decided to examine the other religions as well. My heart was innerly craving for a just, merciful and compassionate god, and I was looking for such a creator, i.e. Allah. I was wondering whether that was the real Nazarani religion that Issa a.s. had brought. Or had the pure religion preached by him been polluted in the process of time? The more I thought about these, the stronger did the doubts in my heart become, so much so that more often than not I would pick up today's current Holy Bible, delve into the book, and at each time find more deficiencies and unintelligible discourses. Eventually, I reached the conclusion that that book was not the genuine Holy Book revealed to Issa a.s.. People had made a myriad of wrong accessions into the Bible, thus turning the pure heavenly book into an irreparable mixture of facts and fictions.
Having reached an absolute conviction as to this fact, I substituted Bible-reading with other sorts of preaching to the people that I met during the journeys I was making with the missionaries. Instead of mentioning their fictitious theory of 'God, the Son of God, and the Holy Ghost', for instance, I would inculcate the facts such as that when man died his soul would not die, that human beings were created by a great creator, that this great creator would punish men both in this world and in the next on account of their sins, and that this great creator, being extremely compassionate, would forgive men their sins in case they repented for their wrongdoings.
As days went by, my belief in the unity of Allah developed into an absolute conviction. In order to penetrate into the inner nature of truth, I tried to dive deeper and deeper into the subject. It was sometime during these efforts that I began to study the Islamic religion. This religion magnetized me so strongly that I dedicated my entire day to studying it. I happened to domicile myself in a forlorn Indian village, called Ichra, which was rather far from the urban areas and whose name almost no one knew. The inhabitants of this village belonged to a very poor and destitute caste. Only for the sake of Allahu ta'ala, I was trying to teach them the existence of a single and compassionate creator and the right way they ought to follow in this worldly life. I was also striving to inculcate into them such notions as religious brotherhood and cleanliness. So strange to say, all these notions I was doing my best to teach them existed in Islam, not in Christianity, and I was preaching them not as a Christian missionary, but like a Muslim religious man.
I am not going to enlarge on the details of the great efforts I made, the degree of self-sacrifice I achieved, or the severe difficulties I faced in that lonely and desolate village, among those unenlightened people. My only concern was to guide them to spiritual and physical cleanliness and to teach them the existence of a great creator.
Whenever I was on my own, I would study the life of Muhammad a.s.. Very few books had been written in English to reflect the facts about his life, yet no effort had been spared on the part of Christians to criticize and vilify that great Prophet and to incriminate him with lying. However, I was now able to study Islam fairly, without being influenced by those books that had been written under inimical motives. During the course of my studies, I came to the full realization that it was a definite fact that Islam was a true religion in which the concept of Allah and reality became manifest in its clearest identity.
Once you had been informed on the services which the great Prophet Muhammad s.a.s. had rendered for the good of humanity, it would be impossible for you to deny his prophethood. Definitely, he was the Messenger of Allahu ta'ala. As a blessing of Allahu ta'ala, he, alone, and in a very short time, transformed the Arabs from a mass of heathens who had been living in utter savagery and nascence, worshipping many idols, believing in superstitions, leading a bestial, semi-naked, and overwhelmingly polygamous life, into a civilized, morally upright and clean nation whose members were now believing in Allahu ta'ala, observing women's rights, and always trying to be good-natured and genial. A person never could have managed such a job without the blessing or help of Allahu ta'ala. As I thought about the strenuous efforts I put forth in that tiny village whose population was only one or two hundred, and how I still could not bring those wretched people to the right course, my admiration for the work accomplished by Muhammad s.a.s. grew all the greater. No. Something as great as that could be accomplished only by the Messenger of Allahu ta'ala. One ought to believe in his prophethood with all one's heart.
I do not want to make mention of all the other so many even much more beautiful facts about the Islamic religion. For, by acknowledging the existence of Allahu ta'ala and the prophethood of Muhammad a.s., a person has already become a Muslim. One of those days an Indian Muslim visited me. That polite person's name was Mian Amiruddin. We had a long conversation on the Islamic religion. That conversation was the decisive encouragement, and I accepted Islam.
I believe in the fact that Islam is the true religion of Allah, in its simplicity, forgivingness, compassionateness and sincerity, in that it establishes brotherhood among people, and in that one day it will unite the entire world.
I have reached the last stage of my life, and from now on I have dedicated myself to the service of Islam.
18 - Prof. Baron HARUN MUSTAFA LEON (G.B.)
(Prof. Baron Leon comes from a prominent British family and possesses the title of Baron. He owns a Ph. D. and other scientific titles. He became a Muslim in 1882. He had memberships in numerous scientific societies in Europe and America. Prof. Leon, who was a great authority especially in the linguistic and literary sciences, sprang into the universal limelight with his publication that was called 'Ethimology of the Human Lexion'. Upon this publication, the Potomac University of America gave him the degree of M.S. Prof. Leon is at the same time an expert geologist. He was invited by many famous institutions and gave conferences of these areas. He was elected as the Secretary General for the Société Internationale de Philologie=International Society of Philology, Science and Fine Arts, which had been founded in 1875. He began to publish a magazine titled (The Philomeths). He was awarded with various medals by the Ottoman Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II, by the Shah of Iran, and by the Emperor of Austria.)
One of the most perfect essentials of the Islamic religion is that it never demands of Muslims to act against reason. Islam is a religion whose teachings are quite reasonable and perfectly logical. The other religions, on the other hand, force people to accept the tenets of creed that they can never understand, believe or find logical. In Christianity the church is the only authority in this respect. Contrariwise, Muslims are commanded to believe in anything only after mentally examining it (and finding it logical). Muhammad a.s. states, "Allahu ta'ala has not created anything irrational or illogical." He states in another hadith ash-Sharif, "I tell you with certainty that even if a person performs (his daily prayers of) namaz (regularly), fasts, pays (the prescribed alms called) zakat, goes on hajj (Muslim's pilgrimage to Mecca), and carries out all the other commandments of Islam, he shall be rewarded in proportion to the degree of his using the mind and logic Allahu ta'ala has endowed on him."
The pure religion preached by Issa a.s. also contained similar rules. For instance, 'First try everything! Accept only the good one." Yet, these rules were forgotten in the course of time. The fifth ayat al-karima of Sura-t-ul-Juma of Qur'an al-karim purports, "Those people who have been enjoined to learn the Torah and to adapt themselves to it, and yet who do not obey it, are reminiscent of an ass with a load of books on its back."
Ali 'radi-Allahu 'anh' states, "The world is dark. Knowledge is a nur (light)! However, knowledge which is not correct is obscurity."
Muslims hold the belief that "Islam is the very truth itself," and they state that Islam's light shines only with the energy it gets from knowledge and logic, that this knowledge ensues only from truth, and that truth, in its turn, is discovered by men owing to the common sense, which is a blessing Allahu ta'ala has conferred upon them.
The last Prophet of Allahu ta'ala, Muhammad a.s., who is the greatest blessing Allahu ta'ala has sent to humanity, showed them the path that they were to follow. It was during his final days (in this world), when the following incident took place:
It was a couple of days before Muhammad's a.s. passing away, and he was resting, half conscious, his head on the knees of Aisha r.a.a. his beloved wife. All the people of Medina were desperately sad about Rasulullah's illness, which enervated him day by day and against which they were helpless. Men, women, children were crying loudly. Among those who were crying were grey-haired, sallow-complexioned, aged warriors. Muhammad Mustafa al-amin s.a.s. was their commander, guide, leader, companion, shepherd, an intimate friend with whom they exchanged confidences, and, the most important of all, their great Prophet who had rescued them from darkness and guided them to the light of truth owing to the Islamic religion which he preached. This great Prophet s.a.s., who had brought them peace and security by means of Islam, was now bidding 'Farewell' to them. The lamentable thought that their Prophet was dying was gripping their hearts like an iron clamp, bringing tears into their eyes, and causing them to despair deeply.
At last, they risked losing everything, and entered into his presence in that mood of hopelessness. In tears they asked, "O the Messenger of Allah s.a.s.! You are gravely ill. Perhaps Allahu ta'ala will invite you to His presence and you will no longer be with us. Then, what can we do without you?"
Our Prophet Muhammad a.s. stated, "You have the Qur'an al-karim to consult." Then they asked, "O the Messenger of Allah s.a.s.! It is certain that the Qur'an al-karim will be our guide in many respects. Yet if we cannot find what we are seeking by looking up in it, and if you have already left us, who will be our guide?" Upon this, our Prophet s.a.s. stated, "Act in accordance with what I have told you." This time they asked, "O the Messenger of Allah s.a.s.! Since you will no longer be among us, what should we do if we encounter altogether new matters and cannot find anything about those matters in your hadiths?"
Our Prophet s.a.s. raised his blessed head slowly from the pillow, and said, "Allahu ta'ala has given a personal guide to each and every one of His born slaves. This guide is the common sense, and his heart, which embodies a conscience. If you use this guide well and properly, you will never deviate from the right path, and in the end you will attain to Allahu ta'ala." "Istafti qalbek, Fe-innaha teskunu bi-l-halal." Here is the Islamic religion which I boast of having chosen. This religion is the true religion of Allah, which is entirely based on reason and logic.
Beware boasting of wealth, nor say, "Who's there like me!"
Harvest-like, a cruel wind winnows all that belongs to thee.
19 - WILLIAM BASHYR PICKHARD (G.B.)
It is stated in a hadith ash-Sharif: "Every newly-born baby is suitable for and agreeable with Islam. Afterwards they are made Jews, Christians or Magians by their parents." Likewise, I had been born as a Muslim. Yet it was only many years later that I realized this fact. Since my childhood I had been deeply interested in the past. When I graduated from the university, I began to work as a writer. I was not a well-known writer yet. Nor could one tell what I was going to be. As a Christian, I had been given some teaching on the concept of Allah and on how to worship Allah. Yet my adoration was not confined to their teachings; I felt the same worship-like attachment towards all paragons of chivalry and valour that I had read about in history. Eventually, I was given an office in Uganda, which was under the British sway in those days. When I went to Africa, I saw that life was entirely different there. Lifestyles of people living there, the sentiments that they displayed concerning various worldly events, their behaviours towards one another amazingly defied the expectations and imaginations that I had harboured about them when I had been in London. People living in this place faced the very primitive and onerous life-styles and all sorts of difficulty they encountered in a sense of absolute trust, did not lose their jollity at times when one would normally feel quite despondent, and no degree of poverty could inhibit them from helping one another. A sacred glue composed of love and compassion had attached them to one another, which was well beyond the narrow mental grasp of people of our sort. In fact, I had taken an interest in the orient during my school days. In Cambridge, for instance, I had tasted the pleasure of reading the stories of Arabian Nights. And now, being in Africa, and so close to the Orient; I resumed reading the book. The difficult and unaccommodating life I was now leading in Uganda was making me feel closer and closer to the oriental people. As I was reading the stories of Arabian Nights now, I was comparing them with the people of Uganda and, as it were, I was living with them.
I was completely accustomed to life here, when the First World War broke out. When I applied for military service, they would not admit me into the military on account of my poor health. When I felt better I applied again. This time they admitted me, and sent me to the German front in France. In 1917 I joined the terrible Somme battles. I was wounded in these battles, and I was captured by the Germans. They took me to Germany, where I was put in a hospital. I saw extremely horrendous events in the hospital. Because of those battles, mankind suffered such horrible afflictions. Many Russian prisoners of war were brought to the hospital. They were suffering from dysentery, which had already exhausted them. food provisions were extremely poor in Germany. They did not give enough food to the prisoners of war or to the other patients. I was writhing with hunger. The wound on my right arm never seemed to be recovering, nor did the one on my right leg. I was already crippled and paralyzed. I applied to the Germans and requested them to repatriate me to my country through the Prisoners of War Exchange Commission in Switzerland. My request was approved by the Germans. I was sent to Switzerland, where they hospitalized me again. My arm and leg were entirely out of service. What would become of me now? How would I earn my living? These thoughts drove me to infinite despair. As I was in this mood of utter hopelessness, I somehow remembered the consolatory Koranic statements that I had read in a book which I had bought in Uganda. In those days I had read them again and again with deep interest and adoration; I had even memorized them. I began to pass these statements through my heart and to repeat them a number of times daily. It gave my heart a sense of relief and opened the gates of hope. And my hopes came true, too. The Swiss doctors operated on my leg once again, and my leg began to feel better. I owed this to the Qur'an al-karim. As soon as I began to walk, the first thing I did was to go to a bookstore and buy a translation of Qur'an al-karim by Savary. [This book is still my most cherished companion.] This time I began to read the entire Qur'an al-karim. The more I read, the more relief did my heart feel, the higher did my soul ascend, the deeper into my essence did a tremendous mass of light penetrate. My leg was completely well now. Yet my right arm was still motionless. Upon this, I obeyed the command of the Qur'an al-karim, surrendered myself to the Will of Allahu ta'ala, and drilled myself in writing with my left hand. The first thing I did after learning to write with my left hand was to embark on writing a copy of Qur'an al-karim with my left hand. At one time, I had been deeply impressed by an episode in an Islamic book that I had been reading. The episode was about a young man who was reading the Qur'an al-karim quite oblivious of his surroundings and without even knowing that he was in a graveyard where he had come accidentally. I put myself in his place, delivered my essence to the Grace of Allahu ta'ala, and carried on my reading the Qur'an al-karim. In other words, I was a Muslim now.
In 1918 I went back to London. In 1921 I began to attend Arabic lessons in the University of London. One day my Arabic teacher, Mr. Belshah of Iraq, told us about the Qur'an al-karim. He said, "You are free to believe or not. Yet you will find that it is a very interesting book and that it is worth studying." When I said, "I know the Qur'an al-karim. I have read it, and many times, too. I believe in it," he was bewildered. A couple of days later he took me to the London mosque at Notting Hill Gate. I joined the daily prayers in that mosque for about a year. In 1922 I became a Muslim officially.
We are in 1950 now. So far, I have held fast to all the commandments of Qur'an al-karim with both hands, and this has given me a great pleasure. Allahu ta'ala's power, compassion and grace are boundless. The only personal treasure that we can carry on this trek of life and which we can take to the world to come is to offer hamd-u-thena [gratitude and glorification] to Allahu ta'ala, to surrender ourselves with love to that Almighty Being, and to worship Him.
20 - Mrs. MESUDA STEINMANN (G.B.)
There is not a single other religion to equal Islam in its simple comprehensibility or in its reassuring smoothness. Islam is the one and only one religion which infuses a sense of peace and tranquillity into the human soul, blesses man with a life of contentment, and guides him to eternal happiness and salvation after death.
Man is one of the various creatures of Allahu ta'ala. Naturally, there is some connection between him and the other creatures. Allahu ta'ala created man in the most perfect form. What gives him this singular virtue is the soul that he possesses. Man's soul continuously endeavours to take him up to higher and higher levels. And the only source to feed the soul is religion.
What kind of a connection is there between man and the Almighty Being who creates him? No doubt, religion explains this. I studied the statements made about religion by various scholars. The following are a few examples:
(Paraphrased) from Carlyle's work 'On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History':
"A person's religion is his heart's belief, and it is, therefore, his most prominent characteristic. Religion is such that it goes directly into one's heart. It adjusts one's activities in the world. It shows the way one should follow and determines one's destination."
(Paraphrased) from Chesterton's book 'If One Should Think':
"Religion expresses the most sublime fact which a person obtains concerning his and others' existence."
(Paraphrased) from Ambroce Bierce's work 'The Satan's Dictionary':
"Religion is a source that teach people what they do not know and which infuses both fear and hope into them."
(Paraphrased) from Edmunde Burke's book 'The French Revolution':
"The common commandment of all true religions is to obey the commandments of Allahu ta'ala, to be respectful of his canon, and thereby to be closer to His love."
(Paraphrased) from Swedenborg's work 'Doctrine of Life':
"Religion means doing good. The essence of religion is goodness."
(Paraphrased) from James Harrington's book 'The Ocean':
"Everybody has more or less some connection with religion, whether as a source of fear or as a means of consolation."
Everybody in the world encounters various situations which they do not know, cannot understand, and cannot explain. It is only religion that explains to them and which infuses into them a sense of definite belief and trust.
Why do I believe that Islam is the most perfect of the world's religions and that it is the true religion? Let me explain:
First of all, the Islamic religion states that there is no god besides the one Allah, who is great, that He is not begotten and does not beget, either, and that there is not another creator like Him. There is not another religion to explain the existence, the unity, and the grandeur of Allahu ta'ala in the magnificence worthy of Him. The fourth ayat of Hud sura purports, "[O my born slaves], your return shall be to Me, alone. Allah is Almighty." The fifty-fifth ayat of Isra Sura purports, "Allahu ta'ala has the best knowledge of the celestial and the terrestrial creatures." Moreover, many chapters of Qur'an al-karim state that "He is the only creator," that "He is everlasting," that "He is eternal," that "He is omniscient," that "He is the absolute judge who makes the truest decision," that "He is the greatest helper," that "He is the Creator, who is the most compassionate," and that "He is the most magnanimous forgiver." I could not explain how strongly a person is attracted towards Allahu ta'ala, how he melts before Him, and how he surrenders himself to His Grace, as he reads these lines. Allahu ta'ala declares, as is purported in the seventeenth ayat of Hadid Sura, "Know ye (all) that Allahu ta'ala giveth life to the earth [with rains] after its death [with drought]. [Likewise, He gives life to dead hearts with Dhikr and Tilawat]. Already We have shown the signs plainly to you, that ye may learn wisdom." The Nas Sura purports, "[O Muhammad s.a.s.!] Say: I seek refuge with my Owner, the Cherisher of mankind, the King (or Ruler) of mankind, the Judge of mankind, (who sends them what they need and protects them against horrors), from the mischief of the whisperer (of evil), who withdraws after his whisper), -(the same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind,- among Jinns and among Men."
When a person reads these exalted statements, how could it ever be possible for him not to believe in that great Creator and not to seek refuge in Him? Aren't all these enough for a person to bask in the consciousness of a merciful creator who will protect him as long as he lives, and thus to abide by the right way?
Islam plainly states that it is the most genuine religion and that it has accumulated in itself all the correct aspects of those religions previous to it. It says that all the rules written in the Qur'an al-karim, Islam's Holy Book, are plain, clear, logical principles intelligible to everyone. These are extremely true facts. Indeed, if we really wish to establish a consistent relationship between Allahu ta'ala and the born slave, to unite the corporeal and spiritual components in harmony with each other, and to maintain peace both in this world and in the Hereafter, it is indispensably incumbent on us to accept the Islamic religion. Our spiritual and physical progress depends only and only on Islam's support.
Christianity busies itself only with spirituality and conscience and overloads every individual Christian with spiritual and conscientious burdens far beyond the human capacity. Christianity prejudges man as a sinful creature and demands from him preposterous expiations he could never understand. The Islamic religion, on the other hand, is based on mere love. A very deep research into Christianity carried on by a group of highly competent scientists might finally find a tiny particle of love of Allah among the plethora of heavy burdens only after an arduous ransack in the people's various moods. And then the group would sit and lament over the fact that that tiny particle of love has been lost for good in today's Christianity, which is awash in superstitions. Coleridge states in one of his books, "It is a reality that a person who loves Christianity very much becomes gradually alienated from Christianity and begins to love the church more, and at the end he loves himself the best." On the other hand, Islam commands us to respect and love Allahu ta'ala, to obey His commandments only, and at the same time to use our own reason and logic. Christianity still contains some truth. In Islam, on the other hand, everything rests on truth. In the Qur'an al-karim, Allahu ta'ala addresses to all His born slaves, regardless of their races and colours, as is purported in the hundred and eighth ayat of Yunus Sura, "Say, O mankind! Truth hath come to you from your Rabb (Allah). He who hath taken the right path hath done so only for his own good, and he who hath lapsed into aberration hath inflicted a loss only on himself. I am not your guardian." After reading all these facts and fully comprehending the tenor of the Qur'an al-karim, I saw that Islam contained the truest answers to my queries, and I willingly became a Muslim. Islam showed me the right way and heartened me. The only way of attaining peace and comfort in the world and salvation in the Hereafter is to embrace Islam.
21 - Mrs. MAVISH B. JOLLY (G.B.)
I was born as a Christian in Britain. I was baptized, and I was raised with an education based on learning what is written in today's copies of the Bible. As I was a child, whenever I went to the church I was deeply impressed by the various lights, the candles burning on the pulpit, the music, the smells of incense, and the monks in magnificent attirements. The prayers that I listened to without understanding their meanings would make me shiver. I think I was a devoted Christian. In the course of time, however, as I reached higher levels of education, some questions began to rise in my mind. I began to find some faults in Christianity, in which I had held a full belief until that time. As days went by, I noticed an increase in my doubts. I developed a gradual apathy towards Christianity. Eventually I ended up in a state of denial of all religions. That splendid sight of the church, which had been at one time the center of my infantile admiration, was now gone, like a phantom. By the time I graduated from the school, I was an atheist in the full sense of the term. It did not take me long, however, to realize that believing nothing would hollow the human soul, leaving perpetual mood of despair and weakness. The human being definitely needed some power that would provide him refuge. Consequently, I began to study other religions.
I began with Buddhism. I minutely examined the essentials which they called 'Eight Paths'. These eight essentials contained deep philosophy and beautiful pieces of advice. Yet there was not a certain right way that they showed, nor did they provide the information that would help you choose the right way.
This time I began to examine Magianism. While running away from trinity, I encountered a religion of many deities. Furthermore, that religion was too full with myths and superstitions to be accepted as a religion.
Then I began to study Judaism. It was not an entirely new religion for me, for the former section of the Bible, the Old Testament, was at the same time a part of the Judaic book Torah. Judaism could not satisfy me, either. Yes, Jews believed in one God, which I approved entirely. But it was all that; they denied all the other religious facts, and the Judaic religion, let alone being a guide, had been turned into a cult of various complicated forms of worship and rites.
One of my friends recommended that I practice spiritualism. "Taking messages from the spirits of the dead will stand for a religion," he said. That would not satisfy me at all. For it took me only a short while to realize that spiritualism consisted in a manner of self-hypnotism and could therefore by no means be nutritive to the human soul.
The Second World War had ended, and I was working in an office. Yet my soul was still yearning for a religion. One day I saw an ad in a newspaper. It announced a "Conference on the divinity of Jesus (Issa a.s.)," and added that people from other religions would be admitted. The conference revived my deeply-rooted interest. For in that conference they were going to discuss Issa's a.s. being the son of God. I attended the conference, and met a Muslim there. The answers that that Muslim gave to my questions were so beautiful and so logical that I decided to study Islam, which had never occurred to me before. I began to read the Qur'an al-karim, the Holy Book of Muslims. To my astonishment, the rules stated in this book were by far superior to the statements made by most of the well-known statesmen of the twentieth century, which aroused strong feelings of admiration and adulation in me. These statements were quite above the human linguistic capacity. So I would no longer believe the lies that "the Islamic religion is a concoction. The Qur'an al-karim is a fable," with which they had been dosing us for years. The Qur'an al-karim could not be a concocted book. Statements in that acme of perfection could be made only by a being above the human race.
I was still hesitant, though. I spoke with some British women who had embraced Islam. I asked them to help me. They recommended some books to me. Among those books were 'Mohammad and Christ', which compared Muhammad s.a.s. with Issa a.s., and 'The Religion of Islam', which described the Islamic religion. Another book, namely 'The Sources of Christianity, explained in an extremely clear manner that most of the Christian acts of worship were the continuation of the rites that had been performed by primitive people, and that today's Christianity is in actual fact an idolatrous religion.
I should avow that I felt bored when I read the Qur'an al-karim for the first time. For it contained so many reiterations. It should be known that the Qur'an al-karim is a book that impresses and penetrates the human soul slowly. To understand the Qur'an al-karim well and to attach yourself to it, you have to read it a number of times. So, the more I read this holy book, the more strongly did I become attached to it, so much so that I could not go to sleep without reading it every night. What impressed me most was the fact that the Qur'an al-karim was a perfect guide for mankind. The Qur'an al-karim did not contain anything that a person could not understand. Muslims looked on their Prophet as a human being like themselves. According to Muslims, the only aspect that made prophets different from other people was that their intellectual and moral levels were very high, they were sinless and faultless. They had by no means any proximity to divinity. The Islamic religion declared that no prophet would come after Muhammad a.s.. I objected to that. "Why should there be no other prophet," I asked. My Muslim friend's explanation was as follows: "The Qur'an al-karim, the Holy Book of Muslims, teaches people all the elements of beautiful moral quality that a person should need, all the religious essentials, the path that will guide one to the approval of Allahu ta'ala, and all the necessaries required for attaining peace and salvation in this world and the next."
The veracity of these statements gets demonstrative evidence from the fact that the essentials in the Qur'an al-karim, which are still the same as they were fourteen centuries ago, are perfectly consistent with today's life-styles and today's scientific levels. Yet I was still demurring. For we were now in 1954; fourteen centuries later, that is. I wondered if there was not an iota of obsolescence in Islam that would make at least one of the principles communicated by Muhammad a.s., who was born in 571, inconsistent with today's conditions? I embarked on an assiduous quest for mistakes in Islam. My efforts to find fault in Islam despite the fact that my soul had already attained a complete belief in Islam, -so much so that the verity of the Islamic religion was like a live picture in front of my eyes-, should no doubt have been rooted in the vilifications of Islam iterated by priests for the purpose of imposing into our infant minds the idea that Islam was a very defective, inferior and heretical religion.
The first file to rake around in was polygamy. Here, I had found an important loophole. How come a man could marry four women (at the same time)? When I asked about that, my Muslim friend, whom I have mentioned earlier, explained the matter as follows: "The Islamic religion appeared in a society where a man could cohabit with as many women as he liked without any official responsibility towards them. With a view to restoring the woman into her proper place in society, the Islamic religion pared down the number of women that a man could marry, and stipulated that he should support the women, mete out justice among them, and pay them (the canonically prescribed) alimony in the event of a divorce. Furthermore, if a woman had no one to support her, she could join a family as a member, not as a slave, of the family. Moreover, marrying four women was not a religious commandment enjoined on men. It was a permission with provisos. Marrying more than one women was forbidden for men who would not be able to fulfil the stipulations. It was for this reason that many a man had only one wife. Marrying up to four women was a kind of tolerance." On the other hand, the Mormons in America compelled every male member to marry several women. My Muslim friend asked, "I wonder if the British men cohabit with only one woman?" I confessed in embarrassment, "Today all European men enter into relations with various women both before marriage and even after they get married." Then the words of my Muslim friend reminded me of the story of a young woman who had lost her husband in the war and had been looking for a man to entrust herself to. The Second World War had ended, and a programme called 'Dear Sir' on a British radio announced the following request of poor young woman: "I am a young woman. I lost my husband in the war. I have no one to care for me now. I need protection. I am ready to be the second wife of a good natured man and to carry his first wife on my head. All I want is to put an end to this loneliness."
This shows that the Islamic polygamy is intended to satisfy a need. It is only a permission, not a commandment. And today, when unemployment and poverty are making the rounds over the entire world, there is next to no place left where it is practiced. These thoughts completely eradicated the possibility that I would any longer look on polygamy as a fault in Islam.
Then, with the presumption of having found another defect, I asked my Muslim friend, "How can the five daily prayers be adjusted to our life-styles today? Wouldn't so many prayers be too much?" He smiled, and asked me, "Sometimes I hear you playing the piano. Are you interested in music?" "Very much," was my answer. "All right. Do you practice daily?" "Of course. As soon as I am back home from work, I play the piano at least two hours every day." Upon this, my Muslim friend said, "Why do you find it too much to pray five times daily, which would take you only half an hour or forty-five minutes in all? As you might lose your proficiency in playing the piano if you did not have practice, likewise the less one thinks of Allahu or thanks Him for His blessings by prostrating himself, the farther away will the way leading to Him become. On the other hand, praying daily means making progress step by step in the right way of Allahu ta'ala." He was so right!
There was no obstacle to my accepting Islam now. I embraced the Islamic religion with all my soul and conscience. As you see I did not choose it at first sight and without thinking at all; on the contrary, I became a Muslim after examining Islam minutely, looking for the possible faults in it and finding their answers, and reaching the conclusion that it is an immaculate religion. Now I boast about being a Muslim.
22 - LADY ZAYNAB EVELYN COMBOLD (G.B.)
I am frequently asked why I became a Muslim. I am the daughter of a renowned family, and my husband also is well-known and rich. To those who ask me why I became a Muslim, I reply that I do not know for certain when the light of Islam rose in my soul. It seems to me as if I have been a Muslim forever. This is not something strange at all. For Islam is a natural and true religion. Every child is born as a Muslim. If it is left to itself, it will choose Islam, none else. As a European writer observes, "Islam is the religion of people with common sense."
