Men comverts
Men comverts
Craig Robertson, Ex-Catholic, Canada
From Bad to Worse.
Learning to Accept
Eric Schrody, Ex-Catholic, USA.. 
Bruce Paterson, Ex-Christian, UK.
Dawood Kinney, Ex-Catholic, USA.
Clinton Sipes, Ex-Christian, USA.
Malik Mohammed Hassan, Canada.
N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA..
Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain.
Indrani and Chandara, Ex-Hindu, Singapore.
Radko, Ex-Atheist, Czech. 
Atheism to Christianity. 
A Sewn Seed Grows Tall and Strong. 
Darrick Abdul-hakim, Ex-Christian, USA..
Brandon Toropov, Ex-Christian, USA..
Musa Caplan, Ex-Jew, USA.. 
Muhammed Umar Rao, Ex-Hindu, Brahmin. 
Yousef al Khattab, Ex-Jew, USA.. 
C.S. Mathos, Ex-Atheist, USA.. 
Richard Leiman, Ex-Jew, USA..
Abdul-Lateef Abdullah, Ex-Protestant, USA..
Learning about Islam.. 
How Islam has changed my life! 
Hussein Abdulwaheed Amin, Ex-Catholic, Ireland.
      Introduction and Personal Background. 
      Investigating the Christian Resources. 
      From Trinitarianism to Unitarianism.. 
     Statement of Theological Beliefs. 
Anthony Greene, Ex-Christian, UK.
Dr. Ali Selman Benoist, Ex-Catholic, France. 
Ali, Ex-Christian, USA.. 
Yahya Schroder, Ex-Secularist, Germany.
Jim Cate, Ex-Christian, USA.. 
Michael David Shapiro, Ex-Jew, Russia. 
Melech Yacov, Ex-Jew, USA. 
Mariano Ricardo Calle, Ex-Catholic, Argentina.
Abdullah DeLancey, Ex-Christian, Canada. 
Poncardas Romas, Ex-Christian, Philippines. 
Muhammad Nazeeh Khalid, Ex-Christian, Egypt 
A Muslim at Thirteen! 
Josh Hasan, Ex-Jew, USA. 
Thomas Webber, Ex-Christian, UK. 
Heinz, Ex-Christian, UK. 
Jonathan, Ex-Christian, Canada. 
Charlie Alcala, Ex-Christian, Philippines. 
Anthony, Ex-Mormon, USA. 
Frank Estrada, Ex-Catholic, Romania. 
Wildeman, Netherlands. 
Tarik Preston, Ex-Christian, USA. 
Justin L. Peyton, Ex-Christian, USA. 
Maurice Alexander Gent, Ex-Christian, UK. 
James Farrell, Ex-Catholic, USA. 
Walter Gomez, Ex-Christian, USA. 
Ibrahim, Ex-Catholic, USA. 
Sa’ad Laws, Ex-Christian, USA. 
Steven Barboza, Ex-Catholic, USA. 
Dirk Walter Mosig, Ex-Catholic, Germany. 
Jamal Jordan, Ex-Christian, USA. 
Martin Guevarra Abella, Ex-Catholic, Philippines. 
Sam Needham, Ex-Agnostic, UK. 
James, Ex-Christian, USA. 
James Den C.  Bedico, Ex-Christian, Philippines. 
 
Craig Robertson, Ex-Catholic, Canada
From Bad to Worse
My name is Abdullah Al-Kanadi.  I was born in Vancouver, Canada.  My family, who were Roman Catholics, raised me as a Roman Catholic until I was 12 years old.  I have been Muslim for approximately six years, and I would like to share the story of my journey to Islam with you.
 
I suppose in any story it’s best to start from the beginning.  During my childhood I attended a Catholic religious school and was taught about the Catholic faith, along with other subjects.  Religion was always my best class; I excelled academically in the teachings of the Church.  I was pressed into service as an ‘altar boy’ by my parents from a very young age, which pleased my grandparents a great deal; but the more I learned about my religion, the more I questioned it!  I have this memory from my childhood, I asked my mother on Mass: “Is our religion the right one?”  My mother’s answer still rings in my ears to this day: “Craig, they are all the same, they’re all good!”  Well to me this didn’t seem right.  What was the point of me learning my religion if they were all equally good!?
 
At the age of twelve, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer and died a few months later, after a painful battle with the disease.  I never realized how deeply her death affected me till later on in life.  At the tender age of twelve, I decided I would be an atheist in order to punish God (if you can even fathom such a thing!) I was an angry little boy; I was angry at the world, at myself and worst of all, at God.  I stumbled through my early teenage years trying to do everything I could to impress my new “friends” in public high school.  I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn, for being sheltered in a religious school you don’t learn what you would in a public school.  I pressed all my friends in private to teach me about all the things I did not learn, soon enough I gained the habit of swearing and making fun of people weaker than me.  Even though I tried my best to fit in, I never actually did.  I would get bullied; girls would make fun of me and so on.  For a kid my age, this was devastating.  I retreated to myself, into what you would call an ‘emotional shell’.
 
My teenage years were filled with misery and loneliness.  My poor parents tried to talk to me, but I was belligerent towards them and very disrespectful.  I graduated from high school in the summer of 1996 and felt that things would have to change for the better, since I believed they couldn’t get any worse!  I was accepted in a local technical school and decided that I should further my education and maybe make some good money, so that I would be happy.  I took a job at a fast-food restaurant by my house to help pay for school.
 
A couple of weeks before I was to start school, I was invited to move out with some friends from work.  To me, this seemed like the answer to my problems!  I would forget my family and be with my friends all the time.  One night, I told my parents I was going to move out.  They told me, I couldn’t, and that I wasn’t ready for it and that they wouldn’t allow it!  I was 17 years old and very headstrong; I swore at my parents and said to them all sorts of evil things, which I still regret to this day.  I felt emboldened by my new freedom, I felt released, and I could follow my desires as I saw fit.  I moved in with my friends and didn’t speak to my parents for a long time after that.
 
I was working and going to school when my roommates introduced me to marijuana.  I was in love with it after the first ‘puff’!  I would smoke a bit when I got home from work to relax and unwind.  Soon though, I started to smoke more and more, until during one weekend I had smoked so much, that it was Monday morning and before I knew it, it was time for school.  I thought, well, I’ll take one day of school off, and go the next day, since they won’t possibly miss me.  I never returned to school after that.  I finally realized how good I had it.  All the fast food I could steal and all the drugs I could smoke, who needed school anyways?
 
I was living a great life, or so I thought; I became the ‘resident’ bad boy at work and consequently the girls started to pay attention to me like they hadn’t in high school.  I tried harder drugs, but alhamdulillah, I was saved from the really terrible stuff.  The strange thing was, when I wasn’t high or drunk I was miserable.  I felt worthless and completely valueless.  I was stealing from work and from friends to help maintain the ‘chemical haze’.  I became paranoid of the people around me and imagined police officers were chasing me around every corner.  I was beginning to crack and I needed a solution, and I figured that religion would help me.
 
I remember seeing a movie about witchcraft and I thought that would be perfect for me.  I bought a couple books on Wicca and Nature Worship, and found that they encouraged the use of natural drugs so I continued.  People would ask me if I believed in God, and we would have the strangest conversations while under the ‘influence’, but I distinctly remember saying that no, in fact I don’t believe in God at all, I believe in many gods as imperfect as me.
 
Through all this, there was one friend who stuck by me.  He was a ‘Born Again’ Christian and was always preaching to me, even though I would mock his faith at every opportunity.  He was the only friend I had at the time who didn’t judge me, so when he invited me along to go to a youth weekend camp I decided to go along.  I had no expectations.  I thought I would have a huge laugh making fun of all the “Bible Thumpers”.  During the second evening, they had a huge service in an auditorium.  They played all sorts of music which praised God.  I watched as the young and old, male and female cried out for forgiveness and shed tears over everything.  I was really moved and I said a silent prayer along the lines of “God, I know I have been a horrible person, please help me, and forgive me and let me start fresh.”  I felt a surge of emotion come over me, and I felt tears roll down my cheek.  I decided at that moment to embrace Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  I raised my hands in the air and started dancing around (yes, dancing!) All the Christians around me were staring at me in stunned silence; the guy who mocked them and told them how stupid they were for believing in God, was dancing and praising God!
 
I returned to my party home and eschewed all drugs, intoxicants, and girls.  I promptly told my friends how they needed to be Christians so they could be saved.  I was shocked that they rejected me, because they always used to pay attention to me before.  I ended up moving back with my parents after a long absence and used to badger them with the reasons why they should become Christian.  They being Catholic felt they were already Christian, but I felt they were not, for they worshipped Saints.  I decided to move out again but this time on better terms and was given a job by my grandfather who wanted to help with my “recovery”.
 
I started to hang out at a Christian “youth house” which was basically a house where teens could go, to get away from family pressures and discuss Christianity.  I was older than most of the boys, so I became one of those who talked most and try to make the boys feel welcomed.  In spite of this, I felt like a fraud, for I started drinking and dating again.  I would tell the kids about Jesus’ love for them, and during the nights would drink.  Through all this, my one Christian friend would try to council me and keep me on the right track.

Learning to Accept
I still remember to this day my first encounter with a Muslim.  One of the boys brought his friend to the youth house.  He was a Muslim kid whose name I forgot.  What I do remember is the boy saying “I brought my friend ‘so and so’, he’s a Muslim and I want to help him become a Christian”.  I was absolutely amazed by this 14 year old kid, he was calm and friendly!  Believe it or not, he defended himself AND Islam against a dozen Christians who were hurling abuses at him and Islam!  As we sat there fruitlessly thumbing through our Bibles and getting angrier and angrier, he just sat there, quietly smiling and telling us about worshipping others besides God and how, yes, there is love in Islam.  He was like a gazelle encircled by a dozen hyenas, yet the entire time, he was calm and friendly and respectful.  It blew my mind!
 
The Muslim kid left a copy of the Quran on the shelf, either he forgot it or left it on purpose, I don’t know, but I starting reading it.  I soon became infuriated with this book when I saw that it made more sense than the Bible.  I threw it against the couch and walked away, seething with anger; yet, after I read it, I had a niggling doubt at my core.  I did my best to forget about the Muslim kid and just enjoy my time with my friends at the youth house.  The youth group used to go to various Churches on weekends to prayer events and Saturday nights were spent in a huge Church instead of at the bar.  I remember being at one such event called ‘The Well’ and I felt so close to God and wanted to humble myself and show my Creator my love for Him.  I did what felt natural, I prostrated.  I prostrated like Muslims do in the daily prayers, yet I didn’t know what I was doing, all I knew was, that it felt really good… it felt right, more than anything else I had ever done.  I felt very pious and spiritual and continued on my path but as usual, started to feel things slipping away.
 
The Pastor always taught us that we must submit our will to God’s, and I wanted nothing more than to do that; but I didn’t know how!  I always prayed “Please God, make my will Yours, make me follow Your will” and so on, but nothing ever happened.  I felt myself slowly slipping away from the Church as my faith ebbed away.  It was at this time that my best friend, the Christian man who had helped me come to Christ, along with another close friend of mine, raped my girlfriend who I had been with for two years.  I was in the other room too drunk to know what was happening and unable to stop anything.  A couple of weeks later, it was revealed that the man who ran the youth house had molested one of the boys that I was friends with.
 
My world was shattered!  I had been betrayed by so many of my friends, people who were supposed to be close to God and working towards Paradise.  I had nothing left to give, I was empty again.  I walked around as before, blindly and without direction, just working and sleeping and partying.  My girlfriend and I broke up soon afterwards.  My guilt, rage and sadness encompassed my entire being.  How could my Creator allow such a thing to happen to me?  How selfish was I?!
 
A little while after, my manager at work told me that a “Moslem” would be working with us, he was really religious and we should try to be decent around him.  The minute this “Moslem” came in he started Da’wah.  He wasted no time in telling us all about Islam and everyone told him they didn’t want to hear anything about Islam, other than me!  My soul was crying out and even my stubbornness could not squelch the cries.  We started working together and discussing our respective beliefs.  I had given up on Christianity completely, but when he started asking me questions, my faith surged and I felt I was a ‘Crusader’ defending the Faith from this evil “Moslem”.
 
The fact of the matter was that this particular “Moslem” wasn’t evil like I had been told.  In fact, he was better than me.  He didn’t swear, he never got angry and was always calm, kind and respectful.  I was truly impressed and decided that he would make an excellent Christian.  We went back and forth asking things about each others religions, but after a time I felt myself getting more and more defensive.  At one point, I became very angry… here I was trying to convince him of the truth of Christianity, and I felt it was he who was on the truth!  I started to feel more and more confused and didn’t know what to do.  All I knew was that I had to increase my faith, so I jumped in my car and roared off to ‘The Well’.  I was convinced that if I could only pray there again, I could get the feeling back and the strong faith and then I could convert the Muslim.  I eventually got there, after speeding the entire way, and found it was closed!  No one was in sight, I frantically looked around for another similar event so I could ‘charge up’ but found nothing.  Dejected, I returned home.
 
I started to realize that I was being pushed in a certain direction, so I prayed over and over to my Creator to surrender my will to His.  I felt that my prayer was being answered; I went home and laid in bed and at that moment I realized that I needed to pray like never before.  I sat up in bed and cried, ‘Jesus, God, Buddha, whoever You are, please, please guide me, I need You!  I have done so much evil in my life and I need Your help.  If Christianity is the correct way then make me strong, and if it is Islam, then bring me to it!’  I stopped praying and the tears went away and deep within my soul I felt calm, I knew what the answer was.  I went to work the next day and said to the Muslim brother “how do I say ‘hi’ to you?”  He asked me what I meant and I said, “I wanted to become a Muslim”.  He looked at me and said “Allahu Akbar!”  We hugged for a good minute or so and I thanked him for everything and I began my journey into Islam.
 
I look back at all the events that happened in my life over time, and I realize that I was being prepared to become a Muslim.  I was shown so much mercy from God.  Out of all that happened in my life, there was something to learn.  I learned the beauty of the Islamic prohibition of intoxicants, the prohibition of illegal sex, and the need for the Hijab.  I am finally on an even keel, no more am I too much in one direction; I am living a moderate life, and doing my best to be a decent Muslim.
There are always challenges, as I am sure many of you have felt, as have I.  But through these challenges, through these emotional pains, we become stronger; we learn and, I hope, turn to God.  For those of us who have accepted Islam at some point in our lives, we truly are blessed and fortunate.  We have been given the chance, a chance for the greatest mercy!  Mercy which we don’t deserve, but still will God willing be given on the Day of Resurrection.  I have reconciled with my family and have started looking to start my own God willing.  Islam truly is a way of life, and even if we suffer poor treatment by fellow Muslims or non Muslims, we must always remember to be patient and turn only to God.
If I have said anything incorrect it is from me, and if anything that I have said is correct it is from God, all Praises are due to God, and may God bestow His mercy and blessings upon his noble Prophet Muhammad, Amen.
May God increase our faith and make it in accords to that which pleases Him and grant us His Paradise, Amen!

Eric Schrody, Ex-Catholic, USA
 
Rap music has seen more than its share of influence from the religion of Islam.  With groups such as Public Enemy rapping about their respect for the Nation of Islam, to people such as Q-Tip of a Tribe Called Quest embracing mainstream Islam, the religion seems to be a recurrent theme in the genre, both impacting lyrics and lives.  One artist more recently touched by Islam is Eric Schrody, better known in music circles as Everlast.
 
While Everlast began his musical career as a rap artist, he has recently shown himself to have much greater depth and diversity.  His current album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues (currently ranked #49 on billboard’s charts after peaking at #9) exhibits this in its reflective and somewhat philosophical tone, showing glimpses of the influence Islam has had on his life.
 
What follows is an interview in which Everlast discusses his journey to Islam and the challenges he faces as a new Muslim.
 
AB: Tell me about the first time you learned about Islam?
 
E: It was probably around the late 80’s.  I was hangin’ out with Divine Styler (a popular Los Angeles rap artist).  He was basically at the end of his 5% period (referring to the pseudo-Islamic “Nation of Gods and Earths” sect).  He was starting to come into Islam.  He lived with the Bashir family.  Abdullah Bashir was sort of his teacher; and mine it wound up later.  As he was making the transition from 5% into Islam, I would just be around and hear things.
 
I’m trying to think of the first time I recognized it as Islam.  I think it was when one of Divine’s friends took Shahadah (the Muslim profession of faith) and I was there.  I heard him say, “I bear witness that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the servant and messenger.” And I remember me being like, “What is this?  I’m white.  Can I be here?”  It was outta ignorance, you know?  ‘Cause here in America, Islam is considered a “Black thing.” And that’s when someone pointed out to me, “You have no idea how many white Muslims there are in the world.” I was like, “Really,” and somebody broke it down.  I said, “That’s crazy.  I had no clue.”
 
AB: Do you feel any extra pressure being a white Muslim in America?
 
E: I don’t think of it on the grand scale.  To me, Islam is mine.  Allah is the God of all the worlds, and all mankind and all the Aalameen (worlds/universe).  Islam is my personal relationship with God.  So nobody can put any more pressure on me than I can put on myself.  But as far as the mosque where I pray, I have never felt more at home or more welcome.  And it’s not just mine.  The few mosques that I’ve gone to around the country, I’ve never ever been made to feel uncomfortable.  Like in New York, the mosque is big and there’s so many people that nobody is lookin’ to notice you.  There were Chinese, Korean, Spanish - everything, which was a good thing for me because at my mosque I’m the only white male, [although] there are some white females.
 
I think at first, I thought about it more than anybody else the first couple times I went to Jumma (the Friday congregational prayer).  The first time I went to Jumma, I was taken by a friend of mine in New York.  It was in Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy (Bedford Stuyvestant).  I was nervous about the neighborhood I was in, not the mosque.  But I was just so at ease once I was there.  I was like, “This is great.” I didn’t feel any different than anybody else in the mosque.
 
AB: How did your family take your turning to Islam?  Because you were raised Catholic, right?
 
E: Well, you know my mom is very open minded, very progressive.  My mother lives with me.  And I’ve been raised all my life with not a belief in God, but a knowledge that he exists.  I was taught [that] if [I were to know] anything in the world, [I should] know there’s a God.  And my mom, even though she was Catholic, she was the first person to point out hypocrisy in the church.  My mom really hasn’t attended church in a long time.  But as far as me, my mom is just happy that I have God in my life.
 
She sees me making prayers.  And Divine is one of her favorite people in the world.  She knows how much different we are than when she first knew us as kids.  When me and Divine first hooked up, we were wild.  We were out partyin’, fightin’, doin’ whatever we had to do.  We thought, “Yeah, that’s what being a man is about.  We’re gonna go out here and be thuggish.”
 
[But] she has seen how much it’s changed me and him; and how much peace it’s brought me since I’ve started to really accomplish something with it.  I actually had a long talk with my mother the other day and we were on the topic of religion.  We were actually talking about life and death, and the future and when she might go (die, pass away).  That won’t be for a long time, inshallah (God willing).  But I asked her to do me one favor.  I said, “Mom, when you die there might be some angels who ask you a question, and I want you to answer it; and I’m not sure exactly how it goes, ‘cause I ain’t died yet.  Remember that there’s only one God, and he’s never been a man.”
 
She said, “I know what you are trying to tell me.” [And] I said, “Jesus wasn’t God, Ma.”
 
Some of what I know has definitely shown up in my mother.  She’s no Muslim, but she knows there’s only one God.  And that makes me very happy.  I know guys that have turned towards Islam and their families have turned them out (i.e. rejected them).
AB: My family tried to.  I just can’t understand that.  But you know what?  That’s a trial.  Although I’ve changed my name for like 8 years now, they still run up calling me by my birth name.  Then it’s, “Oh I forgot that you’re Muslim.” Then it’s the pork jokes.  It never stops.
 
E: It’s one of those things where people laugh at what they don’t understand.  Or they fear what they can’t grasp.  The thing is that nobody can pretend that they don’t understand it.  Because I’ve never come across anything more simple in my life.
 
Like I remember that when I sat down and asked, “So, what does a Muslim believe,” and I got the list run down to me.  I was like, “You don’t put up the wall between Christianity and Judaism.” They were like, “Nah, it’s all the same story.”
 
If when you finally get down to reading the Quran, the Bible and the Torah, which is pretty much just the Old Testament, you find that the Quran is just an affirmation of what is correct and isn’t correct within those books (the Bible and the Torah).  And then you say to yourself, “How did that go down when these cats were all from different parts of the world?”  But they are all confirming each other’s story.
 
I’m reading a book right now called Muhammad: The Life of the Prophet, by Karen Armstrong.  It was written by a non-Muslim.  So far, I’m only about a quarter of the way through; but it starts out telling you how they originally tried to make Muhammad look like the most evil man on the earth; that he established Islam under the sword.  But then you learn that Muhammad only fought when he had to.  Muhammad only fought to defend Islam.  It’s a very good book about the man.  It just lets you know that this cat was a man.  We ain’t trying to tell you that he was anything else but a man.  We’re telling you as Muslims that he was the most perfect example of a man to walk the earth so far.  And from what I’ve read he is the last one to come of his kind.
 
When you get beyond being scared of Farrakhan and what he’s sayin’ -- and here as a white person I’m speaking -- when you get beyond the ignorance of believing that Islam has anything to do with just people that are blowing up things, that doesn’t have anything to do with Islam.  They might do it in the name of Islam.  But it has nothing to do with Islam.  You can’t argue with it.
 
When I explain Jesus to a Christian, he can’t argue with me.  And I don’t mean argue, saying, “Jesus isn’t God!”  I mean, how much more sense does it make that he’s a man?  If I was Christian, which to me means to be Christ-like, and God asks me, “Hey how come you weren’t more like Jesus?”  I’ll say, I wasn’t more like Jesus because you made him half of a God [and] I’m only a man?”  That doesn’t make any sense.
 
God doesn’t want things hard on us.  God wants things easy as possible.  God is going to make it as easy as possible.  If you ask and you are sincere, God will bring it to you.  He might throw some rocks on your path, to make you trip and stumble.  But it’s gonna come to you.
 
AB: Talk to me about the first and second time you took your Shahadah (profession of faith).
 
E: Well the first time, it was right after I had heard a tape from WarithDeen Muhammad (son of Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad, who took most of the Nation of Islam into mainstream Islam).  That just kinda broke down the whole Jesus thing.  He explained that we (Muslims) do Christians a great favor by bringing Jesus down to the level of a man.  Why would God create a man who is half a God and compare us to him?  And it just sent off a bomb in my head.  So I took Shahadah.  And then the initial high wore off.
 
It was almost like a Christian who says that they accept Jesus.  Then they say, “No matter what I do now I’m saved.” ‘Cause I was raised with that kinda mentality.  Like, “OK, I accept the truth so let me just go out here and sin my butt off and I’m saved.”
 
I didn’t really claim to be Muslim though at that time.  I picked and chose what I wanted to believe.  God gave me leeway for a time.  But eventually it was time to fish or cut the line.  I was coming to a point where I was unsatisfied emotionally, and spiritually.  I had money in the bank and a $100,000 car, women left and right -- everything that you think you want.  And then just sitting there being like, “Why am I unhappy?”  Finally that voice that talks to you -- not the whisper (of Satan) -- the voice said, “Well, basically you’re unhappy because you’re living foul and you’re not trying to do anything about it.”
 
My stubbornness at that time wouldn’t allow me to talk about it at that time.  You get in that state of mind where you’re like, “I can figure this out all by myself.”
 
I finally got humble enough to talk to Divine and Abdullah about it.  They asked me, “How do you feel?  What do you think it is?”  So finally I’m sittin’ there taking Shahadah again.  From that point on I’ve made a commitment where I’m going to try my best.  I’m gonna do my best to make my prayers, let’s start there.  Let’s not beat ourselves up because we went out last night and had a drink.  Let’s make our prayers and pray for the strength to stop doing one thing at a time.  That’s what I’m still dealing with.
 
You know, once you get over the big things, it becomes very subtle.  It can be as subtle as looking at a man, and not even speaking bad about him, but back-biting him in your mind.  The easy ones to beat -- well I shouldn’t say easy -- the big ones are easy to notice.  It’s the subtle psychological stuff that helps you get into who really you are.  You gotta be able to face the truth of who you are.  If you are not able to face that truth of who you are, you’re gonna crumble, man.
 
People question me and go, “You’re Muslim?”  And I’m like, “Yeah I’m Muslim, but I’m also a professional sinner.” I’m tryin’ to get over it, tryin’ to retire.  I won’t front and say I’m better than you.  I just believe that I’ve been shown the truth and hopefully that will save me.”
 
AdisaBanjoko is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Bruce Paterson, Ex-Christian, UK
I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my journey to Islam and I feel that by sharing this experience with you 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 to ask questions.  I quickly became unsatisfied.  The priest told me, “You just have 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 meditating gave me a good clean feeling.  The trouble was that it didn’t 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 it.
 
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 didn’t really matter what you believed in or what you followed.  Surely though this is a form of escaping.  I mean, does it make sense: one truth for one person and another truth for someone else?  There can only be one truth!
 
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.  You will find however, that in every other religion there is some form of worship involving creation.  For example, worshipping men as incarnations of God or stones, sounds familiar.  Surely though, if you are going to worship anything, you should worship the one that created all.  The one that gave you your life and the one who will take it away again.  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 text book guide to life.  In it you will find answers to all questions.  For me, everything I had learnt about all the different religions, everything that I knew to be true, fitted together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  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.

Dawood Kinney, Ex-Catholic, USA
 
As far back as I can remember as a child, I was always astounded by this universe in which we live; how everything works perfectly.  I used to lie outside at night on my parent's lawn, staring up at the stars, just amazed at the unfathomable size of the heavens.  And I also used to be amazed at how the human body just ticked along, heart beating, lungs pumping, with no help from me.  And from that early time, I always in some way knew, there just had to be a Creator responsible for all this.
 
But then as I segued into my teens, it was much easier to succumb to peer pressure, and I lost interest in the Divine and instead devoted my time to alcohol, sex and the immature games of a young male growing up in America.  Growing into young adulthood, my obsessions became money, power, a better house, a faster car, and a prettier woman--all shallow pursuits.
 
I lived this way for many years, slowly losing control of my life, thinking I was pursuing happiness when all I was getting was more depressed, more confused, and making more and more of a mess of my life.
 
At some point, my life just sort of spiraled to the bottom and I cracked.  My immediate response was to turn to God, and, having been raised Catholic, it was to that church that I turned.  At the time, I had been divorced and remarried and came to find out that the Catholic Church didn't want me.  Hurt and angry, but also realizing a need for a spiritual order in my life, I turned to Buddhism.
 
The Buddhist sect I became involved with followed a Tibetan tradition, where importance is placed on gaining empowerments, which are basically blessings from various Buddhas.  At some point I realized I was not really bettering myself, just running around gaining empowerments, performing elaborate rituals.  All of a sudden, I realized that one of the last things the Buddha said before passing away was not to worship him.  I realized this whole practice was BASED on worshipping not only "the" Buddha, but also all these other Buddhas.  I became very discouraged and reverted to my old ways of indulgence in alcohol and other forbidden pleasures.  And once again, I became very depressed, only this time with emotional side effects that began to manifest in very frightening and self-destructive ways.
 
When I was a young man, I was very much "into" the music of Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam).  When I heard he had embraced Islam, I was in the U.S. Navy at the time and this was during the "hostage crisis" in Iran.  So, I immediately drew the conclusion that Cat Stevens has become a terrorist, and I kept that belief for many years.
 
A couple months or so ago, I heard he was going to be interviewed on TV, and I wanted to hear about this crazy man who had left a great life to become a terrorist.  Well, needless to say, I was just floored by the interview, because he was certainly no terrorist, but a soft-spoken, articulate, peaceful man who radiated love, and patience, and intelligence.  The very next day, I began researching Islam on the Internet.  I came across a lecture in RealAudio by a brother, Khaled Yasin, and well, this lecture really put me over the top.
 
The first one by Br. Khaled is really the one that did it for me, but the other two by Br. Yusef (Cat Stevens) really speaks to those of us who did not grow up in a Muslim society.).  It all made so much SENSE, the existence of God was so SIMPLE to understand!  How could I have been so stupid all this time???
 
Well, the more I learned the more I was convinced that this was truly the path I had been searching for.  It contained the discipline--physical, mental, and spiritual--that leads to true peace and happiness.  But most importantly, it contains that path to God.  Pronouncing my Shahada was such a CLEANSING experience, and since this time, I have often just … cried and cried and cried.  How wonderful!
 
I have received such a warm and embracing welcome from all Muslim brothers and sisters from around the world; I take great comfort in this, knowing that, despite any adversity or setback, I am literally surrounded by my Muslim family that will never abandon me as long as I remain Muslim.  No other group of people has ever treated me in this way.
 
I still have a very long and arduous path ahead.  Accepting the reality of Islam is the easy part, walking the Straight Path is the hard part, especially once one had firmly implanted himself in a society of unbelievers.  But I pray to God every day for strength and guidance, and I just take it one day at a time, trying to improve in Islam little by little each day.

Clinton Sipes, Ex-Christian, USA
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.  Without a positive father figure, I was basically developing antisocial behavior and an inclination to violence.
 
I began to imitate what I was being exposed to, this process of imitation began unconsciously.  It affected my interaction with my older brother, classmates, teachers and animals also.  Nothing was exempt from the sadistic outpouring of pent up anger and rage!
 
At the age of 13, I fell into association with similar children, but because they weren’t as driven as I was, I quickly became bored with them.  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.  The period of reform school (adolescent jail) began, and that environment also shaped me, refining crime inclination to a full time skill.  Violence and racism were honed to razor sharpness...an environment of negativity that fueled my growing rage and hatred of authority, blacks, Jews and Asians.  After 3 years of this (reform period) I was released.  I was a walking grenade.
 
Searching for a point of focus to release this rage I became association with paramilitary racist group of young adults.  I participated in regular assaults on people and engaged in various criminal activities.  At 16, I found myself incarcerated serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in the California Youth Authority for robbery, assault and weapons charges.  Immediately I feel in step with the gangs of “white supremacy”  and cultivated my rage and anger into pure “Hate” of all people who were not “Anglo Saxon.”
 
I began correspondence with the KKK, and upon my release on parole, I was a full fledged card carrying hate-monger.  For the next 3 to 4 years, my activities were heavily involved in Klan cross-burnings, media appearances, night raids of beatings, property desecrations, etc.  My parole was violated for possession of weapons and suspicion of robberies.
 
Search for Peace: Young Adult
 
This last violation of parole, at the age of 20, the search for peace began.  I had so much rage and hatred inside me for so many years, it was beginning to consume me from the inside out.  I lashed out at the prison staff in hatred.  I had anger and hate literature, graffiti, drawings covering my cell walls and tattoos covering half my upper body.  I was not exploding, but imploding!
 
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 began thinking of the many victims’ lives I had affected.  I could see myself in prison for life if this past were to continue into the future.  I said to myself, “Clint, you must make a choice between this evil or a future good.”  It was clear to me there was no future (of longevity) in this evil.  My family - mother, girlfriend, brothers - were afraid of me.  I had become alienated from them.  I began searching for a purity to purge the cancer of hate from inside me.  I wanted to be loved and to love in a pure sense.  I just didn’t want to “Hate” anymore.
 
I moved to Montana and was arrested for burglary.  I was sentenced and served 2 1/2 years of a 5-year sentence, and was then released on parole, which I successfully completed.
 
I became involved with human rights groups and I started my own human rights group, C.H.E.R.E. (Children Escaping Racist Environments).  My goal was to reach out to children to help them escape the environmental circumstances that had overwhelmed me once.  I wanted to give back where I was once the problem, but I was still involved in crime.  I took part in possession of explosives and was arrested by the federal government and sentenced to 35 months in federal prison.
he Search for Truth
 
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.  This brother invited me to Jumu’ah (Friday) service. 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.
 
Christianity has and is still undergoing changes, in the Bible and in the Christian doctrines, and cannot even begin to claim originality of the Bible which is read and taught out of today.
 
There is only one God and one Religion, and religion is “ Submission”  to the one God.  This is the meaning of Islam.
 
The Metamorphosis: Clinton Sipes into Abdus Salam (Servant of [the Source of] Peace)
 
As you have read, the life of Clinton Sipes was one of hate, crime and violence, the very things that bring about the total destruction of a human being.
 
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.”  Islam filled the spiritual void by teaching me my beginning and end, has given contentment, a peace, a serenity to me these words cannot adequately describe.  My purpose is clear, my direction is straight.
 
Islam has, through its truth, taught me humility and the true worship of God.  I had learned that from God we came and to God we must return.  God created all things animate and inanimate, microscopic and macroscopic, the finite and infinite.  Nothing creates itself but is created by God.
 
On the last day, it will not matter if I was black or white, rich or poor, powerful or weak in power, nor will it matter about all mankind.  Rather it will be about one’s deeds good and bad that an individual is personally responsible for and will be punished and rewarded accordingly.  No one can die or be punished for my sins or be rewarded for the good I may do but me.  I am responsible, I must answer when asked.  I became aware of this truth and I declared openly, “There is no god but God and his last messenger was Prophet Muhammad-Ibn-Abdullah-Al-Mustafa.”  Thus, in essence, my life has returned to infancy where truth and purity begin!
 
In closing, the metamorphosis has now come full circle.  I have found “Truth” in God (all praises to Him, creator of mankind, angel and jinn, all that exists in the heavens and earth).  God (Whom all praise is due) has [many] names or attributes, one attribute is Salam (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.

Malik Mohammed Hassan, Canada
First of all, I would like to start by saying that this true story is not for my own fame or admiration, but for the sake of my Lord and your Lord God.  All praises due to God, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful Owner of the day of judgment.  I would like to repeat to you something I heard: the journey of a thousand miles has to start with the first step, and this is the first part of my journey.
 
My name is Malik Mohammed Hassan, and I have recently converted to Islam.  When I was in junior high school, I was first introduced to Islam by reading the book Roots by Alex Haley.  It taught me a little bit about the strong will that most Muslims possess, myself included.  It also introduced me to Allah.  I had never heard of Allah in his real form until I read that book, and I was very curious.  I then started reading about The Nation of Islam (specifically Malcolm X), and it fascinated me how devoted he was to God, especially after he left the self serving Nation of Islam.  Reading about Malcolm made me think about a God who (for a change) did not have any physical … limitations and, being a totally blind person, it made me relate to these people: the people who Malcolm and Haley referred to as Muslims.  I continued reading what I could about Islam, which wasn’t as much as it should have been.  My reading material was very limited, because like I said above, I am a totally blind person, and the material available about Islam in Braille or on tape was not only very little, but also very general.  I believe the reason was that the material that I had access to wasn’t written by Muslims, and it kind of painted a dark picture of Islam.  I think most of the literature written by Christians or non Muslims about Islam tends to do that most of the time.  And I didn’t know that there were even Muslims in Halifax, so I obviously didn’t know any.  I didn’t even know about the local Islamic association until I was already a Muslim.
 
So I read what I could until my first year out of high school, around the month of May, 1996, when I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to participate in a camp for blind and visually impaired people, known throughout Canada as Score.  I agreed and sent them a resume, and praise be to God, I was excepted for work.
 
At first, I really didn’t want to go, but something kept telling me it would be a good idea if I went.  So, on June 30th 1996 I boarded a plane from Nova Scotia to Toronto and took my last trip as a non Muslim; I just didn’t know it yet.
 
I got to Toronto, and everything at first was pretty normal...  It was on the second day I was there when the journey of a thousand miles first started.
 
I arrived on a Sunday, and on the next day I met the person who God would use with His divine power to help guide me to the beautiful Religion of Islam.  I met a sister named [xxxx], and if she reads this, I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for using her name.
 
When I met her, I immediately wanted to talk to her because I liked her name.  I asked her of what origin her name was and she told me that it was Arabic; so I asked her if she was Muslim and she replied with the answer of yes.  I immediately started telling her what I already knew about Islam, which lasted about ten seconds.  I started asking her questions and also asking her to talk to me about Islam.
 
One particular incident that comes to my mind is when all of the workers at the camp went to a baseball game, and the sister and I started talking about Islam and missed pretty much the whole game.
 
