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 am ethnically a Russian Jew. My quest began when I was 19 years old. […] My belief in God was uncertain. […] One night I was walking to the kitchen and encountered a dark fellow. I remembered asking him: “Can I keep this vodka in the fridge tonight?” We shook hands and went to sleep. After that point, my life changed drastically…
This dark fellow, a Muslim, was the first Muslim I had ever met. Extremely curious, I conversed with him about his faith. What’s this stuff I hear about praying 5 times a day? […]
Our talks were accompanied by our Christian roommate, Wade. Together, we created “The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dialogue sessions”. In it, we discovered many differences and many commonalities.
My interest had then shifted from sex, drugs, and parties, to a massive search for the truth. A search that I had to complete. A search for God. And a search for how to follow him.
In my quest for the truth, I asked myself: “Ok let’s start simple, how many God’s do I think are out there?” I figured only one; knowing that a divided God is weaker than One God; figuring that if one God didn’t agree with the other, there might be arguments and feuds. One God was my choice.
Once I opened up my mind to the possibility of the existence of God, I analyzed both atheist and theist beliefs. The thing that directed me to the latter was the quote “Every design has a designer”. With that in mind, eventually, I woke up with certainty that God exists. […]
The major religions I encountered that fell under the title of Monotheistic, where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Well since I’m a Jew, I started with Judaism. One God, some prophets, 10 commandments, Torah, Jewish souls…uh, what: “Jewish souls?” […]
So God makes Jewish souls, and Christian souls, and Muslim souls, and Hindu souls? I thought all men are created equal? So, because one is born into a religion that means by the decree of God he must remain in it… even if the person believes it to be false? Hmm…I don’t agree with that.
Another thing really bothered me…there is no strict concept of hell in Judaism…then why be good? Why not sin? If I don’t have fear of strict punishment, then why should I be moral?
Moving on, I discovered Christianity. Ok, one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost…one more time: one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost. Uhhh, please explain. How can all those things be one God? 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 right? So how can you say you believe in only one God?
[…] Ok then, so are you saying that we are all born as sinners? And to sin is to do something wrong right? Then you’re telling me that a one-year old baby is guilty of sin or doing something wrong? […]
Islam; Islam means submission. The main beliefs are as follows: One God, worship God five times a day, give 2.5% annual charity, fast during Ramadan (to be closer to God and appreciate life…among other reasons), and finally journey to Mecca for Hajj if you are able financially. Ok, nothing hard to understand so far.
There’s nothing that conflicts with my logic here. The Quran is a book with all of these interesting miracles and timeless wisdom. Many scientific facts only discovered recently where proclaimed 1400 years ago in this book.
Ok, Islam had passed my initial religious prerequisites. But I wanted to ask some deep questions about it. Is this religion universal? Yes, anyone can understand these basic beliefs…no analogy or equation is needed. Does it agree with science? Yes, dozens of verses in the Quran agree with modern science and technology.
[…] Naming is the very basis which humans identify with objects, both physical and non-physical. If religion is supposed to be practiced and spread to every person on earth, shouldn’t there be a NAME for it?
Moreover, shouldn’t the name be given to us from God Almighty? YES, my point exactly. The names “Christianity” and “Judaism” were not written in the Holy Scriptures. Humans named them, not God. […]
Islam is the ONLY of these religions to include the NAME of the religion in its scriptures. This is so huge for me.
I realized I would follow Islam at that point. I then became a Muslim. I knew the truth. I was out of the darkness. I came into the light…
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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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