If you made a comparative study of all religions, you would immediately see that Islam is the most perfect, the most natural, and the most logical. Owing to Islam, many complicated problems of the world are solved easily and mankind attains peace and tranquillity. Islam always rejects the dogma that human beings are born sinful and that they have to expiate for it in the world. Muslims believe in Allah, who is one. In their eyes, Musa (Moses), Issa (Jesus), and Muhammad Mustafa 'salawatullahi ta'ala 'alaihim ajmain' are human beings like us. Allahu ta'ala has chosen them as Prophets to guide people to the right way. For doing penance, for asking for forgiveness, or for praying, there is no one between Allahu ta'ala and the born slave. We can supplicate Allahu ta'ala on our own any time, and we are responsible only for what we have done.
The word 'Islam' means both 'to surrender oneself to Allahu ta'ala' and 'to have belief in Muhammad a.s.. 'Muslim' means 'a person who lives in peace and happiness with all beings.' Islam is based on two fundamental facts:
1) That Allahu ta'ala is one, and that Muhammad a.s. is the final Prophet He has sent.
2) That humanity should be entirely freed from superstitions and unfounded dogmas. The Hajj, one of the (five) tenets of Islam, has a great impact on people. What other religion contains a form of worship as sublime as Islam's pilgrimage, which brings together hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all four corners of the world regardless of their classes, races, countries, colours and rank positions, and makes them put on the (uniformal garb called) Ihram and prostrate themselves with one accord before Allahu ta'ala? It is a certain fact that Muslims' worshipping together at these blessed places where the great Prophet s.a.s. announced Islam, struggled against Islam's enemies, exerted himself with great determination and firmness, will attach them to one another with stronger affections, whereby they will try to find solutions for one another's problems, and they will once again take an oath to co-operate along the way shown by Allahu ta'ala. Another use of the Hajj is that thereby Muslims all over the world meet one another, know one another's problems, and teach their personal experiences to one another. All Muslims assemble at the place whereto they turn their faces during their worships at home, and, all in one mass, one body in the presence of Allahu ta'ala, they surrender themselves to Him.
Seeing the Hajj once would suffice as an evidence to prove the greatness of Islam. Here is Islam, and I have been enjoying the pleasure and satisfaction of having entered this great religion.
The philomel of soul is ever-desirous of the rose;
Don't you ever presume fighting others is its real cause!
Ceaselessly it hovers round it, like a moth,
looking for a shelter where they could enjoy some repose.
I now know that the lovely rose has told none of its secret,
It always yearns for the philomel, like a budding rose.
From strangers that nymph has hidden her cheeks;
Unrequited love puts up with the thorn, never gets the rose.
Infatuated, the poor lover paces the road to his beloved;
Craving for the sweetheart, the lover himself dissolves.
23 - MUHAMMAD JOHN WEBSTER (G.B.)
I was raised with sheer Christian education in London. In 1930, being a young student, I encountered some events like other youngsters, and tried to understand them. One of them was to establish some relation between the religion and the world, or, in other words, to think over how I could utilize the religion for the accomplishment of a more peaceful and more comfortable life. Then, for the first time in my life, I came to the realization that my religion, Christianity, was too insufficient and too short for that purpose. For Christianity defined the world as a place of torture whose mere contents are evils and vices, and men as creatures sinful from birth. Let alone showing people how to lead a peaceful life in the world, it imposed on them a concept of life like an area mined with sins, left them on the horns of dilemma by saying that there was nothing they could do on their own to get out of this state of sinfulness, and then degenerated them by saying that on behalf of them priests could invoke Allahu ta'ala. Christianity left people entirely to themselves, and confined their worships to unsatisfactory Sunday masses, which they perform in the perfunctory air of the church service. In those years Britain was in a great economic depression and poverty. People were very unhappy and therefore totally displeased with the government. Christianity gave them no help in those days of destitution, nor did they find any sort of heartening quality in it to help them endure. This shortcoming had a considerably ruinous impact on me. Indulging in the rationalizing relaxation of my emotions instead of judging things with the impersonal justice of reason, I reached the conclusion that religion was something meaningless. Rejecting Christianity, I, like many other young people, took to atheism and communism.
From a certain distance, Communism appealed to the young people. Depressed under economic straits and totally hopeless of their future life, the younger generation looked on Communism as a saviour because it was being propagated with the promise that it would extirpate differences of wealth and rank. It did not take me long to realize, however, that the communist claims consisted of sheer propaganda and hollow words. Communism was the very abode of segregation, both of rank and of wealth. Everything was the same in every country. Upon this I gave up Communism and dived into philosophy. Thus I began to specialize as a pantheist in the creed of Wahdat-i wujud.
It is very difficult to get in touch with Muslims in Western countries. For in those countries there is a deep-seated rancor against Islam, which dates back to the crusading expeditions. Europeans reject Islam with hatred, though they know nothing of it. They raise their children with an education dressed with a strong feeling of animus towards Islam. So much so that talking about Islam means a violation of the established rules of decorum in their society. If someone should bring up this subject in a social gathering, the others will protest with a mute frown. In the meantime, I was sent on an official mission to Australia. Despite the 'hatred towards Islam' which had been engraved on my subconscious in the name of education, one day I somehow succumbed to my curiosity and got a translation of the Qur'an al-karim. Yet, I had hardly finished the introduction of the book, when I immediately closed the book. For the translator of the book used such an abusive and defamatory language about the Qur'an al-karim right in the introduction that it meant there was no sense in reading a book of that sort. Afterwards, I pondered on the matter. Since Christians hated Muslims and the translator was a Christian, it was very well possible that he could have misunderstood some of its parts under the influence of his predisposition and made that blasphemous translation. And there was my curiosity. I took the matter more seriously, and when I went to the city of Perth in western Australia a couple of weeks later, I visited the grand library of the city and queried whether there was a translation of the Qur'an al-karim rendered by Muslims. They found a translation of that sort and gave it to me. No words could define the emotions that began to stir in the depths of my soul when I opened it and read the first chapter in it, the chapter (sura) called Fatiha-i-Sharifa, which began with the phrase, "Hamd (thanks and praise) be to the Rabb (Lord, Creator, Allah) of alams (classes of beings)." The first chapter ended with the invocations that purported, "Guide us to the right path." How beautiful it was! I read the Fatiha-i-Sharifa a number of times. The creator mentioned here was "Rahman and Rahim," which meant "Very Merciful and Compassionate." Contrary to the Christian dogma, He had not created men sinful. I began to read the Qur'an al-karim, and the more I read the more ecstatic did I become. Whatsoever I had desired and imagined I found in this holy book. Hours elapsed, and I was completely oblivious of where I was, of the time, and of everything. In addition to that translation of the Qur'an al-karim, they had brought me some books about the life of Muhammad s.a.s.. I was reading them in utter rapture, when at last the librarian came to me and said, "It's time we closed the library, sir." I came back to myself, and left the library. On my way home I was soliloquizing and repeating: "I have now attained my goal. I am a Muslim now." With the guidance of Allahu ta'ala, I had eventually attained the Hidaya (the right way).
As I was going back home, I looked for a convenient place to have some coffee. As I walked down the street I had only the Qur'an al-karim, Islam, and Allahu ta'ala in my mind. I was quite unaware of where I was going. All of a sudden my legs stopped on their own. When I raised my head I found myself in front of an entrance built with red bricks. My legs had brought me here on their own. I read the sign hanging on the wall. It was a mosque in Australia.
I said to myself: "Allahu ta'ala has blessed you with the right way and taught you what you should do. You know Islam now. Allahu ta'ala has brought you up to the entrance of the mosque. Go inside right away and embrace this religion." I walked in, and became a Muslim.
Until that time I had not known one single Muslim. I found Islam by myself and accepted it by myself. No one guided me in this respect. My only guide was my common sense.
24 - ABDULLAH BATTERSBY (G.B.)
Approximately twenty-five years ago, during my stay in Burma [Myanmar since 1989], I took boat trips along the river on a Chinese boat daily for recreation. The oarsman who rowed my boat was a Muslim named Shaikh Ali from East Pakistan. He would spare no effort in carrying out all the religious practices commanded by Islam. His fastidiously diligent punctuality in his religious practices made me admire that man, while in the meantime I began to develop some curiosity about Islam. I decided to find out what was in Islam that kept such a simpleton continuously under the effect of a firm belief and staunch feelings of obedience. Most of the people around us were Burmese Buddhists. They, too, were extremely devoted to their religion. I think the Burmese people are the most pious people of the world. However, the Buddhist system of worships had some conspicuous shortcomings. The Buddhists would assemble in their temples called pagoda and repeat the following prayer:
Its meaning was, as some people told me, "O Buddha, be our guide! Be our canon! Exalt our souls!" That prayer was simple enough, yet it consisted of a few unsatisfactory words which had no effect on the human soul. And there was no mention of the great Creator.
On the other hand, the acts of worship practiced by my Muslim boatman were only exquisite! This time, I began to discuss Islam with my boatman. During the hours I spent with him, I asked him numerous questions. The extremely elegant and logical answers that that unsophisticated man gave me urged me into reading books written about Islam. When I read those books, I learned with amazement and admiration all the accomplishments that Muhammad s.a.s. realized in a short time in Arabia. I found myself some Muslim friends. I entered into Islamic deliberations and chats with them. It was in those days when the First World War broke out. I was commanded to immediately join the war on the Arabian front. I did so. There were no Buddhists here. There were Muslims all around me. The Arabs were the earliest Muslims. The Qur'an al-karim, the Holy Book of Allahu ta'ala, had been revealed in the Arabic language. My contacts with the Arabs increased my interest in Islam. When the war was over, I began to study Arabic. In the meanwhile I continued to read books about Islam. The greatest attraction I found in Islam was Muslims' belief in one Allah. On the other hand, as a Christian, I had to believe in three gods, which was quite illogical to me. As I deliberated over it, I gradually realized that Islam was a much more genuine religion. I began to accept the fact that a religion that contained belief in one creator should be a true religion. Eventually, after doing ten years' service in Palestine, i.e. between 1932 and 1942, I decided to become a Muslim. So I officially became a Muslim in 1942. I have been a thorough Muslim ever since.
I officially professed Islam in Jerusalem, which the Arabs called 'Sacred City'. At that time I was a staff major in the British army. When I professed Islam, I had to undergo some unpleasant situations. My government would not approve of my becoming a Muslim. I had to leave the army. Upon this, I went to Egypt first, and then to Pakistan, and began to live among my Muslim brothers there. I wrote some articles about Islam. There are more than five hundred million Muslims living on the earth today, and they are one another's brothers. To become a Muslim means to have belief in Allahu ta'ala, the very being who is worthy of being worshipped, and to attach oneself to Him. And attaching oneself to Him, in its turn, requires adapting oneself to the norms described by His great Prophet, Muhammad a.s.. Now, whenever I remember that modest boatman, who showed me Islam's lightsome way and the true forms of worship and guided me to my Allah, though in the beginning I had thought he was a mere simpleton, I feel deep respect for him. I am trying to lead a life of a true Muslim, like him. And I see that doing so protects a person from harmful things.
Now, among Muslims, I am, alhamdu-li-l-llah' (thanks and praise be to Allah), another Muslim. And after performing each prayer, I never forget to invoke a blessing on my Murshid, Shaikh Ali Effendi the boatman, to recite the Fatiha Sura and send the blessings to his already blessed soul, for by now he might have attained the eternal compassion of Allahu ta'ala.
25 - HUSAIN ROFE (G.B.)
When a person decides to abandon a religion that has been infused into him since his childhood and choose another religion, there should be some reasons, which are either emotional or philosophical or social. The zealous aspirations I had been feeling were impelling me towards a belief that would satisfy at least two of the above-mentioned needs. Consequently, as soon as the educational period of my life was over, I embarked on a comparative study of all the world's existing religions with a view to determining the one that deserved a true belief in it.
Both of my parents were devotedly religious, one of them a Catholic and the other a Jew formerly. Later, they both abandoned their religions and became Protestants and began to attend the Anglican Church. When I was in school I regularly attended the rites performed in the Anglican Church and listened to the lessons given by the priests. Yet the Christian credal tenets that they were trying to teach me contained a number of elements that I did not understand and which seemed quite irrational to me. First of all, the tripartite godhead which consisted of Father, Son and the Holy Ghost sounded so silly to me that it was impossible to accept it. My conscience rejected it vehemently. Moreover, the ecclesiastical credo that attaining God would require expiation was altogether meaningless too. In my idealization, the great being who was (and always is) the only being worthy of being worshipped would not demand compulsory expiation from His born slaves.
Upon this, I began to examine the Judaic religion. I saw that their approach to the unity and grandeur of Allahu ta'ala was much more reasonable and that they did not attribute a partner to Him. Perhaps Judaism was not so badly interpolated as today's Christianity. However, that religion also contained some grotesque tenets which I could not understand and would never accept. There were so many rites, prayers and compulsory religious practices in the Judaic religion that a pious Jew would have no time left for worldly occupations if he were to observe all those religious obligations. I knew that most of those rites were stupid parodies that had been inserted into the religion later by people. Thereby the Judaic religion had been thoroughly stripped of its social character and become the religion of a small minority. Concluding that there was nothing in Judaism for the world to benefit from, I left it aside, and focused my quest into other religions. In the meantime I attended both the church and the synagogue. Yet those visits were done for quasi-religious purposes. In fact, I was neither a Christian nor a Jew. Alongside the Anglican Church, I examined the Roman Catholic Church, too. I saw that the Catholic credo contained more superstitions than did the credo of those Protestants who were adherent to the Anglican Church. Especially, the Catholics' excessive adherence to the Pope and their semi-deification of him made me hate them all the more.
Now I turned my face to the east and began to examine the oriental religions. I did not like Magians' religion at all. For they gave too much prerogative to the priestly caste. A pariah, on the other hand, would deserve what remained from their scorn for beasts. It never occurred to them that they should have compassion for the poor. According to them, a person's poverty was his own fault. If he put up with it silently and without any complaints, there might be some improvement in his situation owing to the priests' intermediary invocations. The priestly order purposely spread this belief in order to strike a fear of themselves into the people's hearts and to make the people feel dependent on them. Therefore I hated the Magian religion. And my hatred even doubled when I knew that the Magians worshipped animals. A cult of that sort could not be a true religion.
As for Buddhism; the Buddhists adhered to philosophical thoughts and beliefs. They told me that, if I should exert myself, try very hard and practice the required abstinence, I would obtain great powers and play with the world like doing chemical experiments. However, I did not find any ethical rules in Buddhism. In this system also, the priestly order were different from the ordinary people and occupied a higher status. Indeed, they taught me many wonderful feats of skill. Yet those things had nothing to do with Allah and religion.
Those feats of skill were, like sports or illusionist artifices, were pastime activities and served only to amaze people who did not know them. They were far from purifying the human heart or bringing man closer to the approval and love of Allahu ta'ala. They had nothing to do with Allahu ta'ala or with the beings He created. The only benefit they gave was that they drilled a full self-discipline into the practicer.
There is no doubt as to the fact that Buddha was a well-educated, intelligent man. He enjoined a full-scale self-sacrifice on them. He gave commandments such as, "Do not retaliate evil!" "Forego all your desires and ambitions!" "Do not think of tomorrow!" Didn't Issa a.s. say the same things? But commandments of this sort had been observed during the early days of Christianity, when the religion of Issa a.s. had been in its pure form; people had already given up obeying them. I diagnosed the same laxity in the Buddhist societies. If people were as pure-hearted as Issa a.s. or as benevolent as Buddha, they would in all probability follow their guidance and attain the state approved by Allahu ta'ala. But how many people in the present world could be so pure-hearted and noble-natured as to cease from all vices? It came to mean that the ethical principles laid by Buddha were not practicable in the modern man's system of thoughts.
How strange it was that I was living in the Islamic world and yet I was examining the other religions without thinking a bit about Islam! The reason was clear: We had already been brainwashed with the information of Islam given to us and with the books written about it in Europe, which asserted that that religion was entirely wrong, meaningless, and false, and that it infused torpor. Reading Rodwell's translation of the Qur'an al-karim had specially fixed these preconceptions into my subconscious. Rodwell had purposely mistranslated some parts of the Qur'an al-karim and distorted its meanings, thus turning the holy book into a mass of unintelligible words altogether different from the original version. It was not till after having contacted the 'Islamic Society' in London and having read a true translation of the Qur'an al-karim did I know the truth. One thing I would regret to say at this point is that Muslims are doing very little to advertise this lovely religion of theirs to the world. If they try to spread the true essence of Islam over the entire world with due attention and knowledge, I am sure that they will achieve very positive results. In the near east people are still reserved towards foreigners. Instead of coming into contact with them and illuminating them, they prefer to keep as far away as possible from them. This is an exceedingly wrong attitude. I am the most concrete example. For I was somehow hindered from being interested in the Islamic religion. Fortunately, one day I met a very respectable and highly cultured Muslim. He was very friendly with me. He listened to me with attention. He presented me an English version of the Qur'an al-karim translated by a Muslim. He gave beautiful and logical answers to all my questions. In 1945 he took me to a mosque. With intent attention and deep respect, I watched the Muslims praying there, which was a sight I was watching for the first time in my life. O my Allah, what a gorgeous and sublime sight it was! People from all races, all nations and all classes were worshipping. All those people had come together without any sort of segregation in the presence of Allahu ta'ala, and they had entirely devoted themselves to Allahu ta'ala. Next to a rich Turk, for instance, stood a very poor Indian clad in beggar-like clothes, next was an Arab who I would say was a merchant, and besides him prayed a Negro. All these people were performing a prayer in profound reverence. No one was different from any other. Entirely oblivious to their nationalities and economical, social and official statuses, they had focused all their existence to the worship of Allahu ta'ala. No one assumed superiority to another. The rich did not despise the poor, nor did persons of rank have an iota of scorn for their juniors.
Seeing all these marvels, I realized that Islam was the religion that I had been seeking for. None of the other religions that I had examined up to that time had had an effect like that on me. In fact, after seeing Islam closely and learning the essence of Islam, I accepted that true religion without any hesitation.
Now I am proud of being a Muslim. I attended lectures on "The Islamic Culture" at a university in Britain, whereupon I saw that as Europe had suffered the gloom of the Middle Ages, Islam had shone through the darkness and illuminated everywhere. Many great explorations had been accomplished by Muslims, Europeans had been taught knowledge, science, medicine and humanities in the Islamic universities, and numerous world conquerors had embraced Islam and established great empires. Muslims were not only the founders of a universal civilization, but also the recoverers of many an ancient civilization devastated by Christians. When the news of my conversion to Islam got about, my friends began to remonstrate with me and to accuse me of retrogression. Each time they did so I answered them with a smile: "Quite the other way round. Islam is not retrogression. It is the most advanced civilization." Sad to say, today's Muslims have fallen behind. For Muslims have been gradually getting less and less appreciative of their possession of so sublime a religion as Islam, and more and more negligent in carrying out its commandments.
The Islamic countries still boast the intact remnants of a warm hospitality. When you go to a Muslim's house, he will welcome you in a balmy air of readiness to help you. For helping others is one of Islam's commandments. It is one of the basic Islamic tenets for the rich to help the poor by giving them a certain percentage of their wealth. This property does not exist in any other religion. This comes to mean that Islam is the most, and the only, suitable religion for the present social life-styles. It is for this reason that there is no place for Communism in Muslim countries. For Islam has by far forestalled that social problem by prearranging the most essential solutions.
26 - H.F. FELLOW (G.B.)
I am a naval officer. I spent a major part of my life on the sea. I served the British navy in the First World War in 1914 and in the Second World War in 1939.
Even the most perfect tools and machines of the twentieth century are far below the capacity to resist the terrific forces of nature. Let me give you a small example: we have no means as yet to defend ourselves against fog or storms. A warlike situation adds a lot more to these dangers. A naval officer has to be always very careful. The British navy holds a book that contains the Queen's Directions and the Directions put by the Admiralty. The book embodies not only records such as the duties of a naval officer and the procedures to be followed at times of danger, but also a list of awards, citations and rewards that are to be bestowed in recognition of good behaviour and distinguished services, salaries and pays, and even when an officer will retire. In addition, it contains the penalties imposed for offenses and acts of disobedience. If this book is observed with due diligence, life on the sea will be easy and orderly, danger will be minimized, and naval officers will lead a peaceful and happy life.
May Allahu ta'ala forgive me my fault and sin! Never oblivious to the great difference and always observant of the due respect, I have compared the Qur'an al-karim to that book. Allahu ta'ala is the authority who has laid down these principles in the Qur'an al-karim. He teaches in extremely explicit and exquisite expressions and in a language intelligible to everybody how all men, women and children over the world should act, from what directions danger will be coming and what should be done against it, and how the good and bad behaviours will be rewarded. For the recent eleven years, since I retired, that is, I have been growing flowers in my garden. It is in this period when I have seen once again the greatness of Allahu ta'ala. Plants and flowers grow only with the command of Allahu ta'ala. Nothing you plant will grow without His command. However hard you may try, and whatsoever you may do, your endeavour will yield results only with His support. Without this support all your effort will come to naught. It is in no one else's capacity to predetermine the weather conditions required for the growing of plants. With one command of Allahu ta'ala, bad weather will set in and ruin everything you have planted. Men have devised various systems in order to pre-estimate the weather conditions. Weather conditions are forecast today. It makes me smile to myself. For only one per cent of these forecasts turn out to be correct. The only determinant in this matter is the decree of Allahu ta'ala. Beautiful flowers do not grow in the gardens belonging to those who do not obey the commandments of Allahu ta'ala. This is only a retribution which Allahu ta'ala visits on them.
I believe with all my heart that the Qur'an al-karim is the Word of Allahu ta'ala and that Allahu ta'ala chose Muhammad s.a.s. as His Messenger to communicate that sacred book to the entire world. The Qur'an al-karim is in full concordance with man's worldly life, and it contains rules unsullied with the insertion of exaggerations and superstitions and which are perfectly logical, so that people with common sense will find them entirely true and right. Rather than bringing pressure to bear on the sense of fear inherent in man's nature, the tenets of worship in the Qur'an al-karim appeal to love and respect.
Having lived for long years in a Christian society and under Christian influence, a Christian needs convincing preliminary persuasion to abandon his religion and become a Muslim. However, after examining Islam, I did not need any external persuasion. For I had spontaneously believed in the fact that this religion is a true one. No one compelled me to become a Muslim. Nor was I under anyone's influence. Muslims answered most of my doubts whose solutions I had not found in Christianity, and they satisfied all my mental expectations. I therefore became a Muslim by myself and willingly.
I have realized that the pure religion brought by Issa a.s. and Islam are essentially the same. Yet the pure Nazarani religion was completely defiled with the superstitions, rites and credal tenets borrowed from idolatrous cults afterwards and turned into what has now been called Christianity. It was so repulsively fraught with the polytheistic accessions that Martin Luther, for the purpose of purifying his religion, had to reform it and to establish the Protestant sect, whereby he, let alone repairing the religion, impaired it all the more badly. As the Queen of England, Elizabeth I, struggled against the Catholic Spaniards who posed a threat against her country, the Ottoman Turks carried on their holy war against the Catholics in Europe. As Protestants and Muslims, these two empires fought against the idolatrous Catholics. The one thing that escaped Martin Luther's attention was that nine hundred years before him Muhammad a.s. had cleansed and purified the defiled Christianity and all the other religions.
Today's Christianity is infested with idolatrous elements and superstitions. For a long period of time Christianity has remained as a religion where injustice, cruelty and savagery are all but legalized, and it still maintains this horrendous identity in its exactitude. I would like you to recollect the unjust verdicts that the Spanish Christians gave at the tribunals called the Inquisition and the savageries that they perpetrated in the name of inquisition. The Sephardis who escaped from their cruelties were provided sanctuary only by the Muslim Turks, who treated them as human beings.
Issa a.s. asked his umma to obey the Ten Commandments which Allahu ta'ala had given to Musa a.s. on Mount Sinai. The first of these commandments is this: "I am the Lord thy God, ..." "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."[Old Testament, Exodus: 20-2,3.] On the other hand, Christians have disobeyed this commandments by increasing the number of gods to three. I did not believe in three gods before converting to a Muslim, either. I always accepted Allahu ta'ala as only one compassionate, forgiving and guiding being. That was the only reason which led me to Islam. For Muslims' belief in Allahu ta'ala was identical with my thoughts.
The manner of life you are to lead is totally in your own hands. If you are, say, an accountant and embezzle money from the employer's safe, one day you will be caught and wind up in prison. If you drive carelessly on a slippery road, your car will topple over and you will end up in a hospital with one or two broken bones. If you drive too fast and have an accident for this reason, you, again, will be responsible for it. It would be a grave act of immorality to lay the blame for all these faults on someone else. I do not believe in the hypothesis that people are bad tempered by birth. It is a definite fact that human beings are born with a good moral quality. A group of theorists assume that some people are evil-spirited by creation, which I reject. In my opinion, what makes a person's soul evil is, first of all, his parents, next his environment, next the subversive publications, and next evil company. Another factor that should be added is harmful tutorship. Children are inclined to idealize the behaviours and thoughts of their parents, school teachers and writers and try to follow their examples. Sometimes, without any apparent reason, children exhibit rebellious and mischievous behaviour. At such times they must be toned down with gentle, but at the same time serious, exhortation. But if we ourselves exhibit inconsiderate behaviour and thereby set a bad example for them, we cannot convince them of their wrong behaviour. How could we dissuade our children from doing the vices that have become our daily practices? That means to say that first of all we have to exhibit a perfect example for our children. We should be able to chastise them when necessary. You know that Britons are fond of sports. Sports is something that is almost sacred to us. If a person does something disingenuous or acts in a crooked way in a sports activity, he will be punished immediately and lose most of his honour. The Islamic religion has laid exquisite and very beautiful behavioural maxims and ideal life-styles, which could be, as it were, compared to our sports rules. During my research in the Islamic religion, these rules won my admiration. It was this logic and order that led me to the true religion of Islam.
Here is the second one of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:" (Old Testament, Exodus: 20-4.) On the other hand, today's Christian churches are full of images and icons, and Christians prostrate themselves before them!
One thing I had always mused with consternation about was that all those tremendous events, such as the miracles of Issa a.s., his crucifixion, [which is a Christian belief], his resurrection and ascension to heaven after having been interred, had had very little impact on that time's Jewish, Roman and other Palestinian community, and their life-styles had not changed at all. The Jews had been quite indifferent towards Issa a.s., so that it was only centuries later when Christianity began to spread. Contrariwise, the Islamic religion communicated by Muhammad a.s. spread far and near in a very short time, immediately changed the life-styles there, and civilized the semi-barbarous people. I think the only reason was that the original Issawi religion deteriorated in a short time and changed into a perplexing, semi-idolatrous new Christian religion, while Islam, on the other hand, was a logical religion intelligible to everybody. Between 1919 and 1923 I was appointed to a naval duty on the Turkish waters. That mellifluous voice that called daily from the minarets and said, "There is only one Allahu ta'ala. Muhammad a.s. is His Messenger." How lovely it sounded to my ears! Most of the books about the Islamic religion that I had been reading contained contumelies against Islam. Their discourse followed the rules of a certain textual stratagem wherein the first step was to cast aspersions on the last three hundred years' Turkish Sultans, who were Khalifas at the same time, the second step was to associate the acts of atrocity and injustice already ascribed to them and reinforced with the slanders that Turks were mendacious, deceitful and venal people and that they had been oppressing the minorities, with the Islamic culture, which was their source of education, and the final step was to conclude that a Muslim could never be as honest as a Christian. Did the Islamic religion really deserve the blame? I could never believe it. Eventually, I decided to resort to a Muslim man of religion to acquire true information. In the meantime, I looked for Islamic books written by Muslims. Some Muslim religious men living in Britain found the books I needed and sent them to me. When I read these books, I saw what a pure religion Islam was, how brilliantly it shone throughout the Middle Ages, how brightly it illuminated the dark Christian world, how, unfortunately, in the wake of a general inattention to religious principles growing in the process of time, the Islamic world gradually lost its vigour, and the recent efforts to restore it to its former state. Today's scientific improvements could find no place in the Christian religion. Conversely, they are in perfect concordance with Islam. Consequently, the blame for the decline that the Islamic world has been suffering falls not on the Islamic religion, but on today's Muslims, who have fallen short of fulfilling the requirements of this pulchritudinous religion with due strictness. I no longer had any doubts as to the merits of the Islamic religion now. So I embraced Islam willingly.
Today, some European philosophers and writers argue that religions are unnecessary. You must be sure that arguments of this sort ensue from the preposterous tenets of Christianity and from its superstitions which would never receive a welcome in the twentieth century. The Islamic religion, on the other hand, does not contain any of such toxins.
Christians can never understand why Islam should meet with such universal acceptance, and they call Muslims 'eccentric people'. This is an entirely wrong accusation.
