My story is quite brief but my journey has been such an eye-opener, and I thank Allah for the mercy that he had on me, bringing me to this beautiful religion which is now my way of life.
I have always been interested in learning about different cultures and religions, especially, because of living in Australia. We have such a diverse society; I have always believed it to be important to understand all the different and beautiful cultures and religions. This way you can understand why people are the way they are.
I have always believed in God, coming from a Macedonian Orthodox family in which religion was more based on the cultural side of things. We went to church for Easter or Christmas as a family or for christening or wedding ceremonies, but we never regularly visited God's house for any other reason.
I come from a very good family with great values and morals, but when it came to religion it was just something that was from the old days and not really enforced or practiced. For me, though, I knew something was not right with Christianity. Things just did not make sense to me.
I was never very religious and, in my younger years, went through questioning my beliefs, even the existence of our Creator.
But deep down, I knew there was a stronger force in action thirsty for knowledge, I quickly learned with my love for reading that the Almighty was there; reinforcing what is truly the undeniable existence of Allah.
I learned about Islam from some of my Muslim friends, but it was from my own research that I found Islam and its true beauty. All the teachings from the Quran then made sense, since there was a guideline for everything in life.
I stopped reading for a while, since the Western lifestyle, then, was still very appealing to me at that age.
But one day, I came across a video called the miracles of the Quran...
What really grabbed my attention was how over 1400 years ago Quran revealed the 3 trimesters of a woman's pregnancy when scientists in the 21st century have just uncovered this fact!
This then made me say the two testimonies (Shahadatain) and I started going to private Islamic classes and lectures.
But still, I kept my conversion to Islam a secret from my non-Muslim friends and family. To my non-Muslim friends I said, I believed in Islam, but I did not say that I made the change.
It was only 3 years ago that I realized, I could not deny or hide my true beliefs anymore. I told my non-Muslim friends and family that I am a Muslim. Alhamdulillah, it was the best thing I have ever done.
Some of my old friends left me, but I am not sad. I realized that it was all part of Allah's plan. Allah made me acquainted with new amazing people who were striving just like me to please our Almighty. My family did not take it as bad as I thought they would. They had their moments and did not truly understand the reason for the change. But I did not have such a hard experience like others who have made this beautiful journey.
In December 2011, I did the most life-changing act, which was putting on Hijab. It was the best decision of my life. I have never been mentally happier in my life. Now I feel I am complete. In 2012, I was invited by Allah to do the holy pilgrimage (Hajj).
Every day, I ask Allah why he had chosen me?! I am not the best of His servants. I cannot thank Him sufficiently, for the mercy He had on me, for giving me the opportunity to open up my eyes and heart to Islam, worshiping and getting closer to my only Creator.
What will happen to us when we die? Where would we go? Why are we here? And many more questions were running through my mind. As I am sure that nearly every person, wherever they live, come across these questions at least once in their lifetime, I strived to find answers for them.
I was born and raised in Australia in a Catholic family with an Italian background. I believed in God, believed that Jesus was the son of God, (only because that was what I was taught in school), and believed that the bible was from God. At the age of 19, I wanted to see what the bible said. I wanted to know what I had to do in order to be a good Catholic. So I turned to the Bible. Surprisingly, I came across some laws in the Bible which I had never heard of in my life. Here are some examples:
In Deuteronomy 14:8-9, it says: “The hog is unclean because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud; of their flesh, you must not eat nor may you touch their carcass.” “Of the creatures that live in water, those that have fins and scales you may eat”.
This was a shock to me, as I previously went to Italy and visited many churches including the Vatican in Rome, and never came across this before.
Continuing to read my way through chapter Deuteronomy, I noticed chapter 18:14-16 called ‘The promise to send a Prophet’. It says:
“Then Moses said, ‘In the land, you are to occupy, people follow the advice of those who practice divination and look for omens, but the Lord your God does not allow this. Instead, he will send you a Prophet like me from among your own people and you are to obey him.” At this point, I was wondering who this Prophet was. After doing research, either on the internet or talking to religious people, I discovered that Christians believe that this Prophet was supposed to be Jesus. Yet this spun me out. Christians do not believe that Jesus was a Prophet!
In that verse, Prophet Moses said that the Prophet who is going to be sent was like him. Jesus did not have many similarities to Moses. Let me give you some brief examples:
• In Christianity, Moses is considered a prophet, and Jesus is considered the son or man or God.
