How an American Computer Programmer Found Peace

By Richard Leiman

As a child, I always had access to a short-wave radio.  I used to listen to the BBC World Service about the Middle East.  I also loved the music from that part of the world, and I probably was listening to the Quran being recited, but did not know it at the time.

As I grew older, I continued to listen to the BBC World Service.  Back then, they had a program called Words of Faith in which they had a five- to eight-minute talk given by a different religious speaker each day of the week representing all the major religions in the United Kingdom.  Out of all the speakers, the Muslims were the ones I loved listening to most.

Every time the Muslim representative spoke, I wanted to find out more about Islam.  My impression of the religion was that the person who practices Islam is a happy person, not like the mean people portrayed by the American media.  I just refused to believe people that loved Allah so much could be like the people portrayed by the media.  Because I come from a Jewish background, the thing that united me with Islam was the belief that Allah had no partners.

Work in the United Kingdom

An important time in my life came when I met a real Muslim, but did not know it yet.  I was doing contracting computer programming work in New York State when I had a strong urge to visit the United Kingdom.


Meeting a Real Muslim for the First Time

Sometime after I started working at LogoTech, I found out that my supervisor, Anis Karim, was Muslim.  I asked him if he knew how I could get a copy of the Quran.  To my surprise, he obtained a copy of the Quran for me within a few days. […] The next day, while eating breakfast, I started to read.  Later I found out that “read” is what Allah had the Angel Gabriel instruct our beloved Prophet to do, even though he could not read or write!

Well, words can’t describe how I felt when I read just that small portion of the world’s most holy book.  It took only 10 pages, when, at that point, I told myself that this religion was for me.  This occurred around 1990.  The more I read, the more I wanted to know, and I loved what I was reading.

At the time, I did not know anything about how to pray or any of the details of Islam.  If Anis had invited me to go the masjid [mosque] in London, I would have gone with him. […]   At the time, I knew that Muslims prayed several times a day, and so I started to do so at night before I went to bed and in the morning when I woke up.


My First Trip to a Masjid

[…] My sister asked me if I could help her find Islamic jewelry as a gift.  At that time I had no idea that there were Muslims in Huntsville.

Then Allah put things into place for me.  I remembered that there was a shop called Crescent Imports, which I thought was run by Muslims.  It was not.  It was run by the group called Nation of Islam.  […]

I do thank Allah for having them direct me to the masjid. […]I spoke to the imam, and he invited me to perform salat (Prayer) with the Muslim brothers.  This was a turning point in my life.  I loved it and started to visit the masjid once a week at night.  Then I started to visit it several times a week at night.  The urge to come more times was stronger and I now perform most of my prayers at the masjid, except `Asr and Maghrib prayers when I am at work.

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I Officially Accepted Islam

In November of 1996, I publicly made Shahadah.  At work, I pray Zhuhr and Asr by myself or with other Muslim brothers in a small mosque in my work place.  I proudly carry my prayer rug in the hallways at my work in an attempt to get people to ask me what they are.  When they do ask me about it, I tell them that I am Muslim and the mats are what I use to pray on.  Also, my work area, including my computer, is decorated with Islamic artwork.  My background on my computer is usually the Kaaba or our masjid.

Now that I am a Muslim, there is no turning back to disbelief!

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