CHRISTIAN PRIEST & MISSIONARIES
How Ex-Preacher Yusuf Estes Came To Islam (Full Story)
My ethnic background is English-Native American, Irish and German. I was what they called a "WASP" (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant). My family moved to Texas in 1949 while I was still in grade school, so my accent changed from "Yankee" to "Texan" real quick. We learned how to say "Ya'll" instead of "youse guys" and "Howz ever thaang?" instead of "Waz up?" We also learned how to eat "Corn bread 'n bains" instead of "Johnny cakes and beans."
I was born in Ohio, raised and educated in Texas and was a successful marketing entrepreneur and preacher of Christianity. I grew up in a religious home. My parents and their relatives were all 'good Christians.' Basically that means that you never drink alcohol, except on very special occasions and never gamble expect Bingo at the church. Religion was a real part of my life. I believed very much in God and the Bible as His Word. While other children were playing 'school' and 'cops and robbers' I would sometimes play the 'Preacher.' I can still remember my first sermon, standing on the ground in Doug Hideman's backyard: "We must learn the Way of God! And then stay on that Way." (That's all I said. I couldn't think of anything else)
My whole family on both my mother's and father's sides were very active members of the same denomination of Protestant Christianity. We all loved to go to church on Sunday mornings for Sunday school and sermon (well maybe we didn't all love the long sermons). Then of course, special activities and holidays such as Easter, Christmas, Halloween and parties were always a part of our lives in my early years. Our church was originally called only "Christian Church." It wasn't until I turned 10 or 12 years old that the church 'split' into two different groups that we started calling ourselves "Disciples of Christ."
My father was an ordained minister and also very active in church work, as a Sunday school minister and fund raiser for Christian schools. He was the 'expert' in the Bible and its translations. It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible as well as the introduction of pagan worship to Christianity about the time of the Emperor Constantine (325 C.E.). He, like many preachers would answer the question: "Did God actually write the Bible?" by saying: "The Bible is the Inspired Word of Man FROM GOD." Basically, it means that humans (inspired humans, but humans just the same) wrote the Bible. That quickly explains the errors, mistakes, deletions and additions which have crept in and fell out over the years. He would add: "But it is still the Word of God, as inspired to man."
God was always on my mind. I was 'baptized' into the 'Spirit' at age 12 and surprised even the minister (an ex-Jew who accepted Jesus) by my seriousness and intent on being a 'full real follower of Christ." I would think about Him and what He wanted us to do and why He created us in the first place, very often. Many times I would be caught 'day dreaming' about God when I was supposed to be paying attention to other things, like watching the pots boil over on the stove or not listen to the teachers at school. Sometimes I would rest my head on my arms on the top of my desk and try to imagine: "What will happen when we die?" and "What will Heaven be like?" or "Can we ever see God's angels or the devil?"
My mind was frequently preoccupied with these types of thoughts as a child. But then as with most youth, I became distracted from my pursuit and began to be influenced by my peers. Other children would make fun of me if I talked about these questions and thoughts, so it seemed like a good idea to keep it to myself. No problem. I like to be alone with my thoughts of God anyway.
After growing up and owning many business, I realized that I did not want to be a 'preacher.' I was too afraid that I might be a hypocrite or call people to something that I myself didn't truly understand. After all, I had 'accepted the Lord' and considered myself a true Christian, but at the same time I could not resolve the idea of God being One and at the same time He is 'Three.' And if He is the 'Father', how could He also be the 'Son?' And then what about the 'Holy Ghost?' (later they changed that to 'Spirit'). But my big question was always the same: "How does three equal one?"
Over the years I had tried to 'find' God in many different ways. I checked out Buddhism, Hinduism, metaphysics, Taoism, different forms of Christianity and Judaism. The one most attractive to me was a combination of Gnosticism (Christian mysticism) and Cabalism (Jewish mysticism) and metaphysics. This actually is a form of pantheism (God being throughout His creation) and is similar to some of the 'Sufi' mystics of today. But this concept in its entirety repulsed me because I did not want to imagine myself as being a 'part of God.'
God is Pure! God is Perfect! God is All Knowing and All Aware of all things! So, how can I come along and say things like I was hearing from the other preachers: "In a way, we are all gods." Read the Bible:
"You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince." (quoted from the Old Testament; Psalms [82:6]) & "I said, you are gods." (New Testament John 10:34)
The rationalization which comes about in the books attributed to the Apostle Saul (changed his name to Paul), are full of statements which basically cancel the Torah or Law of the Old Testament. He makes it a matter of how you 'understand' something that makes it 'permissible' or 'forbidden.' As an example in the English Revised Standard Version which I have carried with me since 1953, it says in Paul's letter to the Romans:
"I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean." [Rom 14:14]
And again, in the same letter:
not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God
does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit."
By these types of statements, Paul pretty much destroys the entire Old Testament Commandments. Yet at the same time, in the same English version of the Bible in the first book of the New Testament, we are told that Jesus preached a message which was exactly the opposite of St. Paul:
not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have
come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I
say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, not an iota, not a
dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever
then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and
teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he
who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of
heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the
scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
So according the St. Paul's own testimony in his letter to the new Roman Christians, he is relaxing not just the least of these commandments, but basically all of these commandments. And he justifies everything with his rationalization that if you don't think it's bad, then it's not!
I just felt that something was wrong in this message and decided to try to uphold the Commandments according to the Old Testament as much as I could. That would mean: No Pork; circumcision; no sex outside of marriage; no adultery; worship on Saturday (not Sunday) and most important of all: No worship of anything which is in the creation. This is in direct line with the verse which says:
"You shall have no other gods before (besides) me. You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments." [Ex 20:3-6]
It seemed reasonable to me, that there should only be One God. He should be All in Charge and without any partners. Reason also would demand that only He should be given any worship because He Alone deserves it. And as God, He should be the One to set the rules and give the orders. Then it would be clear who really loved Him and who was following His Commandments.
I had tried not to deal with these issues for many years. But now I was getting close to fifty years old and needed to do something for the Lord. After all, had done everything for me. So, it was time for me to get serious about my religion and make some head way for the Lord. I decided to join in with some of my friends who were evangelists and preachers who preached in various parts of the country and even in Mexico. We traveled together and praised the Lord together and shared in 'the spirit' and went where the 'spirit lead us.' One of them use to carry a huge cross on his shoulders and drag it down the highway and give out little 'mini-Bibles' to those who cared to stop and visit. It was enjoyable to go to those who had given up hope or had no money or jobs and give them food, money, assistance and at the same time call them to the message of Christianity. I took my Bible everywhere and was very fast to whip it out and begin to 'preach the message.'
I was 'born again.' I needed to 'be in the light of Christ.' I needed to share the 'message.' There was only one problem:
"What is the message?"
Oh sure, I know what some of the 'born again's are saying as they read this:
"The message of salvation of Jesus Christ!" - "He died for your sins!" - "He paid the price of redemption." - "He is the Risen Son of God!" - "Jesus is LORD!"
Right. - I got that.
I preached that message myself and thought I understood it as well as anyone else did. The problem is that one time I heard another preacher say: "Don't leave your brain in the parking lot with your car."
Then it hit me to start thinking about the very serious problems and real facts about my religion. Then came:
THE QUESTIONS NOBODY WANTS TO ANSWER -
· What about the Bible? Who actually wrote it?
· What was the original language of the Bible? (Hebrew? Aramaic? Koine Greek?)
NOTE: - The Bible was never in English during the time of any prophet (not even Muhammad) - because English did not exist until after 1066 AD!
· Does the Bible exist in the original form anywhere on earth? (No)
· Why does the Catholic Bible has seven (7) more books than the Protestant Bible?
· Why do these two Bibles have different versions of the same books?
· Why are there so many mistakes and errors from the very first verse right up to the very last verse?
· Why do 'Born Again Christians' teach concepts that are not from the Bible?
· There is no word "Trinity" in the Bible in any version of any language
· The oldest forms of Christianity do not support the 'born again' beliefs
of the English Bible complains about the 'crucifixion'
· How can Jesus be the "Only Begotten Son" of John 3:16? When in Psalms 2:7 David is God's "Begotten Son?"
· Would a 'Just' God, a 'Fair' God, a 'Loving' God -- punish Jesus for the sins of the people that he called to follow him?
· What happens to people who died before Jesus came?
· What happens to those who never hear this message?
· What about innocent children who die although their parents are not Christian?
· Didn't God create Adam from dirt? -- So, why does he need Mary to make Jesus?
My friend with the huge cross became tired of trying to answer all of my questions and in desperation one day, he told me to read the story of Abraham in Genesis in the Old Testament. Especially the part of sacrificing his son for the sake of God. He seemed to feel that this was going to explain the whole concept of sacrifice and obedience to God.
I read it.
But instead of convincing me that this was the meaning of punishing the good so the bad do not have to suffer, I saw a totally different message here.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son on the alter for the sake of Almighty God, if that was what God wanted from him. But God did not really want to take the life of an innocent boy for sins that Abraham committed. That was not even the story here. And as far as replacing his son with the ram for sacrifice, this also does not match the story of Jesus on the cross.
Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son to test the loyalty of Abraham. He did not withhold his son from God, so God's angels ordered him to offer a ram in place of his son. God was pleased with his total submission and as a result, God Blessed him and his offspring. [Gen. 22:9-18]
Now think about the New Testament story of 'salvation.'
Notice in the next verse, an angel from heaven also appears to Jesus to "strengthen him."
Abraham's angel comes to offer a ram as a sacrifice instead of the son.
The next verse [22:44] Jesus is in AGONY as he prays "more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground."
Then I looked to the account of the story in the Book of Mark [14:32-39].
Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane and his soul is "very sorrowful, even to death." And "... going a little farther, he fell on the ground prayer that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him." Meaning that somehow when the time came for the event to take place he could escape it. This is NOT the submissive attitude of Abraham.
Next I noticed in verse 36, Jesus says: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt." And then he goes to his disciples and wakes them up and then returns to pray "... saying the same words."
This whole concept was so totally different than the one from Genesis talking about Abraham and his son.
I asked questions and delved into 'those kind of stories' the more I would like to facilitate the truth. Many strange things began to happen. Very strange.
Things began to happen in my life. Things that would change many concepts and beliefs that I had been burdened with for many years. Solutions and answers started coming in very strange and wonder ways.
First, my father started doing business with a man from Egypt. After introducing me to him, my father noticed right away that I was trying to convert the man to Christianity and asked me not to do so in a rude manner. I heard the man say he was ready to come to my religion if my religion was better than his religion. But there was a condition, he said he wanted proof. I told him religion is not about proof. It is about faith. He then said something that really made me think. He told me in his religion there was both faith and proof. Strange, I thought. How could there be any proof about God or religion?
Next, I was to meet a Catholic priest who would enlighten us all on the true history of the church and what was really going on in the cathedrals and the Vatican. His name was Father Peter Jacobs. His experiences throughout Central and South America, Mexico and the United States would prove to be very enlightening. But most of all was his deep understanding of the Bible and the scrolls. He brought to the table many interesting and amazing facts about Christianity and the organized religion of Catholicism.
Both the priest and the Muslim from Egypt came to live with us in our home in the country near Dallas, Texas. Then things really started getting strange.
I would love to share the details of this story of how so many preachers and priests are coming to Islam. Please visit our website to get the whole story at:
"Why Do Priests & Preachers Enter ISLAM?"
Many people ask me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever go to Islam, especially considering all the negative things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday. Some people are simply curious, while others take a profound exception to my "conversion" to Islam. Some have asked how I could have turned my back on Jesus, or if I truly understood the Holy Ghost and some even questioned whether or not I considered myself as "born again" or had ever really been saved at all. These are good questions to which I will offer answers to at the end of this writing. I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing.
One very nice Christian gentleman asked me in email why and how I left Christianity for Islam. This is more or less a copy of the letter I sent to him.
My name is Yusuf Estes now, but in years past my friends used to call me Skip. I have preached Christianity and worked in the entertainment and music industry since I was a boy in the 1950's. My father and I have established music stores, TV and radio programs and outdoor entertainment for fun (and profit). I was a music minister and even used a pony ride and entertained the children as "Skippy the Clown."
Once, I have served as Delegate to the United Nations Peace Conference for Religious Leaders. Now I am a retired former Muslim Chaplain for United States Bureau of Prisons, Washington, DC. and I join alongside many American Muslims, working with Muslim student and youth organizations as well as schools for Muslim children. As such, I travel around the entire world lecturing and sharing the message of the Christ of the Quran in Islam. We hold dialogs and discussion groups with all faiths and enjoy the opportunity to work alongside rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests everywhere. Some of our work is in the institutional area, military, universities and prisons. Primarily our goal is to educate and communicate the correct message of Islam and who the Muslims really are. Although Islam has grown now to nearly tie Christianity as the largest of religions on earth, we see many of those who claim Islam as Muslims, that do not correctly understand nor properly represent the message of "Peace, Surrender and Obedience to God" [Arabic = 'Islam']
Dear me, I am afraid that I got a bit ahead of myself. I was trying to give a bit of background of our work perhaps to see if it would in anyway benefit those who may being going through what I experienced while trying to resolve some of the issues of Christianity.
How It Happened
This may seem quite strange, while we perhaps may share a few different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus, prophethood, sin and salvation. But you see, at one time I was in the same boat as many folks are today. Really, I was. Let me explain.
Born A Strong Christian
I was born into a very strong Christian family in the Midwest. Our family and their ancestors not only built the churches and schools across this land, but actually were the same ones who came here in the first place. While I was still in elementary we relocated in Houston, Texas in 1949 (I'm old). We attended church regularly and I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas. As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to learn more of their teachings and beliefs. The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic, Presbyterian and many more. I developed quite a thirst for the "Gospel" or as we say; "Good News." My research into religion did not stop with Christianity. Not at all. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were all a part of my studies. Just about the only one that I did not look into seriously was "Islam". Why? Good question.
Anyway, I became very interested in different types of music, especially Gospel and Classical. Because my whole family was religious and musical it followed that I too would begin my studies in both areas. All this set me for the logical position of Music Minister in many of the churches that I became affiliated with over the years. I started teaching keyboard instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios in Laurel, Maryland, called "Estes Music Studios."
Business Projects In Texas, Oklahoma and Florida
Over the next 30 years my father and I worked together in many business projects. We had entertainment programs, shows and attractions. We opened piano and organ stores all the way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida. We had earned millions of dollars during those years, but could not find the peace of mind that can only come through knowing the truth and finding the real plan of salvation. I'm sure you have asked yourself the question; "Why did God create me?" or "What is it that God wants me to do?" or "Exactly who is God, anyway?" "Why do we believe in 'original sin?" and "Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his 'sins' and then as a result be punished forever." But if you asked anyone these questions, they would probably tell you that you have to believe without asking, or that it is a 'mystery' and you shouldn't ask - "Just have faith, brother."
Strangely enough, the word "Trinity" is not in the Bible. And it has been a concern for religious scholars as early as 200 years after Jesus was raised up by Almighty God. I would ask preachers or ministers to give me some sort of an idea how 'one' could figure out to become 'three' or how God Himself, Who can do anything He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people's sins, but rather and had to become a man, come down on earth, be a human, and then take on the sins of all people; keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and outside of the universe as we know it. They never seemed to be able to come up with anything other than opinions or strange analogies.
Father - Ordained Non-Denominational Minister
My father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became and ordained minister in the 1970s. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the "Prayer Tower" in Tulsa, OK. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.
Distributing "Praise" Tapes for Jesus
During the early 1980's my Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording "Praise" tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly. We were really "winning souls to the Lord - for Jesus" day after day.
Met A Man From Egypt
It was early in 1991 when my father began doing business with a man from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea of having an international flavor. You know, the pyramids, sphinx, Nile River and all that.
He Was A "Mozlem"
Hijackers; Kidnappers; Bombers, Terrorists - and who knows what else?
Then my father mentioned that this man was a 'Moslem.' First, I hated the idea of meeting an "infidel, hijacker, kidnapper, bomber, terrorist, non-believer." Any normal person would be repulsed at the idea. I couldn't believe my ears. A 'Moslem?' No way! I reminded my dad of the various different things that we had heard about these people.
Lies Against Muslims & Islam - They Told Us, Muslims:
· They don't even believe in God
· They worship a black box in the desert.
· And They kiss the ground five times a day.
No Way! I Did Not Want to Meet Him!
I did not want to meet this 'Moslem' man. No way! My father insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was a very nice person. This was too much for me. Especially since the evangelists that we used to travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam. So, why would I want anything to do with these people?
Idea - "Change Him To Christian"
Then an idea came to me, "We can change this man to Christian." So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting. But on my terms.
Met Him With A Bible, Cross and Cap with "Jesus Is Lord!" on it.
I agreed to meet him on a Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and in good standing with the Lord. I would be carrying my Bible under my arm as usual. I would have my big shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which says: "Jesus is Lord" right across the front. My wife and two young daughters came along and we were ready for our first encounter with the 'Moslems.'
Where Is He?
When I came into the shop and asked my father where the
'Moslem' was, he pointed and said: "He's right over there."
Turban & Beard?
I'm looking for a huge man with flowing robes, a big turban on his head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead with a sword or a bomb under his coat.
No Turban - No Beard - [No Hair at All!]
This man had no
beard. In fact, he didn't even have any hair on his head at all. He was
nearly bald. Best of all, he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and
handshake. This didn't make sense. I thought they are terrorists and
bombers. What is this all about?
Never mind. I'll get right to work on this guy. He needs to be 'saved' in the 'Name of Jesus' and me and the Lord are going to do it.
Introduction & Interrogation
After a quick introduction, I asked him:
you believe in God?"
"What about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice
his son for God?"
Then I asked:
So, now it was time
for the big question:
Well now -
"This was going to be easier than I had thought."
Shocking Knowledge - Muslims Believe in the Bible?
One day in the Spring of 1991, I came to know that the Muslims believed in the Bible. I was shocked. How could this be? But that's not all, they believe in Jesus as:
true messenger of God;
After "winning souls to the Lord for Jesus" day after day, this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these 'Moslems' and 'convert' him to Christianity.
Cup of Tea - Discuss Beliefs
I asked him if he liked tea and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject: Beliefs. While we sat in that little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of the talking) I came to know that he was very nice, quiet and even a bit shy. He listened attentively to every word that I had to say and did not interrupt even one time. I liked this man's way and thought that he had definite potential to become a good Christian. - Little did I know the course of events about to unravel in front of my eyes.
Agreed to Do Business
First of all, I agreed with my father that we should do business with this man and even encouraged the idea of him traveling along with me on my business trips across the northern part of Texas. Day after day we would ride together and discuss various issues pertaining to different beliefs that people have. And along the way, I could of course interject some of my favorite radio programs of worship and praise to help bring the message to this poor individual. We talked about the concept of God; the meaning of life; the purpose of creation; the prophets and their mission and how God reveals His Will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas as well.
Moved to Our Home
One day I came to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out of the home he have been sharing with a friend of his and was going to be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and asked him if we could invite Mohamed to come out to our big home in the country and stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and some expenses and he would be right there when we were ready to go to out traveling around. My father agreed and Mohamed moved in.
Continued Ministry & Preaching
Of course I still would find time to visit my fellow preachers and evangelists around the state of Texas. One of them lived on the Texas -- Mexico border and another lived near lived Oklahoma border. One preacher liked to a huge wooden cross that was bigger than a car. He would carry it over his shoulder and drag the bottom on the ground and go down the road or freeway hauling these two beams formed in the shape of a cross. People would stop their cars and come over to him and ask him what was going on and he would give them pamphlets and booklets on Christianity.
Preacher Has Heart Attack
One day my friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go to the Veterans Hospital where he stayed for quite a long while. I used to visit him in the hospital several times a week and I would take Mohamed with me with the hopes that we could all share together in the subject of beliefs and religions. My friend was not very impressed and it was obvious that he did not want to know anything about Islam. Then one day a man who was sharing the room with my friend came rolling into the room in his wheelchair. I went to him and asked him his name and he said that it didn't matter and when I asked him where he was from he said he was from the planet Jupiter. I thought about what he said and then began to wonder if I was in the cardiac ward or the mental ward.
Man in Wheelchair - Needed the Lord
I knew the man was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his life. So, I began to 'witness' to him about the Lord. I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. I shared the story of the prophet Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people to the correct way. Jonah had left his people and escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to sea. A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the ship. A whale came up to the surface and grabbed Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights. Yet because of God's Mercy, He caused the whale to rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return back home safely to his city of Nineveh. And the idea was that we can't really run away from our problems because we always know what we have done. And what is more, God also always knows what we have done.
After sharing this story with the man in the wheel chair, he looked up and me and apologized. He told me he was sorry for his rude behavior and that he had experienced some real serious problems recently. Then he said that he wanted to confess something to me. And I said that I was not a Catholic priest and I don't handle confessions. He replied back to me that he knew that. In fact, he said: "I am a Catholic priest."
I was shocked. Here I had been trying to preach Christianity to a priest. What in the world was happening here?
Priest in Latin America
The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for the church for over 12 years to south and Central America and Mexico and even in New York's 'Hell's Kitchen.' When he was released from the hospital he needed a place to go to recover and rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I told my dad that we should invite him to come out and live with us in the country along with our families and Mohamed. It was agreed by all that he would so, he moved out right away.
Priests Must Study ISLAM? - YES!
During the trip out to our home, I talked with the priest about some of the concepts of beliefs in Islam and to my surprise he agreed and then shared even more about this with me. I was shocked when he told me that Catholic priests actually study Islam and some even carry doctors degrees in this subject. This was all very enlightening to me. But there was still a lot more to come.
Different Versions of the Bible
After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe something like Jimmy Swaggart's 'Good News For Modern Man." The priest of course, had the Catholic Bible which has 7 more books in it that the Protestant Bible. So we spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct one, than we did trying to convince Mohamed about becoming a Christian.
Quran Has Only ONE Version - In Arabic - And Still Exists
At one point I recall asking him about the Quran and how many versions of it there were in the last 1,400 years. He told me that there was only ONE QURAN. And that it had never been changed. Yet he let me know that the Quran had been memorized by hundreds of thousands of people, in it's entirety and were scattered about the earth in many different countries. Over the centuries since the Quran was revealed millions have memorized it completely and have taught it to others who have memorized it completely, from cover to cover, letter perfect without mistakes. Today, over 9 million Muslims have memorized the entire Quran from cover to cover.