• Jesus healed the sick.
• Jesus' birth and death was different from Prophet Moses’s
• Jesus was rejected by his people, mainly the Jews. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Prophet Moses had difficulties but were both accepted by their people.
Yet Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is very similar to Prophet Moses:
• Both Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) migrated, Prophet Moses to Median and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to Medina.
• Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) married and had children, Prophet Jesus did not.
• Both Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) and Prophet Moses’s deaths were natural deaths, while Prophet Jesus according to Christianity had an unusual death as they believe he was crucified on the cross.
• The birth of Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (BBUH&HP) were natural births, unlike Prophet Jesus, as both Catholics and Muslims believe that he was born from Immaculate Conception (that his mother was a virgin yet had conceived a baby).
I became very confused. The Trinity could never be explained to me, I was told to ‘have faith’ whenever I asked for the Trinity to be explained to me. Another point that did not make sense to me was ‘original sin’. How could a baby, let’s say a few months old, be accountable for a sin committed hundreds or thousands of years ago, before it even existed. (According to the Catholics) When in Deuteronomy chapter 24:16-17 says:
“Parents are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their children, and children are not to be put to death for crimes committed by their parents, people are only to be put to death only for a crime they themselves have committed”.
So if we do not get punished for basically anything except our own sins, how could every person adopt the sin from his forefathers? (That is if we believe that Adam sinned, which is another contradiction altogether).
One more shocking passage I read after all of the above discoveries I made was in Corinthians 1 11:57:
“And any woman who prays or proclaims God’s message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to cut her hair, she should cover her head”.
At this point I was beginning to become very worried, I thought to myself that the Catholic religion is quite strict. There were serious guidelines to follow and if they are not followed then there will be punishment for that individual who committed that sin.
I then looked a little into Judaism and Islam, but I was totally drawn to Islam. I was afraid of my family’s reaction to my new life, but I felt like I needed a little more convincing reason before I made my decision. My research had been done. I wanted more proof. I wrote a small prayer on a piece of paper and read it each night before I went to bed. I was asking God to show me in a dream what the correct path was that I had to follow. As I rarely dreamt, I thought, “If God wants to show me, He will”.
Within the next few nights, I had a dream of a Sheikh praying in a mosque or a prayer hall. When I woke up I was amazed, but still that night, I asked God for another dream. Now, I look back and I realize that Satan was trying to get me. Within the next few nights, I had a dream of myself and my friend, who is also a new convert, wearing Hijab running away from my father, so that he would not see me like that. I was totally convinced. Subhanallah, how Allah answered my prayers.
Through the first year of my conversion to Islam, I hid it from my family, but they knew this was where I was heading. My father researched Islam for about one year. He finally acknowledged that he had no reason not to accept me as a Muslim. He told me to wear Hijab and that he would walk proudly with me in the streets. He stood by me when any relative questioned what I did and still does to this day.
I was also working, sometimes I felt like I could not explain these things to certain people, especially without them thinking that I had been brainwashed and so on. So once I converted I asked my manager if I was able to pray at work on my lunch break. My boss asked me if there was anything that I needed in particular; all I required was a private room or space. At the end of the day, they could not say no otherwise they would be discriminating. I just wanted to make sure that I was not going to be in the way or a hassle for my co-workers as I felt like that was a part of my duty to present myself as a Muslim. People began noticing that I was praying or going into this room for about 15 minutes a day. Questions began to raise, naturally. I always reassured people that I did not mind if they had any questions and that I would try and answer them to the best of my ability. The day also came when I went with Hijab to work. People took it really well, at least to my face. They began to realize that I was the same person if not a better one. They knew I had done this on my own, I was not in love with anyone, it was not a typical story and that is what, I think, made it even more intriguing for them.
Not long after I put my Hijab on, I met someone. This person was interested in marriage. It was definitely something I wanted to do, get married, and have children, even before I became a Muslim. I was lucky enough to meet the person I am now married to today. He is also a practicing Muslim; he was definitely who I was waiting for, a religious practicing Muslim. He is down to earth, funny and respectful to me and my family. This was obviously another challenging part of my life where we both had to convince our families that we were well-matched. After some time, fortunately, they accepted that quite well. I could not have had better in-laws and once again my father could not have been happier with the son-in-law he has today.
We have now been happily married for 1 year, Alhamdulillah.
