My name is Tarik Preston. I embraced the religion of Islam in 1988 at the age of 19.
The story of how I came to embrace Islam is not a very long story, and in many respects, I think that the story of how Allah (God) continued to guide me after I entered Islam is more of an inspiring story.
Nevertheless, this story begins with my name. I was given the name Tarik at birth. In the 60s, the 70s, and even the 80s, it wasn’t all that unusual for some Americans to give their children African names. Many times, the names they chose from Africa were actually Islamic names, which is what happened with my name.
[…] Someone who knew the significance of my name […] would ask me, “Do you know what your name means?” I would reply proudly as I had been taught: “It means ‘star of piercing brightness.’“
[…] I started college at the age of 16 majoring in pre-med/biology with the intent, at that time, of becoming a doctor. […] During my freshman year, I attempted to read the Bible, but Christianity had begun not to make sense to me.
While studying the marvelous complexity of cell biology that year, several of my classmates and I reaffirmed our belief in the Creator and that creation was not an accident as some scientists speculated.
During spring break, I had a theological discussion with my grandmother, with whom I was very close. And she, despite being a Christian, made a remarkable statement that I paid close attention to.
She said: “I worship God and I don’t worship Jesus, because I feel safer worshipping God!” She advised me not to pray in the name of Jesus anymore and to just pray to God!
When I returned to college after that conversation, I continued to pray every night before sleeping as I had been taught. But I decided that I would no longer pray in the name of Jesus, and to direct my prayers only to God. […]
Still searching for something that would guide me safely through life, one day I asked God to guide me while walking across campus.
During my junior year in college, a fellow student who I knew embraced Islam saw me walking across campus, and he greeted me. […] He then asked me if I was a Muslim, to which I replied (at that time), “No. I am a United Methodist.” He replied: “Oh! I thought you were a Muslim because your name is Tarik!”
Not long after that encounter, he came to a study session that a few classmates and I were having, and he attempted to inform us about Islam. He was very young and very new to Islam himself, so he didn’t know very much. […]
[…] When I returned home that summer, I took a summer job as a telemarketer where I met a Muslim named Ahmed. Despite being a Puerto Rican convert to Islam, he had the same distinct look and demeanor as my friend from college. […]
He began talking to me about Tawheed (the oneness of God). I was impressed with the concept of Islamic monotheism.
Eventually, he invited me over to his house and showed me a copy of the English translation of the Quran. I was very impressed by the respect that he had for this Book, and I asked him if I could borrow it in order to read it. He reluctantly agreed, saying that it was his only copy of the Quran, and he sternly advised me to respect the Book and keep it clean and in a place of respect in my home. I couldn’t wait to read it!
Two weeks later, I invited Ahmed to my house, and we sat and talked again about Islam. I informed him that I believed the Quran was the truth and that I wanted to convert to Islam.
The very next day we went together to the Islamic Center in Washington D.C., and I embraced Islam.
A few years after my conversion, Allah blessed me to be able to study Islam at the Islamic University of Medina where I earned an Associate’s degree in Arabic language and a Bachelor’s degree in Hadith Sciences.
I hope the story of how I came to Islam encourages others to convert to Islam. I also hope that my story encourages my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters to share the true message of Islam with those around them in word and deed.
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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]
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[…] I was born to British parents in Darussalam in Tanzania in 1964. […]. I was educated at the famous Roman Catholic Monastic School […] and went on to study history in the London University. However, I left my education unfinished.
Currently, I am working with an Islamic media company based in England and engage myself in dawah activities [preaching] including lectures on Islam in London’s famous Hyde Park.
[…] I grew totally disillusioned with the British educational system. It was thoroughly Eurocentric and projected world history in a way that suggested that the civilization attained its full glory and apogee in Europe. Having lived in Egypt and seen some of the majestic ruins which only archaeologists have access to, I found the West’s interpretation of history totally fallacious. I began a private study of histories of other peoples of the world, various religious scriptures, and philosophy. I was practicing Buddhism for nearly three years though never formally embraced it.
The study of the Holy Qur’an immediately attracted me. Its message had a magical appeal and I grew convinced that it was a divine revelation. I believe only Allah guided me, none else. I don’t know what made me deserve Islam.
[…] I was dissatisfied with Christianity from the age of eight. The concept that was taught to us through rhymes such as Hail Mary! Was not at all acceptable to me. While on one hand, the Christians described God to be eternal and infinite they felt no compunctions in ascribing birth of God from the womb of Mary. This made me think that Mary must be greater than God.
Secondly, the Christians’ concept of the trinity was a puzzle for me. The similitude like Canadian Maple leaf being one despite three sections appeared utterly inapplicable.
The crunch came when an Egyptian started questioning me. Despite being confused about the Christian belief I was trying to be dogmatic as most white, middle-class, English Christians do. I was flummoxed when he led me to accept that God died on the crucifix, thus laying bare the hollowness of the Christian claims of eternity and infinity of God. I now came to realize that I was believing in as absurd a concept as two plus two is equal to five all through my adolescent years.
The West’s pre laid, programmed life intensely repelled me. I began to question if a person has to live a life merely to get strait-jacketed in a rigorous schedule. I found Europeans struggling a lot to enjoy life. They had no higher purpose in life.
The West’s capacity to brainwash its people became plain to me when I discussed the Palestine issue with Egyptians and Palestinians. […]
Egyptians were poor, suffered hardships, yet were happy. […] But in England I found people shallow, materialistic. They try to be happy but happiness is superficial. Their prayers combined songs, dances, clapping but no humility, nor intimacy with God.
I realized that popular opinion in the West was totally hostage to the Zionist-controlled media. The question of Palestine was one among these. My conversation with Palestinians revealed how the West had believed in myths about Israel. First among them was that the Jews had the right to return to their original homeland in Israel. Secondly, they conveniently described themselves as Semitic while the fact was that most Jews of the world were Slavs who had later converted to Judaism. Thirdly Israel’s economic miracle was theorized to create the economic and scientific myth.
The fact was that I never got to know the Palestinian side of the issue. I got convinced that the people of the West were brainwashed by the media. I found that the US was trying every trick to punish nations indulging in small violations of human rights in the third world but was itself sending death squads into Latin American nations to liquidate their leaders who refused to toe the US line. Such hypocrisy is never criticized by the US media.
[…] The Western psyche emphasizes one’s individuality. This is at variance with Islam. Any sincere Muslim feels disturbed. He or she is constantly bombarded by sex and sexuality. Most girls lose virginity by 13 and it is normal for girls to have three to four boyfriends.
The dilemma before Muslims in the West is as to how to integrate with a society so steeped in sex, drugs, drinks and sexual intimacy. And if no integration, then how to save themselves from ghettoization.
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