| Friday, October 29, 2010
| Story: Lauren Booth
| In-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has converted to Islam after a visit to Iran. In that country, Lauren Booth - Cherie Blair's sister - had something which he said was "pure experience".
The Guardian reports that journalists and broadcasters are now wearing the headscarf every time out of the house. He also always perform prayers five times and visited the local mosque every time there is time.
Lauren Booth decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.
"It was Tuesday night, I sat down and felt a spiritual injection drugged, when I felt the real happiness and joy," he said in an interview. When he returned to England, he decided to embrace Islam.
Booth work for Press TV, Iran news channel that broadcast dalama English. He also no longer consume food and drink haram and now read the Qur'an every day. Prior to his spiritual awakening in Iran, he had "sympathy" to Islam and spent lots of time for the Palestinians.
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 11:58 AM
| Tuesday, July 13, 2010
| Mesut Ozil, Baca Alqur`an Sebelum Tanding
| lepas dari aksi para pemain naturalisasi yang berasal dari keluarga imigran. Mesut Ozil, pemain bernomor punggung 8, adalah salah satu di antaranya. Pria kelahiran Jerman berusia 21 tahun ini berasal dari keluarga imigran asal Kota Zonguldak di Utara Turki. Ia memiliki kemahiran dan improvisasi tinggi di tengah lapangan.
Kepiawaiannya itu membuat Jerman tak perlu khawatir dalam penguasaan lapangan tengah. Tidak hanya Ozil, bahkan kakaknya, Mutlu juga merupakan seorang pemain sepak bola yang tampil untuk klub Heßler 06 di Gelsenkirchen.
Pria yang kini tengah membela Werder Bremen tersebut memiliki keunggulan pada kaki kirinya.
Tampil pertama kali membela klub Rot-Weiss Essen, Ozil kemudian mencoba peruntungannya di Schalke tahun 2005 hingga 2008. Kemudian dengan transfer sebesar 4,3 juta Euro, Ozil bermarkas di Werder Bremen hingga kontraknya bersama klub Jerman tersebut habis Juni 2011 mendatang.
Boleh dikatakan kesempatan Ozil mempertontonkan permainan impresifnya, berkat Cidera yang dialami Ballack. Hampir tidak masuk pada skuad timnas Jerman, Ozil saat ini malah menjadi pemain yang diprediksi menjadi “bintang masa depan”.
Kinerjanya ketika Jerman berhasil melibas Inggris 4 – 1, membuat banyak mata terpesona dan menyatakan ingin meminang pemain yang di anggap paling bersinar di antara 11 pemain Jerman.
INGIN KE LIGA PRIMER
Pemain yang dibanderol 15 juta Euro oleh Bremen ini, menyatakan keinginanya untuk bermain di Liga Primer. Sejumlah Klub besar Eropapun mulai mengincar dirinya. Sebut saja Chelsea, Manchester United dan Barcelona yang dikabarkan siap memboyong ‘Messi Jerman’ ini ke Klubnya.
“Saya sudah melihat bagaimana Michael Ballack di Chelsea, dan apa saja yang bisa didapat dengan bermain di klub besar. Hal – hal seperti inilah yang menggoda saya dan berpikir untuk bermain di sana,” ungkap Ozil seperti dikutip harian Inggris The Sun.
Teknik dan sentuhan indah Ozil pada si kulit bundar yang sukar ditebak oleh lawan, merupakan suatu sensasi yang jarang dilihat pada sepakbola modern saat ini.
Pria yang lahir pada 15 oktober, 21 tahun silam ini, tengah terikat pertunangan dengan Anna-Maria Lagerblom, yang merupakan saudara perempuan dari penyanyi Sarah Connor, yang menyatakan ke islamannya pada Juni 2010 mengikuti keyakinan Ozil yang merupakan seorang muslim yang taat. Ozil pernah dipergoki tengah membaca Alqur’an sebelum bertanding di ruang ganti pemain.
source: poskota online
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 12:36 PM
| Friday, March 05, 2010
| Brother Ali: Islam & Music
|"Our prophet is a walking example of what human excellence can be and all the potentials that is inside of a human being," Brother Ali says.
Brother Ali has a very interesting explanation for what changed him from an angry, struggling teen growing in the Midwest to a famed Hip-Hop star who tours the world with his music. "There have been a lot of life-changing moments," Brother Ali told Islamonline.net. Some of the big ones were becoming involved with Islam and being involved with music."
Ali was born Jason Newman, with the rare genetic condition of Albinism, which is also accompanied by visual difficulties.
His childhood was marked by cruelty and exclusion by his white classmates. "I was kind of an outcast as a kid," he recalls, adding he felt most at home amongst African Americans. "When I come across white people and hear all the racism and the white supremacy, it makes me really confused and angry and upset."
But Ali, 33, says that Islam, which he embraced at the age of 15, helped him go through his difficult times, from parting ways with his wife of 10 years, to becoming homeless and trying to secure custody of his son. "Islam helped me with a lot of those things. It helped me understand myself and the world better."
