Are you one of those who think converting to Islam is a funny idea? Do you think the name of Islam is associated with terrorism, oppression, and dogma? The same goes with many other groups which have been wrongfully stereotyped. And it takes courage, quest, and deep understanding to catch hold of the true idea about them.
If you, as a non-Muslim, ask me whether Islam wants you to convert to it, we should give you a preliminary “No!” What Islam wants from you in the first place is “to be not indifferent,” to keep looking and searching for God and the deeper meaning of life.
No one can embrace a faith before they have ample reason (in a broad sense of the word) that it contains a bigger share of truth than any others. And you will surely have God’s help and guidance on your side.
“As for those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them in Our ways, and Allah is indeed with the virtuous.” (26:69)
That’s what every “Muslim by birth” is also required to do as they reach puberty. In this sense, we are all “New Muslims,” and whether born in a Muslim family or not, we each have a unique story!
You can hear of many converts and the story of how they found their way to Islam here.
Now, some people could have uncommon intentions in order to convert Islam. So, when a person takes the testimony of faith (Shahadaain) and converts to Islam, is it for anyone to question his or her true faith? Or it’s only God’s business to tell the true faith from false in all of us, and not anybody else’s?
For example, you might have heard Muslims are not allowed to marry non-Muslims. Well, generally speaking, that’s true. But are there any exceptions? What if a person wants to convert to Islam so that he or she could marry a Muslim? Is it acceptable or not?
And What Happens to a Marriage if one of the two spouses converts to Islam? Are there any circumstances in which the couple can go on with their marriage as before? Or that such a marriage is dissolved unless the other half also accepts Islam?
Would converting to Islam turn all our life and actions upside down? The answer is both yes and no. One of the aspects of our lives that would be influenced when we convert to Islam is the relationship with our family. In this article, new Muslims will learn how to step into this new path with the least physical and spiritual challenges, while committing to Islamic rulings.
I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my journey to Islam as a new muslim and I feel that by sharing this experience I can help you on your journey through life. We are all born into different cultures, countries and religions; in what often seems a confusing and troubled world. Actually, when we examine the world around us, we can easily see what a troubled state it is in: war, poverty and crime. Need I go on? Yet when we look at our own upbringing and our education, how can we be sure that all the things that we have been told, are in reality the truth?
Unfortunately, most people in the world decide to try to hide and escape from the world’s problems rather than stand up and deal with the truth. Dealing with the truth is often the harder avenue to follow. The question is: Are you willing to stand up for the truth? Are you strong enough? Or, are you going to escape and hide like the rest?
I started my search for the truth a number of years ago. I wanted to find out the truth about the reality of our existence. Surely, to understand life correctly is the key to solving all the worldly problems that we are faced with today. I was born into a Christian family and this is where my journey began. I started to read the bible and ask questions. I quickly became unsatisfied. The priest told me, “You just need to have faith.” From reading the bible I found contradictions and things that were clearly wrong. Does God contradict himself? Does God lie? Of course not!
I moved on from Christianity, thinking the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians are corrupted so there is no way that I can find the truth from the false. I started finding out about Eastern Religions and Philosophies, particularly Buddhism. I spent a long time meditating in Buddhist temples and talking to the Buddhist monks. Actually, the meditation gave me a good clean feeling. The trouble was that it did not answer any of my questions about the reality of existence. Instead it carefully avoided them in a way that makes it seem stupid to even talk about.
I traveled to many parts of the world during my quest for the truth. I became very interested in tribal religions and the spiritualist way of thinking. I found that a lot of what these religions were saying had truth in them, but I could never accept the whole religion as the truth. This was the same as where I started with Christianity!
I began to think that there was truth in everything and it did not really matter what you believed in or what you followed. […]
I felt confused, I fell to the floor and prayed, “Oh, please God, I am so confused, please guide me to the truth.” This is when I discovered Islam.
Of course I always knew something about Islam, but only what we naively hear in the West. I was surprised though by what I found. The more that I read the Quran and asked questions about what Islam taught, the more truths I received. The striking difference between Islam and every other religion is that Islam is the only religion that makes a strict distinction between the Creator and the creation. In Islam, we worship the Creator. Simple. […] In fact, in Islam, the only sin that God will not forgive is the worship of creation.
However, the truth of Islam can be found in the Quran. The Quran is like a guide book to life. In it you will find answers to all questions. […] I had all the pieces all along but I just did not know how to fix them together.
I would therefore like to ask you to consider Islam now. The true Islam as described in the Quran. Not the Islam that we get taught about in the West. You may at least be able to cut down your journey in search of the truth about life. I pray for your success, regardless.
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By Bruce Paterson
My name is Justin Peyton, and I am a 29-year-old African American convert to Islam, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I grew up in a loving, two-parent, and middle-class household with three siblings.
Growing up, my family and I identified ourselves as Christians, but we were never members of a church, nor did we attend Sunday services or other activities. The extent of religious expression in our home was celebrating Christmas.
[…] If I had to identify one single event as the starting point for my journey to Islam, it would have to be the tragic events of 9/11. After months of seeing very unflattering media coverage about Islam and Muslims, it occurred to me that the negative portrait being painted did not coincide with the experiences I had with Muslim classmates, neighbors, and others, growing up in Philadelphia.
It also occurred to me that despite knowing Muslims, I had never actually bothered to take the time to learn about their faith.
So, with the open-mindedness instilled in me by my parents, I decided to research some facts about Islam in order to reconcile the apparent disparity between my personal experiences and media coverage.
[…] Spurred to learn more, I went to a local bookstore, purchased a copy of the Quran, and began to read. I could spend pages listing which information struck me most and why, but suffice it to say that everything that I read made intrinsic sense to me.
After a few more months I decided that reading and learning about Islam on my own was not enough, so I searched to find any nearby mosques.
I contacted the closest mosque, which was about 45 miles away, spoke to their president, and arranged a time to visit and discuss Islam with local Muslims.
On the appointed day, I showed up and spent a great deal of time talking to a very helpful brother. Unbeknownst to me, the information he shared permeated my heart.
During my second visit […] it dawned on me that I believed that Islam was the truth, so right then and there, I took my Testimony of Faith and spent the whole weekend at the mosque learning what was necessary for me to perform the ritual prayers on my own when I returned to school.
That community was wonderful and had I stayed in the vicinity, and I am sure that I would have received a lot of support adjusting to my life as a new Muslim. But that was not to be. Prior to the events of 9/11, I had developed an interest in the military, and continued discussions with local armed forces recruiters, concurrent with the exploration of Islam that would lead to my conversion. […] Looking back on that part of my life, I am grateful for the skills I gained and the experiences I had during the course of my service. But in retrospect, the timing between these two events was less than ideal.
Even after leaving training, I was located in an area of the U.S. With no Muslim community, which prevented me from developing my faith. It wasn't until some three years into my service that I met another practicing Muslim service member who would be able to teach me both about Islam and how to navigate military life as a Muslim. May God reward him for his efforts.
After completing my military service in the summer of 2007, I moved back to Philadelphia, became an active member of a local mosque, and was blessed with the ability to obtain a job at the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a non-profit civil rights and advocacy organization for Muslims.
The two years I spent as a part of the Philadelphia Muslim community, and an employee of CAIR-PA was a tremendous learning experience that really spurred my development and whetted my appetite for more.
And that leads me to where I am now, an Islamic chaplaincy student at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, pursuing its combined Masters of Arts in Islamic studies, Christian-Muslim relations and Graduate Certificate in Islamic chaplaincy.
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