My final remarks are these: I chose Islam because it is a religion which is both theoretical and practical, easy to understand and logical, perfect in every respect, and an exemplary guide for humanity. The Islamic religion is, and eternally will be, the best way that will lead man to the love of Allahu ta'ala and to happiness in this world and the next.
27 - J.W. LOVEGROVE (G.B.)
I would like to give the following short answer to your question why I became a Muslim. I shall not attempt to give you a long lecture on religion and belief. Religion and belief make up a virtue that emanates from the human soul and which is unlike anything else. It is identical with the thirst felt by a person left in a desert. Man definitely needs a belief to rely on as a dependable guide. First I studied a history of religions. I read with attention the lives and the teachings of those personages who had invited people to religion. I realized that the religious essentials that Prophets 'alaihim-us-salam' had taught in the beginning had been changed and turned into entirely different forms in the course of time. What had survived of them was only a few facts. Various legends had been mixed into the lives of those great, distinguished people, and their deeds had been transformed into myths and reached us as a conglomerate of mysterious stories. In contrast with all these ruins, one true religion, Islam, has preserved its pristine purity and simplicity from the day it was revealed to the present time and, without being polluted with any sort of superstitions or legends, it has survived to our age. The Qur'an al-karim is the same today as it was in the time of Muhammad a.s.. Not a word of it has changed. The blessed utterances of Muhammad a.s. have reached our day in exactly the same literal form as they were pronounced by him, without undergoing any alterations.
Allahu ta'ala sent Prophets 'alaihim-us-salawatu wattaslimat' to humanity whenever He deemed it necessary. They are complementary to one another. In consideration of the fact that the teachings of other Prophets 'alaihim-us-salawatu wattaslimat' have been interpolated and changed into annoying incongruities, is there another way which one could find more logical than accepting the Islamic religion, which has remained the most intact, the purest, and the truest? As a matter of fact, a simple and useful religion unsullied with illogical superstitions was what I was questing for. The Islamic religion is that very religion. The Islamic religion shows one by one all my duties towards Allahu ta'ala, towards my neighbours, and towards all humanity. Although this was originally the main objective of all religions, their tenor has been watered down into unintelligible credal tenets. In contrast, the Islamic religion embodies easily understandable, simple, logical, convincing and useful principles of belief. In Islam, alone, did I find the information concerning the requirements to be fulfilled to attain peace and salvation in this world and the next. It is for this reason that I became a Muslim willingly.
28 - DAVIS (G.B.)
I was born in 1931, and began to go to elementary school when I was six years old. Completing my elementary education after seven years, I attended a junior high school. My family raised me in a Catholic system of education. Afterwards, I joined the Anglican church. Finally, I became an Anglo-Catholic. During all these conversions, I observed the same thing. Christianity had dissociated itself from man's normal daily life long ago, and had become reminiscent of an attirement that was worn only on Sundays and kept in a wooden case only for this purpose. People could not find what they were looking for in the Christian religion. The Christian religion was trying to attach people to the church by means of lights of various colours, images, smells of incense, pleasant music, and a variety of glorious ceremonies and litanies performed for saints. Yet all these efforts fell short of attracting people. For the Christian religion concerned itself only with legendary subjects and therefore evinced no interest in what was going on without the church. Consequently, I developed a profound hatred towards Christianity, and finally decided to give a test to Communism and Fascism each, which were being propagated with sequinned advertisements.
When I attempted Communism I was happy because I believed that it rejected class differences. As time went by, I faced the awful truth: let alone rejecting class differences, Communism was a totalitarian regime wherein people led a life of slavery, a small minority inflicted all sorts of cruelty and brutality on the others, no one had the right to protest, and any sort of objection, rightful as it might be, would incur a penalty, which meant, more often than not, being sentenced to death. Stalin is a good example concerning the real face of Communism. Upon this, I shifted from Communism to Fascism.
My first impression in Fascism was its discipline and order, which I liked very much. However, Fascists were self-conceited people. They despised all people and all races outside of their community. Here, too, cruelty, suffering, injustice and oppression prevailed. A couple of months sufficed to make me loathe Fascism intensely. For Sir Oswald Mosley (1896-1980), British right wing politician, an MP from 1918 to 1931, and the founder of the British Union of Fascists.], in Britain, Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), the leader of German Nazi Party. He was born in Austria. His ideal was to develop a pure German race.], in Germany, and Benito Mussolini (1883-1945), (known as II Duce), Italian Fascist Dictator. After the Second World War, he was killed by the Italians.], in Italy, were the exemplary models of stark terror and ruthless and despotic cruelty. Nevertheless, I could not give up Fascism, for there was no other alternative left.
I was desperately writhing in a state of distress, when I came across a periodical captioned The Islamic Review in a bookstore. I scanned the book. I still cannot understand why I bought that book, which cost me two shillings and six pennies [Until 1971, British coin, worth one-twentieth a pound, or twelve old pennies; five pennies as of today.] and was too expensive for me. I thought, "I have wasted my money. Perhaps the contents of this book are mere twaddles that would not be worth a penny, like those Communist and Fascist follies." Yet, as I read on, it began to capture my attention, which soon developed into utter amazement. I read the magazine once again, and again. So Islam was a perfect religion which accumulated in itself all the best aspects of Christianity and of the other ideologies ending in 'ism'. Despite my poverty, I subscribed to the periodical. A couple of months later I decided to embrace Islam. Since that day I have held fast to my new religion with my both hands.
I hope to begin studying Arabic as soon as I enter university. For the time being I am studying Latin, French and Spanish, and reading 'The Islamic Review'.
29 - Dr. R.L. MELLEMA (Holland)
(Dr. Mellema is the director of the section concerned with Islamic Works of Art of the Tropical Museum in Amsterdam. He is known for his works 'Babies of Wyang', 'Information About Pakistan' and 'Introducing Islam'.)
In 1919, I began to study oriental languages in the University of Leiden. My teacher was the universally known professor Hurgronje, who had perfect command of the Arabic language. As he taught me how to read, write and translate in Arabic, he gave me the Qur'an al-karim and the works of al-Ghazali as textbooks. The subject I was majoring in was the 'Islamic law'. I read a number of books about Islam, Islam's history, and Islamic sciences so far published in the European languages. In 1921 I went to Egypt and visited the Al-Azhar Madrasa. I stayed there for about one month. Later, in addition to Arabic, I learned Sanskrit and Malay. In 1927 I went to Indonesia, which was a British dependency at that time. I began to learn Javanese in a high school in Jakarta. For fifteen years I educated myself not only in the language of Java, but also in the cultural history of old and new Java. Throughout that period of time, I on the one hand contacted the Muslims and on the other hand read the Arabic books available to me. The Japanese invaded the Indonesian islands during the Second World War. I was one of the prisoners that they captured. After an extremely severe life in captivity which lasted until the end of the war, I returned to Holland and found a job in the Tropical Museum in Amsterdam. There I resumed my Islamic research. They asked me to write a booklet telling about the Muslims in Java. This, also, I accepted, and completed, too. Between 1954 and 1955 I was sent to Pakistan to conduct a study about the Muslims there. As I have already stated, the only books that I had read about Islam until that time had been written in the European languages. After I went to Pakistan and established direct contact with Muslims, my views of Islam took a sharp turn for the favourable. I requested my Muslim brothers in Lahore to take me to their mosque. They were pleased at my request and took me there for a Friday prayer. I watched the worship and listened to the prayers with great attention. It had so strong an impact on me that I almost lost consciousness in rapture. I now felt myself a Muslim and a Muslim brother when I shook hands with Muslims. I expressed my feelings as follows in the fourth issue of 'Pakistan Quarterly':
"Next we went to a smaller mosque. A preaching lecture was scheduled to be delivered by a scholar who was a professor from Penjab University and who knew English well. As he began his preaching, he said to the audience, 'We have a guest, a Muslim brother, who has come here from a distant country, Holland. I shall mostly add English words into the Urdu language so that he will understand me better,' and then he performed an exquisite preaching. I listened with attention. After the preaching was over, I meant to leave the mosque, when Allama Sahib, who had brought me to the mosque, said that the Muslim brothers who had been watching me with attention would be pleased if I should be kind enough to give them a speech, a brief one in the least, and that he would translate my speech into the Urdu language. Upon this I made the following short speech: 'I am here from Holland, which is quite a long way from here. There are very few Muslims in my homeland. Those few Muslims requested me to extend their salam [Islamic word for greeting, well-wishing and offering best wishes.] to you. I am very happy to know that you have achieved your independence and to see that the world has been enriched with one more Muslim state. Established seven years ago, Pakistan has already secured its position. After all those difficulties you experienced in the beginning, your country has in the long last attained salvation and is now improving with speed. There is a bright future ahead of Pakistan. When I go back home, I will have so much to tell my compatriots about your kind and polite behaviour, about your magnanimous generosity, and about your warm hospitality, of which I shall spare no minute details. I shall never forget the warm affection you have displayed towards me.' No sooner had Allama Sahib finished translating my statements into Urdu than all the Muslims in the mosque rushed towards me and began to shake hands with me, and the whole place resounded with a mellow roar of congratulatory exclamations, which has preserved its unique moment of happiness in my memories. The heartfelt manifestation of brotherhood moved me so profoundly that I began to enjoy the happiness of entirely having joined the community of Muslim brothers."
The Pakistani Muslim brothers showed me that Islam is not merely a collection of theories and proved that Islam means beautiful moral quality first of all and therefore being a good Muslim requires possessing a pure moral character.
Now let me answer the second question, i.e. your question, "What was the strongest attraction that pulled you towards Islam?"
The reasons that attracted me towards embracing Islam and attached my entire heart to the Islamic religion are as follows:
1) A Unitarian belief in Allahu ta'ala. Islam recognizes one great creator. This great creator is not begotten, nor does he beget. What could be as logical and as rational as believing in one creator? Even the simplest-minded person would find it right and will believe in it. This single great creator, whose name is Allah, is in possession of the greatest knowledge, the greatest hikma, the greatest power, and the greatest beauty. He has infinite mercy and compassion.
2) Rejecting any intermediary between Allahu ta'ala and the born slave. In Islam the born slave comes into direct contact with his Creator and worships Him directly. No one is necessary between Allahu ta'ala and the born slave. People learn their duties pertaining to this world and the next from the Book of Allahu ta'ala, the Qur'an al-karim, from hadith ash-Sharifs, and from books written by the scholars of Ahl as-sunnat. Only to Allahu ta'ala are they responsible for their actions. Allahu ta'ala, alone, has the authority to reward or punish a person. Allahu ta'ala will not hold any of His born slaves responsible for what he has not done, nor will He enjoin on him something beyond his capacity.
3) The infinite mercy innate in Islam. Its most explicit indication is an ayat in the Qur'an al-karim, which purports, "No one shall be compelled to become a Muslim." Our Prophet, Muhammad a.s., commands that a Muslim should acquire knowledge, by going to the farthest places if necessary. One other precept that Muslims are commanded to observe is to be respectful of the religions previous to Islam, especially as regards their essentials that have remained unchanged.
4) A fraternal unification of Muslims, whereby discriminations due to race, nationality and colour are crossed out from the outset. This ultimate goal has been realized only by Islam in the entire world. During the periods of Hajj (Muslims' pilgrimage to Mecca), hundreds of thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world come together, wrap themselves in the uniform (clothing called) Ihram, and prostrate themselves, a colossal expression of all Muslims' fraternity.
5) The equilibrium that Islam maintains between corporeal and spiritual realities. The other religions emphasize only spirituality and a number of absurd, grotesque tenets. On the other hand, Islam gives equal considerations to the soul and the body and dictates to man how he should maintain cleanliness, not only spiritually, but also bodily. It integrates man's spiritual improvement with his corporeal needs and describes in an extremely illustrative language how he should live in full control of his physical activities.
6) Islam's prohibition of alcohol, drugs, and pork. In my opinion, the gravest calamities that have befallen mankind has been on account of alcohol and drugs. Prohibition of such indulgences would suffice as an illustration of Islam's enormous prescience and the gigantic distance whereby it is ahead of its time.
30 - FADL-UD-DIN AHMAD OVERING (Holland)
I cannot figure out precisely the time of my first contact with the oriental civilization. This contact owes primarily to language. To be more clear, my aspirations to learn the oriental languages ended in my beginning to study Arabic when I was only in my early teens. Naturally, with no one to help me, it was rather an onerous work for me to get over. Primarily with a view to learning Arabic, I bought some books written by Europeans about the Arabs and about Islam. I think most of the information they gave about Islam were far from being correct or unbiased. Nevertheless, the passages about Muhammad a.s. caused me to develop a strong admiration for his personality. Yet the information I collected about Islam was both incorrect and insufficient. Nor was there anyone to guide me.
In the long last, I came across a perfect work, namely a book entitled, 'History of Persian Literature in Modern Times', written by T.G. Browne. I found two elegant poems in the book. One of them was the Terji'i bend of Hatif Isfahani, and the other one was the Heftbend of Mohtashim Kashani.
I cannot describe to you the greatness of the excitement that I felt when I read Hatif's poem. How delicately the poem depicted a soul that was desperately struggling in a deep gloom of indecision and depression and seeking for a murshid to guide him to salvation! As I read it, I felt as if the great poet had written it about me and as if the poem were describing my struggles to find the truth.
He, alone, exists; there's no others in existence;
He, alone, is worthy of worship by all existence.
To fulfil my mother's wishes and to satisfy my curiosity, I registered in a high school with a religious curriculum. Despite its religious system of education, the school did not follow a fanatical policy. The students could discuss their ideas freely, and their ideas were held in high regard. The religious lessons consisted of religious essentials that a person needed to know. However, the answer, "I feel deep respect for the Islamic religion," which I gave to a final exam question querying our opinions about other religions must have consternated the school director. In those days, the strong feelings of sympathy I had had for the Islamic religion had not developed into a definite belief yet. I was still in a state of indecision. Nor had I completely recovered from the morbid hostility against Islam that the church had engraved into the depths of my soul.
Firmly resolved to disentangle myself from the influence of those books with European authors, I embarked on an entirely personal study of Islam; this time the only criterion would be my personal evaluation. How thoroughbred the facts that the study yielded were! It began to dawn on me why so many people abandoned the religions inculcated into them during their childhood and embraced Islam. For the first feature of Islam reflected man's own essence, his personal world, his true belief and trust in Allahu ta'ala, and its second feature involved his unconditional submission to Allahu ta'ala, his Owner, and obedience to His commandments. In the following paragraphs I shall attempt some quotations from the Qur'an al-karim, which I consider relevant to the subject. Stripped as they may be of the magnificent harmony inherent in their Arabic originals, translations of these divine statements still have very strong attraction.
The twenty-seventh and later ayats of Fajr Sura purport, "O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!" "Come back thou to thy Allah, well-pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!" "Enter thou, then, among My devotees!" "Yea, enter thou My Heaven!" (89-27, 28, 29, 30)
This statement alone would be enough to prove the fact that the Islamic religion, quite unlike the superstitious Christianity, or the other religions, which are even worse, is an extremely pure, true, and genuine religion.
In contrast with the Christian credo which imposes a tenet wherein mankind is sinful from birth and even a newly born baby has a share from sins of earlier generations, the hundred and sixty-fourth ayat of Anam Sura in the Qur'an al-karim purports, "... Every soul draws the meed of its acts on none but himself: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. ..." (6-164) In fact, the forty-second ayat of Araf Sura purports, "... No burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear, - ..." (7-42) As you read these statements, you feel deep in your heart that they are divine statements of Allah, and you willingly have belief in Islam. I did so, too; I chose Islam, the truest religion of Allahu ta'ala, and I became a Muslim willingly.
31 - Prof. Dr. ABD-UL-KARIM GERMANUS (Hungarian)
(Prof. Dr. Germanus is a professor of 'Oriental Languages' in the University of Budapest and has a world-wide reputation. During the First and Second World Wars, he travelled in India and in the meantime worked as a teacher in the University of 'Shanti Naketen,' which was under the directorship of Tagore. [Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Bengali-Indian writer.] Later he moved to Delhi, and became a Muslim in the 'Jamia-I-Milliyya'. Prof. Germanus has been looked on as a great authority in literary areas, especially in the Turkish language and Turkish literature.)
I was only a fresh adolescent that could just as soon be called a child. On a rainy day, I incidentally found an old illustrated magazine. It contained pictures of apparently overseas countries. I was leisurely turning the pages, when, all of a sudden, one of the pictures caught my attention. It illustrated some one-storied small houses surrounded with rose-gardens. On the roofs of the houses sat people in elegant attirements listening with rapt attention to someone who must be conducting a conversation under the dusky firmament that was hardly illuminated by the half moon. The people, the dresses, the houses, the house yards were entirely different from those in Europe. As far as I could figure out from the writings under the picture, the picture was an illustration of some Arabs listening to a public story-teller in a small Arabian town. I was sixteen years old then. As an Hungarian student seated comfortably in an armchair in Hungary, I looked at the picture and imagined myself being there, among the Arabs, listening to the mellow and at the same time strong voice of the public story-teller, which gave me unusual pleasure. This picture gave a direction to my life. Immediately, I began to study Turkish. For the orient had already entered my periphery of concern. As I improved my Turkish, I observed that the Turkish language contained very few Turkish words and that the Turkish poetry had been enriched with Persian and its prose had been reinforced with Arabic. Then, learning both these languages was prerequisite for a wholesome understanding of the orient. As soon as I took my first vacation I decided to go to Bosnia, which was closest to Hungary. I set out immediately. When I arrived in Bosnia, I checked in to a hotel, where the first question I asked was: "Could you tell me where to find the local Muslims?" They directed me to a place. I went there. I had picked up only a smattering of Turkish. Would that be enough for me to communicate with them? The Muslims had come together in a coffee-house in their quarter, basking in the relaxation of a peaceful environment. They were grave-featured, big-bodied people wearing baggy trousers belted with sashes and carrying bright-sheathed daggers tucked into their sashes. The turbans on their heads, their ample baggy trousers and daggers gave them a somewhat weird appearance. Bashful and timorous, I stole into the room and skulked into a corner. Sometime later, I noticed that they were talking secretly and softly among themselves and casting quick glances at me. I was sure they were talking about me. I recalled the stories we used to hear in Hungary about those Christians killed by Muslims. Frozen with fright, I helplessly awaited the time when they would "slowly stand up, stride towards me, unsheathe their daggers, and slaughter me." I began to make plans of escape, yet I was too frightened to move. Minutes passed, I do not know how many. At last, the waiter sauntered towards me with an odorously steaming cup of coffee. As he gently placed the coffee on the table before me, he politely gestured with his head towards the source of the offer: the very Muslims who were only a moment before the source of my thrilling dread. When I looked at them with trepidation, one of them looked back with a cordial and amiable smile and nodded a hello to me. Trying to curve my lips quivering with terror into a smile, I nodded back. There! My imaginary enemies rose to their feet and made for me.
My violently palpitating heart on the verge of cessation, I waited, saying to myself, "They are going to attack me now." Yet, to my amazement, they sat around me in a friendly manner. They greeted me once again. One of them held out a cigarette. As I lit the cigarette, in the dim light of the match, I perceived in amazement that these men, whom we had been prejudging as barbarians in the distance, had a very deeply venerable expression of blessedness on their faces. My awe-stricken stiffness began to thaw. With my extremely poor Turkish, I attempted to talk with them. By the time the first Turkish word left my mouth, their features had already been suffused with all the graces of a blissful expression. We were friends now. The very men whom I had been expecting to attack with daggers invited me to their homes. They showed me warm hospitality. They treated me with tender kindness. All they wanted was to provide me comfort and to do me good. Such was my first contact with Muslims. It was followed by a number of events in succession. Every new event raised another curtain from before my eyes. I visited Muslim countries one by one. For some time, I received education in the University of Istanbul. I visited lovely places in Anatolia and in Syria. During this time, I learned Arabic and Persian as well as Turkish, on account of which I was later appointed by the University of Budapest as a professor in the Institute of Islamic Works of Art Research. I found many old works of art that had been collected in the university for centuries. I began to study them. I learned many beautiful facts. In the meantime, I gathered information about the Islamic religion. The more I studied those works, the deeper into my heart did Islam penetrate, and the more highly was I impressed by the books that I read, [especially by the Qur'an al-karim and by the books of Hadith-i-Sharif]. At last, I decided to go to the orient and to examine the Islamic religion more closely. This time my journey took me all the way down to India. My soul was empty, and therefore it was thirsty. The first day I arrived there I dreamt of Muhammad s.a.s. He was wearing plain but extremely valuable garments. A very fragrant scent emanated from the garments and reached me. His polite, extremely beautiful, lovable and bright face and his light-radiating and sweet eyes benumbed me. With a very sweet but imperative voice, he spoke to me in the Arabic language, and said: "Why are you sad? You already know the path ahead of you. You have attained the level to choose the right path. Do not wait any longer, and immediately join that path!" My body was shaking all over. I said to him, in Arabic, "Ya Rasulallah (O the Messenger of Allah) s.a.s.! You are the Prophet of Allah. I believe in this now. But will I attain peace if I become a Muslim? You are a very great being! You always overcame your enemies and always showed the right way. But will I, a poor, helpless born slave, be able to keep in the path that you will show?" Muhammad s.a.s. looked at me gravely and recited the seventh, the eighth, the ninth and the tenth ayats of the Naba' Sura in the Qur'an al-karim, which purported, "Have We not created the earth as a dwelling place for you and the mountains as a support? We have brought you in pairs to the world, and We have given you the blessing of sleep so that you may rest." As he recited them, the words that he uttered rang sweetly like the tuneful sound of silver bells. I was all of a sweat when I woke up. I began to wail, "O my Allah, I cannot sleep any longer. I cannot solve the mysteries around me and hidden under thick covers. O Rasulallah! O Muhammad s.a.s.! Help me! Illuminate me!" I was, on the other hand, afraid to hurt that great Prophet s.a.s.. Sounds that I could not understand came out of my throat, and I was in convulsions all over. Finally, I felt as if I were rolling down into an abyss, and woke up, soaked in sweat. My heart was palpitating vehemently, and bells were ringing in my ears.
On a Friday, the following incident took place in the Shah Jihan Mosque in Delhi: A fair-haired, dull-and-white-complexioned young stranger was entering the mosque among some old Muslims. It was me. I was clad in Indian garments. Yet a gold medal that I had been awarded in Istanbul shone on my chest. The Muslims in the mosque were eyeing me with amazement. I and my friends reached a spot close to the Minbar. A while later the voice calling (the invitation to prayer termed) the adhan was heard. I watched the approximately four thousand people stand up with a quick motion softened with reverent solemnity and make lines, with the same orderliness and speed as you could see in a military drill. So they began to perform the (prayer called) namaz, and I joined them. It was an unforgettable moment for me. When the performance of the namaz and the khutba was over, Abd-ul-Hayy held me by the hand and took me to the Minbar. As we were edging our way towards the Minbar, I was extremely careful lest I should disturb the worshipers squatting on the floor. At last, I reached the Minbar and began to climb the stairs. No sooner had I taken the first step than I saw myriad faces under white turbans like in a field of daisies turn towards me. The scholars surrounding the Minbar were encouraging me with heartening looks. This look of theirs gave me the strength that I needed. I looked around. A tremendous sea of people lay before me. With their heads raised, they awaited my speech. I began to talk slowly in Arabic, "O you the highly respectable people who have assembled here! I have come here from a very distant country in order to learn what I could not learn there. I have attained my goal here, and my soul enjoys full peace now." Then I went on, explaining the high position Islam occupied in history and the various miracles which Allahu ta'ala had created through the hands of His great Prophet Muhammad a.s., and adding that the recent decline of power observed in Muslim states was consequent upon the general laxity that Muslims had been showing in their religious obligations. I continued my speech by stating that some Muslims had been putting forth the pretext that an individual's efforts would have no effect on events because everything depended on the Will of Allahu ta'ala and therefore it would be futile to work, and that, on the contrary, Allahu ta'ala declared in the Qur'an al-karim, "Nothing shall be corrected unless men correct themselves, and nothing shall be accomplished unless they exert themselves," and that He had promised to help anyone who worked. I quoted ayat-i karimas from the Qur'an al-karim commanding that people should avoid helpless situations by working hard, and I explained them one by one. Finally, conducting a general prayer, I dismounted from the Minbar.
As I left the Minbar, an extremely loud expression, "Allahu AKBAR",[Allah id the greatest.] articulated in chorus, thundered in the mosque. My intense excitement had built to such a climax that I could not see my whereabouts. All I could sense was that my friend, Aslan, was holding my arm and trying to pull me out of the mosque as soon as possible. "Why are we in such a hurry," I wanted to know. "look round," was the warning reply. I turned my head. O my Allah! Right behind me was the entire congregation, running hard, trying to catch me. And catch they did. Some of them were holding me, hugging me, some were trying to kiss my hand, and others were begging me to invoke a blessing on them. And I was begging, "O my Allah, do not let an incapable born slave like me to appear as an exalted personage in their eyes!" I was so embarrassed that I felt as if I had stolen something from these pure Muslims, or as if I had betrayed them. That same day I realized that being a popular politician meant possessing immense power. Misusing such power given by the people of a country would lead the country to total destruction.
That day, I told my brothers that I was an incapable born slave, and went back home. But their friendliness and love and the respect they showed to me lasted for weeks. They showed so much love to me that its effects will be adequate for me till the end of my life.
32 - T.H. Mc. BARKLIE (Irish)
Although I was Irish and most of the Irish people were adherent to the Catholic church, I was raised with a Protestant education. However, I was only a child when I took a hearty dislike to the Christian tenets I was being taught and began to maintain a healthy skepticism about them. By the time I reached the university level of education, which subsequently added quite a few novelties to my knowledge, my skepticism had already developed into judgement. The Christian religion would give me nothing. Then, I began to feel deep repugnance towards it, which, by and by, unfolded itself in a form of categorical denial. So urgently did I feel the need to find "a guide to lead me to the right way" that I had to improvise a credo whereby to satisfy myself pro tem. For a considerable period of time I had to do with this complicated mood. One day I came across a book entitled 'Islam and Civilization'. As soon as I read it, I saw in great amazement and joy that all the hopes I had been cherishing, all the questions that had been gnawing at my mind, and their answers as well, were contained in the book. In contrast with the reciprocal acts of cruelty and oppression among the Christian sects, Islam's peaceful and lively principles had been guiding humanity on the lightsome way of truth. The sources of knowledge and civilization had risen in the Muslim countries and sprinkled their lights on the darkened life of Europe which had been moaning under an all-round savagery. In comparison with Christianity, Islam was by far a more logical and more useful religion.
What made me fall for Islam at first sight was its rejection of the Christian dogma that "Men are sinful from birth and therefore they have to expiate their sins in the world." In the process of time, I learned the other Islamic principles pertaining to the humanities and civilization and admired the greatness of that religion. Islam did not differentiate between the rich and the poor. In Islam, people of all races, colours and languages were brothers, not only in theory, but also in practice. At one stroke, it levelled down the differences of wealth, position, race, country, and colour among people. It was for this reason that I embraced Islam.
33 - ABDULLAH UEMURA (Japanese)
Why did I become a Muslim? Well, the Islamic religion states the unity of Allahu ta'ala, that an eternal life awaits us after death, and that on the Rising Day human beings shall be interrogated about their activities in the world. It enjoins honesty, integrity, and an ideal moral conduct. All these things are the most basic essentials whereby a person can lead a true-guided, comfortable and peaceful life. No other religion has put them so plainly and so concisely. Truthfulness [integrity] is highly valuable in Islam. Honesty towards Allahu ta'ala and towards the born slaves forms the basis for Islam. During my quest for truth, I found it in Islam, and consequently I became a Muslim.
I examined all religions. My conclusions are as follows:
Today's Christianity could never be the same pure religion preached by Issa a.s.. The commandments which Issa a.s. received from Allahu ta'ala and communicated to people have been changed completely. The present copies of the Bible contain others' statements in lieu of his statements. Islam is the only religion that has remained pure and intact since the first day it appeared. The Qur'an al-karim has survived to our day without undergoing even a diacritic alteration.
Today's Gospels contain not the commandments of Allahu ta'ala, but the so-called statements of Issa a.s., which have gone through quite a number of interpolations, and the episodes telling about his deeds. In Islam, on the other hand, the commandments of Allahu ta'ala and the utterances of His Prophet s.a.s. have been classified in different categories. The commandments of Allahu ta'ala are written in the Qur'an al-karim, while the statements of Hadrat Prophet s.a.s. appear in a different series called 'Hadith'.
In Islam Allahu ta'ala addresses His born slaves directly. Christianity lacks this genuineness.