For Brother Ali, who has recently wrapped up a world tour for his fifth album "Us," it was not an easy journey to rise and solidify his place amongst the Hip Hop elite. He says it is Islam and Prophet Muhammad that led him from being the angry, struggling teen growing in the Midwest to the famed Hip-Hop star who tours the world with his music.
"One of the main messages through out the Qu’ran and from the traditions of prophet Mohamed is the idea of excellence… that everything Muslims set out to do, they want to perfect it and they want to be excellent. Our prophet is a walking example of what human excellence can be and all the potentials that is inside of a human being. And I am really inspired by that." Ali believes that with his music and his Islam, he is on a mission.
"I believe this is what I was born to do and it is my job and my goal as a Muslim to be the best that I could be." His songs tackle everything from his life struggles, to race relations in America, to wars. In his last album, he presented a song about the war.
"We as Americans are being set to stick to blind generic patriotism. I made the song about this feeling, about the underside of America that we do not really hear about a lot," he explains.
"Because of this song I lost a tour I was looking for. When we were in Australia, the Department Of Homeland Security froze our entire account. And I suspect that this song and the controversy behind it was behind all this."
But Ali, now a father of Soulaila, 2, and Fahim 9, is not ready to compromise on what he believes in. "What is really important when you apply Islam to your life is not to pretend to play a character. That’s why in my music I try to be honest and express myself in the most honest way."
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 9:56 AM
| Tuesday, November 17, 2009
| Story #86 I Was Taught to Hate Islam; Tina Styliandou's story
|"All the "caricatures" and slander against Muhammad which is published now by the media, was part of our lessons and our exams!"
I was born in Athens, Greece , to Greek Orthodox parents. My father's family lived in Turkey, Istanbul for most of their lives, and my father was born and raised there. They were wealthy, well–educated, and as most Christian Orthodox who lived in an Islamic country, they held on to their religion.
A time came when the Turkish government decided to kick the majority of Greek citizens out of Turkey and confiscate their wealth, houses, and businesses. So my father's family had to return back to Greece empty-handed. This is what the Turkish Muslims did to them, and this validated, according to them, their hatred towards Islam.
My mother's family was living on a Greek island just on the border between Greece and Turkey. During a Turkish attack, the Turks occupied the island, burnt their houses, and in order to survive, they escaped to the Greek mainland. Even more reason to hate the Turkish Muslims then!
Greece was for more than 400 years occupied by Turks, and we were taught to believe that for every crime committed towards the Greeks, Islam was responsible. The Turks were Muslims and their crimes were reflecting their religious beliefs. This was actually a very wise plan of the Greek Orthodox Church (religion and politics in Greece are the same thing) to build hatred in the hearts of the Greeks against Islam, in order to protect their religion and prevent people from converting to Islam.
So for hundreds of years we were taught in our history and religious books to hate and make fun of the Islamic religion.
In our books, Islam was actually not a religion and Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not a prophet! He was just a very intelligent leader and politician who gathered rules and laws from the Jews and the Christians, added some of his own ideas and conquered the world.
At school, we were taught to make fun of him and of his wives or his Companions. All the "caricatures" and slander against him which are published today by the media were actually part of our lessons and our exams!
Alhamdulillah (thank God), Allah protected my heart, and hatred against Islam didn't enter it.
Other Greeks have also succeeded to rid themselves of the burden of the Orthodox religious inheritance placed on their shoulders and they have opened, by the will of Allah, their eyes, ears, and hearts to see that Islam is a true religion sent by Allah, and Muhammad is a true prophet, and the seal of all prophets.
Muslims believe that Allah sent messengers to mankind as a guidance to them, starting from Adam, Noah, Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them all). But Allah's final message was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It was a great help to me that both of my parents were not very religious themselves. They rarely practiced their religion and used to take me to church only during weddings or funerals.
What drove my father away from his religion was the corruption he was seeing daily among the priests. How could these people preach for God and goodness, and at the same time steal from the church's funds, buy villas, and own Mercedes cars, and spread homosexuality amongst them? Are these the righteous representatives of the religion who will guide us, correct us, and lead us closer to God? He was fed up with them and this led him to become an atheist.
The churches lost most of their followers, at least in my country, because of their actions. In Islam a sheikh or scholar of the religion helps and guides others with full passion and only with the desire to please Allah and earn their way to Paradise.
In Christianity to become a priest is a profitable occupation. This corruption "within" drives many young people away from the religion they were born with and leads them to search for something else.
As a teenager I loved to read a lot and I wasn't really satisfied or convinced with Christianity. I had belief in God, fear and love for Him, but everything else confused me.
I started searching around but I never searched towards Islam (maybe due to the background I had against it).
So alhamdulillah He had mercy on my soul and guided me from darkness to light, from Hell to Paradise God willing.
He brought into my life my husband, a born Muslim, planted the seed of love into our hearts and lead us to marriage without us really paying attention to the religious differences.
My husband was willing to answer any question I had concerning his religion, without humiliating my beliefs (no matter how wrong they were) and without ever putting any pressure on me or even asking me to change my religion.
