“You don’t look happy, why? You just had a great performance in the gig!”
This was a question Lon had been asking himself for a long time but he wasn’t able to come up with a reason for his unhappiness. Whatever he wanted was there in a minute or so but still, this was not what he had in mind. He knew that most people would kill for such popularity and this way of life but he was also aware that something is missing. Something that no one could say what it was. The missing thing was the answer to his restless nights, it was the answer to his unanswerable questions, and it was the peace he couldn’t get, no matter how much money he spent. The worst part was the fact that he did not know what it was and how he could find it.
“This city looks gorgeous!” he thought, during one of his visits to another country.
“What are the people doing?” he asked the driver. “They seem to be in a hurry!”
This was the moment Muslims were off to the mosques for their prayers. They wanted to get there before “congregational prayer” started.
This answer was interesting to Lon since he had never seen such a thing before. He had never seen people running to make it to a religious ceremony. He paid attention to the behaviors of the Muslims afterward. He liked them. They cared about each other and they seemed very careful about their actions. He saw himself calmer whenever he was paying attention to them. “Just looking at them makes me feel much better. Maybe this is where I have to look for the answers to my questions”
Since then, he started to search for it. The more he read, the more he got interested. It was interesting that this religion had followers in a wide variety of countries with people of very different ethnic backgrounds.
He made his decision. This was what he was looking for. This was what could answer all of his questions. This was an answer to the question which neither popularity nor wealth could bring. He left the job he was doing for 17 years. He felt calm afterward. It was like his soul found a way that could guide it when it was in the middle of nowhere. This was an end to all his confusing feelings.
Before becoming rich and famous, he always thought that these two can answer all his questions and can bring him everything he wants but later he was proved to be wrong. He understood that PEACE is what he wants and this is not what wealth and popularity are going to offer. It was ISLAM that could bring him what he was actually seeking.
As far back as I can remember as a child, I was always astounded by this universe in which we live […]. And from that early time, I always in some way knew, there just had to be a Creator responsible for all this.
But then as I segued into my teens, it was much easier to succumb to peer pressure, and I lost interest in the Divine and instead devoted my time to alcohol, sex and the immature games of a young male growing up in America. Growing into young adulthood, my obsessions became money, power, a better house, a faster car, and a prettier woman--all shallow pursuits.
I lived this way for many years, slowly losing control of my life, thinking I was pursuing happiness when all I was getting was more depressed, more confused, and making more and more of a mess of my life.
[…] My immediate response was to turn to God, and, having been raised Catholic, it was to that church that I turned. At the time, I had been divorced and remarried and came to find out that the Catholic Church didn't want me. Hurt and angry, but also realizing a need for a spiritual order in my life, I turned to Buddhism.
The Buddhist sect I became involved with followed a Tibetan tradition, where importance is placed on gaining empowerments, which are basically blessings from various Buddhas. At some point I realized I was not really bettering myself […]. All of a sudden, I realized that one of the last things the Buddha said before passing away was not to worship him. I realized this whole practice was BASED on worshipping not only "the" Buddha, but also all these other Buddhas. I became very discouraged and reverted to my old ways of indulgence in alcohol and other forbidden pleasures. And once again, I became very depressed […].
When I was a young man, I was very much "into" the music of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam). When I heard he had embraced Islam, I was in the U.S. Navy at the time and this was during the "hostage crisis" in Iran. So, I immediately drew the conclusion that Cat Stevens has become a terrorist, and I kept that belief for many years.
A couple months or so ago, I heard he was going to be interviewed on TV, and I wanted to hear about this crazy man who had left a great life to become a terrorist. Well, needless to say, I was just floored by the interview, because he was certainly no terrorist, but a soft-spoken, articulate, peaceful man who radiated love, and patience, and intelligence. The very next day, I began researching Islam on the Internet. [...] It all made so much SENSE, the existence of God was so SIMPLE to understand! […]
Well, the more I learned the more I was convinced that this was truly the path I had been searching for. It contained the discipline--physical, mental, and spiritual--that leads to true peace and happiness. […]. Pronouncing my Shahadatainwas such a CLEANSING experience, and since this time, I have often just … cried and cried and cried. How wonderful!
I have received such a warm and embracing welcome from all Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world; I take great comfort in this, knowing that, despite any adversity or setback, I am literally surrounded by my Muslim family that will never abandon me as long as I remain Muslim. No other group of people has ever treated me in this way.
[…] Accepting the reality of Islam is the easy part, walking the Straight Path is the hard part, especially once one had firmly implanted himself in a society of unbelievers. But I pray to God every day for strength and guidance, and I just take it one day at a time, trying to improve in Islam little by little each day.
By Dawood Kinney
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As a Doctor of Medicine, and a descendant of a French Catholic family, the very choice of my profession has given me a solid scientific culture that had prepared me very little for a mystic life. Not that I did not believe in God, but that the dogmas and rites of Christianity in general and of Catholicism in particular never permitted me to feel His presence. Thus my unitary sentiment for God forbade my accepting the dogma of the Trinity, and consequently of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Without yet knowing Islam, I was already believing in the first part of the Kalima, La ilah illa ‘Allah (There is no deity but Allah), and in these verses of the Quran:
“Say, ‘He is Allah, the One. Allah is the All-embracing. He neither begat, nor was begotten, nor has He any equal.’” (Quran 112:1-4)
So, it was first of all for metaphysical reasons that I adhered to Islam. Other reasons, too, prompted me to do that. For instance, my refusal to accept Catholic priests, who, more or less, claim to possess on behalf of God the power of forgiving the sins of men. Further, I could never admit the Catholic rite of Communion, by means of the host (or holy bread), representing the body of Jesus Christ, a rite which seems to me to belong to [totemic] practices of primitive peoples, where the body of the ancestral totem, the taboo of the living ones, had to be consumed after his death, in order better to assimilate his personality. Another point which moved me away from Christianity was the absolute silence which it maintains regarding bodily cleanliness, particularly before prayers, which has always seemed to me to be an outrage against God. For if He has given us a soul, He has also given us a body, which we have no right to neglect. The same silence could be observed, and this time mixed with hostility with regard to the physiological life of the human being, whereas on this point Islam seemed to me to be the only religion in accord with human nature.
The essential and definite element of my conversion to Islam was the Quran. I began to study it, before my conversion, with the critical spirit of a Western intellectual […]. There are certain verses of this book, the Quran, revealed more than thirteen centuries ago, which teach exactly the same notions as the most modern scientific researchers do. This definitely convinced me and converted me to the second part of the Kalima, ‘Muhammad Rasul ‘Allah’ (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
I am very happy in my new faith, and proclaim once again:
“I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and Messenger.”
By: Dr. Ali Selman Benoist
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