How Could This Be?
This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original languages of the Bible have all been dead languages for centuries and the documents themselves have been lost in their originals for hundreds and thousands of years. So, how could it be that something like this could be so easy to preserve and to recite from cover to cover.
Priest Goes to the Mosque
Anyway, one day the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about their experience there and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what all types of ceremonies they performed. He said they didn't really 'do' anything. They just came and prayed and left. I said: "They left? Without any speeches or singing?" He said that was right.
Priest Enters Islam!
A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked
Mohamed if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque which they
did. But this time it was different. They did not come back for a very
long time. It became dark and we worried that something might have
happened to them. Finally they arrived and when they came in the door I
immediately recognized Mohamed, but who was this alongside of him?
Someone wearing a white robe and a white cap. Hold on a minute! It was
the priest. I said to him: "Pete? -- Did you become a 'Moslem?'
My Wife Announces Her Islam!
So, I went upstairs to think things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the whole subject. She then told me that she too was going to enter into Islam, because she knew it was the truth.
I was really shocked now. I went downstairs and woke up Mohamed and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through.
Truth Had Come!
By the time he was ready to pray Fajr (the morning prayer of the Muslims) I knew that the truth had come at last and now it was up to me to do my part. I went out back behind my father's house and found an old piece of plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction that the Muslims pray five times a day.
Guide Me! O God! Guide Me!
Now then in that position, with my body stretched out on the plywood and my head on the ground, I asked: "O God. If you are there, guide me, guide me."
Sign Inside of Me
And then after a while I raised up my head and I noticed something. No, I didn't see birds or angels coming out of the sky nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights and flashes. What I did notice was a change inside of me. I was aware now more than ever before that it was time for me to stop any lying and doing anything sneaky. It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I had to do.
Wash Away the "OLD"
So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was 'washing' away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. And I was now coming into a new, fresh life. A life based on truth and proof.
- And Become New!
Around 11:00 A.M. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest, formerly known as Father Peter Jacob's, and the other Mohamed Abel Rehman and announced my 'shahadah' (open testimony to the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him).
"I bear witness, there is no deity to worship, except Almighty Allah, alone and He has no partners and I bear witness that Mohammad is His messenger and servant."
My Wife Was Next
A few minutes later, my wife follow along and gave the same testimony. But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me being the third).
Then My Father
My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months before he made his shahadah (public testimony). But he did finally commit to Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local masjid (mosque).
The children were taken out of the Christian school and placed in Muslim schools. And now ten years later, they are memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.
Father's Wife (Stepmother) Next
My father's wife finally acknowledged, before she died, that Jesus could not be a son of God and that he must have been a mighty prophet of God, but not God. She passed away within a few months of this statement at age 86. May Allah accept her statement of faith, ameen.
Houseful of New Muslims - What's Next?
Now stop and think. A whole entire household of people from varying backgrounds and ethnic groups coming together in truth to learn how to know and worship the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Think. A Catholic priest; a minister of music and preacher of the Gospel; an ordained minister and builder of Christian schools; and the children, even a great-grandmother - they all come into Islam!
His Mercy and Guidance
Only by His Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of Islam, by removing the coverings over our ears and the blinders on our eyes, no longer having seals over our hearts - He was Guiding us now.
Amazing Story - Family and Friends Entering Islam - From One Man
If I were to stop right here, I'm sure that you would have to admit that at least, this is an amazing story, right? After all, three religious leaders of three separate denominations all going into one very opposite belief at the same time and then soon after the rest of the household.
More? - Yes! Baptist Seminary Student Reads Quran - Accepts Islam
But that is not all. There is more! The same year, while I was in Grand Prairie, Texas (near Dallas) I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee named Joe, who also came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while in BAPTIST SEMINARY COLLEGE!
More? Yes. Catholic Priest Loves Islam - But Needs His Job!
Another Catholic Priest Makes Shahadah
The very next year I met a former Catholic priest who had been a missionary for 8 years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and entered into Islam. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas Texas.
Any more? Again - Yes! Orthodox Arch Bishop leaves church for Islam
Two years later, while in San Antonio, Texas I was introduced to a former Arch Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.
Daughter of Hindu Pundit (Religious Leader) - Accepts Islam - Helping thousands to Islam
I met a woman in New York who wanted to make our CDs about "What Is Islam?" After giving her permission several years ago, I have learned she has produced and distributed over 600 thousand of these to the non-Muslims in America. May Allah reward her and keep her strong in her efforts, ameen.
Hundreds - Thousands - Still Coming
And since my own entrance into Islam and becoming a chaplain to the Muslims throughout the country and around the world, I have encountered many more individuals who were leaders, teachers and scholars in other religions who learned about Islam and entered into it. They came from Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians from Egypt, non-denominational churches and even scientists who had been atheists.
Why? Good question.
The combination always seems to be the same; people are sincerely seeking the truth and are willing to put their different prejudices and biases out of their minds and begin to ask God for His Guidance in their lives.
So, now you have the introduction to the story of my coming into Islam and becoming Muslim. There is more on the Internet about this story and there are more pictures there as well. Please take the time to visit it and then please take the time to email me and let us come together to share in all truths based on proofs for understanding our origins and our purpose and goals in this life and the Next Life.
9 Steps to Purify the Heart
May I suggest to the seeker of truth do the following NINE STEPS to purification of the heart?
1. Clean - your mind, your heart & soul - remove all prejudices & biases.
2. Thank God - for what you have - every moment of every day.
3. Read - a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in a language that they can understand best. (http://islamtomorrow.com/downloads/)
4. Reflect on the meanings & consider the bounties of your Lord.
5. Seek - Forgiveness From God & Learn to Forgive others.
6. Ask - in your heart for Guidance from Above.
7. Open - your heart and mind.
8. Continue - to do this up for a few months. And be regular in it.
9. Avoid - the poison of evil while your heart is opening for the "rebirth of your soul."
Clean; Thank; Read; Reflect - then:
The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the Universe. If you truly love Him, then He already Knows it and He will deal with each of us according to our hearts.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Now as I promised here are the answers to the questions many have asked me connected with my choice of Islam:
1. "How could you have turned your back on the perfect plan of salvation of Jesus Christ on the cross for you sins?"
Answer: Your question implies you have not considered the similarities and teachings of the Bible and the Quran.
"ISLAM" means - "Surrender, submit and obey your Lord in sincerity and peace." Whoever is trying to do this, is a "MUSLIM." If someone believes in Almighty God as One God and One Lord and wants to commit their life to serving Him and obeying His Commandments, then that person will be in the right way and they will be "saved" according to God's Mercy. No one can take the sins of another and the guilty must stand accused for what they have done. It will be up to Almighty God to Forgive or Punish according to His Judgment on that Day.
According to the remains of the translations of the Bible [see: "Bible, A Closer Look"] Jesus, peace be upon him, did not preach a message of salvation by worshipping him. This was something added later by Saul (who later became Paul). We find clear statements indicating salvation would come only through acknowledging Almighty God as One God and worshipping Him with all the heart, mind and strength. Jesus, peace be upon him, taught his followers to worship "My God and your God, My Lord and your Lord."
Again, according to the remains of the English translation of the Bible, we see the one on the cross crying out a very blasphemous statement, "Eli! Eli! Lama sabachthani?" (Which being translated means, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?") This statement on the cross clearly indicates the one on the cross is not pleased with the situation nor does he consider it right or just. Therefore, one would have to conclude this was not something Jesus approved of nor did he accept, or else someone else was on the cross in his place. Either way you look at it, the one on the cross did not accept this as a plan of salvation.
The Quran is absolutely in agreement with these teachings and Muslims do worship the same God and Lord of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Adam, peace be upon them all. The Quran states in many places, no one will be taken to task for the sins of another, nor can anyone carry the burden of another. We will all be on our own on that Day. And I ask Allah to have Mercy and Forgiveness for all those who believe in Him, ameen.
I consider that I have not left the teachings of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. On the contrary, I feel much closer to Jesus, peace be upon him, and I look forward to His return on earth more than ever before. Now I am worshipping the same God he worships and I serve the same Lord he serves, in the very same way he does. Jesus prayed to Almighty God and taught his followers to do the same. I am simply doing what he commanded to the best of my ability and ask Almighty God to accept it.
2. "Do you consider you were really "saved" and that you had in fact, been "born again?"
Answer: The Baptists have a statement, "Once saved, always saved." I asked one of them about this and he agreed it was true. Then I mentioned at one time I had become a Baptist (in my teen years) but now I was a Muslim. I had also been "saved" and baptized at the age of 12. I had accepted the very statement of Jesus being the way, the light and the truth and no man coming on to the Father except by him. I understood these statements to mean I must follow Jesus and his teachings. Therefore, I read the Bible for myself and did not let others tell me what to think about what I was reading.
The Bible states that Jesus prayed for salvation for himself in the garden of Gethsemane in this way, "Let this cup pass from me, even so, Thy Will be done." This prayer was repeated by Jesus, peace be upon him, a number of times and it is mentioned in more than one Gospel. Yet, according to Biblical accounts, the cup did not pass from him and his prayers were NOT ANSWERED. Islam teaches us his prayers were answered and he did not have to endure the cruel treatment and death on the cross, but rather he was taken up while still alive and is with Almighty God even now and ready to return in the Last Days to bring victory to the believers.
Additionally, we find Jesus, peace be upon him, teaching his disciples to pray like this, "Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and Glory, forever and ever, ameen." Every Muslim I have met accepts every single word of this pray with the exception of calling "Allah" our "Father." Muslims consider it better to call on Almighty God by His Names, which we do consider to be "Hallowed."
3. "How did your family respond to your conversion?"
Answer: This is always difficult for families to adjust to and it usually takes time. My family was no exception. Although my wife, children entered into Islam and eventually my father came to declare Islam to be the way of salvation for himself, still my own mother and many others in my family resented our going to Islam at first. Eventually, things became more normalized and we do stay in touch, although they are all still very much involved in Christianity.
Allah promises to test those who declare their faith in Him with many types of difficulties and family is one of those mentioned as a test in the Quran. I do pray for them and ask Allah to guide them to the very best in this life and the very best in the Next Life. But it is up to Allah if He wants them to be in Submission to Him (Islam means, submission to Allah) or not.
4. "How about your congregation? What did they say?"
Answer: I never had my own church. I was a music minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana branch) in Texas and did my preaching to businessmen and informal gatherings. Those who knew me for the most part did not object and some even came to Islam, but there were a few who felt very upset and accused me of "Turing my back on Jesus, peace be upon him." No matter what I tried to say or do, these particular individuals would not listen nor did they want to learn anything about Islam.
5. "Did you experience a lot of difficulties in changing religions?"
Answer: Certainly anyone who wants to consider Islam in these times, just as in times gone by, will have to recognize there will be certain difficulties and tests along the way. The followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, were highly criticized and persecuted even until death (read what Paul said he used to do to them in the Bible; Book of Acts of the Apostles). Those who followed Muhammad, peace be upon him, suffered at the hands of their very own tribes, yet they were determined to continue to worship Almighty God Alone, without partners and submit to His Will.
The biggest problem with non-Muslims, is their lack of understanding and lack of knowledge as to what Islam is really all about and who the Muslims are supposed to be. I pray for them all and ask Allah to forgive the Muslims for not showing a better picture to everyone.
6. "Who was responsible for converting you?"
Answer: As Muslims we believe that it is only Allah who guides the people and whoever He guides will not be misguided and whomever He lets go astray none will be able to guide them. As such, it means we don't believe anyone really can "convert" someone else.
Also, we accept that all children are born in the natural state of submission to Almighty God and as such that means they are Muslims. Should a child die he or she would go to Heaven as they are not responsible for what they do not understand.
7. "Don't you ever think about coming back to being a Christian?"
Answer: "Christian" indicates a follower of Christ. When Jesus, peace be upon him, returns to earth in the Last Days, all the Muslims will be obliged to follow him. But we would not call ourselves "Christians" anymore than he would. He never called himself or his companions "Christians." The Bible tells us they were never even called "Christians" until Paul was preaching his message in Antioch.
8. "Doesn't it bother you to have left the way of peace, justice and love for a religion of hatred, violence and oppression toward women and others?"
Answer: All the prophets, peace be upon them all, called the people to worship Almighty God as One God and One Lord. As such, those who did not want to submit to Almighty God would combat them and treat them with hostilities, even unto death, as Paul had done while still being a Pharisee. The prophets, peace be upon them all, did encourage their followers to live in peace and deal with people in justice and certainly love is the highest form of emotion a human can have for another human being.
Yet at the same time, believers have to defend themselves, their families and the religion itself, lest those who are not believers should remove belief from the very face of the earth. Islam, like Christianity preaches a message of peace and tolerance - to a point. But when this is no longer possible without totally compromising and loosing one's way of life and belief system, then there is no alternative except to engage in open combat against those who are combating against the believers.
Jesus called upon his followers to sell their coats and buy swords. He explained that he did not come with peace, but rather a sword. He and his companions were engaged in mortal combat with their enemies, the Pharisees when one of the priests slaves had his ear cut by the sword. Jesus then told them to put down their swords. This is mentioned in the Bible.
The word "sword" appears over 200 times in the Bible - but even though the Arabic language has more than a dozen words for sword, there is not a single occurrence of any of these words anywhere in the Quran.
Combat is ordered in the Quran, only under very specific and limited conditions and it is nothing more than what we would today call "The War on Terrorism." Fighting against all acts of organized aggression, oppression, persecution and terrorism is an obligation on all believers. But it certainly has limits and women, children, elderly and any innocents are not to be killed or injured during such occasions. Treatment of prisoners is not to be humiliating or torture of any kind. Even the dead of the enemy are to be buried with dignity and respect.
Now since writing my story and publishing here on the internet many other websites have picked up this story and it had become a famous example of how "Priest and Preachers Are Coming to Islam."
Again, I thank you for visiting. And I thank our Christian friend for his email. If he hadn't sent it, I probably would still not have completed this task of putting down the story once and for all of how my family, friends and myself all came to Islam.
Please feel free to share this story with others. You should print it out and make copies for everyone. Give them our links, add our story to your website or blog page, and send out emails to everyone you know. Maybe it could make a difference for others like us, God Willing.
May Allah guide you on your journey to all truth. Ameen. And May He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life, ameen.
Peace to you and Guidance from Allah the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.
More Proof? Read: "Success, Happiness & Peace" [click]Excerpted from: http://www.islamtomorrow.com/converts/
I was born to staunch Catholic Christian parents. Even from my youngest days, my father sometimes took me along with him when he went to preach, it was quite obvious that he wanted me to succeed him in his profession. By the time I reached grade twelve, I could preach the Gospels in my own way. In college, I often met my Protestant classmates and discussed the differences in our faiths and the performance of rituals.
By the time I completed the first year in college, I was sufficiently grounded in the knowledge of the Christian Faith as held by the Catholic Church. I was given a scholarship from the Church funds and in return for the help I received, I was required to receive special coaching in understanding parts of the Holy Book, under the Chief Priest of the Church who loved to teach me very much and was very intimately attached to me.
Having appeared in the first group for my intermediate course I used to sit working at his subjects till late at night. One night when all were asleep and I was absorbed in my studies an idea suddenly struck my mind to examine the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the basic formula of the Christian Faith. The question how god exists in three persons, and yet has a single divine nature, a single will and be of one substance arose in my mind.
My failure to reconcile my belief in the Trinity with the reasoning of the science of logic, created a mental restlessness in me. Days passed on and many a time, I thought of asking my father to help me in solving the problem which puzzled my mind but I knew that my father would never appreciate the least doubt in the dogmatic belief of the Catholic School. However, one day when I found my father in a happy mood and asked him to explain the Holy Trinity…he finally said:
“In matters of faith one has to stop reasoning…this doctrine is beyond the grasp of human reason. One should believe in the doctrine only by one’s heart and mind!”
This reply from my father upset me to a great extent…all my thinking got centered in the question which had become a definite problem to puzzle my mind further and I wondered saying: “Is this the foundation upon which the huge edifice of the Christian faith is built? Is the basis of my faith only a matter of blind following of some dictated belief which can never stand reasoning or the independent scrutiny by the dispassionate and impartial arguments from the clean conscience?”
I became extremely worried and made up my mind to blindly believe in the Trinity.
One day one of our senior lecturers was sitting alone in his room and I entered with his permission and asked him if he could help me to solve something which to me was a perplexing problem. He very kindly asked me what it was. I asked him to explain to me how God, a single being, can exist simultaneously as three distinct persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit?!
The senior lecturer smiled and said: “Is it that you do not like my stay in this college?” I asked him: “Why sir?” He said: “What do you think the college authorities who are staunch Catholics will do with me, if someone informs them that I discuss in my private room things opposed to the Christian faith in general? Will they keep me on the staff of the College any longer? If you want to discuss anything here, you must confine your discussion to the subject of your studies in the College!”
Thereafter, I made an appointment with him to see him in his house.
On Sunday when I met the senior lecturer he first asked me as to what made me inquire into the Doctrine of Trinity. I said that I wanted to know how far the doctrine stood to reasoning.
He smiled and said, “Why don’t you ask any one of our priests?”
I said: “I have asked them but they say it is a matter of belief or faith and it should not be subjected to any logic or philosophy. This has upset me. This has raised the question in me, if what I believe in is unreasonable and illogical, why should I subject myself to any blind following? Is God so unjust to expect man to believe in a doctrine about Himself which no human brain can ever reasonably conceive? I request you, Sir, to somehow give me some method of arguing out the possibility of such existence as the doctrine of Trinity wants us to believe in!”
The senior lecturer smiled and said: “Dear Thomas, suppose you want me to prove by some mathematical formula how water can remain water and the same time be fire, or how a stone can be a stone and at the same time be water too, how can I do it? I do not think any sensible man on earth can ever conceive such a possibility…how the Ever living God who being the Ever living, can also at the same time be a mortal! (i.e. be a man to suffer death at the hands of the other mortals?) And how the same mortal being at the same time be the Absolute Immortal God? It is a problem which our priests want us to believe and we have to merely believe in it and none has any choice of even questioning the practicability of this inconceivable dogma.”
He went on saying: “The fact is when God, Whom we believe as One, is absolutely One, it means that God is singularly One in natural essence of His existence, free from any different or variant factors having anything to do with His pure or Absolute Unity to justify His being the Absolute One, owing an indivisible existence, by Himself. Division suggests that the One is not an Absolute One but a compound of some variants, and that which is a composed being can never really be One in the true meaning of Oneness. And certainly the one dependent in its existence upon its different components can never be independent in its action, whereas God is the Absolute One, independently Omnipotent in His Will and His action.”
“Besides how can any three which are three separate beings, with three variations justify being three separate entities, remain three separately individual native properties differentiating them from each other, and become conceivably the absolute indivisible one, without the least variation in the essential oneness? An absolute one must be totally independent in its existence, Mr. Thomas…it is impossible to reason out the doctrine of the Holy Trinity for it is an inconceivable human riddle!”
He continued: “The only thing is that we Christians are shut out of the vast sources of knowledge about the truth and of the higher factor in matters of religion which are available outside our own fold, by damning every non Christian as the Devil’s work. We Christians, Mr. Thomas, in our madness to swell up our ranks have played such a disgraceful role that a scholar like Sir Dennison Ross had to helplessly disclose truth about this in his foreword to the translation of the Quran by George Sale.”
I was amazed to hear the arguments of the senior lecturer who was himself known as a Catholic, and at the same time I was very much encouraged to know that my doubt about the unreasonableness of the doctrine of Trinity was something which had made a highly educated and enlightened mind like the senior lecturer of Mathematics to enquire into it. I was much benefited by the discussion with the senior lecturer for I came to know arguments justifying the doubt created in my mind.
My study of the matter in the ‘Islamic Literature’ and the translation of the Quran opened my eyes to many great and very important factors that effect human life on earth. Once I visited the senior lecturer in his house and to my amazement I found him possessing a great amount of literature on Islam! I further asked him: “May I know sir, if you have embraced the faith of the Muslims?”
He replied: “Do not worry yourself about my personal choice!”
I took the copy of the translation of the Quran by George Sale and read the introduction by Sir E. Dennison Ross. The introduction needs to be read with special attention. Sir Ross said:
“For many centuries the acquaintance which the majority of Europeans possessed of Mohammedanism was based almost entirely on the distorted reports of fanatical Christians which led to the discrimination of a multitude of gross calumnies. What was good in Mohammedanism was entirely ignored and what was not good in the eyes of Europe was exaggerated or misinterpreted. The unity of God and the simplicity of his creed was probably a more potent factor in the spread of Islam than the sword of the ghaziz.” (G. Sale’s translation of the Koran – Introduction)
This statement of the great Christian scholar of international repute, created in me the thirst to know the original teachings of Islam especially about the Islamic concept of God.
About four years passed away and by this time I knew the contents of the Quran. Many things had aroused my attention. I had discussed many doubtful points with the senior lecturer whom I found to have read the Quran several times with a better and more critical view. I was now longing to meet some Muslim scholar to cross examine him about certain doubts about the Islamic Faith.
Once I thought of Hinduism but what I saw daily with my own eyes, curses of untouchability and the reservations of the caste system prevalent before us and besides everything else, the idol worship and the observance of innumerable rituals did not prompt me to take up any enquiry into its tenets. I could never understand the superiority exclusively and arbitrarily claimed for the members of certain castes, simply because they had accidentally been born in those folds. I had seen with my own eyes how the people belonging to certain castes are imagined as lower in the society and are treated as the untouchables, not allowed even to enter into the Hindu Temples. I had seen these poor souls being prohibited even to take drinking water from the wells reserved for the superior classes.
The havoc in the social life played by Hinduism dividing humanity into castes and subcastes and the unreasonable superiority of one caste over the other is itself so repulsive that no one would like to take any trouble of executing any studies about the doctrines of that faith.
