What will happen to us when we die? Where would we go? Why are we here? And many more questions were running through my mind. As I am sure that nearly every person, wherever they live, come across these questions at least once in their lifetime, I strived to find answers for them.
I was born and raised in Australia in a Catholic family with an Italian background. I believed in God, believed that Jesus was the son of God, (only because that was what I was taught in school), and believed that the bible was from God. At the age of 19, I wanted to see what the bible said. I wanted to know what I had to do in order to be a good Catholic. So I turned to the Bible. Surprisingly, I came across some laws in the Bible which I had never heard of in my life. Here are some examples:
In Deuteronomy 14:8-9, it says: “The hog is unclean because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud; of their flesh, you must not eat nor may you touch their carcass.” “Of the creatures that live in water, those that have fins and scales you may eat”.
This was a shock to me, as I previously went to Italy and visited many churches including the Vatican in Rome, and never came across this before.
Continuing to read my way through chapter Deuteronomy, I noticed chapter 18:14-16 called ‘The promise to send a Prophet’. It says:
“Then Moses said, ‘In the land, you are to occupy, people follow the advice of those who practice divination and look for omens, but the Lord your God does not allow this. Instead, he will send you a Prophet like me from among your own people and you are to obey him.” At this point, I was wondering who this Prophet was. After doing research, either on the internet or talking to religious people, I discovered that Christians believe that this Prophet was supposed to be Jesus. Yet this spun me out. Christians do not believe that Jesus was a Prophet!
In that verse, Prophet Moses said that the Prophet who is going to be sent was like him. Jesus did not have many similarities to Moses. Let me give you some brief examples:
• In Christianity, Moses is considered a prophet, and Jesus is considered the son or man or God.
• Jesus healed the sick.
• Jesus' birth and death was different from Prophet Moses’s
• Jesus was rejected by his people, mainly the Jews. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Prophet Moses had difficulties but were both accepted by their people.
Yet Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is very similar to Prophet Moses:
• Both Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) migrated, Prophet Moses to Median and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to Medina.
• Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) married and had children, Prophet Jesus did not.
• Both Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) and Prophet Moses’s deaths were natural deaths, while Prophet Jesus according to Christianity had an unusual death as they believe he was crucified on the cross.
• The birth of Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (BBUH&HP) were natural births, unlike Prophet Jesus, as both Catholics and Muslims believe that he was born from Immaculate Conception (that his mother was a virgin yet had conceived a baby).
I became very confused. The Trinity could never be explained to me, I was told to ‘have faith’ whenever I asked for the Trinity to be explained to me. Another point that did not make sense to me was ‘original sin’. How could a baby, let’s say a few months old, be accountable for a sin committed hundreds or thousands of years ago, before it even existed. (According to the Catholics) When in Deuteronomy chapter 24:16-17 says:
“Parents are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their children, and children are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their parents, people are only to be put to death only for a crime they themselves have committed”.
So if we do not get punished for basically anything except our own sins, how could every person adopt the sin from his forefathers? (That is if we believe that Adam sinned, which is another contradiction altogether).
One more shocking passage I read after all of the above discoveries I made was in Corinthians 1 11:57:
“And any woman who prays or proclaims God’s message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to cut her hair, she should cover her head”.
At this point I was beginning to become very worried, I thought to myself that the Catholic religion is quite strict. There were serious guidelines to follow and if they are not followed then there will be punishment for that individual who committed that sin.
I then looked a little into Judaism and Islam, but I was totally drawn to Islam. I was afraid of my family’s reaction to my new life, but I felt like I needed a little more convincing reason before I made my decision. My research had been done. I wanted more proof. I wrote a small prayer on a piece of paper and read it each night before I went to bed. I was asking God to show me in a dream what the correct path was that I had to follow. As I rarely dreamt, I thought, “If God wants to show me, He will”.
Within the next few nights, I had a dream of a Sheikh praying in a mosque or a prayer hall. When I woke up I was amazed, but still that night, I asked God for another dream. Now, I look back and I realize that Satan was trying to get me. Within the next few nights, I had a dream of myself and my friend, who is also a new convert, wearing Hijab running away from my father, so that he would not see me like that. I was totally convinced. Subhanallah, how Allah answered my prayers.
Through the first year of my conversion to Islam, I hid it from my family, but they knew this was where I was heading. My father researched Islam for about one year. He finally acknowledged that he had no reason not to accept me as a Muslim. He told me to wear Hijab and that he would walk proudly with me in the streets. He stood by me when any relative questioned what I did and still does to this day.