Well, anyways, we talked for about three, maybe four days on and off about Islam, and on July the fifth, if my memory doesn’t fail me, I became a Muslim.  My life has been totally different ever since.  I look at things very differently than I used to and I finally feel like I belong to a family.  All Muslims are brothers and sisters in Islam so I could say that I have approximately 1.2 billion brothers and sisters all of whom I’m proud to be related to.  I finally know what it feels like to be humble and to worship a God that I don’t have to see.
 
For any non Muslim reading this, just look at it this way.  It’s good to learn, but you never know when you will be tested, and if you’re not in the class at the time of the final exam, no matter how much you know, you’ll never get any credit.  So like I said, it’s good to learn, but if you want to get credit, sign up for the class.  In other words, declare shahada (testimony to faith) and let God teach you everything you need to know.  Believe me the reward is worth it.  You could say the reward is literally heaven.
 
If any good comes out of this story all the credit is due to God; only the mistakes are my own.  I would like to mention a part of a hadeeth that has had a great effect on me and that is:
 
“Worship God as if you see him and if you don’t see him, know that he sees you.” (Saheeh Muslim)
 

N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA
 
 
Born in 1954 in the farm country of the northwestern United States, I was raised in a religious family as a Roman Catholic.  The Church provided a spiritual world that was unquestionable in my childhood, if anything more real than the physical world around me, but as I grew older, and especially after I entered a Catholic university and read more, my relation to the religion became increasingly called into question, in belief and practice.
 
One reason was the frequent changes in Catholic liturgy and ritual that occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, suggesting to laymen that the Church had no firm standards.  To one another, the clergy spoke about flexibility and liturgical relevance, but to ordinary Catholics, they seemed to be groping in the dark.  God does not change revelation, nor the needs of the human soul, and there was no new revelation from heaven.  Yet we rang in the changes, week after week, year after year; adding, subtracting, changing the language from Latin to English, finally bringing in guitars and folk music.  Priests explained and explained as laymen shook their heads.  The search for relevance left large numbers convinced that there had not been much in the first place.
 
A second reason was a number of doctrinal difficulties, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, which no one in the history of the world, neither priest nor layman, had been able to explain in a convincing way, and which resolved itself, to the common mind at least, in a sort of godhead-by-committee, shared between God the Father, who ruled the world from heaven; His son Jesus Christ, who saved humanity on earth; and the Holy Ghost, who was pictured as a white dove and appeared to have a considerably minor role.  I remember wanting to make special friends with just one of them so he could handle my business with the others, and to this end, would sometimes pray earnestly to this one and sometimes to that; but the other two were always stubbornly there.  I finally decided that God the Father must be in charge of the other two, and this put the most formidable obstacle in the way of my Catholicism, the divinity of Christ.  Moreover, reflection made it plain that the nature of man contradicted the nature of God in every particular, the limitary and finite on the one hand, the absolute and infinite on the other.  That Jesus was God was something I cannot remember having ever really believed, in childhood or later.
 
Another point of incredulity was the trading of the Church in stocks and bonds in the hereafter it called indulgences, the “Do such and such and so-and-so many years will be remitted from your sentence in purgatory” that had seemed so false to Martin Luther at the outset of the Reformation.
 
I also remember a desire for a sacred scripture, something on the order of a book that could furnish guidance.  A Bible was given to me one Christmas, a handsome edition, but on attempting to read it, I found it so rambling and devoid of a coherent thread that it was difficult to think of a way to base one’s life upon it.  Only later did I learn how Christians solve the difficulty in practice, Protestants by creating sectarian theologies, each emphasizing the texts of their sect and downplaying the rest; Catholics by downplaying it all, except the snippets mentioned in their liturgy.  Something seemed lacking in a sacred book that could not be read as an integral whole.
 
Moreover, when I went to the university, I found that the authenticity of the book, especially the New Testament, had come into considerable doubt as a result of modern hermeneutical studies by Christians themselves.  In a course on contemporary theology, I read the Norman Perrin translation of The Problem of the Historical Jesus by Joachim Jeremias, one of the principal New Testament scholars of this century.  A textual critic who was a master of the original languages and had spent long years with the texts, he had finally agreed with the German theologian Rudolph Bultmann, that without a doubt, it is true to say that the dream of ever writing a biography of Jesus is over, meaning that the life of Christ as he actually lived it could not be reconstructed from the New Testament with any degree of confidence.  If this were accepted from a friend of Christianity and one of its foremost textual experts, I reasoned, what was left for its enemies to say?  And what then remained of the Bible except to acknowledge that it was a record of truths mixed with fictions, conjectures projected onto Christ by later followers, themselves at odds with each other as to who the master had been and what he had taught.  And if theologians like Jeremias could reassure themselves that somewhere under the layers of later accretions to the New Testament there was something called the historical Jesus and his message, how could the ordinary person hope to find it, or know it, should it be found?
  I studied philosophy at the university, and it taught me to ask two things of whoever claimed to have the truth: What do you mean, and how do you know?  When I asked these questions of my own religious tradition, I found no answers, and realized that Christianity had slipped from my hands.  I then embarked on a search that is perhaps not unfamiliar to many young people in the West, a quest for meaning in a meaningless world.
I began where I had lost my previous belief, with the philosophers, yet wanting to believe, seeking not philosophy, but rather a philosophy.
I read the essays of the great pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, which taught about the phenomenon of the ages of life, and that money, fame, physical strength, and intelligence all passed from one with the passage of years, but only moral excellence remained.  I took this lesson to heart and remembered it in after years.  His essays also drew attention to the fact that a person was wont to repudiate in later years what he fervently espouses in the heat of youth.  With a prescient wish to find the Divine, I decided to imbue myself with the most cogent arguments of atheism that I could find, that perhaps I might find a way out of them later.  So I read the Walter Kaufmann translations of the works of the immoralist Friedrich Nietzsche.  The many-faceted genius dissected the moral judgments and beliefs of mankind with brilliant philological and psychological arguments that ended in accusing human language itself, and the language of nineteenth-century science in particular, of being so inherently determined and mediated by concepts inherited from the language of morality that in their present form they could never hope to uncover reality.  Aside from their immunological value against total skepticism, Nietzsche’s works explained why the West was post-Christian, and accurately predicted the unprecedented savagery of the twentieth century, debunking the myth that science could function as a moral replacement for the now dead religion.
 
At a personal level, his tirades against Christianity, particularly in The Genealogy of Morals, gave me the benefit of distilling the beliefs of the monotheistic tradition into a small number of analyzable forms.  He separated unessential concepts (such as the bizarre spectacle of an omnipotent deities suicide on the cross) from essential ones, which I now, though without believing in them, apprehended to be but three alone: that God existed; that He created man in the world and defined the conduct expected of him in it; and that He would judge man accordingly in the hereafter and send him to eternal reward or punishment.
 
It was during this time that I read an early translation of the Quran which I grudgingly admired, between agnostic reservations, for the purity with which it presented these fundamental concepts.  Even if false, I thought, there could not be a more essential expression of religion.  As a literary work, the translation, perhaps it was Sales, was uninspired and openly hostile to its subject matter, whereas I knew the Arabic original was widely acknowledged for its beauty and eloquence among the religious books of mankind.  I felt a desire to learn Arabic to read the original.
 
On a vacation home from school, I was walking upon a dirt road between some fields of wheat, and it happened that the sun went down.  By some inspiration, I realized that it was a time of worship, a time to bow and pray to the one God.  But it was not something one could rely on oneself to provide the details of, but rather a passing fancy, or perhaps the beginning of an awareness that atheism was an inauthentic way of being.
 
I carried something of this disquiet with me when I transferred to the University of Chicago, where I studied the epistemology of ethical theory, how moral judgments were reached, reading and searching among the books of the philosophers for something to shed light on the question of meaninglessness, which was both a personal concern and one of the central philosophical problems of our age.
 
According to some, scientific observation could only yield description statements of the form X is Y, for example, The object is red, its weight is two kilos, its height is ten centimeters, and so on, in each of which the functional was a scientifically verifiable ‘is’, whereas in moral judgments the functional element was an ‘ought’, a description statement which no amount of scientific observation could measure or verify.  It appeared that ‘ought’ was logically meaningless, and with it all morality whatsoever, a position that reminded me of those described by Lucian in his advice that whoever sees a moral philosopher coming down the road should flee from him as from a mad dog.  For such a person, expediency ruled, and nothing checked his behavior but convention.
 
As Chicago was a more expensive school, and I had to raise tuition money, I found summer work on the West Coast with a seining boat fishing in Alaska.  The sea proved a school in its own right, one I was to return to for a space of eight seasons, for the money.  I met many people on boats, and saw something of the power and greatness of the wind, water, storms, and rain, and the smallness of man.  These things lay before us like an immense book, but my fellow fishermen and I could only discern the letters of it that were within our context: to catch as many fish as possible within the specified time to sell to the tenders.  Few knew how to read the book as a whole.  Sometimes, in a blow, the waves rose like great hills, and the captain would hold the wheel with white knuckles, our bow one minute plunging gigantically down into a valley of green water, the next moment reaching the bottom of the trough and soaring upwards towards the sky before topping the next crest and starting down again.
 
Early in my career as a deck hand, I had read the Hazel Barnes translation of Jean Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness”, in which he argued that phenomena only arose for consciousness in the existential context of human projects, a theme that recalled Marx’s 1844 manuscripts, where nature was produced by man, meaning, for example, that when the mystic sees a stand of trees, his consciousness hypostatizes an entirely different phenomenal object than a poet does, for example, or a capitalist.  To the mystic, it is a manifestation; to the poet, a forest; to the capitalist, lumber.  According to such a perspective, a mountain only appears as tall in the context of the project of climbing it, and so on, according to the instrumental relations involved in various human interests.  But the great natural events of the sea surrounding us seemed to defy, with their stubborn, irreducible facticity, our uncomprehending attempts to come to terms with them.  Suddenly, we were just there, shaken by the forces around us without making sense of them, wondering if we would make it through.  Some, it was true, would ask Gods help at such moments, but when we returned safely to shore, we behaved like men who knew little of Him, as if those moments had been a lapse into insanity, embarrassing to think of at happier times.  It was one of the lessons of the sea that in fact, such events not only existed but perhaps even preponderated in our life.  Man was small and weak, the forces around him were large, and he did not control them.
 
Sometimes a boat would sink and men would die.  I remember a fisherman from another boat who was working near us one opening, doing the same job as I did, piling web.  He smiled across the water as he pulled the net from the hydraulic block overhead, stacking it neatly on the stern to ready it for the next set.  Some weeks later, his boat overturned while fishing in a storm, and he got caught in the web and drowned.  I saw him only once again, in a dream, beckoning to me from the stern of his boat.
 
The tremendousness of the scenes we lived in, the storms, the towering sheer cliffs rising vertically out of the water for hundreds of feet, the cold and rain and fatigue, the occasional injuries and deaths of workers - these made little impression on most of us.  Fishermen were, after all, supposed to be tough.  On one boat, the family that worked it was said to lose an occasional crew member while running at sea at the end of the season, invariably the sole non-family member who worked with them, his loss saving them the wages they would have otherwise had to pay him.
 
The captain of another was a twenty-seven-year-old who delivered millions of dollars worth of crab each year in the Bering Sea.  When I first heard of him, we were in Kodiak, his boat at the city dock they had tied up to after a lengthy run some days before.  The captain was presently indisposed in his bunk in the stateroom, where he had been vomiting up blood from having eaten a glass uptown the previous night to prove how tough he was.
 
He was in somewhat better condition when I later saw him in the Bering Sea at the end of a long winter king crab season.  He worked in his wheelhouse up top, surrounded by radios that could pull in a signal from just about anywhere, computers, Loran, sonar, depth-finders, radar.  His panels of lights and switches were set below the 180-degree sweep of shatterproof windows that overlooked the sea and the men on deck below, to whom he communicated by loudspeaker.  They often worked round the clock, pulling their gear up from the icy water under watchful batteries of enormous electric lights attached to the masts that turned the perpetual night of the winter months into day.  The captain had a reputation as a screamer, and had once locked his crew out on deck in the rain for eleven hours because one of them had gone inside to have a cup of coffee without permission.  Few crewmen lasted longer than a season with him, though they made nearly twice the yearly income of, say, a lawyer or an advertising executive, and in only six months.  Fortunes were made in the Bering Sea in those years, before over-fishing wiped out the crab.
 
At present, he was at anchor, and was amiable enough when we tied up to him, and he came aboard to sit and talk with our own captain.  They spoke at length, at times gazing thoughtfully out at the sea through the door or windows, at times looking at each other sharply when something animated them, as the topic of what his competitors thought of him.  “They wonder why I have a few bucks”, he said.  “Well I slept in my own home one night last year.”
 
He later had his crew throw off the lines and pick the anchor, his eyes flickering warily over the water from the windows of the house as he pulled away with a blast of smoke from the stack.  His watchfulness, his walrus-like physique, his endless voyages after game and markets, reminded me of other predatory hunter-animals of the sea.  Such people, good at making money but heedless of any ultimate end or purpose, made an impression on me, and I increasingly began to wonder if men didn’t need principles to guide them and tell them why they were there.  Without such principles, nothing seemed to distinguish us above our prey except being more thorough, and technologically capable of preying longer, on a vaster scale, and with greater devastation than the animals we hunted.
 
These considerations were in my mind the second year I studied at Chicago, where I became aware through studies of philosophical moral systems that philosophy had not been successful in the past at significantly influencing peoples morals and preventing injustice, and I came to realize that there was little hope for it to do so in the future.  I found that comparing human cultural systems and societies in their historical succession and multiplicity had led many intellectuals to moral relativism, since no moral value could be discovered which on its own merits was transculturally valid, a reflection leading to nihilism, the perspective that sees human civilizations as plants that grow out of the earth, springing from their various seeds and soils, thriving for a time, and then dying away.
 
Some heralded this as intellectual liberation, among them Emile Durkheim in his “Elementary Forms of the Religious Life”, or Sigmund Freud in his “Totem and Taboo”, which discussed mankind as if it were a patient and diagnosed its religious traditions as a form of a collective neurosis that we could now hope to cure, by applying to them a thorough scientific atheism, a sort of salvation through pure science.
 
On this subject, I bought the Jeremy Shapiro translation of “Knowledge and Human Interests” by Jurgen Habermas, who argued that there was no such thing as pure science that could be depended upon to forge boldly ahead in a steady improvement of itself and the world.  He called such a misunderstanding scientism, not science.  Science in the real world, he said, was not free of values, still less of interests.  The kinds of research that obtain funding, for example, were a function of what their society deemed meaningful, expedient, profitable, or important.  Habermas had been of a generation of German academics who, during the thirties and forties, knew what was happening in their country, but insisted they were simply engaged in intellectual production, that they were living in the realm of scholarship, and need not concern themselves with whatever the state might choose to do with their research.  The horrible question mark that was attached to German intellectuals when the Nazi atrocities became public after the war made Habermas think deeply about the ideology of pure science.  If anything was obvious, it was that the nineteenth-century optimism of thinkers like Freud and Durkheim was no longer tenable.
 
I began to reassess the intellectual life around me.  Like Schopenhauer, I felt that higher education must produce higher human beings.  But at the university, I found lab people talking to each other about forging research data to secure funding for the coming year; luminaries who wouldn’t permit tape recorders at their lectures for fear that competitors in the same field would go one step further with their research and beat them to publication; professors vying with each other in the length of their courses syllabuses.  The moral qualities I was accustomed to associate with ordinary, unregenerate humanity seemed as frequently met with in sophisticated academics as they had been in fishermen.  If one could laugh at fishermen who, after getting a boatload of fish in a big catch, would cruise back and forth in front of the others to let them see how laden down in the water they were, ostensibly looking for more fish; what could one say about the Ph.D.s who behaved the same way about their books and articles?  I felt that their knowledge had not developed their persons, that the secret of higher man did not lie in their sophistication.
 
I wondered if I hadn’t gone down the road of philosophy as far as one could go.  While it had debunked my Christianity and provided some genuine insights, it had not yet answered the big questions.  Moreover, I felt that this was somehow connected I didn’t know whether as cause or effect to the fact that our intellectual tradition no longer seemed to seriously comprehend itself.  What were any of us, whether philosophers, fishermen, garbage-men, or kings, except bit players in a drama we did not understand, diligently playing out our roles until our replacements were sent, and we gave our last performance?  But could one legitimately hope for more than this?  I read “Kojves Introduction to the Reading of Hegel”, in which he explained that for Hegel, philosophy did not culminate in the system, but rather in the Wise Man, someone able to answer any possible question on the ethical implications of human actions.  This made me consider our own plight in the twentieth century, which could no longer answer a single ethical question.
 
It was thus as if this century’s unparalleled mastery of concrete things had somehow ended by making us things.  I contrasted this with Hegel’s concept of the concrete in his “Phenomenology of Mind”.  An example of the abstract, in his terms, was the limitary physical reality of the book now held in your hands, while the concrete was its interconnection with the larger realities it presupposed, the modes of production that determined the kind of ink and paper in it, the aesthetic standards that dictated its color and design, the systems of marketing and distribution that had carried it to the reader, the historical circumstances that had brought about the readers literacy and taste; the cultural events that had mediated its style and usage; in short, the bigger picture in which it was articulated and had its being.  For Hegel, the movement of philosophical investigation always led from the abstract to the concrete, to the more real.  He was therefore able to say that philosophy necessarily led to theology, whose object was the ultimately real, the Deity.  This seemed to me to point up an irreducible lack in our century.  I began to wonder if, by materializing our culture and our past, we had not somehow abstracted ourselves from our wider humanity, from our true nature in relation to a higher reality.
 
At this juncture, I read a number of works on Islam, among them the books of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who believed that many of the problems of western man, especially those of the environment, were from his having left the divine wisdom of revealed religion, which taught him his true place as a creature of God in the natural world and to understand and respect it.  Without it, he burned up and consumed nature with ever more effective technological styles of commercial exploitation that ruined his world from without while leaving him increasingly empty within, because he did not know why he existed or to what end he should act.
 
I reflected that this might be true as far as it went, but it begged the question as to the truth of revealed religion.  Everything on the face of the earth, all moral and religious systems, were on the same plane, unless one could gain certainty that one of them was from a higher source, the sole guarantee of the objectivity, the whole force, of moral law.  Otherwise, one mans opinion was as good as anothers, and we remained in an undifferentiated sea of conflicting individual interests, in which no valid objection could be raised to the strong eating the weak.
 
I read other books on Islam, and came across some passages translated by W. Montgomery Watt from “That Which Delivers from Error” by the theologian and mystic Ghazali, who, after a mid-life crises of questioning and doubt, realized that beyond the light of prophetic revelation there is no other light on the face of the earth from which illumination may be received, the very point to which my philosophical inquiries had led.  Here was, in Hegel’s terms, the Wise Man, in the person of a divinely inspired messenger who alone had the authority to answer questions of good and evil.
 
I also read A.J. Arberry’s translation “The Quran Interpreted,” and I recalled my early wish for a sacred book.  Even in translation, the superiority of the Muslim scripture over the Bible was evident in every line, as if the reality of divine revelation, dimly heard of all my life, had now been placed before my eyes.  In its exalted style, its power, its inexorable finality, its uncanny way of anticipating the arguments of the atheistic heart in advance and answering them; it was a clear exposition of God as God and man as man, the revelation of the awe-inspiring Divine Unity being the identical revelation of social and economic justice among men.
 
I began to learn Arabic at Chicago, and after studying the grammar for a year with a fair degree of success, decided to take a leave of absence to try to advance in the language in a year of private study in Cairo.  Too, a desire for new horizons drew me, and after a third season of fishing, I went to the Middle East
 
In Egypt, I found something I believe brings many to Islam, namely, the mark of pure monotheism upon its followers, which struck me as more profound than anything I had previously encountered.  I met many Muslims in Egypt, good and bad, but all influenced by the teachings of their Book to a greater extent than I had ever seen elsewhere.  It has been some fifteen years since then, and I cannot remember them all, or even most of them, but perhaps the ones I can recall will serve to illustrate the impressions made.
 
One was a man on the side of the Nile near the Miqyas Gardens, where I used to walk.  I came upon him praying on a piece of cardboard, facing across the water.  I started to pass in front of him, but suddenly checked myself and walked around behind, not wanting to disturb him.  As I watched a moment before going my way, I beheld a man absorbed in his relation to God, oblivious to my presence, much less my opinions about him or his religion.  To my mind, there was something magnificently detached about this, altogether strange for someone coming from the West, where praying in public was virtually the only thing that remained obscene.
 
Another was a young boy from secondary school who greeted me near Khan al-Khalili, and because I spoke some Arabic and he spoke some English and wanted to tell me about Islam, he walked with me several miles across town to Giza, explaining as much as he could.  When we parted, I think he said a prayer that I might become Muslim.
 
Another was a Yemeni friend living in Cairo who brought me a copy of the Quran at my request to help me learn Arabic.  I did not have a table beside the chair where I used to sit and read in my hotel room, and it was my custom to stack the books on the floor.  When I set the Quran by the others there, he silently stooped and picked it up, out of respect for it.  This impressed me because I knew he was not religious, but here was the effect of Islam upon him.
 
Another was a woman I met while walking beside a bicycle on an unpaved road on the opposite side of the Nile from Luxor.  I was dusty, and somewhat shabbily clothed, and she was an old woman dressed in black from head to toe who walked up, and without a word or glance at me, pressed a coin into my hand so suddenly that in my surprise I dropped it.  By the time I picked it up, she had hurried away.  Because she thought I was poor, even if obviously non-Muslim, she gave me some money without any expectation for it except what was between her and her God.  This act made me think a lot about Islam, because nothing seemed to have motivated her but that.
 
Many other things passed through my mind during the months I stayed in Egypt to learn Arabic.  I found myself thinking that a man must have some sort of religion, and I was more impressed by the effect of Islam on the lives of Muslims, a certain nobility of purpose and largesse of soul, than I had ever been by any other religions or even atheisms effect on its followers.  The Muslims seemed to have more than we did.
 
Christianity had its good points to be sure, but they seemed mixed with confusions, and I found myself more and more inclined to look to Islam for their fullest and most perfect expression.  The first question we had memorized from our early catechism had been, “Why were you created?”  To which the correct answer was, “To know, love, and serve God.”  When I reflected on those around me, I realized that Islam seemed to furnish the most comprehensive and understandable way to practice this on a daily basis.
 
As for the inglorious political fortunes of the Muslims today, I did not feel these to be a reproach against Islam, or to relegate it to an inferior position in a natural order of world ideologies, but rather saw them as a low phase in a larger cycle of history.  Foreign hegemony over Muslim lands had been witnessed before in the thorough going destruction of Islamic civilization in the thirteenth century by the Mongol horde, who razed cities and built pyramids of human heads from the steppes of Central Asia to the Muslim heartlands, after which the fullness of destiny brought forth the Ottoman Empire to raise the Word of God and make it a vibrant political reality that endured for centuries.  It was now, I reflected, merely the turn of contemporary Muslims to strive for a new historic crystallization of Islam, something one might well aspire to share in.
 
When a friend in Cairo one day asked me, Why don’t you become a Muslim, I found that God had created within me a desire to belong to this religion, which so enriches its followers, from the simplest hearts to the most magisterial intellects.  It is not through an act of the mind or will that anyone becomes a Muslim, but rather through the mercy of God, and this, in the final analysis, was what brought me to Islam in Cairo in 1977.
 
“Is it not time that the hearts of those who believe should be humbled to the Remembrance of God and the Truth which has been revealed, and that they should not be as those to whom the Book was given aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard, and many of them are ungodly?  Know that God revives the earth after it was dead.  We have indeed made clear for you the signs, that haply you will understand.” (Quran 57:16-17)
 

Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain 
Many people ask me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever go to Islam, especially considering all the negative things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday.  Some people are simply curious, while others take a profound exception to my “conversion” to Islam.  Some have asked how I could have turned my back on Jesus, or if I truly understood the Holy Ghost, and some even questioned whether or not I considered myself as “born again” or had ever really been saved at all.  These are good questions to which I will offer answers to at the end of this writing.  I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing.
 
One very nice Christian gentleman asked me in email why and how I left Christianity for Islam.  This is more or less a copy of the letter I sent to him.
 
Introduction
 
My name is Yusuf Estes now, but in years past my friends used to call me Skip.  I have preached Christianity and worked in the entertainment and music industry since I was a boy in the 1950’s.  My father and I have established music stores, TV and radio programs and outdoor entertainment for fun (and profit).  I was a music minister and even used a pony ride and entertained the children as “Skippy the Clown.”
 
Once, I have served as Delegate to the United Nations Peace Conference for Religious Leaders.  Now I am a retired former Muslim Chaplain for United States Bureau of Prisons, Washington, DC.  and I join alongside many American Muslims, working with Muslim students and youth organizations as well as schools for Muslim children.  As such, I travel around the entire world lecturing and sharing the message of the Christ of the Quran in Islam.  We hold dialogs and discussion groups with all faiths and enjoy the opportunity to work alongside rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests everywhere.  Some of our work is in the institutional area, military, universities and prisons.  Primarily our goal is to educate and communicate the correct message of Islam and who the Muslims really are.  Although Islam has grown now to nearly tie Christianity as the largest of religions on earth, we see many of those who claim Islam as Muslims that do not correctly understand nor properly represent the message of “Peace, Surrender and Obedience to God” [Arabic = ‘Islam’]
 
Dear me, I am afraid that I got a bit ahead of myself.  I was trying to give a bit of background of our work perhaps to see if it would in anyway benefit those who may being going through what I experienced while trying to resolve some of the issues of Christianity.
 
How It Happened
 
This may seem quite strange, while we perhaps may share a few different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus, prophethood, sin and salvation.  But you see, at one time I was in the same boat as many folks are today.  Really, I was.  Let me explain.
 
Born a Strong Christian
 
I was born into a very strong Christian family in the Midwest.  Our family and their ancestors not only built the churches and schools across this land, but actually were the same ones who came here in the first place.  While I was still in elementary we relocated in Houston, Texas in 1949 (I’m old).  We attended church regularly, and I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas.  As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to learn more of their teachings and beliefs.  The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic, Presbyterian and many more.  I developed quite a thirst for the “Gospel” or as we say; “Good News.” My research into religion did not stop with Christianity.  Not at all.  Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were all a part of my studies.  Just about the only one that I did not look into seriously was “Islam”.  Why? Good question.
 
Music Minister
 
Anyway, I became very interested in different types of music, especially Gospel and Classical.  Because my whole family was religious and musical, it followed that I too would begin my studies in both areas.  All this set me for the logical position of Music Minister in many of the churches that I became affiliated with over the years.  I started teaching keyboard instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios in Laurel, Maryland, called “Estes Music Studios.”
 
Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 2 of 5)
 
  
Description: Yusuf Estes, now an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his story about entering Islam.  Part 2: A business project with a man from Egypt.
By Yusuf Estes
Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006
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Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men
Business Projects in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida
 
Over the next 30 years my father and I worked together in many business projects.  We had entertainment programs, shows and attractions.  We opened piano and organ stores all the way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida.  We had earned millions of dollars during those years, but could not find the peace of mind that can only come through knowing the truth and finding the real plan of salvation.  I’m sure you have asked yourself the question; “Why did God create me?”  or “What is it that God wants me to do?”  or “Exactly who is God, anyway?”  “Why do we believe in ‘original sin?” and “Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his ‘sins’ and then as a result be punished forever.”  But if you asked anyone these questions, they would probably tell you that you have to believe without asking, or that it is a ‘mystery’ and you shouldn’t ask - “Just have faith, brother.”
 
Trinity Concept
 
Strangely enough, the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible.  And it has been a concern for religious scholars as early as 200 years after Jesus was raised up by Almighty God.  I would ask preachers or ministers to give me some sort of an idea how ‘one’ could figure out to become ‘three’ or how God Himself, Who can do anything He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people’s sins, but rather and had to become a man, come down on earth, be a human, and then take on the sins of all people; keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and outside of the universe as we know it.  They never seemed to be able to come up with anything other than opinions or strange analogies.
 
Father - Ordained Non-Denominational Minister
 
My father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs.  He became and ordained minister in the 1970s.  He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Baker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.
 
Distributing “Praise” Tapes for Jesus
 
During the early 1980’s my Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly.  We were really “winning souls to the Lord - for Jesus” day after day.
 
Met a Man from Egypt
 
It was early in 1991 when my father began doing business with a man from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him.  This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea of having an international flavor.  You know, the pyramids, sphinx, Nile River and all that.
 
He Was a “Mozlem”
 
Hijackers; Kidnappers; Bombers, Terrorists - and who knows what else?  Then my father mentioned that this man was a ‘Moslem.’ First, I hated the idea of meeting an “infidel, hijacker, kidnapper, bomber, terrorist, non-believer.”  Any normal person would be repulsed at the idea.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  A ‘Moslem?’  No way!  I reminded my dad of the various different things that we had heard about these people.
 
Lies Against Muslims & Islam - They Told Us, Muslims:
 
They don’t even believe in God.  They worship a black box in the desert.   And they kiss the ground five times a day.   No Way!  I Did Not Want to Meet Him!  I did not want to meet this ‘Moslem’ man.  No way!  My father insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was a very nice person.  This was too much for me.  Especially since the evangelists that we used to travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very much.  They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam.  So, why would I want anything to do with these people?
 
Idea - “Change Him to Christian”
 
Then an idea came to me, “We can change this man to Christian.”  So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting, but on my terms.  Met Him With A Bible, Cross and Cap with “Jesus Is Lord!” on it.  I agreed to meet him on a Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and in good standing with the Lord.  I would be carrying my Bible under my arm as usual.  I would have my big shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which says: “Jesus is Lord” right across the front.  My wife and two young daughters came along and we were ready for our first encounter with the ‘Moslems.’
 
Where Is He?
 
When I came into the shop and asked my father where the ‘Moslem’ was, he pointed and said: “He’s right over there.”  I was confused.  That couldn’t be the Moslem.  No way.
 
Turban & Beard?
 
I’m looking for a huge man with flowing robes, a big turban on his head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead with a sword or a bomb under his coat.
 
No Turban - No Beard - [No Hair at All!]
 
This man had no beard.  In fact, he didn’t even have any hair on his head at all.  He was nearly bald.  Best of all, he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake.  This didn’t make sense.  I thought they are terrorists and bombers.  What is this all about?
 
He Needs Jesus
 
Never mind.  I’ll get right to work on this guy.  He needs to be ‘saved’ in the ‘Name of Jesus’, and me and the Lord are going to do it.
 
Introduction & Interrogation
 
After a quick introduction, I asked him:
 
“Do you believe in God?”
 
He said:“Yes.” - (Good!)
 
Then I said: “Do you believe in Adam and Eve?”
 
He said: “Yes.” - (Very Good!)
 
I said: “What about Abraham?  You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice his son for God?”
 
He said: “Yes.” - (Even better!)
 
Then I asked: “What about Moses?  Ten Commandments?  Parting the Red Sea?”
 
Again he said: “Yes.” - (Better still!)
 
Then: “What about the other prophets, David, Solomon and John the Baptist?”
 
He said:
 
“Yes.” - (Great!)
 
I asked: “Do you believe in the Bible?”
 
Again, he said: “Yes.” - (OK!)
 
So, now it was time for the big question: “Do you believe in Jesus?  That he was the Messiah (Christ) of God?”
 
Again the said: “Yes.” - (Fantastic!)
 
Well now - This was going to be easier than I had thought. He was just about ready to be baptized, only he didn’t know it. And I was just the one to do it, too.
 
Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 3 of 5)
 
  
Description: Yusuf Estes, now an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his story about entering Islam.  Part 3: Preaching Christianity to a priest.
By Yusuf Estes
Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006
Viewed: 27395 (daily average: 8) - Rating: 4.7 out of 5 - Rated by: 12
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Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men
Shocking Knowledge - Muslims Believe in the Bible?
 
One day in the Spring of 1991, I came to know that the Muslims believed in the Bible.  I was shocked.  How could this be?  But that’s not all, they believe in Jesus as:
 
* A true messenger of God;
 
* Prophet of God;
 
* Miracle birth without human intervention;
 
* He was the ‘Christ’ or Messiah as predicted in the Bible;
 
* He is with God now and most important;
 
* He will be coming back in the Last Days to lead the believers against the ‘Antichrist.’
 
After “winning souls to the Lord for Jesus” day after day, this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these ‘Moslems’ and ‘convert’ him to Christianity.
 
Cup of Tea - Discuss Beliefs
 
I asked him if he liked tea and he said he did.  So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject: Beliefs.  While we sat in that little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of the talking) I came to know that he was very nice, quiet and even a bit shy.  He listened attentively to every word that I had to say and did not interrupt even one time.  I liked this man’s way and thought that he had definite potential to become a good Christian. - Little did I know the course of events about to unravel in front of my eyes.
 
Agreed to Do Business
 
First of all, I agreed with my father that we should do business with this man and even encouraged the idea of him traveling along with me on my business trips across the northern part of Texas.  Day after day, we would ride together and discuss various issues pertaining to different beliefs that people have.  And along the way, I could of course interject some of my favorite radio programs of worship and praise to help bring the message to this poor individual.  We talked about the concept of God; the meaning of life; the purpose of creation; the prophets and their mission and how God reveals His Will to mankind.  We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas as well.
 
Moved to Our Home
 
One day I came to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with a friend of his and was going to be living in the mosque for a time.  I went to my dad and asked him if we could invite Mohamed to come out to our big home in the country and stay there with us.  After all, he could share some of the work and some expenses, and he would be right there when we were ready to go to out traveling around.  My father agreed and Mohamed moved in.
 
Continued Ministry & Preaching
 
Of course I still would find time to visit my fellow preachers and evangelists around the state of Texas.  One of them lived on the Texas-Mexico border, and another lived near lived the Oklahoma border.  One preacher liked to carry a huge wooden cross that was bigger than a car.  He would carry it over his shoulder and drag the bottom on the ground and go down the road or freeway hauling these two beams formed in the shape of a cross.  People would stop their cars and come over to him and ask him what was going on and he would give them pamphlets and booklets on Christianity.
 
Preacher Has Heart Attack
 
One day my friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go to the Veteran’s Hospital where he stayed for quite a long while.  I used to visit him in the hospital several times a week and I would take Mohamed with me with the hopes that we could all share together in the subject of beliefs and religions.  My friend was not very impressed and it was obvious that he did not want to know anything about Islam.  Then one day a man who was sharing the room with my friend came rolling into the room in his wheelchair.  I went to him and asked him his name and he said that it didn’t matter and when I asked him where he was from he said he was from the planet Jupiter.  I thought about what he said and then began to wonder if I was in the cardiac ward or the mental ward.
 
Man in Wheelchair - Needed the Lord
 
I knew the man was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his life.  So, I began to ‘witness’ to him about the Lord.  I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament.  I shared the story of the prophet Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people to the correct way.  Jonah had left his people and escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to sea.  A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the ship.  A whale came up to the surface and grabbed Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights.  Yet because of God’s Mercy, He caused the whale to rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return back home safely to his city of Nineveh.  And the idea was that we can’t really run away from our problems because we always know what we have done.  And what is more, God also always knows what we have done.
 
Catholic Priest
 
After sharing this story with the man in the wheel chair, he looked up and me and apologized.  He told me he was sorry for his rude behavior and that he had experienced some real serious problems recently.  Then he said that he wanted to confess something to me.  And I said that I was not a Catholic priest and I don’t handle confessions.  He replied back to me that he knew that.  In fact, he said: “I am a Catholic priest.”
 
I was shocked.  Here I had been trying to preach Christianity to a priest.  What in the world was happening here?
 
Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 4 of 5)
 
  
Description: Yusuf Estes, now an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his story about entering Islam.  Part 4:A big home and lively discussions about religion.
By Yusuf Estes
Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006
Viewed: 26194 (daily average: 7) - Rating: 4.4 out of 5 - Rated by: 7
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Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men
Priest in Latin America
 
The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for the church for over 12 years to south and Central America and Mexico and even in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen.  When he was released from the hospital he needed a place to go to recover and rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I told my dad that we should invite him to come out and live with us in the country along with our families and Mohamed.  It was agreed by all that he would so, he moved out right away.
 
Priests Must Study ISLAM? - YES!
 
During the trip out to our home, I talked with the priest about some of the concepts of beliefs in Islam, and to my surprise he agreed and then shared even more about this with me.  I was shocked when he told me that Catholic priests actually study Islam and some even carry doctors degrees in this subject.  This was all very enlightening to me.  But there was still a lot more to come.
 