While resenting the caste system and the sectarian segregation in the Hindu folds, I was automatically reminded of the similar restrictions amongst Christians. I asked myself: “Why criticize other people and their beliefs when the religion which I myself belong to, has in it the sectarian segregation as well? Are not Churches in Christendom owned exclusively for the members of the particular sects? Are there not churches belonging to a particular sect which cannot be used by the people of the other sect? Has not Christianity failed to unite mankind into one human society? Did Jesus preach all these differences and dissensions which we the Christians have innovated? Is it not then that we are far away from the original objects of the Mission of Jesus Christ?”
Against the irreconcilable differences and the innumerable dissensions of the social order in the very folds of Hinduism and Christianity, I was very much impressed by the genuine and real brotherhood practiced day and night among the Muslims. I found that a Muslim Mosque is a Mosque belonging to everyone who calls himself a Muslim and that there is no reservation of seats in the Mosque. I saw with my own eyes, Muslims of all ranks, all social and economical status of different complexions of various nationalities all standing in one row, turning towards one direction, praying to one God in one language, and after the prayer shaking hands with one another. Brotherhood or social equality claimed more in theory by other schools of thought in the world; I found it to be an ever experienced and a living reality in the daily life of the Islamic folds.
One day I was informed by the senior lecturer who by this time had become a close friend of mine that a Muslim scholar was going to deliver some talks in English on the life of the Prophet of Islam in a hall near the big Mosque of my town. My senior lecturer and I both attended the talks and met the lecturer who was an old friend of my senior lecturer. We talked with the lecturer about several important topics.
During my meeting with the Muslim lecturer I asked him if he would kindly answer some questions for my own information. He said: “I will most willingly answer your questions.”
I put forward the following questions which he very cheerfully answered: “What proof have you besides the Quran to establish that Muhammad was truly a Prophet of God?”
He answered: “Have you your Bible with you?” I said: “Yes.”
He took the following verses and read them to me one after the other:
The Acts 3, Verses 22: “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, a prophet shall the Lord your god raise unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” 23: “And it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear the Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” 24: “Yea! And all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
The Acts 7: Verses 37: “This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, a Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.”
John 14: “Jesus says: 16: ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give another comforter – that he may abide with you forever.’”
26: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, the comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send him unto you.”
16: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now.”
16: “Howbeit, when he the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you unto all truth for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; he will show you things to come.”
I read the passages which I had already gone through several times before, but this time the perfect confidence with which the lecturer asked me to read the verse from my own sacred scriptures in support of his claim, threw a new light upon them for me to understand the matter dispassionately. Yet I replied: “But the prophecy is about the advent of Jesus!”
He smiled and said: “Read the verse again! Does not the verse say that God will raise a Prophet like unto Moses i.e. he will be a man born of a father and a mother as was born Moses; whereas Jesus was born only of a mother. Besides the Prophet promised by God must be a man like Moses but you yourself call Jesus as the son of God! Moses was a lawgiving Prophet and the one like him must be a lawgiver, whereas Jesus was only a law abider, following the law of the Ten Commandments already introduced through Moses. Besides one must betray his common sense as well as his learning to say that I and He the two different persons, i.e. the First and the Third person mean the same, or the one who departs prophesying about the advent of some one else, to be one and the same.”
The argument was quite reasonable. Then I asked the lecturer: “Do you not believe in Jesus as the son of God? Cannot Jesus be God himself in the form of a man?”
The lecturer smiled and very cheerfully replied: “Can there be a son to anyone without a wife, my friend? Can anyone who believes in the sonship of Jesus, at the same time sensibly imagine Virgin Mary to have been used by God as a wife? Let us seek protection of God against any such devilish straying of our minds. Sonship if used in the Bible can be only to mean a creature or the one who has received life from God. Otherwise, what do you say about Jesus addressing himself as a son of man… “The son of man is come eating and drinking and ye say, behold a gluttonous man, and a wine bibber a friend of publicans and sinners.” (St. Luke 7:34)
“The son of man be ashamed.” (Luke 9:26)
“Saying the son of the man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men.” (Luke 24)
“The son of man shall give unto you.” (John 6:27)
Jesus addressed God as his father and also as our father which means that God is taken as the father of Jesus as much as He is the father (or the creator) of any of us, and hence Jesus’ sonship can mean in the sense of creature of god, the term ‘son of god’ used by Jesus can be only in sense of ‘servant of god’ – as Jesus refers to himself as god’s servant. This fact is testified by the verses by which every prophet of God from Adam has been termed as the son of God in Luke 3rd chapter in verses from 23 to 30. Jesus is called as the son of Joseph and the genealogy of Jospeh is traced to Adam and Adam is called the son of God. Read the 30th verse of the same chapter: “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” (Luke 3:30)
These ready answers from the Bible created a very deep impression upon my mind about the amount of comparative study the Muslims do and how strong and reasonable they are in their faith about the Oneness of God.
I asked the lecturer: “Do you believe in the Holy Bible as a Heavenly Book or not?” In reply to my question the lecturer requested me to answer the following questions:
Then he said: “Please read p. 17 in the “Founder of Christianity and his Religion” published by the Christian Literature Society, Madras. It is said in the book: “The whole Bible contains sixty six books written by forty different authors over a space of about fifteen centuries.” It is clearly said in the book that: JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF WROTE NOTHING. Oral teaching was for several years, the only means employed in the spread of Christianity. It was for the guidance of those young converts that the earliest writings of the new Testament were composed.”
The same book further discloses that: “They were probably written about Twenty years after the death of Christ.”
On pg. 18 it is stated: “The Gospels do not give a complete history of the life of Christ. They are rather memoirs.”
I said: “But the Bible is the word of god inspired and written by the disciples of Jesus”
He again smiled and said: “Mr. Thomas, if the Bible is the Book of the Disciples and of Jesus, how would you account for the differences in the Book, if it is an inspired word of God…does not the Catholic Bible contain some books which the Protestant version does not?”
Have you read what Mr. Wilson says about the Bible, in the introduction to the ‘Diaglot’ – published by the Watch Tower Society?
“If it has not been published by kingly authority it would not now be venerated by English and American Protestants, although it had come direct from God. It has been convicted of containing over 20,000 errors! Nearly 700 Greek Mss are not known and some of them are very ancient whereas the translator of the common version had only the advantage of some 8 Mss none of which was earlier than the tenth century.”
Is not the Bible based upon 8 manuscripts…whereas there are 700 manuscripts now available? If what is contained in all such manuscripts is also the inspired word of god, why were these manuscripts left away? In view of all these facts brought to your light, if you still believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God, you may do so but you can’t expect the whole world to do it. If you make a serious and an impartial study of the Old and the New Testaments you will find in them the amount of blasphemies which the Jewish mind has fabricated against Lot, David, Noah, and Abraham who were the Holy Apostles of God, viz:
“And Noah began to be a husbandman and he planted a vineyard.”
“And he drank of the vine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within this tent.”
“And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brethren about it.”
“And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon their father, and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” (Gen: 10:123)
Lot committing adultery with his own two daughters (Gen: 19:30-38)
David taking possession of his neighbor’s wife (II Sam 11:4)
I asked, “What? Do you Muslims believe in the prophet’s of god other than Muhammad to be totally sinless and holy?”
He answered me by reciting to me the following verses from the Quran:
“Say (O Muslims), We believe in Allah, and that which has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes and that which has been given to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them. And we submit to Allah” (Al-Baqarah 2:136)
“The Messenger of God believed in what had been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers (i.e. Muslims) they all believe in Allah and His Angels, His Books (the different holy scriptures) and His Messengers; we make no difference between any of His Messengers” (Al-Baqarah 2:285)
The above verses of the Holy Quran bear clear testimony to the fact that, as one of the fundamentals of his faith, every Muslim has to believe not only in the Holy Prophet Muhammad, but in all the other Prophets and Messengers as truthful and holy and should not make any distinction between them. The following verse of the Holy Quran informs us of the fact that Prophets were raised by God, among all nations in all parts of the earth.
“… There is not a nation but a warner has gone among them” (Fatir 35:24)
It convinced me that Islam, alone, is an all comprehensive faith which recognizes all other religions and which contains in it a perfectly harmonious integration of all the good, found partly in the other religious orders of the world. The sacred book of Islam i.e. the Holy Quran is the final exposition of the Divine Truth. The limitation of the human mind of the different ages, did not allow even Prophet like Jesus to speak out the whole truth. Jesus had to depart with many things yet to be told to his people. (John 16:14). Jesus had to tell his people to wait until the advent of the spirit of truth to disclose the whole of the truth. (John 16:13)
I was further impressed by the universal aspect of the religion of Islam. Every answer from the lecturer was with an unchallengeable authority and with an unbreakable argument. I was awakened to differentiate between genuine truth and the fabrications of falsehood and to know many new factors to which I was blind all those years. But I did not know how to reconcile the dawn of true knowledge of truth with my original blind dogmatic belief and my belonging to the Christian faith any longer. I wanted to find out some failure on the part of the lecturer to answer satisfactorily some question or the other, so that I may have some excuse, be that even a false one, to maintain my position in the Christian faith.
The lecturer continued after some time with the question: “Shall I ask you something if you do not mind answering it for my information?”
I said: “Yes.”
He asked: “Do you think Jesus to be a son of God or God himself?”
I said: “Jesus is God himself in the form of His son.”
He said: “Can you ever conceive anyone to be the immortal god and at the same time be a mortal (man) to be caught in the hands of other mortals to suffer death? Can anything be high and at the same time low, black, and at the same time white? Can there be darkness and the same time light? What philosophy is this?”
The lecturer continued saying: “Do you ever consider that there is one other question confronting the doctrine of the Trinity which needs to be answered by every Trinitarian that if any three different beings which are three different entities, are also at the same time One, with absolute unity in all the perfect sense or meaning of Oneness, what is the common control which makes them remain three and also be one at one and the same time? If there be any factor of such a wonderful and inconceivable phenomena causing this amazing effect, then that supreme causative power, which controls the number and the unity, will alone be the Omnipotent God and not any one of the three which are only the controlled components. Besides there arises another problematic question which a believer in the Trinity will have to answer i.e. as to who is it that controls or determines the splitting of one into three different others, to be neither more nor less in number? There must be some cause for this controlled effect and that the causative factor acting supreme over three will be the Omnipotent God and not any of the three which will only be the effect of the Supreme controlling cause.
Similarly, it will raise the question, what is the causative power which effects the three to be only one when joining together rather than divided into many groups of beings and, if there be any such cause, that supreme controlling cause will be the omnipotent god, not any of the three who will only be the subservient ones. Under any circumstances no sensible man can ever reasonably believe in any effect whatsoever without some causative factor effecting it.
However, the Holy Trinity is only a problematic doctrine created by the Christian Church which no logical reasoning can ever prove true.
I had to helplessly agree to the views of the lecturer for I could not now reasonably believe in the existence of anything being itself and at the same time being its own opposite.
“I would like you Mr. Thomas,” said the lecturer “to ponder a little over How the belief of Jesus being God Himself or the son of God, coincides with the fact that he was so terrified at the impending crucifixion that he shouted: “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtani?” (Meaning: My God, My God, has thou forsaken me?) (Matthew 27:46)
“What philosophy is that? If Jesus was God Himself, does it mean that God was forsaken by God Himself and can that be God who felt hopeless and shouted to be rescued?”
“Your Bible itself Mr. Thomas, reported that the son of God was forsaken by his father (god) in which case the forsaken son automatically and quite naturally forfeits his personal merits as a son and his relationship of being a son to his father. What do you say? Of what profitable use can the attachment to a forsaken son be? Mr. Thomas, please tell me!”
I was dumbstruck – and I did not know what to say and what to do with the faith I already possessed as a staunch Christian.
“Besides,” the lecturer continued: “Do you think Jesus to be God himself when he falls down crying, praying to someone else to remove the cup of death by crucifixion?”
I asked: “Alright, sir, how do you reconcile the violence used by the Prophet of Islam to his being an Apostle of God?!”
Immediately came the reply from the lecturer: “Please, Mr. Thomas, quote a single instance from the whole life story of the Holy Prophet Muhammad to show that he has ever committed any unprovoked aggression or any single instance of his taking the least initiative in attacking any single soul. Each expedition of a battle he led or he allowed was only in selfdefense! The Bible does not preach selfdefense. The Bible preaches selfsurrender to the extent of handing over everything in one’s possession when anything which was in one’s hand had been taken away by any aggressor. Does any Christian follow this?”
“Apart from the political history of the Christian nations of Europe, do you not remember the inhuman methods employed by Christendom to spread its faith?”
I was ashamed to hear what has been reported and I have to listen quietly to the records of the disgraceful conduct of the Christians. I at last ventured to ask one more question. “There is the doctrine of atonement of expiation of sins of men through the blood of Jesus. Jesus having paid the price of the sins of man, i.e. he who believes in Jesus is cleansed and saved… have you any such accommodation in Islam?
The lecturer smiled and replied: “My friend, the greatest of God’s gifts to man is common sense. If man forfeits it of his own accord, then no one can help him. First let me know if the doctrine appeals to reason and common sense. A, for example, a Christian by faith, i.e. a believer in Jesus Christ as his savior, plunders the house of B and the members of B’s family. Does sense and logic agree to ‘A’ being let off unpunished by the law, particularly to the Law of the All Just Lord of the Universe, simply be‐cause ‘A’ accepts Jesus as his savior?”
I had to say “No” because, to say otherwise would mean I forfeit my common sense and go against reasoning!
He continued: “There is one very grave aspect of the doctrine of atonement through the blood of Jesus, i.e. when we pay for a thing, the thing becomes our own and the previous owner of that thing forfeits his entire claim over it for the price he has already received, is it not?”
I said: “Yes.”
Then he said: “If the sins of man have been paid for, god has no right to punish any sinner! Every sinner who merely believes in Jesus would be free do anything in the world which his brutal passion dictates him to do, for God his Lord has no right whatsoever even to question any sinner, for Jesus has met the cost of all his sins. Can this ever be sensible logic or common sense? Can this doctrine help life on earth to continue for one moment in peace and security?”
He continued: “Please remember, Islam wants every individual to be kept bound by his being answerable with his own individual life as well as the interest of the collective life in this world, himself as a member of not only the human race but also of the creation of the Lord as a whole. Islam continuously invites and encourages man towards righteousness with the promise of the blissful life in the Hereafter and repeatedly warns him against vice and the consequent chastisement from the All Just Lord. The Holy Quran repeatedly warns saying:
“And be on your guard against a Day when one soul shall not avail another in the least, neither shall intercession on its behalf be accepted nor shall they be helped” (Al-Baqarah 2:123)
“Whoever goes aright, for his soul does he go aright and whoever goes astray to its detriment only does he go astray, nor can the bearer of a burden bear the burden of another nor do we punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning) ”. (Al-Isra 17:15)
“O’ humankind! Surely, we have created you of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful of his duty. Surely Allah is All-knowing, All-aware” (Al-Hujrat 49:13)
While threatening man with grievous punishment in recompense for his evil, the Holy Quran discloses also the infinite mercy of the All-Merciful Lord who does not want man, however much a sinner the individual be to be totally defect or hopeless of the merciful pardon from Him. The only condition for the pardon he needs being the sinner’s repentance against his vices, with his intention of amending his conduct in the future, and the turning wholeheartedly to obedience and gratitude to the All-Merciful Lord for His infinite grace.”
“For goodness sake, tell me Mr. Thomas, which do you think is reasonable and sensible, either making man intoxicated and careless against sinning (i.e. making him unreasonably confident of the price of his sins as having already been paid by someone) or alerting man with his commitment to virtue against vice, (i.e. keeping him warned of the natural consequences of getting punishment by the All-Just Lord, against any misconduct or disobedience)?’’
I felt that I had the day understood the hollowness of the doctrine of atonement upon which is built the whole edifice of the Christian faith. The divine mercy of the Lord dawned upon my heart, a new light of Divine guidance. I thanked god for liberating me from the clutches of the grossly misleading dogmatic doctrine and leading me to Islam which I have myself found through an impartial enquiry that it is the right and the Straight Road to salvation which the All-Merciful Lord Himself has shown man through this Last Apostle Muhammad, may peace be upon him and his divinely chosen descendants.
When I disclosed my acceptance of the true argument advanced by the lecturer and thanked him, he told me: “Thomas! You must thank God for blessing you with the fulfillment of his merciful promise to every sincere seeker of Truth!”
The All-Merciful Lord by His infinite mercy has fulfilled His merciful promise to give mankind the everlasting guidance through the Holy Prophet Muhammad who would abide in his guidance for all times. After coming across so many strong and unbreakable arguments against the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and also about many other fundamentals of Christian belief, I only wondered how such an unreasonable faith could attract such a huge number of people in the world.
Once I found my father returning home very happy and immediately as he arrived he called me and said: “You will be glad to know my dear son that today I got 109 souls into our fold! At baptism of such a big number, the rev father, the chief of our mission praised my services very much and has increased my salary as well as my traveling allowance and has awarded me with a token reward corresponding to the number baptized through my efforts!”
I asked: “Who are they, father, who were baptized?”
He said: “They are from five surrounding villages. There are men, women, and children.”
I asked: “Are they all educated?”
He said: “No, they are poor people of the slums; they are only laborers in the paddy fields of their villages.”
I asked if they had understood fully their undertaking as converts to the Christian faith. Would every one of them stand any cross examination against their decision to leave the folds they were in and their joining the Christian Belief?
He replied: “What do you mean? I told you they are all uneducated, poor illiterates; laborers, from the slums! The group consists of men, women, and children. Now I will have to go there every day and coach them up in the doctrine of our faith.”
On hearing this I smiled, and seeing me smiling my father asked: “Why do you smile, Thomas? What is the matter?”
I said: “Nothing father, I do not see in this mass conversion any matter of pride or pleasure which any true religion or any genuine or reasonable faith can claim for itself, for it is nothing but exploiting the illiteracy and ignorance of the poor laborers. It is leading the mentally blind ones into something which they neither know nor recognize! Do you think father, that any sensible man can reasonably be proud over his getting some illiterate men, women, and children to accept his own ideals and justifiably claim the least merit or value to his thought?”
“While the entry into a faith like Islam is effected only after a detailed study and enquiry by the learned ones with perfect conviction, we Christians pride over our success in swelling up our ranks by mass conversions of illiterate laborers, who by circumstances are forced to accept the Christian doctrine without knowing what they are doing is right or wrong? An ignorant mind is like a blank sheet, one can draw upon it whatever one’s fancy chooses and once the inscription is made to be settled upon such raw material, any artist can pride over the palette having any particular design of his own. If today to win the sympathy of the ignorant masses we boast before our illiterate converts of our humanity and self sacrifices in the cause of the spread of our faith will the outer world also forget the Edict of Milan, father, and will all the records of history of the brutal outrages that Christendom committed against the poor helpless Jews, in its own passionate eagerness and anxiety to swell its ranks totally vanish?”
I continued: “If you kindly permit me father, I would like to know from you if the Bible in your hands is to be merely read, memorized and preached to the others… or is it to be acted upon in our daily life? If it is to be acted upon will you kindly show me, father, if the Christian world could ever practice the principle of turning the other cheek also if one is already smitten? Could any sincere Christian till now, give away his shirt when his coat was taken away? Will you, father, surrender our whole house if anybody invades our residence and takes possession of any of the rooms in these premises? If the Christian powers of the world really believe in this doctrine of self surrender, why do they maintain their military and police forces?”
“Kindly tell me, father if there is any earthly use of merely believing in any golden ideals which can only adorn the pages of some book and which can only be preached but never practiced. Why should we not reasonably accept the doctrine of selfdefense taught by Islam, and the principle of pardoning our offenders if they are repentant, and amending their conduct?”
“For goodness sake let me know father, how can three different ones at the same time be an absolute one, both numerically and also in the essential nature of perfect unity?”
“On what reasonable grounds can the one who is forsaken by God, be god himself and if Jesus is to be believed as the son of god, what claim to the relationship with his father can a forsaken son have?”
“What right had Christendom to claim any truth in it when its spread was caused by inhuman atrocities committed by the Christian forces against the poor helpless Jews. The conduct of the brutal outrages committed in the holy name of the Christ, has been fully reported even by the Christian authorities on the Edict of Milan and by the world renowned Christian scholar Gibbon in his famous work: ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.’“
“The Doctrine of atonement through the blood of Christ, will naturally attract those sinners who have sinned and who do not want to give up sinning under the protection of the doctrine that the price of their sins has already been paid away and, however much worse sinners they themselves choose to be, they will not in the least be chastised for their heinous crimes, for, Jesus having paid away for the sins of man, God has forfeited His claim to punish the sinners thereafter.”
“There are many such things, father which need a dispassionate study and an impartial judgment.”
“I tell you father, that whatever be the consequences and whatever misfortune may afflict me, I, for one, have decided not to sell away or forfeit my conscience and common sense to believe in such unreasonable dogmatic doctrines. I have embraced Islam, and if you do not get angry with me, kindly allow me to explain to you the details of my enquiries; I will do it whenever I am requested to do so. I do not like any thought or belief of mine to be swallowed by any one by force, for the religion of Islam, which I now openly declare to have embraced, enjoins that there shall not be any compulsion in the matter of faith, as the truth has been revealed against falsehood.”
To my utter surprise, I found my father fully attentive to my exposing my personal views and convictions and at the end, he said:
“Son, do not think that your father is a fool. I have been occasionally confronted with such ideas during my life whenever I had the occasion of discussing religion with my Muslim friends. For God’s sake keep this matter strictly confined to you. Otherwise be sure we will be thrown out into the street as destitute.”
A few days later, my father decided to declare himself a Muslim, too.
I now, for the information and guidance of every seeker of the truth, openly declare the actual findings of my sincere enquiry that Islam is not only the last Mighty Religion, but it is also the perfect faith which contains all the good. One of the most distinguishing and striking characteristics of Islam is that it requires of its followers to believe that all the religions of the world that preceded it were revealed by God for the respective people of those ages. It is one of the fundamentals of this faith that its followers must believe in all the prophets who were sent into the world before the Prophet Muhammad as truthful and sinless.
Muhammad is the name of the Prophet through whom this all comprehensive faith was revealed in its complete and perfect form for humanity at large for all times. It is the West that named his faith ‘Mohammedanism’ to coincide with the fashion of Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism. On the other hand, the name of this religion is already given in its Book, the Holy Quran, as ‘Islam’, and the Prophet of Islam is called a Muslim as any other believer. As the various prophets preached this same Truth among different nations at different times in different languages, every Prophet of God is spoken of in the Holy Quran as a Muslim. Thus I have found, beyond all doubts that Islam is the religion which humanity needs for its progress in all spheres of its material as well as spiritual life to earn salvation in the end.