After 3 years of being married, having the chance to know more about Islam and to read the noble Quran, as well as other religious books, I was convinced that there is no such a thing as a trinity, nor was Jesus God.
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God, Who has no son, nor partner, and that none has the right to be worshipped but Him alone! No one shares His divinity, nor His attributes.
In the Quran Allah described Himself. He said:
[Say: He is God, the One. God, the eternally Besought of all! He begets not nor is He begotten. and there is none like unto Him."] (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)
No one has the right to be invoked, supplicated, prayed to or shown any act of worship but Allah alone.
The religion of Islam is the acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of Allah which were revealed to His final Prophet Muhammad.
I became a Muslim, keeping it secret from my family and friends for many years. We lived with my husband in Greece trying to practice Islam, but it was extremely difficult, almost impossible.
In my home town there are no mosques, no access to Islamic studies, no people praying, or fasting, or women wearing hijab.
There are only some Muslim immigrants who came to Greece for a better financial future and who let the Western lifestyle attract them and eventually corrupt them. As a result, they do not follow their religion and they are completely lost.
It was incredibly difficult to perform our Islamic duties, especially for me, as I wasn't born as a Muslim, and didn't have an Islamic education.
My husband and I had to pray and fast with the use of calendars, no Adhan (the Muslim call for Prayer) in our ears, and no Islamic Ummah (community of Muslims) to support us. We felt that with each passing day we were stepping backwards. Our faith was decreasing and the wave was taking us.
So when my daughter was born, we decided, in order to save our own souls and our daughter's, if God wills, we have to migrate to an Islamic country. We didn't want to raise her in a western open environment where she would struggle to maintain her identity and might end up lost.
Thank Allah, He has guided us and gave us the chance to migrate to an Islamic country, where we can hear the sweet words of the Adhan, and we can increase our knowledge and love for Him, and our beloved Prophet Muhammad.
Source: readingislam (my journey to Islam)
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 2:31 PM
| Story #85 An Irish Dentist Embraces Islam; Roger Hadden
|"My conversion changed my life completely, and looking back I know I made the correct decision"...
My name is Roger Hadden, and I am originally from Dungannon in Northern Ireland. I am a dentist currently working in England. I have lived in Northern Ireland and Scotland, and I am now based in England. I was raised as a Christian, and my parents are born-again Christians. Although I was raised with the teachings of the Bible, I did not particularly adhere to its principles. I suppose I was like most British youth, in that I liked to have fun but maybe didn't know where the limits were set.
While I did not practice any religion, I always believed that there was a God. I was scientifically minded, but realized that acknowledging there was a Big Bang did not necessarily rule out the possibility of there being a God who controlled and planned this event.
We could not have come out of nothing, and we did not create ourselves, so we must have been created. I thought about God from time to time, but it never had a real impact on my heart. My first encounter with Islam I suppose was the media, but I tend not to judge people or things until I see or find out about them myself and hear both sides of the story.
When I went to university I met many Muslims. At that time we discussed religion a little, but I was not seriously thinking about becoming religious. My desires were too strong, so I just wanted to enjoy myself.
At that time, I knew that at some stage I would want to change my ways and become a Christian. I then would also want to find out about other religions and understand what makes people believe in them. When I was in final year at university, I made plans to reform myself and become as my parents, a "born-again Christian". So I started my research with reading the Bible. The concept of the Trinity always bothered me, and it was my main aim to understand it. I remember as a child wanting to ask God for something. I was not sure whether to pray to God or to pray to Jesus. I decided to pray to God as I knew if He created everything, then He will hear me and help me.
I spoke to some ministers, and several attempts were made to explain the Trinity. None of them convinced me. I continued to read the Bible, searching for the truth.
Obviously I am not a scholar in the Christian religion but the Trinity issue bugged me. Why did the Old Testament prophets all pray to God and do righteous acts hoping for God's forgiveness? Who did Jesus pray to?
There was no mention of the Trinity in the Old Testament, and many argue none in the New Testament. I knew God did not change, so there was a problem somewhere. I spoke to my friends at University. Some were Sikhs, Catholics, atheists, and some were Muslims.
When I found out that Islam commands the worship of One God, and not to make any partners with Him, I was very interested. I continued reading the Bible and Christian sources but also started reading some Islamic books.
I read that Muslims believe that God sent his message to mankind through different prophets since Adam the first man. All the prophets believed in only One God and they also believed that there was going to be a day of reckoning when everyone will be raised and judged.
I realized that this is what I believe, and what I thought the Bible was saying to me. I discussed things with my parents, and they were not too impressed. Within a couple of months by the grace of God I became a Muslim.
My conversion changed my life completely, and looking back, I know I made the correct decision, thank God. Instead of living my life in a selfish way pleasing my desires, I try now to help others and please my Lord. I have now been a Muslim for five years and I am still learning new and amazing things about the religion.
Every time I hear something "negative" about the religion, I get the issue explained to me and it turns out to be a very positive and beautiful thing. I am continuing to learn Arabic and the Quran.
In my career it has made me much more focused, and I now desire to do everything to my best ability. My friends at university are often surprised with regards to my change, especially relating to dentistry.