Different Versions of the Bible
 
After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion.  My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe something like Jimmy Swaggart’s Good News for Modern Man.  The priest of course, had the Catholic Bible which has 7 more books in it that the Protestant Bible.  So we spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct one, than we did trying to convince Mohamed about becoming a Christian.
 
Quran Has Only ONE Version - In Arabic - And Still Exists
 
At one point I recall asking him about the Quran and how many versions of it there were in the last 1,400 years.  He told me that there was only ONE QURAN.  And that it had never been changed.  Yet he let me know that the Quran had been memorized by hundreds of thousands of people in its entirety, and were scattered about the earth in many different countries.  Over the centuries since the Quran was revealed, millions have memorized it completely and have taught it to others who have memorized it completely, from cover to cover, letter perfect without mistakes.  Today, over 9 million Muslims have memorized the entire Quran from cover to cover.
 
How Could This Be?
 
This did not seem possible to me.  After all, the original languages of the Bible have all been dead languages for centuries, and the documents themselves have been lost in their originals for hundreds and thousands of years.  So, how could it be that something like this could be so easy to preserve and to recite from cover to cover.
 
Priest Goes to the Mosque
 
Anyway, one day the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there.  They came back talking about their experience there and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what all types of ceremonies they performed.  He said they didn’t really do anything.  They just came and prayed and left.  I said: They left? Without any speeches or singing?  “He said that was right.”
 
Priest Enters Islam!
 
A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Mohamed if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque which they did.  But this time it was different.  They did not come back for a very long time.  It became dark and we worried that something might have happened to them.  Finally they arrived and when they came in the door I immediately recognized Mohamed, but who was this alongside of him? Someone wearing a white robe and a white cap.  Hold on a minute!  It was the priest.  I said to him: Pete? -- Did you become a ‘Moslem?’
 
He said that he had entered into Islam that very day.  THE PRIEST BECAME A MUSLIM!!  What next? (You’ll see).
 
Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 5 of 5)
 
  
Description: Yusuf Estes, now an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his story about entering Islam.  Part 5: All become Muslim!
By Yusuf Estes
Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006
Viewed: 28628 (daily average: 8) - Rating: 4.9 out of 5 - Rated by: 87
Printed: 1239 - Emailed: 104 - Commented on: 6
Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men
My Wife Announces Her Islam!
 
So, I went upstairs to think things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the whole subject.  She then told me that she too was going to enter into Islam, because she knew it was the truth.
 
Shocked!
 
I was really shocked now.  I went downstairs and woke up Mohamed and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion.  We walked and talked that whole night through.
 
Truth Had Come!
 
By the time he was ready to pray Fajr (the morning prayer of the Muslims) I knew that the truth had come at last and now it was up to me to do my part.  I went out back behind my father’s house and found an old piece of plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction that the Muslims pray five times a day.
 
Guide Me!  O God!  Guide Me!
 
Now then in that position, with my body stretched out on the plywood and my head on the ground, I asked: “O God.  If you are there, guide me, guide me.”
 
Sign Inside of Me
 
And then after a while I raised up my head and I noticed something.  No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights and flashes.  What I did notice was a change inside of me.  I was aware now more than ever before that it was time for me to stop any lying and doing anything sneaky.  It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man.  I knew now what I had to do.
 
Wash Away the “OLD”
 
So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was ‘washing’ away the sinful old person that I had become over the years.  And I was now coming into a new, fresh life.  A life based on truth and proof.
 
And Become New!
 
Around 11:00 A.M.  that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest, formerly known as Father Peter Jacob’s, and the other Mohamed Abel Rehman, and announced my ‘shahadah’ (open testimony to the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him).
 
“I bear witness, there is no deity to worship, except Almighty God, alone and He has no partners and I bear witness that Mohammad is His messenger and servant.”
 
My Wife Was Next
 
A few minutes later, my wife followed along and gave the same testimony.  But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me being the third).
 
Then My Father
 
My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months before he made his shahadah (public testimony).  But he did finally commit to Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local masjid (mosque).
 
Children Too!
 
The children were taken out of the Christian school and placed in Muslim schools.  And now ten years later, they are memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.
 
Father’s Wife (Stepmother) Next
 
My father’s wife finally acknowledged, before she died, that Jesus could not be a son of God and that he must have been a mighty prophet of God, but not God.  She passed away within a few months of this statement at age 86.  May God accept her statement of faith, ameen.
 
Houseful of New Muslims - What’s next?
 
Now stop and think.  A whole entire household of people from varying backgrounds and ethnic groups coming together in truth to learn how to know and worship the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.  Think.  A Catholic priest; a minister of music and preacher of the Gospel; an ordained minister and builder of Christian schools; and the children, even a great-grandmother - they all come into Islam!
 
His Mercy and Guidance
 
Only by His Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of Islam, by removing the coverings over our ears and the blinders on our eyes, no longer having seals over our hearts - He was Guiding us now.
 
So, now you have the introduction to the story of my coming into Islam and becoming Muslim.  There is more on the Internet about this story and there are more pictures there as well.  Please take the time to visit it and then please take the time to email me, and let us come together to share in all truths based on proofs for understanding our origins and our purpose and goals in this life and the Next Life.
 
Now since writing my story and publishing here on the internet many other websites have picked up this story and it had become a famous example of how “Priest and Preachers Are Coming to Islam.”
 
Again, I thank you for visiting.  And I thank our Christian friend for his email.  If he hadn’t sent it, I probably would still not have completed this task of putting down the story once and for all of how my family, friends and myself all came to Islam.
Please feel free to share this story with others.  You should print it out and make copies for everyone.  Give them our links, add our story to your website or blog page, and send out emails to everyone you know.  Maybe it could make a difference for others like us, God Willing.
May God guide you on your journey to all truth.  Ameen.  And May He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life, ameen.
Peace to you and Guidance from God the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.

Indrani and Chandara, Ex-Hindu, Singapore
Sister Nishani (previously known as Indrani) and her husband, Brother Rafiq (previously known as Chandara) shared with Sister Muneerah Al-Idros, their path toward embracing Islam.
 
Indrani was 6 years old when her father died.  Her mother stopped praying as she felt that god had been unfair to make her a widow with 5 little children.  Indrani and her brothers and sisters were brought up as nominal Hindus.  They had neither an altar nor pictures of gods in their house, as many Hindus do.
 
When Indrani was 10 years old she began to love god.  She collected pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses and worshipped them at home.  She felt the need to pray and thought it was odd that, unlike other Hindu families, her family performed few Hindu rites.
 
During her teenage years, Indrani started going to temple thrice weekly.  She encouraged some of her friends to go to the temple with her, as she quickly became more interested in Hinduism.
 
She participated in bhajanai (devotional singing) activities and became a committee member in Ayyapan Group in Perumal Temple for several years.
 
One day, Indrani became very ill.  She consulted several doctors but was informed that there was nothing wrong with her.  However, her illness persisted.  She later consulted a Swami (a Hindu priest) so that he would clear the sevanai (evil spirits) that she suspected were dwelling inside her.  The Swami and his assistant came to visit her.  The assistant was Chandara, who was involved in her temple’s religious rites, and who had also organized religious trips to Malaysia for Indrani and her friends.
 
Indrani was very impressed with the knowledge the young man demonstrated while assisting the swami.
 
After that visit, Chandara dreamt of his favorite goddess, Kaliamma, telling him to take Indrani as his bride.  After much persuasion, his family asked for Indrani’s hand in marriage.  Indrani and her family were pleasantly surprised by the marriage proposal.  Indrani could not believe that her dreams of marrying a pious Hindu had come true.
 
Unlike Indrani, Chandara was brought up in a religious Hindu family.  On top of that, Chandara was the most religious in his family.  He would often slip into a trance, reciting the holy mantras in praise of the gods and goddesses who would [supposedly] possess him and speak through him.  In Hinduism, it is considered an honor to be possessed by the gods or goddesses.
 
Chandara and other members of the group often got together to listen to the teachings of the swami.  They would also make house visits to chase evil spirits out of other people’s houses and bodies.  This is how Chandara was appointed to be the swami’s assistant.
 
Indrani had never entered into a trance but had seen Chandara [supposedly] being possessed by the elephant god, Vinayagar.  Chandara would behave exactly like an elephant, eating the fruits that the elephant ate.
 
When in a trance, Chandara would be approached to solve problems.  Those who approached him would prostrate before him, for they regarded him as “God”.  The vibuthi (white ashes) used to anoint the forehead would be brought to Chandara to be blessed.
 
Despite all this, Chandara did not feel complete.  Dissatisfied, he knew there was something not right in his life.  He failed to see the light and always felt that his path was blocked by some kind of darkness which he wanted to clear so he could reach the light.  He knew that were 3360 Hindu gods and he prayed to several of them.
 
Whenever he felt confused, he would go to the library to find out more about Hinduism.  He learned from the elders but knew there was still a lot more to learn.  Many of the Hindu priests did not want to share everything that they knew; knowledge was their rice bowl, and they did not want their source to be taken away.
 
It was difficult to learn on your own about Hinduism, as most of the writings were in Sanskrit.  Chandara could not find any holy books that satisfied his quest.  All the books were written by different authors and each of them had different ideas about how and when Hinduism started.  Even the Bhagavat Geeta (which emphasized more on Vishnu), Ramayana and Mahabrahta were very limited.  These holy scriptures were more literature books, teaching that we should do good and pray to the gods.  Above all these gods is the female god, who is the Aadhi Parasakhti.  She controls the whole universe.  The essence of Hinduism is to strive at getting a good reincarnation and to worship God and to pray to God through demigods.
 
During this search for enlightenment, Chandara was approached by a Christian missionary worker in Toa Payoh.  He got involved in Christianity in the hope of enlightenment.  However, he did not like Christianity, mainly due to the behavior of the people in the church; he noticed that young men and women were behaving indecently.  Christianity was not what he was looking for and he withdrew.
 
Still, Chandara could no longer bring himself to pray to so many gods.  He could worship only one God spiritually and worship the other idols physically, but he did not know who the One God was.  Chandara occasionally still got into a trance.
 
Chandara had curious Malay friends asking him about Hindu worship.  They did not tell him about Islam but they told him that unlike him they pray to one God: God.
 
Chandara, who was the leader among his working mates, would go along with Malays when they performed their Zuhr prayer, waiting while they prayed.  At the same time, he would pray to God in his heart, and ask for the right path.
 
Chandara was very impressed with the adhan, which had a soothing effect on this.  The adhan touched his heart so deeply, especially when it was followed by the prayer that his friends and other Muslims never failed to fulfill.  He felt like it was so simple to recognize the true God.  “Just worship him.  Why does one need all these idols and mediators?”  It did not take long before he felt it was Islam and God that he had been searching for.
 
After their marriage, his wife Indrani was still quite active in her temple activities.  She became puzzled when her husband, a more pious Hindu than herself, used to hint repeatedly at the existence of one Almighty God, about praying to one God and that a true religion should not have many gods.  Her mother-in-law felt that her previously pious son might have offended the gods.
 
Even after marriage, Chandara continued his search for enlightenment.  He was trying to search for his One God in Hinduism, trying to know the One God he was praying to spiritually.  He was no longer interested in any of the temple activities, no longer got into a trance.  His mother, while in a trance, pointed out that her son’s change in behavior was due to his being under a charm.
 
Chandara did not know anything about Islam except that in Islam, God is One.  He would meditate daily and Uthrachamale (… rosary) Usually, he would be chanting the various god’s names.  However, this time when he called out their names he felt something was wrong so he just said in English, “Almighty God, Almighty God...” In his meditation, he knew Muslims are praying to the true God.
 
Chandara’s biggest problem in practicing Islam was Indrani.  She didn’t like Muslims and was active with her temple activities.  He tried to influence his wife on the teachings of Islam by turning on to the Malaysian Islamic programmed on televisions, like “Pedoman.” Indrani would complain that it was not necessary for her husband to take so much interest in Islam.  He took this opportunity to express to her that he no longer believed in Hinduism, reasoning that it does not have a holy book and a basis of belief.  Failing to find out how Hinduism started it merely seemed a culture full of complexity brought down by their ancestors.
 
He bought a translation of the Quran by Yusuf Ali and was deeply impressed when he read about the Prophets, of the beginning of mankind and of heaven and hell.  He found many things that are necessary for every human bring to know and he encouraged Indrani to read it.  When he read that idol-worshippers will be thrown to hell, he had all the idols and pictures removed from their home.
 
Chandara now concentrated on learning more about Islam from various sources.  He tried to learn more about Islam from his Malay friends.  However, they usually could not give him answers to his questions.  They suggested that he should seek help from … a religious teacher.
 
Chandara started bringing home books on Islam, as well as on Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism, telling his wife to read and make a comparison of these religions.  Indrani was not interested she was very satisfied with her belief and with Hinduism.  She told herself that there no way he could influence her with his idea of One Almighty God and swore in her heart that she would bring him back to her way.
 
Indrani had no intention of reading the books her husband brought home.  Yet when she had trouble sleeping at night, something made her pick up the Quran and read it.  Again and again, when she could not sleep, it was the Quran that she picked up and read.  She felt so lost because since her husband removed the Hindu deities from their home, she could no longer pray to them.
 
Indrani began to have dreams.  During her first pregnancy, she dreamt of the Kaaba.  She related her dream to one of her Muslim colleagues, who the related Indrani’s dream to her father.  He told her that she was fortunate to have dreamt of the Kaaba.
 
She also dreamt of Hindu gods giving her warnings and threats but she had more dreams about Islam and pious Muslims.  She continued to pray to Hindu idols, but wondered about her dreams.  When she was expecting her third daughter, she had another strange dream.  She heard a voice coming from the open window of the bedroom window.  The voice said, “I am Muhammad, the Messenger of God.  Follow my way and all evil will go away.  If you want to know more, ask your husband.”
 
She awoke after this dream but fell asleep again.  She had a second dream.  In this dream, she saw herself telling her husband about her first dream.  She asked him what the “way” was and he told her to look out the window.  When she did, she saw Yusuf Islam dressed like an Arab giving a talk on Islam, surrounded by other people dressed like him.  Indrani had never seen Yusuf Islam before but she had heard of him.  Somehow, in her dream, she knew it was him.
 
These dreams had a very strong impact on Indrani’s belief.  She became increasingly drawn toward Islam and wanted to follow the way of Muhammad, the Messenger of God, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.  She recalls that she wanted to accept Islam, but was afraid as she was expecting her third child.  She feared something would befall her baby as she thought of the threats the Hindu deities had made in her dream.  After her delivery, Indrani told her husband that she was ready.
 
They were told about Dar-ul Arqam - The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, where they could register their reversion to Islam.  Chandara initially refused as he thought Dar-ul Arqam was affiliated to [another strange organization].  They went to Jamiyah (Islamic Theological Society of Singapore) instead, and registered their names as Mohamed Rafiq and Nishani.
 
When they announced their reversion, they encountered many problems.  This was especially so when Indrani started wearing the hijab.  Their parents, siblings, relatives and friends who used to hold them dear, now chided them.  All the friends Indrani guided to Hinduism now refused to have anything to do with her, for fear that she may succeed in bringing them to Islam.  They were especially surprised because Indrani used to dislike Muslims more than they did.  Indrani’s parents warned her that her husband must have a hidden interest in having more than one wife.
 
Indrani and her husband, ostracized by their parents, missed the affection they previously received from them.  Indrani repeatedly told herself that since God loves her so much, the sacrifice she was making in losing her family was nothing.  She knows that no one loves her more than God Himself.
 
Learned Hindus and gurus tried to bring Chandara back to Hinduism but he turned them down politely.  They then severed their relationship with him.  Indrani’s family swore to see that he children Nisha, Nafeesa and Natasha be brought back to Hinduism when they grow up, refusing to acknowledge their grandchildren’s Muslim names.  The children, now studying at the Madrasah (Islamic school), are very pleased with their religion.  Chandara encourages them to wear the hijab, even though they are still young, with the intention of getting them used to veiling.  The parents observed that the children like the hijab so much that they themselves refuse to remove it.
 
Despite being rejected by their families, Indrani and Chandara never gave up trying to improve their relationship with them.  Today, both Indrani’s and Chandara’s mothers have expressed that they have a filial son and a filial daughter. Alhamdulillah [All praise is to God].

Radko, Ex-Atheist, Czech
Atheism to Christianity
 
I once knew an atheist who claimed he’d never believed in God’s existence.  In his view, believers were supposed to be people of weak character who felt the necessity to find a crutch for their inability and laziness, so they attended church.  He felt agitated if, when the debating religion, he could not persuade the opponent with his arguments.  He despised believers in an almost hysterical way.  He had, however, a very good friend who believed in God.  They agreed to refrain from discussing religion whenever together.
 
One day this man, probably in a rare moment of weakness, accepted the invitation of his friend to visit his church.  To himself, he laughed at the thought of speaking out in the middle of mass and laughing and pointing his finger at the believers from the pulpit.  However, as we know, God works in mysterious ways.  He went to church, stood in the back benches, and stared at the people praying.
 
The mass service started and he gave all of them a sarcastic glance.  Then the sermon began, lasting about 15 minutes.  Suddenly, in the middle of the sermon, tears welled in his eyes.  A strange feeling of joy and happiness washed away his animosity, a feeling that engulfed his entire body.  After mass, the two friends left together.  They were silent until the moment they were to part ways, when he asked his friend whether they could go to church together again.  They agreed to go again the next day.
 
It’s possible some of you might have guessed that I was that stubborn atheist.  I had felt nothing but contempt and hatred towards people of faith.  But after that sermon in 1989, when the priest discussed how we should not judge others if we don’t want to be judged, my life suddenly took a dramatic turn.
 
I started attending church services regularly and was thirsty for any information on God and Jesus Christ.  I took part in meetings with Christian youngsters where we exchanged our spiritual experiences.  I felt resurrected.  Suddenly I felt the need to be in the company of believers.  I needed to make up for the past 18 years.
 
I was brought up in an atheist family, who except for having me baptized, did not exercise any attempt to guide my spiritual development.  I remember being in sixth grade when a comrade was sent by the Communist Party to explain to us why God does not exist.  I remember myself absorbing his every word.  In my case, I needed no convincing.  I believed everything he said.  His arrogance, contempt, and hatred towards believers became mine.  But now I had to make up for all those years.
 
I met with a priest and others who guided me in this new direction.  I was full of so many questions, to which they responded.  Later I was to realize a big mistake: I accepted everything without contemplation or reflection.  I could say that they explained things to me in a ‘take-it-as-is’ manner, but that would not be fair to them.  It was, in fact, my mistake.  I didn’t reflect upon their words, nor did I think critically.  This would cause me a lot of complications later.  In retrospect, I believe an important factor that influenced my behavior was age.  I was too young to properly comprehend matters so serious and complicated as faith.
 
I wished to become a good Christian, and God knows I tried very hard.  Yet over time, I could not reconcile the contradictions found in the Bible, such as the divine nature of Prophet Jesus and the concept of inherited sin.  Priests tried to respond to my questions, but eventually, their patience began to run thin.  I was told that such matters should be accepted on faith, and that these questions were a waste of time and would only serve to distance me from God.  Till this day, I recall myself quarreling with a spiritual leader, an event that restarted my self-destructive tendencies.  Maybe I wasn’t right after all.  I was young.
 
How I Became Muslim
 
My path toward Islam wasn’t easy at all.  You may think that since I was disappointed with Christianity, I would have immediately accepted Islam as my faith.  This could have been very simple, but all I knew about Islam at the time were things like Muslims refer to God as Allah, they read the Quran instead of the Bible, and they worship somebody called Muhammad.  Also, I think I was not yet ready to accept Islam.
 
So I withdrew from the church community and claimed to be a soloist Christian.  I found out, however, that even though I didn’t miss the community of believers or church, God was ‘settled’ so deep in my heart that I couldn’t let Him go.  I didn’t even try.  Quite the opposite.  I felt happy to have God around and hoped He was on my side.
 
Later I began to engage in one stupidity after another, living a life of luxury and lust.  I did not realize that such a road would lead me away from God and towards hell.  A friend of mine says that you need to hit rock bottom in order to feel the ground beneath your feet.  This is exactly what happened to me.  I fell really deep.  I can just imagine how Satan must have been waiting for me with open arms, but God did not give up on me and gave me another chance.

A Sewn Seed Grows Tall and Strong
In July 2001, I met a young man from Iraq.  His name was Ibrahim.  We very quickly struck up a conversation.  He told me that he was Muslim, and I responded that I was Christian.  I was worried that my being Christian would be a problem, but I was wrong.  I was glad to be wrong.  It was interesting that I did not want to become Muslim and he did not try to convert me.
 
Although I considered Muslims an exotic group, I had been interested to learn more about Islam.  It was a good opportunity to learn more.  I realized that I had in front of me a man who could teach me a lot about Islam, so I mustered the courage to ask him to do just that.  That was my first meeting with Islam, indeed my first step.  After some time we parted ways, and I did not see him again, but the seed had been sown.
 
I remember once reading an interview with Mohammad Ali Silhavy (an old Czech Muslim) and being eager to find his address and write him a letter.  Then came September 11.  Because of  the political climate, I thought it might not be an appropriate time to contact Mr. Silhavy.  So I found myself at a dead end.
 
About two months later I found the courage to write a long letter to Mr. Silhavy.  After a while he replied and sent a package including Islamic literature and leaflets.  He told me that he had informed the Islamic Foundation in Prague about me and asked them to send me the translation of the Qur’an.  So this was my beginning.  Step by step, I learned that not only is Islam not a militant religion, but to the contrary, it is a religion of peace.  My questions were answered.
 
Because of certain circumstances, it wasn’t until three years later that I decided to visit Mr. Silhavy.  He showed a lot of patience while explaining to me different issues, and suggested that I visit the mosque of Brno (Czech Republic).  When I went to the mosque of Brno, I was afraid that I would be seen as a stranger, an outsider.  How surprised I was to find quite the opposite.  I met K. and L., who were the first persons to help me.  Of course, I met other brothers who welcomed me in the warmest way possible way.
 
I began to delve into all aspects of Islam, and found how understandable and logical Islam is.  I gradually started to learn how to pray, and today I master prayer with no problem, even in Arabic.  I gave up a bad habit of mine that was not compatible with Islam.  I was a gambler and a very good one indeed.  It was a difficult struggle with myself, but with God’s help I won that battle.
 
If I ever doubted my interest in Islam or whether I could live as a Muslim, I know now that my interest is permanent and I consider myself one of them.  Maybe it looks very simple, but again with God’s help I won this internal struggle.  I thought carefully before I definitively decided to embrace Islam.  To be honest, throughout 2003 and the beginning of 2004, I was not completely sure if I could manage this.  Finally I decided definitively.  I am not that young man from the early ‘90s anymore.
 
That’s why today I feel very happy that I am Muslim.  I finally feel free.  I still have my imperfections but I am trying to improve upon them.  I believe that God will help me.  Now, listen to what I want to tell you and consider this my obligation: I believe in my heart and declare by word that there is no other god but God and Muhammad is God’s Messenger.

Darrick Abdul-hakim, Ex-Christian, USA
My name is Darrick Abdul-hakim.  I am a 20-year-old Muslim brother living in the United States.  I currently attend Cupertino University, which won’t be for long since I am transferring to a University that suits my major. I am going to major in Old Hebraic and Arabian Literature and History, the fancy name for this study is Semitic Literature.
 
I converted to Islam on Oct 12, 2001 at Isha Prayer.  So far I must say, the Islamic quest has been exhilarating.  There is nothing novel about my conversion, but it’s an interesting one at that.
 
I grew up as a Christian who had a good deal of information.  I was very excited to express my Christian belief to my friends, co-workers and colleagues.  However, at the age of 17, life became a bit more complicated than before.  I began to observe my fellow Christians in more depth.  I was shocked how most didn’t practice the Christian faith to 100% expectation.
 
To make matters worse, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the Biblical scriptures.  For example, the belief that Jesus claimed to be God was a church addition.  Jesus certainly never asserted that he was the God of the world.
 
I tried to save my faith in Jesus, but, it was time to go, I needed a more realistic understanding to the world.  So, I prayed to Jesus, trying to see if there still lies an answer.  But, as time went on, I began to notice that the Church life was not it.

 
I wondered what would happen if I were to become more religious, but that never happened and instead I left the Christian life and bid it farewell.  Not only that, but also my faith and belief in God, slipped quietly out the door.  I was now an agnostic, not knowing what faith to follow, or knowing if we are surrounded by God or not, I was just lost in a chaotic world.  I wasn’t an atheist, I was just confused about who, or what God really was.
 
Things didn’t pick up.  Immediately following my rejection of the faith and church, my grandma died.  If I didn’t question life before, I certainly did now.  I began to have thoughts about the Universe whether we are really humans at all.  I began to ask why I should remain moral (I refused to drink because I felt it was a sin, interesting for someone who didn’t have a faith or believed in a God!). I began to question my own existence.  I began to contemplate whether I should be here or not and on account of this, I had seriously considered suicide.  I wanted to quit my job because I was coming under stress, by this time I was 18 years old.
 
Alhamdulilah, I had the comfort of friends to keep me from committing such a catastrophe.  But, I was still without a faith, life couldn’t get much better from my end, and I still didn’t know how to cope with my grandmother’s death.
 
Eventually, I began to read for myself.  I ran across a book, which was discussing the world’s faiths, and I came across Islam.  I simply never had given Islam any thought at all.  On the following day, when I was on my way to work I saw a man with a copy of the Quran in his hand so I asked him if I could see it, Alhamduliah (all praise is due to Allah) he not only let me see it, he gave it to me! I was stunned, excited, and compelled.  I went to read it and was amazed by its literature; the things I didn’t notice before struck me.  It was comprehensible, and lucid for the layperson like myself.
 
On September 11th, I saw the world trade centers go crashing down.  I wondered to myself, could the teachings of Islam have provoked such an act? Could Islam be this bad?
 
But, the more I read, the more I found out that Islam was a faith that denounced all forms of extremism.  Islam by all means is peace.  We certainly wouldn’t judge Christianity by the barbaric abortion clinic bombings, or we wouldn’t describe Judaism as an ethnic faith that just wants a Jewish world from the Israeli who assassinated the Israeli prime minister in 1995 because he felt the Prime minister was an apostate of God. Why must we do the same to Islam? 9/11 compelled me to learn more about Islam.  I bought and read a total of 10 biographies on Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.  I was amazed by his life.  I didn’t look at Muhammad from a Christian perspective, but from a Historical, Political and cultural perspective.  After my readings into Islam, I decided to convert.  I was on a quest for the faith, and I found it.  Alhamdulilah.
 
Now, after my conversion, I have read a large number of books on Islam.  I still am currently reading the Biographies of Prophet Muhammad.  I can truly say that life now is much better!
 

Brandon Toropov, Ex-Christian, USA
A Wave of Conversions
 
If you are a Christian, the idea that Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, practiced the same faith that today’s news broadcasts hold responsible for so many of the world’s problems may seem far-fetched to you.  It seemed far-fetched to me when I first encountered it, before I consulted the Gospels closely.  Yet you should know that many, many contemporary Christians have reached life-changing personal conclusions about the Gospel message and its relation to Islam.
 
“There is compelling anecdotal evidence of a surge in conversions to Islam since September 11, not just in Britain, but across Europe and America.  One Dutch Islamic centre claims a tenfold increase, while the New Muslims Project, based in Leicester and run by a former Irish Roman Catholic housewife, reports a steady stream of new converts.” (London Times, January 7, 2002.)
 
Mainstream Media Ignores Us
 
The Western news media only rarely shares the stories of these individual converts to Islam with the world at large, but I strongly suspect that most of these people -- if they are like me -- found themselves, at the end of the day, concerned about the consequences of calling Jesus “Lord” without obeying his instructions ... found themselves far more concerned about that, in fact, than about any media coverage of geopolitical issues.
 
This kind of concern causes people to change their lives.
 
The Challenge of Q
 
Speaking personally, I changed my own life because I could not ignore the implications of the authentic, stand-alone Gospel passages that today’s most accomplished (non-Muslim!) scholars believe to be of the earliest date available.
 
These sayings, which form a reconstructed text known as Q, can all be found in the New Testament.  They are almost certainly the closest we will ever be able to come to an authentic oral tradition reflecting the actual sayings of Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.
 
Q Confirms Islam
 
If you are new to Q, you should know what the best New Testament scholars now know, namely that today’s scholarship identifies certain Gospel passages as not only instructive, but historically more relevant than other passages.  This scholarship has led to some fascinating discussions among scholars (and a comparatively few lay readers).
 
I believe the Q verses tend to confirm Islam’s depiction of Jesus as a human Prophet with a Divine mandate essentially indistinguishable from that of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.
 
A Human Prophet
 
I did not develop the theory of Q.  It has been around for years.  “Traditionalist” Christian clergy and theologians are generally hostile to it.  They claim that students of Q are somehow eager to diminish the status of Jesus, peace be upon him.  Actually, we are eager to learn what  he is most likely to have actually said.
 
Q represents a major challenge for contemporary Christianity, not least because it strongly suggests that Islam’s picture of Jesus is historically correct.  The fact that Q essentially confirms Islam’s image of Jesus as a distinctly human Prophet has not, I think, been widely noticed by today’s Christians.  And it must be.  Because a careful review of the scriptures demonstrates that Jesus is in fact calling his people to Islam.
 
Jesus Brought Me to Islam!
 
I came to Islam, Alhamdulillah [all praise be to God], after three decades of restless dissatisfaction with conventional Christianity.  Although I’ve read a lot of conversion stories since I embraced Islam in March of 2003, I haven’t found many that cited the Gospels as a point of entry to the Holy Quran.  This is how it was for me.
 
I was drawn to the Gospels at a young age -- eleven -- and I read them compulsively on my own, despite the fact that I did not live in a Christian household.  I soon learned to keep religious matters to myself.
 
Early Questions
 
For most of my adolescence I studied the Christian scriptures on my own.  I still have the red King James Bible I bought as a child; my own handwritten note on the front page proclaims June 26, 1974, as the date I accepted Jesus as my personal savior.
 
When I say I read the scriptures compulsively, I mean that I was drawn to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John like a magnet.  There are plenty of notes and highlightings in that old Bible of mine in Psalms, in Ecclesiastes, in Proverbs -- but most of the notes and underlinings are in the Gospels.  But I sensed, even at an early age, that there were some internal problems with the texts I loved so dearly.
 
Who Tampered with the Gospels?
 
I can clearly remember reading the account in the 22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus withdrew from the disciples, prayed, and returned to find them fast asleep.  Who, I wondered, could have possibly observed him praying ... and then related the incident so that it eventually could be included in the Gospel of Luke?  There’s another passage in the Gospels where Jesus supposedly includes the words “let him who reads understand” in one of his spoken discourses, which seemed odd to me.  And there was yet another spot where the New Testament author assured first-century Christians that their generation would see the second coming of the Messiah -- a passage I found difficult to square with modern Christian doctrine.  These and other queries about the New Testament arose while I was still quite young, certainly before I was fifteen.  Had someone manipulated the Gospels?  If so, who?  And why?
 
I “filed” my questions for later, and decided that the real problem was that I was not part of a vigorous Christian faith community.
 
Catholic
 
At eighteen, I headed East for college and entered the Roman Catholic Church.  In college, I met a beautiful and compassionate Catholic girl who was to become the great love and support of my life; she was not particularly religious, but she appreciated how important these matters were to me, and so she supported me in my beliefs.  I do a great injustice to her seemingly limitless resources of strength, support, and love by compressing the beginning of our relationship into a few sentences here.
 
An Encounter with a Priest
 
I asked the campus priest -- a sweet and pious man -- about some of the Gospel material that had given me trouble, but he became uncomfortable and changed the subject.  On another occasion, I remember telling him that I was focusing closely on the Gospel of John because that Gospel was (as I thought then) a first-person account of the events in question.
 
Again, he stammered and changed the subject and did not want to discuss the merits of one Gospel over another; he simply insisted that all four were important and that I should study all of them.  This was a telling conversation, and a fateful one, as it turned out.
 
Christianity or Paulism?
 
Now, this is not my life story, but rather my reversion account, so I’m going to fast-forward over a lot of important events.  That sweet campus priest eventually married my girlfriend and me, and we settled in suburban Massachusetts.  We each moved ahead professionally and became grownups.  We had three beautiful children.  And I kept reading and rereading the Bible.  I was drawn, as ever, to the sayings about the lamp and the eye, the Prodigal Son, the Beatitudes, the importance of prayer, and so many others -- but I had steadily more serious intellectual problems with the surrounding “architecture” of the New Testament, particularly with the Apostle Paul.  The fact that Paul never seemed to build a theological argument around anything that Jesus actually said was a big, big problem for me.
 
In the mid-1990s, my wife and I both became deeply disenchanted with the Catholic Church, in part because of a truly terrible priest who gave very little attention to the spiritual needs of his community.  We later learned that he had been covering up for a child abuser!
 
Protestant
 
I found it necessary to immerse myself in a faith community.  I joined, and became active in, the local Protestant denomination, a Congregational Church.
 
So I led Sunday School classes for children, and briefly taught a Gospel class on the Parables for the adults.  In the Sunday School classes for the kids I stayed right with the curriculum I had been given; but in the adult class, I tried to challenge the participants to confront certain parables directly, without filtering everything through the Apostle Paul.  We had interesting discussions, but I sensed some resistance, and I didn’t try to teach an adult class again.  My wife eventually joined my church. (She is a member there today.)
 
By this point, I had become deeply affected by the apparent intersection of the Christian mystic tradition and that of the Sufis and the Zen Buddhists.  And I had even written on such matters.  But there seemed to be no one at my church who shared my zeal for these issues.
 
Brandon Toropov, Ex-Christian, USA (part 2 of 2)
 
  
Description: A man’s personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible, the Q verses, leads him to Islam.  Part two: A comparison with the Quran.
By Brandon Toropov
Published on 08 Jan 2007 - Last modified on 25 May 2007
Viewed: 17688 (daily average: 6) - Rating: 4.6 out of 5 - Rated by: 23
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Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men
Focusing on the Gospel Sayings
 
In particular, I was interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q, and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it.
 
This is because that narrative material was added many years later.
 
An Eyewitness Account?
 
In fact, the more I researched this subject, the more I found myself thinking of that conversation about the Gospel of John with my priest.  I realized that what he had been unwilling or unable to tell me was that the author(s) of the Gospel of John had been lying.  This was manifestly not an eyewitness account, though it claimed to be.
 
I was in a strange situation.  I was certainly enjoying the fellowship of the Christians at my church, who were all committed and prayerful people.  Being part of a religious community was important to me.  Yet I had deep intellectual misgivings about the supposed historicity of the Gospel narratives.  What’s more, I was, increasingly, getting a different message from the Gospel sayings of Jesus than that which my fellow Christians were apparently getting.
 
Wresting with the Doctrine of the Trinity
 
The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels.  I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions.
 
Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”?
 
If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God?
 
AND -- if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following?
 
“Why callest thou me good?  There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18)
 
Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?
 
(A side note -- I had a discussion with a woman who assured me that this passage was not really in the Gospels, and who refused to believe that it appeared there until I gave her the chapter and verse number and she looked it up for herself!)
 
The Holy Quran
 
In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Quran.
 
I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Quran before.  I had only read summaries of the Quran written by non-Muslims.(And very misleading summaries at that.)
 
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me.  Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of eleven was present in a new and deeply imperative form.  This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern.
 
Authoritative Guidance
 
The Quran was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
 
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and Wisdom and Prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’  On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book, and you are studying it.’  Nor would he order you to take angels and Prophets for lords.  Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Quran 3:79-80)
 
The Quran drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic.  Something had been changed in the Gospels, and that something, I knew in my heart, had been left intact in the text of the Quran.
 
Startling Parallels
 
Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God.  Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q -- a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah.  Note how close this material is to the Quranic message.
 
Q Agrees with Quran on Tawheed (Monotheism)
 
In Q, Jesus endorses, in no uncertain terms, a rigorous monotheism.
 
“Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke 4:8)
 
Compare:
 
“Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan?  He was your sworn enemy.  Did We not command you to worship Me, and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Quran 36:60-61)
 
Q Agrees with Quran on Aqaba (The Uphill Path)
 
Q identifies a Right Path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow.
 