The most critical Christian tenet repugnant to people with common sense is its dogma of 'Trinity'. Christians believe not in one Allah, but in three gods. No Christian man of knowledge has so far been able to explain this belief in a logical way. Nor would it be possible for anyone. For this credal tenet is thoroughly ungrounded and abnormal. Only one great Creator could create the world. Belief in a tripartite deity is no different from idolatry. A person of wisdom will believe in one Creator only.
Moreover, Christians impose the belief that men are born sinful, that they have to expiate their sins, and that a denial of the basic Christian belief 'Trinity' will lead a person to eternal perdition from where there is no rising again. Then, what other alternative could be so natural for people who are originally sinful from birth and who are deprived of rising after death as grabbing their sojourn in this life as a fleeting opportunity to taste all sorts of enjoyment and pleasure at all costs including cheating one another and perpetrating all kinds of atrocity instead of wasting their time worshipping in vain? It is for this reason that today's Christians lead a life quite independent of religious morals and principles, which in turn gradually drags them down to a totally irreligious way of life. Entirely emptied of their souls, they are all but machines.
Let us take a look at Japanese religions now: Essentially, there are two major religions in Japan. One of them is the Mahayana Buddhism,[Mahayana Buddhism is practised mostly in China and Tibet today. The second form of Buddhism, Theravada, is based on the teachings of Buddha recorded in the Pali Canon. It is practised in Kampuchea, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.] which is a mixture of original Buddhism and pure Buddhism. It is somewhat similar to Brahminism. A closer examination of their creed will show that Buddha was an atheist. For Buddha makes no mention of Allahu ta'ala and does not profess a belief in the fact that the soul will not die when the body dies. The Brahmins' views about the soul are not so materialistic. Yet they are expressed in such a complicated language that it is difficult to understand what they mean. In fact, the Brahmins' views of Brahma, i.e. whether they look on him as God, as a born slave or as a prophet, are not clearly explained. The Brahmins busy themselves with religious philosophy rather than the religion itself. In order to always imagine seeing Brahma before them, they consecrate things that they liken to him or which they think would go with him, [e.g. flowers], whereby they begin to worship things and animals created by Allahu ta'ala instead of worshipping Allahu ta'ala Himself.
Among all these utterly complicated credal systems, Islam is the only religion which provides us the truest definition of Allahu ta'ala. (Allahu ta'ala is one. He is azim (great, glorious). He is the Rabb (Creator) of all classes of beings. He is not begotten, nor does he beget. All the things in the world and in the Hereafter are His creatures. No one except Him is to be worshipped. No one except Him can enjoin commandments on His born slaves.) The second religion in Japan is Shintoism [Shintoism is an ancient religion of Japan. It includes the worships of gods that represent various parts of nature, and of the souls of people who died in the past.] which is even worse than Buddhism. This religion has nothing to do with morals. In addition, they believe in many gods and, like primitive tribes, they worship them separately. [In other words, they are idolaters.]
So, I have given you very sincere and concise information about the world's existing religions. Which one of you, after seeing and learning them as such, would choose one of them, leaving Islam aside? Is it possible? You, too, see that amidst the so many extremely muddled and inane credal systems Islam shines brightly. It is seen at first sight that due to its perfectly logical and humanitarian principles it is the only true religion.
And I, in hot pursuit of the path guiding to truth in order to quench my tearful soul with the peace and happiness it needed, came upon Islam, which was the very religion I was looking for, and embraced it willingly, holding fast to it with both hands.
34 - MUHAMMAD SULAIMAN TAKEUCHI (Japanese)
With the guidance of Allahu ta'ala I became a Muslim.
I decided to become a Muslim for the following reasons:
1) Islam infuses a very powerful spirit of fraternity.
2) Islam prearranges a solution for any sort of difficulty that a person is likely to encounter throughout his life. It has not separated religious matters from worldly events. Islam embodies not only spiritual values, but also social efficacies that would perfectly harmonize with today's systems, such as uniting people together and encouraging them to perform their acts of worship in lines made up of people from all races and classes, to help the poor, and to co-operate for the solution of one another's problems.
3) The Islamic religion trains both the soul and the body. In short, Islam is an immaculate embodiment of all spiritual and corporeal matters.
Islam's fraternity rejects all sorts of discrimination, race, class, and else. Muslims throughout the world are one another's brothers. There are many Muslims on the earth. Islam is the religion of common-sensed people. All the Muslims living on the earth, be they Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Japanese, or Chinese, look on one another as brothers. For this reason, Islam is an international religion. Islam is the only means that could rectify the present time's degenerated societies and correct their mistakes. Because it is a religion bestowed by Allahu ta'ala, the variety of its Madhhabs makes it a religion to which people from all races and classes can adapt themselves. The Islamic religion has played a very important role in the history of civilization, and has guided many a semi-barbarian nation to civilization. The Islamic religion aims at a peaceful and tranquil life for humanity. It has prescribed the rules whereby to attain happiness and peace. The rule-making policy followed by the other religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism, is quite the other way round. The commandments of these two religions are of a quality to, let alone unite, completely separate people from one another by infusing into them a feeling of a total isolation from the world. Most Buddhist temples are situated on the peaks of mountains that would defy an average climber to scale frequently. It is the outcome of a 'fewer visitors the better' policy. A close examination of the Japanese religious credal systems will reveal a similar approach wherein the most excessive forms of isolation are essential. As for Christians; it would take no extra attention to observe that the more devoted Christians established their churches at remoter places. Inside them are as dark as possible. It dates only from some recent years that churches have been able to make their ways into urban areas. Predisposed with the belief that mankind is already sinful from birth, Christians consider the world only as a place where they should always suffer. As it is seen, the main purport commonly shared by all religions is that religion is something that should be completely insulated from the normal proceedings of human life and that life in the world consists in suffering.
The happy contrast comes with Islam, which cherishes mankind as a born slave beloved to Allahu ta'ala. Small mosques are built in the middle of villages, on cites most accessible to all the villagers. Their interiors are bright and airy. People feel pleasure in going there and performing their acts of worship there. They come together and perform their congregational prayers. After the prayers they invoke blessings on one another. They show friendly interest towards one another, and help one another if necessary. In Islam, helping people in need or, if helping is not possible, pleasing the concerned Muslims with a cordial smile and soft words, produces many blessings.
A person has a soul and a body. Allahu ta'ala has given us both a soul and a body each. As long as we live, we have to train both the soul and the body, with different systems but without discriminating between them. Islam has taken into consideration not only man's spiritual needs, but also his body, formulating extremely logical and heavenly principles for both of them.
I am a new Muslim. I accepted Islam two years ago. I am sure that Islam satisfies all my spiritual and physical needs. Japan's technology is extremely advanced today. It has been coping with the entire world successfully. Owing to this scientific progress and material well-being, the Japanese people have changed entirely. Japan is devoid of natural resources. All the raw materials are imported from abroad. But we can make more perfect and cheaper products than other countries. This success is due to continuous work and contentment with little. In the meantime, the Japanese people, who have had to work and exert themselves ceaselessly, have not had time for spiritual interests and activities, and consequently they have become like machines. The Japanese are now imitators of Europeans in their sheer materialistic pursuits. They have completely stripped themselves of all sorts of religious belief, and they are thoroughly devoid of spirituality. Today's Japanese people are entirely satiated materialistically. Their pockets are full of money. Yet their souls are becoming poorer and poorer, emptier and emptier. What could be the value of materialistic richness despite spiritual poverty? What benefit could the world reap from people clad in decorated garments but emptied of spiritual values?
In my opinion, this is the most propitious time for Islamic propaganda. For the Japanese, having reached perfection with respect to material well-being, are very much aware of the excruciating abyss in their soul and are therefore urgently questing for a guide. There is only the Islamic religion to rescue them from this spiritual bankruptcy. For Islam will be their guide in this life as well. I am sure that a qualified Islamic propagation carried on by a serious and orderly organization in Japan would take no more than a couple of generations for the entire Japanese nation to become Muslims. And this, in turn, means an honourable far-east source from where the entire humanity will benefit.
35 - ALI MUHAMMAD MORI (Japanese)
Exactly eighteen years ago,[Sixty-six years ago, as of today.] in 1929 that is, I was in Manchuria. Japan had reached one of the apices of its history.
During one of the journeys I took around Manchuria, I met a Muslim in a desert in the vicinity of Pieching. They were leading a very plain and pious life. I admire their life-styles, their trust in Allahu ta'ala, the hospitality they showed to strangers, and their sense of faith. As I moved further inland in Manchuria, I met many other Muslims, observed the same pure and beautiful quality in all of them, and consequently began to feel growing sympathy for them.
It was no earlier than 1946 that I managed to go back to Japan. In the meantime, Japan had joined the Second World War, being on the losing side in the end. The one-time powerful Japanese Empire was all gone. Buddhism, to which most Japanese people had been so sincerely and so heartfully adherent until that time, had been entirely stripped of its original essence and its logical features, and was now a mere source of detriment to society.
A minor number of Japanese people had already been Christianized. Despite the ninety long years wherein Christianity had been forcing its spread in Japan, very few Japanese people had become Christians. Yet, by the time I arrived in Japan, I saw that their number had increased considerably. The Japanese people had realized, after the heavy defeat they had suffered, that Buddha would give them no help at times of disaster. Having thoroughly lost their love for and trust in Buddha, they were now looking for a new religion. The younger people, especially, had accepted Christianity with the expectations that it would be the best possible substitute for their lost faith. Yet it did not take them long to realize that the Christian missionaries who had been trying to Christianize them were in actual fact squalid mercenaries working for American and British capitalists and that by Christianizing them they would not only refill the vacuum vacated by the no-longer wanted Buddhism, but also divest them of the deep-rooted purity and integrity that had so far been associated with their Japanese identity. During the process of Christianization, the Christian missionaries were continuously inculcating into their minds the superior qualities of American and British goods, which in turn gradually infused into them a growing feeling of aversion to their domestic goods, and which consequently resulted in an influx of foreign materials into Japan. In more concise terms, the capitalists were exploiting us to increase their wealth via Christianity.
Japan is a country lying between Russia and America. Each of these superpowers will normally try to bring Japan under its own sway. The inculcations they have been practicing on us must therefore be intended for their own advantages, rather than guiding our souls to salvation. On the other hand, especially in those days, the Japanese people needed true tutorship.
As far as I am concerned, only the Islamic religion will satisfy this requirement, guiding them to spiritual peace and salvation, and showing them the truest way they should follow. One merit that I admire best in Islam is the powerful feeling of brotherhood with which it equips Muslims. Islam emphasizes that Muslims are brothers beyond their cutaneous and racial identities, and Allahu ta'ala commands the human race to live in brotherly peace and safety without fostering any feelings of harm towards one another. Could another commandment more perfect and more true be conceived on the face of today's miserable world? Who on earth could doubt that the great being who gives such a command should certainly be Allah Himself? Last year two Muslims came to Tokoshima. They were from Pakistan. I paid them a visit immediately. They gave me very beautiful and very profound information about Islam. Later I talked with some Japanese Muslims. Two of them, Mr. Molivala and Mr. Mita of Tokyo, enlightened me and recommended that I should convert to Islam. Upon this I embraced Islam.
I wish with all my heart that Islam, the most logical and the purest religion, should spread all over the world and rescue humanity from this disastrous situation. If the entire humanity become Muslims, this miserable world will become a Garden of Paradise. Then, the Grace and Grandeur of Allahu ta'ala will illuminate the human souls and guide them on the right way, which will lead them to eternal salvation. Only through Islam will humankind attain happiness, both spiritually and physically, and be blessed with the divine favour of being beloved born slaves of Allahu ta'ala.
36 - 'UMAR MITA (Japanese)
('Umar Mita is a Japanese economist and thinker. Formerly, he conducted some research in social areas, entered on a career as a Buddhist priest and preached Buddhism for some time, and finally became a Muslim, dedicating all the rest of his life to Islamic publications.)
Hamd (thanks and praise) be to Allahu ta'ala, I have been a Muslim for three years. I have attained a happy life. My Pakistani Muslim brothers taught me how a true and honest life should be. I met those Pakistani brothers of mine during their visit to Japan. They told me about Islam, and thus caused me to become a Muslim. I owe them very much gratitude.
Most of the Japanese people are Buddhists. Yet they are so only in name, for they have little with Buddhism in practice. They no longer attend the Buddhist rites, and they have forgotten their religious teachings almost entirely. The main reason lies in the fact that Buddhism is a conglomeration of very ambiguous and complicated philosophical abstractions and that it is of no worldly benefit to its votaries. Indeed, Buddhism would provide no help to an average-minded person against the various perplexing problems and new situations he would encounter daily. A person of medium mental capacity could not understand that religion, nor could he derive any benefit from it. Not so is the case with Islam. Islam is a simple, humanitarian and heavenly religion intelligible to everybody. This religion penetrates all the phases of human life and teaches Muslims how they should act in each of the so many various situations of life. Cleanliness is essential in Islam. Islam is the most perfect guide for people with pure souls. Islam is so logical that the most ignorant person would understand its language. Unlike other religions, Islam does not contain a privileged priestly caste or a prototype of ecclesiastical monopoly.
In my opinion, Islam's spread in Japan would be a very easy job. There could be some difficulties in the beginning. Yet these difficulties could be eliminated and the Japanese people would gradually embrace Islam. The first step is to introduce real Islam to the Japanese people. Day by day the Japanese people are becoming more and more materialistic. Yet they are not pleased about this, and they are aware of the vacuum in their souls. They should be taught that the Islamic religion is not only a source of spiritual information, but also a complete and perfect guide that will equip the human race with all the teachings they need in this worldly life.
As the second step, deeply learned true Muslims powerful enough to realize this Islamic publication are requisite in Japan. Unfortunately, the students coming to Japan from various Muslim countries do not have the potency to carry out this important task. When I made contact with them, I saw with deep distress that they were not knowledgeable about their own religion and that they did not obey their own religion. These people could not be our guides. They were people who admired the western world, who had been given European education, and who had graduated from western colleges and church schools. They knew nothing of Islam.
All Muslims should give serious consideration to the matter of spreading the Islamic religion in Japan and, as I have stated earlier, true scholars should be sent to our country. These people coming in should be exemplary Muslims, not only in words, but also in manners and behaviours. We Japanese people are pining for peace, truth, honesty, sincerity and virtue. Day by day we are losing these beautiful qualities of ours. Islam is the only saviour to rescue us from the impending destruction.
Muslims have belief in Allahu ta'ala, who is great and one. Japanese people need this sort of belief.
Islam means 'peace'. There is not another nation who long for peace as strongly as the Japanese people do. Attaining peace and tranquillity requires accepting Islam, which is 'peace' itself. Islam means living in peace and happiness with people and submission to the commandments of Allahu ta'ala. Humanity will attain salvation from disasters and savageries only via Islam.
37 - Mrs. FATIMA KAZUE (Japanese)
After the Second World War I observed a growing indifference towards our religion. The Japanese people were gradually taking to the American life style. This life style lessens people's religious consciousness and turns them into machinery. And people who have been turned into machines, in turn, suffer from profound dissatisfaction. I felt the same dissatisfaction. There was a vacuum in my soul. I was not pleased about that life style. Yet, what was missing I did not know.
I visited a Muslim who was in Tokyo for a short stay. I very much admired his religious ideas and the way he prayed. I began to ask him various questions. The answers he gave not only pleased me, but also filled the vacuum in my soul. He said that there was one Creator, that that Creator had prescribed the modes of life we had to lead to attain peace and salvation, and that he was leading a life compatible with the commandments of that Creator. His words impressed me so deeply that I told him that I wanted to accept his religion, and thus I became a Muslim under his guide. After becoming a Muslim I began to feel in my heart how great a happiness it was to live in a spiritual mood so close to the Creator. My life style changed and I attained peace.
An attentive look at the way Muslims greet one another would suffice to realize the fact that Islam is a true religion. We only say 'good morning' or 'good night' to one another and just walk by. Instead of these dull and materialistic greetings, Muslims say to one another, "As-salamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu," which means, "May peace and salvation and the rahmat [Compassion, mercy] and barakat [Abundance, blessing.] of Allahu ta'ala be on you." Could a more beautiful way of well-wishing or greeting be conceived? My Muslim friend gave me plenty of valuable information about Muslims' credal tenets, about the essentials of Islam, and about the ways of worship. These things were extremely logical and humanistic. I saw and believed that Islam is a religion whereby a cleanly, simple, logical and peaceful life is possible. Living in peace and happiness, both individually and socially, requires a full adaptation to this religion. For this reason, having attained peace and salvation myself, I have been doing my best to persuade all the members of my family, my friends and acquaintances to become blessed with Islam.
38 - IBRAHIM VOO (Malayan)
Before becoming a Muslim, I was a Catholic Christian. I had been Christianized by Catholic missionaries. Yet I had never warmed to that religion. For the priests asked me to believe in three gods and commanded me to worship the Eucharist, [the ceremony where Issa's a.s. flesh is represented with bread and his blood is represented with wine.] They tried to impose a number of irrational teachings such as that the Pope was sinless and that it was necessary to obey all his commandments, and threatened that denial of those tenets would lead one to perdition. Whenever I asked the priests to explain their teachings more clearly so that I could get a clearer picture to convince my mind, none of them could explicate the tenets, but they only dismissed the matter by saying, "These things are heavenly secrets beyond the mind's grasp." How could a person accept something beyond his mental grasp? Gradually, I began to sense that there was something wrong, that Christianity was not a true religion, and to feel a bitter resentment against it. Any mention of other religions, such as Islam, would be enough to exasperate the priests; they would shout themselves hoarse, saying, "Muhammad is -may Allahu ta'ala protect us from saying- a liar. Islam is a concoction." When I asked why that religion was a mendacious one, they would falter, fumbling for an answer. This detestable state they caused themselves into motivated me to examine the Islamic religion more closely. I made contact with Muslims living in Malaya, and requested them to enlighten me about their religion. These people were quite dissimilar to the priests. They gave me very beautiful information about Islam. Let me add that in the beginning I had heated discussions with them. Yet, so convincing were their answers to my questions, and so infinite was the patience and the firmness they showed to me, that I began to feel as if a curtain was being raised from before my eyes, and a great feeling of peace and satisfaction began to stir in me. In contrast with Christianity fraught with superstitions, everything in this new religion was rational, logical and reasonable. Muslims believed in one Creator. That great Creator did not say that mankind was sinful, but, on the contrary, He bestowed plenty of blessings on human beings. Among His commandments, there was not a single dot that I would not understand. Muslims' acts of worship were intended only to pay hamd (thanks and praise) to Allahu ta'ala. They did not worship a number of images or shapes. Deep in my soul I felt the flavour of each and every ayat (verse) of the Qur'an al-karim, their holy book. One did not have to go to a temple for worship. A person could do his acts of worship in his home as well as in any other place. All these things were so lovely, so true, and so humanistic that I accepted the fact that Islam is the true religion of Allah, and I embraced Islam willingly.
39 - ISMAIL WIESLEW ZEJILERSKY (Polish)
I was born in the Krakow city of Poland in 1900. I am from a famous family recorded in Polish history. My father was a compulsive atheist. Yet he allowed his children to be given Catholic education. There were many Catholics in Poland. Being a devoted Catholic, my mother wished that we be raised with a Catholic education. I had very deep respect for religion. I believed in the fact that religion was the most important guide both in individual life and in social life.
My family had frequent foreign relations. My father had made many journeys in his youth, and therefore he had numerous foreign friends. Consequently, we had respect for other races, civilizations and religions. Without discriminating one person from another, we respected every nation, every race and, in short, every individual. I considered myself not as a Polish citizen, but also as a citizen of the entire world.
My family held moderate views concerning temporal matters. Although my father was a born aristocrat and therefore must have been a person without any practical skills, he hated laziness and inactivity, and recommended that everybody should have a job. He was totally against dictatorship. Yet he would never approve a social revolution that would demolish the world's order. He had deep respect for traditions coming from earlier times. He was against their being degenerated. In short, my father was a modernized and moderate prototype of the knights of the Middle Ages. The liberal education that my father had given me had made me a researcher and I had embarked on a research into social matters. The world had quite a number of social, political and economical problems that awaited solution. What had to be done to solve them and to find the right path? I saw that humanity had been parted into two polar opposites in those matters. Capitalism on the one side, and communism on the other. In other words oppression and terror on the one side, and a thoroughly uncontrolled society on the other. These two opposites would have to be brought together and integrated into a moderate system so that the entire humanity could attain peace and happiness. In my opinion, the human society would have to be based on essentials that were liberal, but at the same time disciplined, in conformity with today's conditions, but at the same time respectful of the old customs. As a person who had been educated with the principles of 'walking exactly on the intermediate path', it was natural for me to think so. We were nicknamed 'Progressive Traditionalists'.
By the time I became sixteen years old, I had already begun to wonder whether the Catholic religion could establish those essentials. Subsequently I examined the Catholic religion more closely. Then I realized that my mind could never accept some of the credal tenets with which they had tried to indoctrinate me in the church. Ahead of all those tenets was trinity. Then came the Eucharist [where bread and wine are supposed to have changed into Issa's a.s. flesh and blood, respectively], the compulsory intermediation of a priest between Allahu ta'ala and the born slave, which had been made a stipulation for the acceptance of one's prayers, attributing innocence and divinity to the Pope, who was a mere human being like us, worshipping some shapes, images and icons, making some strange signs; all these absurdities gradually made me take an aversion to Christianity. I began to think that that religion was, let alone a saviour to rescue humanity from disasters, a groundless and worthless heretical belief. I was now completely indifferent about religion.
After the Second World War, I began to feel a need for a religious belief again. I realized that humanity could never be without a religion. The human soul needs religion. Religion is the greatest guide and the most profound source of consolation. An irreligious person is doomed to perdition. The worst evils come to humanity from irreligiousness. Leading a perfect social life requires people's being attached to one another, which in turn is dependent upon religion. I realized that today's progressive man could not accept a religion that could not cope with today's living conditions or scientific improvements, which consisted of some grotesque ideas, and which ran counter to common sense. Such was the Christian religion. To know how the other religions were, I decided to examine all the world's religions. I studied the American Quakers, [A group of Christians called Society of Friends. They are known for their opposition to violence and war. They perform their religious services in silence, and call them Meetings.] the Unitarians, [A Christian religious group, who believe in unity of Allah.] and even the Bahais.[One of the heretical sects founded for the purpose of demolishing Islam from within. For further information, please see Endless Bliss, Second Fascicle, 36th chapter.] But none of them seemed satisfactory to me.
Eventually, I somehow found a book entitled 'Islamo Esperantiste Regardata', written in the Esperanto language. The book had been published by a British Muslim named Ismail Collin Evans. That book was the guide that led me to Islam, in 1949. I read it. I consulted the Islamic organization called 'Dar-ul-tabligh-ul-Islam'[Please see the fifty-eight paragraph in the "The Religion Reformers in Islam", for the Tabligh-i-Jama'at.] in Cairo, and requested them to give me information about Islam. They sent me a book entitled 'Islamo Chies Religio', which, again, was in the Esperanto language. That book completed my iman, and I became a Muslim.
Islam fully answers all my thoughts, aspirations and wishes that I have had since my childhood. Islam comprehends both freedom and discipline. Islam, while listing our duties towards Allahu ta'ala on the one hand, prescribes the ways of leading a comfortable and peaceful worldly life on the other. Islam recognizes rights not only for the entire humanity, but also for each and every living creature. Islam has brought the most correct solutions to the most critical problems. As a sociologist, I have admired the greatness and the perfection inherent in the Islamic precepts 'Zakat' [Endless Bliss, fifth fascicle, seventh chapter.] and 'Hajj'.[Endless Bliss, fifth fascicle, seventh chapter.] [Zakat], which means for a person who has been given a larger share from worldly goods to mete out a certain percentage of his property to the poor, and [Namaz in jamaat (congregational prayer) and Hajj], which mean all Muslims' coming together, worshipping Allahu ta'ala and knowing one another, the rich and the poor, the seniors and the juniors, the old and the young, merchants, artisans and, in short, the rank and file, indicate that Islam attained long ago the elevations that today's social sciences have not reached so far despite all the painstaking endeavours. Owing to this accomplished character, Islam has shown the most perfect medium way between capitalism and communism and provided the conveniences coveted by all people. Islam is a tremendous religion which brings together all the people in the world regardless of their race, nation, social status, colour and language, which gives them equal rights, which balances their economical discrepancies by means of a well-calculated social-aid system, and which provides a material and spiritual discipline by infusing the fear of Allah. Even the Islamic polygamy, Islam's most criticized aspect, bears some biological considerations and is a principle more honest than the hypocritical monogamy of the Catholics, who never live with one woman.
In conclusion, I pay hamd-u-thena to Allahu ta'ala, who has guided me to the right path and blessed me with the path that will lead me to His approval.
40 - MUMIN ABD-UR-RAZZAQ SELLIAH (Sri Lankan)
Formerly, I was an arch enemy of Islam. For, all the members of my family and all my friends were telling me that Islam was an absurd and concocted religion that would lead man to Hell, and they were even preventing me from talking with Muslims. As soon as I saw a Muslim I would turn and walk away, and I would curse them behind their back. In those days, if I had dreamt of myself examining that religion closely, admiring it, and finally embracing Islam, I would not have interpreted it optimistically.
Why did I become a Muslim? I shall give a short answer to this question. The greatest Islamic virtue that attracted me towards it was that Islam is an extremely pure, very logical, and easily intelligible religion which contains very profound pieces of advice and divine wisdom. As soon as I began to examine the Islamic religion, it impressed me very strongly and I felt that I was going to accept it.
I received a Christian education. I thought that there was not another religious book more valuable than the Bible, which had been handed to me. Yet, when I began reading the Qur'an al-karim, I saw with amazement that that book was far an away superior to the Bible in my hand, and that it taught me so many beautiful facts that the Bible had not taught me. There were many preposterous legends and grotesque credal tenets in the Christian religion. The Qur'an al-karim rejected all such things and taught men facts that they would understand and accept. I gradually took a dislike to the Bible, and held fast to the Qur'an al-karim with both hands. Whatsoever I read in it, I understood it, liked it, and admired it. So Islam was the true religion. When I realized this fact, I decided to accept Islam, thus attaining iman and the religion of peace and love.
What I like best in Islam, and what attracted me to it most strongly, is the fact that Muslims look on one another as brothers. Without any discrimination with respect to colour, race, vocation, nationality, or country, Muslims all over the world know one another as brothers, love one another, and consider it as a sacred duty to do favours to one another and to help one another. The rule, "... Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt: 22-39) which remains in theory in the pages of the Bible, has been put into practice only by Muslims. And no other religion contains it even on the theoretical level. The Islamic brotherhood is not only in words. Always and everywhere, Muslims throughout the world co-operate and run to help one another, no matter whether they know one another or not.
The second feature of Islam that I admire is that that religion does not contain a superstition or an unintelligible principle. Islam's tenets are logical, practical, reasonable, and up-to-date. The Islamic religion recognizes one Creator. The expression Ruh-ul-Quds (the Holy Spirit) exists in the Qur'an al-karim. Yet its meaning is 'the divinity of Allahu ta'ala', or 'the angel named Jabrail'. It does not mean 'another godhead'. Islam's principles, i.e. its commandments and prohibitions, are extremely simple, logical, and adaptable to modern life in every respect. Islam is the only true religion that the entire world could accept.
EXPLANATION: The expression 'Ruh-ul-Quds' exists in a few different suras (chapters) of the Qur'an al-karim. It is written in books of tafsir (explanations of the Qur'an al-karim) that it has varying meanings, depending on the context in which it appears. In short, it has meanings such as 'The angel named Jabrail', 'the life-giving and protecting attributes of Allahu ta'ala', 'the soul of Issa a.s., and 'The Injil (the original, unchanged Bible)'. Its lexical meaning is: 'The Pure Soul'.
41 - MAHMUD GUNNAR ERICSON (Swedish)
Paying hamd-u-thena (gratitude and praise) to Allahu ta'ala, I begin my explanation. If testify to that there is no mabud (god, being worthy of worship) but Allahu ta'ala, and that Muhammad a.s. is His slave and Messenger.