My parents believed I was brainwashed, and many of my friends thought, and still think, it is just a phase. As it has been over five years now, my parents know it is not just a phase.
I first told my parents that I was thinking of becoming a Muslim, and they told me that it was a "hate religion" and that I should not do it. We talked about it for a while, and as I was convinced, I was sure I had to do it. I did not want to be punished in the next life.
A few months later I took the best step and embraced Islam. The same day my Dad bought me a car, not as a conversion gift, rather, it was his kindness and it just happened to be on the same day.
Since university, I have always lived away from my parents but I try to visit them a couple of times a year. Overall though, I feel my relationship with my parents has improved, as I try to be good to them as God commands in the Quran.
I have moved on from university and lost contact with many of my friends, some I speak to now and again, but as with life, we keep moving on and old friends we see less of and new friends are made.
I am currently working as a dentist in the UK. I am working and doing a part time masters program. I am learning Arabic, and I regularly attend Islamic talks and seminars in order to increase my knowledge.
I am married to a very special lady and we have, by the grace of God a beautiful 1-year-old boy named Ismael (Ishmael from the Bible). We are trying to improve as Muslims, and we would like to travel abroad to a Muslim country. Ideally we would both love to study Islam to a higher level, so we are looking for opportunities to fulfill this dream.
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 2:15 PM
| Story #84 My Name Made Me Muslim; Tarik Preston
|"I worship God and I don't worship Jesus because I feel safer worshipping God!"
My name is Tarik Preston. I embraced the religion of Islam in 1988 at the age of 19.
The story of how I came to embrace Islam is not a very long story, and in many respects, I think that the story of how Allah (God) continued to guide me after I entered Islam is more of an inspiring story.
Nevertheless, this story begins with my name. I was given the name Tarik at birth. In the 60s, the 70s, and even the 80s, it wasn't all that unusual for some Americans to give their children African names. Many times, the names they chose from Africa were actually Islamic names, which is what happened with my name.
Throughout my life before Islam I periodically met other people named Tarik, or someone who knew the significance of my name and they would ask me, "Do you know what your name means?" I would reply proudly as I had been taught: "It means 'star of piercing brightness.'"
Sometimes I would add the story of the famous Tariq ibn Ziyad who conquered Spain in the year 711 A.D.Ironically, despite knowing those important facts about the meaning of my name, I did not know the Islamic significance of my name until later, when I was a student in college.
I started college at the age of 16 majoring in pre-med/biology with the intent, at that time, of becoming a doctor. I knew that if I was going to have such an important responsibility, I would need a good methodology to follow in my life.
During my freshman year, I attempted to read the Bible, but Christianity had begun not to make sense to me.
While studying the marvelous complexity of cell biology that year, several of my classmates and I reaffirmed our belief in the Creator and that creation was not an accident as some scientists speculated.
During spring break, I had a theological discussion with my grandmother, with whom I was very close. And she, despite being a Christian, made a remarkable statement that I paid close attention to.
She said: "I worship God and I don't worship Jesus, because I feel safer worshipping God!" She advised me not to pray in the name of Jesus anymore and to just pray to God!
When I returned to college after that conversation, I continued to pray every night before sleeping as I had been taught. But I decided that I would no longer pray in the name of Jesus, and to direct my prayers only to God.
Once I made that decision, I started to feel guilty about praying lying down in bed. So I began to pray kneeling at the side of my bed, which felt better to me.
Still searching for something that would guide me safely through life, one day I asked God to guide me while walking across campus.
During my junior year in college, a fellow student who I knew embraced Islam saw me walking across campus and he greeted me with "as-salamu alaykum" (peace be upon you)! Having grown up in the 1970s in Chicago, I had heard this greeting many times, so I replied: "Wa alaikum us salaam!"
He then asked me if I was a Muslim, to which I replied (at that time), "No. I am United Methodist." He replied: "Oh! I thought you were a Muslim because your name is Tarik!".
Not long after that encounter, he came to a study session that I and a few classmates were having, and he attempted to inform us about Islam. He was very young and very new to Islam himself, so he didn't know very much. But he did warn us about the dangers of worshipping Jesus, the son of Mary.
Of course that was a familiar statement, but I still didn't know much about Islam, but I did learn what Muslims looked like because my friend had a very distinct appearance and demeanor after his conversion.
When I returned home that summer, I took a summer job as a telemarketer where I met a Muslim named Ahmed. Despite being a Puerto Rican convert to Islam, he had the same distinct look and demeanor as my friend from college, so I asked him, "Are you a Muslim?"
He smiled and replied: "Yes Tarik. Are you?"
I answered, "No. I am a United Methodist."
He smiled and said wryly: "With a name like Tarik you should be a Muslim."
He began talking to me about tawheed (the oneness of God). I was impressed with the concept of Islamic monotheism.
Eventually, he invited me over to his house and showed me a copy of the English translation of the Quran. I was very impressed by the respect that he had for this Book, and I asked him if I could borrow it in order to read it. He reluctantly agreed, saying that it was his only copy of the Quran, and he sternly advised me to respect the Book and keep it clean and in a place of respect in my home.
