A time comes in everyone’s life, or at least I hope it comes when they realize that they have to not only believe what they believe in, whatever it may be but get out there and proclaim it to the world. Luckily, that time came early for me. I am 17, and I am a convert to Islam which is the belief that I’m proclaiming.
I was raised Catholic. Not internally as much as externally. I went to Catholic Sunday school, called CCD, but the Catholic view of God never played a major role in my childhood. It was a Sunday thing. Anyhow, I started to enjoy Mass around 7th grade. It made me feel good to do the right thing. I was always a rather moral person, but I never really studied the fundamentals of Catholicism. I just knew that I felt good worshipping my creator. […]
Before I was confirmed in 8th grade, in the fall of 1999, I learned a lot about what Catholicism was. The Catholicism of the Church had a lot on viewing Jesus as God in it. Nothing like my “undivided God being worshipped by me with Jesus as an example” train of thought. It was like they just opened up a can of cold, illogical confusion and tried to feed it to me. It didn’t feel right.
I continued with the Catholic Church and kept on worshipping. But I talked to many in the church about my feelings that Jesus wasn’t God but more of a Prophet, an example. They told me that I had to accept him as God and as a sacrifice, and so on. I just wasn’t buying it. I tried to buy it, but I guess God withhold the sale for my own benefit. There was a better car out there for me. I continued at the church.
Sometime in mid-December of 1999, for no reason that I can recall I started reading up on Islam in encyclopedias. I remember making a list of bolded words in the entry for “Islam” in an old 1964 Grolier World Book that I found in my closet, and studying them.
For some reason I was amazed by this faith and that it was all about God and that it was everything that I believed all my life - right here. Previously, I had accepted that there was no faith like I felt inside of me. But I was amazed that I had found this faith. I found out that “my” faith had a name and millions of other adherents!
Without ever reading a Qur’an or talking to another Muslim, I said shahada (declaring your belief in no god but God) […]. As the months passed, I learned more. I went through many periods of confusion, happiness, doubt, and amazement. Islam took me on an enlightening tour of me, everyone else, and God.
The transition was slow. I was still attending Mass five months into my change of faith. Each time I went, I felt more and more distant from the congregation, but closer and closer to God and the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him.
During Ramadan […], the second time I fasted (the first year, I converted during Ramadan and did not fast), I went to the library during lunch period. It was better than sitting at a table with my friends because I got work done in the library. I swear my grades went up. Anyways, I started talking to the only other Muslim at my school, John. We talked about Islam a little more each day. He’s an awesome brother, and he took me to the mosque on the last Friday of Ramadan.
Going was one of the best things I ever made in my life. God really answered my prayers this time. I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn’t at all. It was the most natural thing I ever did in my life. I felt at home. I realized something before leaving. As I sat there on the floor, praying to God, I realized that the room was full of others, but it was OK.
See, at home when someone asks me what I am doing, I never say I am praying. I never admit it to anyone. It is too awkward. But there, at the masjid, I was praying to God in front of a score of other Muslims, and I felt perfectly fine. Better than fine! I felt secure and safe. It was the most liberating thing since I accepted God into my heart that cold New Year’s Eve almost two years ago.
To be continued…
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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 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 church’s 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, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, and the Quran. He didn't teach me in words; rather, he showed me that Muslims are not evil through his actions. More than that, he taught me the truth of Allah's Message.
After I came home, I began to study Islam seriously. 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 about Islam and 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 to be identical. 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 the 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 do not 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.
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