I met Muslims five years ago. One day, one of my friends said that he had taken an interest in the Qur'an al-karim and had been reading it. I knew nothing about the Qur'an al-karim then. Upon learning that my friend had begun to read the Qur'an al-karim, I decided to study the Qur'an al-karim, too, lest I should be outclassed by my friend, and went to the public library in my hometown to try and find a Swedish version of the Qur'an al-karim. I did find one, and presently began reading it. A book borrowed from the library could be kept for only fifteen days. Yet I was so deeply impressed by the Qur'an al-karim that fifteen days would be too short. So, a couple of days after returning the book to the library, I would go back to the library and borrow it again. Thus, returning the book after each fifteen-day period and borrowing it again a few days later, I read the translation of the Qur'an al-karim again and again. Each time I read the Qur'an al-karim, I felt deeper admiration for it, so much so that I began to believe that Islam was a true religion. I had already decided to become a Muslim by the November of 1950. Yet I wanted to postpone my conversion until I have penetrated deeper into Islam and learned its inner essence well by examining it more closely. To this end, I went to the public library in Stockholm and studied the books written about the Islamic religion. Among those books, I came across the translation of the Qur'an al-karim rendered by Muhammad Ali. Although later I came to know that Muhammad Ali belonged to a heretical group called Qadiyani, or Ahmadi,[Please see chapter 36, Corrupt Religions, in Endless Bliss, Second Fascicle, for heretical groups.] I reaped many benefits even from the version translated by that incompetent person. I no longer had any hesitations as to that I should become a Muslim. It was that time when I first began to talk with Muslims. From 1952 on I joined them in their acts of worship. I had the good luck to find a society founded by Muslims in Stockholm. I met them, and I learned many facts from them, too. During the (holy month of) Ramadan in the Hijri year 1972, I went to England, where I officially became a Muslim on the first day of 'Iyd in the mosque of 'Woking'.
Islam's logic was what attracted me to it most. Islam does not contain anything that common sense would reject. Islam enjoins belief in the unity of Allahu ta'ala. Allahu ta'ala is Ghafur and Rahim (forgiving and extremely compassionate). He continuously bestows blessings and gifts upon the human race so that they should live in comfort and peace.
Another aspect of Islam that I like best is that Islam is a religion that belongs not only to the Arabs but also to the entire humanity. Allahu ta'ala is the Rabb of all classes of beings. This universal quality presents a sharp contrast with the Judaic religion, whose holy book always refers to the 'God of Israel'.
One more thing that I love in Islam is that this religion recognizes all the prophets 'alaihim-us-salawatu wattaslimat' that have come up to today, pays respect to them, and treats the believers of other religions with great compassion. A Muslim can pray anywhere that is clean, in a field and in a church alike. A Christian, on the other hand, will not even stay at a place close to a mosque.
The Qur'an al-karim explains in the most beautiful style that Islam is the most true and the final religion, and that Muhammad a.s. is the last Prophet:
The third ayat of Maida Sura purports, "Today I have made your religion perfect. I have completed My blessings upon you, and I have chosen Islam as your religion."
The nineteenth ayat of Al-I-'Imran Sura purports, "Know this for certain: Islam is the (only) religion in the view of Allahu ta'ala."
42 - FARUQ B. KARAI (Zanzibar)
I accepted Islam because I admired the great Prophet Muhammad a.s.. I had quite a number of Muslim friends in Zanzibar. They told me very beautiful facts about Islam. They gave me Islamic books, which I read in secrecy from my family. Eventually, in 1940, I decided to become a Muslim at all costs. So I became a Muslim despite the remonstrances of my family and the oppressions of the priests of Parsee religion, which had been my religion until that time. I will not enlarge on the consequent events that I experienced or the retaliatory difficulties that I encountered. My family had recourse to inconceivable measures to deprive me of iman (belief in Islam). They persecuted me very bitterly. Yet I had attained the guidance to the right way, and therefore I held fast to my true religion and resisted against all sorts of threat. Now I love one Allah and His last Prophet Muhammad a.s. more than my life.
Like the Rock of Gibraltar I stood against all the hardships that my family heaped before me. As I struggled against those hardships, I was encouraged and invigorated by my own belief, "I am on the path dictated by Allahu ta'ala. Allahu ta'ala knows the truth in everything, and He will help me."
I had the chance to read and study the Qur'an al-karim in Gujerati. The further I went on reading the Qur'an al-karim, the more strongly did I feel attached to it, so much so that I finally believed with all my heart that no other religion on the earth had the capacity to guide humanity to the right path. The Qur'an al-karim is a holy book that teaches men the ways of leading a simple life, brotherhood, equality, and humanity, and which bestows on them a peaceful and comfortable life in this world and the next. The Islamic religion, which Allahu ta'ala revealed through this greatest guide for humanity, shall survive till the termination of the world's existence.
- 3 - CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM THE STATEMENTS OF THE PEOPLE WHO EMBRACED ISLAM
The clear, sincere and concordant statements made by people belonging to various races, countries and professions on why they had accepted Islam reflect their personal convictions concerning Islam's difference from and superiority to the other religions. They can be summed up as follows:
- The Islamic religion recognizes one creator, one being worthy of being worshipped. The name of this mabud (being worthy of being worshipped) is Allahu ta'ala. Men's common sense inspires into them that there is one Allah. A reasonable person cannot accept the concept of polytheism, which is a common basis for many other religions.
- The Islamic religion not only equips them with spiritual knowledge, but also teaches them what they should do for their lives in this world and in the Hereafter, and guides them.
- Whereas Christians propound that man is born sinful and that his stay in the world is intended to expiate and to suffer, the Islamic religion states that human beings are innocent creatures when they are born, that they are beloved born slaves of Allahu ta'ala, that they are responsible for their behaviour by the time they reach the age of puberty and discretion, and that they shall enjoy the infinite blessings of the Hereafter if they manage to abide by the right way.
- Islam does not allow a third person between the born slave and Allahu ta'ala in matters pertaining to worship, praying and penance. These practices do not require a priestly intermediation.
- Islam states that all Muslims are brothers, wherein differences of race, colour, language or country have no place. The Islamic religion holds everybody equal in the view of Allahu ta'ala. During the performance of namaz, a person of the highest rank stands beside another, who may be of the lowest rank, a richest one beside another who, perhaps, is the poorest member of the society, and a white Muslim next to a black one, and with one accord they prostrate themselves before Allahu ta'ala.
- According to Islam, Prophets 'alaihim-us-salam' are human beings like us. They are the most superior human beings in all respects. Their duty is to convey to us the commandments of Allahu ta'ala. On account of their noble moral qualities and high natures, Allahu ta'ala has chosen them and given them this duty. The Islamic religion acknowledges all the past Prophets 'alaihim-us-salawatu wattaslimat' and pays them due respect.
- Islam is a perfectly logical religion. The Qur'an al-karim does not contain a single principle that cannot be understood or which is contradictory to living conditions or scientific knowledge. All the commandments it dictates are extremely useful. The Islamic religion does not embody any superstitions. Preposterous tenets like worshipping idols, images, icons, which can be accepted only by primitive tribes and idolaters and which still exist in Christianity, cannot have access into Islam.
- Christianity represents Allahu ta'ala only as a source of fear. Islam, in contrast, makes one love Allahu ta'ala. What a Muslim fears for is lest he should incur the hatred of Allahu ta'ala.
- No one can force another person to become a Muslim. The two hundred and fifty-sixth ayat of Baqara Sura of the Qur'an al-karim purports the injunction, "Conversion to Islam should not be done through compulsion." On the other hand, Christian missionaries are trying to Christianize people by coercion or by promising advantages.
- The Islamic acts of worship are intended only to express gratitude to Allahu ta'ala and to attain His love. The prescribed prayer times drill people in orderliness and punctuality, and the yearly one-month fasting trains them to have command of their corporeal tendencies.
-Islam puts a special emphasis on cleanliness. Islam is the only religion which commands to do a certain type of physical cleaning before an act of worship. This strictness is totally missing from the other religions. The brevity of daily prayers rules out the possibility of their being a handicap to the daily chores.
- Formation of good habits such as tenderness, charity, and compassion, which are the dominant topics of the sermons given by Christian clergymen, but which are never put into practice by their preachers, let alone by the preached, are peculiar to Muslims.
- On the economic platform, Islam jettisons both the capitalistic materialism and the communistic utopia. It protects the poor, without censuring the rich. It commands the rich to pay zakat to the poor. Furthermore, bringing together Muslims belonging to the sundry nations and races of the world, it establishes the most perfect social system of the world [Hajj].
- Islam prohibits consumption of alcohol, gambling, and drugs. The most disastrous vices of the world originate from these three pestilences.
- No Christian clergyman can explain what will become of people after death, or life and situations in the Hereafter. Islam provides the best and most detailed explanation on this subject.
- Islam is the only religion that commands to help the poor, the destitute and the forlorn travellers, no matter what their religion is.
- Islam does not force any person to believe in something he cannot understand. Unlike other religions, it does not comprehend any mysterious abstractions in the name of credo.
- In Islam, the procedure to be followed for the solution of a canonical problem is first to consult the Qur'an al-karim, then, if a clear answer cannot be found there, to look the matter up in the Sunnat of the Messenger of Allah a.s., and finally, concerning matters of which clear solutions cannot be found in the Sunnat, for the common-sensed experts of the matter to employ ijtihad, [to explain the matter after painstaking lucubrations.]
- Islam is the newest religion. From its first day up to our time, the Qur'an al-karim has preserved its pristine purity without undergoing an infinitesimal diacritical interpolation. Its regulation system is comprehensive enough to meet all sorts of needs. This fact is palpable enough to reveal that no other religion will come, that all sorts of religious matters have been solved, and that Islam is the true religion of Allah.
- The Islamic acts of worship can be performed anywhere. It is not compulsory to go to a mosque for worship. A Muslim does not intrude into others' temples, and it is permissible to perform namaz in a church when it is inevitable.
- Islam cherishes women highly and gives them the greatest rights. The Islamic religion does not enjoin to marry more than one women. Islam's polygamy is a permission which is limited with a certain number and regulated with certain stipulations. By the time Islam appeared, it had been an Arabic custom that a man could cohabit with as many women as he liked and with no degree of responsibility as to their rights. Islam rescued womankind from this horrible situation and protected their rights. By stating, "Paradise is beneath the mother's feet," Muhammad a.s. granted a distinguished status to women. This privilege does not exist in any other religion.
- Islam invites people to work, to study and learn useful knowledge, and to ask for help from Allahu ta'ala after putting his mental and physical capacity to work. No other religion has the maxim, "One hour spent meditating or doing something useful is equal to one year spent doing supererogatory worship."
- Islam is spiritual and physical cleanliness. It holds these two kinds of cleanliness equal. Islam comprises only love, sweet smiles, soft words, integrity, and charity.
- Islam expresses Allahu ta'ala as the Rabb-ul-'alamin, i.e. Allah of all classes of beings. Unlike in other religions, He is not considered as Allah for the votaries of the religion concerned.
- The Qur'an al-karim is the only source where a wretched person can find consolation. The Qur'an al-karim contains numerous pieces of consolatory, soothing, and instructive advice, depending on the kind of the need.
When you read these lovely, open-hearted and cordial statements made about the Islamic religion by people of various nationalities, countries, professions and classes who accepted Islam willingly, not under coercion of any sort, but in consequence of their own decisions and comparative study of religions, you feel so happy and so proud about having been a Muslim! When you see that things that are quite familiar and matter-of-fact to you are admired by others, you feel a certain amazement. Owing to its pulchritudinous habit-injections, such as belief in one Allah, brotherhood, geniality, honesty, compassion, hospitality, charity, an unflinching sense of self-sacrifice for the good of one's homeland, and a readiness to protect one's religion, iman and chastity at the sacrifice of one's life, Islam is preferred to the other religions without any propagation or handfuls of monetary expenditures, which are routine practices of the wealthy organizations buttressing the Christian missionaries.
Islam does not allow any evil thoughts or bad behaviours. There are hypocrites and heretics who try to exploit Islam for their personal advantages, subversive policies, and blunting ideologies. A true Muslim belonging to the group called Ahl-as-sunnat, which is the only group with the correct belief, will never serve as their tool. Nor will he fall for their deceits and let his belief be corrupted. A Muslim will not infringe on someone else's rights, whatsoever the latter's religious belief. A person belonging to one of the seventy-two groups, which our Prophet a.s. stated to be wrong, is a heretic. A true Muslim holding the belief of Ahl-as-sunnat is an extremely pure person who does his five daily prayers of namaz regularly. Islam has prohibited to point a gun toward your Muslim brother, even for a jocular purpose.
Our country, Turkey, which enjoys all the blessings of Allahu ta'ala and which is peerless in the world owing to its good climate, abundant water and rich metal resources, needs true Muslims holding the belief of Ahl-as-sunnat. Only these true Muslims can improve this sacred country to the level worthy of it, by co-operating with one another, by respecting, loving and protecting one another, by rejecting the asinine and aberrant publications of the people of bidat carrying Muslim names and of the enemies of Islam, by working incessantly, by catching up with, and even excelling, the science and technology of the twentieth century. This country, (or any other Muslim country on the earth), will reap no benefit from people who do not know Allahu ta'ala as He is described by the scholars of Ahl-as-sunnat, who flout Islam's commandments and prohibitions, and who feel enmity towards their Muslim brothers with the effect of foreign ideas they have been indoctrinated with. Their souls are unhealthy. Like machines or beasts, they give service to anyone who gets possession of them. They are the most harmful viruses of society. May Allahu ta'ala protect us against the vices of these pestilential people! Scientists and politicians who have chosen Islam, state that "If a man's soul is vacant, it is good for nothing. This vacuum can be filled only with a true religion." A person who has purified his soul with Islam and who avoids Islam's prohibitions, will not fall for any subversive propaganda; but he will follow the right path written in the books of Ahl-as-sunnat, establish a hand-in-hand co-operation with his Muslim brothers, and thus serve his religion and country. Thereby, he will attain the blessing and grace of Allahu ta'ala in both worlds.
Of old, the unilaterally opinionated people would take any occasion to vituperate Islam, and to attempt to defile the essentials of this true religion; in short, doing injustice was their favourite occupation. Most of the books written by such miscreants were published by Christians and by heretical groups lurking behind Muslim names. In Europe there are subversive books that were written without any actual study of Islam. These books represent cruel and lying heathens who worship the devil, who legitimize all sorts of iniquity, and who consider women as mere possessions. Books of the same sort were published with mischievous motives in the orient as well. Today, as people understand one another better and read one another's books, correct books spread widely, and thus the old hatred gradually leaves its place to admiration. The divisive and subversive ideas that at one time instigated wars between Christians and Muslims, and between the aberrant groups of Muslims and true Muslims holding the belief of Ahl-as-sunnat, are on the decrease.
Today Christians realize the shortcomings of their religion and try to ameliorate them. As we were preparing this book we received a letter from India. Enclosed was a message headlined 'Explanation' and distributed by the Christians living there. It said: "Because Allah created us, we are all Allah's sons and daughters. You, too, are a son or daughter of Allah. The expression 'the son of God', which you read in the Bible, means, 'the born slave (creature) of God'. In other words, to say that Issa (Jesus) a.s. is the son of Allah means to say that Allah created him, as He created you and me. He does not have any other relation to Allah. As for the Holy Spirit; it means the great power endowed on Issa a.s.. It would be a mistake to take it as another godhead. The Bible does not contain something in the name of Trinity. Allah is one. It is wrong to believe in three gods. The dogma that men are born sinful, which you have been taught until now, is wrong, too. Everybody is responsible before Allahu ta'ala only for his or her own actions."
As is seen, even Christian priests realize that trinity is something quite wrong, and they attempt to correct it. And this, in its turn, shows that people are gathering around the belief in one mabud (Allah). This reversal means a closer proximity to Islam. We hope that one day Islam will cover the entire world. Otherwise, humanity will become altogether irreligious, which in turn means doom for humanity.
We terminate this part of our book with a quotation of the Nasr Sura of Qur'an al-karim, which purports: "When comes the Help of Allahu ta'ala, and victory, and thou dost see the people enter Allahu ta'ala's religion in crowds, celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His forgiveness: for He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).
Come, O man, who is captivated in forlorn lands,
Come, O man, who is snoozing in earthly ruins!
Open your eyes'n look around, so many lords passed by,
So mad it is to give your heart to this fleeting lie!
Cage is not for the philomel, be it fed with candy,
Alas! Why should one prefer this dungeon so gloomy?
How disconsolate it would be from sleep so sound,
To wake up, when death came to end your earthly round!
So darkened is your heart that advice would do you no good;
To a heart as hard as rocks counsels would be dry food!
Come to your senses, before it is too late;
Eternal torment awaits those who flout this fate!
O my ego, it is you who needs this advice most;
That day, obedience, alone, shall bear a cost!
1. Please see The Sunni Path; Endless Bliss, first fascicle, 5th,6th,26th and 27th chapters; and Endless Bliss, second fascicle, 33rd chapter.
Publisher's Note: Copyleft c Waqf Ikhlas, Istanbul, 1995.
Permission to reprint & distribute is granted only if this heading included, and the text is not modified in any way, shape or form to alter the intended meaning.
WAQF IKHLAS - Tel: (90.212) 513 99 00
ïMs. Jemima Goldsmith ïMs. Afrah Diane ïMs. C. Huda Dodge ïMs. Jewellee ïMs. Karima Razi ïMs. Lara ïMs. Malaak ïMr. Christopher Shelton ïMr. Ibrahim Karlsson ïMr. Malik Hassan ïMr. Nuh Keller ïMr. Rob Wicks ïMr. Samir ïMr. Yahiye Gadahn ïMr. Yusuf Islam ïProfessor Abdul Ahad Dawud ïAsia al Zahir ïAfrah Alshaibani
WHY I CHOSE ISLAM - By Jemima Goldsmith
THE media present me as a naive, besotted 21-year-old who has made a hasty decision without really considering the consequences - thus effectively condemning herself to a life of interminable subservience, misery and isolation.
Although I must confess I have rather enjoyed the various depictions of a veiled and miserable "Haiqa Khan" incarcerated in chains, the reality is somewhat different. Contrary to current opinion, my decision to convert to Islam was entirely my own choice and in no way hurried. Whilst the act of conversion itself is surprisingly quick - entailing the simple assertion that "there is only one God and Mohammed is His Prophet" - the preparation is not necessarily so speedy a process. In my case, this began last July, whilst the actual conversion took place in early February - three months before the Nikkah in Paris. During that time, I studied in depth both the Quran and the works of various Islamic scholars (Gai Eaton, the Bosnian president Alia Izetbegovic, Muhammad Asad) , thus giving me ample time to reflect before making my decision. What began as intellectual curiosity slowly ripened into a dawning realisation of the universal and eternal truth that is Islam. In the statement given out a week ago, I particularly stressed that I had converted to Islam entirely "through my own convictions". The significance of this has been largely ignored by the press. The point is that my conversion was not, as so many have assumed, a pre-requisite to my marriage. It was entirely my own choice.
Religiously speaking, there was absolutely no compulsion for me to t prior to my marriage. As it explicitly states in the Quran, a Muslim is permitted to marry from "the People of the Book" - in other words, either a Christian or a Jew. Indeed, the Sunnah - which describes the life of the Prophet - shows that the messenger of Islam himself married both a Christian and a Jew during his lifetime. I believe that much of this hostility towards my marriage and conversion stems from wide-spread misconceptions about an alien culture and religion. Not only is there a huge gulf between the Western view of Islam and the reality, but there is in some cases also a significant distinction between Islam based directly on the Quran and the Sunnah and that practised by some Islamic societies. During the last year I have had the opportunity to visit Pakistan on three separate occasions and have observed Islamic family life in practice. Thus, to some extent I now feel qualified to judge for myself the true role and position of women in the religion. At the risk of sounding defensive, I would like to point out that Islam is not a religion which subjugates women whilst elevating men to the status of mini-dictators in their own homes. I was able to see this first-hand when I met Imran's sisters in Lahore: they are all highly educated professional women. His oldest sister, Robina, is an alumnus of LSE and holds a senior position in the United Nations in New York. Another sister, Alima, has a master's degree in business administration and runs a successful business; Uzma is a highly qualified surgeon working in a Lahore hospital, whilst Rani is a university graduate who co-ordinates charity work.
They can hardly be seen as "women in chains" dominated by tyrannical husbands.
On the contrary, they are strong-minded independent women - yet at the same time they remain deeply committed both to their families and their religion. Thus, I as able to see - in theory and in practice - how Islam promotes the essential notion of the family unit without subjugating its female members. I am nevertheless fully aware that women are sometimes exploited and oppressed in Islamic societies, as in other parts of the world. Judging by some of articles which have appeared in the press, it would seem that a Western woman's happiness hinges largely upon her access to night-clubs, alcohol and revealing clothes; and the absence of such apparent freedom and luxuries in Islamic societies is seen as an infringement of her basic rights. However, as we all know, such superficialities have very little to do with true happiness. Besides, without in any way wishing to disparage the culture of the Western world, into which I was born, I am more than willing to forego the transient pleasures derived from alcohol and night-clubs; and as for the clothes I will be wearing, I find the traditional shalwar kamiz (tunic and trousers) worn by most Pakistani women far more elegant and feminine than anything in my wardrobe.
Finally, it seems futile to speculate on my chances of marital success. Marriage, as Imran's father has been quoted as saying, is indeed "a gamble". However, when I see that in a society based on family life the divorce rate is just a fraction of that in European or American society, I cannot see that my chances of success are any less than if I had chosen to marry a Westerner. I am all too aware of the enormous task of adapting to a new and radically different culture.
But with the love of my husband and the support of his family I look forward to the challenge wholeheartedly, and would like to feel that people wish me well.
Whilst I do appreciate the genuine concerns of many, I must confess to feeling somewhat bewildered by all of the commotion. / The Sunday Telegraph
[In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful
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 (s.a.s.). 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 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 unbelief. 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. Al-hamdulillah (praise be to Allah) that I had that conversation.
I began to study Qur'an more, and in several months I said Shahada [i.e. stated and accepted the creed of Islam -ed.]. 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 ought 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 at 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.
I would be happy to receive e-mail from anyone curious about Islam, particularly women (I might be more helpful then a male).
C. Huda Dodge - MY PATH TO ISLAM
Salaam alaikum wa rahmatullah.
Since I have started reading and posting on this newsgroup a few months ago, I have noticed a great interest in converts (reverts) to Islam: how are people introduced to it, what attracts people to this faith, how their life changes when they embrace Islam, etc. I have received a of e-mail from people asking me these questions. In this post, I hope insha'Allah to address how, when and why an American like myself came to embrace Islam. It's long, and I'm sorry for that, but I don't think you can fully understand this process from a few paragraphs. I tried not to ramble on or get off on tangents. At times the story is detailed, because I think it helps to truly understand how my path to Islam developed. Of course, there's a lot I left out (I'm not trying to tell you my whole life story - just the pertinent stuff).
It's interesting for me to look back on my life and see how it all fits together - how Allah planned this for me all along. When I think about it, I can't help saying `Subhanallah,' and thank Allah for bringing me to where I am today. At other times, I feel sad that I was not born into Islam and been a Muslim all my life. While I admire those who were, I at times pity them because sometimes they don't really appreciate this blessing. insh'Allah, reading this can help you understand how I, at least, came to be a Muslim. Whether it gives you ideas for da'wah, or just gives you some inspiration in your own faith, I hope it is worth your time to read it, insha'Allah. It is my story, but I think a lot of others might see themselves in it.
I was born in San Francisco, California, and raised in a Bay Area suburb. My small town (San Anselmo, pop. about 14,000 last I checked) was a mostly white, upper-middle-class, Christian community. It is a beautiful area - just north of San Francisco (across the Golden Gate Bridge), nestled in a valley near the hillsides (Mount Tamalpais) and the Pacific Ocean. I knew all of my neighbours, played baseball in the street, caught frogs in the creeks, rode horses in the hills, and climbed trees in my front yard.
My father is Presbyterian, and my mother is Catholic. My father was never really active in any church, but my mother tried to raise us as Catholics. She took us to church sometimes, but we didn't know what was going on. People stand up, sit down, kneel, sit again, stand up, and recite things after the priest. Each pew had a booklet - a kind of `direction book' -and we had to follow along in order to know what to do next (if we didn't fall asleep first). I was baptized in this church, and received my First Communion at about the age of 8 (I have pictures, but I don't remember it much). After that, we only went about once a year.
I lived on a dead-end street of about 15 houses. My grammar school was at the end of the street (4 houses down), next to a small Presbyterian church. When I was about 10, the people of this church invited me to participate in their children's Christmas play. Every Sunday morning from then on, I walked down to church alone (no one else in my family was interested in coming). The whole congregation was only about 30 older people (past their 50's), but they were nice and never made me feel out of place. There were about 3 younger couples with children younger than me.
I became a very active member of this church down the street. When I was in 6th grade, I started baby-sitting the younger kids during the service. By 9th grade, I was helping the minister's wife teach Sunday school. In high school, I started a church youth group by recruiting 4 of my friends to join me. It was a small group: me, my friends, and a young couple with kids, but we liked it that way. The big Presbyterian in town had about 100 kids in their youth group and took trips to Mexico, etc. But our group was content to get together to study the bible, talk about God, and raise money for charities.
These friends and I would sit together and talk about spiritual issues. We debated about questions in our minds: what happens to the people who lived before Jesus came (go to heaven or hell); why do some very righteous people automatically go to hell just because they don't believe in Jesus (we thought about Gandhi); on the other hand, why do some pretty horrible people (like my friend's abusive father) get rewarded with heaven just because they're Christian; why does a loving and merciful God require a blood sacrifice (Jesus) to forgive people's sins; why are we guilty of Adam's original sin; why does the Word of God (Bible) disagree with scientific facts; how can Jesus be God; how can One God be 3 different things; etc. We debated about these things, but never came up with good answers. The church couldn't give us good answers either; they only told us to "have faith."
The people at church told me about a Presbyterian summer camp in Northern California. I went for the first time when I was 10. For the next 7 years, I went every summer. While I was happy with the little church I went to, this is where I really felt in touch with God, without confusion. It was here that I developed my very deep faith in God. We spent much of our time outdoors, playing games, doing crafts, swimming, etc. It was fun, but every day we would also take time out to pray, study the bible, sing spiritual songs, and have `quiet time.' It is this quiet time that really meant a lot to me, and of which I have the best memories. The rule was that you had to sit anywhere on the camp's 200 beautiful acres. I would often go to a meadow, or sit on a bridge overlooking the creek, and just THINK. I looked around me, at the creek, the trees, the clouds, the bugs:) - listened to the water, the birds' songs, the crickets' chirps. This place really let me feel at peace, and I admired and thanked God for His beautiful creation. At the end of each summer, when I returned back home, this feeling stayed with me. I loved to spend time outdoors, alone, to just think about God, life, and my place in it. I developed my personal understanding of Jesus' role as a teacher and example, and left all the confusing church teachings behind.
I believed (and still do) in the teaching "Love your neighbour as yourself," fully giving to others without expecting anything in return, treating others as you would like to be treated. I strived to help everyone I could. When I was fourteen, I got my first job, at a ice cream store. When I got my paycheque each month (it wasn't much), I sent the first $25 to a program called `Foster Parents Plan' (they've changed the name now). This was a charity that hooked up needy children overseas with American sponsors. During my 4 years of high school, I was a sponsor for a young Egyptian boy named Sherif. I sent him part of my paycheque each month, and we exchanged letters. (His letters were in Arabic, and looking at them now, it appears that he believed he was writing to an adult man, not a girl 5 years older than him.) He was 9 years old, his father was dead, and his mother was ill and couldn't work. He had 2 younger brothers and a sister my age. I remember getting a letter from him when I was 16 - he was excited because his sister had gotten engaged. I thought, "She's the same age as me, and she's getting engaged!!!" It seemed so foreign to me. These were the first Muslims I had contact with.
Aside from this, I was also involved with other activities in high school. I tutored Central American students at my school in English. In a group called "Students for Social Responsibility," I helped charities for Nicaraguan school children and Kenyan villagers. We campaigned against nuclear arms (the biggest fear we all had at that time was of a nuclear war).
I invited exchange students from France into my home, and I had penpals from all over the world (France, Germany, Sweden, etc.). My junior year of high school, we hosted a group called `Children of War' - a group of young people from South Africa, Gaza Strip, Guatemala, and other war-torn lands, who toured the country telling their stories and their wishes for peace. Two of them stayed at my house - the group's chaperone from Nicaragua, and a young black South African man. The summer after my junior year of high school, I took a volunteer job in San Francisco (the Tenderloin district), teaching English to refugee women. In my class were Fatimah and Maysun, 2 Chinese Muslim widows from Vietnam. These were the next Muslims I met, although we couldn't talk much (their English was too minimal). All they did was laugh.
All of these experiences put me in touch with the outside world, and led me to value people of all kinds. Throughout my youth and high school, I had developed two very deep interests: faith in God, and interacting with people from other countries. When I left home to attend college in Portland, Oregon, I brought these interests with me.
At Lewis & Clark College, I started out as a Foreign Language (French & Spanish) major, with a thought to one day work with refugee populations, or teach English as a Second Language. When I arrived at school, I moved into a dorm room with two others - a girl from California (who grew up only 10 minutes from where I did), and a 29-year-old Japanese woman (exchange student). I was 17.
I didn't know anyone else at school, so I tried to get involved in activities to meet people. In line with my interests, I chose to get involved with 2 groups: Campus Crusade for Christ (obviously, a Christian group), and Conversation Groups (where they match Americans up with a group of international students to practice English).