I was also working, sometimes I felt like I could not explain these things to certain people, especially without them thinking that I had been brainwashed and so on. So once I converted I asked my manager if I was able to pray at work on my lunch break. My boss asked me if there was anything that I needed in particular; all I required was a private room or space. At the end of the day, they could not say no otherwise they would be discriminating. I just wanted to make sure that I was not going to be in the way or a hassle for my co-workers as I felt like that was a part of my duty to present myself as a Muslim. People began noticing that I was praying or going into this room for about 15 minutes a day. Questions began to raise, naturally. I always reassured people that I did not mind if they had any questions and that I would try and answer them to the best of my ability. The day also came when I went with Hijab to work. People took it really well, at least to my face. They began to realize that I was the same person if not a better one. They knew I had done this on my own, I was not in love with anyone, it was not a typical story and that is what, I think, made it even more intriguing for them.
Not long after I put my Hijab on, I met someone. This person was interested in marriage. It was definitely something I wanted to do, get married, and have children, even before I became a Muslim. I was lucky enough to meet the person I am now married to today. He is also a practicing Muslim; he was definitely who I was waiting for, a religious practicing Muslim. He is down to earth, funny and respectful to me and my family. This was obviously another challenging part of my life where we both had to convince our families that we were well-matched. After some time, fortunately, they accepted that quite well. I could not have had better in-laws and once again my father could not have been happier with the son-in-law he has today.
We have now been happily married for 1 year, Alhamdulillah.
I converted nearly three and a half years ago and every day I am convinced more and more that I have made the correct decision. Allah is so merciful. There is always much to learn and always a goal to work towards. Whether it is trying to say your prayer (Salat) better or to eliminate your sins.
I hope by writing this story, I would help others on this path. Whether you are a non-Muslim, a convert, or a Muslim born with a Muslim family. Just remember that our Creator did not send us here on this earth to wander around for 70-100 years, more or less, not letting us know how we got here or where we are going. When we buy a TV, it comes with a manual, with instructions on how to use it, what not to do in case it gets damaged and so on.
Allah created us, He knows everything about us. Our Quran is like our manual, our guidance from our Creator informing us what to do to benefit ourselves and what not to do because it could be harmful to us. If He did not supply these details for us, that would be cruel, yet Allah again shows us His mercy and kindness. This life is a journey and is so short compared to eternity.
Do not wait till you are 20, 30, or 40 to start practicing religion, since we are not in control of our death. Do not wait for your mum to put the Hijab on, because your life might be taken before hers.
Keep in mind that Allah is Merciful. He has sent 124,000 prophets, who covered almost all the nations. These people are perfect role models for our everyday lives. Our last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has left us the Holy Quran, the words of God and his Holy Progeny (AS). What further guidance do we need when perfection has been given to us?
As a child, I always had access to a short-wave radio. I used to listen to the BBC World Service about the Middle East. I also loved the music from that part of the world, and I probably was listening to the Quran being recited but did not know it at the time.
As I grew older, I continued to listen to the BBC World Service. Back then, they had a program called Words of Faith in which they had a five- to an eight-minute talk given by a different religious speaker each day of the week representing all the major religions in the United Kingdom. Out of all the speakers, the Muslims were the ones I loved listening to most.
Every time the Muslim representative spoke, I wanted to find out more about Islam. My impression of the religion was that the person who practices Islam is a happy person, not like the mean people portrayed by the American media. I just refused to believe people that loved Allah so much could be like the people portrayed by the media. Because I come from a Jewish background, the thing that united me with Islam was the belief that Allah had no partners.
An important time in my life came when I met a real Muslim but did not know it yet. I was doing contracting computer programming work in New York State when I had a strong urge to visit the United Kingdom.
Sometime after I started working at LogoTech, I found out that my supervisor, Anis Karim, was Muslim. I asked him if he knew how I could get a copy of the Quran. To my surprise, he obtained a copy of the Quran for me within a few days. […] The next day, while eating breakfast, I started to read. Later I found out that “read” is what Allah had the Angel Gabriel instruct our beloved Prophet to do, even though he could not read or write!
Well, words can’t describe how I felt when I read just that small portion of the world’s most holy book. It took only 10 pages, when, at that point, I told myself that this religion was for me. This occurred around 1990. The more I read, the more I wanted to know, and I loved what I was reading.
At the time, I did not know anything about how to pray or any of the details of Islam. If Anis had invited me to go to the masjid [mosque] in London, I would have gone with him. […] At the time, I knew that Muslims prayed several times a day, and so I started to do so at night before I went to bed and in the morning when I woke up.
[…] My sister asked me if I could help her find Islamic jewelry as a gift. At that time I had no idea that there were Muslims in Huntsville.