“Enter ye in through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in there.  Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
 
Compare:
 
“The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Quran 2:212)
 
“Would that you knew what the uphill path is!  It is the setting free of a slave or, in a day of famine, the feeding of an orphaned relative and a downtrodden destitute person, (so that he would join) the believers who cooperate with others in patience and kindness.” (Quran 90:12-17)
 
Q Agrees with Quran on Taqwa (Fear of God)
 
Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God.
 
“And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear.  Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell.  Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5)
 
Compare:
 
“To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.  God’s retribution is severe.  Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Quran 16:52)
 
Q Agrees With Quran on the Traps of Dunya (Earthly Life)
 
In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives:
 
“Woe unto you that are rich!  For you have received your consolation.  Woe unto you who are full!  You shall be hungry.  Woe unto you who laugh now!  You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke 6:24)
 
Compare:
 
“The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) -- until you come to your graves!  You shall know.  You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt.  You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes.  Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Quran 102:1-8)
 
Q Warns Mankind not to Assume Entry to Heaven is Assured!
 
Consider also the following chilling words from the Messiah, which should (!) make every heart humble, choke off all forms of arrogance in spiritual matters, and quiet every attack upon a fellow monotheist:
 
“And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But those who believe they own the kingdom of heaven shall be cast out into the outer darkness.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11-12)
 
Obviously, this is an important teaching for all people of good will to bear in mind ... and to etch upon the memory.
 
Q Says Nothing of Crucifixion or Sacrifice!
 
You have seen how the historically earliest verses -- the Q verses -- parallel the major teachings of the Quran.  Also worthy of mention is the fact that Q teaches nothing whatsoever of the Crucifixion, of the sacrificial nature of the mission of Jesus ... an intriguing omission indeed!
 
We are left then with an amazing early Gospel -- a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus -- a Gospel that has the following characteristics:
 
Agreement with the Quran’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness.
 
Agreement with the Quran’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds.
 
Agreement with the Quran’s warning not to be misled by dunya -- the attractions and pleasures of worldly life.
 
And...
 
A complete ABSENCE of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity!
 
This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Quran!
 
My dear Christian brothers and sisters -- I beg you to ask yourselves prayerfully, to seek almighty god’s guidance on this question: can this possibly be a coincidence?
 
Share The Word!
 
I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003.  It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.

Musa Caplan, Ex-Jew, USA
Prior to my conversion to Islam, I lived my life as a Jew. Although my family was not traditional, I learned Judaism from traditional Jews. I went to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, and an Orthodox Jewish school. I lived, and continue to live, in a Jewish community in the United States where there is little diversity. And considering how much Judaism was involved in my life, I did not have any non-Jewish friends. But about a year ago, I began to chat online quite often and my e-mail list slowly began to fill with more and more Muslims. I developed a strong interest for studying other religions as well as my own. I paid special attention to Islam, for I knew it was a religion not much different than Judaism. We share many similar prophets (peace be upon them all), morals, values, and most importantly, we worship the same God — Allah. Although I knew much about Islam and knew it was a peaceful religion, I cannot say I did not have stereotypes. I was lucky because I knew many Muslims online, one of which was my girlfriend[1] who I consider to be my guide to Islam. She led me to the doors of Islam, and Allah took me through the rest [...]
 
I decided to look deeper into the faith. By doing so I discovered flaws in my own religion. According to the Old Testament, the great Prophet Aaron committed the worse sin possible. Due to pressure put upon him by the people while waiting for Moses to return with the Torah from Mount Sinai, he built an idol.
 
How could a great prophet possibly commit one of the three sins that are so great that one should prefer death before committing them? In the Quran, Moses comes down and sees the Jews worshiping the Golden Calf. At first he thinks it is the creation of Aaron and is angry at him; later he finds it was other Hebrews who had created this idol. A lot can be learned from this story.
 
Would a nation of people led by God really be forgiven for such a sin? My view on this story matches the Islamic view that the Old Testament has changed over the years. In the past, there have been many Cohaneem (religious leaders at the Holy Temple) who were corrupt. Couldn't it easily be possible for them to have changed Judaism to make it easier to observe and less time-consuming in order to make more money with their profession?
 
Another astonishing factor that led me to Islam is the scientific truth written in the Quran. The Quran mentions the human embryonic development long before it was discovered by science.
 
“And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, Then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place, Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators.” (Quran 23:12-14)
 
The Quran also mentions how mountains are formed and talks about the layers of the atmosphere! These are just a few of so many scientific discoveries mentioned in the Quran 1400 years before discovered by science.
 
Here is one of the key factors that led me to explore my heart to find the truth of life. In Arabic, the word Islam comes from salama which means "to submit"; "purity" and "peace" come from the same root. The person submits to the One, the Merciful, and the Most Beneficent Allah; whereas other religions are named after people: Judaism comes from the tribe of Judea, Christianity from Jesus Christ, etc. Islam is a word derived from a verb; anyone who submits to Allah and believes in all the prophets is a true Muslim. Many of the great prophets mentioned in the Old Testament lived prior to Judaism and Judea; they submitted to God, and therefore they were all Muslims. And we shall live as the prophets lived, for they were great human beings.
 
Considering my situation of being very young and living in an all-Jewish area, it would be difficult to have my beliefs accepted. My parents and relatives are very respectful, but I am unsure how they would react if it is their own son who reverts to Islam. So for now, I am unable to live out an Islamic life to the fullest, but thanks to Allah, I am able to pray five times a day, I am able to study Islam online, and at least I am openly able to believe in one God and express those feelings. In some ways it can be very difficult. I become more emotional than most people would when I debate something involving Muslims, for example the Middle East. When I talk about Israel, my whole family supports Israel and doesn't know the truth of what goes on to Palestinians, but I think they should have proper treatment for the Palestinians. And when they talk about this situation, I become easily offended, especially if they bring up the idea that it is "the Jewish Holy Land" and "Promised Land."
 
Because I have not yet told my parents of my reversion to Islam, I am unable to attend prayers at a mosque. As I stated before, my area has little diversity and all the mosques are far away. I have never had the opportunity to do Shahadah in front of witnesses[2] although I have said Shahadah for the best witness of all — Allah. When I am 16 in about one year, I will be able to drive to the mosque, in sha' Allah (Allah willing). The most important thing is to improve the person I am. I try to avoid my friends who do drugs, watch porn, drink alcohol, and steal. It is not always easy to avoid close friends, but I try my best for the sake of Allah. And I hope over time my personality will meet what Allah wishes to see from us all.
 
When studying Quran, my advice to you is to read it for yourself. Looking at biased websites, you are not able to see the full content of a verse. […]
 
Through this whole experience I have discovered that I did not find Islam, I re-embraced Islam; nor did I convert, I reverted; and on my ride from darkness to light, it has only made me a stronger, more spiritual, and a better human being. May Allah guide us all to the truth that I was led to.
 
Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammad rasulu Allah![3]
 
 
Footnotes:
[1]  Although this phenomenon is quite common, Islam in no way endorsing pre-marital relationships between the sexes – IslamReligion.
[2] The Shahada is the testimony one vows to enter Islam, that none is to be worshipped except God, and that Muhammad is a Messenger of God. It is not necessary that their be witnesses to this – IslamReligion.
[3] This is the Shahada mentioned earlier pronounced in Arabic – IslamReligion.
 

Muhammed Umar Rao, Ex-Hindu, Brahmin
God’s grace that I’m blessed with religion of God, I’m Mohammed Umar Rao from India, I embraced Islam 6 years back at the age of 18.  I wanted to share my story with you all perhaps this would make a difference for non-Muslims to really think over to know what is the truth.  I shared my story with two brothers, All praise and thanks be to God, they were convinced that my decision and choice is best, they started reading the Quran and also embraced it a few days back.
 
My Background
 
I come from a middle class orthodox Brahmin family; my parents worked in private firms (Mother: teacher, Father: textile engineer).  My religious education was at my maternal uncle’s place, that’s how I became orthodox and my whole family education was always against Muslims, which was nailed in me deeply.
 
I was associated with RSS for a few years; I always hated Muslims to the extent that in all public functions I wanted to give high volume for music sound boxes to ensure that the Adhaan [Call to Prayer] could not be heard at all.  I used to go round the town visiting all temples to complete my worship everyday.  I was liked, appreciated in my family for being orthodox and encouraged to do more.
 
My Meeting with Islam
 
In the summer, my mother asked me to work for a Muslim business firm, which I disagreed, because from childhood I always hated Muslims.  My mother stopped forcing me on this; I worked few summers with a non-Muslim so I was able to satisfy my parents.  Later, I quit that part time job because I did not like the job and started concentrating more on studies aiming for a better job.  Meanwhile, my mother and sisters worked 2 months part-time for this Muslim brother.  They were highly impressed with him.
 
I always hated this person because I did not like the fact that my people were praising a Muslim whom I always hated.  I was pushed and insulted for not being useful to the family, so I started working for the same Muslim brother though I hated him before going.  After getting in his shop I started hating him more because the non-Muslim employees of that shop embraced Islam, I took this challenge to teach him a lesson claiming my religion is true and from there, I started doing a comparative study with whatever common sense which God had blessed me with then.
 
By now, in the urge to know more about Islam, I started reading the English translation of the Holy Quran (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).  This changed my entire student life; I was stuck with fear, doubts, I realized the fact that whatever I’m doing is wrong, my religion is all about imaginations/myths and false stories.  I had many questions, doubts like where am I heading to, what should I do?  What is my duty?  Why has the message of truth not reached all of us?  Many questions came to my mind and my entire student life went in this hunt of truth.
 
I started questioning my parents and people around, that who has seen God almighty to be able to paint /make images of God? All answered me that no one has seen God which is so true as it is mentioned in many places in the Quran.  Finally, some mythological stories broke my faith down.  The stories of Ganesha, Chamundeswari, Ram, Sita etc. did not make sense to me.  I could no longer imagine them as gods.
 
When I questioned my parents that Vedas are against idol worship and why do we still practice it, my mother scolded me saying we are supposed to do it as our forefathers did it, the next day I read a verse in the Quran, Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2) which reads:

 
"When it is said to them: ‘Follow what God has sent down.’  They say: "Nay!  We shall follow what we found our fathers following." (Would they do that!) Even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided?" (Quran 2:170)
 
…and:
 
"That was a nation who has passed away.  They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn.  And you will not be asked of what they used to do." (Quran 2:134)
 
When I read this I was shocked to see something which I just questioned my mother last night.  This ayah (verse) hit me right deep inside.  I slowly stopped worshipping idols, and stopped doing Pooja [Editor’s note: A Hindu ritual for prayer], since shirk (Polytheism) is the only sin which will never be forgiven.  I started practicing the teachings of Islam in secret in the beginning.  There were few [themes] from chapter Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2) which [mean that] there are few who accept Islam wherever it profits them and not whole heartedly [and that they] are hypocrites.
 
Also:
 
"This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." (Quran 5:3)
 
I realized that for all the questions that I have in my mind, the answers are present in the Quran.
 
By the grace of God, I started conveying message of God at my home with little knowledge I had, I wanted to complete my B.E. meantime, conveying the truth would make it easy in the long run for me and my family, but after my final year of diploma I was pushed to the wall, then the time came where I had no choice but to quit my family, my sister also embraced Islam and she joined me.  We had to live out of our house for more than a year without a job or regular source of income.  All praise be to God, God made our ways easy to be firm on truth.
 
As God says in the Quran:
 
"Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested." (Quran 29:2)
 
Over a period, Alhamdulillah, God opened doors of opportunities for us, I had quit my previous job as I was unable to perform my five times prayer. All the opportunities that came my way were from the mechanical industry which demanded that I work in shift and compromise my prayer.  After quitting that job/mechanical profession for 1+ year, I did not get any job where I can perform 5 times prayer, by the Grace of God, I started working as a faculty for 2000 rupees for a year and now I’m blessed with a better job.  By the Grace of God, Almighty God has chosen us, there’s nothing more required.

Yousef al Khattab, Ex-Jew, USA
 
I was born to a Secular Jewish family, and at the age of 18 years old decided to look “deeper” into belief in God.  Like most people, I looked at religion from a view point that was closer to me.  Being that my family was Jewish and I was raised to attend Jewish schools I looked into Rabbinical “Orthodox Judaism”.
 
In the year 1988 I entered a Yeshiva and started my journey into the Orthodox Rabbinical racist cult.  In 1991 I wed my 1st  wife (then) Luna Mellul now Qamar al Khattab.
 
She was from the Moroccan town named Tetouan and was attending the racist Orthodox Jewish girl’s seminary known as Breuers or Sampson Raphael Hirsh Bet Yaakov aka Bais Yakov.
 
1992 bought us the birth of my 1st child Abdel Rahman (formally Rachamim Cohen).
 
Alhumdulilah[1]  he was then as he is now my pride and joy.  Upon the birth of Abdel Rahman we were living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the Satmar Hasidic community.  I used to see all the lying and cheating, government scams and money laundering using the Synagogue and Yeshiva bank accounts and the poor hygiene of these folk, and was nervous for my new born son not to grow up like these folk.
 
We tried broadening our horizons and moved to the Ocean Parkway area of Brooklyn, later that year.
 
1994 till 1998 bought us the birth of 3 more wonderful children alhumdulilah.  Hesibeh, Abdel Aziz (formally Ezra), and Abdullah (formally Ovadia) during these years I tried to convince myself that Judaism was a true path and I just didn’t understand it because I never read the entire set of Talmud and it 3 different ways of understanding it including the “hidden level”.  You see this is the trick in the rabbinical cult, you will not EVER finish learning all the rabbinic text thus u are subservient to the Rabbis (aka Elders of Zion) who will interpret Judaism for you.  During this time frame the Rabbis saw that we doubted there beliefs thus constantly followed our family contacting all new friends and employers etc.  The Rabbis MUST ALWAYS know where you move to and who are your friends.  The Rabbis were starting to be a big nuisance as were the Rabbinical Jews, so seeking a better future elsewhere we loaded up the family and moved to Palestine.  (then like most westerners we were brainwashed to refer to the Jew entity as Israel).
 
September, 1998 we now arrived in Ghaza [Gaza] , or what the Jewish squatters refer to as Gush Qatif.  Quickly my wife was turned off by the lies of the folk there and my son Abdel Rahman came running home from school one day saying “Daddy, my teacher doesn’t cover her hair properly, her dress is to short, they don’t learn Torah here and all they do is play”!!
 
Maashaallah[2], my son was very correctl, so with no possessions or money we set off to find a home in the nearby Jew settlement of Netivot in occupied 1948 Palestine.  Shas, a “religious political party” immediately helped us by providing a home and their private school system and my kids went from knowing NO Hebrew to being tops in there class alhumdulilah.  During our stay in Netivot I met a Muslim from UAEm, and we had conversations for about two years where he would ask me questions about Jewish Aqeedah or Jewish creed, and then compare it to Tawheed al Elohiya a part of Islamic Monotheism.  I would then go and ask major Rabbis questions about the Jewish creed and always got 60000 different answers.  The Jews can’t even tell you where there God is based on text; rather they say God is everywhere! (authubilah[3]) One day I decided to go to the Arab souk and buy a translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the English language.  Subhanallah[4]!!!!!  I could not put it down!!  Every problem I had with Jews and Judaism was being addressed by Allah the Most High, in the 1st three chapters of the Quran Allah answered most of my doubts about Judaism.  The Quran is firm with the Jews and invites them to a just truth (Islam) to save them from the hellfire their ancestors are currently in.
 
When I finished reading the entire Quran, I could no longer associate with Jews any longer, thus I was obliged to tell my wife I am a Muslim.  Alhumdulilah within 2 weeks my wife decided to read the Quran and became a Muslimah!!!  Then the kids after her alhumdulilah.  Soon after this we moved to the Palestinian Authority and East Jerusalem where we lived for almost 6 years.
 
Today 2006 alhumdulilah we live in Morocco
 
My kids’ alhumdulilah no longer remember Hebrew and their 1st language is Arabic.  All are learning in Islamic Arabic schools alhumdulilah, and we thank Allah subahanahu wa tala [5]  for blessing us with Islam.
Footnotes:
[1] All praise is due to God – IslamReligion.
[2] A statement of praise, “Whatever Allah wills.”
[3] We seek protection in Allah!
[4] Glory be to Allah!
[5] Glory be to Him, the Most High.
 

C.S. Mathos, Ex-Atheist, USA
I am C.S. Mathos.  I was born into a secular family on August 1st, 1992, in Pennsylvania.  My mom was once a Christian, and as a kid she went to a Quaker church.  She went to a church camp, and was literally scared away from her religion due to some priest that preached Armageddon all the time.  She remained secular for the rest of her life, really.  She was more of an agnostic, not atheistic like I was.  To explain, I was surprisingly logical as a child, and reasoned that it was impossible that a god existed.  Really, I didn’t care about religion back then.  I had an obsession with dinosaurs, and wanted to learn more and more about them.  I remember things like a T-rex weighed 7 tons, a Triceratops herd would protect their young by forming a circle, and fight off the predators, and a Veloceraptor was able to run about 75 mph.
 
I was obviously ridiculed when my love for paleontology did not subside.  It did go away (somewhat) when I became interested in dragons and such.  The insults didn’t affect me very much because I was always in an “emotional shell”, keeping things I wanted to really say in my head.  When I did speak, I was most often honest, soft spoken, and didn’t have much to say, because I didn’t trust people, and I liked my imagination better than the real world.  Even when 9/11’s attacks came, I didn’t talk much, and didn’t react to it.  It didn’t scare me at all; I thought the word “Muslim” was the term for an ethnic group, and I was only concerned about the Iraq war when innocent people were raped in that Abu Ghraib prison scandal.  Even then, I just got over it and became annoyed when it was repeatedly appearing on the news.  When I did come out of my shell (5th grade), I fought with people about religion and politics.  I believed there were hypocrisies in Christianity, which was the only religion I remembered at that time.
 
When I became 13 years old, I really received insults, and took them seriously.  I was depressed, my grades were only acceptable, and at that time I wasn’t interested in anything.  I decided I needed a religion.  I didn’t really search for one, just believed there was one God, and, because of my bitterness, I blamed my problems on Him.  I started paying attention more and more to politics, forgot about religion for the most part, and I started reading books on Hitler and WWII.  I was really interested in WWII, Nazism, and, increasingly, communism.  I was told all my life communism was a failed ideology, but I wanted to learn the other side of the argument: the side of the communists.  I picked up the Communist Manifesto, read Wiki articles, looked up Communist Party materials, and I joined the Marxist movement.  I saw myself actually fighting for something; a society that is truly free and just, equal and united.
 
I busied myself with the movement, and joined a group.  I’m not naming it.  I told people I was a communist only when they asked.  Boy, you thought someone can be made fun of before I became a communist.  Don’t want to talk about it.  It’s too depressing.  I actually broke down crying at the dinner table because of so much torment by my classmates.  I just needed a religion.  I tried out Christianity, however I flat out left it.  Too many contradictions, sectarianism, and hypocrisy.
 
I looked around, and around, I looked at everything, from Christianity to Greek Mythology.  I decided to look at Islam last, since I took into account the prejudices of war and the possibility that I may actually be killed by someone due to following such a religion.  I gave up on everything else, and I said to myself: “The last thing you have to go to is Islam.  Just get a Quran and read it.  Hell, it may be what you’re looking for.”  I got the Quran off of a website, and got it in the mail 5 days after it was ordered.  It was dark green; so dark green, I thought it was black.  It has a beautiful leather binding, gold imprints on it.  I started reading it, and I just saw that it was nothing as it was portrayed on TV.  I saw that there was only one God, and there was no one else to worship but He.  I saw this, and I wanted to join the religion.
 
I searched on the Internet on how to pray, and found the site www.islamreligion.com, and I saw “How to Convert to Islam and become a Muslim” on the menu.  I decided that writing down how to pray was for later, conversion was needed for me.  I needed to submit to God.  NOW.  I found the Shahada, and I wrote it down.  Then, I took the Shahada, and became a Muslim.  As soon as I did, I felt the pain in my heart lift, and I felt truly happy.  God has been good to me, and I try to pray 5 times every day to Him.  However, due to the circumstances of war prejudices, other people’s intolerance, and other people’s sectarianism, I have to practice my religion in secret.  I pray to God in the morning, noon, sundown, evening, and at 11:00 or 12:00 at night.  When I can drive, I’ll drive to the nearest mosque every Friday.  My own mother doesn’t even know I’m a Muslim.  I’ll tell her when I’m truly ready, or when I’m an adult and live elsewhere, or I’m in college.  I pray that God keeps me away from disbelief, and help me become the best Muslim I can be while practicing in secret.  If my mom is reading this, try to understand my religion before you pass judgment.  Let me practice my religion in peace, without your ridicules and jokes, which are hurtful.  I’ve been practicing Islam for a week, I think.  I lose track of time.
 
Non-Muslims that are reading this, I suggest you read the Quran and become a Muslim.  Peace be upon you, and God’s blessings.
 

Richard Leiman, Ex-Jew, USA
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.
 
I visited London and loved it.  During my visit, I went to several employment agencies without luck.  One of the agencies gave me several trade magazines.  When I arrived back in the States, I started to send more CV’s to companies and other agencies listed in the magazines.  I returned to the United Kingdom because one of the companies wanted to interview me.  Then I started to visit more companies and agencies until I landed a position even though I was on a visitor’s visa.
 
The company that hired me applied for a work permit for me and the Department of Employment told me that I had to leave the country in order for the paperwork to be processed.  Again, I went back to the States.  Another agency obtained a temporary work permit and employed me for a company called LogoTech, which, at that time, was located in Egham, Surrey.
 
Meeting a Real Muslim for the First Time
 
Some time 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.  He also asked me to pledge that I would have a bath before I read from the Quran[1] and that I would never show it to anyone who might make blasphemous remarks about it.
 
The next day, I took my morning bath and made breakfast.  Then, 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 in London, I would have gone with him.  The only thing I knew about praying to Allah was the prostration position.  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.
 
Back to the States Again
 
When the work permit ran out, I had to return to the States and was unemployed for several years.  I visited my father in Huntsville, Alabama, and created a database application for him.  I saw that Huntsville was a high-tech cosmopolitan city and decided to try to land a programming position there.  My father told me that if I did not get a position, I would have to go back to New Jersey to my mother, who had moved from New York to New Jersey.  About a fortnight before I was going to go back to New Jersey, I landed a programming position at a company in Huntsville.
 
My First Trip to a Masjid
 
My sister and I were planning a trip to Indonesia because we had a pen pal on the Internet.  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.  Now here is the strange part that only Allah could have arranged.  We spoke to the owner of the shop and told him that we wanted to find Islamic jewelry.  He directed us to the Huntsville Islamic Center.
 
I do thank Allah for having them direct me to the masjid.  We went to the building, but there was only one car parked there.  I spoke to a man in the car, and he told us that we should speak to the imam about where to find the jewelry.  I was still afraid to go into the building because for me, it was such a sacred place.
 
At the moment, I remembered one day when I saw a lady at work wearing a hijab.  I told her about accepting Islam personally and she said, “Why don’t you visit the masjid in Huntsville?”  I eventually went back to the masjid after I summed up enough courage to go into that sacred place.
 
I spoke to the imam, and he invited me to perform salah 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.
 
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 Ka`bah or our masjid.
 
Now that I am a Muslim, there is no turning back to disbelief!
 
 
Footnotes:
[1] Although this is not something recommended, this Muslim happened to think so – IslamReligion.
 

Abdul-Lateef Abdullah, Ex-Protestant, USA
Learning about Islam               
My experience in Islam began as a graduate student in New York City in 1998.  Up to that point in my life, for 25 years, I had been a Protestant Christian, but had not been practicing my religion for quite some time.  I was more interested in “spirituality” and looking for anything that didn’t have to do with organized religion.  To me, Christianity was out of touch and not relevant to the times.  It was hard for me to find anything in it that I could apply to my everyday life.  This dissolution with Christianity led me to shun everything that claimed to be organized religion, due to my assumption that they were all pretty much the same, or at least in terms of their lack of relevance and clarity.
 
Much of my frustration with Christianity stemmed from its lack of knowledge and guidance around the nature of God, and the individual’s relationship to Him.  To me, the Christian philosophy depended on this rather bizarre intermediary relationship that we were supposed to have with Jesus, who on one hand was a man, but was also divine.  For me, however, this difficult, and very vague relationship with our Creator left me searching for something that could provide me with a better understanding of God, and our relationship to Him.  Why couldn’t I just pray directly to God?  Why did I have to begin and end every prayer with “in the name of Jesus Christ?”  How can an eternal, omnipotent Creator and Sustainer also take the form of a man?  Why would He need to?  These were just a few of the questions that I could not resolve and come to terms with.  Thus, I was hungry for a more straightforward, direct and clear approach to religion that could provide my life with true guidance, not just dogma that was void of real knowledge based in fact.
 
While in graduate school, I had a Jewish roommate at the time who was a student of the martial arts.  While I was living with him, he was studying an art called silat, a traditional Malaysian martial art that is based on the teachings of Islam.  When my roommate would come home from his silat classes, he would tell me all about the uniqueness of silat and its rich spiritual dimension.  As I was quite interested in learning martial arts at the time, I was intrigued by what I had heard, and decided to accompany my roommate to a class one Saturday morning.  Although I did not realize it at the time, my experience in Islam was beginning that morning at my first silat class in New York City back on February 28th, 1998.  There, I met my teacher, Cikgu (which means teacher in Malay) S., the man who would provide with my basis and orientation to Islam.  Although I thought I was beginning a career as a martial artist, that day back in 1998 really represented my first step toward becoming Muslim.
 
From the very beginning, I was intrigued by silat and Islam and began spending as much time as possible with my teacher.  As my roommate and I were equally passionate about silat, we would go to my teacher’s house and soak up as much knowledge as we could from him.  In fact, upon our graduation from graduate school in the spring of 1998, upon his invitation, we spent the entire summer living with him and his wife.  As my learning in silat increased, so did my learning about Islam, a religion that I had hardly any knowledge of prior to my experience in silat.
 
What made my orientation to Islam so powerful was that as I was learning about it, I was also living it.  Because I studied at the home of my teacher, being in the presence of devout Muslims allowed me to be constantly surrounded by the sounds, sights and practices of Islam.  For as Islam is an entire lifestyle, when you are in an Islamic environment, you cannot separate it from everyday life.  Unlike Christianity, which lends toward a separation between daily life and religion, Islam requires its followers to integrate worship of God into everything we do.  Thus, in living with my teacher, I was immersed in the Islamic deen and experiencing first-hand how it can shape one’s entire way of life.
 
In the beginning, Islam was so new, different and powerful to me.  It was also very foreign in many ways and the amount of discipline it requires was difficult to understand.  At the time, I was so liberal in so many ways, and was used to shunning anything dogmatic or imposed, regardless of who authored it!  As time went on, however, and my understanding of Islam grew, I began to slowly see that what seemed to be religious dogma was really the lifestyle put forth to us by our Creator – or the Arabic term, “deen” of God.  This lifestyle, I would later learn, is the straight path to true contentment, not just the sensual and superficial way of life that my society and culture promote.  I realized that the question is quite simple actually.  Who could possibly know better than the all-wise Creator, what is the best way of life for human beings?
 
From the day of my first silat class in New York City to the day I took my shahadah, July 30, 1999, I underwent a thorough self-examination that was comprised of two major experiences.  One was the process of questioning the culture I was brought up in, and the second was struggling to understand the true nature of God and the role of religion in my everyday life.  As for my culture, this one was not as difficult as most people would think.  For me, growing up in America and knowing no better, it took a powerful experience, a gifted teacher, and the right knowledge to experience truth.  American culture is very powerful because it constantly bombards us with sensual gratification.  Unless we are removed from it, it is difficult to see its limitations, which are based on worshipping and putting faith in everything but God, the only One that can provide us with real, lasting support in our lives.
 

How Islam has changed my life!
 
Being a social scientist by trade, much of my time is spent working on and pondering over the ills and dilemmas of our society.  As I learned more about Islam, I came to the conclusion that societal ills are based primarily on unhealthy, dysfunctional social behaviors.  Since Islam is a lifestyle focused totally on the most healthy, positive way of conducting our lives in every setting, then it is, and will always be, the only true answer to any society’s social dilemmas.  With this realization, not only did I decide that Islam was relevant to my everyday life, but I began to understand why it is so different from other religions.  Only Islam provides knowledge and guidance for every aspect of life.  Only Islam provides a way to achieve health and happiness in every dimension of life – physical, spiritual, mental, financial, etc.  Only Islam provides us with a clear life goal and purpose.  And only Islam shows us how to live in and contribute to a community, not just talk about it.  Islam is what everyone needs, and what so many who have not found it yet, are searching for.  It is the path to purpose, meaning, health and happiness.  This is because it is the straight path to the source of all the power we could ever need – God.
 
It was only until I actually became Muslim that I realized just how encompassing our lifestyle truly is.  Literally everything we are instructed to do has one underlying purpose – to remember God.  It just shows the absolute and divine brilliance of the [religion], in that there is a lifestyle that can show you how to remember your Creator in as simple an act as greeting someone, or getting dressed in the morning, or waking up from sleep.  Islam shows us that by constantly remembering God, everything we do becomes focused on Him, and thus becomes an act of worship.  From this, our energy, our thoughts, and our actions all become redirected away from unhealthy and useless causes, and focused on the source of all goodness.  Thus, we are continuously tapping into His divine strength, mercy and grace.  So, by remembering God constantly, we become stronger, better, and healthier in every aspect of our lives.
 
There were, and still are, aspects of Islam that have proven at least somewhat difficult for me.  Nevertheless, I thank God everyday for the ease to which he has allowed me to make the necessary changes in my life so that I can continue to live in America and still be, Insha-Allah [God-willing], a good Muslim.  As a white, middle-class American, many of the cultural aspects of Islam are quite different from what I, and those close to me throughout my life, have been used to.  In fact, when I finally broke the news to my family that I had taken my shahada [testimony of faith] and become Muslim, almost all of their questions and concerns were related to cultural differences – marriage, social life, family, etc.  They were much less concerned about my general beliefs around God and religious practice.  For my family, friends, and co-workers, becoming Muslim was not seen necessarily as a negative change, but it has required a great deal of education for them about Islam.  In fact, as with my own education, this process of sharing the truth about Islam with them is never-ending because there is no limit to how much knowledge we can acquire, and it is the responsibility of every one of us to share whatever right knowledge we have.
 
Because acquiring right knowledge is such a critical component to a Muslim’s development, having a teacher who has taught me how to apply Islam in everyday life that has made all the difference for me and helped me in managing whatever difficulties I have experienced from my reversion.  Having someone knowledgeable you can turn to whenever you have questions is a wonderful support that every new [Muslim] should go out of their way to find.  Islam is not a religion that can be rationalized, in the way that Christianity and Judaism have been over the ages.  It is a clear path that must be followed exactly as God laid for us through the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad his companions, and the scholars of Islam.
 
In this day and age, in this society, discerning the path can often be difficult, especially when we are constantly faced with questions and doubts from people who on the surface may not be hostile to Islam, but whose general lack of faith can have a harmful effect on someone who bases everything they do on their love for God.  It is also not easy being in an environment where we are constantly bombarded with sensual temptations which are seen as ordinary, common aspects of everyday life.  But when we have the support of a knowledgeable, experienced teacher, who is able to apply the universal teachings of Islam to his life, then the truth becomes clear from error, exactly how God describes in the Quran.  From this, we are able to understand how to apply Islam correctly to our own lives, and thus receive God’s many blessings.  The ultimate test, however, of anyone who claims to have true and right knowledge, is to look at how they apply it in their own lives.  If their actions support their teachings, then and only then should we look to them for guidance.
 
My journey to Islam, although short, has been a life-altering experience.  It is one that with every passing day makes me more and more appreciative and thankful to Almighty God.  The extent of His mercy can only fully be understood from the perspective of someone who prostrates themselves regularly and submits their will to that of the Creator.  This is what I strive for through Islam, and part of what jihad is.  It is the struggle that we must fight every moment of every day, but one that we love, because we know Who to turn to for support and Who is helping us along.
 
I look back at my life prior to Islam and reflect on the different ways I sought guidance.  I think back to all the different ideas I once had of who God really is, and how we can become close to Him.  I look back now and smile and perhaps even shed a tear because now I know the truth.  Through Islam, I know why so many people who do not believe have so much fear inside them.  Life can be very scary without God.  I know, because I once harbored that same level of fear.  Now, however, I have the ultimate “self-help” program.  It’s the self-help program without the self.  It’s the path that puts everything is in its proper place.  Now, life makes sense.  Now, life is order.  Now, I know why I am here, where I want to go, what I want my life to be, how I want to live, and what is most important not just to me, but to everyone.  I only hope and pray that others who have not found the path yet, can feel the same that I do.  Alhamdulillahi rabbil alameen. [All praise and thanks are for Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of all creation].

Hussein Abdulwaheed Amin, Ex-Catholic, Ireland
Introduction and Personal Background
Introduction
 
I have written my story of conversion to Islam mainly for the benefit of other (would-be) western converts, especially those who, like myself, come from a genuinely religious Christian background.  Whilst Christianity and Islam have much in common, there remain fundamental differences about which no compromise is possible, principally concerning the Christian doctrine of Trinity and the belief that Jesus is divine.  Moving from being a practicing, sincere, if somewhat intellectually dissatisfied Christian to embracing Islam is therefore in some respects a major theological journey.  As someone who has already undertaken that journey, I hope that my travelogue may in some way help smooth the path of those who follow.  The following hadeeth (saying of Prophet Mohammed) comes to mind:
 
“Once a man, who was passing through a road, found a branch of a tree with thorns obstructing it.  The man removed the thorns from the way. God thanked him and forgave his sins.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
 
Through detailing my own experiences for the benefit of others of a similar background, I would like to think of myself as removing some of the figurative thorns which obstruct the road from Christianity to Islam.
 
I converted to Islam before I became Internet-aware and had to do all the research for myself.  It was essential to me that my investigation of Islam result in intellectual and theological satisfaction.  I trust that others from a similar background to mine will find that some of my experiences along the path from Christianity to Islam serve as useful pointers and starting points for investigation in their own spiritual quest.
 
My Personal Background
 
I converted to Islam in October 1998 when aged 31.  I am originally from Ireland where I was born into a practicing Catholic family, but I have spent nearly all my adult life abroad.  In the mid to late 1990’s I was in love with a Muslim lady whom I had met whilst in an Islamic country.  I knew that if I were interested in marrying her, I would have to convert to Islam, as Muslim women are prohibited from marrying outside their faith.  I did not at all welcome the prospect of having to become a Muslim. In fact, although I knew very little about Islam the religion, a particularly negative experience I had just had of working in a different Muslim country had, if anything, rather soured my opinion of things to do with Islam and reinforced whatever general western disinclinations I may already have felt.  Nevertheless back in Europe during the spring and summer of 1998, I read all the text books I could find in college and public libraries about Islam (factual accounts, textbooks, mainly by non-Muslims) and discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that I could agree with 90% of the religion without any difficulty.  I actually became rather enthusiastic.  I realized that I had been making the mistake of judging Islam by the behavior of some of its more unsavory nominal adherents rather than by the theological and moral teachings of the religion itself.
 
Jesus - Son of God?
 
Where I did have a real problem, though, was with the role of Jesus. I had been brought up a Catholic Christian, believing in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son plus the Holy Spirit - three persons in one god. Islam rejects this and teaches the absolute oneness of God (Tawheed) and specifically that Jesus, though a great prophet, was only human and not divine.
 
“O People of the Book [Christians and Jews]! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in God and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for God is one God: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son.” (Quran 4:171)
 
“Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food.” (Quran 5:75)
 
“[Jesus] said: Surely I am a servant of God; He has given me the Book and made me a prophet.” (Quran 19:30)
 
“In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary.” (Quran 5:17)
 
“They do blaspheme who say: ‘God is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’” (Quran 5:72)
 
“And behold! God will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary!  Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God?’  He will say: ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say).’” (Quran 5:116)
 
Islam preaches pure monotheism.  The absolute fundamental of Islam is that God alone (what Christians refer to as God the Father) is the sole deity.  Surah 112 of the Quran is quite explicit about this:
 
1. Say (O Muhammad): "He is Allah, (the) One.
 
2. "The Self-Sufficient Master.
 
3. "He begets not, nor was He begotten;
 
4. "And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him."
 
What was I to do? This was so alien to me.  I certainly could not betray Jesus.
 