I met with the Campus Crusade students during my first term of school. A few of the people that I met were very nice, pure-hearted people, but the majority were very ostentatious. We got together every week to listen to "personal testimonies," sing songs, etc. Every week we visited a different church in the Portland area. Most of the churches were unlike anything I'd ever been exposed to before. One final visit to a church in the Southeast area freaked me out so much that I quit going to the Crusade meetings. At this church, there was a rock band with electric guitars, and people were waving their hands in the air (above their heads, with their eyes closed) and singing "hallelujah."
I had never seen anything like it! I see things like this now on TV, but coming from a very small Presbyterian church, I was disturbed.
Others in Campus Crusade loved this church, and they continued to go.
The atmosphere seemed so far removed from the worship of God, and I didn't feel comfortable returning.
I always felt closest to God when I was in a quiet setting and/or outdoors. I started taking walks around campus (Lewis & Clark College has a beautiful campus!), sitting on benches, looking at the view of Mount Hood, watching the trees change colours. One day I wandered into the campus chapel - a small, round building nestled in the trees. It was beautifully simple. The pews formed a circle around the center of the room, and a huge pipe organ hung from the ceiling in the middle. No altar, no crosses, no statues - nothing. Just some simple wood benches and a pipe organ. During the rest of the year, I spent a lot of time in this building, listening to the organist practice, or just sitting alone in the quiet to think. I felt more comfortable and close to God there than at any church I had ever been to.
During this time, I was also meeting with a group of international students as part of the Conversation Group program. We had 5 people in our group: me, a Japanese man and woman, an Italian man and a Palestinian man. We met twice a week over lunch, to practice English conversation skills. We talked about our families, our studies, our childhood, cultural differences, etc. As I listened to the Palestinian man (Faris) talk about his life, his family, his faith, etc., it struck a nerve in me. I remembered Sherif, Fatima and Maysun, the only other Muslims I had ever known. Previously, I had seen their beliefs and way of life as foreign, something that was alien to my culture. I never bothered to learn about their faith because of this cultural barrier. But the more I learned about Islam, the more I became interested in it as a possibility for my own life.
During my second term of school, the conversation group disbanded and the international students transferred to other schools. The discussions we had, however, stayed at the front of my thoughts. The following term, I registered for a class in the religious studies department: Introduction to Islam. This class brought back all of the concerns that I had about Christianity. As I learned about Islam, all of my questions were answered. All of us are not punished for Adam's original sin. Adam asked God for forgiveness and our Merciful and Loving God forgave him. God doesn't require a blood sacrifice in payment for sins, we must sincerely ask for forgiveness and amend our ways. Jesus wasn't God, he was a prophet, like all of the other prophets, who all taught the same message: Believe in the One true God; worship and submit to Him alone; and live a righteous life according to the guidance He has sent. This answered all of my questions about the trinity and the nature of Jesus (all God, all human, or a combination). God is a Perfect and Fair Judge, who will reward or punish us based on our faith and righteousness. I found a teaching that put everything in its proper perspective, and appealed to my heart and my intellect. It seemed natural. It wasn't confusing. I had been searching, and I had found a place to rest my faith.
That summer, I returned home to the Bay Area and continued my studies of Islam. I checked books out of the library and talked with my friends. They were as deeply spiritual as I was, and had also been searching (most of them were looking into eastern religions, Buddhism in particular). They understood my search, and were happy I could find something to believe in. They raised questions, though, about how Islam would affect my life: as a woman, as a liberal Californian, with my family, etc. I continued to study, pray and soul-search to see how comfortable I really was with it. I sought out Islamic centers in my area, but the closest one was in San Francisco, and I never got there to visit (no car, and bus schedules didn't fit with my work schedule). So I continued to search on my own. When it came up in conversation, I talked to my family about it. I remember one time in particular, when we were all watching a public television program about the Eskimos. They said that the Eskimos have over 200 words for `snow,' because snow is such a big part of their life. Later that night, we were talking about how different languages have many words for things that are important to them. My father commented about all the different words Americans use for "money" (money, dough, bread, etc.). I commented, "You know, the Muslims have 99 names for God - I guess that's what is important to them."
At the end of the summer, I returned to Lewis & Clark. The first thing I did was contact the mosque in south-west Portland. I asked for the name of a woman I could talk to, and they gave me the number of a Muslim American sister. That week, I visited her at home. After talking for a while, she realized that I was already a believer. I told her I was just looking for some women who could help guide me in the practicalities of what it meant to be a Muslim. For example, how to pray. I had read it in books, but I couldn't figure out how to do it just from books. I made attempts, and prayed in English, but I knew I wasn't doing it right. The sister invited me that night to an aqiqa.
(dinner after the birth of a new baby). She picked me up that night and we went. I felt so comfortable with the Muslim sisters there, and they were very friendly to me that night. I said my shahada, witnessed by a few sisters. They taught me how to pray. They talked to me about their own faith (many of them were also American). I left that night feeling like I had just started a new life.
I was still living in a campus dorm, and was pretty isolated from the Muslim community. I had to take 2 buses to get to the area where the mosque was (and where most of the women lived). I quickly lost touch with the women I met, and was left to pursue my faith on my own at school. I made a few attempts to go to the mosque, but was confused by the meeting times. Sometimes I'd show up to borrow some books from the library, and the whole building would be full of men. Another time I decided to go to my first Jumah prayer, and I couldn't go in for the same reason. Later, I was told that women only meet at a certain time (Saturday afternoon), and that I couldn't go at other times. I was discouraged and confused, but I continued to have faith and learn on my own.
Six months after my shahada, I observed my first Ramadan. I had been contemplating the issue of hijab, but was too scared to take that step before. I had already begun to dress more modestly, and usually wore a scarf over my shoulders (when I visited the sister, she told me "all you have to do is move that scarf from your shoulders to your head, and you'll be Islamically dressed."). At first I didn't feel ready to wear hijab, because I didn't feel strong enough in my faith. I understood the reason for it, agreed with it, and admired the women who did wear it. They looked so pious and noble. But I knew that if I wore it, people would ask me a lot of questions, and I didn't feel ready or strong enough to deal with that.
This changed as Ramadan approached, and on the first day of Ramadan, I woke up and went to class in hijab. Alhamdulillah, I haven't taken it off since. Something about Ramadan helped me to feel strong, and proud to be a Muslim. I felt ready to answer anybody's questions.
However, I also felt isolated and lonely during that first Ramadan. No one from the Muslim community even called me. I was on a meal plan at school, so I had to arrange to get special meals (the dining hall wasn't open during the hours I could eat). The school agreed to give me my meals in bag lunches. So every night as sundown approached, I'd walk across the street to the kitchen, go in the back to the huge refrigerators, and take my 2 bag lunches (one for fitur, one for suhur). I'd bring the bags back to my dorm room and eat alone. They always had the same thing: yoghurt, a piece of fruit, cookies, and either a tuna or egg salad sandwich. The same thing, for both meals, for the whole month. I was lonely, but at the same time I had never felt more at peace with myself.
When I embraced Islam, I told my family. They were not surprised. They kind of saw it coming, from my actions and what I said when I was home that summer. They accepted my decision, and knew that I was sincere. Even before, my family always accepted my activities and my deep faith, even if they didn't share it. They were not as open-minded, however, when I started to wear hijab. They worried that I was cutting myself off from society, that I would be discriminated against, that it would discourage me from reaching my goals, and they were embarrassed to be seen with me. They thought it was too radical. They didn't mind if I had a different faith, but they didn't like it to affect my life in an outward way.
They were more upset when I decided to get married. During this time, I had gotten back in touch with Faris, the Muslim Palestinian brother of my conversation group, the one who first prompted my interest in Islam. He was still in the Portland area, attending the community college. We started meeting again, over lunch, in the library, at his brother's house, etc. We were married the following summer (after my sophomore year, a year after my shahada). My family freaked out. They weren't quite yet over my hijab, and they felt like I had thrown something else at them. They argued that I was too young, and worried that I would abandon my goals, drop out of school, become a young mother, and destroy my life. They liked my husband, but didn't trust him at first (they were thinking `green card scam'). My family and I thought over this for several months, and I feared that our relationship would never be repaired.
That was 3 years ago, and a lot has changed. Faris and I moved to Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. We live in a very strong and close-knit Muslim community. I graduated magna cum laude last year, with a degree in child development. I have had several jobs, from secretary to pre-school teacher, with no problems about my hijab. I'm active in the community, and still do volunteer work. My husband, insha'Allah, will finish his Electrical Engineering degree this year. We visit my family a couple of times a year. I met Faris' parents for the first time this summer, and we get along great. I'm slowly but surely adding Arabic to the list of languages I speak.
My family has seen all of this, and has recognized that I didn't destroy my life. They see that Islam has brought me happiness, not pain and sorrow. They are proud of my accomplishments, and can see I am truly happy and at peace. Our relationship is back to normal they are looking forward to our visit next month, insha'Allah.
Looking back on all of this, I feel truly grateful that Allah has guided me to where I am today. I truly feel blessed. It seems that all of the pieces of my life fit together in a pattern - a path to Islam.
Alhamdulillahi rabi al'amin.
Your sister in faith, C. Huda Dodge
"...Say: Allah's guidance is the only guidance, and we have been directed to submit ourselves to the Lord of the Worlds..." Qur'an 6:71
Lara - DISCOVERING ISLAM: A CANADIAN MUSLIMA'S STORY April 25, 1996
As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmahtullahi wa Barakatu (May the peace, the mercy, and the blessings of Allah be upon you).
I am a Canadian of Scandinavian and other ancestry who was born and raised in Canada. I have been a Muslima since February 1993 when I was 23. While growing up, I was never affiliated with any religion nor was I an atheist. When I was in my mid-teens I started to think somewhat about religion and at that time I did believe in the Oneness of God (Tawhid). Christianity never interested me.
My first contact with Muslims occurred when I was introduced to some Muslim international students in 1988. Through them I learned a bit about Islam, such as Ramadan fasting. But it was really not until 1992 that I became interested in Islam. In the summer of that year a Canadian newspaper published a series of articles attacking Islam by using examples of anti-Islamic behaviour of some Muslims in an attempt to vilify Islam itself. Non-Muslims tend to judge Islam on the basis of the behaviour (which is not necessarily Islamic) of Muslims. I was not yet a Muslima but the articles were so outrageous that I sent a letter to the editor in defence of Islam. Now I was curious about Islam. I re-read some articles I had picked up several months earlier from the MSA Islam Awareness Week display at my university. One was about 'Isa (alaihi Salam) [Jesus] as a Prophet of Islam. Also, I asked a Muslim to get me some books about Islam; they were about the overall ideology of Islam and were written by two famous Muslim authors. Impressed, I thought, "This is Islam? It seems so right." Over the next few months in my free time while attending university I continued to learn about Islam from authentic Islamic books, for example The Life of Muhammad (s.a.s) by Dr. Muhammad Haykal. One certainly does not learn the truth about Islam from the mass media! Also, newcomers to Islam especially must be careful to avoid the writings of deviant groups which claim ties to Islam so as not to be misled. And just because the author has an Arabic name does not necessarily mean that he or she is a knowledgeable Muslim or even Muslim at all. Also, I learned about Islam from some kind, knowledgeable Muslims and Muslimas who did not pressure me. Meanwhile, I had begun to Islamize my behaviour which did not require huge change. I already avoided consuming alcohol and pig meat. Also, I always preferred to dress conservatively/modestly and not wear makeup, perfume, or jewellery outside my home. I started to eat only islamically slaughtered meat. Also during this time I visited a masjid (mosque) in my city for the first time.
Until I discovered Islam, I knew almost nothing about it. I say discovered because the "Islam" that I had always heard about through the mass media is not true Islam. I had always assumed that Islam is just another man-made religion, not knowing that it is the Truth. I had also assumed that a person had to be raised as a Muslim to be one. I was not aware of the fact that all humans are born Muslim (in a state of Islam - submitted to the Creator). Like many "Westerners" I associated Islam with the "East" and did not know that Islam is universal in both time and place. However, I never had negative feelings about Islam, al-Hamdulillah. The more knowledge that I acquired about Islam, the more I felt that I too can actually be I found that many of the beliefs that I already had were actually Islamic not merely "common sense."
So after familiarizing myself with what Islam is basically about and what are the duties and proper conduct of a Muslim person, as well as thinking and reflecting, I felt ready to accept Islam and live as a Muslima. One day while at home I said the Shahada (declaration of faith) and began to perform the five daily salawat (prayers), al-Hamdulillah. That was in February 1993, several days before the fasting month of Ramadan began. I did not want to miss the fasting this time! I found the fasting to be much easier than I had anticipated; before I fasted I had worried that I might faint. At first there was a bit of an adjustment period getting used to the new routine of performing Salah and fasting, and I made some mistakes, but it was exciting and not difficult. I started to read the Qur'an (Abdullah Yusuf Ali's translation) when I was given one soon after accepting Islam. Before that I had read only excerpts of it in other books. Also in the beginning, I found The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam by Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi to be a useful guide.
In January 1996 (during Ramadan) I started to wear the Islamic headscarf (hijab). I realized that I could not fully submit to Allah (s.w.t.), which is what being Muslim is about, without wearing it. Islam must be accepted and practised in its entirety; it is not an "alter-to-suit-yourself" religion. Since becoming a Muslima I was aware that the headscarf is required of Muslim women and I had intended to wear it eventually. I should have worn it immediately upon accepting Islam but for many Muslimas (even some from Muslim families) it is not easy to take that step and put it on in a non-Muslim society. It is silly how so many persons get upset over a piece of fabric! Also, it is interesting to note that Christian nuns are never criticized for covering their heads. Never in my life did I have negative feelings toward muhajjabas (women who wear hijab) when I saw them. What made me hesitate to put it on was fearing receiving bad treatment from others, especially family. But we must fear Allah ((s.w.t.) ) only, not others. In the few months before I permanently put on hijab I started "practising" wearing it. I wore it when I travelled between my home and the local masjid on Fridays when I started attending the Djuma Salah (Friday congregational prayer). (Of course, since I always wore it during every Salah). A couple of weeks prior, in Du'a I began asking Allah ((s.w.t.) ) to make it easy for me to wear it.
The day I finally put it on permanently I had reached the point where I felt that I could no longer go out with a bare head, and I thought tough bananas" if others do not like me wearing it since I alone am accountable for my actions and am required to perform my Islamic duties, and I could never please everyone anyway. Sometimes opposite to hijab is a control issue: some persons just plainly do not like those who are determined and independent especially if it is their child.
Upon wearing it I immediately felt protected and was finally able to go out and not be the target of stares/leers from men. At first I felt a bit self-conscious but after several weeks I felt completely used to wearing hijab. Sometimes other persons look puzzled/confused, I think because they are not used to seeing pale-faced, blue-eyed Muslimas! By the way, wearing hijab is da'wah in a way as it draws attention to Islam.
Since accepting Islam I continue to seek knowledge about the Din (religion) which is a lifelong duty for all Muslims--male and female Currently, I am learning Arabic and hope to be able to read the Qur'an in Arabic soon, insha'Allah. Reading, discussing Islam with other Muslims, and the Friday Djuma khutba are all educational. Striving to be as pious as one can be and fighting against one's own evil traits (jihad al-nafs) takes effort and is continuous and never ending for Muslims.
I find Islam ever-more fascinating, and I enjoy living as a Muslima.
Assalamalaikum brothers and sisters and non Muslims.
First off all, I would like to start by saying that this true story is not for my own fame or admiration but for the sake of my Lord and your Lord Allah. All praises due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful Owner of the day of judgement. I would like to repeat to you something I heard: the journey of a thousand miles has to start with the first step and this is the first part of my journey.
My name is Malik Mohammed Hassan and I have recently converted to Islam. When I was in junior high school I was first introduced to Islam by reading the book Roots by Alex Haley. It taught me a little bit about the strong will that most Muslims possess, myself included. It also introduced me to Allah. I had never heard of Allah in his real form until I read that book and I was very curious. I then started reading about The Nation Of Islam (specifically Malcolm X) and it fascinated me how devoted he was to Allah, especially after he left the self serving Nation Of Islam. Reading about Malcolm made me think about a God who (for a change) did not have any physical form or limitations and, being a totally blind person, it made me relate to these people: the people who Malcolm and Haley referred to as Muslims. I continued reading what I could about Islam which wasn't as much as it should have been. My reading material was very limited because like I said above: I am a totally blind person and the material available about Islam in braille or on tape was not only very little, but also very general. I believe the reason was that the material that I had access to wasn't written by Muslims and it kind of painted a dark picture of Islam. I think most of the literature written by Christians or non Muslims about Islam tends to do that most of the time. And I didn't know that their were even Muslims in Halifax so I obviously didn't know any. I didn't even know about the local Islamic association until I was already a Muslim.
So, I read what I could until my first year out of high school around the month of May, 1996, when I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to participate in a camp for blind and visually impaired people known throughout Canada as Score. I agreed and sent them a resume and praise be to Allah I was excepted for work.
At first I really didn't want to go but something kept telling me it would be a good idea if I went. So, on June 30th 1996 I boarded a plane from Nova Scotia to Toronto and took my last trip as a non Muslim; I just didn't know it yet.
I got to Toronto and everything at first was pretty normal... It was on the second day that I was there when the journey of a thousand miles first started.
I arrived on a Sunday and on the next day I met the person who Allah would use with His divine power to help guide me to the beautiful Religion of Islam. I met a sister named Rizvana and if she reads this I hope she doesn't get mad at me for using her name.
When I met her, I immediately wanted to talk to her because I liked her name. I asked her of what origin her name was and she told me that it was Arabic; so I asked her if she was Muslim and she replied with the answer of yes. I immediately started telling her what I already knew about Islam which lasted about ten seconds. I started asking her questions and also asking her to talk to me about Islam.
One particular incident that comes to my mind is when all of the workers at the camp went to a baseball game and the sister and I started talking about Islam and missed pretty much the whole game.
Well, anyway, we talked for about three, maybe four days on and off about Islam and on July the fifth if my memory doesn't fail me I became a Muslim. My life has been totally different ever since. I look at things very differently than I used to and I finally feel like I belong to a family. All Muslims are brothers and sisters in Islam so I could say that I have approximately 1.2 billion brothers and sisters all of whom I'm proud to be related to. I finally know what it feels like to be humble and to worship a God that I don't have to see.
For any non Muslim reading this just look at it this way. It's good to learn, but you never know when you will be tested and if you're not in the class at the time of the final exam no matter how much you know you'll never get any credit. So like I said it's good to learn but if you want to get credit sign up for the class. In other words, declare shahada (testimony to faith) and let Allah teach you everything you need to know. Believe me the reward is worth it. You could say the reward is literally heaven.
If any good comes out of this story all the credit is due to Allah; only the mistakes are my own.
I would like to mention a part of a hadith that has had a great effect on me and that is:
"Worship Allah as if you see him and if you don't see him, know that he sees you." - Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Number 1
My conversion to Islam began in my eighth grade year. There was a Muslim student by the name of Raphael who first told me a little about Islam. At the time he was not so knowledgeable about Islam, but he put the initial interest in my mind which never went away.
In the ninth grade there was another student by the name of Leonard who claimed at one time or another that he was a Muslim but he was more or less a 5 percenter. The one thing he did do was to give me a pamphlet on true Islam which increased my interest in Islam. I didn't hear much more about Islam until my tenth grade year.
That year me and Leonard would sit in the back of geometry class and blame all of the world's problems on white people while we would exalt the status of black people above all other races. At that time in my life I thought that Islam was the religion for black people, but unfortunately the Islam I was talking about was nothing more than black nationalism with a slight touch of true Islam. It was very similar to The Nation of Islam. As time went on I began to see that my black nationalist views and my perception of what Islam was about became tired. It was useless to hate almost all white people and to blame this on Islam. Around the same time I totally denounced Christianity as my religion. I got tired of the unintelligible doctrines and the many contradictions within the religion.
The next year of high school I was conversing with a few students about religion and they told me to buy a Qu'ran so I did. I went to the nearest bookstore and bought a very poor translation of the Quran but it was the first real look into the truth about Islam. Within a few weeks I took on the beliefs of a Muslim even though I hadn't taken shahadah yet. Most of what I was doing concerning Islam was wrong because I never had a chance to go to a masjid because my mother totally forbade it. As time went on I finally got an Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Quran which opened my eyes to so much about Islam.
In the meantime my mother was doing everything in her power to prevent me from embracing Islam. She took me to see her preacher three times which was of no avail. As time passed I began to learn more and more about Islam from various books I could get my hands on. I finally learned how to make salat correctly from one of these books. My mother was still trying her best to make me become a Christian again.
My mother and I would frequently argue about religion until one day my mother had enough and told my dad that I was going to have to live with him. He had absolutely no problem with this. The day after I graduated from high school I moved in with my dad. I can see now that my parent's divorce was actually a blessing in disguise. Their divorce provided me with a place to live in which I could practice Islam freely. My dad had no problem with my interest in Islam.
One day I called the Islamic Learning Center in Fayetteville and a brother by the name of Mustafa told me to come down for the Taleem (lesson) to learn more about Islam. Everybody was extremely hospitable and Mustafa even gave me a ride home. After three weeks of going to Jumuah (Friday congregational prayers) and Talim I finally took my Shahadah on July 2,1995. Ever since then I have been an active member of the Islamic community. I am also very pleased to say that Raphael (the person who gave me my initial in interest in Islam) got back to Islam seriously and took shahadah a few months before I did. We still keep in touch even though he is in England.
I was born in an ordinary , non-religious Swedish home, but with a very loving relationship to each other. I had lived my life 25 years without really thinking about the existence of God or anything spiritual what-so-ever; I was the role model of the materialistic man.
Or was I? I recall a short story I wrote in 7th grade, something about my future life, where I portray myself as a successful games programmer (I hadn't yet even touched a computer) and living with a Muslim wife!! OK, at that time Muslim to me meant dressing in long clothes and wearing a scarf, but I have no idea where those thoughts came from. Later, in high school, I remember spending much time in the school-library (being a bookworm) and at one time I picked up a translated Qur'an and read some passages from it. I don't remember exactly what I read, but I do remember finding that what it said made sense and was logical to me.
Still, I was not at all religious, I couldn't fit God in my universe, and I had no need of any god. I mean, we have Newton to explain how the universe works, right?
Time passed, I graduated and started working. Earned some money and moved to my own apartment, and found a wonderful tool in the PC. I became a passionate amateur photographer, and enrolled in activities around that. At one time I was documenting a marketplace, taking snapshots from a distance with my telelens when an angry looking immigrant came over and explained that he would make sure I wasn't going to take any more pictures of his mum and sisters. Strange people those Muslims...
More things related to Islam happened that I can't explain why I did what I did. I can't recall the reason I called the "Islamic information organisation" in Sweden, ordering a subscription to their newsletter, buying Yusuf Ali's Qur'an and a very good book on Islam called Islam - our faith. I just did!
I read almost all of the Qur'an, and found it to be both beautiful and logical, but still, God had no place in my heart. One year later, whilst out on a patch of land called "pretty island" (it really is) taking autumn-colour pictures, I was overwhelmed by a fantastic feeling. I felt as if I were a tiny piece of something greater, a tooth on a gear in God's great gearbox called the universe. It was wonderful! I had never ever felt like this before, totally relaxed, yet bursting with energy, and above all, total awareness of god wherever I turned my eyes.
I don't know how long I stayed in this ecstatic state, but eventually it ended and I drove home, seemingly unaffected, but what I had experienced left uneraseable marks in my mind. At this time Microsoft brought Windows-95 to the market with the biggest marketing blitz known to the computer industry. Part of the package was the on-line service The Microsoft Network. And keen to know what is was I got myself an account on the MSN. I soon found that the Islam BBS were the most interesting part of the MSN, and that's where I found Shahida.
Shahida is a American woman, who like me has converted to Islam. Our chemistry worked right away, and she became the best pen-friend I have ever had. Our e-mail correspondence will go down in history: the fact that my mailbox grew to something like 3 megabytes over the first 6 months tells its own tale. She and I discussed a lot about Islam and faith in god in general, and what she wrote made sense to me. Shahida had an angels patience with my slow thinking and my silly questions, but she never gave up the hope in me. Just listen to your heart and you'll find the truth she said.
And I found the truth in myself sooner than I'd expected. On the way home from work, in the bus with most of the people around me asleep, and myself adoring the sunset, painting the beautifully dispersed clouds with pink and orange colours, all the parts came together, how God can rule our life, yet we're not robots. How I could depend on physics and chemistry and still believe and see Gods work. It was wonderful, a few minutes of total understanding and peace. I so long for a moment like this to happen again!
And it did, one morning I woke up, clear as a bell, and the first thought that ran through my brain was how grateful to God I were that he made me wake up to another day full of opportunities. It was so natural, like I had been doing every day of my life!
After these experiences I couldn't no longer deny God's existence. But after 25 years of denying God it was no easy task to admit his existence and accept faith. But good things kept happening to me, I spent some time in the US, and at this time I started praying, testing and feeling, learning to focus on God and to listen to what my heart said. It all ended in a nice weekend in New York, of which I had worried a lot, but it turned out to be a success, most of all, I finally got to meet Shahida!
At this point there was no return, I just didn't know it yet. But God kept leading me, I read some more, and finally got the courage to call the nearest Mosque and ask for a meeting with some Muslims. With trembling legs I drove to the mosque, which I had passed many times before, but never dared to stop and visit. I met the nicest people there, and I was given some more reading material, and made plans to come and visit the brothers in their home. What they said, and the answers they gave all made sense. Islam became a major part of my life, I started praying regularly, and I went to my first Jumma prayer. It was wonderful, I sneaked in, and sat in the back, not understanding a word the imam was saying, but still enjoying the service. After the khutba we all came together forming lines, and made the two 'Rakats'. It was yet one of the wonderful experiences I have had on my journey to Islam. The sincerity of 200 men fully devoted to just one thing, to praise God, felt great!
Slowly my mind started to agree with my heart, I started to picture myself as a Muslim, but could I really convert to Islam? I had left the Swedish state-church earlier, just in case, but to pray 5 times a day? to stop eating pork? Could I really do that? And what about my family and friends? I recalled what Br. Omar told me, how his family tried to get him admitted to an asylum when he converted. Could I really do this?
By this time the Internet wave had swept my country, and I too had hooked up with the infobahn. And "out there" were tons of information about Islam. I think I collected just about every web page with the word Islam anywhere in the text, and learned a lot. But what really made a change was a text I found in Great Britain, a story of a newly converted woman with feelings exactly like mine. 12 hours is the name of the text. When I had read that story, and wept the tears out of my eyes I realized that there were no turning back anymore, I couldn't resist Islam any longer.
Summer vacation started, and I had made my mind up. I had to become a Muslim! But after all, the start of the summer had been very cold, and if my first week without work was different, I wouldn't lose a day of sunshine by not being on the beach. On the TV the weatherman painted a big sun right on top of my part of the country. OK then, some other day... The next morning; a steel grey sky, with ice-cold gusts of wind outside my bedroom window. It was like God had decided my time was up, I could wait no longer. I had the required bath, and dressed in clean clothes, jumped in my car and drove the 1 hour drive to the mosque.
In the Mosque I approached the brothers with my wish, and after Dhuhr prayer the Imam and some brothers witnessed me say the Shahada. Alhamdulillah! And to my great relief all my family and friends have taken my conversion very well, they have all accepted it, I won't say they were thrilled, but absolutely no hard feelings. They can't understand all the things I do. Like praying 5 times a day on specific times, or not eating pork meat. They think this is strange foreign customs that will die out with time, but I'll prove them wrong. insha'Allah!
Nuh Ha Mim Keller
What follows is a personal account of a scholar I have been writing to for over a year and had the blessing of meeting when I invited him to do a lecture tour around England. He is quite unique in that he seems to be one of the few reverts/converts to have achieved Islamic scholarship in the fullest sense of the word in traditional and orthodox Islam, having studied Shafi'i and Hanafi Jurisprudence (fiqh) and tenants of faith (`aqidah). I hope it will serve as an inspiration to those who have moved closer to Islam but have not yet taken the Shahadah, and as a reassurance to those that have taken the Shahadah but are trying to find their feet in the beautiful ocean of Islam, and also as a reminder and confirmation to those of us who were blessed with being born into Muslim families, Amin.
Masud Ahmed Khan
Born in 1954 in the farm country of the north-western United States, I was raised in a religious family as a Roman Catholic. The Church provided a spiritual world that was unquestionable in my childhood, if anything more real than the physical world around me, but as I grew older, and especially after I entered a Catholic university and read more, my relation to the religion became increasingly called into question, in belief and practice.