A Brief introduction of Islam for New Muslims
Islam is to submit completely to Allah by believing in His Oneness; by worshipping Him, and forsaking all types of Shirk (polytheism).
Islam is the only Deen accepted by Allah. It is the Final Deen, which has abrogated all previous religions. Allah does not accept from His slaves other than it. Allah says: ‘Indeed the only accepted Deen is Islam….’ (Aale-Imran 3:19)
He also says, ‘and whoever seeks other than Islam, it would not be accepted from him, and he would be amongst the losers in the Hereafter.’ (Aale-Imran 3:85)
How to enter the folds of Islam: The Two Testimonies of Faith
(La ilahah Illa Allah wa anna Muhammad Rasool Allah)
To enter Islam, you must know the meaning of these two testimonies; pronounce them out of pure conviction, without the slightest doubt.
Translation of the Shahadah :
Ash’hadu: I certainly know and believe without the slightest doubt…
An la ilahah: that there is no god worthy of being worshipped in the universe...
Ilal’laah: This is an affirming sentence; i.e. that all acts of worship belong to Allah alone...
An’na Muhammadan: Muhammad, (son of Abdullah, son of Abdul Muttalib) certainly...
Rasool Allah: was sent by Allah to mankind at large; to both men and jinn.
Its General Meaning: (La ilahah Illa Allah Muhammad Rasool Allah) There is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (We obey his commands; refrain from whatever he has forbidden. We believe all that he has informed us with, and that Allah is not to be worshipped except in the manner which he has taught us.)
The Divine Scripture of Islam: It is the Quran, which is the words of Allah; it was revealed to Muhammad, may Allah exalt his mention, through Angel Jibreel, may Allah exalt his mention.
It is incumbent upon the Muslim to memorize from it a portion enough for him to complete his prayers.
Indeed, all previous scriptures were distorted by their people; but the Quran remains in its pure form as it was revealed to Muhammad, may Allah exalt his mention. Allah has promised to preserve it till the Day of Resurrection. Allah says: ‘Indeed We have revealed the Dhikr, and We will preserve it.’ (Al-Hijr 15:9)For this reason, no one can distort it.
After knowing the meaning of the Two Testimonies of Faith, pronouncing them and accepting them wholeheartedly (without being pressurized into accepting it or promised worldly things upon pronouncing it) he would become a Muslim, upon whom certain obligations would become due, and others would be waived. If he dies after pronouncing it, he would enter Jannah, even if he did not do a good deed.
The Five Pillars of Islam: (These pillars are to be physically executed, whether the action is attestation in the heart, profession by the tongue or a physical action)
The First Pillar: The Two Testimonies of Faith.
There is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah, and Muhammad, son of Abdullah, was a Prophet and Messenger, who was sent by Allah to both men and jinn, to guide them to worship Allah alone, without associating any partners to Him.
The Second Pillar: The Salah (Prayer).
They are five prayers in total during the day and night. The reward the Muslim would attain from performing them would be equal to the reward of fifty prayers…if performed with its necessary conditions, pillars and compulsory acts. Some of its conditions are that the person who wants to pray be a sane Muslim, who has reached the age of distinction, having made Taharah (ablution) and intention (to pray a certain prayer), and to face the Qiblah while praying.
The Third Pillar: Zakat (Poor-Due).
It is due on every Muslim whose wealth has reached the Nisaab (amount of wealth which renders it incumbent upon its owner to pay Zakat) and has been held in possession for 12 lunar months, to give 2.5% from it to the poor and needy from among his relatives whom he legally does not have to support, and to other poor and needy Muslims, as well.
The Fourth Pillar: Fasting.
The person should intend to fast from the night. He should abstain from food and drink and sexual intercourse from Fajr till the sunset. The Month of Fasting is called Ramadhan. It is compulsory on every sane, adult Muslim.
The Fifth Pillar: Hajj (Pilgrimage)
It is the visitation to Makkah and other sacred sites with the intention to perform Umrah and Hajj. It is a duty on every adult, sane Muslim who can afford performing it, once in a lifetime. Women who have no Mahram (guardian) do not have to perform Hajj.
Whoever rejects one of these pillars out of disbelief or due to laziness would become a Kaafir (disbeliever) and would exit the folds of Islam.
The Six Pillars of Faith:
1. Belief in Allah: That is to believe that He is the Creator, the Provider, the One Who causes death and life, and the One in Whose Hands are all affairs. He is the First before Whom there is none, and He is the Last after Whom there is none, He is the Supreme above Whom there is none, and He is the Most-Knowledgeable from Whom nothing is hidden. We believe in all His beautiful names and attributes without distorting or suspending them, striking parallels between them or comparing them. Allah says, ‘….There is nothing that resembles Him, and He is the All-Seeing All-Hearing’ (Ash-Shura 42:11)
2. Belief in the Angels: They are honorable slaves, who obey Allah. Among them are Jibreel, Mee’ka’il, Israfeel, Ridhwaan, Maalik, and the angels who record the good and bad deeds of men.
3. Belief in the Divine Scriptures which Allah revealed to his Prophets and Messengers. The Last Scripture is the Quran. It has abrogated all previous scriptures, thus it is not permissible to put into practice any scripture besides the Quran.
4. Belief in the Messengers: Allah sent them to mankind to guide them to worship Him alone, and not associate partners with Him. We believe that Allah sent them. Among them are the ‘Ulul Azm’ (Prophets who exerted great efforts) who are, Nooh, Ibraheem, Musa, Eesa, and finally Muhammad, may Allah exalt his mention, and render him safe from every derogatory thing, who is the last and best of them.
5. Belief in the Last Day: It is the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Requital; the Day believers would enter Jannah and disbelievers sent to Hell-Fire; as for the sinners (who died without repenting), they would be subject to the will of Allah. He would either punish them or forgive them.
6. Belief in the Qadr’ (Preordainment) both in its evil and good consequences. Know that whatever is ordained would come to pass; whatever you will be afflicted with will take place. Everything which takes place in this universe is already recorded in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfoodth).
I hope that you read this book with an open heart and mind…and I pray to God that you see the light of truth.
Excerpted, with slight modifications, from : http://www.muslimbridges.org/
14TH CENTURY CE SCHOLAR AND PRIEST
Extracted from Material on the Authenticity of the Qur'an: Proofs that it is a Revelation from Almighty God (Abdur-Raheem Greene)
Great numbers of Christians embraced Islam during and soon after the Islamic conquests after the prophets death. They were never compelled, rather it was a recognition of what they were already expecting. Anselm Tormeeda, a priest and Christian scholar was one such person who's history is worth relating. He wrote a famous book The Gift to the Intelligent for Refuting the Arguments of the Christians. In the introduction to this work he relates his history:
"Let it be known to all of you that my origin is from the city of Majorca, which is a great city on the sea, between two mountains and divided by a small valley. It is a commercial city, with two wonderful harbours. Big merchant ships come and anchor in the harbour with different goods. The city is on the island which has the same name - Majorca, and most of its land is populated with fig and olive trees. My father was a well respected man in the city. I was his only son.
When I was six, he sent me to a priest who taught me to read the Gospel and logic, which I finished in six years. After that I left Majorca and travelled to the city of Larda, in the region of Castillion, which was the centre of learning for Christians in that region. A thousand to a thousand and a half Christian students gathered there. All were under the administration of the priest who taught them. I studied the Gospel and its language for another four years. After that I left for Bologne in the region of Anbardia. Bologne is a very large city, it being the centre of learning for all the people of that region. Every year, more than two thousand students gather together from different places. They cover themselves with rough cloth which they call the "Hue of God". All of them, whether the son of a workman or the son of a ruler wear this wrap, in order to make the students distinct from others.
Only the priest teaches controls and directs them. I lived in the church with an aged priest. He was greatly respected by the people because of his knowledge and religiousness and asceticism, which distinguished him from the other Christian priests. Questions and requests for advice came from everywhere, from Kings and rulers, along with presents and gifts. They hoped that he would accept their presents and grant them his blessings. This priest taught me the principles of Christianity and its rulings. I became very close to him by serving and assisting him with his duties until I became one of his most trusted assistants, so that he trusted me with the keys of his domicile in the church and of the food and the drink stores. He kept for himself only the key of a small room where he used to sleep. I think, and Allah knows best, that he kept his treasure chest in there. I was a student and servant for a period of ten years, then he fell ill and failed to attend the meetings of his fellow priests.
During his absence the priests discussed some religious matters, until they came to what was said by the Almighty Allah through his prophet Jesus in the Gospel: "After him will come a Prophet called Paraclete". They argued a great deal about this Prophet and as to who he was among the Prophets. Everyone gave his opinion according to his knowledge and understanding; and they ended without achieving any benefit in that issue.
I went to my priest, and as usual he asked about what was discussed in the meeting that day. I mentioned to him the different opinions of priests about the name Paraclete, and how they finished the meeting without clarifying its meaning. He asked me: "What was your answer?" I gave my opinion which was taken from interpretation of a well known exegesis. He said that I was nearly correct like some priests, and the other priests were wrong. "But the truth is different from all of that. This is because the interpretation of that noble name is known only to a small number of well versed scholars. And we posses only a little knowledge." I fell down and kissed his feet, saying: "Sir, you know that I travelled and came to you from a far distant country, I have served you now for more than ten years; and have attained knowledge beyond estimation, so please favour me and tell me the truth about this name." The priest then wept and said: "My son, by God, you are very much dear to me for serving me and devoting yourself to my care. Know the truth about this name, and there is a great benefit, but there is also a great danger. And I fear that when you know this truth, and the Christians discover that, you will be killed immediately." I said: "By God, by the Gospel and He who was sent with it, I shall never speak any word about what you will tell me, I shall keep it in my heart." He said: "My son, when you came here from your country, I asked you if it is near to the Muslims, and whether they made raids against you and if you made raids against them. This was to test your hatred for Islam. Know, my son, that Paraclete is the name of their Prophet Muhammad, to whom was revealed the fourth book as mentioned by Daniel. His way is the clear way which is mentioned in the Gospel." I said: "Then sir, what do you say about the religion of these Christians?" He said: "My son, if these Christians remained on the original religion of Jesus, then they would have been on God's religion, because the religion of Jesus and all the other Prophets is the true religion of God. But they changed it and became unbelievers." I asked him: "Then, sir, what is the salvation from this?" He said "Oh my son, embracing Islam." I asked him: "Will the one who embraces Islam be saved?" He answered: "Yes, in this world and the next." I said: "The prudent chooses for himself; if you know, sir the merit of Islam, then what keeps you from it?" He answered: "My son, the Almighty Allah did not expose me to the truth of Islam and the Prophet of Islam until after I have become old and my body weakened. Yes, there is no excuse for us in this, on the contrary, the proof of Allah has been established against us. If God had guided me to this when I was your age I would have left everything and adopted the religion of truth. Love of this world is the essence of every sin, and look how I am esteemed, glorified and honoured by the Christians, and how I am living in affluence and comfort! In my case, if I show a slight inclination towards Islam they would kill me immediately. Suppose that I was saved from them and succeeded in escaping to the Muslims, they would say, do not count your Islam as a favour upon us, rather you have benefited yourself only by entering the religion of truth, the religion that will save you from the punishment of Allah! So I would live among them as a poor old man of more than ninety years, without knowing their language, and would die among them starving. I am, and all praise is due to Allah, on the religion of Christ and on that which he came with, and Allah knows that from me." So I asked him: "Do you advise me to go to the country of the Muslims and adopt their religion?" He said to me: "If you are wise and hope to save yourself, then race to that which will achieve this life and the hereafter. But my son, none is present with us concerning this matter , it is between you and me only. Exert yourself and keep it a secret. If it is disclosed and the people know about it they will kill you immediately. I will be of no benefit to you against them. Neither will it be of any use to you if you tell them what you heard from me concerning Islam, or that I encouraged you to be a Muslim, for I shall deny it. They trust my testimony against yours. So do not tell a word, whatever happens." I promised him not to do so.
He was satisfied and content with my promise. I began to prepare for my journey and bid him farewell. He prayed for me and gave me fifty golden dinar. Then I took a ship to my city Majorca where I stayed with my parents for six months. Then I travelled to Sicily and remained there five months, waiting for a ship bound for the land of the Muslims. Finally a ship arrived bound for Tunis. We departed before sunset and reached the port of Tunis at noon on the second day. When I got off the ship, Christian scholars who heard of my arrival came to greet me and I stayed with them for four months in ease and comfort. After that I asked them if there was a translator. The Sultan in those days was Abu al-Abbas Ahmed. They said there was a virtuous man, the Sultan's physician, who was one of his closest advisors. His name was Yusuf al-Tabeeb. I was greatly pleased to here this, and asked where he lived. They took me there to meet him separately. I told him about my story and the reason of my coming there; which was to embrace Islam. He was immensely pleased because this matter would be completed by his help. We rode to the Sultan's Palace. He met the Sultan and told him about my story and asked his permission for me to meet him.
The Sultan accepted, and I presented myself before him. The first question the Sultan asked was about my age. I told him that I was thirty-five years old. He then asked about my learning and the sciences which I had studied. After I told him he said. "Your arrival is the arrival of goodness . Be a Muslim with Allah's blessings." I then said to the doctor, "Tell the honourable Sultan that it always happens that when anyone changes his religion his people defame him and speak evil of him. So, I wish if he kindly sends to bring the Christian priests and merchants of this city to ask them about me and hear what they have to say. Then by Allah's will, I shall accept Islam." He said to me through the translator, "You have asked what Abdullah bin Salaam asked from the Prophet when he-Abdullah came to announce his Islam." He then sent for the priests and some Christian merchants and let me sit in an adjoining room unseen by them. "What do you say about this new priest who arrived by ship?", he asked. They said: "He is a great scholar in our religion. Our bishops say he is the most learned and no one is superior to him in our religious knowledge." After hearing what the Christian said, the Sultan sent for me, and I presented myself before them. I declared the two testimonies that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and when the Christians heard this they crossed themselves and said: "Nothing incited him to do that except his desire to marry, as priests in our religion can not marry". Then they left in distress and grief.
The Sultan appointed for me a quarter of a dinar every day from the treasury and let me marry the daughter of Al-Hajj Muhammed al-Saffar. When I decided to consummate the marriage, he gave me a hundred golden dinars and an excellent suit of clothes. I then consummated the marriage and Allah blessed me with a child to whom I gave the name Muhammed as a blessing from the name of the Prophet."
[Note: The full name of Anselm Tormeeda is Abu Muhammad Abdullah Bin Abdullah Al-Tarjuman. The title of his book, in Arabic, is Tuhfat al-arib fi al-radd 'ala Ahl al-Salib. Some background details about this scholar and his work are available here]
DR. JERALD F. DIRKS
Former minister (deacon) of the United Methodist Church. He holds a Master's degree in Divinity from Harvard University and a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Denver. Author of The Cross and the Crescent: An Interfaith Dialogue between Christianity and Islam (ISBN 1-59008-002-5 - Amana Publications, 2001). He has published over 60 articles in the field of clinical psychology, and over 150 articles on Arabian horses
A CHRISTIAN MINISTER’S CONVERSION TO ISLAM
© 2002 (Abu Yahya) Jerald F. Dirks, M.Div., Psy.D.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of hearing the church bell toll for Sunday morning worship in the small, rural town in which I was raised. The Methodist Church was an old, wooden structure with a bell tower, two children’s Sunday School classrooms cubbyholed behind folding, wooden doors to separate it from the sanctuary, and a choir loft that housed the Sunday school classrooms for the older children. It stood less than two blocks from my home. As the bell rang, we would come together as a family, and make our weekly pilgrimage to the church.
In that rural setting from the 1950s, the three churches in the town of about 500 were the center of community life. The local Methodist Church, to which my family belonged, sponsored ice cream socials with hand-cranked, homemade ice cream, chicken potpie dinners, and corn roasts. My family and I were always involved in all three, but each came only once a year. In addition, there was a two-week community Bible school every June, and I was a regular attendee through my eighth grade year in school. However, Sunday morning worship and Sunday school were weekly events, and I strove to keep extending my collection of perfect attendance pins and of awards for memorizing Bible verses.
By my junior high school days, the local Methodist Church had closed, and we were attending the Methodist Church in the neighbouring town, which was only slightly larger than the town in which I lived. There, my thoughts first began to focus on the ministry as a personal calling. I became active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship, and eventually served as both a district and a conference officer. I also became the regular “preacher” during the annual Youth Sunday service. My preaching began to draw community-wide attention, and before long I was occasionally filling pulpits at other churches, at a nursing home, and at various church-affiliated youth and ladies groups, where I typically set attendance records.
By age 17, when I began my freshman year at Harvard College, my decision to enter the ministry had solidified. During my freshman year, I enrolled in a two-semester course in comparative religion, which was taught by Wilfred Cantwell Smith, whose specific area of expertise was Islam. During that course, I gave far less attention to Islam, than I did to other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, as the latter two seemed so much more esoteric and strange to me. In contrast, Islam appeared to be somewhat similar to my own Christianity. As such, I didn’t concentrate on it as much as I probably should have, although I can remember writing a term paper for the course on the concept of revelation in the Qur’an. Nonetheless, as the course was one of rigorous academic standards and demands, I did acquire a small library of about a half dozen books on Islam, all of which were written by non-Muslims, and all of which were to serve me in good stead 25 years later. I also acquired two different English translations of the meaning of the Qur’an, which I read at the time.
That spring, Harvard named me a Hollis Scholar, signifying that I was one of the top pre-theology students in the college. The summer between my freshman and sophomore years at Harvard, I worked as a youth minister at a fairly large United Methodist Church. The following summer, I obtained my License to Preach from the United Methodist Church. Upon graduating from Harvard College in 1971, I enrolled at the Harvard Divinity School, and there obtained my Master of Divinity degree in 1974, having been previously ordained into the Deaconate of the United Methodist Church in 1972, and having previously received a Stewart Scholarship from the United Methodist Church as a supplement to my Harvard Divinity School scholarships. During my seminary education, I also completed a two-year externship program as a hospital chaplain at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Following graduation from Harvard Divinity School, I spent the summer as the minister of two United Methodist churches in rural Kansas, where attendance soared to heights not seen in those churches for several years.
Seen from the outside, I was a very promising young minister, who had received an excellent education, drew large crowds to the Sunday morning worship service, and had been successful at every stop along the ministerial path. However, seen from the inside, I was fighting a constant war to maintain my personal integrity in the face of my ministerial responsibilities. This war was far removed from the ones presumably fought by some later televangelists in unsuccessfully trying to maintain personal sexual morality. Likewise, it was a far different war than those fought by the headline-grabbing paedophilic priests of the current moment. However, my struggle to maintain personal integrity may be the most common one encountered by the better-educated members of the ministry.
There is some irony in the fact that the supposedly best, brightest, and most idealistic of ministers-to-be are selected for the very best of seminary education, e.g. that offered at that time at the Harvard Divinity School. The irony is that, given such an education, the seminarian is exposed to as much of the actual historical truth as is known about: 1) the formation of the early, “mainstream” church, and how it was shaped by geopolitical considerations; 2) the “original” reading of various Biblical texts, many of which are in sharp contrast to what most Christians read when they pick up their Bible, although gradually some of this information is being incorporated into newer and better translations; 3) the evolution of such concepts as a triune godhead and the “sonship” of Jesus, peace be upon him; 4) the non-religious considerations that underlie many Christian creeds and doctrines; 5) the existence of those early churches and Christian movements which never accepted the concept of a triune godhead, and which never accepted the concept of the divinity of Jesus, peace be upon him; and 6) etc. (Some of these fruits of my seminary education are recounted in more detail in my recent book, The Cross and the Crescent: An Interfaith Dialogue between Christianity and Islam, Amana Publications, 2001.)
As such, it is no real wonder that almost a majority of such seminary graduates leave seminary, not to “fill pulpits”, where they would be asked to preach that which they know is not true, but to enter the various counselling professions. Such was also the case for me, as I went on to earn a master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology. I continued to call myself a Christian, because that was a needed bit of self-identity, and because I was, after all, an ordained minister, even though my full time job was as a mental health professional. However, my seminary education had taken care of any belief I might have had regarding a triune godhead or the divinity of Jesus, peace be upon him. (Polls regularly reveal that ministers are less likely to believe these and other dogmas of the church than are the laity they serve, with ministers more likely to understand such terms as “son of God” metaphorically, while their parishioners understand it literally.) I thus became a “Christmas and Easter Christian”, attending church very sporadically, and then gritting my teeth and biting my tongue as I listened to sermons espousing that which I knew was not the case.
None of the above should be taken to imply that I was any less religious or spiritually oriented than I had once been. I prayed regularly, my belief in a supreme deity remained solid and secure, and I conducted my personal life in line with the ethics I had once been taught in church and Sunday school. I simply knew better than to buy into the man-made dogmas and articles of faith of the organized church, which were so heavily laden with the pagan influences, polytheistic notions, and geo-political considerations of a bygone era.
As the years passed by, I became increasingly concerned about the loss of religiousness in American society at large. Religiousness is a living, breathing spirituality and morality within individuals, and should not be confused with religiosity, which is concerned with the rites, rituals, and formalized creeds of some organized entity, e.g. the church. American culture increasingly appeared to have lost its moral and religious compass. Two out of every three marriages ended in divorce; violence was becoming an increasingly inherent part of our schools and our roads; self-responsibility was on the wane; self-discipline was being submerged by a “if it feels good, do it” morality; various Christian leaders and institutions were being swamped by sexual and financial scandals; and emotions justified behaviour, however odious it might be. American culture was becoming a morally bankrupt institution, and I was feeling quite alone in my personal religious vigil.
It was at this juncture that I began to come into contact with the local Muslim community. For some years before, my wife and I had been actively involved in doing research on the history of the Arabian horse. Eventually, in order to secure translations of various Arabic documents, this research brought us into contact with Arab Americans who happened to be Muslims. Our first such contact was with Jamal in the summer of 1991.