I couldn't wait to read it!
Two weeks later, I invited Ahmed to my house and we sat and talked again about Islam. I informed him that I believed the Quran was the truth and that I wanted to become a Muslim.
The very next day we went together to the Islamic Center in Washington D.C. and I embraced Islam.
A few years after my conversion, Allah blessed me to be able to study Islam at the Islamic University of Medina where I earned an Associate's degree in Arabic language and a Bachelor's degree in Hadith Sciences.
I hope the story of how I came to Islam encourages others to embrace Islam. I also hope that my story encourages my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters to share the true message of Islam with those around them in word and deed.
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 2:02 PM
| Thursday, August 13, 2009
| Story #83 A Roman Catholic Discovers Islam
|Alhamdulillah, I found and read this beautiful story and I read those who think that he, Frank Estrada, made the wrong desicion. May Allah guide more and more people to the truth...
My name is Frank Estrada. I was raised a Roman Catholic. I was so devout, I even hoped to one day serve in the priesthood. I accepted the churches teachings even when I didn't agree with them. I even took every chance I got to convert people in the hopes of bringing them to Allah.
While serving in the US Marines, I did two tours in the Middle East. In a short time, I developed a hatred for Arabs and Islam. After I left active duty, I took a job with a company as a network administrator in Iraq. I worked with a man named Ahmed. In the beginning I didn't trust him simply because of his background. I'm lucky that he was patient with me.
Slowly, due to my ignorance, he taught me about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Quran. He didn't teach me with words. He showed me that Muslims are not evil by his actions. More than that, he taught me the truth of Allah's message.
After I came home, I began to study Islam in earnest. I took a world religions course at Mesa Community College. Though I found the course prejudicial to Islam, it seemed to push me closer to it. I met a young woman named Amal in the class. We would spend hours talking and debating Islam against Catholicism. I found her arguments both logical and reasonable.
I started taking Arabic courses, so I could learn to read and understand the Quran properly. I still have a long way to go. I spoke to everyone I knew that was Muslim but, more than that, I watched them to see if their actions matched their words. I never saw any hypocrisy. I even went to the masjid in Tempe, Arizona to talk to other Muslims and the imam.
What finally brought me to my conversion though, was the Shahadah. I read it and tried to see how it fit with my beliefs. I compared it to the first commandment and found them doubles of each other. It was at that point that I had an epiphany.
Catholicism, whatever else it was, was polytheistic. The realization was shattering to me. I knew at that point that I could not obey the laws of Allah and continue to praise Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as his son.
I talked it over with my wife. She was concerned, to say the least. We spent hours discussing what it would do to our family. She went with me to the masjid where we spoke with a man named Muhammed. Not only was he able to sway her fears, she decided to convert as well.
Becoming Muslim was no doubt the right decision. My friends and family, save my parents, were very supportive. My father would not speak to me for the next three months. My wife's family, to this day is still unsupportive. I have no doubt that Allah will soften their hearts in the future.
I thank Allah for all the people he has brought into my life to show me the truth. I thank him for giving me a mind to understand the truth. More than that, I thank Allah for my loving and understanding wife who has come to the truth with me. I shall end this paper as I began the day. There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 11:01 AM
| Tuesday, July 07, 2009
| Story #82 Abdul-Lateef Abdullah (Steven Eric Krauss)
|My experience in Islam began as a graduate student in New York City in 1998.
Up to that point in my life, for 25 years, I had been a Protestant
Christian, but had not been practicing my religion for quite some time. I
was more interested in “spirituality” and looking for anything that didn’t
have to do with organized religion. To me, Christianity was out of touch and
not relevant to the times. It was hard for me to find anything in it that I
could apply to my everyday life. This disillusion with Christianity led me
to shun everything that claimed to be organized religion, due to my
assumption that they were all pretty much the same, or at least in terms of
their lack of relevance and usefulness.
Much of my frustration with Christianity stemmed from its lack of knowledge
and guidance around the nature of God, and the individual’s relationship to
Him. To me, the Christian philosophy depends on this rather bizarre
intermediary relationship that we are supposed to have with Jesus, who on
one hand was a man, but was also divine. For me, this difficult and very
vague relationship with our Creator left me searching for something that
could provide me with a better understanding of God, and our relationship to
Him. Why couldn’t I just pray directly to God? Why did I have to begin and
end every prayer with “in the name of Jesus Christ?” How can an eternal,
omnipotent Creator and Sustainer also take the form of a man? Why would He
need to? These were just a few of the questions that I could not resolve and
come to terms with. Thus, I was hungry for a more straightforward and lucid
approach to religion that could provide my life with true guidance, not just
dogma that was void of knowledge based in reason.
While in graduate school, I had a Jewish roommate who was a student of the
martial arts. While I was living with him, he was studying an art called
silat, a traditional Malaysian martial art that is based on the teachings of
Islam. When my roommate would come home from his silat classes, he would
tell me all about the uniqueness of silat and its rich spiritual dimension.