In terms of religious belief and practice, my own personal situation was that I had mainly ceased going to Sunday Mass for some years, in large part due to annoyance at the political, non-religious content of many Sunday sermons.  (I much preferred the short, non-obligatory, weekday Masses where I could concentrate without distraction or annoyance on feeling close to God, as no sermon is preached.)  Yet on a theological level I remained a committed Catholic (as opposed to Protestant) within the context of Christianity.  For example, within the ring fence of Christianity, based on my study of the Gospels, I believed in the doctrines of transubstantiation and apostolic succession.  However, I had serious doubts about the validity of Christianity per se, specifically with the doctrine of Original Sin and the consequential need for the blood sacrifice of Jesus, Son of God, as a spiritual redeemer of souls in atonement.  Both these concepts are unknown and alien to the Judaism from which Christianity is supposed to be derived. Nevertheless the notion of Jesus as Son of God, had been so deeply ingrained in me that it was extremely difficult for me to countenance any other interpretation.

Investigating the Christian Resources
Saint Paul and the early Christian Church
 
Having gone as far as I could at that time with my research of Islam, I next set about a serious study of the historical Jesus and the early Christian church.  I was astonished at what I learned - things I had never even heard about in my fourteen years of Religious Education at Catholic schools.  As my knowledge increased, I came to reject what I now regarded as the doctrinal innovations of the foremost evangelist of the early church, Paul of Tarsus, usually referred to as Saint Paul the Apostle.  Paul was not an Apostle at all.  In fact, he personally never even met Jesus, yet claimed to receive visions of Jesus which overrode the first-hand historical and theological knowledge of those who had known and followed Jesus during his actual ministry.  Paul’s abrogation of the Law of Moses was decried by the Jerusalem church, led by Peter, and comprised of the original Jewish disciples of Jesus.  They saw themselves as a movement within Judaism and would not accept gentiles unless they converted to Judaism, for example, through circumcision and acceptance of Jewish dietary law.  For the original Jewish disciples of Jesus, the notion of a literal and physical Son of God would have been blasphemous and in direct contravention of the First Commandment. In Exodus 20:2-5 we read:
 
“I am the Lord your God...Worship no god but me...I tolerate no rivals.”
 
And Deuteronomy 6:4 is variously rendered as:
 
“Hear O Israel, the LORD - and the LORD alone - is our God.”
 
                Or
 
“The LORD, our God, is the only God.”
 
 
                Or
 
“The LORD our God is one.”
 
 
There seems no scope for a “Son of God” or Trinity based on those readings, only for God “the Father” in Christian parlance or Allah as He is known to Muslims. [Allah is simply the Arabic word for the God (capital G).  He is not some other deity, as some people in the West mistakenly think.  Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians use the word “Allah” too and “Allah” appears throughout the Arabic Bible.]
 
This understanding that a literal, physical Son of God would have been (and still is) blasphemous to Jews was subsequently confirmed to me in private correspondence with a Jewish university professor of religion.  Speaking of the Jewish understanding of the Messiah, he stated: “The figure described here is clearly a human being, not a divinity or son of God”.
 
Saint Paul’s missionary work was overwhelmingly directed at polytheist pagans in the northern Mediterranean.  In Corinth he gave up in exasperation on the Jews who stayed faithful to the worship of God alone and to the oneness of God.  In Acts 17: 6 Paul declares to the Jews:
 
“If you are lost, you yourselves must take the blame for it.  I am not responsible.  From now on I will go to the gentiles.”
 
The notion of gods having children would have been very familiar to gentiles such as the Greeks.  I suspect that Paul distorted the message of Jesus to make it more acceptable to this audience and thereby gain as many converts as possible as quickly as possible.  We see evidence in Acts 17: 22-23 of how Paul in Athens draws explicitly on the existing religion of the Greeks to introduce his corrupted version of Christianity to them.  There is also evidence that Paul made things up as he went along and conjured up doctrine on the hoof without reference to Jewish scripture, the teachings of Jesus or even one of his own famed visions.  For example, in 1 Corinthians 7: 25 in reply to a query about unmarried people, Paul admits that “I do not have a command from the Lord”, yet nevertheless proceeds to offer his own private opinion in his self-proclaimed capacity as “one who by the Lord’s mercy is worthy of trust”.
 
The Questionable Validity of the New Testament
 
Growing up in a Catholic home and attending Catholic schools, I had always unquestioningly regarded the Bible as the Word of God.  As a result of my private study in adulthood of the history of the writing and compilation of the Bible, I now came to view the New Testament in particular as deeply suspect.  Paul or his followers wrote most of it.  Note, for example, that from chapter 16 onwards, the Acts of the Apostles follows the career of Paul, not his co-missionary Barnabas, an original disciple of Jesus.  Barnabas was acknowledged as the founder of the Christian Church in Cyprus and was the author of a Gospel which was accepted by the earliest Christians.  But his Gospel was arbitrarily excluded from the Bible when the New Testament was officially compiled for the first time at the behest of the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine three centuries after Christ.  Barnabas had originally vouched for Paul when the Jerusalem disciples of Jesus wanted nothing to do with him, but then parted company with Paul after a bitter argument (Acts 15: 36-40).
 
As for the four Gospels now accepted as canonical by Christendom (and only since as late as the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E.!), these were compiled from unreliable third and fourth-hand accounts long after Jesus’ lifetime.
 
Mark 65-75 C.E.
 
Luke 80-85 C.E.
 
Matthew 85-90 C.E.
 
John 95-140 C.E.
 
Source: University of Calgary, Department of Religious Studies[1]
 
How can the true Word of God contain two glaringly different genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-37)? And why include human genealogies at all if Jesus were truly the literal or physical “Son of God”?   How many thousands did Jesus really feed with loaves and fish?  Two different gospels give two different figures.  The actual numbers are a relatively trivial detail, but these examples highlight an important point - the unreliability of the Gospels concerning the life and teachings of Jesus and therefore their unsuitability as a basis for doctrine.
 
Moreover, in general, it is particularly important to consider that not only are the Gospels not contemporary accounts, they were actually written retrospectively in a climate of disassociation from Judaism and ingratiation with pagan Rome during or following the failed Jewish anti-Roman uprising of 66-74 AD.  In contrast, the earlier and more authentic gospel written by Barnabas was excluded from the official Bible and suppressed by the Pauline-dominated Church establishment from the 4th century onward.
 
In addition, it seems silly to have to point it out, but Jesus, his apostles and disciples were Jews whose scriptures were in Hebrew.  However, the New Testament was written in Greek.  And an appendix to the Good News Bible  authorized by the Catholic Church lists 85 instances including 15 in the Gospels where New Testament writers have Jesus and the other central characters of early Christianity quoting from, paraphrasing or alluding to texts not from the original Old Testament in Hebrew but the from Septuagint version, a Greek translation made in Egypt around 200 BC.  The appendix states:
 
In a number of instances this version differs significantly in meaning from the Masoretic Hebrew text.
 
It is not credible that the Jesus and his followers would be quoting from a foreign language translation containing significant differences rather than from the Hebrew original of their Jewish scriptures.  This casts further doubt on the accuracy of the New Testament and again undermines its validity as a basis for doctrine.
 
 
Footnotes:
[1] (
http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/C_Transp/C_Index.html)
 
 
From Trinitarianism to Unitarianism
The Quran - perfectly preserved and unaltered
 
I would like to mention in passing that in contrast to the compilation of the New Testament and specifically the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Quran, which is one book, was revealed in its entirety to one prophet, Mohammed.  It was memorized by many of his followers as it was received over a period of 23 years and was also written down during Mohammed’s lifetime.  It was definitively transcribed within two decades of Mohammed’s death and verified by his closest surviving companions.  Two of the four copies of the original Quran made at that time are still in existence - one in Istanbul in Turkey, the other in Tashkent in Uzbekistan in former Soviet central Asia.  Every Arabic Qur’an in the world today is, letter for letter, identical to this ancient script.
 
Indeed, in the 19th century, an institute of Munich University in Germany collected a staggering forty-two thousand different copies of the Quran including manuscripts and printed texts produced in various parts of the Islamic world over a period spanning thirteen hundred years. Research work was carried out on these texts for half a century, at the end of which the researchers concluded that apart from copying mistakes, there was no discrepancy in the text of these forty-two thousand copies, even though they were produced at different times between the first and fourteenth Islamic centuries and had been procured from all parts of the world. Unfortunately this institute and its priceless treasure of Quranic manuscripts were destroyed in an Allied bombing attack on Germany during World War II, but the findings of its research project survived.
 
In short, the Quran stands or falls as one.  The integrity of the text itself is above reproach.  There remains only a personal decision whether to accept it or not as the word of God.
 
In addition to the Quran, the ahadeeth, or sayings of Prophet Mohammed, which form the secondary strand of Islamic scripture, were meticulously collected and authenticated by the second Islamic century by Muslim scholars who only accepted a given saying as genuine if it had a proven chain of trustworthy transmitters stretching back to one or more original companion of the Prophet.   Many thousands of plausible sayings were rejected if they did not meet these strict criteria.
 
Doubts about Jesus’s divinity even within the Gospels
 
Even within the four canonical Gospels there are numerous passages which cast doubt on the divinity of Jesus and therefore on the concept of Trinity which presupposes it.  There are at least twenty instances where Jesus prays.  See Matthew 14:23, 19:13, 26:39, 27:46, 26:42-44; Mark 1:35, 6:46, 14:35-36; Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 9:18, 9:28, 11:1-4, 22:41; John 14:16, 17:1, 17:9, 17:11, 17:15.  If Jesus were himself divine, i.e. God, to whom is he praying and why?
 
Consider also these passages:
 
Matthew 26:39
 
Jesus and God had different wills.
 
Matthew 19:16-17, Mark 10:17-18 and Luke 18:18-19.
 
Jesus denied divinity by distinguishing between himself and God.
 
Luke 7:16, 13:33, 24:19; John 4:19
 
Jesus was regarded by his disciples and other contemporaries as a prophet.  They do not acclaim him as an incarnation of God or the Son of God.
 
My Journey from Catholic Christian to Arian Unitarian to Muslim
 
As a result of my studies and after much soul-searching, I came to reject Pauline church doctrinal innovations such as the Trinity, a concept unknown to Jesus’ disciples and not definitively established as official church doctrine until as late as 381A.D.  I found myself in sympathy with the more purely monotheist beliefs of the late third and early fourth century priest Arius of Alexandria and others such as Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia (later Patriarch of Constantinople), their teacher, the respected priest and martyr Lucian of Antioch and, in later decades, Roman Emperor Constantius II.  The Catholic Encyclopaedia[1] defines Arianism as:
 
“a heresy which arose in the fourth century, and denied the divinity of Jesus Christ,... not a modern form of unbelief, and [it] therefore will appear strange in modern eyes.”
 
What the encyclopaedia fails to mention is that what they are describing as heresy was, in fact, official church doctrine in the middle of the fourth century.  For example, after the Council of Ariminum (present-day Rimini in Italy) in 359A.D. St. Jerome wrote, “the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian”. This prevailed until after the death of Constantius II and his fellow Arian successors when a changing political climate within the Roman Empire resulted in the persecution of Arian Christians and the conclusive imposition of Trinitarianism as official church doctrine at the Second General Council in 381A.D.
 
When I too came to the conclusion that Jesus was not divine, I had crossed an essential hurdle in terms of mindset and beliefs.  Whether or not Jesus is divine is the absolute crux of the matter as far as any believing, theologically aware Christian is concerned.  Once I had come to this new understanding of Jesus, it was but a small step for me to be able to accept a later prophet and embrace Islam, just as the North African and Iberian Arian Christians, denounced by the Church but physically safe outside the shrinking borders of the Roman Empire, had done en masse when Islam was introduced to them in the decades after the death of Mohammed.  Because of my Christian upbringing, I was used to the concept of God sending prophets periodically throughout history at times when mankind had fallen away from His teachings.  Islam recognizes the Old Testament prophets I was familiar with plus John the Baptist and Jesus.  Given that, by the seventh century, Arabia had lapsed into polytheism and much of the Christian world was Trinitarian, it made sense to me that God should send a new prophet, Mohammed, to call mankind back to the correct worship of Himself, the one true god.
 
There are 25 prophets recognized by name in the Quran.  All but three of them are also mentioned in Jewish or Christian scripture:
 
1)    Adam
 
2)    Idrís (Idrees)
 
3)    Núh (Noah)
 
4)    Húd
 
5)    Sálih
 
6)    Ibráhím (Abraham)
 
7)    Ismá’íl (Ishmael)
 
8)    Isháq (Isaac)
 
9)    Lút (Lot)
 
10)  Ya’qúb (Jacob)
 
11)  Yúsuf (Joseph)
 
12)  Shu’aib
 
13)  Ayúb (Job)
 
14)  Músa (Moses)
 
15)  Hárún (Aaron)
 
16)  Dhu l-kifl (Ezzekiel)
 
17)  Dawúd (David)
 
18)  Sulaimán
 
19)  Ilyás (Elijah)
 
20)  al-Yasa’ (Elisha)
 
21)  Yúnus (Jonas)
 
22)  Zakaríya (Zakariyah)
 
23)  Yahyá (John the Baptist)
 
24)  ‘Ísa (Jesus)
 
25)  Muhammad
 
I had now reached the point where I genuinely wanted to be a Muslim in my own right, whether my interest in the Muslim lady mentioned previously led to marriage or not. (In fact the relationship in question eventually did not work out.)  For I see my conversion to Islam not as a rejection of what I regard as true Christianity, simply as a rejection of the tangent or erroneous path along which Paul and his followers led astray the new, gentile, former polytheistic Christians of the Greco-Roman world. Sadly, all major forms of modern Christianity - Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism - stem from Paul.
 
The Catholic Encyclopaedia states that Arianism has never been revived (although it concedes that such eminent figures as Sir Isaac Newton and Milton displayed Arian sympathies).  What it fails to acknowledge is that Arianism has, for the last fourteen hundred years, been incorporated within Islam.  There is no one left within Catholicism, Protestantism or Orthodoxy to espouse the oneness of God.  The reason why Trinitarianism now rules unfettered within the greatly reduced geographical boundaries of old world Christendom is that the peoples of all the southern Mediterranean formerly Arian Christian strongholds are now overwhelmingly Muslim!
 

Statement of Theological Beliefs
 
With a clear conscience and with none of the mental torment on this issue that I had to face when I first started studying Islam, I can now state that I believe Jesus to have been an entirely human prophet of God, one of the greatest prophets of God and worthy of the utmost respect, but that he was neither an incarnation of God nor the Son of God.  I believe that Jesus, a pious, monotheistic Jew, would be absolutely horrified by what Trinitarian Christians have made him out to be.  Previously I feared that I would be betraying Jesus if I became a Muslim.  Now I realised that I had been, in effect, inadvertently blaspheming and saying what I had no right to say about him.
 
I believe Mohammed to have been a later (the last) prophet of God. And just as the true Christianity of Jesus’ genuine apostles in Jerusalem is the successor to Judaism, so is Islam, the final revelation of God’s word, the legitimate successor to and fulfilment of original Jerusalem-Jewish Christianity.
 
I would like to make absolutely clear that I did not convert to Islam because of a romantic relationship.  The possibility of marriage to a Muslim woman was the spur, the catalyst, which sparked my initial investigation of Islam.  For the record, the relationship in question later broke down in 2001, but I still remain a Muslim.
 
My conversion to Islam, when it came, was a sincere one, not one of convenience.  It had to be sincere.  I could not in good conscience have undergone a fraudulent one.  Religion, God, is too important to be trifled with.  One’s soul is at stake.
 
I rejected Christianity as it is known to us today because I no longer believed in the doctrine of Trinity and the claim that Jesus is God.  I came to believe wholeheartedly in the oneness of God.  And I judge this belief to have found its best expression in the religion of Islam.  Whatever the future may hold in terms of personal relationships, I will continue to hold these beliefs.
 
At times I can’t help but seriously wonder whether vast swathes of the religious community I have joined have forgotten the theological core of Islam and buried it with cranky behavioural regulations which they seek to impose on others, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, although God clearly states in the Quran that there is “no compulsion”.  I admit at times to feeling rather disillusioned at certain interpretations I have encountered among Muslims of what constitutes legitimate Islamic practice and behaviour.  I assure you that people with a Taliban mindset are not confined to Afghanistan.
 
And I am sickened by the politicized hate-filled philosophy, which passes itself off as Islam when in fact not only does it violate the  most basic Islamic rules of warfare, it is often indicative of a complete lack of trust in God’s promise that no one will have to suffer more than they can endure. These extremists have set the cause of the spread of Islam back decades.  At times I can’t help but echo the lament of British convert, Michael A. Malik[1]:  “Islam is wonderful, but I can’t stand the Muslims!”

 
But in spite of my frequent disillusionment with the behaviour and attitudes of many of those who call themselves Muslim, in terms of beliefs about the nature of God, I will remain a believer in the oneness of God - for life.
 
Some time ago an American Protestant friend brought a wonderful quotation of Martin Luther’s to my attention:
 
Everyone must do his own believing, as he will have to do his own dying.
 
I am completely at peace with myself about my new, pure monotheistic theological beliefs exemplified by Islam.  And this is my statement of belief:
 
He is God, the only One,
Qul Huwa Allāhu ‘Aĥad
 
God the Everlasting.
Allāhu Aş-Şamad
 
He did not beget and is not begotten,
Lam Yalid Wa Lam Yūlad
 
And none is His equal. (Quran - Surah 112)
Walam Yakun Lahu Kufūan ‘Aĥad.
 I bear witness that there is no god but the God
Ashadu an la illaha ill allah
and I bear witness that Mohammed is a prophet of God.
Wa ashadu anna Mohammadan rasool Ullah.
Thanks to Parents
Finally, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my parents - devout, practicing Catholics - who, although strongly disapproving of my conversion to Islam on theological grounds, have accepted my decision and have continued to show me great love, understanding, sensitivity and practical support.  I have been most blessed in this regard.

Anthony Greene, Ex-Christian, UK
Lanky, blonde, green-eyed, middle aged Abdur-Raheem Greene appears to be a character straight out of a Hollywood movie Ben Hur.  The Tanzania-born Britisher embraced Islam in 1988 and has been a dawah practitioner [preacher] in Britain since then.  He wears a look that instantly evokes comparison with the popular portrayal of the Prophet Jesus [may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him] in the imagery of Christian Europe.  Greene’s tryst with Islam took place in Egypt where he mostly spent his vacations.  He lectured in Bangalore in early October on “God’s Final Revelation.” He spoke to the Islamic Voice while in the city.
 
Your background
 
I was born to British parents in Darussalam in Tanzania in 1964.  My father Gavin Green was a colonial administrator in the still existent British empire.  He later joined Barclays Bank in 1976 and was sent to Egypt to set up Egyptian Barclays Bank.  I was educated at famous Roman Catholic Monastic School called Ampleforth College and went on to study history in the London University.  However, I left my education unfinished.
 
Currently, I am working with an Islamic media company based in England and engage myself in dawah activities [preaching] including lectures on Islam in London’s famous Hyde Park.
 
What kept you from obtaining a degree?
 
I grew totally disillusioned with the British educational system.  It was thoroughly Eurocentric and projected world history in a way that suggested that the civilization attained its full glory and apogee in Europe.  Having lived in Egypt and seen some of the majestic ruins which only archaeologists have access to, I found the West’s interpretation of history totally fallacious.  I began a private study of histories of other peoples of the world, various religious scriptures and philosophy.  I was practicing Buddhism for nearly three years though never formally embraced it.
 
Study of the Holy Qur’an immediately attracted me.  Its message had a magical appeal and I grew convinced that it was a divine revelation.  I believe only Allah guided me, none else.  I don’t know what made me deserve Islam.
 
But anything specific that could have appealed to you?
 
I was dissatisfied with Christianity from the age of eight.  The concept that was taught to us through rhymes such as Hail Mary!  Was not at all acceptable to me.  While on one hand the Christians described God to be eternal and infinite they felt no compunctions in ascribing birth of God from the womb of Mary.  This made me think that Mary must be greater than God.
 
Secondly, the Christians’ concept of trinity was puzzlesome for me.  The similitude like Canadian Maple leaf being one despite three sections appeared utterly inapplicable.
 
The crunch came when an Egyptian started questioning me.  Despite being confused about the Christian belief I was trying to be dogmatic as most white, middle-class, English Christians do.  I was flummoxed when he led me to accept that the God died on the crucifix, thus laying bare the hollowness of the Christian claims of eternity and infinity of God.  I now came to realize that I was believing in as absurd a concept as two plus two is equal to five all through my adolescent years.
 
The West’s prelaid, programmed life intensely repelled me.  I began to question if a person has to live a life merely to get strait-jacketed in a rigorous schedule.  I found Europeans struggling a lot to enjoy life.  They had no higher purpose in life.
 
The West’s capacity to brainwash its people became plain to me when I discussed the Palestine issue with Egyptians and Palestinians.  Several myths-historical, political, economic - were fabricated by the Zionists and propagated unchallenged by the Western media.  How could a land vacated by Jews 2000 years earlier be their homeland?  I also came to know that existing Jewish people were actually Slavs, not Semites and that Palestinian land was always a green orchard.  Israel fabricated the myth of “magical transformation of desert into greenland.”
 
The American double-speak and hypocrisy began to sink in as I studied the US role in planting and sustaining despotic rulers in Latin America while punishing the Soviet Bloc.
 
What contrast have you found between people’s lives in Egypt and the UK?
 
Egyptians were poor, suffered hardships, yet were happy.  They left everything in the hands of Allah and forget their miseries when they return home.  Prayers help them place their worries before their God.  I noticed humility as well as intimacy in Islamic prayers.
 
But in England I found people shallow, materialistic.  They try to be happy but happiness is superficial.  Their prayers combined songs, dances, clapping but no humility, nor intimacy with God.
 
I realized that popular opinion in the West was totally hostage to the Zionist-controlled media.  The question of Palestine was one among these.  My conversation with Palestinians revealed as to how the West had believed in myths about Israel.  First among them was that the Jews had the right to return to their original homeland in Israel.  Secondly they conveniently described themselves Semitic while the fact was that most Jews of the world were Slavs who had later converted to Judaism.  Thirdly Israel’s economic miracle was theorized to create the economic and scientific myth.
 
The fact was that I never got to know the Palestinian side of the issue.  I got convinced that the people of the West were brainwashed by the media.  I found that the US was trying every trick to punish nations indulging in small violations of human rights in the third world but was itself sending death squads into Latin American nations to liquidate their leaders who refused to toe the US line.  Such hypocrisy is never criticized by the US media.
 
How do you find life as a Muslim in the UK?
 
The Western psyche emphasizes one’s individuality.  This is at variance with Islam.  Any sincere Muslim feels disturbed.  He or she is constantly bombarded by sex and sexuality.  Most girls lose virginity by 13 and it is normal for girls to have three to four boyfriends.
 
The dilemma before Muslims in the West is as to how to integrate with a society so steeped in sex, drugs, drinks and sexual intimacy.  And if no integration, then how to save themselves from ghettoization.
 
Excerpts from an Interview by Islamic Voice, Volume 11-11 No: 130, November 1997
 

Dr. Ali Selman Benoist, Ex-Catholic, France
 
As a Doctor of Medicine, and a descendant of a French Catholic family, the very choice of my profession has given me a solid scientific culture which had prepared me very little for a mystic life.  Not that I did not believe in God, but that the dogmas and rites of Christianity in general and of Catholicism in particular never permitted me to feel His presence.  Thus my unitary sentiment for God forbade my accepting the dogma of the Trinity, and consequently of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
 
Without yet knowing Islam, I was already believing in the first part of the Kalima, La ilah illa ‘Allah (There is no deity but Allah), and in these verses of the Quran:
 
“Say: He, the God, is One; God the Self-Sufficient Master; He neither begets, nor was He begotten; and there is none equal to Him.” (Quran 112:1-4)
 
So, it was first of all for metaphysical reasons that I adhered to Islam.  Other reasons, too, prompted me to do that.  For instance, my refusal to accept Catholic priests, who, more or less, claim to possess on behalf of God the power of forgiving the sins of men.  Further, I could never admit the Catholic rite of Communion, by means of the host (or holy bread), representing the body of Jesus Christ, a rite which seems to me to belong to [totemic] practices of primitive peoples, where the body of the ancestral totem, the taboo of the living ones, had to be consumed after his death, in order better to assimilate his personality.  Another point which moved me away from Christianity was the absolute silence which it maintains regarding bodily cleanliness, particularly before prayers, which has always seemed to me to be an outrage against God.  For if He has given us a soul, He has also given us a body, which we have no right to neglect.  The same silence could be observed, and this time mixed with hostility with regard to the physiological life of the human being, whereas on this point Islam seemed to me to be the only religion in accord with human nature.
 
The essential and definite element of my conversion to Islam was the Quran.  I began to study it, before my conversion, with the critical spirit of a Western intellectual, and I owe much to the magnificent work of Mr. Malek Bennabi, entitled Le Phenomene Coranique, which convinced me of its being divinely revealed.  There are certain verses of this book, the Quran, revealed more than thirteen centuries ago, which teach exactly the same notions as the most modern scientific researchers do.  This definitely convinced me, and converted me to the second part of the Kalima, ‘Muhammad Rasul ‘Allah’ (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
 
This was my reason for presenting myself on 20th February 1953 at the mosque in Paris, where I declared my faith in Islam and was registered there as a Muslim by the Mufti of the Paris Mosque, and was given the Islamic name of ‘Ali Selman’.
 
I am very happy in my new faith, and proclaim once again:
 
“I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s servant and Messenger.”

Ali, Ex-Christian, USA
My name is Ali.  I’m a 31 year old Mexican born in America or as some would say a Chicano.
 
I thought I would make a webpage to tell my story of how I became a Muslim.  I think it will Insha’Allah (God willing) help people understand Islam and why it attracted me.  People have a wrong perception About Islam and Muslims, what little they know is usually from movies and television which is almost all the time false.
 
My life before was bad I had no direction in life.  I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade.  I would hang out in the streets with my friends “partying” getting high, drinking and selling marijuana, most of my friends were gang members. I myself was never in a gang.  I knew most of them before they turned bad, so it was not a problem.  I slowly began to use harder drugs, I had dreams but they seemed to far away for me to make them reality.  The more I became depressed the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.
 
One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana, I agreed to go check it out.  We arrived and went inside this apartment. There were a couple of people inside; we sat around and talked for a while and sampled the weed.  My friend and I bought some and were getting ready to leave when my friend said one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.
 
We left for this guy’s apartment when we got there, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it, and said that it might help him out with his problems in life.  On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book that the guy gave him, it was the Quran (Koran).
 
I had never in my life heard of The Holy Quran, I began to briefly read some pages, while I was reading I knew that what I was reading was true, it was like a slap in the face, a wake up call.  The Quran is so clear and easy to understand.  I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
 
The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion, I used to laugh at people that went to church, and I some times said that there was no God.  Although deep down I knew there was.  I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Quran.  I began to read it and study it, I learned about Prophet Mohamed and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (Peace be upon him).  The Quran stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son, this was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the trinity.  The Quran describes the birth of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, and his mission.  There is also a Surah (Chapter) called Maryam (Mary) and tells her story as well.
 
As a child I always went to church, my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday.  I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15.  The rest of my family is Catholic, I always wondered why we were Seventh Day Adventist and the rest of my family was Catholic.  When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic church for weddings and celebrations.
 
Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind.  The Quran tells the story’s of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) just to name a few, told in a clear and understandable manner.  I did months of research on Islam I bought a Holy Quran at a bookstore and studied about worldh and Islam’s contributions to medicine and science.
 
I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for almost a thousand years, and that when the Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian king and Queen (Ferdinand and Isabella), the Christian Spaniards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic, history and my Islamic roots was all becoming clear to me.
 
After months of study and research I could not deny the truth anymore I had put it off too long, but was still living the life I was before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up.  One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth.  I found out that there was a mosque by my house so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service.  I saw that people from all races and colors attended the mosque.  I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor.  A man got up and began to call the Adthan (call for prayer) when I heard it my eyes filled up with tears it sounded so beautiful, it was all so strange at first but seemed so right at the same time.  Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.
 
After going a couple of Fridays I was ready to be a Muslim and say my Shahada (declaration of faith).
 
I told the Khatib (person giving the lecture) that I wanted to be a Muslim, the following Friday in front of the community I said my Shahada first in Arabic then in English: I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger.
 
When I finished a brother shouted Takbir!  and all the community said “Allah u Akbar (God is great)!” a few times, then all the brothers came and hugged me.  I never received so many hugs in one day, I will never forget that day it was great.  I have been Muslim since 1997, I’m at peace with myself and clear in religion, being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God.  I went back to school to get my High School equivalent and computer repair training.
 
I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage) to the Holy city of Mecca, it was a experience of a lifetime, about 3 million people from every race and color in one place worshiping Almighty God The Creator.  Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) in December of 2002, I got married in Morocco to a very good Muslim woman.
 
I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general.  I hope my story Insha’Allah (God willing) will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.

Yahya Schroder, Ex-Secularist, Germany
My name is Yahya Schroder.  I am a “European” Muslim.  I became Muslim 11 months ago when I was 17.  I am living now in Potsdam, Germany and I want to share my experience with you as a Muslim in a non-Muslim state.
 
As a convert to Islam, I think it’s much easier to follow the deen (religion) than a born Muslim who is been raised up here.  Almost all young born-Muslims I know want to become German.  For them Islam is only a tradition and they think that they have to give up their tradition (Islam) to be accepted by the Germans, despite the fact that the Germans won’t accept them even if they gave up their religion.
 
I grew up in a little village.  I lived with my mother and my stepfather in a huge house with a big garden and a big pool.  And as a teenager I “lived a cool life;” I had some friends whom I used to hang around with, do stupid things and drink alcohol like every young German teen.
 
The life of a Muslim in Germany is quite difficult than one would think especially for me as a German Muslim because when someone asks a German what they know about Islam; they would tell you something about Arabs.  For them it’s like mathematical operation, Islam = Arabs.
 
They still don’t know about our big nation.  When I converted to Islam I had to leave my family and I moved to the community in Potsdam near Berlin.  I left this huge house and all my material valuable stuff.
 
When I lived with my mother and my stepfather I had everything; a big house, my own money, TV, Play-station.  I was never concerned about money, but I wasn’t happy.  I was searching for something else.
 
When I turned 16 I met the Muslim community in Potsdam through my biological father who became Muslim in 2001.  I used to visit my father once a month and we used to attend the meetings of the community which were held on Sundays.
 
At that time, I was interested in Islam, and my father noticed this and told me one day that he wouldn’t speak about Islam when we are together because he wanted me to learn from people of greater knowledge so that other people won’t say: “Oh he became Muslim just because he’s 17 and does everything his father does.”
 
I agreed and I started visiting the community every month and learned a lot about Islam but at that time something happened and changed my way of thinking.  One Sunday, I went with the Muslim community swimming and I broke my back twice by jumping in the pool and I hit the ground with my head.
 
My father brought me to the hospital and the doctor told me:
 
“You have broken your back quite bad and if you did one wrong movement you’ll become handicapped.”
 
This didn’t help me much, but then just a few moments before they bought me to the operation room.  One of my friends of the Muslims community, told me something.  “Yahya, you are now in the hands of Allah (God), it’s like a rollercoaster.  Now you are on the top enjoy the ride and just trust in God.”  This really helped me.
 
The operation took five hours and I woke up after 3 days.  I couldn’t move my right arm but I was feeling like the happiest person on this earth.  I told the doctor that I don’t care about my right arm I’m so happy that God has let me survive.
 
The doctors had told me that I have to stay in the hospital for a few months.  I stayed for only two weeks there, because I was training very hard.  One day a doctor came and said: “today we will try to take one step on the staircase,” the exercise that I did on my own two days before the doctor told me.
 
Now, I can move my right arm again and I was just two weeks there Al-hamdu lillah (thanks God).  This accident changed a lot in my personality.
 
I noticed when God wants something; the individual’s life can be turned over in one second.  So, I took life more serious and started thinking more about my life and Islam, but I was still living in this little village.
 
My wish to become Muslim became so strong that I had to leave my family.  I left my stepfather, my mother and the nice luxury lifestyle to go to Potsdam.  I moved to my father’s apartment which is rather small and I had to stay in the kitchen but it was okay because I had nothing just a very few clothes, school books, and some CDs.
 
It must sound for you like I lost everything but I am very happy, I’m as happy as when I woke up in the hospital after the dreadful accident.  The next day was the first day of Ramadan.  The day after this was my first school day in my new school.
 
The day after my first day in school I said Shahadah (the testimony of becoming a Muslim), praise be to God.  So, everything was new for me, new apartment, new school, and first time without my family.  Like in my school when they first noticed that I am a Muslim they started to make jokes at me.
 
I think this is usual because of what they learned from the media.  “A terrorist,” “Osama bin Laden is coming,” “Muslims are dirty,” some people thought I am just a crazy guy.  And they even didn’t believe me that I am German.
 
But now after 10 months the situation changed.  I made a lot of dawah (inviting to Islam) to my classmates and now I even have a praying room although I’m the only Muslim in my school.
 
My classmates changed from making jokes to asking serious question about Islam and they noticed that Islam is not a religion like the other religions.  They noticed Islam is cool!
 
They see that we Muslims have Adab (good manners) in dealing with each other.   They noticed that we are independent from all this peer pressure; we just keep it real we don’t need to be in a special group like in my school.
 
At my school there are three main groups: the hip hop guys; the punks; and the party people.  Everybody tries to be a member of one group, so as to be accepted by others.
 
Except me!  I can be friends with everybody.  I don’t have to wear special clothes to be “cool.”  So what happened is that they are always inviting me and my Muslim friends to their barbecue parties.
 
The special thing on this is that they respect me as a Muslim and even more, they get Halal (allowed) food especially for me and they have organized two barbecue grills one for them and one for us Muslims!  The people here are very open for Islam.

Jim Cate, Ex-Christian, USA
I was raised as a Christian and went to a fundamentalist Bible believing church.  I made a profession of faith to Jesus in 1969.  In all of my years as growing up Christian, I read and studied the Bible regularly.  Later on, I enlisted in the US Marines and led Bible studies with my troops.  In 1988, I started my own church reaching out with a special Spanish ministry to the Hispanics. In 1990, I got out of the Marines and joined the US Navy reserves.
 
In 1991, I was ordered to active duty for operation Desert Storm.  I remember being impressed with the Arabs worshipping 5 times a day and I never forgot about hearing the Athan (call to prayer) 5 times a day over the many loud speakers in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.  I purchased several prayer rugs while I was there.
 
As I continued in my Christian faith, when I got home, I started to become unsettled regarding it.  I went to several different churches and faiths over the years and studied their doctrines.  I studied and read the book of Mormon quite a bit and became fascinated with the Mormons.  However, I eventually found many conflicts between the Bible and the book of Mormon.
 
I later joined a 7th Adventist Church and thought this was the true path.  I studied and read several of Ellen G. White’s books concerning the 4th commandment of keeping the Saturday Sabbath.  However, I eventually saw some conflicts between the Bible and one of Ellen G. White’s vision of heaven.
 
I stayed home from all churches after that and got a job working for the Kansas City Star newspaper.  I came across a couple of Muslims at work and observed them daily, becoming impressed with their humble and pious character.  One day, I went to my favorite used book store and saw an English translation of the Noble Quran in Jan of 2008.  I took it home and began reading it.  I started to feel a drawing to the Islamic faith after about 4 weeks of reading it daily.
 
One January early morning, I was looking up on the internet on how to convert to Islam.  I found and repeated the Shahada very prayerfully and did this 2 or 3 times while meditating on it and with a prayerful attitude.  I suddenly felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders as I discovered that God had forgiven me of all my past sins.  This website (www.IslamReligion.com) then sent me several books on Islam from Saudi Arabia.  Since saying the Shahada, I immediately began performing wudu (ablution) and salah (prayer) 5 times daily.  It has now been 9 weeks since I converted to Islam and I am reading the Quran and studying the Islamic books daily.
 
On a side note, my wife has become upset with me over my conversion and has been trying to get me to renounce Islam.  I tell her I can never turn my back on God and continue to lead a humble Muslim life before her and being patient with her in the hopes of her one day embracing Islam.  I am now mentally, spiritually and physically feeling my best since converting to Islam.
 