After an initial telephone conversation, Jamal visited our home, and offered to do some translations for us, and to help guide us through the history of the Arabian horse in the Middle East. Before Jamal left that afternoon, he asked if he might: use our bathroom to wash before saying his scheduled prayers; and borrow a piece of newspaper to use as a prayer rug, so he could say his scheduled prayers before leaving our house. We, of course, obliged, but wondered if there was something more appropriate that we could give him to use than a newspaper. Without our ever realizing it at the time, Jamal was practicing a very beautiful form of Dawa (preaching or exhortation). He made no comment about the fact that we were not Muslims, and he didn’t preach anything to us about his religious beliefs. He “merely” presented us with his example, an example that spoke volumes, if one were willing to be receptive to the lesson.
Over the next 16 months, contact with Jamal slowly increased in frequency, until it was occurring on a biweekly to weekly basis. During these visits, Jamal never preached to me about Islam, never questioned me about my own religious beliefs or convictions, and never verbally suggested that I become a Muslim. However, I was beginning to learn a lot. First, there was the constant behavioural example of Jamal observing his scheduled prayers. Second, there was the behavioural example of how Jamal conducted his daily life in a highly moral and ethical manner, both in his business world and in his social world. Third, there was the behavioural example of how Jamal interacted with his two children. For my wife, Jamal’s wife provided a similar example. Fourth, always within the framework of helping me to understand Arabian horse history in the Middle East, Jamal began to share with me: 1) stories from Arab and Islamic history; 2) sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him; and 3) Qur’anic verses and their contextual meaning. In point of fact, our every visit now included at least a 30 minute conversation cantered on some aspect of Islam, but always presented in terms of helping me intellectually understand the Islamic context of Arabian horse history. I was never told “this is the way things are”, I was merely told “this is what Muslims typically believe”. Since I wasn’t being “preached to”, and since Jamal never inquired as to my own beliefs, I didn’t need to bother attempting to justify my own position. It was all handled as an intellectual exercise, not as proselytising.
Gradually, Jamal began to introduce us to other Arab families in the local Muslim community. There was Wa’el and his family, Khalid and his family, and a few others. Consistently, I observed individuals and families who were living their lives on a much higher ethical plane than the American society in which we were all embedded. Maybe there was something to the practice of Islam that I had missed during my collegiate and seminary days.
By December, 1992, I was beginning to ask myself some serious questions about where I was and what I was doing. These questions were prompted by the following considerations. 1) Over the course of the prior 16 months, our social life had become increasingly centered on the Arab component of the local Muslim community. By December, probably 75% of our social life was being spent with Arab Muslims. 2) By virtue of my seminary training and education, I knew how badly the Bible had been corrupted (and often knew exactly when, where, and why), I had no belief in any triune godhead, and I had no belief in anything more than a metaphorical “sonship” of Jesus, peace be upon him. In short, while I certainly believed in God, I was as strict a monotheist as my Muslim friends. 3) My personal values and sense of morality were much more in keeping with my Muslim friends than with the “Christian” society around me. After all, I had the non-confrontational examples of Jamal, Khalid, and Wa’el as illustrations. In short, my nostalgic yearning for the type of community in which I had been raised was finding gratification in the Muslim community. American society might be morally bankrupt, but that did not appear to be the case for that part of the Muslim community with which I had had contact. Marriages were stable, spouses were committed to each other, and honesty, integrity, self-responsibility, and family values were emphasized. My wife and I had attempted to live our lives that same way, but for several years I had felt that we were doing so in the context of a moral vacuum. The Muslim community appeared to be different.
The different threads were being woven together into a single strand. Arabian horses, my childhood upbringing, my foray into the Christian ministry and my seminary education, my nostalgic yearnings for a moral society, and my contact with the Muslim community were becoming intricately intertwined. My self-questioning came to a head when I finally got around to asking myself exactly what separated me from the beliefs of my Muslim friends. I suppose that I could have raised that question with Jamal or with Khalid, but I wasn’t ready to take that step. I had never discussed my own religious beliefs with them, and I didn’t think that I wanted to introduce that topic of conversation into our friendship. As such, I began to pull off the bookshelf all the books on Islam that I had acquired in my collegiate and seminary days. However far my own beliefs were from the traditional position of the church, and however seldom I actually attended church, I still identified myself as being a Christian, and so I turned to the works of Western scholars. That month of December, I read half a dozen or so books on Islam by Western scholars, including one biography of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Further, I began to read two different English translations of the meaning of the Qur’an. I never spoke to my Muslim friends about this personal quest of self-discovery. I never mentioned what types of books I was reading, nor ever spoke about why I was reading these books. However, occasionally I would run a very circumscribed question past one of them.
While I never spoke to my Muslim friends about those books, my wife and I had numerous conversations about what I was reading. By the last week of December of 1992, I was forced to admit to myself, that I could find no area of substantial disagreement between my own religious beliefs and the general tenets of Islam. While I was ready to acknowledge that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a prophet of (one who spoke for or under the inspiration of) God, and while I had absolutely no difficulty affirming that there was no god besides God/Allah, glorified and exalted is He, I was still hesitating to make any decision. I could readily admit to myself that I had far more in common with Islamic beliefs as I then understood them, than I did with the traditional Christianity of the organized church. I knew only too well that I could easily confirm from my seminary training and education most of what the Qur’an had to say about Christianity, the Bible, and Jesus, peace be upon him. Nonetheless, I hesitated. Further, I rationalized my hesitation by maintaining to myself that I really didn’t know the nitty-gritty details of Islam, and that my areas of agreement were confined to general concepts. As such, I continued to read, and then to re-read.
One’s sense of identity, of who one is, is a powerful affirmation of one’s own position in the cosmos. In my professional practice, I had occasionally been called upon to treat certain addictive disorders, ranging from smoking, to alcoholism, to drug abuse. As a clinician, I knew that the basic physical addiction had to be overcome to create the initial abstinence. That was the easy part of treatment. As Mark Twain once said: “Quitting smoking is easy; I’ve done it hundreds of times”. However, I also knew that the key to maintaining that abstinence over an extended time period was overcoming the client’s psychological addiction, which was heavily grounded in the client’s basic sense of identity, i.e. the client identified to himself that he was “a smoker”, or that he was “a drinker”, etc. The addictive behaviour had become part and parcel of the client’s basic sense of identity, of the client’s basic sense of self. Changing this sense of identity was crucial to the maintenance of the psychotherapeutic “cure”. This was the difficult part of treatment. Changing one’s basic sense of identity is a most difficult task. One’s psyche tends to cling to the old and familiar, which seem more psychologically comfortable and secure than the new and unfamiliar.
On a professional basis, I had the above knowledge, and used it on a daily basis. However, ironically enough, I was not yet ready to apply it to myself, and to the issue of my own hesitation surrounding my religious identity. For 43 years, my religious identity had been neatly labeled as “Christian”, however many qualifications I might have added to that term over the years. Giving up that label of personal identity was no easy task. It was part and parcel of how I defined my very being. Given the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that my hesitation served the purpose of insuring that I could keep my familiar religious identity of being a Christian, although a Christian who believed like a Muslim believed.
It was now the very end of December, and my wife and I were filling out our application forms for U.S. passports, so that a proposed Middle Eastern journey could become a reality. One of the questions had to do with religious affiliation. I didn’t even think about it, and automatically fell back on the old and familiar, as I penned in “Christian”. It was easy, it was familiar, and it was comfortable.
However, that comfort was momentarily disrupted when my wife asked me how I had answered the question on religious identity on the application form. I immediately replied, “Christian”, and chuckled audibly. Now, one of Freud’s contributions to the understanding of the human psyche was his realization that laughter is often a release of psychological tension. However wrong Freud may have been in many aspects of his theory of psychosexual development, his insights into laughter were quite on target. I had laughed! What was this psychological tension that I had need to release through the medium of laughter?
I then hurriedly went on to offer my wife a brief affirmation that I was a Christian, not a Muslim. In response to which, she politely informed me that she was merely asking whether I had written “Christian”, or “Protestant”, or “Methodist”. On a professional basis, I knew that a person does not defend himself against an accusation that hasn’t been made. (If, in the course of a session of psychotherapy, my client blurted out, “I’m not angry about that”, and I hadn’t even broached the topic of anger, it was clear that my client was feeling the need to defend himself against a charge that his own unconscious was making. In short, he really was angry, but he wasn’t ready to admit it or to deal with it.) If my wife hadn’t made the accusation, i.e. “you are a Muslim”, then the accusation had to have come from my own unconscious, as I was the only other person present. I was aware of this, but still I hesitated. The religious label that had been stuck to my sense of identity for 43 years was not going to come off easily.
About a month had gone by since my wife’s question to me. It was now late in January of 1993. I had set aside all the books on Islam by the Western scholars, as I had read them all thoroughly. The two English translations of the meaning of the Qur’an were back on the bookshelf, and I was busy reading yet a third English translation of the meaning of the Qur’an. Maybe in this translation I would find some sudden justification for…
I was taking my lunch hour from my private practice at a local Arab restaurant that I had started to frequent. I entered as usual, seated myself at a small table, and opened my third English translation of the meaning of the Qur’an to where I had left off in my reading. I figured I might as well get some reading done over my lunch hour. Moments later, I became aware that Mahmoud was at my shoulder, and waiting to take my order. He glanced at what I was reading, but said nothing about it. My order taken, I returned to the solitude of my reading.
A few minutes later, Mahmoud’s wife, Iman, an American Muslim, who wore the Hijab (scarf) and modest dress that I had come to associate with female Muslims, brought me my order. She commented that I was reading the Qur’an, and politely asked if I were a Muslim. The word was out of my mouth before it could be modified by any social etiquette or politeness: “No!” That single word was said forcefully, and with more than a hint of irritability. With that, Iman politely retired from my table.
What was happening to me? I had behaved rudely and somewhat aggressively. What had this woman done to deserve such behaviour from me? This wasn’t like me. Given my childhood upbringing, I still used “sir” and “ma’am” when addressing clerks and cashiers who were waiting on me in stores. I could pretend to ignore my own laughter as a release of tension, but I couldn’t begin to ignore this sort of unconscionable behaviour from myself. My reading was set aside, and I mentally stewed over this turn of events throughout my meal. The more I stewed, the guiltier I felt about my behaviour. I knew that when Iman brought me my check at the end of the meal, I was going to need to make some amends. If for no other reason, simple politeness demanded it. Furthermore, I was really quite disturbed about how resistant I had been to her innocuous question. What was going on in me that I responded with that much force to such a simple and straightforward question? Why did that one, simple question lead to such atypical behaviour on my part?
Later, when Iman came with my check, I attempted a round-about apology by saying: “I’m afraid I was a little abrupt in answering your question before. If you were asking me whether I believe that there is only one God, then my answer is yes. If you were asking me whether I believe that Muhammad was one of the prophets of that one God, then my answer is yes.” She very nicely and very supportively said: “That’s okay; it takes some people a little longer than others.”
Perhaps, the readers of this will be kind enough to note the psychological games I was playing with myself without chuckling too hard at my mental gymnastics and behaviour. I well knew that in my own way, using my own words, I had just said the Shahadah, the Islamic testimonial of faith, i.e. “I testify that there is no god but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”. However, having said that, and having recognized what I said, I could still cling to my old and familiar label of religious identity. After all, I hadn’t said I was a Muslim. I was simply a Christian, albeit an atypical Christian, who was willing to say that there was one God, not a triune godhead, and who was willing to say that Muhammad was one of the prophets inspired by that one God. If a Muslim wanted to accept me as being a Muslim that was his or her business, and his or her label of religious identity. However, it was not mine. I thought I had found my way out of my crisis of religious identity. I was a Christian, who would carefully explain that I agreed with, and was willing to testify to, the Islamic testimonial of faith. Having made my tortured explanation, and having parsed the English language to within an inch of its life, others could hang whatever label on me they wished. It was their label, and not mine.
It was now March of 1993, and my wife and I were enjoying a five-week vacation in the Middle East. It was also the Islamic month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from day break until sunset. Because we were so often staying with or being escorted around by family members of our Muslim friends back in the States, my wife and I had decided that we also would fast, if for no other reason than common courtesy. During this time, I had also started to perform the five daily prayers of Islam with my newfound, Middle Eastern, Muslim friends. After all, there was nothing in those prayers with which I could disagree.
I was a Christian, or so I said. After all, I had been born into a Christian family, had been given a Christian upbringing, had attended church and Sunday school every Sunday as a child, had graduated from a prestigious seminary, and was an ordained minister in a large Protestant denomination. However, I was also a Christian: who didn’t believe in a triune godhead or in the divinity of Jesus, peace be upon him; who knew quite well how the Bible had been corrupted; who had said the Islamic testimony of faith in my own carefully parsed words; who had fasted during Ramadan; who was saying Islamic prayers five times a day; and who was deeply impressed by the behavioural examples I had witnessed in the Muslim community, both in America and in the Middle East. (Time and space do not permit me the luxury of documenting in detail all of the examples of personal morality and ethics I encountered in the Middle East.) If asked if I were a Muslim, I could and did do a five-minute monologue detailing the above, and basically leaving the question unanswered. I was playing intellectual word games, and succeeding at them quite nicely.
It was now late in our Middle Eastern trip. An elderly friend who spoke no English and I were walking down a winding, little road, somewhere in one of the economically disadvantaged areas of greater ‘Amman, Jordan. As we walked, an elderly man approached us from the opposite direction, said, “Salam ‘Alaykum”, i.e., “peace be upon you”, and offered to shake hands. We were the only three people there. I didn’t speak Arabic, and neither my friend nor the stranger spoke English. Looking at me, the stranger asked, “Muslim?”
At that precise moment in time, I was fully and completely trapped. There were no intellectual word games to be played, because I could only communicate in English, and they could only communicate in Arabic. There was no translator present to bail me out of this situation, and to allow me to hide behind my carefully prepared English monologue. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t understand the question, because it was all too obvious that I had. My choices were suddenly, unpredictably, and inexplicably reduced to just two: I could say “N’am”, i.e., “yes”; or I could say “La”, i.e., “no”. The choice was mine, and I had no other. I had to choose, and I had to choose now; it was just that simple. Praise be to Allah, I answered, “N’am”.
With saying that one word, all the intellectual word games were now behind me. With the intellectual word games behind me, the psychological games regarding my religious identity were also behind me. I wasn’t some strange, atypical Christian. I was a Muslim. Praise be to Allah, my wife of 33 years also became a Muslim about that same time.
Not too many months after our return to America from the Middle East, a neighbour invited us over to his house, saying that he wanted to talk with us about our conversion to Islam. He was a retired Methodist minister, with whom I had had several conversations in the past. Although we had occasionally talked superficially about such issues as the artificial construction of the Bible from various, earlier, independent sources, we had never had any in-depth conversation about religion. I knew only that he appeared to have acquired a solid seminary education, and that he sang in the local church choir every Sunday.
My initial reaction was, “Oh, oh, here it comes”. Nonetheless, it is a Muslim’s duty to be a good neighbour, and it is a Muslim’s duty to be willing to discuss Islam with others. As such, I accepted the invitation for the following evening, and spent most of the waking part of the next 24 hours contemplating how best to approach this gentleman in his requested topic of conversation. The appointed time came, and we drove over to our neighbour's. After a few moments of small talk, he finally asked why I had decided to become a Muslim. I had waited for this question, and had my answer carefully prepared. “As you know with your seminary education, there were a lot of non-religious considerations which led up to and shaped the decisions of the Council of Nicaea.” He immediately cut me off with a simple statement: “You finally couldn’t stomach the polytheism anymore, could you?” He knew exactly why I was a Muslim, and he didn’t disagree with my decision! For himself, at his age and at his place in life, he was electing to be “an atypical Christian”. Allah willing, he has by now completed his journey from cross to crescent.
There are sacrifices to be made in being a Muslim in America. For that matter, there are sacrifices to be made in being a Muslim anywhere. However, those sacrifices may be more acutely felt in America, especially among American converts. Some of those sacrifices are very predictable, and include altered dress and abstinence from alcohol, pork, and the taking of interest on one’s money. Some of those sacrifices are less predictable. For example, one Christian family, with whom we were close friends, informed us that they could no longer associate with us, as they could not associate with anyone “who does not take Jesus Christ as his personal savoir”. In addition, quite a few of my professional colleagues altered their manner of relating to me. Whether it was coincidence or not, my professional referral base dwindled, and there was almost a 30% drop in income as a result. Some of these less predictable sacrifices were hard to accept, although the sacrifices were a small price to pay for what was received in return.
For those contemplating the acceptance of Islam and the surrendering of oneself to Allah—glorified and exalted is He, there may well be sacrifices along the way. Many of these sacrifices are easily predicted, while others may be rather surprising and unexpected. There is no denying the existence of these sacrifices, and I don’t intend to sugar coat that pill for you. Nonetheless, don’t be overly troubled by these sacrifices. In the final analysis, these sacrifices are less important than you presently think. Allah willing, you will find these sacrifices a very cheap coin to pay for the “goods” you are purchasing.
Please note: The ordination certificate above was too large to scan in completely - the top line of text is missing, which says "Let It Be Known To All Men That"
Formerly Kenneth L. Jenkins, minister and elder of the Pentecostal Church
As a former minister and elder of the Christian church, it has become incumbent upon me to enlighten those that continue to walk in darkness. After embracing Islam I felt a dire need to help those who have not yet been blessed to experience the light of Islam.
I thank Almighty God, Allah, for having mercy upon me, causing me to come to know the beauty of Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad and his rightly guided followers. It is only by the mercy of Allah that we receive true guidance and the ability to follow the straight path, which leads to success in this life and the Hereafter.
Praise be to Allah for the kindness shown to me by Shaykh 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz upon my embracing Islam. I cherish and will pass on the knowledge gained from each meeting with him. There are many others who have helped me by means of encouragement and knowledge, but for fear of missing anyone, I will refrain from attempting to list them. Sufficient it is to say that I thank Almighty God, Allah, for each and every brother and sister that He has allowed to play a role in my growth and development as a Muslim.
I pray that this short work will be of benefit to all. I hope that Christians will find that there is yet i hope for the wayward conditions that prevail over the bulk of Christendom. The answers to Christian problems are not to be found with the Christians themselves, for they are, in most instances, the root of their own problems. Rather, Islam is the solution to the problems plaguing the world of Christianity, as well as the problems facing the so-called world of religion as a whole. May Allah guide us all and reward us according to the very best of our deeds and intentions.
Abdullah Muhammad al-Faruque at-Ta'if, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
As a young boy I was raised with a deep fear of God. Having been partially raised by a grandmother who was a Pentecostal fundamentalist, the church became an integral part of my life at a very early age. By the time I had reached the age of six, I knew all too well the benefits awaiting me in Heaven for being a good little boy and the punishment awaiting in Hell for little boys who are naughty. I was taught by my grandmother that all liars were doomed to go to the Hellfire, where they would burn forever and ever.
My mother worked two full-time jobs and continued to remind me of the teachings given to me by her mother. My younger brother and older sister did not seem to take our grandmother's warnings of the Hereafter as seriously as I did. I recall seeing the full moon when it would take on a deep reddish hue, and I would begin to weep because I was taught that one of the signs of the end of the world would be that the moon would become red like blood. As an eight year old child I began to develop such a fear at what I thought were signs in the heavens and on earth of Doomsday that I actually had nightmares of what the Day of Judgement would be like. Our house was close to a set of railroad tracks, and trains passed by on a frequent basis. I can remember being awakened out of sleep by the horrendous sound of the locomotive's horn and thinking that I had died and was being resurrected after hearing the sound of the trumpet. These teachings were ingrained in my young mind through a combination of oral teachings and the reading of a set of children's books known as the Bible Story.
Every Sunday we would go to church dressed in all of our finery. My grandfather was our means of transportation. Church would last for what seemed to me like hours. We would arrive at around eleven in the morning and not leave until sometimes three in the afternoon. I remember falling asleep in my grandmother's lap on many occasions. For a time my brother and I were permitted to leave church in between the conclusion of Sunday school and morning worship service to sit with our grandfather at the railway yard and watch the trains pass. He was not a churchgoer, but he saw to it that my Family made it there every Sunday. Sometime later he suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralysed, and as a result, we were unable to attend church on a regular basis. This period of time would be one of the most crucial stages of my development.
I was relieved, in a sense, at no longer being able to attend church, but I would feel the urge to go on my own every now and then. At age sixteen I began attending the church of a friend whose father was the pastor. It was a small storefront building with only my friend's family, myself, and another schoolmate as members. This went on for only several months before -the church closed down. After graduating from high school and entering the university I rediscovered my religious commitment and became fully immersed in Pentecostal teachings. I was baptised and "filled with the Holy Ghost," as the experience was then called. As a college student, I quickly became the pride of the church. Everyone had high hopes for me, and I was happy to once again be "on the road to salvation".
I attended church every time its doors would open. I studied the Bible for days and weeks at a time. I attended lectures given by the Christian scholars of my day, and I acknowledged my call to the ministry at the age of 20. I began preaching and became well known very quickly. I was extremely dogmatic and believed that no one could receive salvation unless they were of my church group. I categorically condemned everyone who had not come to know God the way I had come to know Him. I was taught that Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and God Almighty were one and the same thing. I was taught that our church did not believe in the trinity but that Jesus (peace be upon him) was indeed the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I tried to make myself understand it even though I had to admit that I really did not fully understand it. As far as I was concerned, it was the only doctrine that made sense to me. I admired the holy dress of the women and the pious behaviour of the men. I enjoyed practicing a doctrine where women were required to dress in garments covering themselves completely, not painting their faces with makeup, and carrying themselves as true ambassadors of Christ. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had finally found the true path to eternal bliss. I would debate with anyone from a different church with different beliefs and would totally silence them with my knowledge of the Bible. I memorized hundreds of Biblical passages, and this became a trademark of my preaching. Yet, even though I felt assured of being on the right path, a part of me was still searching. I felt that there was an even higher truth to be attained.
I would meditate while alone and pray to God to lead me to the correct religion and to forgive me if what I was doing wrong. I had never had any contact with Muslims. The only people I knew that claimed Islam as their religion were the followers of Elijah Muhammad, who were referred to by many as the "Black Muslims" or the "Lost-Found Nation." It was during this period in the late seventies that Minister Louis Farrakhan was well into rebuilding what was called "The Nation of Islam." I went to hear Minister Farrakhan speak at the invitation of a co-worker and found it to be an experience that would change my life dramatically. I had never in my life heard another black man speak the way that he spoke. I immediately wanted to arrange a meeting with him to try to convert him to my religion. I enjoyed evangelising, hoping to find lost souls to save from the Hellfire - no matter who they were.
