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 was born […] Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth, my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). From childhood until I became Muslim in 1981, I had been a devoted SDA.
[…] My father was a former member of the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) formed by a former dictator, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. The Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association (ILAGA) is the name given to a cultic group of Christians who are trained to grab Muslim lands and annihilate Muslims in Southern Philippines. […] The ILAGA members believe that the more Muslims they kill, the more power they will possess.
[…] In childhood I was indoctrinated (brainwashed) that Muslims are pagans. We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines. Actually, when I was a Christian, I did not know the difference between Islam, Muslim, and Moros—I believed they were all synonymous with paganism. What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!"'
[…] I was brought up in a conservative Christian educational institution (church school). In my early days of childhood, we were trained to open the Bible quickly and explain the meaning of the text day and night. […]
In 1981, I was trained extensively in Pagadian City, Philippines how to preach Christianity, particularly in the Muslim community, and with the pretext of selling medical books under the banner of Adventism. We were later formed into groups and were assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism.
Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Christianity (Adventism). Even today there are Christian Institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.
One day in Zamboanga City, I was assigned to the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual. His name is Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist.
We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family (Memong Fernandez) were close friends and neighbors.
I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez. He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office. He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office. He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
“Of course! We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”
He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”
I knew that if I answer “yes,” the next question would be; “Can you show me in your Bible that Jesus Christ was a Seventh Day Adventist?” I knew well that there is no passage in the Bible that mentions that Jesus Christ was an Adventist! I was shocked at the question because in my experience I never encountered such a question in my life.
I tried my best to ignore his question, and I talked about things which were not related to his question. He repeated the question directly to my eyes, and said; “If you could not answer that question, please bring that question to your team leader and tell me his response.”
Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, whose name is Issa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world. Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God.
The religion of the Muslims and the prophets of Allah is Islam. And in fact, the prophets of Allah (God) were Muslims. He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc.
All these words were like thunderbolts that awakened me from a deep sleep! After I heard those words, I did convey them to my team leader, and I asked him what the religion of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ was. He did not answer; instead, I received a warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez, or I will be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction had pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts about my belief being a Seventh Day Adventist.
If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions! [End of part I]
To read the complete version of this text, go to this
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?