As I was quite interested in learning martial arts at the time, I was
intrigued by what I had heard, and decided to accompany my roommate to class
one Saturday morning. Although I did not realize it at the time, my
experience in Islam was beginning that morning at my first silat class in
New York City back on February 28th, 1998. There, I met my teacher, Cikgu
(which means teacher in Malay) Sulaiman, the man who would first orient me
to the religion of Islam. Although I thought I was beginning a career as a
martial artist, that day back in 1998 actually represented my first step
toward becoming Muslim.
From the very beginning, I was intrigued by silat and Islam and began
spending as much time as possible with my teacher. As my roommate and I were
equally passionate about silat, we would go to my teacher’s house and soak
up as much knowledge as we could from him. In fact, upon our completing
graduate school in the spring of 1998, upon his invitation, we spent the
entire summer living with him and his wife. As my learning in silat
increased, so did my learning about Islam, a religion that I had hardly any
knowledge of prior to my experience in silat.
What made my orientation to Islam so powerful was that as I was learning
about it, I was also living it. Because I studied at the home of my teacher,
being in the presence of devout Muslims allowed me to be constantly
surrounded by the sounds, sights and practices of Islam. For as Islam is an
entire lifestyle, when you are in an Islamic environment, you cannot
separate it out from everyday life. Unlike Christianity, which lends toward
a separation between daily life and religion, Islam requires its followers
to integrate worship of Allah into everything we do. Thus, in living with my
teacher, I was immersed in the Islamic deen (lifestyle) and experiencing
first-hand how it can shape one’s entire way of life.
In the beginning, Islam was very different and powerful to me. It was also
very foreign in many ways and the amount of discipline it requires was
difficult to understand. At the time, I was liberal in many ways, and was
used to shunning anything dogmatic or imposed, regardless of where it came
from! As time went on, however, and my understanding of Islam grew, I began
to slowly see that what seemed to be religious dogma was really a lifestyle
put forth to us by our Creator. This lifestyle, I would later learn, is the
straight path to true contentment, not just the sensual and superficial way
of life that my society and culture promote. I realized that the question is
quite simple actually. Who could possibly know better what the best way of
life is for human beings than the all-wise Creator?
From that first silat class in New York City to the day I took my shahadda,
July 30, 1999, I had undergone a thorough self-examination that was
comprised of two major processes. One was to question the culture of the
society I was brought up in, and the second was to question the role I
wanted religion to play in my everyday life. As for my culture, this one was
not as difficult as most people would think.
American culture is highly influential on how we see life because it
constantly bombards us with sensual gratification aimed at appealing to our
worldly desires. In America, happiness is defined by what we have and
consume, thus, the entire culture is geared toward the marketplace. Unless
we are removed from this type environment, it is difficult to see its
drawbacks, which are based on worshipping and putting faith in everything
but God, the only One that can provide us with real, lasting contentment in
Being a social scientist by trade, much of my professional time is spent
trying to address the social ills of our society. As I learned more about
Islam, I came to the conclusion that many societal ills are based on
unhealthy social behavior. Since Islam is a lifestyle focused totally on the
most healthy, positive way of conducting our lives in every setting, then it
is, and will always be, the only real answer to any society’s social
dilemmas. With this realization, not only did I decide that Islam was
relevant to my everyday life, but I began to understand why it is so
different from other religions. Only Islam provides knowledge and guidance
for every aspect of life. Only Islam provides a way to achieve health and
happiness in every dimension of life – physical, spiritual, mental,
financial, etc. Only Islam provides us with a clear life goal and purpose.
And only Islam shows us the proper way to live in and contribute to a
community. Islam is what everyone needs, and what so many who have not found
it yet, are searching for. It is the path to purpose, meaning, health and
happiness. This is because it is the straight path to the source of truth
and real power – Allah.
It was only until I actually became Muslim that I realized just how
encompassing the Islamic lifestyle is. Literally everything we do has one
underlying purpose – to remember Allah. The lifestyle provides us with the
way – not just the understanding – but an actual method of constantly
remembering our Creator in as simple an act as greeting someone, or getting
dressed in the morning, or waking up from sleep. Islam shows us that by
remembering Allah, everything we do becomes focused on Him, and thus becomes
an act of worship. From this, our energy, our thoughts, and our actions all
become redirected away from unhealthy and useless causes, and focused on the
source of all goodness. Thus, we are continuously tapping into His divine
strength, mercy and grace. So, by remembering Allah constantly, we become
stronger and healthier in every aspect of our lives and not distracted by
self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.
There still remain some minor aspects of Islam that have proven to be
somewhat difficult adjustments for me. Nevertheless, I thank Allah everyday
for the ease to which he has allowed me to make the necessary changes in my
life so that I can continue to live in America and still be, Insha-Allah, a
good Muslim. As a white, middle-class American, many cultural aspects of
Islam are quite different from the way in which I grew up. In fact, when I
finally broke the news to my family that I had become Muslim, almost all of
their questions and concerns were related to cultural differences –
marriage, social life, family, etc. They were much less concerned about my
general beliefs about God and religious practice. For my family, friends,
and co-workers, becoming Muslim was not seen necessarily as a negative
change, but it has required a great deal of education about Islam.