After graduating from college I began to work on a full-time basis. As I was reaching the pinnacle of my ministry, the followers of Elijah Muhammad became more visible, and I appreciated their efforts in attempting to rid the black community of the evils that were destroying it from within. I began to support them, in a sense, by buying their literature and even meeting with them for dialogue. I attended their study circles to find out exactly what they believed. As sincere as I knew many of them were, I could not buy the idea of God being a black man. I disagreed with their use of the Bible to support their position on certain issues. Here was a book that I knew very well, and I was deeply disturbed at what I deemed was their misinterpretation of it. I had attended locally supported Bible schools and had become quite knowledgeable in various fields of Bible study.
After about six years I
moved to Texas and became affiliated with two churches. The first church
was led by a young pastor who was inexperienced and not very learned. My
knowledge of the Christian scriptures had by this time developed into
something abnormal. I was obsessed with Biblical teachings. I began to
look deeper into the scriptures and realized that I knew more than the
present leader. As a show of respect, I left and joined another church
in a different city where I felt that I could learn more. The pastor of
this particular church was very scholarly. He was an excellent teacher
but had some ideas that were not the norm in our church organization. He
held somewhat liberal views, but I still enjoyed his indoctrination. I
was soon to learn the most valuable lesson of my Christian life, which
was "all that glitters is not gold." Despite its outward appearance,
there were evils taking place that I never thought were possible in the
Church. These evils caused me to reflect deeply, and I began questioning
the teaching to which I was so dedicated.
I soon discovered that there was a great deal of jealousy prevalent in the ministerial hierarchy. Things had changed from that to which I was accustomed. Women wore clothing that I thought was shameful. People dressed in order to attract attention, usually from the opposite sex. I discovered just how great a part money and greed play in the operation of church activities. There were many small churches struggling, and they called upon us to hold meetings to help raise money for them. I was told that if a church did not have a certain number of members, then I was not to waste my time preaching there because I would not receive ample financial compensation. I then explained that I was not in it for the money and that I would preach even if there was only one member present... and I'd do it for free! This caused a disturbance. I started questioning those whom I thought had wisdom, only to find that they had been putting on a show. I learned that money, power and position were more important than teaching the truth about the Bible. As a Bible student, I knew full well that there were mistakes, contradictions and fabrications. I thought that people should be exposed to the truth about the Bible. The idea of exposing the people to such aspects of the Bible was a thought supposedly attributable to Satan. But I began to publicly ask my teachers questions during Bible classes, which none of them could answer. Not a single one could explain how Jesus was supposedly God, and how, at the same time, he was supposedly the Father, Son and Holy Ghost wrapped up into one and yet was not a part of the trinity. Several preachers finally had to concede that they did not understand it but that we were simply required to believe it.
Cases of adultery and
fornication went unpunished. Some preachers were hooked on drugs and had
destroyed their lives and the lives of their families. Leaders of some
churches were found to be homosexuals. There were pastors even guilty of
committing adultery with the young daughters of other church members.
All of this coupled with a failure to receive answers to what I thought
were valid questions was enough to make me seek a change. That change
came when I accepted a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It was not long after arriving in Saudi Arabia that I saw an immediate difference in the lifestyle of the Muslim people. They were different from the followers of Elijah Muhammad and Minister Louis Farrakhan in that they were of all nationalities, colours and languages. I immediately expressed a desire to learn more about this peculiar brand of religion. I was amazed with the life of Prophet Muhammad and wanted to know more. I requested books from one of the brothers who was active in calling people to Islam. I was supplied with all of the books that I could possibly want. I read each and every one. I was then given the Holy Qur'an and read it completely several times within four months. I asked question after question and received satisfactory answers. What appealed to me was that the brothers were not keen on impressing me with their knowledge. If a brother did not know how to answer a question, he would tell me that he simply did not know and would have to check with someone who did. The next day he would always bring the answer. I noticed how humility played such a great role in the lives of these mysterious people of the Middle East.
I was amazed to see the women covering themselves from face to foot. I did not see any religious hierarchy. No one was competing for any religious position. All of this was wonderful, but how could I entertain the thought of abandoning a teaching that had followed me since childhood? What about the Bible? I knew that there is some truth in it even though it had been changed and revised countless numbers of times. I was then given a video cassette of a debate between Shaykh Ahmed Deedat and Reverend Jimmy Swaggart. After seeing the debate I immediately became a Muslim. (To view this debate click here - requires RealPlayer)
I was taken to the office of Shaykh 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz to officially declare my acceptance of Islam. It was there that I was given sound advice on how to prepare myself for the long journey ahead. It was truly a birth from darkness into light. I wondered what my peers from the Church would think when they heard that I had embraced Islam. It was not long before I found out. I went back to the United States for vacation and was severely criticized for my "lack of faith." I was stamped with many labels - from renegade to reprobate. People were told by so-called church leaders not to even remember me in prayer. As strange as it may seem, I was not bothered in the least. I was so happy that Almighty God, Allah, had chosen to guide me aright that nothing else mattered.
Now I only wanted to become as dedicated a Muslim as I
was a Christian. This, of course, meant study. I realized that a person
could grow as much as they wanted to in Islam. There is no monopoly of
knowledge - it is free to all who wish to avail themselves of the
opportunities to learn. I was given a set of Saheeh Muslim as a gift
from my Qur'an teacher. It was then that I realized the need to learn
about the life, sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad. I read and
studied as many of the hadith collections available in English as
possible. I realized that my knowledge of the Bible was an asset that is
now quite useful in dealing with those of Christian backgrounds. Life
for me has taken on an entirely new meaning. One of the most profound
attitude changes is a result of knowing that this life must actually be
spent in preparation for life in the Hereafter. It was also a new
experience to know that we are rewarded even for our intentions. If you
intend to do good, then you are rewarded. It was quite different in the
Church. The attitude was that "the path to Hell is paved with good
intentions." There was no way to win. If you sinned, then you had to
confess to the pastor, especially if the sin was a great sin, such as
adultery. You were judged strictly by your actions.
After an interview by the Al-Madinah newspaper I was asked about my present-day activities and plans for the future. At present, my goal is to learn Arabic and continue studying to gain greater knowledge about Islam. I am presently engaged in the field of da'wah and am called upon to lecture to non-Muslims who come from Christian backgrounds. If Allah, Almighty, spares my life, I hope to write more on the subject of comparative religion.
It is the duty of Muslims throughout the world to work to spread the knowledge of Islam. As one who has spent such a long time as a Bible teacher, I feel a special sense of duty in educating people about the errors, contradictions and fabricated tales of a book believed in by millions of people. One of the greatest joys is knowing that I do not have to engage in a great deal of dispute with Christians, because I was a teacher who taught most of the dispute techniques used by them. I also learned how to argue using the Bible to defend Christianity. And at the same time I know the counter arguments for each argument which we, as ministers, were forbidden by our leaders to discuss or divulge.
It is my prayer that Allah will forgive us all of our ignorance and guide us to the path leading to Paradise. All praise is due to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His last messenger, Prophet Muhammad, his family, companions, and those following true guidance.
NEWS ABOUT RELIGION IN RUSSIA
Former Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church
Archpriest viacheslav polosin converts to islam
Archpriest Viacheslav Polosin, a priest of
the Kaluga diocese leave of absence who now heads the administration of
the Committee on Relations with Public Associations and Religious
Organizations of the State Duma of the Russian federation, has converted
to Islam. "I decided to bring my social status into line with my
convictions," Viacheslav Polosin declared, "and to testify publicly that
I consider myself an adherent of the great tradition of the true faith
of the prophets of monotheism, beginning with Abraham. And thus I do not
consider myself a priest nor a member of any Orthodox church."
Among Muslims who had influence on this choice the former Orthodox clergyman identified Geidar Jemal and reported that the stories about the Holy Kaaba and the Hadj made a great impression on him. (tr. by PDS)
(Posted 3 June 1999)
FATHER VIACHESLAV: FROM CHURCH TO MOSQUE
A: From childhood I believed in God, in my spirit. Later, when I was in the university, I came across Orthodox literature and went to the church and found there something that I had not seen in philosophy classes. I do not regret that; I learned a lot there. I submitted my documents to the ecclesiastical seminary in 1979 and have now, after twenty years, given an interview to the journal "Musulmane;" these are two stages in the development of my life.
Interview with Musulmane
"Several years of intense work have brought me to the conclusion that the Koran does not contain an assimilation of the Creator God to his creation, humanity, which is anthropomorphism, the essence of paganism. There is no basis for the ritual practice of appeasing God like some kind of human ruler. . . . I have decided to bring my social status into conformity with my convictions and to bear public testimony that I consider myself a follower of the great tradition of the correct belief and of the prophets of monotheism, beginning with Abraham, and thus I do not consider myself any longer either a clergyman or a member of any Orthodox church. . . . As regards possible penalties, we all are mortal and all sooner or later will depart from this life, so it is better to depart from it abiding in the Truth and not in spiritual ambivalence or in the delusions of human fantasy. With regard to the practical difficulties, including the Arabic language, I must place my hopes in help and cooperation from my new brethren. My will (Note: This is a typo in the original, it should be "wife" not "will", as indicated by the previous article) fully shares this worldview choice."
How did your clerical path evolve?
From the point of view of Islamic theologians, to convert to the religion of the Prophet it is sufficient to recite the famous formula containing the profession of faith in the one God Allah and his prophet Muhammed. In doing so it is not important which language is used for reciting the formula. It is important that the recitation be made before two witnesses who are Muslim and can give written confirmation of the fact of the profession of Islam. The rite of circumcision, which many consider to be analogous to baptism in Christianity, is not obligatory for entrance into the Muslim Ummah. (tr. by PDS)
Q: Viacheslav Sergeevich, you first announced that you had embraced Islam in an interview in a small journal, "Musulmane." What's is this related to? Why did you not first announce that you were demitting the Orthodox priesthood?
A: I did not want to make a political show or sensation out of my spiritual choice. In Islam it is required that one profess monotheism in the presence of witnesses, and the journal for Muslims which is purely for internal use fully accords with this goal. So I made the announcement in the presence of witnesses, which were all the readers of the journal. And the print run of the journal, 7,000 copies, is not so small in our times; for example, its twice that of the newspaper "NG-religii." And the issue is not the demitting of the priesthood but a complete break from the jurisdiction of a particular church: it would be strange to profess Islam and consider one's self an Orthodox layman.
The title under which your interview was published is "The straight
path." Does that reflect your personal conviction that your path to
Islam was really straight?
Q: Isn't your departure from the church connected with the fact that over the last ten years you have been engaged solely in political activity and you rejected active participation in church life? What kind of spiritual path have you traveled in that time?
A: Since 1993 I have been involved in politics only episodically. It is possible to talk about the influence of lawmaking as an element of politics, but this isn't public or independent politics. Thus there's no politics here. Through participation in the state structures I came to see the consequences in practice of decisions that are made. Sometimes they have very great effects in society. Any mistake or miscalculation of the public interests leads to difficult and sometimes tragic consequences and brings about disorder in society. This forced me to think about how religious concepts can be applied to politics and how people use these concepts for their goals that are far from religion, for example, for usurpation of authority. In Islam there are no such concepts that all authority is from God. On the contrary, the power of the people is affirmed and accommodation to tyranny and to the one who usurps the power of the people is considered sin. If we are talking about the decision to profess one's self as a strict monotheist, let's say, within the confines of the Abrahamic tradition, this matured gradually and is connected only with my worldview quests.
Q: What were the milestones along the way? Were there new spiritual experiences? Were these conversations with people, reading books, or some other events?
A: Yes, primarily it was books and people.
In the interview with the journal Musulmane you mention Geidar Jemal.
What kind of influence did he have on you and what role did he play in
The way he is described in the New Testament is for me only partially
acceptable inasmuch as there are questions about the authenticity of the
texts, but I have not renounced Jesus as he is described in the Most
Glorious Koran. It is said, first, that he is a prophet; second, a
righteous man; third, he was conceived in a miraculous manner. He really
saved people and thus is called Messiah in the Koran. The doctrine of
the divine essence of Christ arose in the fourth century and was made
dogma in the fifth. For several centuries Christians got on well without
professing that Messiah was God and there is no basis for considering
that they were profoundly mistaken.
Q: What is your opinion about this?
Islam is not an offshoot from Christianity but a second and great reform
of Abrahamic monotheism. Abraham believed in the one God and was the
first to express this publicly. He announced it and confirmed it for his
successors, becoming the "father" of all believers. Subsequently this
tradition suffered deviations. It is known that all of the
prophets--incidentally many of them also are called "saviours"--criticized
the people for their deviation into heathenism. And the greatest
prophet, Jesus, also criticized people for heathenism. More than that,
he himself spoke of himself in parables as sent by God with a special
mission. Before this people said: "Prophets are sinners like us." But
God sent a sinless Angel of God--in the bible angels are called "sons of
God" (Job 38.7)--who really was a pure prophet but he was not obeyed.
They conceived the desire to destroy him. He criticized the dominating
shortcomings of the time and spread the Good News of the one God beyond
the boundaries of a single people, for all people; this was a great
reform of Judaism. Islam is the second reform, cleansing the
Christianity of the sixth and seventh centuries from the pagan
accretions which has been formed in the period of its acquiring official
status and compulsory mass acceptance.
A: I am talking about this as I understand it. What the Greeks thought in creating this teaching that was completely new for the church, which, note, was not even mentioned in the creed of A.D. 381, I do not know. Incidentally, Jesus is not directly called God in this creed. Several years ago I specifically began investigating this subject in order to confirm all of this for myself theoretically. In the Holy Koran it is said: "You must not give companions to God." It does not speak of "hypostases," which means that the issue is that believers must not imagine two or more subjects of activity when discussing the Creator. If for the Christian a "hypostasis" is not a different subject but a "name," he is not violating the command of God. In the term "hypostasis of God" there is Greek influence in which there is much sophistry. The fruit of such Greek thought were several doctrinal innovations which appeared many centuries after the New Testament was already well known. For me this is obvious, but it does not mean that I criticize Christianity as a confession, but there already are many conjectures about this. I speak of levels of comprehension. In practice I do not know how a specific babushka believes who comes to the Orthodox church or some elderly Baptist woman. Do they have a concept of a companion of God or is it only an abstraction for her, only a name, or does she not even think about this? Perhaps she has blessed simplicity and God hears and receives her prayers. It is not important where she is, in an Orthodox church, or in a Baptist congregation, or in an Islamic one. Therefore in the Koran Christians and Jews are called brothers and "people of Scripture," that is, heirs of Abraham.
Q: I get the impression that until now you have been talking as an historian of religion who has come to God not through personal spiritual experience but more through analysis of the historical development of world religions. Does this mean that scholarly investigation for you means more than personal experience? Or are you simply defending yourself?
A: No. In all that I have said there is an internal torment. Honestly, even in clerical activity several things disturbed me. For example, an akathist is appointed and you open it up and there, for example, in a prayer to Saint Nicholas it says: "Save us from our sins." Of course, confusion arose here because this even contradicts the teaching of the Orthodox church. What is the point of Jesus' mission when some other person can save people from sin? Of course, without theoretical knowledge, without historical study, there will not be a full picture.
Q: It is no secret that in recent years your relations with the Moscow patriarchate have not been harmonious. Did this play any role in your conversion?
A: No. The decision to adopt Islam and to profess monotheism was a deeply internal decision and my interrelationships with the patriarchate had no place here. In 1991 I went on leave on my own initiative and I began wearing secular clothing. If I had continued believing as I had been believing when I entered seminary, I would have continued to serve in a parish. After the dismissal of the Supreme Soviet in 1993 the patriarch offered me the rectorship of a wealthy Moscow church, but I declined. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk suggested in 1994 that I work in OVTsS, but I declined myself and agreed only to be an external consultant for it and I received the appropriate official authorization for his signature. This was a definite move in the direction about which we are now talking. But at the time my decision still had not been formulated and there was only some reservations with regard to concrete liturgical practice. I emphasize that as a priest I served sincerely and did not deceive anyone when I performed the sacraments, rites, and rituals. People who partook in these services should not have any doubts. There were no personal contacts between me and the hierarchy. Metropolitan Kirill I consider the de facto leader of the church and he also is a potential candidate for president of Russia. If the "Regeneration" society nominates him for vice president of Muslims of, say, Tatarstan, his rating will dramatically increase. I wish him and Fr Chaplin well!
Q: It is impossible to remove your action from the political context. Whether you want it or not you are on the edge of very serious problems. On the one hand, Islam in Russia is divided into several groupings. On the other hand, Russian Islam has no clear figures who really belong to the political elite. Will not the Islamic leaders each try to win you over?
A: I don't know; nobody has made any suggestions to me.
Would you agree with the correction "nobody has made any for the time
Q: One more question about your "past" life. In 1991 you became a priest on leave. What have the recent pages of your spiritual life been like? Have you officiated since then; were you assigned to some church?
No. When I was a deputy and arranged with the patriarch for the leave, I
retained the right to officiate in Kaluga diocese. However I did not
exercise that right often and since 1995 I have not conducted the
liturgy at all.
A: Several years ago.
Q: What will be the fate of Orthodoxy and Islam in Russia? Will there be real cooperation between them?
My civil position has not changed. Today, as in the time of the Supreme
Soviet, I consider that between Christianity and Islam in Russia there
should be a social union. Specifically social, confirmed at the
governmental level. Before the revolution, both Orthodox and Muslims
were present at official ceremonies. Of course, Orthodox ceremonies were
governmental, but Muslims were present at them, though they did not
participate directly but stood alongside. Muslims had special prayers
for the tsar as their earthly patron.
A: What is more attractive is simply monotheism in its pure form in order not to think of God in an unworthy manner. I like it when there are no contradictions and there is logical consistency. The Glorious Koran says outright that the truth is not contradictory. There is the doctrine of the transcendental God, the Creator, the Almighty, the Merciful and all the rest should be in agreement with this. If something contradicts this, that means it must be eliminated.
A: Usually, five times a day is required.
Q: Daily or only on Friday?
A: I made my announcement only recently and before this it was necessary not to advertise all of this. Now I will do it as required.
Q: Do you have a prayer rug?
A: I do. In state service it is extremely difficult to perform the prayers, but all rules are constructed flexibly. If by force of circumstances it is necessary to put it off, it can be done after work. Incidentally, it's the same in Christianity. (tr. by PDS)
(Posted 10 June 1999)
KHADIJAH 'SUE' WATSON
Former pastor, missionary, professor. Master's degree in Divinity
“What happened to you?” This was usually the first reaction I encountered when my former classmates, friends and co-pastors saw me after having embraced Islam. I suppose I couldn’t blame them, I was a highly unlikely the person to change religions. Formerly, I was a professor, pastor, church planter and missionary. If anyone was a radical fundamentalist it was I.
I had just graduated with my Master’s Degree of Divinity from an elite seminary five months before. It was after that time I met a lady who had worked in Saudi Arabia and had embraced Islam. Of course I asked her about the treatment of women in Islam. I was shocked at her answer, it wasn’t what I expected so I proceeded to ask other questions relating to Allah and Muhammad (pbuh). She informed me that she would take me to the Islamic Centre where they would be better able to answer my questions.
Being prayed up, meaning-asking Jesus for protection against demon spirits seeing that what we had been taught about Islam is that it is Demonic and Satanic religion. Having taught Evangelism I was quite shocked at their approach, it wa a direct and straight forward. No intimidation, no harassment, no psychological manipulation, no subliminal influence! None of this, “let’s have a Qur’anic study in your house”, like a counter part of the Bible study. I couldn’t believe it! They gave me some books and told me if I had some questions they were available to answer them in the office. That night I read all of the books they gave. It was the first time I had ever read a book about Islam written by a Muslim, we had studied and read books about Islam only written by Christians. The next day I spent three hours at the office asking questions. This went on everyday for a week, by which time I had read twelve books and knew why Muslims are the hardest people in the world to convert to Christianity. Why? Because there is nothing to offer them!! (In Islam) There is a relationship with Allah, forgiveness of sins, salvation and promise of Eternal Life.
Naturally, my first question centred on the deity of Allah. Who is this Allah that the Muslims worship? We had been taught as Christians that this is another god, a false god. When in fact He is the Omniscient-All Knowing, Omnipotent-All Powerful, and Omnipresent-All Present God. The One and Only without co-partners or co-equal. It is interesting to note that there were bishops during the first three hundred years of the Church that were teaching as the Muslim believes that Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet and teacher!! It was only after the conversion of Emperor Constantine that he was the one to call and introduce the doctrine of the Trinity. He a convert to Christianity who knew nothing of this religion introduced a agonistic concept that goes back to Babylonian times. Because the space does not permit me to go into detail about the subject insha’Allah, another time. Only I must point out that the word TRINITY is not found in the Bible in any of its many translation nor is it found in the original Greek or Hebrew languages!
My other important question centred on Muhammad (pbuh). Who is this Muhammad? I found out that Muslims do not pray to him like the Christians pray to Jesus. He is not an intermediary and in fact it is forbidden to pray to him. We ask blessing upon him at the end of our prayer but likewise we ask blessings on Abraham. He is a Prophet and a Messenger, the final and last Prophet. In fact, until now, one thousand four hundred and eighteen years (1,418) later there has been no prophet after him. His message is for All Mankind as opposed to the message of Jesus or Moses (peace be upon them both) which was sent to the Jews. “Hear O Israel” But the message is the same message of Allah. “The Lord Your God is One God and you shall have no other gods before Me." Mark 12:29).
Because prayer was a very important part of my Christian life I was both interested and curious to know what the Muslims were praying. As Christians we were as ignorant on this aspect of Muslim belief as on the other aspects. We thought and were taught, that the Muslims were bowing down to the Ka’bah (in Mecca), that that was there god and centre point of this false deity. Again, I was shocked to learn that the manner of prayer is prescribed by God, Himself. The words of the prayer are one of praise and exaltation. The approach to prayer (ablution or washing) in cleanliness is under the direction of Allah. He is a Holy God and it is not for us to approach Him in an arbitrary manner but only reasonable that He should tell us how we should approach Him.