Michael David Shapiro, Ex-Jew, Russia
 
I am ethnically a Russian Jew.  My quest began when I was 19 years old.  I was recovering from my stint with Scientology (yes I was brainwashed into it).
 
My belief in God was uncertain.  My goals in life were to be a rock star.  I was living in my Pasadena apartment and working as a secretary.  Funny, I know.
 
One night I was walking to the kitchen, and encountered a dark fellow.  I remembered asking him: “Can I keep this vodka in the fridge tonight?”  We shook hands and went to sleep.  After that point, my life changed drastically…
 
This dark fellow, a Muslim, was the first Muslim I had ever met.  Extremely curious, I conversed with him about his faith.  What’s this stuff I hear about praying 5 times a day?  And about Holy War?  Who is this Mohammed guy?
 
Our talks were accompanied by our Christian roommate, Wade.  Together, we created “The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dialogue sessions”.  In it, we discovered many differences, and many commonalities.
 
My interest had then shifted from sex, drugs, and parties, to a massive search for the truth.  A search that I had to complete.  A search for God.  And a search for how to follow him.
 
In my quest for the truth, I asked myself: “Ok let’s start simple, how many God’s do I think are out there?”  I figured only one; knowing that a divided God is weaker than One God; figuring that if one God didn’t agree with the other, there might be arguments and feuds.  One God was my choice.
 
Once I opened up my mind to the possibility of the existence of God, I analyzed both atheist and theist beliefs.  The thing that directed me to the latter was the quote “Every design has a designer”.  With that in mind, eventually I woke up with certainty that God exists.  I can’t explain why, I just felt it somehow.
 
This newfound excitement was accompanied by a sense of responsibility to follow the Creator.  The world of religion was my next frontier.
 
Then I asked myself, “Where do I start?”  There are literally thousands of them.  I need a way to narrow them down to a just a few.  How do I accomplish such a task?  “Find the ones that are monotheistic” entered my mind.  “Hey that makes sense, since I believe in only One God.”
 
Ok, then.  This ruled out Buddhism and Hinduism, both being polytheistic faiths.  The major religions I encountered that fell under the title of Monotheistic, where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Well since I’m a Jew, I started with Judaism.  One God, some prophets, 10 commandments, Torah, Jewish souls…uh, what: “Jewish souls?”
 
While doing research this idea was brought to my attention.  The story goes, “if a person is born Jewish, then they have a Jewish soul, and they must follow Judaism.” Hold on a sec…that’s discrimination, isn’t it?  That’s not universal.
 
So God makes Jewish souls, and Christian souls, and Muslim souls, and Hindu souls?  I thought all men are created equal?  So, because one is born into a religion that means by the decree of God he must remain in it… even if the person believes it to be false?  Hmm…I don’t agree with that.
 
Another thing really bothered me…there is no strict concept of hell in Judaism…then why be good?  Why not sin?  If I don’t have fear of strict punishment, then why should I be moral?
 
Moving on, I discovered Christianity.  Ok, one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost…one more time: one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost.  Uhhh, please explain.  How can all those things be one God? 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 right?  So how can you say you believe in only one God?
 
Explanation after explanation, equation after equation, comparison after comparison, analogy after analogy, I couldn’t grasp this concept.  Ok let’s keep looking here.
 
Ok, next major doctrine: Jesus died for our sins and he did this because we all are polluted with “Original Sin”.  So, Jesus Christ, the “son of God”, had to be murdered to save everyone from Hell and cure us of our sin “given” to us by Adam.
 
Ok then, so are you saying that we are all born as sinners?  And to sin is to do something wrong right?  Then you’re telling me that a one-year old baby is guilty of sin or doing something wrong?  Ok that’s strange, so based on the actions of one man, all of mankind must suffer?  What’s the moral of that story?  Punish the whole group if one deviates?  Why would God create such a rule? That’s just not in agreement with my logic.
 
So Jesus died because he “loves mankind”.  Hold on, it says in the Bible that Jesus said “father, why have you forsaken me?”  So, apparently, Jesus didn’t understand why he was being brutally murdered.  But you just said he “volunteered” to be sacrificed.  Anyway, I couldn’t accept this belief.  Ok, what’s the next religion?
 
Islam.  Islam means submission.  The main beliefs are as follows: One God, worship God five times a day, give 2.5% annual charity, fast during Ramadan (to be closer to God and appreciate life…among other reasons) and finally journey to Mecca for Hajj if you are able financially.  Ok, nothing hard to understand so far.
 
There’s nothing that conflicts with my logic here.  The Quran is a book with all of these interesting miracles and timeless wisdom.  Many scientific facts only discovered recently where proclaimed 1400 years ago in this book.
 
Ok, Islam had passed my initial religious prerequisites.  But I wanted to ask some deep questions about it.  Is this religion universal?  Yes, anyone can understand these basic beliefs…no analogy or equation are needed.  Does it agree with science?  Yes, dozens of verses in the Quran agree with modern science and technology.
 
As I sifted through the countless logical facts that I read through and researched, one thing took my attention the most.  “Islam”.  The name of this religion.  I noticed it is written many times in this Quran.
 
However, recalling my prior studies, I didn’t remember once seeing the word “Judaism” in the Old Testament or “Christianity” in the New Testament.  This was BIG.  Why couldn’t I find the very name of the religions in those two books?  Because, there is no name in these books!  Thinking…I noticed that “Judaism” could be broken down to “Juda- ism” and “Christianity” could be respectively “Christ-ianity”.
 
So who is Juda?  Or Judah, rather.  He was the tribe leader of the Hebrews when God revealed his message to mankind.  So this religion was named after…a person.  Ok let’s look at who Christ is.  He was the person who delivered the message of God to the Jews.  So this religion was named after…a person.
 
So in recollection, we can deduct that the names of these religions are people’s proper names attached to “ism” and “ianity”.  Regardless of that fact, the very names of those religions are not mentioned in their scriptures.  I thought that was very odd.
 
If I went door to door selling a product, and I said “Would you like to buy this _______”?  Wouldn’t the logical question be: “What is this _____ called?”  I would make no money off of a product without a name.
 
Naming is the very basis which humans identify with objects, both physical and non-physical.  If religion is supposed to be practiced and spread to every person on earth, shouldn’t there be a NAME for it?
 
Moreover, shouldn’t the name be given to us from God Almighty?  YES, my point exactly.  The names “Christianity” and “Judaism” were not written in the Holy Scriptures.  Humans named them, not God.  The notion that God would ordain a religion for mankind to follow without a name is impossible for my mind to accept.
 
At that point, both Christianity and Judaism lost their credibility as pure, logical, and complete religions, at least from my perspective.
 
Islam is the ONLY of these religions to include the NAME of the religion in its scriptures.  This is so huge for me.
 
I realized I would follow Islam at that point.  I then became a Muslim.  I knew the truth.  I was out of the darkness.  I came into the light…

Melech Yacov, Ex-Jew, USA
When I was born I was given the Hebrew name Melech Yacov.  Today I still live in the area in New York where I was born.  We were a semi-religious family; we belonged to a Chasidic congregation to which we went every Saturday, but we did not keep all the strict observances required in Chasidic Judaism.  For those who don’t know, Chasidism is known in the mainstream as “Ultra Orthodox” Judaism.  They are called so because of their strict observances of Halacha (Jewish Law) and their following of Jewish mysticism (cabala).  They are the strange people that you see walking down the street wearing black suits and hats and letting their beards and sideburns grow long.
 
We were not like that though.  My family cooked and used electricity on the Sabbath, and I didn’t wear a yarmulke on my head.  Moreover I grew up in a secular environment surrounded by non-Jewish schoolmates and friends.  For many years, I still felt guilty about driving on Saturdays and eating non-kosher food.
 
Although I did not observe all of the rules, I nevertheless felt a strong sense that this was the way that God wanted me to live, and every time I omitted a rule, I was committing sin in the eyes of God.  From the earliest days, my mother would read to me the stories of the great Rabbis like Eliezar, the Baal Shem Tov, and the legends from the Haggada (part of the Talmud other than the Halacha) and Torah.
 
All of these stories had the same ethical message which helped me to identify with the Jewish community, and later Israel.  The stories showed how Jews were oppressed throughout history, but God always stood by His people until the end.  The stories that we Jews were brought up on showed us that miracles always saved the Jews whenever they were in their greatest time of need.  The survival of the Jews throughout history, despite all odds, is seen as a miracle in itself.
 
If a person wants to take an objective view on why most Jews have the irrational Zionist stance regarding Israel, then they must understand the way by which we were indoctrinated with these stories as children.  That is why the Zionists pretend that they are doing nothing wrong at all.  All of the goyim (gentiles) are seen as enemies waiting to attack, and thus they cannot be trusted.  The Jewish people have a very strong bond with one another and see each other as the “chosen people” of God.  For many years I believed this myself.
 
Although I had a strong sense of identity as a Jew, I could not stand going to Saturday services (shul).  I still remember myself as a little boy being forced to go to shul with my father.  I remember how dreadfully boring it was for me and how strange everyone looked with their black hats and beards praying in a foreign language.  It was like being thrown into a different world away from my friends and the people I knew.  This was what I thought I was supposed to be, but I (and my parents) never adopted the Chasidic life like the rest of my family.
 
When I turned 13, I was bar-mitzvah’ed like every other Jewish boy who becomes a man.  I also began putting tefilin (Hebrew amulets) on every morning.  I was told that it is dangerous to skip putting it on because it was like an omen and bad things might happen to you.  The first day I skipped putting on tefilin my mom’s car got stolen! That event encouraged me to wear it for a long time.
 
It was only a little while after my bar-mitzvah that my family stopped going to synagogue altogether.  They could not stand the three-and-a-half hours of prayer and felt that getting me bar-mitzvahed was the most important thing.  Later on, my father got into a silly quarrel with some congregation members, and we ended up not going at all to services anymore.  Then something strange happened: my father was convinced by a friend to accept Jesus into his heart.  God willingly my mother did not divorce my father for his conversion to Christianity, but she has kept a silent hatred of it ever since.
 
This was also a period in my early-teen years when I sought to find something to identify with.  My father’s conversion helped me question my own beliefs.  I began asking questions like: What exactly is a Jew anyway?  Is Judaism a culture, a nation, or a religion?  If it is a nation, then how could Jews be citizens of two nations?  If Judaism is a religion, then why are the prayers recited in Hebrew, prayers for Eretz Israel, and observance of “Oriental” rituals?  If Judaism was just a culture, then would not a person cease to be a Jew if he stopped speaking Hebrew and practicing Jewish customs?
 
If a Jew was one who observes the commandments of the Torah, then why is Abraham called the first Jew when he lived before the Torah came down to Moses?  Incidentally, the Torah doesn’t even say he was a Jew; the word Jew comes from the name of one of Jacob’s 12 sons, Judah.  Jews were not called Jews until the Kingdom of Judah was established after the time of Solomon.  Tradition holds that a Jew is someone whose mother was Jewish.  So you can still be a Jew if you practice Christianity or atheism.  More and more I began to move away from Judaism.  There were so many laws and mitzvahs (good deeds) to observe.  What is the point of all these different rituals, I began to question.  To me they were all man-made.
I was fascinated with Native American culture and their bravery in the face of the white settlers who stole their land.  The Native Americans had over 250 treaties broken with them, and they were given the worst strips of land that no one wanted.  The story of the Native Americans is similar to that of the Palestinians.  The first Palestinians were living in Palestine for thousands of years and suddenly Jews replaced them, and the natives are forced into refugee camps in which they still live.  I asked my parents how the Palestinians are different from Native Americans, and the only answer I got was “because they want to kill all Jews and drive them into the sea.”  My understanding of the Palestinian people put me above any of the Jews, their leaders, and Rabbis whom I once viewed as wise men.  How could any good Jew deny that Palestinians were killed and forced from their land to make way for Jewish settlements?  What justifies this act of ethnic cleansing – the fact that many Jews died in the Holocaust! Or is it because the bible says it’s “our” land?  Any book that justifies such a thing would be immoral and hence not of God.
 
When I reached high school, I became interested in philosophy and read many of the great thinkers of the past.  I spent time with good friends who read philosophy and who went along with me through the bumpy paths to Truth.  One of the philosophers who had an impact on me was the Jewish-born Spinoza.  Spinoza was a 17th century Talmudic student who questioned everything he was taught such as the belief in life after death, a belief that is found nowhere in the Torah.  In fact many of the early Jews didn’t have such a belief.  Spinoza was expelled from the Jewish community for his views.  I enjoyed reading his views on the Bible, which he said could not be taken literally without a boat-load of contradictions and problems.
 
Then I read two significant books that completely swept away any ounce of sympathy I had left for Judaism.  The first book was called “On the Jewish Question” by Abram Leon.  Leon was an underground Communist organizer in Belgium during World War II, and later he was caught and died at Aushwitz.  His book answered the age-old question: Why did the Jews survive for so long?  He gave a superb historical account of the Jews from the age of antiquity to the modern day and shows that their survival was by no means a miracle.  In the words of Karl Marx, “It is not in spite of history that the Jews survive but because of it.” First, he shows how much of the Jewish community left Israel on their own accord before the destruction of Jerusalem.  Then he explains that the Jews were valuable to the kings and nobles of the middle ages because of their status as middle men.  Then he shows how during the process of capitalist accumulation the status of Jew finally took a downward turn and they were subsequently persecuted for their usury.
 
The second book that affected me greatly was called “Who Wrote the Bible?” by Elliot Freedman.  It takes up the historical task of Spinoza.  The book proves that the Torah is actually written by 4 different people.  Freedman explains to us that there were 2 different traditional accounts from the Kingdom of Israel and Judah, and that a redactor intertwined them together to get the Bible we have today.
 
Besides reading philosophy with my friends, we also took up many different political causes in our youth.  We experimented in everything from Republicanism to Communism.  I took up reading all the works of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Trotsky.  I found in Marxism what I felt was missing in my life.  I believed that I had found all the answers to everything and hence felt intellectually superior to everyone.  The philosophy bandits (as I like to call us) got together and formed our own little Socialist club.  We went to different activist events like protests and labor strikes.
 
After meeting all the different cult groups that surrounded the political left in America we all became disgusted at the way they acted and denied reality.  No revolution would be made in a country by this type of people.  Fighting for social change cannot win by using methods of the past.
 
Although I gave up the fight for revolution, I became an active pro-Palestinian organizer.  This is the one cause about which I was very passionate.  We were very small and attacked by the mainstream which gave me a sense of pride.  I wanted the world to know that not all Jews are bad people.  It shames me to see people whom I once looked up to support the aggressive regime of Israel.  The lies coming from Israel are nothing less than holocaust denial.
 
Although I gave up Judaism and looked at this world as the ultimate aim of man, I was never really an atheist.  However, I had a strong hatred of all religion and believed that it was a tool of the people in charge to use to keep everyone else in check.  When you see the way fundamentalist Christians act in America, doing things like denying science and upholding values of old white men, you can understand why I was skeptical of all religions.  The way Jews acted toward Palestinians did not help either.  Nevertheless, I still believed in God in the very back of my mind.  But with religion gone, I had a big emptiness left in me.  I sometimes even wished that I was a religious person because I felt that they lived happier lives.
 
Honestly I do not remember what got me interested in Islam, especially after many years of strong anti-religious feeling.  As a child, I remember hearing my mother talk about Islam, and how Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, worshipped the same God as us, and also how Jews are related to Arabs through Abraham.  So in a way I kind of accepted Islam as just another religion that worships God.  I have a faint memory of my cousin (a Chasid) who said to me that if a Jew gives up his life as a Jew and lives like a Muslim, he wouldn’t be committing any sin! Looking back I am astonished to have heard such a thing.
 
When September 11th happened, there was a surge in anti-Islamic propaganda in the news.  From the very beginning, I knew that it was all lies because I already had developed the perspective that everything in the media protects the interests of those who control it.  When I saw that the most militant people in attacking Islam were fundamentalist Christians, Islam started looking more attractive to me.  I thank God for what I learned in my activist days, because without the knowledge of society and the media, I would have believed all the garbage that I heard about Islam on the television.
 
One day I remember hearing someone talk about scientific facts in the Bible so I wondered if the Quran had scientific facts in it.  I did an Internet search and I discovered a lot of amazing stuff.  I subsequently spent a great deal of time consuming articles on various aspects of Islam.  I was surprised of how logically consistent the Quran was.  As I read the Quran, I would compare its moral message to that of what I learned from the Bible and understood how much better it was.  Also the Quran was not nearly as boring as reading the Bible.  It’s fun to read.  After about 5 months of intense study I said my shahada and officially became Muslim.
 
Unlike my old religion, everything in Islam made sense.  All the practices like prayer and Ramadan I understood already.  Although I imagined Islam to be like Judaism in which one follows a series of different rules dogmatically, I was wrong.  My understanding of the world also matched what Islam taught me – that all religions are basically the same but have been corrupted by man over time.  God didn’t make a name called Judaism and Christianity and tell people to worship him.  God taught the people only Islam; that is submission to Him alone.  It is as clear and simple as that.

Mariano Ricardo Calle, Ex-Catholic, Argentina
My name is Mariano Ricardo Calle.  I am from Buenos Aires , Argentina, not from the capital but the province.  Before I embraced Islam, I was a Catholic Apostolic Roman.  I was baptized, entered communion and confirmation.
 
 Since my childhood, I was connected with religion through my mom and my grandmother (her mom).
 
I read the Bible since seven years old.  I began reading the Bible for kids in Spanish.  My heroes were David, Nuh and Job.
 
When I was eleven, I prayed every night.  Sometimes, I cried while speaking to God.  In my adolescence, I fell into drugs until a crisis at twenty one years of age.  I have always been searching for the truth.
 
At twenty four years I began to pray more, so I was praying twenty four times a day, one for Our Father, Two Ave Maria, One Credo and One Glory; under the water in the shower bowing on my knees under cold water (that was because there was no warm water).  This I did for a whole year.  But that didn't help me too much, but God knows better.
 
In the beginning of last year, I was studying the Mayan codices, the Atlantis, the pyramid of Kufu, and at the same time I was studying the Arabic language just to know what the lyrics of the Arabic songs meant.
 
I began to study the Arabic language on my own, with the help of a book from the internet.  In two weeks I could speak something, so when I made a test in college the teacher elevated me to the second level.  I saved four months alhamdulillah, then I got into university; but I just took two classes.  However, I stayed in contact with my teacher, through e-mails.
 
In the book fair, my mom took two little books for free about Islam.  I read them, and the subjects of science mentioned in the Quran, seemed very interesting to me.  And, I read about Muhammad and I felt that person was a model for me.
 
So, one day I left smoking and drinking.  I never was a drunkard, but I left completely whatever was related to alcohol.  That was my own decision, and I never thought of being a Muslim until the day I said my Shahadah.
 
I thought of buying a Quran to read something in Arabic and that way, learn faster.  My teacher told me that I could get one for free, in the mosque of Palermo (Buenos Aires).
 
On the same day, I went to the mosque, just to ask for a Quran and I wondered how such a great place could be so empty.  I understood that Argentina is not an Islamic country but that this mosque was the greatest in Latin America.
 
That day in the mosque a man, who would later become my brother in Islam -  Ibrahim, gave me a link to the Quran that I could download from the internet, I later printed it.  It was just an hour, and I had the Quran.
 
I was reading this Quran that I downloaded from the internet, and I printed some pages.  The Quran I got was in Arabic and Spanish, that way I could read it in Arabic directly.
 
Since my childhood I have read the whole Bible twice, and the Gita from India also twice, and now I had the Quran to read, and much better, in Arabic.  My first desire was to learn Arabic, but my soul awakened when I began to read the Quran.  Maybe it was better because I began to read it in Arabic directly, while I was consulting a dictionary.
 
Alhamdulillah, I could realise that what the Quran says was the parts that were missing in the Bible.  And I remember well, I understood as well when I read it that all that the Quran says could perfectly be the truth I was looking for.
 
No one spoke to me about Islam, just the searching of the truth that God put in me, led me there.  The thankfulness to God I have is very great.  The more I read the Quran, the more I realised the book was a revelation from God like the Bible.
 
Since then, I began to go to the mosque and in two weeks I said the Shahadah, on the 14th of July.  Because, I was sure that Muhammad was a messenger of God, like Jesus or Moses.
 
So, I began to read everything I found about Islam and began to study Arabic in the mosque.  I read about aqeedah (creed), tawhid (Oneness of Allah), and I finished the Quran but in Spanish, because I wanted to read everything as fast as I could.
 
In the two weeks before I said the Shahadah, I was going to the mosque to learn, and I felt that the place was full of peace.  I prayed with the Muslims there while I wasn’t a Muslim yet, but I wanted to know how it feels to prostrate in front of God, because I knew that intention was important for God.
 
So, in two weeks, I learned the whole salah (Prayer).  I knew special people there, the people that work there.
 
I love the Arabic language and I ask God to help me learning it faster.  I said the Shahadah with sheikh Nasir from Saudi Arabia; he was there in place of sheikh Hamid.
 
I continued going to the mosque and then came Ramadan, which was a beautiful experience.  I got to know beautiful people and I think that 2007 was my best year.  Since I said the Shahadah, I haven't missed a salah.
 
What was difficult to me was to leave girls, because I had a girlfriend, but I knew that it wouldn't have worked.  So, I left her and asked God to grant me a good wife.
 
I remember that was the first thing I asked God for.  And I got to know a woman, the same week I said the Shahadah! She never had any boyfriend, and she was beautiful too.  So, I see what God can do.  I always have been an obstinate believer, but now, I have no doubts.
 
I told my mother and father that I now was a Muslim.  My mother was a little afraid, but I began to treat my parents better.  My brothers didn't say anything, just, a few jokes but I am more of a joker than them, so that was nothing.
 
I got a job and in my first day I asked my boss for a place to pray, which was not a problem alhamdulillah.  So, my life changed to the better, because I began to smile more, and try to act good with everybody.
 
I continued going to the mosque whenever I could, but since I took college up again, and got a better job, I hardly find time to go.  But, I take some books to read like Sahih Muslim.
 
The reaction of my friends was funny.  Alhamdulillah, I always had very good friends, all types of friends; because I always like to learn from everybody.  My best friends are Catholic, and practice their religion.  They go to mass every Sunday and even more since I became Muslim.
 
I answered all the questions that they asked.  Until this day they have a lot of questions, especially my best friend and his wife, she is from Brazil, and they are Adventist.  Also, my other friend who has strong faith; he and his wife are Catholic.
 
I ask God to help me be an instrument of his religion, to guide my parents and friends but I must not be sad for them, it's fate.
 
Moreover, my youngest brother (I am the big brother) is agnostic.  He thinks that I am very bad.  I pray for my family.  My mom cooks to me without ham.  But I have to say that I oppose some things in my family, but what can I do?
 
I love God; this love is stronger than the love for my family.  I love Prophet Muhammad, and I have to love him more than anybody on this earth to be a true believer.  And I love this religion, this din, because the best I can do is to adore God.
 
Actually, I got everything I could ever dream of: I got the best job that I could have, and I am studying again, and preparing my marriage with that girl that God brought in to my life.
 

Abdullah DeLancey, Ex-Christian, Canada
 
My name is Abdullah DeLancey.  I am Canadian and I am employed as a Patient Service Worker at the local hospital.  I have been married for almost 20 years and we have 3 wonderful children.
 
Alhamdulillah, I am now a Muslim.  I wasn’t always a Muslim, though.  Previously; I was a Protestant Christian for all of my life.
 
My family brought me up in the Pentecostal Church until I was an adult at which time I moved to a fundamental Independent Baptist Church.
 
As a faithful Christian I was very involved at Church, giving lectures for the Adult Sunday School and other duties.  I was eventually elected as the Deacon of the Church.  I really wanted to further my dedication to God and decided to pursue a career as a Minister.
 
I was awarded a scholarship to help me start taking a degree in Divinity.  My goal was to be a Pastor of a Church or a Missionary.  However, becoming a Minister would commit me and my whole family to the Church full time for life.
 
So just before attending Bible College, I thought it best to look at Christianity critically and ask some very serious questions about my faith.  I questioned the Trinity, why God would need a son, and why the human sacrifice of Jesus, as stated in the Bible, was needed to provide me with forgiveness.
 
I questioned the Christian belief of how all the righteous people in the Old Testament were “saved” and in heaven if Jesus wasn’t even born yet.  I pondered serious questions about Christianity that I had neglected to ask my whole life.
 
The answers I received from Christians on these theological issues “which are the basis of the faith in Christianity,” defied all reason and were absolutely beyond any logical thinking.
 
Why would God give us a wonderful brain and then expect us to temporarily stop using it? Because that is what Christianity is asking people to do when they say you just must have faith.  That is blind faith.
 
Realizing that I had always accepted Christianity, with blind faith for my entire life and never had questioned it was perplexing to me.  How could I have not realized this before?
 
I could not find the answers in the Bible.  Once I realized that the Trinity was a myth and that God is powerful enough to “save” someone without the need for help from a son or anyone or anything else.  Things changed.  My entire faith in Christianity fell apart.  I could no longer believe in Christianity or be a Christian.
 
I left the Church for good and my wife dutifully left with me, as she was having trouble accepting Christianity too.  This was the start of my spiritual journey.  I was now without a religion but believed in a God.
 
This was a very hard time for me and my family as Christianity was all we had ever known.  I had to search for the truth.  I began studying various religions and found them as false one after another.  Until, I heard about Islam.
 
Islam!!!  What was that? As far as I could remember, I had never known a Muslim and Islam was not heard or spoken of “as a faith” in my part of Canada.  Unless, of course, it was news stories talking bad about Islam.  For me at that time, Islam was not even a consideration.  Not on my religious radar at all.
 
But then I started to read a little about Islam.  Then, I kept reading a little more.  Then, I read the Quran.  This wonderful revelation of truth changed my life forever.  I immediately started to study every piece of information pertaining to Islam I could get my hands on.
 
I discovered the nearest mosque was about 100 miles away from my city.  So I promptly loaded the family van and drove my family to this mosque.  On the way, I was very nervous but also very excited at the same time..  I asked myself, was I even allowed in the mosque because I wasn’t an Arab or a Muslim?
 
However, after arriving at the mosque, I quickly realized I had nothing to fear.  I was greeted by the Imam and the Muslims with a most warm greeting.  I found them very nice.  Nothing like the bad things the news always said about Muslims.
 
They gave me a book by Ahmed Deedat and assured me I could be a Muslim.  I studied all the material on Islam they gave me.  I appreciated these books very much because our local library had only 4 books on Islam.
 
After studying I was in shock.  How could I have been a Christian for so long and never heard the truth? I now believed in Islam.  I knew it and I wanted to convert.
 
I was put in contact with the small Muslim community in my city.  On March 24th 2006 I went to the Mosque.  Just before Friday prayer started and with most of the local Muslim Community present as witness; I testified that” La illaha ill Allah, Muhammadur Rasul Allah”: “There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.  I was now a Muslim.  It was the best day of my life.  I love Islam and have peace now.
 
Difficult times have come since I became a Muslim.  When people started realizing I was now a Muslim they would shun me or laugh at me, most of our old Christian friends have never talked to us again.  My parents have all but disowned me.
 
I love being a Muslim and it doesn’t matter if some of my fellow Canadians think of me as odd for becoming a Muslim.  Why? The reason is that I alone, am the one that will have to answer to God after my death.
 
God is the giver of strength and Almighty God has helped me through all the rough times after my conversion to Islam.  I have many, many Muslim Brothers now.
 
I have legally changed my first name to Abdullah, which I like very much.  I am now the first and only Muslim Chaplain approved to work at the local hospital in my City.  I am a Muslim and I am truly happy.  All thanks be to God.

Poncardas Romas, Ex-Christian, Philippines
 
I was born on December 2, 1959, in Kawit, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA).   Since childhood until I became Muslim in 1981, I had been a devoted SDA.
 
My Father’s Background
 
My father was a former member of the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) formed by a former dictator, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. The Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association (ILAGA) is the name given to a cultic group of Christians who are trained to grab Muslim lands and annihilate Muslims in Southern Philippines.  ILAGA members believe that they have an invisible bulletproof vest and some believe bullets do not hit them.  They used to cut, roast, and eat the right ears of their victims, literally. Then, they make ashes of the remaining ears, and make these ashes as amulet (perfume-liquid bottles).   The ILAGA members believe that the more Muslims they kill, the more power they will possess.
 
Brainwashing in Childhood
 
In childhood I was indoctrinated (brainwashed) that Muslims are pagans.  We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines.  Actually when I was a Christian, I did not know the difference between Islam, Muslim, and Moros—I believed they were all synonymous with paganism.  What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!"
 
Personal Background
 
I was brought up in a conservative Christian educational institution (church school).  In my early days of childhood we were trained to open the Bible quickly and explain the meaning of the text day and night. We were also trained to deliver speeches at the pulpit as smart as we could. In my youth, I conducted countless Ministerial works in the Seventh Day Adventist Churches.   I studied at Southern Mindanao Academy, Managa, Davao del Sur;   Matutum View Academy, Tupi, South Cotabato; Notre Dame of General Santos City; Forest Hills Academy, Bayugan 1, Agusan del Sur; and completed my college degree at the Silliman University, Dumaguete City.  Silliman University was founded and supported by Protestant American philanthropists, a sister University of the UNIVERSITY OF PHILIPPINES (UP). I obtained a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Speech and Theatre, and a junior college degree in Mass Communication.  In my youth, I was a battalion commander in paramilitary training. I was then the Senior Students’ president, and the Chairman of the Youth Organization, Science Club President, and Sabbath School Superintendent.
 
Training Ground
 
In 1981, I was trained extensively in Pagadian City, Philippines how to preach Christianity, particularly in Muslim community, and with the pretext of selling medical books under the banner of Adventism. We were later formed into groups and were assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism. Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Christianity (Adventism).  Even today there are Christian Institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.
 
First Encounter
 
One day in Zamboanga City, I was assigned at the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual.  His name is Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist.   We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family (Memong Fernandez) were close friends and neighbors.
 
Proper Encounter
 
I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez.  He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office.  He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office.  He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”
 
“Yes, of course!”
 
“ Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
 
“Of course!  We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist, unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”
 
He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”
 
I knew that if I answer “yes”, the next question would be; “Can you show me in your Bible that Jesus Christ was a Seventh Day Adventist?”  I knew well that there is no passage in the Bible that mentions that Jesus Christ was an Adventist!   I was shocked at the question, because in my experience I never encountered such question in my life.  I tried my best to ignore his question, and I talked of things which were not related to his question.  He repeated the question direct to my eyes, and said; “If you could not answer that question, please bring that question to your team leader and tell me his response.”
 
Shocking Revelation
 
Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, whose name is Iesa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world.  Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God.  The religion of the Muslims and the prophets of Allah is Islam.   And in fact, the prophets of Allah (God) were Muslims.  He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc. All these words were like thunderbolts that awakened me from a deep sleep!  After I heard those words I did convey them to my team leader, and I asked him what the religion of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ was.   He did not answer, instead I received warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez or I will be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction had pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts to my belief being a Seventh Day Adventist.
 
If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions!
 
I did not heed his warning. Again I went to Mr. Fernandez, then he asked me “DID JOSEPH, MARY, THE 12 DISCIPLES WORSHIP JESUS CHRIST AS GOD, AS YOU SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS DO TODAY?” I turned speechless.  I went back to our quarter in Zamboanga City, and debated with my team leader!  At that moment after our confrontation, our team leader immediately ordered me to pack up my things and leave.   That time I could not accept that I was a Muslim. My team leader and our whole group branded me that I became a Muslim and not fit to do our task in Muslim community.   With tears and confusion, I was forced to leave my SDA companions.  That was the turning point which led me to research Islam and eventually became a Muslim a few months later in September 1981, Isabela, Basilan, Philippines
 
I pondered. The center of the Muslim world is in the Middle East! If the West and the East knew the life of the Prophets, and particularly Jesus’ life, how about in the Middle East - the birthplace of the Prophets, and where the Muslims are praying, in the House of God,… built by Abraham, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. There are almost two billion Muslims throughout the world, and more people are embracing Islam daily than any other religion. Why? This trend had challenged me to research history in the Middle East, and the life of the last Prophet.
 
I had never believed that Muslims believe in God
 
I never ever thought that Muslims believe in God, as well as the above mentioned. What I had believed before was that Muslims are people who are doomed to Hellfire. Some non-Muslims believe that Muslims are like rats, a menace to a developed and peaceful society. This might be the reason why some countries systematically carry out ethnic cleansing and deprive Muslims of basic human rights. Such state-sponsored activities were done in Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, Mindanao, and the occupied territories in Israel which originally belong to Palestinians. In my native land, there is a well-known maxim which says: “A GOOD MUSLIM IS A DEAD MUSLIM.”  
 
I embraced Islam because I found out that Islam is the true way of life (religion) prescribed by God, given to the Prophets, and the Quran is the only perfect book of God that has never been revised. I am appealing to non-Muslims to know about Islam from the Quran and authentic sayings or references written by Muslims.
 
Sad Reality
 
At time I write this article, the population of the Philippines has reached 95 million, only 10% are Muslims. This means that more than 80 million are non-Muslims, and the majority of these non-Muslims are Christians.  Most Islamic propagators in the Philippines are driven to Muslim-Arab Countries for economic survival.  If our Arab Muslim brothers are sincere to spread the message of Islam, why don’t they send us back to our country with substantial support to propagate Islam there?
 
In Saudi Arabia 90% who embraced Islam are Filipinos. It is easy for the Filipinos to understand Islam, because the original culture and traditions of Filipinos are rooted in Islam.  Historically, Islam came to the Philippines in 1380, almost 200 years before Christianity. Christianity came in the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Muslims remained a minority due to incessant civil war, struggle for independence and enormous efforts and well-funded activities of Christian Missionaries. The early Christians embraced Christianity not because they love and understand Christianity.  They were forced to embrace Christianity through   guns and cannons brought by the Christian Spaniards.
 
Personally, spreading Islam to Christians is interesting and challenging endeavor.  Due to my background as energetic Evangelist in SDA, I am enthusiastic in propagating Islam both publicly or privately. Alhamdulillah! I strongly believe that light is for the darkness: Likewise the non-Muslims need Islam for them to see that light and embrace the truth.
 

Muhammad Nazeeh Khalid, Ex-Christian, Egypt
I was born in the city of Mansoorah in the Arab Republic of Egypt in an ordinary Christian family in which religion had not much significance.  We did not go to Church except on festive and ceremonial occasions.  As far as we were concerned, religion did not mean anything more than rites which we observed, when necessary, even though we did not understand the language in which these rites were conducted.  Despite our not grasping what they meant, the rest of my family was deep in the blind fanaticism of the ignorant, who fear the loss of a thing even though they do not know its value.  As for myself, I never had such feelings even for a single moment.  I found the services so tedious that I never sat through them to their conclusion.  I was plagued by boredom and unease.  I felt sure that I was not meant to be one of them.  I felt a total stranger in this place full of pictures, icons and statues, like the temples of the idolaters of yore.  Then I turned to reading with inexhaustible greed and enthusiasm, which stimulated my faculties and sharpened my feelings.
 
Questions began to strike my mind like a spade striking virgin land to prepare it for the sowing of good seeds to bring forth delicious fruits.  It was at this time that doubt arose within me about the religion to which I was born, violently and extensively shattering my frame of mind.  My heart rejected emotionally and my mind denied logically the idea that Almighty God could appear in the tangible form of a man and come down to the earth and permit sinners to beat him, to spit on his face, and ultimately to torture and crucify him (according to the Christian claim), even if it was to exonerate them from the fault of their father Adam, as Christians argue.  As for the belief that God has three entities, this too I refused to admit as true, because God is one and only one and none can compare to Him.  As for the doctrine of the trinity, it must ultimately lead to a division of the entity of God Himself, whose glory is far above such a misconception.  Such beliefs are the fundamentals of Christianity, viz., the divinity of Jesus Christ - his crucifixion as an atonement for humanity, and the Trinity—the Father, the Son and The Holy Ghost.  I banished these beliefs totally from the domain of my thinking; expelled them from my mind; and struck them off the register of my beliefs and conviction.  I thus discarded all false and misleading beliefs.
 