Because acquiring knowledge is a critical component to a Muslim’s
development, having a teacher who has taught me how to apply Islam in
everyday life has made all the difference in managing whatever difficulties
I have experienced from my reversion. Having someone knowledgeable you can
turn to whenever you have questions is a wonderful support that every new
shahadda should go out of their way to find. Islam is not a religion that
can be rationalized, in the way that Christianity and Judaism are. It is a
clear path that must be followed just as Allah has laid out for us through
the Qur’an and the lives of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his
companions, and the saints of Islam.
In this day and age, in this society, discerning the path can often be
difficult, especially when we are constantly faced with questions and doubts
from people who on the surface may not be hostile to Islam, but whose
general lack of faith can have a harmful effect on someone who bases
everything they do on their love for Allah. It is also not easy being in an
environment where we are constantly bombarded with sensual temptations that
are seen as ordinary, common aspects of everyday life. But when we have the
support of a knowledgeable, experienced teacher, who is able to apply the
universal teachings of Islam to his life, then the truth becomes clear from
error, exactly how Allah (SWT) describes in the Qur’an. From this, we are
able to understand how to apply Islam correctly to our own lives, and
Insha-Allah receive Allah’s many blessings. The ultimate test, however, of
anyone who claims to have true and right knowledge, is to look at how they
apply it in their own lives. If their actions support their teachings, then
and only then should we look to them for guidance.
My journey to Islam has been a life-altering experience. It is one that with
every passing day, makes me more and more appreciative and thankful to
Almighty Allah. The extent of His mercy can only fully be understood from
the perspective of a Muslim – one who prostrates regularly and submits their
will to that of the Creator.
I look back at my life prior to Islam and reflect on the different ways I
sought guidance. I think back to all the different ideas I once had of who
God really is, and how we can become close to Him. I look back now with a
smile and perhaps even a tear because now I know the truth. Through Islam, I
know why so many people who do not believe have so much fear inside them.
Life can be very scary without God. I know, because I once harbored that
same level of fear. Now, however, I have the ultimate “self-help” program.
It’s the self-help program without the self. It’s the path that puts
everything is in its proper place. Now, life makes sense. Now, life is
order. Now, I know why I am here, where I want to go, what I want my life to
be, how I want to live, and what is most important not just to me, but to
everyone. I only hope and pray that others who have not found the path yet,
can feel the same that I do. Ya arhama rahimeen wal hamdulillahi rabbil
This article appeared on islamfortoday.com and It's published here with kind permission from mr. Abd Lateef
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 12:07 PM
| Friday, June 19, 2009
| Story #81 American Priest Converts
|I have less non Muslim friends now as I cannot participate in the activities that they choose to do for fun but I have developed valuable friendships with Muslim brothers that are better than anything I have had in the past. Insha Allah, if Allah chooses, I would like to go and study Fiqh to further the cause of Islam and benefit the Ummah that I love. All of this was through the grace of Allah and only the mistakes are mine.
Alhumdulillah (Thank God), I have been blessed by Allah with the gift of Islam since 2006. When I was asked to write about the path that I took and how Allah has blessed me, I was hesitant. I have seen others get caught up with personal fame by telling how they came to Islam and I knew that I didn’t want to have the same challenge.
I ask you then to take this story as the work of Allah and focus on his mercy and greatness rather than my story in particular, insha Allah. No one comes to Islam without the mercy of Allah and it is his work not that of the revert that truly matters.
I was born to a nominally Roman Catholic family in Upstate New York. I had a Roman Catholic mother and a Presbyterian father who converted to Catholicism in order to get married. We attended church on Sundays and I went through catechism, first communion, and eventually confirmation within the Roman Catholic Church. When I was young I began to feel a call from Allah. This call I interpreted as a call to the Roman Catholic priesthood and told my mother as such. She, pleased with this, took me to meet the priest at our local parish.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this particular priest was not happy with his vocation and advised me to stay away from the priesthood. This upset me and even today, I do not know how things would have been different if his response had been more positive. From that earlier brush with Allah’s call, and out of my own foolishness and in my teen years, I went the other way. My family broke up at an early age when I was seven and I suffered from the loss of my father who was not present after the divorce.
Starting at the young age of 15, I began to be more interested in nightclubs and parties than the Lord of the Universe. I dreamed of becoming a lawyer, then politician with a penthouse in Manhattan so I could participate in a party lifestyle with style. After I graduated with honors, from my high school, I went to college briefly. But my own twisted focus led me to drop from college and move to Arizona (where I continue to live until now) instead of getting my degree.
This is something that I regret to this day.Once in Arizona, my situation went from bad to worse. I fell in with a much worse crowd than I had at home and began to use drugs. Due to my lack of education, I worked low end jobs and continued to spend my time in drugs, promiscuity, and nightclubs.
During this time, I had my first encounter with a a Muslim. He was a kind man who was attending a local college as a foreign student. He was dating one of my friends and often accompanied us to nightclubs and other parties that we attended. I did not discuss Islam with him but did question him about his culture which he shared freely. Islam did not come up. Again I wonder how things would have been different had he been a practicing Muslim.