At the end of that week after having spent eight (8) years of formal theological studies I knew cognitively (head knowledge) that Islam was true. But I did not embrace Islam at that time because I did not believe it in my heart. I continued to pray, to read the Bible, to attend lectures at the Islamic Centre. I was in earnest asking and seeking God’s direction. It is not easy to change your religion. I did not want to loose my salvation if there was salvation to loose. I continued to be shocked and amazed at what I was learning because it was not what I was taught that Islam believed. In my Master’s level, the professor I had was respected as an authority on Islam yet his teaching and that of Christianity in general is full of Misunderstanding. He and many Christians like him are sincere but they are sincerely wrong.
Two months later after having once again prayed seeking God’s direction, I felt something drop into my being! I sat up, and it was the first time I was to use the name of Allah, and I said, “Allah, I believe you are the One and Only True God.” There was peace that descended upon me and from that day four years ago until now I have never regretted embracing Islam. This decision did not come without trial. I was fired from my job as I was teaching in two Bible Colleges at that time, ostracized by my former classmates, professors and co-pastors, disowned by my husband’s family, misunderstood by my adult children and made a suspicion by my own government. Without the faith that enables man to stand up to Satanic forces I would not have been able to withstand all of this. I am ever so grateful to Allah that I am a Muslim and may I live and die a Muslim.
prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God
the Cherisher of the Worlds. No partner has He, this I am commanded. And
I am the first of those who bow to Allah in Islam." Holy Qur'an
Sister Khadijah Watson is presently working as a teacher for women in one of the Da'wah (Invitation) Centres in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Former Egyptian Coptic priest
(Source: The Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186)
Al-Haj Ibrahim Khalil Ahmad, formerly Ibrahim Khalil Philobus, was an Egyptian Coptic priest who studied theology and got a high degree from Princeton University. He studied Islam to find gaps to attack it; instead he embraced Islam with his four children, one of whom is now a brilliant professor in Sorbonne University, Paris France. In an interesting way, he reveals himself saying: "I was born in Alexandria on the 13th of January 1919 and was sent to the American Mission schools until I got my secondary education certificate there. In 1942 I got my diploma from Asiut University and then I specialized in religious studies as a prelude to join the Faculty of Theology. It was no easy task to join the faculty, as no candidate could join it unless he got a special recommendation from the church, and also, after he should pass a number of difficult exams. I got a recommendation from Al-Attareen Church in Alexandria and another from the Church Assembly of Lower Egypt after passing many tests to know my qualifications to become a man of religion. Then I got a third recommendation from Snodus Church Assembly which included priests from Sudan and Egypt.
The Snodus sanctioned my entrance into the Faculty of Theology in 1944 as a boarding student. There I studied at the hands of American and Egyptian teachers until my graduation in 1948.
I was supposed, he continued, to be appointed in Jerusalem had it not been for the war that broke out in Palestine that same year, so I was sent to Asna in Upper Egypt. That same year I registered for a thesis at the American University in Cairo. It was about the missionary activities among Muslims. My acquaintance with Islam started in the Faculty of Theology where I studied Islam and all the methods through which we could shake the faith of Muslims and raise misconceptions in their understanding of their own religion.
In 1952 I got my M.A. from Princeton University in U.S.A. and was appointed as a teacher in the Faculty of Theology in Asiut. I used to teach Islam in the faculty as well as the faulty misconceptions spread by its enemies and the missionaries against it. During that period I decided to enlarge my study of Islam, so that I should not read the missionaries books on it only. I had so much faith in myself that I was confirmed to read the other point of view. Thus I began to read books written by Muslim authors. I also decided to read the Qur'an and understand its meanings. This was implied by my love of knowledge and moved by my desire to add more proofs against Islam. The result was, however, exactly the reverse. My position began to shake and I started to feel an internal strong struggle and I discovered the falsehood of everything I had studied and preached to the people. But I could not face myself bravely and tried instead to overcome this internal crisis and continue my work.
In 1954, Mr. Khalil added, I was sent to Aswan as secretary general of the German Swiss Mission. That was only my apparent position for my real mission was to preach against Islam in Upper Egypt especially among Muslims. A missionary conference was held at that time at Cataract Hotel in Aswan and I was given the floor to speak. That day I spoke too much, reiterating all the repeated misconceptions against Islam; and at the end of my speech, the internal crisis came to me again and I started to revise my position.
Continuing his talk about the said crisis, Mr. Khalil said,”I began to ask myself: Why should I say and do all these things which I know for sure I am a liar, as this is not the truth? I took my leave before the end of the conference and went out alone to my house. I was completely shaken. As I walked through Firyal public garden, I heard a verse of the Qur'an on the radio. It said: “Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur'an). They said: We have really heard a wonderful recital (1) It gives guidance to the Right, and we have believed therein: We shall not join (in worship) any gods with our Lord” (Jinn 72-1 - 2)
“And as for us, since we have listened to the Guidance, we have accepted it: and any one who believes in His Lord, has no fear of either a short (account) or of any injustice” (Jinn 72-13)
I felt a deep comfort that night and when I returned home I spent the whole night all by myself in my library reading the Qur'an. My wife inquired from me about the reason of my sitting up all night and I pleaded from her to leave me alone. I stopped for a long time thinking and meditating on the verse; “Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah ….” (Al-Hashr 59:21)
And the verse: “Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and the Pagans, and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": Because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant (82) And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses (83) What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?” (Al-Maeda 5:82 - 84)
Mr. Khalil then quoted a third quotation from the Holy Qur'an which says: ”Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), in the Taurat and in the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them what is bad (and impure): He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him and follow the light which is sent down with him, it is they who will prosper (157) Say: "O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: It is He that giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger. The unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His Words: follow Him that (so) you may be guided” (Al-Araf 7 :157 - 158)
Now that same night, Mr. Khalil dramatically concluded: I took my final decision. In the morning I spoke with my wife from whom I have three sons and one daughter. But no sooner than she felt that I was inclined to embrace Islam than she cried and asked for help from the head of the mission. His name was Monsieur Shavits from Switzerland. He was a very cunning man. When he asked me about my true attitude, I told him frankly what I really wanted and then he said: Regard yourself out of job until we discover what has befallen you. Then I said: This is my resignation from my job. He tried to convince me to postpone it, but I insisted. So he made a rumour among the people that I became mad. Thus I suffered a very severe test and oppression until I left Aswan for good and returned to Cairo.
When he was asked about the circumstances to his conversion he replied: In Cairo I was introduced to a respectable professor who helped me overcome my severe trial and this he did without knowing anything about my story. He treated me as a Muslim for I introduced myself to him as such although until then I did not embrace Islam officially. That was Dr. Muhammad Abdul Moneim Al Jamal the then undersecretary of treasury. He was highly interested in Islamic studies and wanted to make a translation of the Holy Qur'an to be published in America. He asked me to help him because I was fluent in English since I had got my M.A. from an American University. He also knew that I was preparing a comparative study of the Qur'an, the Torah and the Bible. We cooperated in this comparative study and in the translation of the Qur'an.
When Dr. Jamal knew that I had resigned from my job in Aswan and that I was then unemployed, he helped me with a job in Standard Stationery Company in Cairo. So I was well established after a short while. I did not tell my wife about my intention to embrace Islam thus she thought that I had forgotten the whole affair and that it was nothing but a transitory crisis that no more existed. But I knew quite well that my official conversion to Islam needs long complicated measures and it was in fact a battle which I preferred to postpone for some time until I became well off and after I completed my comparative study.
Then Mr. Khalil continued, “In 1955 I did complete my study and my material and living affairs became well established. I resigned from the company and set up a training office for importing stationery and school articles. It was a successful business from which I gained much more money than I needed. Thus I decided to declare my official conversion to Islam. On the 25th of December 1959, I sent a telegram to Dr. Thompson, head of the American Mission in Egypt informing him that I had embraced Islam. When I told my true story to Dr. Jamal he was completely astonished. When I declared my conversion to Islam, new troubles began. Seven of my former colleagues in the mission had tried their best to persuade me to cancel my declaration, but I refused. They threatened to separate me from my wife and I said: She is free to do as she wishes. They threatened to kill me. But when they found me to be stubborn they left me alone and sent to me an old friend of mine who was also a colleague of mine in the mission. He wept very much in front of me. So I recited before him the following verses from the Quran: “And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous” (Al-Maeda 5:83 - 84) I said to him, "You should have wept in humiliation to God on hearing the Qur'an and believe in the truth which you know but you refuse. He stood up and left me as he saw no use. My official conversion to Islam was in January 1960.
Mr. Khalil was then asked about the attitude of his wife and children and he answered: “My wife left me at that time and took with her all the furniture of our house. But all my children joined me and embraced Islam. The most enthusiastic among them was my eldest son Isaac who changed his name to Osman, then my second son Joseph and my son Samuel whose name is Jamal and daughter Majida who is now called Najwa. Osman is now a doctor of philosophy working as a professor in Sorbonne University in Paris teaching oriental studies and psychology. He also writes in “Le Monde” magazine. As in regards to my wife, she left the house for six years and agreed to come back in 1966 provided that she keeps her religion. I accepted this because in Islam there is no compulsion in religion. I said to her: I do not want you to became a Muslim for my sake but only after you are convinced. She feels now that she believes in Islam but she cannot declare this for fear of her family but we treat her as a Muslim woman and she fasts in Ramadan because all my children pray and fast. My daughter Najwa is a student in the Faculty of Commerce, Joseph is a doctor pharmeologist and Jamal is an engineer”
“During this period, that is since 1961 until the present time I have been able to publish a number of books on Islam and the methods of the missionaries and the orientalist against it. I am now preparing a comparative study about women in the three Divine religions with the object of highlighting the status of women in Islam. In 1973 I performed Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and I am doing activities preaching Islam. I hold seminars in the universities and charitable societies. I received an invitation from Sudan in 1974 where I held many seminars. My time is fully used in the service of Islam”
Finally Mr. Khalil was asked about the salient features of Islam which have attracted his attention most. And he answered: “My faith in Islam has been brought about through reading the Holy Qur'an and the biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. I no longer believed in the misconceptions against Islam and I am especially attracted by the concept of unity of God, which is the most important feature of Islam. God is only One. Nothing is like Him. This belief makes me the servant of God only and of no one else. Oneness of God liberates man from servitude to any human being and that is true freedom”
“I also like very much the rule of forgiveness in Islam and the direct relationship between God and His servants.
“Say: "O my servants who have transgressed against their souls!, despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful (53) Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and submit to Him before the Chastisement comes on you: After that ye shall not be helped” (Az-Zumar 39:53 - 54)
Former Catholic missionary (Source: Saudi Gazette)
The nuns looked so clean and smart in their starched white habits. They looked like the saints in the pictures that hung on the wall of every classroom, that I dreamt of the day I could be like them. I was among two other girls who get excellent grades at the end of the school year and we were asked if we would like to study religion. They thought we were pious for our ages because we liked to spend endless hours inside the church. They didn’t realize that the inside of the church was dim and cold and a welcome relief from the hot African sun.
I couldn’t wait to tell my father, who surprisingly said, ‘absolutely not!’ He would not like that kind of life for one of his girls; without husband and children. He enrolled me in another school, which had previously only admitted boys.
Besides myself, there was another girl in the Roman Catholic Mission school in Burundi. The years I spent at this school made me quite tough as I competed only against boys. The nuns used excessive force in disciplinary matters. The fact that we were all adolescents might have had a good deal to do with it. Still, it didn’t seem a very Christian thing to do.
I was interested in religion and excelled in the study of languages and accepted a full scholarship to a university in Cameroon after graduating from high school. Again, as the only female, I enrolled in the College of Theology. I wasn’t sure where I would go with it, but after a short while, the administration applied for a scholarship in the same College of Theology, but in Belgium. There I would learn how to be a Pastor in the Roman Catholic Church.
My language ability aided me quite a bit and my mastery of some of the African dialects attracted them as a good candidate for missionary work.
As the years went by, I began to see through the layers of theology and found the superficiality of their teachings. I was not alone in seeing the many contradictions in the New and Old Testaments. To learn that the ‘Trinity’ is mentioned only once in the New Testament was a surprise but when I learned it had been fully established at the Council of Nicea and that it was not part of what Jesus taught, something in my mind clicked.
We were shown certain books called the Gnostic Books, which we were told were hidden teachings, I understood that the church was being deceitful and this was disturbing. How could I believe that this was, as they said, the word of God from A to Z. "The People of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the Truth which they themselves know (146) The Truth is from thy Lord, so be not in doubt" (Al-Baqarah 2:146-147)
Still I pursued my studies in an effort to be able to help myself and my people some day. "As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou has no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did" (Al-Anam 6:159)
After graduation from University, I took a position in Nairobi, Kenya. The Church was very anxious to have an African in a position such as this. They had many programs for women and I was a coordinator for these programs under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. I handled different aspects of exhibitions, women’s projects, donors, workshops and conferences.
I was sent to the regional office in Togo because they are mainly French-speaking which I spoke fluently and the type of projects I knew how to handle were being implemented there. I began to search for the spiritual force that was missing in my life and in Togo I searched through all the practiced religions. When one looks for truth there are many things thrown in one’s path.
This part of Africa has many people who practice witchcraft and who claim to have knowledge of the unseen and it was obvious they were just taking people’s money. There is no one with knowledge of the unseen except God.
I had been facing much mediocrity from the Church and at the same time I had Muslim friends who were very comfortable in their knowledge of God, who prayed five times daily and who had many virtues. They believed in what they said, in contrast to the Church where you repeat what you have been taught without believing in it.
I had never been taught anything about Islam except a superficial introduction so I did a lot of reading about the religion.
I cannot say that to convert to Islam was easy; it was very difficult. But when one is searching for the truth there is no way to deny it.
The decision was also difficult for economic reasons as I had one of the highest paying professions with many perks.
I resigned from my position citing my conversion as my reason and immediately lost my job and salary, housing and medical benefits. I became destitute in one day!
My family does not like my hijab but they admire the moral aspects of Islam.
I helped to raise my brothers and sisters and they are much younger than I, and now to see how much they hate me is almost unbearable.
They felt the economic hardship immediately as I did, and cannot understand why I would do such a thing. But with the grace of Allah they too will find the truth of Islam, Insha'Allah.
I hope and pray that I can use the knowledge that the education in the Church gave me towards the propagation of Islam. The spiritual climate of West Africa is ripe for Islam and there are many projects which need doing. This is what I have been trained to do and so my path is straight and narrow for me now.
Former Lutheran Archbishop
(It was December 23, 1986, two days away from Christmas, when Arch Bishop Martin John Mwaipopo, announced to his congregation that he was leaving Christianity for Islam. The congregation was paralyzed with shock on hearing the news, so much so, that his administrator got up from his seat, closed the door and windows, and declared to the church members that the Bishop’s mind had become unhinged, that is, he had gone mad. How could he not think and say so, when only a few minutes earlier, the man had taken out his music instruments and sang so movingly for the church members? Little did they know that inside the Bishop’s heart lay a decision that would blow their minds, and that the entertainment was only a farewell party. But the congregant’s reaction was equally shocking! They called the police to take the "mad" man away. He was kept in the cells until midnight when Sheikh Ahmed Sheik, the man who initiated him into Islam came to bail him out. That incident was only a mild beginning of shocks in store for him. Al Qalam reporter, Simphiwe Sesanti, spoke to the Tanzanian born former Lutheran Arch Bishop Martin John Mwaipopo, who on embracing Islam came to be known as Al Hajj Abu Bakr John Mwaipopo.
Credit must go to the Zimbabwean brother, Sufyan Sabelo, for provoking this writer’s curiosity, after listening to Mwaipopo’s talk at the Wyebank Islamic Centre, Durban. Sufyan is not sensationalist, but that night he must have heard something - he just could not stop talking about the man! Who would not be hooked after hearing that an Arch Bishop, who had not only obtained a BA and Masters degree, but a doctorate as well, in Divinity, had later turned to Islam? And since foreign qualifications matter so much to you, a man who had obtained a diploma in Church Administration in England and the latter degrees in Berlin, Germany! A man, who, before becoming a Muslim, had been the World Council of Churches’ General Secretary for Eastern Africa - covering Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and parts of Ethiopia and Somalia. In the Council of Churches, he rubbed shoulders with the present chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission. Barney Pityana and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission‘s chairman, Bishop Desmond Tutu.
It is a story of a man who was born 61 years ago, on
February 22 in Bukabo, an area that shares its borders with Uganda. Two
years, after his birth, his family had him baptised, and five years
later, watched him with pride being an alter boy. Seeing him assisting
the church minister, preparing the "body and blood" of Christ, filled
the Mwaipopos with pride, and filled Mwaipopo Senior with ideas for his
While in that state
of mind he called his "beloved" Professor Van Burger.
Consequently, the church stripped him of his house and his car. His wife
could not take it, she packed her clothes, took her children and left,
despite Mwaipopo’s assurances that she was not obliged to become a
Muslim. When he went to his parents, they, too, had heard the story. "My
father told me to denounce Islam and my mother said she did not "want to
hear any nonsense from me", remember Mwaipopo. He was on his own! Asked
how he now feels towards his parents, he says that he has forgiven them,
in fact found time to reconcile with his father before he departed to
the world yonder.
The story goes that he had asked her why she was wearing a rosary, to which she responded that it was because Christ was hanged on it. "But, say, someone had killed your father with a gun, would you go around carrying a gun on your chest?" Mmmhhh. That set the Nun thinking, her mind "challenged", and when the former Bishop proposed marriage to the Nun later, the answer was "yes". Secretly, they married, and four weeks later, she wrote a letter to her authorities, informing them of her leave. When the old man who had given him shelter, (the Nun’s uncle) heard about the marriage, when they arrived at his house, they were advised to leave the house, because "the old man was loading his gun", and the Nun’s father was enraged, "wild like a lion".
Bishop’s mansion, Mwaipopo went to live in a self built mud house. From
earning a living as the World Council of Churches’ General Secretary for
Eastern Africa, he began earning a living as a wood cutter and tilling
some people’s lands. When not doing that he was preaching Islam
publicly. This led to a series of short term imprisonments for preaching
blasphemy against Christianity.
He says that
that very day he was released, police came to re-arrest him. And guess
what? "The women said no ways! They said that they would resist my
arrest physically against the police. It was also the women who helped
me cross the borders unnoticed. They clothed me in the women’s
fashion!", according to Mwaipopo. And that is one of the reasons that
make him admire women.
To the Muslims, Al Hajj Abu Bakr Mwaipopo’s message is, "There is war against Islam…Flood the world with literature. Right now, Muslims are made to feel ashamed to be regarded as fundamentalists. Muslims must stop their individualistic tendencies, they must be collective. You have to defend your neighbour if you want to be safe", he states, also urging Muslims to be courageous, citing the Islamic Propagation Centre International’s Ahmed Deedat. "That man is not learned, but look at the way he has propagated Islam".
Former Jehovah's Witness minister
(Source: The Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186)
A forty-two-year-old Latino, Raphael, is a Los Angeles-based comic and lecturer. He was born in Texas where he attended his first Jehovah's Witness meeting at age six. He gave his first Bible sermon at eight, tended his own congregation at twenty, and was headed for a position of leadership among the 904,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States. But he traded in his Bible for a Qur'an after having braved a visit to a local mosque.
On November 1, 1991, he embraced Islam, bringing to the Muslim community the organizational and speaking skills he developed among Jehovah's Witnesses. He speaks with the urgency of a new convert, but one who can make immigrant Muslims laugh at themselves.
He told his story mimicking a cast of characters.
I remember vividly being in a discussion where we were all sitting in my parents' living room and there were some other Jehovah's Witnesses there. They were talking about: "It's Armageddon! The time of the end! And Christ is coming! And you know the hailstones are going to be out here as big as cars! God is going to use all kinds of things to destroy this wicked system and remove the governments! And the Bible talks about the earth opening up! It's going to swallow whole city blocks!"
I'm scared to death! And then my mother turned around: "See what's going to happen to you if you don't get baptised, and if you don't do God's will? The earth is going to swallow you up, or one of these huge hailstones is going to hit you on the head [klonk], knock you out, and you will not exist ever again. I'll have to make another child."
I wasn't going to take a chance of being hit by one of those big hailstones. So I got baptized. And of course Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the sprinkling of the water. They submerge you completely, hold you there for a second, and then bring you back up.
I did that at the age of thirteen, September 7, 1963, in Pasadena, California, at the Rose Bowl. It was a big international assembly. We had 100,000 people. We drove all the way from Lubbock, Texas.
Eventually I started giving bigger talks - ten minutes in front of the congregation. And a circuit servant recommended me to give the hour lectures that are done on Sunday when they invite the general public. They usually reserved those (sermons) for the elders of the congregation.
(In an authoritarian voice:) "Sure he's young. But he can handle it. He's a good Christian boy. He has no vices, and he's obedient to his parents and seems to have pretty good Bible knowledge."
So at the age of sixteen I started giving hour lectures in front of whole congregations. I was assigned first to a group in Sweetwater, Texas, and then, eventually, in Brownfield, Texas, I got my first congregation. At age twenty, I had become what they call a pioneer minister.
Jehovah's Witnesses have a very sophisticated training program, and they also have kind of a quota system. You have to devote ten to twelve hours a month to door-to-door preaching. It's like sales management. IBM has nothing on these guys.
So when I became a pioneer minister, I devoted most of my full time to doing the door-to-door ministry. I had to do like 100 hours a month, and I had to have seven Bible studies. I started lecturing other congregations. I began to get a lot of responsibility, and I was accepted at a school in Brooklyn, New York, a very elite school that Jehovah's Witnesses have for the crème de la crème, the top one percent. But I didn't go.
A few things no longer made sense to me. For example, the quota system. It seemed like every time I wanted to turn a corner and get into another position of responsibility, I had to do these secular material things to prove my godliness. It's like if you meet your quotas this month, God loves you. If you don't meet your quotas next month, God doesn't love you. That didn't make very much sense. One month God loves me and one month He doesn't?
