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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Last year my husband and I made our beautiful trip to Hajj. This was something I was looking forward to experiencing since I converted to Islam, and it finally came to me. In previous years, I saw the news coverage of the pilgrims and I got goosebumps hoping to go there one day. Allah invited me and my husband to His holy house and we accepted the invitation wholeheartedly. This was an overwhelming experience, the people, the holy atmosphere, stepping where the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and Imams (AS) have stepped, being able to see with my own eyes what the Holy Kaaba looked like. Previously, when I used to pray I wondered about the direction I was facing, what I was really praying towards. Now in my prayers, I often try to picture as though I am still standing in front of the Kaaba. Before I left for Hajj, I did some readings about why Muslims perform the pilgrimage and what the significance of some of the rituals was. To my surprise, I discovered that a lot of the rituals were about re-enacting the steps of Prophet Abraham. I mean, Allah has made this obligatory for every Muslim, as long as they could afford the trip. Why is this so important? This trip tried to make us united as Muslims, to make us realize that even though there are many sects today, we worship only one God. We prostrate to one God. That is the reason why we are living or even attending the trip, because of one God.
Another reason for this trip is that we try to leave this material world behind; we try to elevate our spirituality. We leave the comfort of our homes, our families and friends, our lovely dinners, our comfort zone. There are so many things we take for granted. I saw all types of people there, poor, old, young, disabled, different nationalities, etc. Some people couldn’t even afford accommodation so they stayed in the streets; eat on the streets, just to perform this wonderful pilgrimage. It makes you feel like you take nearly all things in life for granted.
There is a lot more to this trip and I pray that every Muslim be able to make it and make the most of it Inshallah. I pray that Allah gives us another invitation to His holy land again. We are created by Him, cared for by Him, and Inshallah we return to Him once we pass away. We are in this world to build our next life, the eternal one.
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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