I converted nearly three and a half years ago and every day I am convinced more and more that I have made the correct decision. Allah is so merciful. There is always much to learn and always a goal to work towards. Whether it is trying to say your prayer (Salat) better or to eliminate your sins.
I hope by writing this story, I would help others on this path. Whether you are a non-Muslim, a convert, or a Muslim born with a Muslim family. Just remember that our Creator did not send us here on this earth to wander around for 70-100 years, more or less, not letting us know how we got here or where we are going. When we buy a TV, it comes with a manual, with instructions on how to use it, what not to do in case it gets damaged and so on.
Allah created us, He knows everything about us. Our Quran is like our manual, our guidance from our Creator informing us what to do to benefit ourselves and what not to do because it could be harmful to us. If He did not supply these details for us, that would be cruel, yet Allah again shows us His mercy and kindness. This life is a journey and is so short compared to eternity.
Do not wait till you are 20, 30, or 40 to start practicing religion, since we are not in control of our death. Do not wait for your mum to put the Hijab on, because your life might be taken before hers.
Keep in mind that Allah is Merciful. He has sent 124,000 prophets, who covered almost all the nations. These people are perfect role models for our everyday lives. Our last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has left us the Holy Quran, the words of God and his Holy Progeny (AS). What further guidance do we need when perfection has been given to us?
The Beginning: Early Life Trials of Clinton Sipes
I grew up in a dysfunctional family setting in the atmosphere of alcoholism, physical and emotional abuse that came from my father. […] I began to imitate what I was being exposed to, this process of imitation began unconsciously. […]
[…] I began to hang out with the young adult type who welcomed my willingness to participate with no reservations in anything under the title of alcohol, drugs, crime, violence and racism. […] After 3 years of this (reform period) I was released. I was a walking grenade.
[…] At 16, I found myself incarcerated serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in the California Youth Authority for robbery, assault and weapons charges. […] I began correspondence with the KKK, and upon my release on parole, I was a full-fledged card carrying hate-monger. […]
With this last violation of parole, at the age of 20, the search for peace began. […] In a haze of anger and rage, I found myself stripped naked in solitary confinement with not even a mattress. Only me and a styrofoam cup. I began to review my past and the negatives which brought me to this point of reduction to the lowest terms.
While I was there my daughter was born. I began to assess my future. […] I said to myself, “Clint, you must make a choice between this evil or a good future. […] I had become alienated from them. I began searching for a purity to purge the cancer of hate from inside me. […].
I became involved with human rights groups and I started my own human rights group.[…] My goal was to reach out to children to help them escape the environmental circumstances that had overwhelmed me once […] but I was still involved in crime. […]
It began upon my arrival to federal prison. An African American offered to assist me in my cosmetic needs. He said he was a Muslim, and Muslims are commanded to help those in need. It struck my interest to check this Islamic thing out. However, I was under the impression that this was a religion exclusively for African Americans. I was thinking, no way I can become a Muslim, I’m white!
Still, I asked this brother for some literature on Islam. I found out about the universality of it, how it transcends color, ethnicity and race. It sounded real and pure. It began to appeal to me. […] I was given a Quran, and as I read the translation, I felt the purity and truth of it. There was no hocus-pocus, no spookism, no mysticism, just plain, simple understanding of the “Truth.” When I heard the Adhan (the call to prayer) I felt a closeness to God that penetrated my heart and soul. After some research and study of the Quran, I discovered its total infallibility, no contradictions in it.
There are religions based on believing in certain sciences, multiple deities, the religion of 3 gods in one. I was a thinking man, and none of them made any logical sense to me.
Here was Islam, based on the belief in One God who created the creation itself out of nothing, and the fact that this book I was reading (Quran) had not one vowel or language changed in over 1400 years was a miracle in itself. Thus, I was sold on the oneness of God and the unity of Islam.
[…] There is only one God and one Religion, and religion is “Submission” to the one God. This is the meaning of Islam. […]
After years of falsehood, half-truths, following others on the road, and then, from within a place (prison) where more than one million people are cast away, the same environment that once honed my anger and hate to a razor sharpness was now the place where Islam greeted me and proceeded to change me into a “Servant of [the Source of] Peace.” […]
The Creator, Originator of the very existence of peace. There is no peace but the Peace of God (Whom all praise is due). I have found this Peace, I am now “Abdus Salam,” the slave and servant of The Originator of the one and only source of Peace...God, The Most High, Whom all praise is due.
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By Clinton Sipes