Then Allah put things into place for me. I remembered that there was a shop called Crescent Imports, which I thought was run by Muslims. It was not. It was run by the group called Nation of Islam. […]
I do thank Allah for having them direct me to the masjid. […]I spoke to the imam, and he invited me to perform salat (Prayer) with the Muslim brothers. This was a turning point in my life. I loved it and started to visit the masjid once a week at night. Then I started to visit it several times a week at night. The urge to come more times was stronger and I now perform most of my prayers at the masjid, except `Asr and Maghrib prayers when I am at work.
In November of 1996, I publicly made Shahadah. At work, I pray Zhuhr and Asr by myself or with other Muslim brothers in a small mosque in my workplace. I proudly carry my prayer rug in the hallways at my work in an attempt to get people to ask me what they are. When they do ask me about it, I tell them that I am Muslim and the mats are what I use to pray on. Also, my work area, including my computer, is decorated with Islamic artwork. My background on my computer is usually the Kaaba or our masjid.
Now that I am a Muslim, there is no turning back to disbelief!
To read the complete version of this text, go to this link
First of all, I would like to start by saying that this true story is not for my own fame or admiration, but for the sake of my Lord and your Lord God. All praises due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful Owner of the Day of Judgment. I would like to repeat to you something I heard: the journey of a thousand miles has to start with the first step, and this is the first part of my journey and conversion to Islam.
My name is Malik Mohammed Hassan, and I have recently converted to Islam. When I was in junior high school, I was first introduced to Islam by reading the book Roots by Alex Haley. It taught me a little bit about the strong will that most Muslims possess, myself included. It also introduced me to Allah. I had never heard of Allah in his real form until I read that book, and I was very curious. I then started reading about The Nation of Islam (specifically Malcolm X), and it fascinated me how devoted he was to God, especially after he left the self-serving Nation of Islam. Reading about Malcolm made me think about a God who (for a change) did not have any physical … limitations and, being a totally blind person, it made me relate to these people: the people who Malcolm and Haley referred to as Muslims. I continued reading what I could about Islam, which wasn’t as much as it should have been. My reading material was very limited, because like I said above, I am a totally blind person, and the material available about Islam in Braille or on tape was not only very little but also very general. I believe the reason was that the material that I had access to wasn’t written by Muslims, and it kind of painted a dark picture of Islam. I think most of the literature written by Christians or non-Muslims about Islam tends to do that most of the time. And I didn’t know that there were even Muslims in Halifax, so I obviously didn’t know any. I didn’t even know about the local Islamic association until I was already a Muslim.
So I read what I could until my first year out of high school, around the month of May 1996, when I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to participate in a camp for blind and visually impaired people, known throughout Canada as Score. I agreed and sent them a resume, and praise be to God, I was accepted for work.
At first, I really didn’t want to go, but something kept telling me it would be a good idea if I went. So, on June 30th, 1996 I boarded a plane from Nova Scotia to Toronto and took my last trip as a non-Muslim; I just didn’t know it yet.
I got to Toronto, and everything at first was pretty normal... It was on the second day I was there when the journey of a thousand miles first started.
I arrived on a Sunday, and on the next day, I met the person who God would use with His divine power to help guide me to the beautiful Religion of Islam. I met a sister named [...], and if she reads this, I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for using her name.
When I met her, I immediately wanted to talk to her because I liked her name. I asked her what origin her name was and she told me that it was Arabic; so I asked her if she was Muslim and she replied with the answer of yes. I immediately started telling her what I already knew about Islam, which lasted about ten seconds. I started asking her questions and also asking her to talk to me about Islam.
One particular incident that comes to my mind is when all of the workers at the camp went to a baseball game, and the sister and I started talking about Islam and missed pretty much the whole game.
Well, anyway, we talked for about three, maybe four days on and off about Islam, and on July the fifth, if my memory doesn’t fail me, I became a Muslim. My life has been totally different ever since. I look at things very differently than I used to and I finally feel like I belong to a family. All Muslims are brothers and sisters in Islam so I could say that I have approximately 1.2 billion brothers and sisters all of whom I’m proud to be related to. I finally know what it feels like to be humble and to worship a God that I don’t have to see.
For any non-Muslim reading this, just look at it this way. It’s good to learn, but you never know when you will be tested, and if you’re not in the class at the time of the final exam, no matter how much you know, you’ll never get any credit. So like I said, it’s good to learn, but if you want to get credit, sign up for the class. In other words, declare shahada (testimony to faith) and let God teach you everything you need to know. Believe me, the reward is worth it. You could say the reward is literally heaven.
If any good comes out of this story all the credit is due to God; only the mistakes are my own. I would like to mention a part of a hadith that has had a great effect on me and that is:
“Worship God as if you see him and if you don’t see him, know that he sees you.” (Saheeh Muslim)
By Malik Mohammed Hassan