They say that it is not possible to acquire sound belief through wisdom, because it is too sublime to be within the reach of the human mind.  I, on my part, am fully convinced that if we use our intellect rightly, refined of the turbidity of passion and pre-conceived, ready-made ideologies, we can surely find a wealth of firm and unshakable Faith in Allah and in His supreme might and ability, before Whose dazzling signs one has no alternative but to surrender in humility and helplessness.  Thus did I cross over the mountains of doubt of firm belief: the true religion of Allah which is Islam.
 
Revealed Religions
 
I studied the Judaism and Christianity as well other, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, etc.  In some I found traces of high morals and philosophy of the sort to guide man to ideal conduct.  But when it comes to formulating a definition of Allah, they go too far, either by supposing many gods, each of them entrusted with the management of one specific department of the affairs of the world, or by presenting Allah in tangible form, resembling very closely the forms and shapes of earthly creatures.  These gods indulge both in serious activities and in vengeful pranks, express anger, eat and drink, and generally behave as mortals do.
 
As for Islam, it is the religion of nature.  Almighty Allah has purified it of all material and tangible forms, and raised it to the highest degree of spiritualism and purity.  Islam confirms that Allah possesses, will, wisdom, discretion, knowledge and authority.  According to Islam, Allah beautiful names are attributes which cannot be separated from His Being under any circumstances.  It also emphasizes His oneness, which is not shared by anyone, and His existence for all eternity, as mentioned in Surah 112.
 
“Say He is Allah the One and Only. Allah, the Absolute, the Eternal. He begot none, nor was He begotten.  And no one is comparable to Him.”
 
Thus did Islam attract me to its sublime and sacred fold—Islam the purest and most sublime of the revealed religions, unsullied by apostasy or the doctrine of incarnation.
 
Acceptance of Islam
 
On the 8th of Ramadan I entered the mosque for the first time with two companions.  My soul and conscience became purified in the melting pot of magnificent faith.  I underwent that sweet, pleasant experience which opened to me the door of salvation.  Every bit of my body pulsated with a pious soaring, high in the high heavens.  Neither did I feel disgusted nor perplexed—No, never.  It was the radiation of brilliant light which shone outside and inside of me which acquainted me with who I really was.  Soft, soothing, melodious inner voices whispered to me that from now onwards, till the end of my life, my path was Islam.  In this moment which rose high above the summits of time, I stood before Allah, the One and Only, the Almighty, the Forgiving.  His most High Spirit embraced me and asked me to resign myself to His care after the period of my prolonged loss and misfortune.  Immediately after concluding the prayer, I took the Holy Book at the gate of the Al-Husain mosque, and came back home imbibing enlightenment from the seas of its sacred verses and its eternal, clear wisdom by which I was thoroughly overwhelmed.  This is the Book of God “about which there is no doubt.”  “Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind it.” (Quran 41:32)
 
It shall remain preserved till the end of the world without distortion or change.
 
“We have without doubt, sent down the Reminder; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (Quran 15:9)
 
In plunging into this Divine, copious and flowing bounty, I uttered the two Shahadah (testimonies) and announced my Islam to Allah.  So that the firmness of my faith might flourish and its impact on me might grow strong, I began to read books and works of contemporary Muslim thinkers who command influence in the Arab and other Muslim countries.
 
I hope in all humbleness that Allah may accept my Islam which I have embraced heart and soul as my last refuge.  I have entered the fold of Islam in love of God, and His Prophet whose status is sublime and exalted and whose personality is unique and exceptional.  I have always appreciated and honored him in the past and have an unflinching belief that he is the greatest of all personalities to love an indelible mark on the annals of world history.
 

A Muslim at Thirteen!
 
Eesa was only thirteen years old when he became a Muslim.  Before Islam, when he was still a ten-year-old child he had a normal life of going to school and hanging out with his friends.
 
Then in secondary school his cousin, who was fifteen years old at the time, embraced Islam and she used to come around to the house and tell his family about Islam.  The family members all had different opinions and there were many debates but he was quiet and simply listened.
 
One day when he was at home she called and asked him to come to her house which was about a 15 minutes walk away.  This was his aunt's house.  His cousin showed him the Quran and asked him if he knew what it was, at which he said he didn’t. She explained that as the Christians have the Bible, the Muslims have the Qur’an.
 
He admitted that he did not know anything about Islam or Muslims.  He only knew what his mother had taught him about Christianity.  His cousin spoke to him about Almighty Allah and Prophet Muhammad saying that he was the Messenger from Allah and that he had brought the Quran from Almighty Allah. She clarified that Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, did not write it; rather it was a revelation revealed to him.
 
It was the scientific miracles in the Quran that caught his attention.   What stood out for him, were the facts and figures mentioned in the Quran. It was simply amazing to read the details mentioned in the Quran about  the formation of the baby in the mother’s womb, the stars, the oceans and how science today acknowledges all these facts.  He was blown away by this; he didn’t know that there were people long ago who accurately talked about the stars and so on.
 
Praying five times a day, following the dietary code, and the dress code wasn’t difficult.  After his cousin explained the basics of Islam, he started reading about prayers and the dress code and he decided that he would concentrate on one thing at a time.
 
He began his journey into Islam by starting with the most important thing, the prayers.  He had basic books with Arabic transliterations and diagrams of stick figures. Since then, a lot more material has become available to help new Muslims.
 
At first, he did not tell anyone he had become a Muslim because he felt he was not ready to face the comments and criticism.  Even at this point, he did not know exactly what Islam meant.
 
As the years passed and he travelled from country to country, he was fortunate to have studied in Egypt and Yemen where he learnt about the vastness and mercy of Islam.  But back then, he thought he would keep his conversion secret and to himself for a while.  He did not know anyone else who was Muslim except his cousin.  He got books on monotheism from the local Islamic book shop and books on prayer, fasting, the life of the Prophet and the Companions as well as the four rightly-guided Caliphs.
 
After three or four months he attended a talk at the house of Abdur-Raheem Green in South London. He listened attentively and It was there that he learnt many of the basics of Islam.
 
Growing up a Muslim got Eesa through school and college without getting into any trouble!  He noted that it is very easy to get involved in the wrong crowd but all he could think of when he was young was if he had performed ablution to be ready for prayer or when the next prayer was due.  Such concerns filled his mind while everyone else at school or in his neighborhood were talking about a rave or other insignificant things.
 
When he turned fifteen, he decided to speak to others about his conversion to Islam.  He had a friend who also became a Muslim and the two of them were in their own little world. They hung around together and even went to the Mosque together.  They often got into trouble for leaving the school in order to attend the Friday Prayer.
 
Despite his young age, Eesa did not think Islam was strict; he found that it just made sense.  He understood why alcohol was prohibited.   It made sense to him that people should not drink because he could see all the harm that came from it.
 
Some may believe that becoming a Muslim at such a young age would indefinitely isolate a person from non-Muslims, but with Eesa this was not the case, he interacted and functioned normally, but there was always a line he would not cross. He would not join classmates and in when they would want to engage in something that went against his beliefs and in wrong activities such as raves and what not. When his non-Muslim class-mates invited him to such events he would give a number of excuses and not attend.
 
Finally here are a few words from brother Eesa:
 
 “I suggest that new Muslims should do some research on the lives of the Companions and see how they put Islam into practice.  The Companions received Islam from the hands of the Prophet. You can find real information on Islam but you have to search and you should not be lazy.  The best place to get knowledge and be sure it is the right knowledge, is to read the Quran and then look to the Hadith, especially Bukhari and Muslim.”

Josh Hasan, Ex-Jew, USA
 
 
I might not have become a Muslim. I could have been a Hindu, worshipping 14,321 gods and goddesses, such as a goddess for my neighbor’s dog, another for the moon, and yet another for Evander Holyfield’s lost ear.  I would be worshiping all these counterfeit “gods,” and I would be sick…sick in the heart and blind to the logic of obeying a pink elephant with six arms, which can be found on the walls of some Hindu-influenced, Indian restaurants!  Yes, they worship elephants, which are habitually afraid of mice.
 
Or perhaps I could be a Christian, worshipping Jesus Christ.  But why should I worship a prophet, indeed, who never called himself divine?  Wouldn’t he know?  He does know, and so do I.  Jesus is not God and God is not Jesus.
 
I could have gone to Buddhism, but which sect is correct?  Who knows?  And would I have wanted to listen to the Dalai Lama telling me how to enjoy life-in his words, “taking three hookers and traveling to Las Vegas.”
 
I did not become any of the above, nor will I.  I turned in the direction of Islam when I knew almost nothing of it.  One year later, I took Shahada.  I only wish I had taken it much earlier.  This is my story of becoming a Muslim.  It began when I was 10.
 
One God
 
When I was 10, my parents enrolled me at the local Conservative Synagogue, in the densely Jewish town of Brookline, Massachusetts.  I was sent there supposedly to learn Hebrew and be taught Judaism.  I was adequately taught neither.  The teachers were mainly Israeli.  It is hard for me to remember now, but they actually taught [reformed] Judaism very well.  At 10, I sincerely believed in God, read the stories from the Torah and Old Testament, and was more pious than my much older parents.  I tried to pray and be steadfast, even though my family and friends, as I remember, did not think of it as even the least important.  Why didn’t they care?  Nevertheless, I kept up my inner Jew.  During this time of Judaica, I took peeks at Christianity, wondering how so many of my friends followed this great man, whose name so many people used in vain when they dropped their papers or tripped.  Shouldn’t Jesus Christ, I thought, be shown more respect?  Moreover, could he be the son of God?
 
Then one day, still 10, as I went through my readings on the Jews and Israel, I came across a new religion.  First, I saw a crescent and star; I read further.  I was profoundly moved when I found out that another billion people in the world worshipped the same God as I did.  As I think about it now, it was truly remarkable.  These followers of Islam, of Allah Almighty read the Qur’an, as it was spelled, and went on a pilgrimage.  Interesting!
 
Unfortunately, further learning at that time was hindered by the affinity for Israel.  I was brainwashed about the Muslim terrorists who blew up Jews like dynamite.  The Jews were good; the Arabs were bad.  That’s what my friends told me, that’s what my teachers seemed to imply, and I would seldom hear of Islam again until 1999.
 
Meanwhile, 1994 turned into 1995.  My family switched synagogues, and sects.  From conservative, we now called ourselves “reform Jews.” We became very liberal.  Our “Rabbi” was not kosher.  He was hardly what I consider a spiritual leader, a man who leads Jews as followers of God.  One night, as we sat in the “congregation,” our Rabbi tried to keep us awake.  He referred to his pleasure of looking lustfully at Boston College “coeds” from his nearby home.  He incited only a handful of laughs.  Today, as I look back, I remember how he spoke of the “haram” in front of his wife, before the Torah, and in the presence of God.  My discontent with Judaism grew, and I knew that a religious move to the right wing was inevitable.  Only it wouldn’t be Orthodox Judaism.
 
The Other People of the Book
 
 I was impressed at the time with the Christians’ spirituality because it seemed powerful.  Judaism, I knew, was a corrupt religion, but I still believed in God.  The Christians believe in God, do they not?
 
I went to mass, I spoke to priests, but I had the world’s most difficult time believing that Jesus could be divine.  So I forced myself.  I would pray to the “son,” and what a mess.  I tried very hard, but I knew there was no answer.  I didn’t understand, but I continued studying the Catechism and saying the Lord’s Prayer.  I wasn’t baptized, so I wasn’t Catholic.  In fact, to become Catholic, you needed to study for nine months.  What if I died before I became a Catholic because the priests wouldn’t let me become Christian?  Then what?  I continued to notice flaws in the Christian doctrine.  The priests seemed to notice them, but nevertheless they continued preaching.
 
Around January 26, 1999, I quit the confirmation class.  I quit Christianity, although I was not even Christian.  I was not “saved,” but I did not care.  I pleased my parents immensely by leaving the Catholic Church.  But, I still knew there was only one God.  To this day, I am surprised at how instantly it happened.  Not one week after I left the church for good, I was ready to learn about the final religion of God.
 
The Horrendous Procrastination
 
My father was overjoyed to learn of my fading interest in Catholicism and he welcomed me with open arms.  Unfortunately, he took me to the library.  There, I was presented with Encyclopedia Britannica.  I read about Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.  The article claimed he slaughtered all the Jewish men of their tribe.  Having read this, I was deeply saddened, and I was angry and confused at the same time.  I was indignant at having learned that this prophet from Islam had slaughtered Jews, and I was confused about what to do now.  I thought I had ruled out Islam, but I still believed in God.  Then what?  Indeed, I could not go more than a couple of weeks before returning.  I knew Judaism was corrupt, I knew Christianity was corrupt.  Now I got it: Encyclopedia Britannica is also corrupt.
 
So I began my search for a local Mosque.  In fact, I found a nearby Mosque by accident.  I looked on the Internet relentlessly.  As soon as I saw the word Boston, I clicked the mouse, awaiting the information that would bring me to worship God in the right way.  I waited, patient with a slow and unfeeling modem, and finally, the site had loaded.
 
At the tap of a mouse button, I was greeted with Assalamu Alaikum.  I took down the address, and planned the journey.  So special was it to have found a mosque in Boston; I was thrilled that I wouldn’t have to travel to Egypt or Jordan or Yemen.
 
It was around February 28, 1999.  I walked down Prospect Street, and I saw the Mosque.  I walked to the front, I reached to open the door, and noticed a sign: Women’s Entrance.  Women’s entrance!  I didn’t know what that meant, so I walked around the mosque, hoping they would let men in somewhere.  Suddenly, I felt nervous as I found the men’s entrance.  I had never met a religious Muslim, and I had no idea what the Muslims’ reaction would be upon meeting me.  I wondered if I should hide my Jewish identity.  I took a breath and entered the door.
 
“Excuse me,” I said to the first man I saw.  “I am here to learn about Islam.” I waited for his reaction.  I waited for an education or to be sent out.  Would they really send me out?  I had hung up my shoes.  The man opened his mouth to speak: “Sorry, I don’t speak English,” and he went inside the main room.  I followed him in.  I wasn’t sure if he had left me to wander.  I looked around, at the faithful prostrating in submission to Allah (swt).  I was moved, but I wasn’t sure what to do next.  Then, I noticed the man returned with what seemed like a horde of faithful others.  I sat down.  There was one of me and what seemed like 50 of them.  They all spoke to me at the same time.  It was overwhelming, but it felt great.  It showed how important Islam was to Muslims then and there.  I was given “A Brief Illustrated Guide to Islam,” and within minutes, I had the Shahada before my eyes.  There it was: La Ilaha Illa Allah, Muhammadun Rassoolu Allah.  I was ready to say it.  Here and now.  Nine months to become a Catholic, probably more to be a Jew.  In a matter of moments, I could embrace Islam.
 
“Are you sure?  You don’t have to do this,” came the advice of a friendly but cautious brother.  I was surprised: was it such a big thing that I would have to think about it?  Should I not become a Muslim now?
 
That day, I did not become a Muslim.  But it was a wonderful Saturday.  I met brothers from all over the world.  And yet, as diverse as the people appeared, they all shared a common objective, which was clear: the utmost submission to Allah (swt).
 
It would be over a year before I would become a Muslim.  During that year, I had been at the site of an alleged shooting in the Bronx, passing through in my family’s car.  In fact, the bullet shattered the rear window, just a few feet away from my head.  I survived without a scratch, and soon forgot about the whole incident.
 
On May 6, 2000, I took the same train I had always taken to the Masjid in Cambridge.  This time, I brought with me a book on Arabic, as I thought it would be appropriate to learn the language.  That was my philosophy back then.  Study Islam comprehensively.  By the time you take Shahada, you’ll be a genius.  I ran into a Muslim I hadn’t seen in months.  He asked me if I had become a Muslim yet.  Then, we had a short conversation.  He talked about how if I went out in the street and got in a car accident, I would die a non-Muslim.  This very well could mean hellfire.  He told me this exact story back in December 1999, but I had dismissed it, even in the wake of the Bronx shooting.  This time, putting off Islam would not last.
 
At the Masjid that same afternoon, I sat down and watched as the Muslims lined up for Dhuhr, the second prayer of the day.  I stared as they prostrated, an act Shaitan had refused.  And I couldn’t take it any longer.  I wondered what it would be like to become a Muslim now, but my thoughts were all one-sided.  I told the brother right after the prayer that I wanted to become a Muslim today.  As I write this, three months later, I know that taking Shahada was the best thing I could ever have done.  I only wish I could have done it earlier.
 

Thomas Webber, Ex-Christian, UK
 
Like most reverts to Islam my story is simple from the perspective of an outsider.  Young man finds a religion that’s different to his family’s and eventually tells them and reverts.
 
However, like many things in life, it is the travelling of the journey and not the getting to the destination that seems most hard.  Of course with Islam the journey will never be complete until it is ordained by Allah, the Exalted, but, instead we reach milestones along the way.  So I shall tell the story of my life until now and my hopes and aspirations for the future.
 
I was born in the UK to a family of two loving parents and one brother (Colin), shortly to be followed by my twin sister (Linda) and later by my other two sisters Melissa (who died when I was very little) and my youngest sister Emily.
 
I was never baptized, as my father did not believe in putting a baby who could not object, through such a religious ceremony.  However, my mother would send us to a Christian Sunday school to learn about Christianity.
 
Well, what can I say about that? Unfortunately for my mother my mind was relatively astute at a young age and as a result I could never understand why a loving and all powerful God could kill His son to forgive us our sins.
 
This was surely not right when if He was so all powerful and all sins were against Him He could just have forgiven us all!  Surely this is not what a loving God would do.
 
As the years drew on I disregarded what I was taught about God.  Religious holidays became all about presents and time off to relax.  I was lost but I didn’t know it.  After all, these religious people would never be able to prove their religions like the sciences we were taught at school. To me they were just weak-minded or stupid.
 
As time went on I would continue to be successful at school and get good grades pleasing my parents, and everything was fine.  It wasn’t until sometime after my 13th birthday that I would start to become religious.
 
When I say religious I don’t mean in the sense of being a practicing Christian.  This, I could never be.  But I did begin to hope to some form of God that I would be successful and attain all the things I needed.  It was more a trust in something for the things I was unable to engineer for myself.
 
As I progressed through school I learnt about various religions, Buddhism sounded like a good one, for there was no God and it was all about being a good person, and after all that is basically what I had learnt from Christianity.
 
I began to think that religions were all about one thing and that was about making people become more moral.  I continued to try and be a good person but couldn’t quite shake the thought that something was missing.
 
A year or so before I left Senior School my brother became a born-again Christian.  Unfortunately for me this was a somewhat negative experience as he would keep trying to convert me to his religion, and I still could not accept that Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was killed to forgive us our sins.
 
So I withdrew any signs of religious thinking away from my family and friends to avoid further arguments with them and also to avoid being branded a weirdo, (which was just one of the cruel jibes I now heavily regret having landed upon my brother.)
 
My soul searching would continue to be repressed and hidden even from me for the next year or so.  And then came the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in America.  At first when I was told about it I didn’t believe it could happen, but it had.
 
The news continued to report stories about it, but as it hadn’t affected me particularly I merely continued with my life.  It wasn’t until reports of Islamic terrorists, reprisals against Muslims and the attack on Afghanistan and later on Iraq that I began to question my government and the US. This ultimately pushed me towards discovering the truth of Islam.
 
I simply couldn’t believe that Muslims could be terrorists capable only of hatred and murder.  This was just strange.  So I ignored this, but maybe this was when my mind became truly willing to learn about religion for the first time.
 
It wasn’t until I reached my first year of sixth-form College until I was to make friends with a Muslim.  At first I would never believe she would be a friend as she said little until I got to know her.  In this friend lay the clear and defined evidence that Muslims were not just crackpots and loonies and were in fact normal people.
 
Eventually, I began to explore Islam on the internet when nobody was around; as I was not prepared to let people know I would consider any religion, let alone Islam of all religions. I began to believe what I read but was still a little confused and my journey to understanding was slow.
 
Eventually, the summer vacations came and I was on the edge of belief in Islam.  I wanted to believe it was true but how could I prove it.  From my years of good grades and trying to be perfect in my parents’ eyes, I hated being wrong.
 
As it was the summer I could not easily meet my Muslim friend but had so much I wanted to ask her.  Occasionally she would call and I would talk to her for hours trying to build up the courage to tell her I needed her help.
 
Eventually I managed the courage to explain I was confused about religion but could never admit I wanted to be a Muslim, as I didn’t know for certain that this was no whim as I had so much fear in my mind.  Well, eventually I managed to tell her and she had only good things to say.
 
So, I was now certain that I had to become a Muslim but how would I tell people and find out more?  I knew I couldn’t tell my family yet, as I remembered the cruelty I and my sisters had inflicted on my brother upon his becoming a Christian.  I was afraid I would receive the same or worse.
 
After all he at least followed the religion of my country and that we had been raised in, this would be totally different.  Wouldn’t it? My journey from this point on was the hardest part.  How can you find out more if you couldn’t tell anyone for fear your family would find out? Well I’m glad to say eventually over a long period of time I slowly managed to confide in friends and family.
 
I decided to say Shahadah on my 20th birthday, knowing if I didn’t set a date I would never do it.  So the weekend before I went to the Global Peace and Unity Conference in London, which was really amazing. I went knowing that the following Monday I would pronoun

Heinz, Ex-Christian, UK
Abdul Hakeem Heinz was brought up in the south of London.  He was first introduced to Islam at the tender age of seven when his mother embraced Islam.
 
Years later he traveled and lived in Egypt for a few years and further developed his knowledge and understanding of Islam as well as his skills in Arabic language.
 
He was just a young boy when his mother converted, and it was then that he and his brother and sister changed from going to church to practicing Islam.  This was quite a shock for him at first because his comfort zone had been in the Christian concepts that he had previously been taught.
 
Initially, Islam was presented to him as a set of strict rules that had to be followed.  He admits that at first he found it all a bit tough to deal with.  At seven he was expected to pray and fast.
 
He also had to learn how to read in Arabic and he found himself praying and reading Quran but without understanding what he was saying and why he had to do all this.
 
However, the years passed and after some time, it all started to settle in and Islam became his way of life.   As he looks back, he notes that as a teenager, it was natural that he would start to question what life is about.
 
As he passed through the turbulence of his teenage years, the meaning of the message of Islam started to touch his heart and became more and more acceptable to him.  He also began to understand what Islam meant in his life and as he learned more, he perceived Islam as the correct way.
 
Heinz admits, “In my early teens, it was something to be ashamed of to be a Muslim.  At school I was taught Islamic studies but I was also taught that it was just like Hinduism and Sikhism.”
 
It affected him that Islam and those who followed it were considered “different” from others.  When he started secondary school, he did not want to be associated with Islam, but he kept it in his heart.
 
He explains his reaction, “It was because of the pressure from outside, but at the same time, I hadn't gone into Islam enough to justify my faith as I could have.” The public perception of Islam at that time affected how he presented himself as a Muslim.  He wanted to be among the common crowd, which is a natural part of human nature.  This perception did not change until he was about fourteen years old.
 
At this age, he changed in the way he practiced Islam and how he presented his religion to others.  This happened after he traveled to Holland and Spain.  His journey to Spain was especially significant as there he had the chance to interact more with practicing Muslims.
 
He comments, “There was a minority Muslim community where I was in Spain but they were respected and some of the youth of my age group were very interested in religion.  This made me no longer feel ashamed.  Young people were embracing Islam and this made me feel proud.”
 
When he returned to the UK from Spain, he was about fifteen.  He went back to school, but the difference this time was that he was a Muslim from the inside! He was much more confident and so he started to talk about Islam more.  Heinz says happily, “I could actually say 'I am Muslim'.”
 
Then attitudes towards Islam started to change among his peers at school.  He relates, “At that time, being a Muslim was considered jazzy, snappy, and cool! This helped me become even more confident.  One of the things that helped me through all these changes was my independence to know Almighty Allah.”
 
He admits reading when he was by himself and memorizing Quran.  He also says that when he was a teenager, as a household his family members were Muslims, but Islam was not always being practiced properly.
 
Despite all this, there was something in his heart that was always drawn toward Almighty Allah and Islam.  If he found life difficult or had problems, he would pray two units of Prayer and pour his heart out to Almighty Allah.  He states, “I learned to submit myself to Allah.”
 
Heinz believes that Muslims have to be sincere to Almighty Allah and recite Quran everyday.  This is what helped him to pass through the difficult teenage years.
 
He noticed that as he became stronger, people changed their perceptions about him and started to respect him.
 
He says that if a person acts shyly, feels embarrassed and behaves apologetically, people will put him to one side.  But if he does not really care about what people think, because he knows that he is on the truth, people will respect him because of the confidence he has.
 
Heinz says with surety, “People respect that kind of character.  People respect you if you are yourself.”
 
He believes that we do not owe anything to our friends or the group we are with, and that we should just be ourselves.  He advises new Muslims not to try to be like anyone else.
 
He is now twenty-three years old and believes that generally, in the West, people his age are struggling in terms of responsibility and knowing what is expected of them as adults.  He finds that they are not sure because they do not belong to a certain culture, or their culture drives them to succumb to this world that is filled with commotion and strife.
 
He says that when he was seventeen years old and decided to practice Islam properly, that helped him to grow because Islam gave him a strict code of conduct.  He followed what it says and tried to understand his role as a human being.
 
Slowly he came to know that he has responsibilities and will ultimately become a proper adult and a better person, more considerate and mindful of others.  He says that without Islam he would have been lost.
 
He is grateful to Almighty Allah that He has brought him so far.  With Islam, a person can stand out among their peers because Islam makes a person mature.
 
He says, “Gaining Islamic knowledge in today’s world is important and we cannot escape Satan as he wants to keep us away from where we should be.
 
“New Muslims want to get on the right path and it is important to keep good company because a person becomes what his group is.  If the person around you will bring you down, you might have to cut relations with him.”
 
Heinz sees that his time in Egypt helped him to see how Muslims live and that it is great to feel that you belong to such a universal community.  Apart from the knowledge of Arabic and Islam he obtained, Egypt also helped him to learn more about how to be a Muslim in everyday life.
 
He says that we learn from the people we mix with and that we should read Quran regularly and ask Almighty Allah to help us understand it properly.  Everyone should find out what classes are happening in their area and attend them and spend time in the mosque.  People can also go onto Islamic websites and be involved in the community around them.
 
He observes that in London there are a lot of places where a person can obtain knowledge and there are prominent speakers.  He advises new Muslims to seek out such classes and lectures because not only will you gain knowledge, but you will also meet good people.
 
Looking to the future, Heinz says that he just asks Allah for the best and hopes.  He says, “I am more patient now because of the experiences I've had.  I gained a lot of stability by having learned about the Companions and the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.”
 
He sees that the best way to be a man and the best way to be a woman are by living according to the standards of Almighty Allah.

Jonathan, Ex-Christian, Canada
 
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 Muslim.   And when I first came to this way of life, I didn’t know how well I would fair with it.  To become Muslim was essentially to join a visible minority, and that’s not something I would ordinarily be so keen to do.  However, after learning the unadulterated teachings of Islam, I found myself compelled to embrace Islam as an absolute truth.
 
Having spent a large portion of my short life not being 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 light where the darkness had once been.  In 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 why 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 for 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.  The reason why I never turned to it for guidance was because it had never made sense to me.  When I heard the word “God” as a child, I recall remembering an absolute, single, omnipotent being somewhere out there.
 
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 official 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
 
Besides the inherent problems contained within the Doctrine of Trinity, I used to look at the fact that the Christians worship Jesus, and I would say, “If they worship Jesus, where does God come in?”   Especially since Jesus is narrated as having said in the Bible that the Father who is in the Heavens is Greater.
 
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 condition I would receive some sort of satisfaction from it.
 
I had little or no regard for my own body, or anybody else’s for that matter.  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.   And I lead my life like that for some years, eventually going deeper into it, experimenting with other types of drugs and at one point I even began selling them.
 
But eventually I started to feel a consciousness within me looking for some sort of consoling.  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 new anything about, namely Islam.
 
I used to literally think that Islam was an Island somewhere in the Middle East (which surprisingly is still a common misconception amongst a large portion of the population today, thinking Islam is a country).   I knew of the Muslim religion, but I looked at Muslims like Buddhist, with strange rituals.  I used to think they worshipped idols.  But that night when I went out with my friends, Islam had become a hot topic.
 
Some of my friends started to bash Islam, saying that it was a stupid religion.   I was surprised that some of my friends happened to be Muslim and they began to defend their religion.  Being curious about the whole topic and its impending impact on the near future, I began to investigate.  And what I found surprised me. I found out that the Muslims worshipped God.  Furthermore I found out that the Muslims believed in Jesus as being a Muslim (one who submits to God), who was a Prophet and Messenger of God, that God saved him from the Crucifixion, and that he was no part divine or any part of God, and that God alone should be worshipped.
 
Those pieces of information struck a chord with me, for  I remembered believing in God as One Absolute being when I was younger, and likewise, I remember rejecting Christianity based upon its worship of Jesus.
 
Thus I began an inquest into Islam and Christianity.  I became interested in the subject of religion and began reading constantly.  I would consult my grandmother  on issues regarding Christianity, and would consult my friend on Islam.  I would bring the arguments back and forth to one another to see whose arguments would stand up.
 
Eventually after reading through the Quran and the Bible, observing God’s Miracles in nature and undergoing a thorough soul searching experience.  I said to myself about Islam, “it sounds so true, but can it be real?”  And right in that instance, I remembered my previous prayer when I said, “God, if your real, and you exist, please help me!”  I was covered in goose bumps.  I realized that this was the answer, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to become Muslim.  I didn’t know how well I would fit in with the Muslims from an ethnic standpoint.
 
I continued reading and was really looking for something to give me a conformation about my decision.  Then one day while reading the Bible, I came across verse 26:39 in the Gospel of Matthew.  The verse reads:
 
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
 
For me, this verse confirmed three things that I had learnt from an Islamic view of Jesus.  That he was Muslim, as he prayed as a Muslim by falling to his face in prayer.  That he didn’t want to die, because he prayed for the cup of death to be removed from him.  And that he was not God, because he himself prayed to God for help.
 
This was the conformation that I needed that really solidified my decision to embrace Islam.   And I couldn’t accept the Message, without accepting the Messenger.  So on December 28th, 2001 by the Mercy of Allah, I took the declaration of faith (To say I bear witness none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), and embraced Islam.  And since that time, by Allah’s Grace, I have achieved things, and been places, and have done things that I never would have imagined possible.
 
After tasting faith, I know the fruits it bears, and I pray that Allah allows me to do more good, and allows me to live the remainder of my life on His path.  All praises are for Allah, and peace and blessing be upon His messenger, Muhammad.  Ameen.

Charlie Alcala, Ex-Christian, Philippines
 
 
My name is Troy Bagnall. I’m a 22-year-old (soon to be 23) college student at Arizona State University (ASU) from Phoenix, Arizona in the US. I’m in a film & media studies program at ASU too.
 
I accepted Islam this past February for a multitude of reasons. I had been interested in Islam for quite some time, as it is a hot topic when it comes to the news and current events. I am very interested in ancient history and world history as well as war and politics.
 
As I would hear about conflicts in the news that were happening in places such as Sudan, Somalia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Lebanon, etc., I would research those conflicts simply so I would understand what was really happening in those conflicts as the media here tends to be very vague in explaining them in a fair and unbiased manner.
 
As I researched the conflicts, I also became interested in learning about the history of the Muslim world. I spent time on my own learning about some of the history and culture of the Muslim world. I also took a class at ASU called Islamic Civilization. As I learned about the history and culture of the Muslim world, I became interested in the religion, Islam, itself.
 
I had been raised Christian but quit practicing it when I was 15. I personally found Christianity to be very confusing and not logical. The trinity and doctrine of atonement really do not make sense considering there are verses from the Bible that contradict those doctrines.
 
When I took the Islamic History class I met a brother named Mohammad Totah who is very knowledgeable in the Bible, Quran, and all three Abrahamic faiths. We had many talks about comparing the faiths. I researched on my own as well. I learned more about how Christianity contradicts its own scriptures.
 
I learned more about how many Biblical scriptures actually support Islam too. Another thing that got me too was the Gospel of Barnabas which prophesized and mentioned by name, the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him). This Gospel was also removed from the Bible.
 
Now to the Quran, which is beyond amazing with its flawlessness. I found the Quran to be quite simple and easy to comprehend. Islam itself is a very simple and straightforward with no complex doctrines. Islam does not feature the blind faith  that Christianity does.
 
It also has a feeling of fulfillment that Judaism does not have as Judaism denies later prophets such as Jesus (peace be upon him) and John the Baptist (peace be upon him) for example.
 
As I learned more about Islam, I realized that it made sense of the uncertainties I had with Christianity. I actually know more about the Bible and Christianity now since reverting to Islam than I did while I was a Christian.
 
I feel much closer to God as a Muslim, too. Not to bash Christianity, but I find it to be more about the teachings of Paul and the other Apostles instead of the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him).
 
I also spent much time learning about the history of the religions after they were established and how they spread across the world. I know that Islam is portrayed as being some exotic eastern religion here in the west, but it is really just what all the prophets were sent to teach, which is submission to God. It is also really frustrating how the media always portrays Islam in such a negative light.
 
I understand there are conflicts and violence in parts of the Muslim world, but those conflicts are really more about politics.
 
Yes, I will admit that it has been a bit tough practicing Islam considering I do live in America and the media here pushes negative stereotypes about Islam all the time. It is also a bit tough on me simply because it is not like there are many American college kids giving up the carefree party life and converting to Islam.
 
That was not much of a problem for me though, as I am pretty much a studious nerd. I get questions from non-Muslims concerning politics and Middle Eastern cultural practices, and I have to show them the difference between what is really Islam and what is political ideology and cultural practices.
 
The Middle East is obviously the center of the Muslim world, but it is frustrating too how the media stereotypes Muslims as always being Middle Eastern, as Muslims come from all over the world. I think racism is involved too, as the West seems to overlook the fact that Judaism and Christianity’s origins lay in the Middle East just like Islam.
 
To sum it up, I accepted Islam simply because I declared it to be the true religion of God. It is simple, straightforward, and not confusing.
 
I also love how Islam has such a universal bond of unity amongst its followers. Islam has helped me to become a better person.
 
I feel at ease when I practice Islam. It helps me feel better about life and helps me deal with stress and life problems.
 
I really hope that people here in the West become better educated on the Muslim world and what Islam really is as a religion instead of listening to the negative and not always entirely true criticisms that the media portrays about Islam.
 
I hope my story will inspire those who are interested in Islam to want to learn more about it.

Anthony, Ex-Mormon, USA
 
I begin with the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate,  Most Merciful
 
One night, not so long ago, I began to question my belief in the purity of the Bible.  Because of this, I felt depressed.  I knew that God was there, and I knew that He had sent down His religion to man, but I could not find it.  Why was it so hard to find? I prayed and asked God, Why would You send down a scripture (the Bible) and allow for there to be flaws in it? My Lord had been answering my question even before I asked.
 
About two years before this point, when I was sixteen, I had a religious yearning.  It was like a thirst that I could not quench.  I thought I was satisfied with my religion of Mormonism.  But the truth was I wasn’t satisfied!  It was as if God was calling me.  I decided to put the Scriptures under close examination.  I put aside my Book of Mormon, and picked up the Bible.  I studied it from a viewpoint outside of what my religion taught me, since my religion taught me how to interpret the Bible in a very specific and “official” way.  Instead, I looked at it not as one who had no religion, but as one who wanted to follow the Scriptures to the fullest.
 
As I studied, I noticed how Christ taught only to the Jews.  He would not preach to anyone except the children of Israel.  Studying his life closely, I noticed that this man did not follow any religion that actually exists today.  He was a follower of God’s law as it was sent to the Jews in the past.  Right there, my religion was questionable.  I also read in the Book of Acts that the apostles would not eat pork or any other foods that were earlier prohibited by God.  In the other books, the followers of Christ, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, would follow all of the laws and traditions which God had sent down in the past.  Neither my religion nor any other Christians that I knew followed this example.
 
Studying it even closer, I saw that all Christian churches relied upon the teachings of Paul, whose letters actually contradicted many of the words of Jesus.  Now I knew that my religion was definitely in question.
 
I believed in one God, I believed in Jesus, I believed in Moses, I believed in Noah, and I believed in all of the other prophets who preached the worship of one God.  But what other Books existed to replace the Bible? I believed that there were none.
 
