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.
I feel honored to be a Muslim... And I feel that way for many reasons. There are many norms in the society I live that are opposite to what it is to be a Muslim. And when I first came to this way of life, I didn’t know how well I would fair with it. […]
Having spent a large portion of my short life not being a Muslim, I know the darkness that God speaks of in the Quran. I remember what it was like when Allah opened my eyes and shined a light where the darkness had once been. At the beginning of my life, I had no definite form of absolute guidance.
The simplest aspects of creation would boggle my mind. I was totally oblivious to the miracles God put in nature. One time, in particular, I recall learning about evaporation in science class. I was unable to comprehend it. Not the how, but the reason it happened.
I understood the idea of the water cycle and its importance for life, but what would make the water essentially disappear and float back up to the sky?
When viewing this question, without knowing God, my mind ran into a mental block at which point I could not come up with the answer. Boggled by the thought, I merely shrugged my shoulders and threw it to the back of my mind.
When looking at the human body, and how it’s made largely of water, or looking at the universe and trying to comprehend what was beyond it. I would be faced with the mental barricade of not being able to comprehend the reason for its creation.
Time and time again scientists could explain the how, but never the why. They could explain purpose within the mechanics of creation, but they could never explain the purpose of the mechanics itself. What caused the mechanics? What caused nature to have laws?
Having been brought up in a non-practicing Christian family, I had a general understanding of the principles of Christianity. […] My problem with Christianity was the dogma, and more specifically the beliefs about God. The issue of a “Triune” God that is essentially three different individuals that all unite to take on the role of the “One” God. I know that is not how the Doctrine of Trinity is officially promoted, and any Bible-thumping Christian would probably accuse me of not understanding the Doctrine, but that’s the reality that I saw in it
[…] Around that time, I unofficially rejected Christianity. I became a Christian / Atheist / Agnostic. I began to live life trying to come to terms with my surroundings and myself. Not knowing of a greater purpose, I saw no problem in taking part in destructive activities of any kind; on the condition, I would receive some sort of satisfaction from it.
[…] I began to turn to the common reality escape, namely drugs and alcohol. At first, using them as a social tool, and eventually using them habitually as a sedative. If people ever told me I should calm down, I would tell them I could stop if I had a reason, but I had no reason. […] But eventually, I started to feel a consciousness within me looking for some sort of console. Although I was lost and in the dark, since I never saw the light, I didn’t know the difference between the two. I began to think of “the bigger picture.”
I began to think about death. I tried to comprehend the concept of nothingness, and as many times before in my life, when trying to contemplate the purpose, my mind drew blanks. Until one night, while I lay on my bed, deep in thought, I turned my face to the sky, and I said: “God, if you’re real, and You exist, please help me!”
I went to sleep that night never really thinking twice about it. Then on 9/11, I watched the uncanny events unfold. I was confused about the whole situation, why it happened, what exactly happened, and how they knew who did it almost immediately. For the first time there was meaning being applied to foreign terms that I had heard, but never knew anything about, namely Islam.
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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