My bad lifestyle continued for some years and I won’t belabor it with details. I had lots of trauma, people that I knew died, I was stabbed and otherwise wounded but this is not a tale of the dangers of drugs. I only mention it to state that no matter where you are, Allah can bring you back from it insha Allah. I will fast forward to when I became clean from drugs. Part of the process of getting off of drugs and narcotics is to establish a relationship with a “higher power”.
For most this is God and or other expressions of divinity. I had long before lost my connection to Allah so I went on a search for my higher power. Sadly, I did not find the truth at first. Instead I went to Hinduism, which appealed to me because of its explanation of why suffering had happened to me. I went all into it, even changing my name to a Hindu name. It was enough to keep me off of drugs and move my life in a more positive direction, for which I am grateful. Eventually, though I began to again feel the tug from Allah. This began to show me that for me, Hinduism was not the true way.
Allah continued to needle me until I left Hinduism and I began to go back to Christianity. I approached the Roman Catholic Church to become a priest, as this is what I felt Allah was calling me for, and they offered me an education and a post in a monastery in New Mexico. By this time my family (mother, brother and sister) had moved to Arizona and I had close relationships with many friends.
Needless to say I was not yet ready. Instead I found an independent catholic church that I could study through their seminary program from home and become ordained and assigned where I was already living.This independent Catholic Church also appealed to my liberal ideals that I had developed through my years living rough. I attended their seminary program and in 2005 I was ordained a priest.
My first ministry in my new role was interfaith relations. My assignment was to visit and learn about the different faith traditions in the Phoenix Metro area and share with them an interfaith message of peace and understanding from my church. Most Christian traditions I already had studied and knew. I brushed up on Judaism and other Far East religions. I was what is known as a worker-priest, which means I had a job at the same time as I was doing my ministry. I had changed from working in corporate America to working in a behavioral health agency.
My post was down the street from a Masjid. I thought that this was my chance to learn about Islam for my interfaith relations. I went to the mosque and met some very nice brothers who directed me to the mosque in Tempe, Arizona. I also began to read about Islam independently and was startled by how touched I was with what I was reading. Allah had me now but I did not yet know it. I went to the Tempe mosque and was to meet a wonderful teacher in the form of Ahmad Al Akoum.
Br. Al Akoum, who is the regional director of Muslim American Society, had an introduction to Islam class open for people of all faiths that I began to attend. While attending this class, I began to see that Islam was the truth. It was only a short time later that I gave Shahadah at the Tempe mosquewith the Sheikh Ahmed Shqeirat. Both Br. Al Akoum and Sheikh Shqeirat are great men and without them I would not have been as comfortable coming into Islam. I resigned from the church and have been Muslim ever since, Alhumdulillah.
My life has changed dramatically for the better since embracing Islam. At first my family was saddened that I left the priesthood and didn’t understand, even feared, Islam. But since my way of interacting with them, based on my increased happiness and my striving to adhere to Quran and Sunnah, has changed—they have seen that it is a good thing. Br. Al Akoum knew that the first year is always toughest for the revert. To lessen the stress of it, he made sure that I was included in multiple community activities and met lots of good practicing brothers. It is only through contact with other Muslims that a revert can be successful.
Left on his or her own, it can be too daunting and their faith may slip too far, so if you know a revert, please visit them at least once every three days. I have advanced further in my job because of my new base as a Muslim. I became a manager of a program that seeks to prevent alcohol and drug abuse, HIV, and Hepatitis for at risk populations.
I have become a volunteer in not only Muslim American Society but also the Muslim Youth Centre of Arizona and other Muslim causes. I have been recently nominated to the board of the Tempe mosque where I first took shahadah. Alhumdulillah it has also clarified who are my true friends versus who were not.
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 2:44 PM
| Tuesday, June 09, 2009
| Islam & the West
How the relationship between Islam and the West at this time. Do not think first, just read the following article that was published on readingislam.com...
Islam... A Threat to the West?
By Reading Islam Team
In Camden, southwest of Sydney, Australia, Muslims were disappointed at a court's decision to turn down their case for building Islamic schools for the young Australian Muslim community. This incident coincides with a new documentary that was released recently by the Christian Evangelicals in Europe to urge Europeans to act against the increasing number of Muslims in Europe, which they claim will eventually change European culture and life style.
This wave against Islam came just as American president Barack Obama addressed the Islamic world from Cairo, Egypt, in hope of starting a new relationship with the Muslim world.
Is Islam a real threat to the West? Are Muslims determined to impose on others their way of life, which some claim undermines Western values?
Should Western Muslims be forced to choose between their nationality and their religion? Why do some people have the assumption that once a Westerner turns to Islam, then he or she immediately belongs to "the Muslim camp" and is no longer one of"us" anymore?
Is Islam the only identity Muslims can have? Does it wipe out other multiple identities that can easily intersect with each other?
Also read the opinions and comments about Islam and whether it's truly a threat to the west here...
|posted by Muallaf Muslim Convert @ 2:43 PM