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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“You don’t look happy, why? You just had a great performance in the gig!”
This was a question Lon had been asking himself for a long time but he wasn’t able to come up with a reason for his unhappiness. Whatever he wanted was there in a minute or so but still, this was not what he had in mind. He knew that most people would kill for such popularity and this way of life but he was also aware that something is missing. Something that no one could say what it was. The missing thing was the answer to his restless nights, it was the answer to his unanswerable questions, and it was the peace he couldn’t get, no matter how much money he spent. The worst part was the fact that he did not know what it was and how he could find it.
“This city looks gorgeous!” he thought, during one of his visits to another country.
“What are the people doing?” he asked the driver. “They seem to be in a hurry!”
This was the moment Muslims were off to the mosques for their prayers. They wanted to get there before “congregational prayer” started.
This answer was interesting to Lon since he had never seen such a thing before. He had never seen people running to make it to a religious ceremony. He paid attention to the behaviors of the Muslims afterward. He liked them. They cared about each other and they seemed very careful about their actions. He saw himself calmer whenever he was paying attention to them. “Just looking at them makes me feel much better. Maybe this is where I have to look for the answers to my questions”
Since then, he started to search for it. The more he read, the more he got interested. It was interesting that this religion had followers in a wide variety of countries with people of very different ethnic backgrounds.
He made his decision. This was what he was looking for. This was what could answer all of his questions. This was an answer to the question which neither popularity nor wealth could bring. He left the job he was doing for 17 years. He felt calm afterward. It was like his soul found a way that could guide it when it was in the middle of nowhere. This was an end to all his confusing feelings.
Before becoming rich and famous, he always thought that these two can answer all his questions and can bring him everything he wants but later he was proved to be wrong. He understood that PEACE is what he wants and this is not what wealth and popularity are going to offer. It was ISLAM that could bring him what he was actually seeking.
It was a typical day. I woke up early before my parents and got ready to go running in the park near our house. Running without music seemed almost impossible to me; it seemed as though my body responded to physical activities better when music was playing through my ears. My iPod was full of my favorite songs and was ready to flow energy into my feet. I pressed the round button of play but... what was it playing? I have never heard such a thing! Never put it on my iPod! My finger slipped on the left arrow to skip it, but something stopped it. It was The Miracle of Words...
It wasn't a song or poem; someone was reciting some words with a very fascinating and melodious rhythm. I couldn't make out the words, never heard the language spoken in it. However, its effect was so strong that for a second, I couldn't move. It seemed as if I had been exposed to an electric shock. I replayed it a thousand times, and each time my feelings arose stronger than before.
I rushed home to find out who the writer of these words was and who was reciting them and more importantly who put it on my iPod. The latter mystery was solved quite easily; I’d downloaded it from the net instead of another song, but how I’d made such a mistake, I never found out.
To find the writer of those words, I didn't know where to search. Since I didn't understand it and didn't know the language, I couldn't search for it on the net. So I decided to play it for my father who knew some languages. He recognized it instantly...
The day after the incident, I went to the nearest bookshop and to the surprise of the shopkeeper, I bought the book-of course the English translation- that carried those enchanting words. I couldn't wait longer, so the second that he handed me the book I started reading it.
The content was deep and compelling, however, the feeling that I experienced by hearing the original words did not arise in me by reading the translation. But the book still was so absorbing that I finished it in a matter of days.
I wasn't satisfied. I had to figure out the secret of the original words. It became a matter of life and death for me; I had to pursue it, or my life would have lost its meaning. So, I decided to learn the language of the book. It was a very formidable decision since the language was not in the least like my own and it was considered to be one of the hardest languages in the world.
Nevertheless, I found a place and started learning it. It took me months to be able to read some words of the book and understand their meaning, however, the more I learned, the more voracious I became in following the path I had chosen.
Gradually, I came to realize some of the extraordinary aspects of the word choice of that book. The words were chosen based on a careful and precise symmetry as well as coordination; they were irreplaceable since they were so firmly bound together both in meaning and tone. If you had replaced a word with its close synonym, the whole sentence and even the entire part would have become inconsistent and wouldn’t have had the same effect at all.
Moreover, the careful choice of the words in each part had a direct influence over the tone of that part; sometimes cautionary and awakening, sometimes annunciatory and promising, and in both cases pierces instantly into your heart. Reading the words makes you feel like you are reciting a melodious poem written in prose style, yet no poem or prose could be considered equal to it.
In a few months, the charm of the Quran’s words changed me into a whole new person; from an aimless and disconcerted girl to one whose purpose is as clear as daylight, full of hope and positivity. This experience that marked a turning point in my life came to me as a miracle; you too can go on the same journey and find your way out; just hear these words once and feel the difference by yourself.
- Mohammad Hadi Ma'arefat. Qur’anic sciences. Qom: Al tahmid, 1381.
- new muslim