One reason was the frequent changes in Catholic liturgy and ritual that occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, suggesting to laymen that the Church had no firm standards. To one another, the clergy spoke about flexibility and liturgical relevance, but to ordinary Catholics they seemed to be groping in the dark. God does not change, nor the needs of the human soul, and there was no new revelation from heaven. Yet we rang in the changes, week after week, year after year; adding, subtracting, changing the language from Latin to English, finally bringing in guitars and folk music. Priests explained and explained as laymen shook their heads. The search for relevance left large numbers convinced that there had not been much in the first place.
A second reason was a number of doctrinal difficulties, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, which no one in the history of the world, neither priest nor layman, had been able to explain in a convincing way, and which resolved itself, to the common mind at least, in a sort of godhead-by-committee, shared between God the Father, who ruled the world from heaven; His son Jesus Christ, who saved humanity on earth; and the Holy Ghost, who was pictured as a white dove and appeared to have a considerably minor role. I remember wanting to make special friends with just one of them so he could handle my business with the others, and to this end, would sometimes pray earnestly to this one
and sometimes to that; but the other two were always stubbornly there. I finally decided that God the Father must be in charge of the other two, and this put the most formidable obstacle in the way of my Catholicism, the divinity of Christ. Moreover, reflection made it plain that the nature of man contradicted the nature of God in every particular, the limitary and finite on the one hand, the absolute and infinite on the other. That Jesus was God was something I cannot remember having ever really believed, in childhood or later.
Another point of incredulity was the trading of the Church in stocks and bonds in the hereafter it called indulgences. Do such and such and so-and-so many years will be remitted from your sentence in purgatory that had seemed so false to Martin Luther at the outset of the Reformation.
I also remember a desire for a sacred scripture, something on the order of a book that could furnish guidance. A Bible was given to me one Christmas, a handsome edition, but on attempting to read it, I found it so rambling and devoid of a coherent thread that it was difficult to think of a way to base one's life upon it. Only later did I learn how Christians solve the difficulty in practice, Protestants by creating sectarian theologies, each emphasizing the texts of their sect and downplaying the rest; Catholics by downplaying it all, except the snippets mentioned in their liturgy. Something seemed lacking in a sacred book that could not be read as an integral whole.
Moreover, when I went to the university, I found that the authenticity of the book, especially the New Testament, had come into considerable doubt as a result of modern hermeneutical studies by Christians themselves. In a course on contemporary theology, I read the Norman Perrin translation of "The Problem of the Historical Jesus" by Joachim Jeremias, one of the principal New Testament scholars of this century. A textual critic who was a master of the original languages and had spent long years with the texts, he had finally agreed with the German theologian Rudolph Bultmann that without a doubt it is true to say that the dream of ever writing a biography of Jesus is over, meaning that the life of Christ as he actually lived it could not be reconstructed from the New Testament with any degree of confidence. If this were accepted from a friend of Christianity and one of its foremost textual experts, I reasoned, what was left for its enemies to say? And what then remained of the Bible except to acknowledge that it was a record of truths mixed with fictions, conjectures projected onto Christ by later followers, themselves at odds with each other as to who the master had been and what he had taught. And if theologians like Jeremias could reassure themselves that somewhere under the layers of later accretions to the New Testament there was something called the historical Jesus and his message, how could the ordinary person hope to find it, or know it, should it be found?
I studied philosophy at the university and it taught me to ask two things of whoever claimed to have the truth: What do you mean, and how do you know? When I asked these questions of my own religious tradition, I found no answers, and realized that Christianity had slipped from my hands. I then embarked on a search that is perhaps not unfamiliar to many young people in the West, a quest for meaning in a meaningless world.
I began where I had lost my previous belief, with the philosophers, yet wanting to believe, seeking not philosophy, but rather a philosophy.
I read the essays of the great pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, which taught about the phenomenon of the ages of life, and that money, fame, physical strength, and intelligence all passed from one with the passage of years, but only moral excellence remained. I took this lesson to heart and remembered it in after years. His essays also drew attention to the fact that a person was wont to repudiate in later years what he fervently espouses in the heat of youth. With a prescient wish to find the Divine, I decided to imbue myself with the most cogent arguments of atheism that I could find, that perhaps I might find a way out of them later. So I read the Walter Kaufmann translations of the works of the immoralist Friedrich Nietzsche. The many-faceted genius dissected the moral judgements and beliefs of mankind with brilliant philological and psychological arguments that ended in accusing human language itself, and the language of nineteenth-century science in particular, of being so inherently determined and mediated by concepts inherited from the language of morality that in their present form they could never hope to uncover reality. Aside from their immunological value against total scepticism, Nietzsches works explained why the West was post-Christian, and accurately predicted the unprecedented savagery of the twentieth century, debunking the myth that science could function as a moral replacement for the now dead religion.
At a personal level, his tirades against Christianity, particularly in The Genealogy of Morals, gave me the benefit of distilling the beliefs of the monotheistic tradition into a small number of analyzable forms. He separated unessential concepts (such as the bizarre spectacle of an omnipotent deity's suicide on the cross) from essential ones, which I now, though without believing in them, apprehended to be but three alone: that God existed; that He created man in the world and defined the conduct expected of him in it; and that He would judge man accordingly in the hereafter and send him to eternal reward or punishment.
It was during this time that I read an early translation of the Koran which I grudgingly admired, between agnostic reservations, for the purity with which it presented these fundamental concepts. Even if false, I thought, there could not be a more essential expression of religion. As a literary work, the translation, perhaps it was Sales, was uninspired and openly hostile to its subject matter, whereas I knew the Arabic original was widely acknowledged for its beauty and eloquence among the religious books of mankind. I felt a desire to learn Arabic to read the original.
On a vacation home from school, I was walking upon a dirty road between some fields of wheat, and it happened that the sun went down. By some inspiration, I realized that it was a time of worship, a time to bow and pray to the one God. But it was not something one could rely on oneself to provide the details of, but rather a passing fancy, or perhaps the beginning of an awareness that atheism was an inauthentic way of being.
I carried something of this disquiet with me when I transferred to the University of Chicago, where I studied the epistemology of ethical theory how moral judgements were reached reading and searching among the books of the philosophers for something to shed light on the question of meaninglessness, which was both a personal concern and one of the central philosophical problems of our age.
According to some, scientific observation could only yield description statements of the form X is Y, for example, The object is red, Its weight is two kilos, Its height is ten centimetres, and so on, in each of which the functional was a scientifically verifiable is, whereas in moral judgements the functional element was an ought, a description statement which no amount of scientific observation could measure or verify. It appeared that ought was logically meaningless, and with it all morality whatsoever, a position that reminded me of those described by Lucian in his advice that whoever sees a moral philosopher coming down the road should flee from him as from a mad dog. For such a person, expediency ruled, and nothing checked his behaviour but convention.
As Chicago was a more expensive school, and I had to raise tuition money, I found summer work on the West Coast with a seining boat fishing in Alaska. The sea proved a school in its own right, one I was to return to for a space of eight seasons, for the money. I met many people on boats, and saw something of the power and greatness of the wind, water, storms, and rain; and the smallness of man. These things lay before us like an immense book, but my fellow fishermen and I could only discern the letters of it that were within our context: to catch as many fish as possible within the specified time to sell to the tenders. Few knew how to read the book as a whole. Sometimes, in a blow, the waves rose like great hills, and the captain would hold the wheel with white knuckles, our bow one minute plunging gigantically down into a valley of green water, the next moment reaching the bottom of the trough and soaring upwards towards the sky before topping the next crest and starting down again.
Early in my career as a deck hand, I had read the Hazel Barnes translation of Jean Paul Sartres "Being and Nothingness", in which he argued that phenomena only arose for consciousness in the existential context of human projects, a theme that recalled Marxs 1844 manuscripts, where nature was produced by man, meaning, for example, that when the mystic sees a stand of trees, his consciousness hypostatizes an entirely different phenomenal object than a poet does, for example, or a capitalist. To the mystic, it is a manifestation; to the poet, a forest; to the capitalist, lumber. According to such a perspective, a mountain only appears as tall in the context of the project of climbing it, and so on, according to the instrumental relations involved in various human interests. But the great natural events of the sea surrounding us seemed to defy, with their stubborn, irreducible facticity, our uncomprehending attempts to come to terms with them. Suddenly, we were just there, shaken by the forces around us without making sense of them, wondering if we would make it through. Some, it was true, would ask Gods help at such moments, but when we returned safely to shore, we behaved like men who knew little of Him, as if those moments had been a lapse into insanity, embarrassing to think of at happier times. It was one of the lessons of the sea that in fact, such events not only existed but perhaps even preponderated in our life. Man was small and weak, the forces around him were large, and he did not control them.
Sometimes a boat would sink and men would die. I remember a fisherman from another boat who was working near us one opening, doing the same job as I did, piling web. He smiled across the water as he pulled the net from the hydraulic block overhead, stacking it neatly on the stern to ready it for the next set. Some weeks later, his boat overturned while fishing in a storm, and he got caught in the web and drowned. I saw him only once again, in a dream, beckoning to me from the stern of his boat.
The tremendousness of the scenes we lived in, the storms, the towering sheer cliffs rising vertically out of the water for hundreds of feet, the cold and rain and fatigue, the occasional injuries and deaths of workers these made little impression on most of us. Fishermen were, after all, supposed to be tough. On one boat, the family that worked it was said to lose an occasional crew member while running at sea at the end of the season, invariably the sole non-family member who worked with them, his loss saving them the wages they would have otherwise had to pay him.
The captain of another was a twenty-seven-year-old who delivered millions of dollars worth of crab each year in the Bering Sea. When I first heard of him, we were in Kodiak, his boat at the city dock they had tied up to after a lengthy run some days before. The captain was presently indisposed in his bunk in the stateroom, where he had been vomiting up blood from having eaten a glass uptown the previous night to prove how tough he was.
He was in somewhat better condition when I later saw him in the Bering Sea at the end of a long winter king crab season. He worked in his wheelhouse up top, surrounded by radios that could pull in a signal from just about anywhere, computers, Loran, sonar, depth-finders, radar. His panels of lights and switches were set below the 180-degree sweep of shatterproof windows that overlooked the sea and the men on deck below, to whom he communicated by loudspeaker. They often worked round the clock, pulling their gear up from the icy water under watchful batteries of enormous electric lights attached to the masts that turned the perpetual night of the winter months into day. The captain had a reputation as a screamer, and had once locked his crew out on deck in the rain for eleven hours because one of them had gone inside to have a cup of coffee without permission. Few crewmen lasted longer than a season with him, though they made nearly twice the yearly income of, say, a lawyer or an advertising executive, and in only six months. Fortunes were made in the Bering Sea in those years, before overfishing wiped out the crab.
At present, he was at anchor, and was amiable enough when we tied up to him and he came aboard to sit and talk with our own captain. They spoke at length, at times gazing thoughtfully out at the sea through the door or windows, at times looking at each other sharply when something animated them, as the topic of what his competitors thought of him. "They wonder why I have a few bucks", he said. "Well I slept in my own home one night last year."
He later had his crew throw off the lines and pick the anchor, his eyes flickering warily over the water from the windows of the house as he pulled away with a blast of smoke from the stack. His watchfulness, his walrus-like physique, his endless voyages after game and markets, reminded me of other predatory hunter-animals of the sea. Such people, good at making money but heedless of any ultimate end or purpose, made an impression on me, and I increasingly began to wonder if men didn't need principles to guide them and tell them why they were there.
Without such principles, nothing seemed to distinguish us above our prey except being more thorough, and technologically capable of preying longer, on a vaster scale, and with greater devastation than the animals we hunted.
These considerations were in my mind the second year I studied at Chicago, where I became aware through studies of philosophical moral systems that philosophy had not been successful in the past at significantly influencing peoples morals and preventing injustice, and I came to realize that there was little hope for it to do so in the future. I found that comparing human cultural systems and societies in their historical succession and multiplicity had led many intellectuals to moral relativism, since no moral value could be discovered which on its own merits was transculturally valid, a reflection leading to nihilism, the perspective that sees human civilizations as plants that grow out of the earth, springing from their various seeds and soils, thriving for a time, and then dying away.
Some heralded this as intellectual liberation, among them Emile Durkheim in his "Elementary Forms of the Religious Life", or Sigmund Freud in his "Totem and Taboo", which discussed mankind as if it were a patient and diagnosed its religious traditions as a form of a collective neurosis that we could now hope to cure, by applying to them a thorough scientific atheism, a sort of salvation through pure science.
On this subject, I bought the Jeremy Shapiro translation of "Knowledge and Human Interests" by Jurgen Habermas, who argued that there was no such thing as pure science that could be depended upon to forge boldly ahead in a steady improvement of itself and the world. He called such a misunderstanding scientism, not science. Science in the real world, he said, was not free of values, still less of interests. The kinds of research that obtain funding, for example, were a function of what their society deemed meaningful, expedient, profitable, or important. Habermas had been of a generation of German academics who, during the thirties and forties, knew what was happening in their country, but insisted they were simply engaged in intellectual production, that they were living in the realm of scholarship, and need not concern themselves with whatever the state might choose to do with their research. The horrible question mark that was attached to German intellectuals when the Nazi atrocities became public after the war made Habermas think deeply about the ideology of pure science. If anything was obvious, it was that the nineteenth-century optimism of thinkers like Freud and Durkheim was no longer tenable.
I began to reassess the intellectual life around me. Like Schopenhauer, I felt that higher education must produce higher human beings. But at the university, I found lab people talking to each other about forging research data to secure funding for the coming year; luminaries who wouldn't permit tape recorders at their lectures for fear that competitors in the same field would go one step further with their research and beat them to publication; professors vying with each other in the length of their courses syllabuses. The moral qualities I was accustomed to associate with ordinary, unregenerate humanity seemed as frequently met with in sophisticated academics as they had been in fishermen. If one could laugh at fishermen who, after getting a boatload of fish in a big catch, would cruise back and forth in front of the others to let them see how laden down in the water they were, ostensibly looking for more fish; what could one say about the Ph.D.s who behaved the same way about their books and articles? I felt that their knowledge had not developed their persons, that the secret of higher man did not lie in their sophistication.
I wondered if I hadn't gone down the road of philosophy as far as one could go. While it had debunked my Christianity and provided some genuine insights, it had not yet answered the big questions. Moreover, I felt that this was somehow connected I didn't know whether as cause or effect to the fact that our intellectual tradition no longer seemed to seriously comprehend itself. What were any of us, whether philosophers, fishermen, garbagemen, or kings, except bit players in a drama we did not understand, diligently playing out our roles until our replacements were sent, and we gave our last performance? But could one legitimately hope for more than this? I read "Kojves Introduction to the Reading of Hegel", in which he explained that for Hegel, philosophy did not culminate in the system, but rather in the Wise Man, someone able to answer any possible question on the ethical implications of human actions. This made me consider our own plight in the twentieth century, which could no longer answer a single ethical question.
It was thus as if this century's unparalleled mastery of concrete things had somehow ended by making us things. I contrasted this with Hegel's concept of the concrete in his "Phenomenology of Mind". An example of the abstract, in his terms, was the limitary physical reality of the book now held in your hands, while the concrete was its interconnection with the larger realities it presupposed, the modes of production that determined the kind of ink and paper in it, the aesthetic standards that dictated its colour and design, the systems of marketing and distribution that had carried it to the reader, the historical circumstances that had brought about the readers literacy and taste; the cultural events that had mediated its style and usage; in short, the bigger picture in which it was articulated and had its being. For Hegel, the movement of philosophical investigation always led from the abstract to the concrete, to the more real. He was therefore able to say that philosophy necessarily led to theology, whose object was the ultimately real, the Deity. This seemed to me to point up an irreducible lack in our century. I began to wonder if, by materializing our culture and our past, we had not somehow abstracted ourselves from our wider humanity, from our true nature in relation to a higher reality.
At this juncture, I read a number of works on Islam, among them the books of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who believed that many of the problems of western man, especially those of the environment, were from his having left the divine wisdom of revealed religion, which taught him his true place as a creature of God in the natural world and to understand and respect it. Without it, he burned up and consumed nature with ever more effective technological styles of commercial exploitation that ruined his world from without while leaving him increasingly empty within, because he did not know why he existed or to what end he should act.
I reflected that this might be true as far as it went, but it begged the question as to the truth of revealed religion. Everything on the face of the earth, all moral and religious systems, were on the same plane, unless one could gain certainty that one of them was from a higher source, the sole guarantee of the objectivity, the whole force, of moral law. Otherwise, one mans opinion was as good as another's, and we remained in an undifferentiated sea of conflicting individual interests, in which no valid objection could be raised to the strong eating the weak.
I read other books on Islam, and came across some passages translated by W. Montgomery Watt from "That Which Delivers from Error" by the theologian and mystic Ghazali, who, after a mid-life crises of questioning and doubt, realized that beyond the light of prophetic revelation there is no other light on the face of the earth from which illumination may be received, the very point to which my philosophical inquiries had led. Here was, in Hegel's terms, the Wise Man, in the person of a divinely inspired messenger who alone had the authority to answer questions of good and evil.
I also read A.J. Arberrys translation "The Koran Interpreted", and I recalled my early wish for a sacred book. Even in translation, the superiority of the Muslim scripture over the Bible was evident in every line, as if the reality of divine revelation, dimly heard of all my life, had now been placed before my eyes. In its exalted style, its power, its inexorable finality, its uncanny way of anticipating the arguments of the atheistic heart in advance and answering them; it was a clear exposition of God as God and man as man, the revelation of the awe-inspiring Divine Unity being the identical revelation of social and economic justice among men.
I began to learn Arabic at Chicago, and after studying the grammar for a year with a fair degree of success, decided to take a leave of absence to try to advance in the language in a year of private study in Cairo. Too, a desire for new horizons drew me, and after a third season of fishing, I went to the Middle East.
In Egypt, I found something I believe brings many to Islam, namely, the mark of pure monotheism upon its followers, which struck me as more profound than anything I had previously encountered. I met many Muslims in Egypt, good and bad, but all influenced by the teachings of their Book to a greater extent than I had ever seen elsewhere. It has been some fifteen years since then, and I cannot remember them all, or n most of them, but perhaps the ones I can recall will serve to illustrate the impressions made.
One was a man on the side of the Nile near the Miqyas Gardens, where I used to walk. I came upon him praying on a piece of cardboard, facing across the water. I started to pass in front of him, but suddenly checked myself and walked around behind, not wanting to disturb him. As I watched a moment before going my way, I beheld a man absorbed in his relation to God, oblivious to my presence, much less my opinions about him or his religion. To my mind, there was something magnificently detached about this, altogether strange for someone coming from the West, where praying in public was virtually the only thing that remained obscene.
Another was a young boy from secondary school who greeted me near Khan al-Khalili, and because I spoke some Arabic and he spoke some English and wanted to tell me about Islam, he walked with me several miles across town to Giza, explaining as much as he could. When we parted, I think he said a prayer that I might become Muslim.
Another was a Yemeni friend living in Cairo who brought me a copy of the Koran at my request to help me learn Arabic. I did not have a table beside the chair where I used to sit and read in my hotel room, and it was my custom to stack the books on the floor. When I set the Koran by the others there, he silently stooped and picked it up, out of respect for it. This impressed me because I knew he was not religious, but here was the effect of Islam upon him.
Another was a woman I met while walking beside a bicycle on an unpaved road on the opposite side of the Nile from Luxor. I was dusty, and somewhat shabbily clothed, and she was an old woman dressed in black from head to toe who walked up, and without a word or glance at me, pressed a coin into my hand so suddenly that in my surprise I dropped it. By the time I picked it up, she had hurried away. Because she thought I was poor, even if obviously non-Muslim, she gave me some money without any expectation for it except what was between her and her God. This act made me think a lot about Islam, because nothing seemed to have motivated her but that.
Many other things passed through my mind during the months I stayed in Egypt to learn Arabic. I found myself thinking that a man must have some sort of religion, and I was more impressed by the effect of Islam on the lives of Muslims, a certain nobility of purpose and largesse of soul, than I had ever been by any other religions or even atheism's effect on its followers. The Muslims seemed to have more than we did.
Christianity had its good points to be sure, but they seemed mixed with confusions, and I found myself more and more inclined to look to Islam for their fullest and most perfect expression. The first question we had memorized from our early catechism had been Why were you created? to which the correct answer was To know, love, and serve God. When I reflected on those around me, I realized that Islam seemed to furnish the most comprehensive and understandable way to practice this on a daily basis.
As for the inglorious political fortunes of the Muslims today, I did not feel these to be a reproach against Islam, or to relegate it to an inferior position in a natural order of world ideologies, but rather saw them as a low phase in a larger cycle of history. Foreign hegemony over Muslim lands had been witnessed before in the thorough going destruction of Islamic civilization in the thirteenth century by the Mongol horde, who razed cities and built pyramids of human heads from the steppes of Central Asia to the Muslim heartlands, after which the fullness of destiny brought forth the Ottoman Empire to raise the Word of Allah and make it a vibrant political reality that endured for centuries. It was now, I reflected, merely the turn of contemporary Muslims to strive for a new historic crystallization of Islam, something one might well aspire to share in.
When a friend in Cairo one day asked me, Why don't you become a Muslim,
I found that Allah had created within me a desire to belong to this religion, which so enriches its followers, from the simplest hearts to he most magisterial intellects. It is not through an act of the mind or will that anyone becomes a Muslim, but rather through the mercy of Allah, and this, in the final analysis, was what brought me to Islam in Cairo in 1977.
"Is it not time that the hearts of those who believe should be humbled to the Remembrance of God and the Truth which He has sent down, and that they should not be as those to whom the Book was given aforetime, and the term seemed over long to them, so that their hearts have become hard, and many of them are ungodly? Know that God revives the earth after it was dead. We have indeed made clear for you the signs, that haply you will understand." [Qur'an 57:16-17]
Nuh Ha Mim Keller is the translator of "The Reliance of the Traveller"
[Umdat as-Salik] by Ahmed Ibn Naqib al-Misri
[In the following article, "NOI" refers to the Nation of Islam, which in spite of its name, is a group far removed from Islam.
I grew up Baptist, in a family of ministers, in rural Mississippi. I went to college at Morehouse College in Atlanta, so I was exposed to the NOI, but I had the good fortune to become friends with an orthodox Muslim who explained to me the difference between NOI and Islam, and the lack of knowledge most NOI have of true Islam. Later, after I left school and began working, I got an internet account, and started to study some of the religions of the world. I had never really been a particularly religious person, due to my somewhat scientific nature. I always insist on proof. I started to delve deeper into Christianity, and studied it intently on the Web. I was somewhat disdained however by some inconsistencies in the Bible. I principally was troubled by the Trinity, though. I just did not see it. The one passage I saw as being most supportive (1 John 5:7) was partially forged. When I read Matthew 19:16-17, and Jesus (s.a.s.) says "Why callest thou me good?, it was clear to me that he was saying that he was not good, and only God was. But most of the Christians seemed to think Jesus was being tongue-in-cheek at this point. I found that I would have to be dishonest to accept this.
Then fortune? smiled upon me. I hit a deer in my car. It was out of service for almost a month. During that time, I was unemployed, but had saved money, so I could live (I also have two roommates). I still had my internet account, and I decided to study more. After I had studied the Biblical contradictions, in addition to the inherent idolatry and unscriptural nature of the Trinity, along with other things, I rejected Christianity as a religion. Even Jesus did not seem to teach it, he taught belief in God. I went a time without any religion, thinking maybe it was all a sham. I have a friend who is in the 5% NOI, and I saw how much he hated religion, and I decided that I did not want to be like that. I believe that God kept my mind open and my heart from hardening against Him, and I studied Islam. Everything just seemed to fit: a reasoned faith which was very prayerful to keep us on the straight path, yet did not disdain acquisition of knowledge (the preachers back home loved to rail against education, as if ignorance is preferred by God). Islam seemed to be made for me. A good Muslim was the exact sort of person I aspired to be. After another month of study and prayer, I decided that if Muhammad (s.a.s.) was not a prophet, then there had never been prophets in the first place. The moment of decision came one night when I was reading the Qur'an and I read 21:30, and I read of God expanding his creation. Now, I almost became an astronomer at one point, and I still am interested, and these verses hit me like a sledgehammer. I became fearful of God, and wanted to worship him better.
My conversion to Islam has been intellectual and emotional. My parents have both been educated at the university-level. My mother is a Christian convert (she was atheist), and my father has personal beliefs. My family is rather rich.
Ever since I was very young, I've been interested by political questions. I enjoyed reading history books, although I was confused a little bit between military history and politics. I called myself a communist, but today I wouldn't say I knew what it means. Over time, I learned real politics and sociology, but when the communist bloc fell, I admitted my error and was no longer a fan of the communist states. I became agnostic, and thought that all human beings are condemned to egotism and to ignorance of some questions, like the existence of God. I learned philosophy. I wanted to avoid doing the same mistakes as in the past, and so I refused all dogmas. At this time occurred the separation of my parents, and also other personal problems. To forget all this, I spent a lot of time in laughing with (fake) friends, drinking, and then smoking cigarettes, then hash. I sometimes took hard drugs (heroin, LSD, and some other poisons). Despite this, I passed my baccalaureate (this is an exam that ends four years of college and gives the right to continue graduate level study at the university). By chance, I had to go at the army (we do not have the choice in the country I live in). The strict rules I could not avoid there were a very good thing for me; also, I was tired enough to enjoy simple things as eating and sleeping. Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), my mentality changed.
Back in civil society, I spent one more dark year: I always had the temptation of my bad habits, and I felt that life was very superficial after the big effort the friendship of the army. I began feeling the necessity of something else in my life. Then one of my sisters, back from a journey to Syria, gave me a book. This book, written in my language, is a gift she received there. Its author, who had titled it "The Bible, Quran and Science", wanted to show that there are in the Quran some things that were simply impossible for a human being to know at the time the Quran was revealed. Conclusion: the authenticity of the Quran is proved, scientifically proved. The first thing I thought after having read the book was: "Oh! It would be super!" -- I was ready for a change in my way of life.
I bought a translation of the Quran to compare. Before having entirely read it, I had become a Muslim, alhamdulillah. As you can see, a psychologist wouldn't have any problem to explain what he would call my choice. For me, all this come from God and He had written this for me, He had chosen these means to make me accept Islam. Alhamdulillah! What no psychologist can see is what happens in my heart when I read the Quran: faith has little to do with what one feels in front of a scientific demonstration!
Yahiye Adam Gadahn
My first seventeen years have been a bit different than the youth experienced by most Americans. I grew up on an extremely rural goat ranch in Western Riverside County, California, where my family raises on average 150 to 200 animals for milk, cheese, and meat. My father is a halal butcher [a butcher who slaughters in an Islamic manner -.]
and supplies to an Islamic Food Mart a few blocks from the Islamic Center in downtown Los Angeles.
My father was raised agnostic or atheist, but he became a believer in One God when he picked up a Bible left on the beach. He once had a number of Muslim friends, but they've all moved out of California now. My mother was raised Catholic, so she leans towards Christianity (although she, like my father, disregards the Trinity). I and my siblings were/are home-schooled, and as you may know, most home-school families are Christian. In the last 8 or so years, we have been involved with some home-schooling support groups, thus acquainting me with fundamentalist Christianity. It was an eye-opening experience. Setting aside the blind dogmatism and charismatic wackiness, it was quite a shock to me when I realized that these people, in their prayers, were actually praying TO JESUS. You see, I had always believed that Jesus (s.a.s.) was, at the very most, the Son of God (since that is what the Bible mistranslates "Servant of God" as). As I learned that belief in the Trinity, something I find absolutely ridiculous, is considered by most Christians to be a prerequisite for salvation, I gradually realized I could not be a Christian.
In the meantime, I had become obsessed with demonic Heavy Metal music, something the rest of my family (as I now realize, rightfully so) was not happy with. My entire life was focused on expanding my music collection. I eschewed personal cleanliness and let my room reach an unbelievable state of disarray. My relationship with my parents became strained, although only intermittently so. I am sorry even as I write this.
Earlier this year, I began to listen to the apocalyptic ramblings of Christian radio's "prophecy experts." Their paranoid espousal of various conspiracy theories, rabid support of Israel and religious Zionism, and fiery preaching about the "Islamic Threat" held for me a strange fascination. Why? Well, I suppose it was simply the need I was feeling to fill that void I had created for myself. In any case, I soon found that the beliefs these evangelists held, such as Original Sin and the Infallibility of "God's Word", were not in agreement with my theological ideas (not to mention the Bible) and I began to look for something else to hold onto.