The other thing I started noticing is tunnel vision. Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who are going to be saved in God's new order, nobody else, because all of them are practicing false religions. Well, I thought, Mother Teresa's a Catholic. That's our dire enemy. So I said, Wait a minute, Mother Teresa has spent her entire life doing things that Jesus said: take care of the poor, the sick, the orphans. But she's not going to have God's favour because she's a Catholic?
We criticized the Catholic Church because they had a man, a priest, to whom they had to confess. And we'd say, "You shouldn't have to go to a man to confess your sins! Your sin is against God!" And yet we went to a Body of Elders. You confessed your sins to them, and they put you on hold, and said (Elder as telephone operator) "Hold on just a minute . . . What do you think, Lord? No? . . . Okay, I'm sorry, we tried our best but you're not repentant enough. Your sin is too big, so you either lose your fellowship in the church or you're going to be on probation."
If the sin is against God, shouldn't I directly go to God and beg for mercy?
Probably the nail that hit the coffin was that I noticed that they started reading their Bible less. Jehovah's Witnesses have books for everything that are put out by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The only people on the entire planet who know how to interpret Bible Scripture correctly are that group of men, that committee in Brooklyn, who tell Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide how to dress, how to talk, what to say, what not to say, how to apply Scripture and what the future is going to be like. God told them, so they can tell us. I appreciated the books. But if the Bible is the book of knowledge and if it's God's instructions, well, shouldn't we get our answers out of the Bible? Paul himself said find out for yourself what is a true and acceptable word of God. Don't let men tickle your ears.
I started saying, "Don't worry so much about what the Watchtower says - read the Bible for yourself." Ears started to prick up.
(Old Southerner's drawl:) "I think we got us an apostate here, Judge. Yup. I think this old boy's one taco short of something."
Even my father said, "You better watch it, young man, that's the demons talking right there. That's the demons trying to get in and cause division."
I said, "Dad, it's not the demons. People don't need to read so much of these other publications. They can find their answers with prayer and in the Bible."
Spiritually I no longer felt at ease. So in 1979, knowing that I could not make headway, I left, disgruntled and with a bad taste in my mouth, because all my life I had put my soul, my heart, my mind into the church. That was the problem. I didn't put it in God. I put it in a man-made organization.
I can't go to other religions. As a Jehovah's Witness, I had been trained, through the Scriptures, to show that they are all wrong. That idolatry is bad. Trinity doesn't exist.
I'm like a man without a religion. I was not a man without a God. But where could I go?
In 1985, I decided to come to Los Angeles and get on the Johnny Carson show and make my mark as a great comedian and actor. I have always felt like I was born for something. I didn't know whether it was going to be finding the cure to cancer or becoming an actor. I kept praying and it got frustrating after a while.
So I just went to the Catholic church close to my house, and I tried it. I remember on Ash Wednesday I had that ash cross on my forehead. I was trying anything I could. I went for about two or three months, and I just couldn't do it anymore, man. It was:
Stand up. Sit down.
You got a lot of exercise. I think I lost about five pounds. But that's about it. So now I'm more lost than ever. But it never passed through my mind that there is not a Creator. I have His phone number, but the line's always busy. I'm doing my little movie shots. A film called Deadly Intent. A telephone commercial in Chicago. An Exxon commercial. A couple of bank commercials. In the meantime I'm doing construction work on the side.
We're working on this mall. It's the holiday season, and they put these extra booths in the hallways. There was a gal at one, and we had to pass right in front of her. I'd say, "Good morning, how are you?" If she said anything, it was "Hi." And that was it.
Finally, I said, "Miss, you never say anything. I just wanted to apologize if there was something I said wrong."
She said, "No, you see, I'm a Muslim."
"I'm a Muslim, and Muslim women, we don't talk to men unless we have something specific to talk about; otherwise we don't have anything to do with men."
She said, "Yes, we practice the religion of Islam."
"Islam - how do you spell that?"
At the time, I knew that Muslims were all terrorists. She doesn't even have a beard. How could she possibly be Muslim?
"How did this religion get started?"
"Well, there was a prophet."
I started some research. But I just came from one religion. I had no intention of becoming Muslim.
The holidays are over. The booth moves. She's gone.
I continued to pray, and asked why my prayers weren't being answered. In November of 1991, I was going to bring my uncle Rockie home from the hospital. I started to empty his drawers to pack his stuff and there was a Gideon Bible. I said, God has answered my prayers. This Gideon Bible. (Of course, they put it in every hotel room.) This is a sign from God that He's ready to teach me. So I stole the Bible.
I went home and I started praying: O God, teach me to be a Christian. Don't teach me the Jehovah's Witness way. Don't teach me the Catholic way. Teach me Your way! You would not have made this Bible so hard that ordinary people sincere in prayer could not understand it.
I got all the way through the New Testament. I started the Old Testament. Well, eventually there's a part in the Bible about the prophets.
I said, Wait a minute, that Muslim lady said they had a prophet. How come he's not in here?
I started thinking, Muslims - one billion in the world. Man, one out of every five people on the street theoretically could be a Muslim. And I thought: One billion people! C'mon now, Satan is good. But he's not that good.
So then I said, I'll read their book, the Qur'an, and I'll see what kind of pack of lies this thing is. It probably has an illustration on how to dissemble an AK-47. So I went to an Arabic bookstore.
They asked, "What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for a Qur'an."
"Okay, we have some over here."
They had some very nice ones - thirty dollars, forty dollars."
"Look, I just want to read it, I don't want to become one, okay?"
"Okay, we have this little five-dollar paperback edition."
I went home, and started reading my Qur'an from the beginning, with Al-Fatihah. And I could not get my eyes off of it.
Hey, look at this. It talks about a Noah in here. We have Noah in our Bible too. Hey, it talks about Lot and Abraham. I can't believe it. I never knew Satan's name was Iblis. Hey, how about that.
When you get that picture on your TV set and it's got a little bit of static and you push that button [klop] - fine tune. That's exactly what happened with the Qur'an.
I went through the whole thing. So I said, Okay, I've done this, now what's the next thing you got to do? Well, you gotta go to their meeting place. I looked in the yellow pages, and I finally found it: Islamic Center of Southern California, on Vermont. I called and they said, "Come on Friday."
Now I really start getting nervous, `cause now I know I'm going to have to confront Habib and his AK-47.
I want people to understand what it's like for an American Christian coming into Islam. I'm kidding about the AK-47, but I don't know if these guys have daggers under their coats, you know. So I come up to the front, and sure enough, there's this six-foot-three, 240-pound brother, beard and everything, and I'm just in awe.
I walked up and said, "Excuse me, sir."
[Arabic accent:] "Go to the back!"
He thought I was already a brother.
I said, "Yessir, yessir" [meekly].
I didn't know what I was going back for, but I went back anyway. They had the tent and the rugs were out. I'm standing there, kind of shy, and people are sitting down listening to the lecture. And people are saying, Go ahead, brother, sit down. And I'm going, No, thanks, no, thanks, I'm just visiting.
So finally the lecture's over. They're all lined up for prayer and they go into sajdah. I was really taken aback.
It started making sense intellectually, in my muscles, in my bones, in my heart and my soul.
So prayers are over. I say, hey, who's going to recognize me? So I start to mingle like I'm one of the brothers, and I'm walking into the mosque and a brother says, "Assalaamu alaikum." And I thought, Did he say "salt and bacon"?
There's another guy who said "salt and bacon" to me.
I didn't know what in the world they were saying, but they all smiled.
Before one of these guys noticed that I was not supposed to be there and took me to the torture chamber, or beheaded me, I wanted to see as much as I could. So eventually I went to the library, and there was a young Egyptian brother; his name was Omar. God sent him to me.
Omar comes up to me, and he says, "Excuse me. This is your first time here?" He has a real strong accent.
And I said, Yeah, it is.
"Oh, very good. You are Muslim?"
"No, I'm just reading a little."
"Oh, you are studying? This is your first visit to a mosque?"
"Come, let me show you around." And he grabs me by the hand, and I'm walking with another man - holding hands. I said, These Muslims are friendly.
So he shows me around.
"First of all, this is our prayer hall, and you take your shoes off right here."
"What are these things?"
"These are little cubicles. That's where you put your shoes."
"Well, because you're approaching the prayer area, and it's very holy. You don't go in there with your shoes on; it's kept real clean."
So he takes me to the men's room.
"And right here, this is where we do wudu."
"Voodoo! I didn't read anything about voodoo!"
"No, not voodoo. Wudu!"
"Okay, because I saw that stuff with the dolls and the pins, and I'm just not ready for that kind of commitment yet."
He says, "No, wudu, that's when we clean ourselves."
"Why do you do that?"
"Well, when you pray to God, you have to be clean, so we wash our hands and feet."
So I learned all these things. He let me go, and said, Come back again.
I went back and asked the librarian for a booklet on prayer, and I went home and practiced. I felt that if I was trying to do it right, God would accept it. I just continued to read and read and visit the mosque.
I had a commitment to go on a tour of the Midwest on a comedy circuit. Well, I took a prayer rug with me. I knew that I was supposed to pray at certain times, but there are certain places where you are not supposed to pray, one of which is in the bathroom. I went into a men's room on a tourist stop and I laid out my carpet and I started doing my prayers.
I came back, and when Ramadan was over, I started getting calls from different parts of the country to go and lecture as a Jehovah's Witness minister who embraced Islam. People find me a novelty.
[Two immigrants converse:]
"This guy like apple pie and he drives a Chevy truck. He is a red-blooded American boy. He was a Jehovah's Witness."
"Those people that come in the morning?"
"That never let us sleep on Sundays?"
"Yeah, this guy was one of them. Now he's one of us."
Eventually somebody would come up to me and say [Pakistani accent], "Oh, brother, your talk was so good. But you know, in the Shafi'i school of thought.."
The only thing I could do was turn to them and say, "Gee, brother, I'm so sorry, I wish I knew about that, but I don't know anything about Islam except what's in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Some of them are taken aback and say, "Ha-ha! Poor brother. He doesn't know anything. He only knows the Qur'an."
Well, that's what I'm supposed to know. And it's been a very loving protection. I think it's all in Allah's hands."
Former Catholic priest
(Source, including photographs: http://www.islam.com.kw/3.htm#MY JOURNEY TO ISLAM)
Fr. Antony was a Catholic priest in Sri Lanka. His tale of becoming a true believer and adopting a name Adulrahman for him is quite interesting. Being a Christian priest he was well versed with the teachings of the Bible. He quotes the Bible frequently as he sits to narrate his journey to Islam. While reading the Bible he found many contradictions in it. He goes on quoting verses from the Bible in Sinhalese language and points out the ambiguity.
“He quotes Esaiah 9:12 which reads like this.” And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith; I am not learned.” This verse is a prophecy towards prophet Mohammed (pbuh), because Mohammad (pubh) was an unlettered prophet and when he was an unlettered prophet and when he was asked by Angel Gabriel to read out the first divine revelation upon him he said, “I am not learned” Contrary to the Christian belief that Jesus is God, Acts 2:22 of the Holy Bible considers Jesus as a man. It says, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourself also know.”
Christianity and the other religions, do not define the prophethood according to him. Nor does Bhudda and is silent about the other prophets. Contrary to this it is compulsory in Islam to believe in all the former Prophets and to revere them. According to Abdulrahman this belief is quite convincing and appealing to every body.
Abdulrahman says that there is no reason for the restriction that a Roman Catholic priest cannot marry, when the priests of many other sects of Christianity can marry. Abdulrahman was pondering over the confusions of Christian belief. Meanwhile he got an Audio Cassette of a converted Christian priest Sri Lanka Shareef D Alwis. Cassettes of Ahmad Deedat also attracted him. His continuous efforts to find the truth finally resulted in reversion to Islam. Fr. George Antony
Abdulrahman, hails from the Rathnapura village of Sri Lanka. He was rendering his services as a priest in Katumayaka church. He has ten years of training of the priesthood to his credit.
He wrote letters to his mother introducing Islam. After months of studies she followed the path of her son and embraced Islam. Abdurahman’s only sister is working in Greece. His father and sister still remained Christians.
Abdurahman gave up his highly respected career as a priest for the sake of truth. He happily sacrificed all material gains for the spiritual triumph. He is now working as a trainee in Islam Presentation Committee of Kuwait.
DR. GARY MILLER
(Abdul-Ahad Omar) - Former missionary
Gary Miller (Abdul-Ahad Omar) shows how we can establish true faith by setting standards of truth. He illustrates a simple but effective method of finding out the right direction in our search for truth.
G.R. Miller is a mathematician and a theologian. He was active in Christian missionary work at a particular point of his life but he soon began to discover many inconsistencies in the Bible. In 1978, he happened to read the Qur'an expecting that it, too, would contain a mixture of truth and falsehood.
He discovered to his amazement that the message of the Qur'an was precisely the same as the essence of truth that he had distilled from the Bible. He became a Muslim and since then has been active in giving public presentations on Islam including radio and television appearances. He is also the author of several articles and publications about Islam.
(Canadian Deacon Embraces Islam)
My name is Abdullah De Lancey. I am Canadian and I am employed as a Patient Service Worker at the local hospital. I have been married for almost 20 years and we have 3 wonderful children.
Alhamdulillah, I am now a Muslim. I wasn't always a Muslim, though. Previously; I was a Protestant Christian for all of my life.
My family brought me up in the Pentecostal Church until I was an adult at which time I moved to a fundamental Independent Baptist Church.
As a faithful Christian I was very involved at Church, giving lectures for the Adult Sunday School and other duties. I was eventually elected as the Deacon of the Church. I really wanted to further my dedication to God and decided to pursue a career as a Minister.
I was awarded a scholarship to help me start taking a degree in Divinity. My goal was to be a Pastor of a Church or a Missionary. However, becoming a Minister would commit me and my whole family to the Church full time for life.
So just before attending Bible College, I thought it best to look at Christianity critically and ask some very serious questions about my faith. I questioned the Trinity, why God would need a son, and why the human sacrifice of Jesus, as stated in the Bible, was needed to provide me with forgiveness.
I questioned the Christian belief of how all the righteous people in the Old Testament were "saved" and in heaven if Jesus wasn't even born yet. I pondered serious questions about Christianity that I had neglected to ask my whole life.
The answers I received from Christians on these theological issues "which are the basis of the faith in Christianity," defied all reason and were absolutely beyond any logical thinking.
Why would God give us a wonderful brain and then expect us to temporarily stop using it? Because that is what Christianity is asking people to do when they say you just must have faith. That is blind faith.
Realizing that I had always accepted Christianity, with blind faith for my entire life and never had questioned it was perplexing to me. How could I have not realized this before?
I could not find the answers in the Bible. Once I realized that the Trinity was a myth and that God is powerful enough to "save" someone without the need for help from a son or anyone or anything else. Things changed. My entire faith in Christianity fell apart. I could no longer believe in Christianity or be a Christian.
I left the Church for good and my wife dutifully left with me, as she was having trouble accepting Christianity too. This was the start of my spiritual journey. I was now without a religion but believed in a God.
This was a very hard time for me and my family as Christianity was all we had ever known. I had to search for the truth. I began studying various religions and found them as false one after another. Until, I heard about Islam.
Islam!!! What was that? As far as I could remember, I had never known a Muslim and Islam was not heard or spoken of "as a faith" in my part of Canada. Unless, of course, it was news stories talking bad about Islam. For me at that time, Islam was not even a consideration. Not on my religious radar at all.
But then I started to read a little about Islam. Then, I kept reading a little more. Then, I read the Quran. This wonderful revelation of truth changed my life forever. I immediately started to study every piece of information pertaining to Islam I could get my hands on.
I discovered the nearest mosque was about 100 miles away from my city. So I promptly loaded the family van and drove my family to this mosque. On the way, I was very nervous but also very excited at the same time.. I asked myself, was I even allowed in the mosque because I wasn't an Arab or a Muslim?
However, after arriving at the mosque, I quickly realized I had nothing to fear. I was greeted by the Imam and the Muslims with a most warm greeting. I found them very nice. Nothing like the bad things the news always said about Muslims.
They gave me a book by Ahmed Deedat and assured me I could be a Muslim. I studied all the material on Islam they gave me. I appreciated these books very much because our local library had only 4 books on Islam.
After studying I was in shock. How could I have been a Christian for so long and never heard the truth? I now believed in Islam. I knew it and I wanted to convert.
I was put in contact with the small Muslim community in my city. On March 24th 2006 I went to the Mosque. Just before Friday prayer started and with most of the local Muslim Community present as witness; I testified that" La illaha ill Allah, Muhammadur Rasul Allah": "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. I was now a Muslim. It was the best day of my life. I love Islam and have peace now.
Difficult times have come since I became a Muslim. When people started realizing I was now a Muslim they would shun me or laugh at me, most of our old Christian friends have never talked to us again. My parents have all but disowned me.
I love being a Muslim and it doesn't matter if some of my fellow Canadians think of me as odd for becoming a Muslim. Why? The reason is that I alone, am the one that will have to answer to Allah after my death.
Allah is the giver of strength and Almighty Allah has helped me through all the rough times after my conversion to Islam. I have many, many Muslim Brothers now.
I have legally changed my first name to Abdullah, which I like very much. I am now the first and only Muslim Chaplain approved to work at the local hospital in my City. I am a Muslim and I am truly happy. All thanks be to Allah.
Excerpted from: http://www.islamonline.net/
(The First Jewish Rabbi Convert to Islam)
Al-Husayn ibn Salam was a Jewish rabbi in Yathrib [Madinah] who was widely respected and honored by the people of the city, even by those who were not Jewish.
He was known for his piety and goodness, his upright conduct, and his truthfulness.
Al-Husayn lived a peaceful and gentle life but he was serious, purposeful and organized in the way he spent his time. For a fixed period each day, he would worship, teach and preach in the temple.
Then he would spend some time in his orchard, looking after date palms, pruning and pollinating. Thereafter, to increase his understanding and knowledge of his religion, he would devote himself to the study of the Torah.
In this study, it is said he was particularly struck by some verses of the Torah which dealt with the coming of a Prophet who would complete the message of previous Prophets. Al-Husayn therefore took an immediate and keen interest when he heard reports of the appearance of a Prophet in Makkah.
What follows is his story, in his own words:
When I heard of the appearance of the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) I began to make enquiries about his name, his genealogy, his characteristics, his time and place and I began to compare this information with what is contained in our books.
From these enquiries, I became convinced about the authenticity of his prophethood and I affirmed the truth of his mission. However, I concealed my conclusions from the Jews. I held my tongue.
Then came the day when the Prophet, peace be upon him, left Makkah and headed for Yathrib. When he reached Yathrib and stopped at Quba, a man came rushing into the city, calling out to people and announcing the arrival of the Prophet.
At that moment, I was at the top of a palm tree doing some work. My aunt, Khalidah bint Al-Harith, was sitting under the tree. On hearing the news, I shouted: "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!" (God is Great! God is Great!)
When my aunt heard me, she remonstrated with me: "May God frustrate you... By God, if you had heard that Moses was coming you would not have been more enthusiastic."
"Auntie, he is really, by God, the 'brother' of Moses and follows his religion. He was sent with the same mission as Moses." She was silent for a while and then said: "Is he the Prophet about whom you spoke to us who would be sent to confirm the truth preached by previous (Prophets) and complete the message of his Lord?"
"Yes," I replied.
Without any delay or hesitation, I went out to meet the Prophet. I saw crowds of people at his door. I moved about in the crowds until I reached close to him.
The first words I heard him say were: "O people! Spread peace... Share food... Pray during the night while people (normally) sleep... and you will enter Paradise in peace."
I looked at him closely. I scrutinized him and was convinced that his face was not that of an imposter. I went closer to him and made the declaration of faith that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
The Prophet turned to me and asked: "What is your name?" "Al-Husayn ibn Salam," I replied. "Instead, it is now Abdullah ibn Sallam," he said (giving me a new name). "Yes" I agreed. "Abdullah ibn Salam it shall be. By Him who has sent you with the Truth, I do not wish to have another name after this day."
I returned home and introduced Islam to my wife, my children and the rest of my household. They all accepted Islam including my aunt Khalidah who was then an old lady. However, I advised them then to conceal our acceptance of Islam from the Jews until I gave them permission. They agreed.
Subsequently, I went back to the Prophet (peace be upon him), and said: "O Messenger of God! The Jews are a people (inclined to) slander and falsehood. I want you to invite their most prominent men to meet you. (During the meeting however), you should keep me concealed from them in one of your rooms. Ask them then about my status among them before they find out of my acceptance of Islam. Then invite them to Islam. If they were to know that I have become a Muslim, they would denounce me and accuse me of everything base and slander me."
The Prophet kept me in one of his rooms and invited the prominent Jewish personalities to visit him. He introduced Islam to them and urged them to have faith in God.
They began to dispute and argue with him about the Truth. When he realized that they were not inclined to accept Islam, he put the question to them:
"What is the status of Al-Husayn ibn Salam among you?"
"He is our sayyid (leader) and the son of our sayyid. He is our rabbi and our alim (scholar), the son of our rabbi and alim."
"If you come to know that he has accepted Islam, would you accept Islam also?" asked the Prophet.
"God forbid! He would not accept Islam. May God protect him from accepting Islam," they said, horrified.
At this point I came out in full view of them and announced: "O assembly of Jews! Be conscious of God and accept what Muhammad has brought. By God, you certainly know that he is the Messenger of God and you can find prophecies about him and mention of his name and characteristics in your Torah. I for my part declare that he is the Messenger of God. I have faith in him and believe that he is true. I know him."
"You are a liar," they shouted. "By God, you are evil and ignorant, the son of an evil and ignorant person." And they continued to heap every conceivable abuse on me.
Here ends his own narration.
Abdullah ibn Salam approached Islam with a soul thirsty for knowledge. He was passionately devoted to the Quran and spent much time reciting and studying its beautiful and sublime verses. He was deeply attached to the noble Prophet and was constantly in his company.
He spent much of his time in the masjid, engaged in worship, in learning and in teaching. He was known for his sweet, moving and effective way of teaching study circles of Sahabah who assembled regularly in the Prophet's mosque.
Abdullah ibn Salam was known among the Sahabah as a man from the people of Paradise. This was because of his determination on the advice of the Prophet to hold steadfastly to the 'most trustworthy handhold' that is belief in and total submission to God.
Excerpted from: http://www.islamonline.net/
why Mormon priest converted to Islam? part 1 by mazen adel