The turning point, perhaps, was when I moved in with my grandparents here in Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange, California. My grandmother, a computer whiz, is hooked up to America Online and I have been scooting the information superhighway since January. But when I moved in, with the intent of finding a job (easier said than done), I begin to visit the religion folders on AOL and the Usenet newsgroups, where I found discussions on Islam to be the most intriguing. You see, I discovered that the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic. Islam presents God not as an anthropomorphic being but as an entity beyond human comprehension, transcendent of man, independent and undivided. Islam has a holy book that is comprehensible to a layman, and there is no papacy or priesthood that is considered infallible in matters of interpretation: all Muslims are free to reflect and interpret the book given a sufficient education. Islam does not believe that all men are doomed to Hell unless they simply accept that God (apparently unable to forgive otherwise) magnanimously allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross to enable Him to forgive all human beings who just believe that He allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross... Islam does not believe in a Chosen Race. And on and on...
As I began reading English translations of the Qur'an, I became more and more convinced of the truth and authenticity of Allah's teachings contained in those 114 chapters. Having been around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists that the news media and the televangelists paint them to be. Perhaps this knowledge led me to continue my personal research further than another person would have. I can't say when I actually decided that Islam was for me. It was really a natural progression. In any case, last week [November 1995 -ed.]I went to the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove and told the brother in charge of the library I wanted to be a Muslim. He gave me some excellent reading material, and last Friday I took Shahada [accepted the creed of Islam -ed.]in front of a packed masjid. I have spent this week learning to perform Salat and reflecting on the greatness of Allah. It feels great to be a Muslim! Subhana rabbi al 'azim!
Cat Stevens - Yussuf Islam
How I came to Islam
All I have to say is all what you know already, to confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as given by God - the Religion of Truth. As human beings we are given a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of creation. Man is created to be God's deputy on earth, and it is important to realize the obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a preparation for the next life. Anybody who misses this chance is not likely to be given another, to be brought back again and again, because it says in Qur'an Majeed that when man is brought to account, he will say, "O Lord, send us back and give us another chance." The Lord will say, "If I send you back you will do the same."
MY EARLY RELIGIOUS UPBRINGING
I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature - it is only his parents that turn him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all.
I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents.
Gradually I became alienated from this religious upbringing. I started making music. I wanted to be a big star. All those things I saw in the films and on the media took hold of me, and perhaps I thought this was my God, the goal of making money. I had an uncle who had a beautiful car. "Well," I said, "he has it made. He has a lot of money." The people around me influenced me to think that this was it; this world was their God.
I decided then that this was the life for me; to make a lot of money, have a 'great life.' Now my examples were the pop stars. I started making songs, but deep down I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became rich I would help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an, we make a promise, but when we make something, we want to hold onto it and become greedy.)
So what happened was that I became very famous. I was still a teenager, my name and photo were splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to live larger than life and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated (with liquor and drugs).
After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me? Was I just a body, and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in bed?" - and I started looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power,' and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body. This awareness came to me at the hospital.
One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized, 'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will lead you where it wants to go.
Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path.
I also wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out." I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society.
I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity prevailed.
When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find something in it also.
And when I received the book, a guidance that would explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.
I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap the other.
Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space. They become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.
When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says,
"Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers."
Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.
Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what was my name. I told him, "Stevens." He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jumma' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) at this hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, "You don't understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the salat. This is the process of purification.
Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Amin!
-- Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens)
Prof. Abdul Ahad Dawud B.D. (Iran)
Formerly the Reverend David Bengamni Keldani, B.D.
"My conversion to Islam cannot be attributed to any cause other than the gracious direction of Almighty God. Without this Divine guidance, all learning, searching and other efforts to find the truth may even lead one astray. The moment I believed in the Absolute Unity of God,
His Holy Apostle Muhammad became the pattern of my conduct and behaviour."
May 2, 1996. Ever since I can remember, my family attended a non-denominational conservative Christian church (Church of Christ). I grew up in the church, taught bible school and sang in the choir. As a young teenager I began asking questions (as I think everyone does at one point in their lives): Why was I a member of the Church of Christ and not say Lutheran, Catholic or Methodist? If various churches are teaching conflicting doctrine, how do we know which one is right? Are they all right? Do `all paths lead to God' as I had heard some say? Others say that as long as you are a good person it doesn't matter what you believe - is that true?
After some soul searching I decided that I did believe that there was an ultimate truth and in an attempt to find that truth I began a comparison study of various churches. I decided that I believed in the Bible and would join the church that best followed the Bible. After a lengthy study, I decided to stay with the Church of Christ, satisfied that its doctrines were biblically sound (unaware at this stage that there could be various interpretations of the Bible).
I spent a year at Michigan Christian College, a small college affiliated with the Churches of Christ, but was not challenged academically and so transferred to Western Michigan University. Having applied late for student housing, I was placed in the international dorm. Although my roommate was American, I felt surrounded by strange people from strange places. It was in fact my first real experience with cultural diversity and it scared me (having been raised in a white, middle class, Christian community). I wanted to change dorms but there wasn't anything available. I did really like my roommate and decided to stick out the semester.
My roommate became very involved in the dorm activities and got to know most everyone in the dorm. I however performed with the marching band and spent most of my time with band people. Marching season soon ended and finding myself with time on my hands, I joined my roommate on her adventures around the dorm. It turned out to be a wonderful, fascinating experience! There were a large number of Arab men living in the dorm. They were charming, handsome, and a lot of fun to be around. My roommate started dating one of them and we ended up spending most of our time with the Arabs. I guess I knew they were Muslims (although very few of them were practising). We never really discussed religion, we were just having fun.
The year passed and I had started seeing one of the Arabs. Again, we were just enjoying each other's company and never discussed our religious differences. Neither of us were practising at this time so it never really became an issue for us. I did, deep down, feel guilty for not attending church, but I pushed it in the back of my mind. I was having too much fun.
Another year passed and I was home for summer vacation when my roommate called me with some very distressing news: she'd become a Muslim!! I was horrified. She didn't tell me why she converted, just that she had spent a lot of time talking with her boyfriend's brother and it all made sense to her. After we hung up, I immediately wrote her a long letter explaining that she was ruining her life and to just give Christianity one more chance. That same summer my boyfriend transferred to Azusa Pacific University in California. We decided to get married and move to California together. Again, since neither one were practising, religion was not discussed.
Secretly I started reading books on Islam. However I read books that were written by non-Muslims. One of the books I read was Islam Revealed by Anis Sorosh. I felt guilty about my friend's conversion. I felt that if I had been a better Christian, she would have turned to the church rather than Islam. Islam was a man-made religion, I believed, and filled with contradictions. After reading Sorosh's book, I thought I could convert my friend and my husband to Christianity.
At APU, my husband was required to take a few religion courses. One day he came home from class and said: "The more I learn about Christianity, the stronger my belief in Islam becomes." At about this same time he started showing signs of wanting to practice his religion again. Our problems began. We started talking about religion and arguing about our different beliefs. He told me I should learn about Islam and I told him I already knew everything I needed to know. I got out Sorosh's book and told him I could never believe in Islam. My husband is not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination, yet he had an answer for everything I showed him in Sorosh's book. I was impressed by his knowledge. He told me that if I really wanted to learn about Islam it must be through Islamic sources. He bought a few books for me from an Islamic bookstore and I started taking classes at a local mosque. What a difference the Islam I learned about from Muslim sources from the Islam I learned about from non-Muslims!
It was so difficult though when I actually decided to convert. My pride stood in the way for awhile. How could I admit to my husband and my friend that they were right all along? I felt humiliated, embarrassed. Soon though, I could deny the truth no longer, swallowed my pride, and al-hamdulillah, embraced Islam - the best decision I ever made.
A few things I want to say to the non-Muslim reader:
1. When I originally began my search for the truth all those years ago, I made a few wrong assumptions. First, I assumed that the truth is with Christianity only. It never occurred to me at that time to look outside Christianity. Second, I assumed that the Bible was the true Word of God. These were bad assumptions because they prohibited me from looking at things objectively. When I began my earnest study of Islam, I had to start at the very beginning, with no preconceived ideas. I was not a Christian looking at Islam; I looked at both Islam and Christianity (and many other religions) from the point of view of an outsider. My advice to you is to be a critical thinker and a critical reader.
2. Another mistake that many people make when talking about Islam is that they pick out a certain teaching and judge the whole of Islam on that one point. For example, many people say that Islam is prejudiced towards women because Islamic laws of inheritance award the male twice as much as the female. What they fail to learn, however, is that males have financial responsibilities in Islam that females do not have. It is like putting a puzzle together: until you have all the pieces in the right places, you cannot make a statement about the picture, you cannot look at one little piece of the puzzle and judge the whole picture.
3. Many people said that the only reason I converted was because of my husband. It is true that I studied Islam because he asked me to - but I accepted Islam because it is the truth. My husband and I are currently separated and plan to divorce in June, insha'Allah. My faith in Islam has never been stronger than it is now. I look forward to finding a practising Muslim husband, insha'Allah, and growing in my faith and practice. Being a good Muslim is my number one priority.
May Allah lead all of us closer to the truth.
I am a new Muslim. I am writing to tell you 'why' I converted to Islam, but it's going to be more like 'how.'
Last year, at the age of 23, I was trying to open an import/export company to sell children's books overseas. Much thought went into my decision to work with Saudi Arabia above any other country. After contacting the Saudi Arabia Commercial Office at the Royal Embassy in Washington DC, I learned that all contracts with my sponsor must be in Arabic to be binding. That prompted me to study Arabic so I would know what I was signing. I went to a local language school where I took classes with a private tutor named Suad. She was one of the nicest people I ever met as well as one of the most religious. All the books, tapes, and videos that I studied from centred on Islam (Ifta Ya Sim Sim, etc.), so without realizing it I was learning about Islam all along! I was not brought up with any religious indoctrination. I knew the basics, but I had never gone to church.
The same time this was going on, I was having the hardest time in my life. I was on the east coast and my family was on the west coast, the friends I had were not acting like the 'quality' kind of people I knew I needed to hang around with, and I had really difficult money problems (who doesn't). I was crying almost every day. I never felt more alone in my life. It was affecting my job and my Arabic classes. Suad noticed, and she was always there to listen. She gave the best advice (Islamic), and she was always right. She told me that if I just submitted myself to God completely, he would take away all the pain and loneliness I was feeling. That was on a Thursday. That night, I asked God to help me, when I woke up the next day I felt completely relieved of all my pain. I could say "God will take care of it" out loud and mean it. I spent that weekend talking to Suad about Islam and I learned that I knew more about Islam than I thought! On Sunday I did my Shahada at an Islamic Women's Group meeting. The next Friday, January 20, 1995, after the noon prayer, I did my open Shahada at the Masjid Dal Hijrah in Falls Church, Virginia. Ramadan started shortly after that, and I went to Mecca for Umrah at the end of Ramadan (last 10 days). It has been the best thing I ever did in my life and I never looked back.
My experiences with Islam have shown me that if you follow God's direction (awkward to call it law because it's much more than that) you will have everything you need and often what you want, insh'Allah. Faith in Allah is the best advantage anyone could ever give themselves!
Karima Slack Razi
I took the Shahadah on September 20, 1991. If you had told me 5 years prior that I would embrace Islam, I never would have believed you. In retrospect, Allah's guidance was so subtle yet consistent, that now I see my whole life as leading up to that moment. It is difficult to encapsulate the exact factors that brought me to Islam because it was a journey, a process, that lasted three years. Those three years were both exhilarating and exhausting. My perceptions of myself and the world changed dramatically. Some beliefs were validated; others, shattered. At times I feared I would lose myself; at other times I knew that this path was my destiny and embraced it. Throughout those years, a series of aspects of Islam intrigued me. Slowly and gradually, my studies led me towards the day when I took the declaration of faith, the Shahadah.
Prior to my introduction to Islam, I knew that I yearned for more spiritual fulfilment in my life. But, as yet, nothing had seemed acceptable or accessible to me. I had been brought up essentially a secular humanist. Morals were emphasized, but never attributed to any spiritual or divine being. The predominant religion of our country, Christianity, seemed to burden a person with too much guilt. I was not really familiar with any other religions. I wish I could say that, sensing my spiritual void, I embarked on a spiritual quest and studied various religions in depth. However, I was too comfortable with my life for that. I come from a loving and supportive family. I had many interesting and supportive friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my university studies and I was successful at the university. Instead, it was the "chance" meeting of various Muslims that instigated my study of Islam.
Sharif was one of the first Muslims who intrigued me. He was an elderly man who worked in a tutorial program for affirmative action that I had just entered. He explained that while his job brought little monetary reward, the pleasure he gained from teaching students brought him all the reward he needed. He spoke softly and genuinely. His demeanour more than his words caught me, and I thought, "I hope I have his peace of spirit when I reach his age." That was in 1987.
As I met more Muslims, I was struck not only by their inner peace, but by the strength of their faith. These gentle souls contrasted with the violent, sexist image I had of Islam. Then I met Imran, a Muslim friend of my brother's who I soon realized was the type of man I would like to marry. He was intelligent, sincere, independent, and at peace with himself. When we both agreed that there was potential for marriage, I began my serious studies of Islam. Initially, I had no intention of becoming Muslim; I only desired to understand his religion because he had made it clear that he would want to raise his children as Muslims. My response was: "If they will turn out as sincere, peaceful and kind as he is, then I have no problem with it. But I do feel obligated to understand Islam better first."
In retrospect, I realize that I was attracted to these peaceful souls because I sensed my own lack of inner peace and conviction. There was an inner void that was not completely satisfied with academic success or human relationships. However, at that point I would never have stated that I was attracted to Islam for myself. Rather, I viewed it as an intellectual pursuit. This perception was compatible with my controlled, academic lifestyle.
Since I called myself a feminist, my early reading centred around women in Islam. I thought Islam oppressed women. In my Women's Studies courses I had read about Muslim women who were not allowed to leave their homes and were forced to cover their heads. Of course I saw hijab as an oppressive tool imposed by men rather than as an expression of self-respect and dignity. What I discovered in my readings surprised me. Islam not only does not oppress women, but actually liberates them, having given them rights in the 6th century that we have only gained in this century in this country: the right to own property and wealth and to maintain that in her name after marriage; the right to vote; and the right to divorce.
This realization was not easy in coming....I resisted it every step of the way. But there were always answers to my questions. Why is there polygamy? It is only allowed if the man can treat all four equally and even then it is discouraged. However, it does allow for those times in history when there are more women than men, especially in times of war, so that some women are not deprived of having a relationship and children. Furthermore, it is far superior to the mistress relationship so prevalent here since the woman has a legal right to support should she have a child. This was only one of many questions, the answers to which eventually proved to me that women in Islam are given full rights as individuals in society.
However, these discoveries did not allay all my fears. The following year was one of intense emotional turmoil. Having finished up my courses for my masters in Latin American Studies in the spring of 1989, I decided to take a year to substitute teach. This enabled me to spend a lot of time studying Islam. Many things I was reading about Islam made sense. However, they didn't fit into my perception of the world. I had always perceived of religion as a crutch. But could it be that it was the truth? Didn't religions cause much of the oppression and wars in the world? How then could I be considering marrying a man who followed one of the world's major religions? Every week I was hit with a fresh story on the news, the radio or the newspaper about the oppression of Muslim women. Could I, a feminist, really be considering marrying into that society? Eyebrows were raised. People talked about me in worried tones behind my back. In a matter of months, my secure world of 24 years was turned upside down. I no longer felt that I knew what was right or wrong. What was black and white, was now all grey.
But something kept me going. And it was more than my desire to marry Imran. At any moment I could have walked away from my studies of Islam and been accepted back into a circle of feminist, socialist friends and into the loving arms of my family. While these people never deserted me, they haunted me with their influence. I worried about what they would say or think, particularly since I had always judged myself through the eyes of others. So I secluded myself. I talked only with my family and friends that I knew wouldn't judge me. And I read.
It was no longer an interested, disinterested study of Islam. It was a struggle for my own identity. Up to that time I had produced many successful term papers. I knew how to research and to support a thesis. But my character had never been at stake. For the first time, I realized that I had always written to please others. Now, I was studying for my own spirit. It was scary. Although I knew my friends and family loved me, they couldn't give me the answers. I no longer wanted to lean on their support. Imran was always there to answer my questions. While I admired his patience and his faith that all would turn out for the best, I didn't want to lean too heavily on him out of my own fear that I might just be doing this for a man and not for myself. I felt I had nothing and no one to lean on. Alone, frightened and filled with self-doubt, I continued to read.
After I had satisfied my curiosity about women in Islam and been surprised by the results, I began to read about the life of the Prophet Muhammad and to read the Quran itself. As I read about the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.), I began to question my initial belief that he was merely an exceptional leader. His honesty prior to any revelations, his kindness, his sagacity, his insights into his present as well as the future--all made me question my initial premise. His persistence in adversity and, later, his humility in the face of astounding success seemed to belie human nature. Even at the height of his success when he could have enjoyed tremendous wealth, he refused to have more than his poorest companions in Islam.
Slowly I was getting deeper and deeper into the Quran. I asked, "Could a human being be capable of such a subtle, far-reaching book?" Furthermore, there are parts that are meant to guide the Prophet himself, as well as reprimand him. I wondered if the Prophet would have reprimanded himself.
As I slowly made my way through the Quran, it became less and less an intellectual activity, and more and more a personal struggle. There were days when I would reject every word--find a way to condemn it, not allow it to be true. But then I would suddenly happen upon a phrase that spoke directly to me. This first happened when I was beginning to experience a lot of inner turmoil and doubt and I read some verses towards the end of the second chapter: "Allah does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear" (2:286). Although I would not have stated that I believed in Allah at that time, when I read these words it was as if a burden was lifted from my heart.
I continued to have many fears as I studied Islam. Would I still be close to my family if I became a Muslim? Would I end up in an oppressive marriage? Would I still be "open-minded?" I believed secular humanism to be the most open-minded approach to life. Slowly I began to realize that secular humanism is as much an ideology, a dogma, as Islam. I realized that everyone had their ideology and I must consciously choose mine. I realized that I had to have trust in my own intellect and make my own decisions--that I should not be swayed by the negative reactions of my "open-minded," "progressive" friends. During this time, as I started keeping more to myself, I was becoming intellectually freer than any time in my life.
Two and a half years later, I had finished the Quran, been delighted by its descriptions of nature and often reassured by its wisdom. I had learned about the extraordinary life of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.S.); I had been satisfied by the realization that Islam understands that men and women are different but equal; and I discovered that Islam gave true equality not only to men and women, but to all races and social classes, judging only by one's level of piety. And I had gained confidence in myself and my own decisions. It was then that I came to the final, critical question: Do I believe in one God? This is the basis of being a Muslim. Having satisfied my curiosity about the rules and historical emergence of Islam, I finally came to this critical question, the essence of being Muslim. It was as if I had gone backwards: starting with the details before I finally reached the spiritual question. I had to wade through the technicalities and satisfy my academic side before I could finally address the spiritual question. Did I.... Could I place my trust in a greater being? Could I relinquish my secular humanist approach to life?
Twice I decided to take the Shahadah and then changed my mind the next day. One afternoon, I even knelt down and touched my forehead to the floor, as I had often seen Muslims do, and asked for guidance. I felt such peace in that position. Perhaps in that moment I was a Muslim a heart, but when I stood up, my mind was not ready to officially take the Shahadah.
After that moment a few more weeks passed. I began my new job: teaching high school. The days began to pass very quickly, a flurry of teaching, discipline and papers to correct. As my days began to pass so fast, it struck me that I did not want to pass from this world without having declared my faith in Allah. Intellectually, I understood that the evidence present in the Prophet Muhammad's (S.A.S.) life and in the Quran was too compelling to deny. And, at that moment, I was also ready in my heart for Islam. I had spent my life longing for a truth in which heart would be compatible with mind, action with thought, intellect with emotion. I found that reality in Islam. With that reality came true self-confidence and intellectual freedom. A few days after I took the Shahadah, I wrote in my journal that finally I have found in Islam the validation of my inner thoughts and intuition. By acknowledging and accepting Allah, I have found the door to spiritual and intellectual freedom.
I am a new Muslim woman from Richmond, VA. I had never even met Muslims before last year, and had no idea that there was an Islamic center in my own city. However, at that time, I was very interested in Islam, but I could find nothing to read. I read encyclopaedias and any books I could get my hands on, but they were all written by non-Muslims. They said that Muhammad (saws) wrote the Qur'an in the 7th century, that Muslims worshipped the black stone, and that Islam bred hatred towards women. They also said that Muhammad (saws) copied the Bible, that Islam was spread with the Qur'an in one hand and the sword in the other, and implied (if not stated directly) that all Muslims were Arab. One book even said that the word "Allah" came from al-lot, the moon god of the pagan Arabs. These are just some of the lies I read.
Then, one day, two Pakistani Muslim women (who were also muhajjabas [wearing hijab -ed.]) came to my college. I befriended them, and then I started asking them all kinds of questions. I had already left Christianity when I was 12, so I felt no challenge to my personal beliefs. I was a biology major and had basically no religion. I was amazed at what they told me, and I realized that all of my previous knowledge was lies.
Then, I came home for the summer. I got my own apartment and started working at 7-11. While I was working, a black muhajjaba came in the store. I asked her where she worshipped and when she told me there was an Islamic center on the same street I was working on, I was amazed.
I went the next day, but no one was there. So I went the day after that day (which happened to be Friday) and found some people there. A man told me to come the next week at noon so I could meet some of the ladies. But when he said "noon," he meant "Dhuhr," not 12. I didn't know that. So I came at 12 the following week, but no one was there. For some reason, I decided to wait, Subhan-Allah. And wait I did, for an hour and a half (Jumah' [Friday prayer -ed.] is at 2), and finally I meet some people. A lady there gave me a copy of Maurice Bucaille's The Bible, Qur'an, and Science. When I read it, I knew that I wanted to become a Muslim. After all, I was a biology major. I knew that the things in the Qur'an had to be from Allah (s.w.t.), and not from an illiterate, uneducated man. So I went the next week and took Shahada [i.e. stated and accepted the creed of Islam]
When my dad found out, he went crazy. He came to my apartment and tore up everything in it, including my Qur'an. I called the police, and they came out. But they refused to help. They said "Don't you think he's right?" and so on. So I fled to Nashville, TN.
I have continued to talk with my dad, though, because the Qur'an says to honour your parents (it does not distinguish between Kafir and Muslim parents), and because I remember the story of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (raa). He hated Islam so much that he used to beat his slave girl until his arm grew tired. Al-Hamdu Lillah, Allah (s.w.t.) has rewarded me for my efforts. I saw my father for the first time this summer, in full hijab. He accepted it without too much commentary. I think he realizes now that he can't bully me into renouncing Islam.
[This article was published in the 9th issue of Nida'ul Islam magazine), August-September 1995]
Sister Asiya Abd al-Zahir - WHY I EMBRACED ISLAM
Islam has been described as being the religion of Fitrah, the innate nature of all humans. It is not surprising therefore when we discover that Islam is being accepted as the only pure way of life a person can follow by millions of reverts around the world. Statistics show that out of every 5 who revert to Islam, 4 are females. This blows away the false concept that Islam is a repressive religion for women. The following is one account of a sister who submitted to Allah as her Lord, took Islam as her religion, and Muhammad (s.a.s) as her Messenger...
I have always, since developing an ability to think deeply, believed in the existence of a single Creator, on whom everything that exists is dependent. Though my parents are Buddhist, from the age of 13, to this Creator, I have steadfastly prayed and yielded guidance from every day that I can remember. Yet, being schooled within a Christian environment, I naturally identified myself as a Christian.
Sadly, my knowledge of Islam was minimal. I perceived it as a bizarre religion, limited to only a few underdeveloped nations, most of which were in the Middle East, and which endorsed an astoundingly suppressive lifestyle, particularly for women. Muslim women, I presumed, were considered inferior - a passive domestic slave, bashed often and forced to compete among four for her husband's affections, which he could withhold from them all if he wanted to. The majority of these ideas I developed from hearsay, interactions with others I assumed knew what they were talking about and a few documentaries on Iran and Saudi Arabia I watched on television.
As I entered university nearly three years ago, I came into contact with quite a number of Muslim students from various backgrounds. Strangely enough, even to myself, I was drawn to them and developed a curious inclination to learn and understand more about their religion. I observed how content they seemed and was very impressed by their openness and warmth towards myself and each other, but more importantly with their pride in belonging to a religion which holds many negative connotations.
I gradually became fascinated with Islam, and through a process of education, developed a greater respect for it than even my beloved Christianity. I was stunned at how wrong my previous conception had been and became particularly overwhelmed at the tremendous entitlements, equality and acknowledgement Islam provided for women. I realised the reality of the Islamic lifestyle and the truth concerning that feeble American innovation termed "Islamic fundamentalism".
Is it said that any person who possesses the faulty of reason and an open mind should recognise logic and truth when he/she encounters it, and so it was in my case.
More and more, literature, signs and evidence were revealed to me, and more and more, my intellect was stimulated and my heart, warmed. I wanted to know everything about Islam and felt already a sense of brotherhood with and belonging among its followers.
What impressed me the most was how practical Islam is - how it encompasses a rule and a lesson for almost every facet of living. And by the sheer grace of God, I at last understood the faults of Christian theology and of the concepts I had previously accepted unquestioningly.
At midday, on August 4th, 1994, before over 20 witnesses, I recited the Shahadah and became an official Muslim.
I shall never forget the bliss of that day and how much my life has turned around in only a year's time.
I have often been asked what it is like to be a revert and of the difficulties I must endure. Though I do not wish to dwell on this topic, as pity is not my priority, I shall give some examples of what I have been through.
The period up till the end of Ramadan was, by far, the hardest to get through. Family disputes took place almost daily; I was showered with verbal abuse, ridicule and threats. On many occasions, my room was physically torn apart, books mysteriously disappeared and slanderous phone messages were sent to my friends and their parents.
There have been times I have been locked out of home and forced to abstain from dinner as pork was deliberately served. Even to this day, all my mail is opened before I have the chance to do so myself. Apart from my housing and meals, I must provide for myself financially. My readings, as my conversations over the phone are done in privacy. My writings and my visits to mosques or other Islamic venues must always be concealed. I am similarly not able to visit friends very often as I may be "brain-washed" even more.
I cannot perform my prayers until I am sure no one is around. Nor can I express my excitement and celebration during Ramadan. I cannot share the joy at knowing yet another sister has put on Hijab, nor can I discuss the lesson I have learned this day or the speech given by an Islamic scholar/scientist. Moreover, I must continually defend the Muslims and the Islam portrayed on the media, and fight against the stereotypes my parents stubbornly maintain.
To see their expressions of disgust at myself is almost unbearable. I am now insecure as to my parents affections and constantly worry of how much I am hurting them. Through the entire month of Ramadan, my mother spoke to me not once. I had to hear her say time and time again at how I had betrayed the family. My pleading with her otherwise was to no avail. I am told over and over again that what I have done is unforgivable and if any of our relations or already few friends knew, my parents would surely be outcasts.
However, I do not claim to have a miserable life. I am more content and at peace now than I ever have been. My purpose in relating all of this is to try to display the opportunities that many of you have which are so often taken for granted, so little taken advantage of, but so precious to many reverts like myself.
To reflect on these hardships alone would imply I have gained nothing by becoming a Muslim other than pain. On the contrary, Islam has given me already so many vast rewards, I shiver to think of how much more wonderful the gifts of Paradise would be.
At the time of my reversion, although I had accepted Islam as being true, I had no idea of the vast internal changes it would incur upon me. Even I am astounded at how much I devour knowledge, how Islam is in my thoughts every waking moment, how compelling I feel my responsibility is to the Ummah and how much more of a Muslim I became every month.
It is as if as one's life in Islam progresses, it spreads to encompass and govern every cellular and spiritual dimension in oneself.
Abu Huraira (r.a.a.) narrated that: Allah's Messenger (s.a.s) once said: "Allah said: '... and My slave keeps coming closer to Me... then I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grasps, and his legs with which he walks...' "[Sahih Al-Bukhari]. This is precisely my experience.
Remarkably, from one religion, I have gained a profound insight into the operations of human behaviour and sociology, as well as geophysics and astronomy. As I mature, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that again and again, it is Islam that has already answered the social and economic dilemmas of our time.
Over the past year, I have developed quite an extensive breadth of Islamic knowledge and have studied ayats of the Holy Qur'an in much finer detail. Not once have I come across anything which would make me doubt the authenticity of the Qur'an and the relevance of Islam for contemporary society, for even one minute. This has been the only religion I have ever been completely sure of and am more sure of each day that I serve.
Furthermore, I have established my identity, I am more confident of myself; a stronger woman and person of colour, I am more aware of my existence and more secure in my battles.
If I have achieved anything through this article, my hope is that it is that I have depicted the greatness and mercy of our Glorious Sovereign, who makes all things possible. Allah (s.w.t.) says:
"He guides there with whom He pleases" [Qur'an 393:23]Truly, I have been blessed to be one of those who have personally received the light and whose heart has been ordained to accept it.