Then I remembered what an old Muslim friend told me.  He said that Muslims believe in the Qur’an, in only One God, and in all the messengers of God, which includes all of the Christian and Jewish prophets.  At that time, I had a book that explained Islam at a very basic level.  It was a great source for me.  I began to understand Islam much more, and found it somewhat interesting.
 
After this, I went on the Internet to look up things about Islam.  I found some sites with arguments against Christian beliefs, and I studied their arguments closely.  They explained how most Christians do not follow their Scriptures as closely as they should.  In truth, the Muslim sites were confirming what I already knew.
 
My interest in Islam was soaring.  I decided to ask my neighbor to borrow his Qur’an.  I read it in a few weeks.  I loved it – I believed every word it said.  However, I could not believe that the crucifixion was a false story.  I was so brainwashed by the Bible that I could not accept the truth at the time.
 
So, when the night came in which I finally lost my trust in the Bible’s purity and incorruptibility, I decided to look into Islam again.  In my heart during those two years, I knew that the truth lay in Islam, but I simply could not allow myself to accept it.  There were personal reasons for my stubbornness – reasons planted in my heart by Satan. That night I went online to begin my new spiritual search.  I went to many online sites, and I ordered information from many of them.  I read some interesting facts about the Qur’an, and I said to myself, this might be the way that God has led me.  But it was still too soon to tell.
 
Just before I logged off, I ordered more information about Islam.  A few days later, a representative of one of the sites I went to sent me an email.  He thanked me for my interest in Islam, and told me that I could write to him at anytime if I had any questions concerning Islam.
 
Thus, we began a dialogue online.  He gave me a lot of information about Islam.  I asked him a deep question: How do Muslims actually prove to Christians that the crucifixion did not happen? He wanted to meet up with me to discuss it, and I agreed.  We met up in a neighborhood pizza parlor.  Our discussion left me in awe.  He showed me verses of the Bible that I had always overlooked.  He left me with a Qur’an and a lecture on CD.  As soon as I went home, I knew that this was God’s religion, but I did not want to rush into it.  Instead, I studied it more.
 
All my studies led me to the same conclusion: Islam was the path of God.  Still, I was afraid to convert.  Converting is a life decision, and I was not willing to take that decision lightly.
 
One day, the brother I met wanted to take me to the Friday prayer (the Juma’a prayer).  The night before, Satan struck with all his force.  He knew that I was going to say the Shahada (the public declaration that there is no deity but God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger), and thereby convert to Islam.  All night, he whispered things in my heart, trying to show me that Islam was not the way to go.  In fact, so intense were his promptings that I slept for no more than an hour that night.  I kept on praying to God, reading the Qur’an, and praying some more.  Satan put so many thoughts in my head that even I believed that I was not going to convert.
 
About an hour after I had fallen to sleep, my mother woke me up saying that I had to watch the kids until she came back from the hospital.  My little brother’s toe was hurting him and my mother believed that it was broken.  She needed me to stay home with the other kids so she could take him to the doctor.  She did not expect to be back until six in the evening.
 
When I heard this, I knew that I was not going to the Juma’a prayer service.  I had to stay home with the kids at the time that it started.  The brother called me up.  He asked if I was ready, and I told him the story.  He explained that he felt especially bad because this Friday was his only Friday in which he was free to bring me there.  He even told me that I could bring the kids with me.  I figured that they would feel awkward there, and so I said no.  I told him to call me after half an hour.  Maybe I would have a solution by then, but deep inside I did not expect to go.
 
I talked to my mother and asked her if it was possible for me to go.  She found some extra money for the kids to go with her, thus letting me off the hook.  I thank God for this little miracle, for this event changed my life.  The Muslim brother later told me that he had relied on God to lead me to the Mosque that day.  When he heard that I was not going to come, he prayed to God knowing that I did not have a choice in the matter.  If I was to become Muslim, it was God Who was going to make me a Muslim.  If I was not going to become a Muslim that was again God’s will.
 
When the brother heard that I was able to come, he was very happy.  He picked me up shortly after that.  On the way there, I began to feel sick.  I felt nauseous, weak, dizzy, as if I was going to collapse.  It was Satan doing this to me.  He was desperate to get me away from the Mosque and he made me think that I was feeling too sick to go. In fact, these were just minor side effects from having too little sleep the night before.
 
In the car on our way to the Mosque, I told the brother that I was thinking about changing my mind about taking Shahada.  He told me that the choice was mine, but to beware of the doubts that Satan puts into one’s head.  For a while, we talked in the car about Satan whispering into people’s hearts, and how Satan tries to drag someone from the Light.  He explained to me that only Muslims and non-Muslims who are on their way to becoming Muslim are heavily affected by Satan.  He said that non-Muslims are generally left alone, because Satan does not need to distract them from God, since they are already far from Him.  He explained that last night, all the thoughts that flooded my head were from Satan. Satan put so much doubt in my head in that one night in order to pull me from the Light.  This was how desperate Satan was – he knew that I was going to take Shahada the next day and was trying anything to prevent this.
 
We went into the Mosque, and the brother taught me how to make ablution (wudhu-cleaning one’s self before prayer).  After the ablution, I felt brand new, and my nausea had left my body.  I was not even thinking about the sickness anymore, I just felt good to be in a place where God is worshiped.  We approached the director and told him that I wanted to take the Shahada that day after the service.  He smiled and congratulated me with a warm hug.  Another brother who overheard us did the same.  He said, “God bless you, and congratulations.” These were beautiful people, people of God.  These were the kind of people I wanted to be like.
 
During the service, the Imam amazingly gave his speech about Satan’s whisperings into the hearts of men in the attempt to lead them away from the Light.  It left me in utter shock.  The brother was talking to me about this in the car, and by an amazing coincidence, the Imam thought it was best that day to talk about Satan’s whispers.  This, I believe, was God getting His Message across to me, telling me to ignore Satan.  I could not wait to declare the Shahada, and when the time came after the service, I rushed up to the front.
 
After publicly declaring my Islam, I think that every Muslim brother present that day came and hugged me.  There were at least a few hundred brothers present, so you can imagine how many hugs I received.  They congratulated me and said, “God bless you, you made the right choice.”
 
Two forces were at work that day: Satan and God.  But God’s force was too powerful for me to resist, and so I submitted to Him in Islam. The brother told me that the greatest gift that God gives to us in this world is Islam.  This gift I shall keep for the rest of my life, God willing (in sha’ Allah).  He also told me that he never went to a Friday service where the Imam talked purely about Satan’s whispers.  He said that the subject was mentioned occasionally, but it almost never actually made up an entire service.
 
I pray that my story helps those who go through the same mental struggle that I had with Satan. My experience is so amazing to me that I cannot truly describe it in words. I pray that those who read this will be able to overcome Satan as I was able to that day.
 
As-salaam `alaikum.   May God guide you as he guided me.
 

Frank Estrada, Ex-Catholic, Romania
 
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 churches 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 with 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 to 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 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 have no 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.

Wildeman, Netherlands
 
I usually don’t do this. That is, I usually don’t take this much time to tell anyone how I converted to Islam, or should I say, how I came back to Islam.
 
See, when people find out you’ve become a Muslim, you always get the same questions over and over again. How did your parents react to it? Were you in love with a Muslim woman? Are you accepted within the Islamic community as a convert?
 
But most of all, people ask me: Why did you convert to Islam?
 
I found it shocking that even Muslims ask me why I converted to Islam. “Well, this is the one true religion, remember?” is my usual reply. I did not crash my car into a tree and almost die, I did not have a moment when I saw the light. I don’t even know exactly when I became a Muslim.
 
Some people are surprised, but I wasn’t even looking for God. I wasn’t looking for a reason in life. I wasn’t looking for a purpose.
 
Actually, I was just looking for a book. I walked into a bookstore not knowing what I would buy. This must have been somewhere in the year 2003 or 2004. I like to read, with a special interest in the books sold in the store somewhere between “recent history”, “philosophy” and “sociology”.
 
That’s where a green book caught my eye. It was called “Islam; Values, Principles and Reality”. I held it in my hand, looked at it, and realized I knew quite a few Muslims but had no idea at all what they believed in.
 
Meanwhile, Islam is all over the news and seems to influence both internal and foreign affairs. I decided to buy the book and see what this religion is all about. I walked to the counter and bought the book, totally unaware of the four and a half year journey I had just embarked on, which would lead straight up to my Shahadah (Testimony of Faith).
 
Before I started to read about Islam, I already had some negative associations related to this religion in mind. For example, I was wondering how a practicing Muslim could ever think he is a good pious person while at the same time he’s oppressing his own wife.
 
Or, for instance, I would wonder why Muslims would worship a cubic stone in Makkah while statues or buildings have no power and cannot help anyone.
 
I could not understand why Muslims were so intolerant against other religions instead of simply saying that everybody believes in the same God. With this in mind, I started reading.
 
After the first book came a second one. After the second came a third, and so on. After a few years, I had read quite some books on Islam and was very surprised. I found out that almost everything that I thought was a part of Islam and which I opposed to, was actually opposed by Islam.
 
It turned out that the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, had said that one can see how good a believer is by the way he treats his wife. I found out that Muslims don’t worship the Kabah, they rather oppose worshipping statues or the like.
 
I found that the Islamic civilization in all of its history — except maybe the most recent ages — was the best example of religious tolerance on the face of the planet.
 
I did not have to be convinced of most of the things Islam tells us to do or how to behave, since I found a lot of basic rules I already agreed upon before learning about Islam. I read my own opinion on a lot of subjects, but the books kept on saying “this is Islam”.
 
Not much Dawah was done in my surroundings back then. Well, not proactive anyway. The help I got was what I asked for when talking to people around me. This doesn’t say everything about how dawah is organized in the Netherlands, I just didn’t have the people around me who were very much into this.
 
So when Ramadan came and I decided to give it a try — no book can tell you how it truly feels — I went to my Muslim co-workers and told them I would fast with them. I bought a Quran and found the 30-day schedule on the Internet.
 
When I told the others about reading the full Quran and fasting in Shawwal [the lunar month after Ramadan], some of them had never heard of this or done it themselves. I brought milk and dates to work and explained to them how this was a sunnah to follow.
 
 Their mothers or wives cooked meals we ate at work, so I experienced some new food as well.
 
I learned a lot that Ramadan, and so did the others. And we had a lot of fun. My first Eid turned out to be a funeral, but for the rest it was a great month.
 
After the month of Ramadan, I went to the mosque to pay my zakah. I figured that giving money to a good cause is a correct thing to do, so not being a Muslim was no reason for me not to pay.
 
This is where I first met the treasurer of the mosque in my hometown. He asked me if I was a Muslim. “No sir, I am not a Muslim,” was my reply, “but I did fast the month of Ramadan.”
 
He told me to take it easy, take my time, and never rush into things.
 
As months passed, I kept reading books about Islam. Most of the books I read where from non-Muslims, like Karen Armstrong. I also took some time to read what people said that was negative towards Islam. I read about religiously motivated terrorism, about clashes between civilizations, and so on.
 
However, I found that for every question I could raise, Islam had a convincing answer. This did not always mean that the Muslims I spoke with had a convincing answer, but most of the information I gathered on Islam came from these books.
 
At the end of the next Ramadan, I went back to the mosque to pay my zakah. I met the treasurer again and he recognized me. He asked me, again, if I was a Muslim.
 
“No sir, I am not a Muslim,” was my reply, “but you told me to take it easy, right?”
 
He calmly shook his head and said, “Yes, take it easy, but don’t take it too easy!”
 
I now started my last year as a non-Muslim. I had already stopped drinking alcohol. I stopped smoking cigarettes. I tried to stimulate myself and others to do good, try to prevent myself and others from doingwrong.
 
I went to Turkey on holiday and had a look inside some of the greater mosques. With every step I took, with every day that went by, I could feel the presence of God in my life grow.
 
I went into nature and for the first time, I could see that what was in front of me where signs of the Creator. I tried to pray sometimes — something I had never done by myself — which obviously didn’t look much like the way I pray today. I kept reading and reading, but now also started to get information on Islam from the Internet.
 
On Hyves, a popular Dutch social networking website, I was approached by a Dutch Muslim revert. She asked if I was a Muslim and I told her I wasn’t a Muslim yet. She asked me to come over to her house and meet her husband. He was a Muslim by birth, practicing, and born in Egypt.
 
He and I had dinner together and then talked the rest of the evening about Islam. The second time I was there, he showed me the correct way to pray (upon my request). I tried to do it as good as I could and he was watching me try. When we took a short break, he asked me the question.
 
“So, do you think you’re ready to do this?”
 
“Yes, I think I’m ready.”
 
I realized that I had already become a Muslim. I didn’t take my Shahadah yet, so it wasn’t official, but somewhere in the previous years I had become a Muslim. I had come to believe that there is no God to be worshiped besides the one true God, the Creator.
 
I had come to believe that Muhammad was His messenger, the final messenger, who had part in completing the religion. I wanted to fast, I wanted to pay zakah, I wanted to make my salah [Prayers], I still dream of the hajj every day.
 
My path was through books, I came through the theory. It was a rational choice, not an emotional choice. I looked at the information which was out there, compared and contemplated. Islam was the answer to every question. One or two weeks later, he and I went to the mosque in his home town. He had already talked to the imam so they all knew I was coming. My dad came along and brought a camera.
 
The imam said the Shahadah, bit by bit. I repeated, bit by bit.
 
As the imam recited a duaa [supplication], my Egyptian brother translated it into Dutch for me. I felt like I had been running for miles and miles and now reached the finish line. I mean literally, I was out of breath as if I had been running. I slowly got back my breath, I felt calm and happy.
 
Suddenly I realized, finally, I had become Nourdeen.
 
I went to the mosque in my hometown. As I entered the building, I met the treasurer. He asked me, again, if I was a Muslim.
 
“Yes sir, I am, and my name is Nourdeen!”  I said with a smile.
 
“Alhamdulillah,” he replied, quickly to add: “…at last!”

Tarik Preston, Ex-Christian, USA
 
 
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.
 
Throughout my life before Islam I periodically met other people named Tarik, or someone who knew the significance of my name and they 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.’“
 
Sometimes I would add the story of the famous Tariq ibn Ziyad who conquered Spain in the year 711 A.D.
 
Ironically, despite knowing those important facts about the meaning of my name, I did not know the Islamic significance of my name until later, when I was a student in college.
 
I started college at the age of 16 majoring in pre-med/biology with the intent, at that time, of becoming a doctor.  I knew that if I was going to have such an important responsibility, I would need a good methodology to follow in my life.
 
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.
 
Once I made that decision, I started to feel guilty about praying lying down in bed.  So I began to pray kneeling at the side of my bed, which felt better to me.   
 
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 with “as-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you)! Having grown up in the 1970s in Chicago, I had heard this greeting many times, so I replied: “Wa alaikum us salaam!”
 
He then asked me if I was a Muslim, to which I replied (at that time), “No.  I am 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 I and a few classmates 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.  But he did warn us about the dangers of worshipping Jesus, the son of Mary.
 
Of course that was a familiar statement, but I still didn’t know much about Islam, but I did learn what Muslims looked like because my friend had a very distinct appearance and demeanor after his conversion.
 
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, so I asked him, “Are you a Muslim?”
 
He smiled and replied: “Yes Tarik.  Are you?”
 
I answered, “No.  I am a United Methodist.”
 
He smiled and said wryly: “With a name like Tarik you should be a Muslim.”
 
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 become a Muslim.
 
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 embrace 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.
 

Justin L. Peyton, Ex-Christian, USA
My name is Justin Peyton and I am a 29-year-old African American from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in a loving, two-parent, middle-class household with three siblings.
Growing up, my family and I identified ourselves as Christians, but we were never members of a church, nor did we attend Sunday services or other activities.  The extent of religious expression in our home was celebrating Christmas.
 
Nevertheless, both of my parents set definitive boundaries for good conduct and character to which I was expected to adhere.  Given the state of marriage and family in American society today, I am grateful to God for this blessing.
 
In addition, my parents' interest in the histories and cultures of other regions of the world created an environment of general tolerance, respect, and admiration for people whose customs and beliefs were different from my own.  Both of these factors would greatly contribute to my future acceptance of Islam.
 
If I had to identify one single event as the starting point for my journey to Islam, it would have to be the tragic events of 9/11.  After months of seeing very unflattering media coverage about Islam and Muslims, it occurred to me that the negative portrait being painted did not coincide with the experiences I had with Muslim classmates, neighbors and others, growing up in Philadelphia.
 
It also occurred to me that despite knowing Muslims, I had never actually bothered to take the time to learn about their faith.
 
So, with the open-mindedness instilled in me by my parents, I decided to research some facts about Islam in order to reconcile the apparent disparity between my personal experiences and media coverage.
 
Being a college student at the time, the first place I went for information is the Internet, and I eventually settled on one particular website that was geared primarily toward non-Muslims.
 
Over the course of several months, I progressed from reading introductory articles on the basic belief and practices of Muslims, to more in-depth topical pieces on belief in God, His prophets, His books, Judgment Day, and so on, as well as reading about practices like prayer, fasting, hajj, and so on.
 
The site also had articles on the place of family, marriage in Islam, as well as conversion stories like this one.  
 
Spurred to learn more, I went to a local bookstore,  purchased a copy of the Quran, and began to read.  I could spend pages listing which information struck me most and why, but suffice it to say that everything that I read made intrinsic sense to me.
 
After a few more months I decided that reading and learning about Islam on my own was not enough, so I searched to find any nearby mosques.
 
I contacted the closest mosque, which was about 45 miles away, spoke to their president, and arranged a time to visit and discuss Islam with local Muslims.
 
On the appointed day, I showed up and spent a great deal of time talking to a very helpful brother.  Unbeknownst to me, the information he shared permeated my heart.
 
During my second visit, in late summer of 2002, it dawned on me that I believed that Islam was the truth, so right then and there, I took my Testimony of Faith and spent the whole weekend at the mosque learning what was necessary for me to perform the ritual prayers on my own when I returned to school.
 
That community was wonderful, and had I stayed in the vicinity, I am sure that I would have received a lot of support adjusting to my life as a new Muslim.  But that was not to be.
 
Prior to the events of 9/11, I had developed an interest in the military, and continued discussions with local armed forces recruiters, concurrent with the exploration of Islam that would lead to my conversion.
 
Within two month of accepting Islam I also signed papers to join the Marine Corps, and that winter, after graduation, I was off to boot camp.
 
Looking back on that part of my life, I am grateful for the skills I gained and experiences I had during the course of my service.  But in retrospect, the timing between these two events was less than ideal.
 
I found that as a new Muslim, the nature of military life was not conducive to helping me find my bearings in this religion.  For instance, the pace and schedule of entry-level training made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for me to fulfill basic tenants like praying the prayers in their allotted time or fasting Ramadan.
 
Even after leaving training, I was located in an area of the U.S.  with no Muslim community, which prevented me from developing my faith.  It wasn't until some three years into my service that I met another practicing Muslim service member who would be able to teach me both about Islam and how to navigate military life as a Muslim.  May God reward him for his efforts.
 
After completing my military service in the summer of 2007, I moved back to Philadelphia, became an active member of a local mosque, and was blessed with the ability to obtain a job at the local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a non-profit civil rights and advocacy organization for Muslims.
 
The two years I spent as a part of the Philadelphia Muslim community and an employee of CAIR-PA was a tremendous learning experience that really spurred my development and whetted my appetite for more.
 
And that leads me to where I am now, an Islamic chaplaincy student at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, pursuing its combined Masters of Arts in Islamic studies, Christian-Muslim relations and Graduate Certificate in Islamic chaplaincy.

Maurice Alexander Gent, Ex-Christian, UK
 
Whilst working as a civil servant in London, he met a Muslim lady who later became his wife.  She had been brought up as a Muslim, but was not practicing her religion.  Nevertheless, she had enough faith to insist that her future husband embrace Islam before marrying him.  After living several years as a notional Muslim, not having the slightest idea about praying, fasting or about the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, he attended a Muslim study circle with an idea of getting an academic knowledge of Islam to impart to his son.
 
On listening to the obvious, plain and simple truth of Islamic teachings, he became fascinated with this great religion.  He started to practice it and from there took it to his wife.  Their life was transformed from weak belief to a life dedicated to worshipping God alone.
 
Sufyaan has organized several weekend conferences and Islamic exhibitions and is currently involved with the Islamic Society of Britain.
 
“Before I became aware of Islam I had a strong belief in God, but I could not find an exact expression of that belief in any of the churches I attended.  There always seemed to me to be a hypocrisy about churchgoers, a sanctimonious ‘holier than thou’ attitude which contradicted the kind loving nature that I saw in Jesus.  I could never understand why you needed to go through Jesus or a priest or vicar to get to God.  It seemed like taking insurance through a broker, providing work for someone but not getting anything extra in return.
 
“I tried to live as I felt a Christian should live, caring for my family, working hard, trying to be honest, and not interfering with others.  Then, in 1977, I met my future wife, who was a student in London, where I lived at that time.
 
“She explained to me the Islamic belief that there is none worthy of worship but Allah and that all Prophets were simply telling the same simple truth, that there was only one God and that mankind was born to worship Him.  She explained that there was no difference between working and praying, as everything was an act of worship to be carried out according to God’s will.
 
Consequently, I gladly accepted Islam in 1977 and we were married.  However, my lifestyle did not change, I just went on living as I had before the Shahadah ( the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is His Messenger), and this state of affairs continued until 1987.  It was then that I started reading about Islam with a view to trying to teach my son about his religion before he started school.  He was about three years old at that time.
 
When I began to read I realized how I had not been fulfilling my obligations to my creator.  I thought that by declaring “There is none worthy of worship but Allah” I had done enough.  Very soon I started to realize that I had to pray, fast, pay Zakat, go on pilgrimage when I could afford it, and become part of the Muslim community.
 
So, Alhamdulilaah, (“all praise be to God”), I started to do these things.  It was, as stated in the Glorious Quran, as if the “Scales were lifted from my eyes.” Now, I long for the time for prayer, I love the month of Ramadhaan, I gladly pay Zakaat, and I performed Hajj in 1992, all thanks to God.
 
It is difficult not to get bloated with your own importance as a new Muslim.  You get used to being given special treatment by your Muslim brothers, and this is something we should try and avoid, as there is no difference between the believers.  The devil will try to exploit human weakness and make you think you are special, and so we must pray to avoid this trap.
 
I look forward to the time when the Muslims take the message of Islam to the non-Muslims here.  We must lead by example, as we are the best of nations so we must behave as such.
 
Through honesty, truthfulness, polite behavior and caring for all humanity is how Islam spread in the beginning.  We must get out of a ghetto mentality and we must also avoid the other extreme of becoming so anglicized that we lose Islam altogether.
 
Islamic teachings show us that everything is in balance; we must make our presence felt by helping to provide a moral lead to society, but at the same time keep an Islamic identity as opposed to a nationalistic one.
 
Now, as a Muslim, I cannot understand the attractions of pubs, discos, nightclubs, expensive holidays and so on.  If you are amongst a community of believers you derive your pleasure from sitting with them, discussing the wonders of our Creator, or by enjoying with your family and doing things together, living in a closely knit environment of mutual love and respect.  Non-Muslim households miss these benefits with everyone in the family looking for their own personal enjoyment.
 
And praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds!

James Farrell, Ex-Catholic, USA
I can remember, throughout my childhood, all the times my parents fought over money issues, living situations and the like.  I remember living in the project homes on the South Central side of Chicago with almost nothing to eat.  With a family of 10 it was hard for my father to support the family in the most desirable fashion.  My father was a hard working man, although he spent most of his time drinking away our family income and beating my mom, I still love my father.  My father comes from Irish and German background; he has a sort of ‘back home’ old-fashion way of living.  Whenever he would come home drunk or just upset about something he would come to me and my younger brother and lay it out on us until he had nothing else to do.  Many times I could not even walk or breathe from all of the blows.  Of course I had to be the one who got it most because I was older and any rap my brother gave I would take his whack as well.  This was most of my childhood.
 
Then came my teenage years.  With everything happening around me, such as girlfriends, flings, boozing, bars, drugs, etc.  I just could not allow myself to be a part in any of it.  It just didn’t feel right.  My brother was one of the biggest drug dealers in Chicago.  Many a day he would bring his stash home to sell locally.  He knew my views on the whole idea and when he left one day, I took about $1,000 of drugs he had stashed away and flushed it down the toilet.  When he found out, I swear, he wanted to kill me; and he would have if he had the chance.  Of course I was the one who my parents took it out on because I was older and I should have taught him better.
 
That made me realize how fragile life can be. I didn’t want to die an idiot so I began studying anything and everything. I couldn’t take my face out of a book unless I put it in another.  You have to realize something about my family, they are very competitive toward one another.  Once they see the other person advancing they want to stop you in your tracks and allow you to go no further.  My parents had mixed feelings of my personal studies.  They were worried that I might become brainwashed or follow some cult.  They were right in one thing, I became a Nazi in 1994.  I loved the fact that Hitler had thousands of people under his control.  It made me feel important...like I was somebody.  My father was pleased with the whole idea.  Back in the 60’s when Martin Luther King Jr. was getting everyone fired up about his ‘dream’ my father was planning on getting rid of all of the blacks in the Chicago land area.  In fact when Martin Luther King Jr. had marched through Marquette Park and Sherman Park on the South West side, my father had formed a gang, (the gang) that not only threw the blacks out but also caused a white against black war.  That day my father hit Martin Luther King in the nose with a brick and to this day he brags about it.  Shortly after this incident Charles Manson and his crazy family were starting their secret mission.  He was another who I admired and wanted to be like.  While in the Nazi’s I had witnessed the 60’s all over again.  I was there when they organized the attack on the little 11 year old black boy walking in a white neighborhood in Chicago (around 1997).  They would have killed him but they wanted to leave a sign.  Upon seeing these things I knew that I didn’t fit in anymore.
 
In 1995 I had met the first girl I could ever say I had loved.  Even though I had a perfect opportunity to do whatever I wanted with her, I didn’t.  I couldn’t allow myself to be completely intimate with someone who I wasn’t married to.  A few months afterward I had proposed to her and for a little over 3 years we remained engaged with out being sexually active.  We both understood that more problems would occur.  Being with this woman I was able to become who I wanted to be.  I studied and studied and began to realize my life and it’s purpose.  I knew that I was missing something, I mean I really knew but I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I would not give up searching.
 
The more I read the more my parents were drawn back.  As I had pointed out that my family is very competitive they began mentally attacking me with how bad a child I was and how ungrateful a person I am for their shelter and food they supply me with.  My parents never graduated from high school, in fact they both only made it through the 8th grade and dropped out in the 9th.  Therefore their education is obviously limited.  All they know is what they see on TV and see from the behavior of people.  I have to admit, from my parents raising me the way they did, I honor their discipline and give them absolute gratitude for what they did for me. They forced me to become a man. I had my first job at the age of 12.
 
At the age of 13 I was working full time making just as much as they.  By the age of 16 I had my 1st apartment.  I cooked, cleaned, washed my own laundry, did my own shopping and was preparing myself to get married.  From the point of view that my parents judged people by their actions, I agreed with them and I still do.  But that caused me to hate Muslims and Islam.  I swear I really hated Muslims like you would not believe.  Many say it is due to the media, well yes, it is a part of the madness, but mostly it is the own fault of the Muslims.  The Muslims are the ones who have destroyed the reputation of Islam to a point that others hate us and we don’t even know what we believe in anymore.  It’s sad but true.  I have to tell you that most immigrants who enter into this country to make money are the number one accusers of spoiling the true image of Islam.
 
In 1997 my fiancée had given me the Quran as a gift, simply because I loved to read.  Just to show you how much I hated the Muslims, I fought with her and because of that fight, we had separated for quite some time.  Eventually I had picked it up and began reading it.  I can remember that very day.  The house was crystal clean, the air was soft and sweet and the lighting was dim and perfect for reading.  It was the translation from Abdullah Yusuf Ali.  I read his introduction, the first 3 pages, and I began to cry like a baby.  I cried and cried and I couldn’t help myself.  I knew that this was what I was looking for and I wanted to beat myself to death for not finding it earlier.  I just knew in my heart how magical it was.  This was not the Islam I knew.  This was not the Arab thing I was taught to think was dirty.  This was my life wrapped up in a few pages.  Every page told my life.  I was reading my soul and it felt good, but regretful.  After this I had reunited with my fiancée and we discussed the whole matter maturely.  Shortly afterward we both accepted Islam and were willing to live our lives as Muslims, even if it meant separately.
 
When my parents found out all hell broke loose.  My father had threatened to take my life.  He said, “You were born Catholic and so help me God I will make sure you die Catholic!” My mother’s reaction was similar.  I wanted to go to college more than anything, I wanted a formal education.  So I got a job and paid my way through furthering my education in college.  At that point my parents began flipping out over my conversion and my mother threw me out of the house which caused me to remain living in the streets for 6 months.  I ate out of garbage cans and I slept in the coldest nights through the blizzard of ‘99.  I walked miles to be with Muslims.  I was chased out of neighborhoods by police officers for going into black neighborhoods attending Jummah prayer.  I was pelted with rocks, spat on, harassed, etc.  I just wanted to be with Muslims.
 
After some time I met a friend who made a deal with me.  He said, “If you can build us a masjid in our muffler shop, you can stay there until you find a place.” I agreed.  The muffler shop had a second floor area, about 2000 square feet for storage.  Every day I had spent hours on removing inventory supplies and garbage.  Within one month I had utilized half of the space, built a wall, added a window, installed a door, put in some carpeting, painted and opened up the first Muffler shop masjid in the city of Chicago.  I had learned the carpentry trait from my uncle. It was my first full time job.
 
Around 6 months later I had maintained a good job and moved in with two friends.  My old fiancée was out of the picture by now. We had agreed to live our lives as Muslims, not as fools.  I loved her more than anyone I had ever loved.  But being Muslim was far more important than being with a person.  In 1999 I had become the President of the Muslims Student Association at my college.  I was attending Halaqat (knowledge circles) daily, going to seminars, I had a mentor, and I built a relationship with my ex-enemies; Muslims.
 
In 2000 I was on my way to Hajj.  An experience I will never forget.  I had visited Medina and other neighboring areas.  The one thing I had realized at Hajj was the truth about God and the history of Islam.  We can only go back in time so far and we can only rely on what text books tell us about people and places.  In Mecca and Medina I had seen with my very own eyes the magic of Islam’s great history.  It was as if I was living the history.  I felt the Hadith come to life.  I saw the Sahabah in the mountain tops.  I smelt the Battle of Badr.  I tasted the air the prophet once breathed.  I felt the real Islam that each and everyone of us are destroying.
 
Although I am alone, without a wife or a family to call my own, I know Islam is life, not a way of life but life itself.  I understand that Islam is not a religion, because religion can be pluralized. I understand that Islam cannot be judged by the actions of Muslims, Muslims can only be judged through Islam.  I have been given a great opportunity to become who I am and who I am is no one no higher or less than each and every one else.  I was given the opportunity to acquire my dream job.  I have always wanted to work for relief work and helping people, as much as my past contradicts the fact, but it’s true.  I now work for Global Relief Foundation; it’s where I have been for over a year now.
 
As much as I fed you with words of my life, nothing can explain my heart. I have only mentioned a few of the many obstacles I have faced. I know that many of you have faced so much more.  My purpose of telling you this is to say that I understand the difficulties many are going through.  Waslamu Alaykum.

Walter Gomez, Ex-Christian, USA
My conversion to Islam has alarmed many friends and family members.  It seems to them strange and odd for a Latino like me to become a Muslim.  Catholic and Protestantism are the leading religions in Latin America so these are reasonable religions for any Latin American to convert to, but when my family follows either Catholic or Protestant domination’s, why Islam? Well my conversion to Islam was not introduced to me by any family member, like most of my family members, whose parent’s ideas of life were given to them and they adhere to that as truth, without searching.  The journey to God is a beautiful road that was given to the Prophets from God, to us humans.  The Prophets are our ways, and that’s the way I follow.
 
My story begins at my birthplace, El Salvador, a beautiful tropical country located in Central America, filled with exotic, delicious, and tasty fruits.  The people are warm and welcoming to others, and they have a very intimate culture.  Our culture is a crossroads of the mingling of many rich cultures.  If you mingle Spanish, Arab intellect with the African tangy taste of rhymes, and the Native Indians love of the earth, you get the beautiful people of El Salvador.
 
I was born in 1975, from middle class of the poor, yes we were poor but we had an abundance of food.  My father was a farmer, whose family had bought a lot of cheap land, so they were well off and my mother was from a very humble, poor family who lived by fishing and working for others to get by.  Their families opposed the marriage because one was poor and the other very poor.  So my father did what most do, elope with my mother to my grandfather’s house, even if my grandfather didn’t like it.  Later, both families became fine with it and a house was given to my father by my grandfather, were I was born.  The house was an old adobe house.
 
My father came to America in 1978, to make some quick money and he kept coming and going back for a period of 4 years until he bought a cargo truck with his brother and worked for a while.  Then he felt the urge again to come back and since the war began, he felt scared for himself and me.  In 1983, he left El Salvador again but with intentions to bring the family and stay for good.  So after my father left, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather who was a Protestant. I used to listen to the Biblical readings and I used to love looking at the pictures in the Bible.  I used to ask, “does anyone still dress like the people drawn in the bible, with long robes, turban and beards” and they replied “No” it was long-time ago.  I was fascinated with Noah, Moses, Abraham, and particular with Jesus.  I had this immense hunger to find people like Jesus, the way he spoke in the Bible and the way he dressed, his beautiful beard brought mystery and he looked very wise.  I never saw this in my family who were very religious or anybody in the two Christian branches.
 
In 1984 my father sent a letter to my mother telling her come to America, and to bring me too.  When my mother told me about it, I felt sick and destroyed.  Because I felt that I was in paradise and I didn’t want leave.  I cried almost everyday pleading with my mother to leave me with grandpa, but my words were not heard.
 
We left El Salvador in August, and I did enjoy the trip to America but it was very hard for my mom.  My two sisters stayed with my aunt in San Salvador the capital of El Salvador.  We arrived in the National Airport of Washington D.C. three weeks after we left El Salvador.
 
After spending time here in America I found out that religions are thrown away by society and are considered private, and not a way of life.  I didn’t feel the love of God as I did in El Salvador, but still tried to keep Him in my heart.  Most of my desires of God in my life were gone in America. I went to regular schools from second grade to High school, but my thirst for religion began at High school.
 
In 1990, my first year in High School, what a joy!!! I was so happy the first day, and my cousin Ana warned me to be careful because seniors threw freshmen in lockers, but I didn’t care I was happy.  Surely, soon I found out that seniors weren’t the ones who beat and threw freshmen in lockers but it was the football team.  The football team was not interested in freshmen only but in Latinos in general.  We were terrorized so bad that we used to hide in bathrooms when we saw one of them coming! These guys were 6′5″ tall when most of Latinos are 5′6″!  In the middle of the year we formed a Gang to protect ourselves from the football team, and we were becoming really crazy, at one point the football team tried to offer an apology to us, but we were having fun and we didn’t want to stop.
 
We started going to clubs, drinking, using drugs, and of course women were not excluded.  This period of time was the most dangerous in my life.  We used to fight for stupid things.  I almost got shot on the metro (train) in Washington D.C. for a stupid argument between my friend and some young kids.  The kids started shooting at me like I was the one arguing with them, and a bullet went by my head barely touching my hair.  This was crazy and we went after the guys who shot at us, and they got beat up really bad.  Twenty minutes later, I felt a drawling rush in my whole body and felt like I was superman! It felt like a dream and I thought that if my friends found out they would really respect me! When I told them about the incident, none of them believed it.  In another incident at a nightclub, we had the biggest fight ever.  The fight was so serious that many of my friends left the gang that we belonged to.  Three of my friends got stabbed badly inside the club, so a group of us went outside looking for them, and the cops separated us into subgroups. The cops showed up right in time, because I felt death on my throat.  They could easily have stabbed me or killed me, and I looked up in the sky and said, “My Lord save me, and I will serve you.” One of my friends got thrown from a bridge and broke his hand while others got away.
 
That same friend who was with me at the train shooting and the nightclub started to become more aware of life.  After this incident, he started learning about different doctrines.  His philosopher was Carl Marx, his sociology was communism, and his theology was Islam.  To me, he was becoming unaware of life, and I myself started to search but in the Protestant church.  I found myself becoming religious again, once again praying to God for guidance.  However, I didn’t want to become too religious because I knew my family would ridicule me.  I had always been a person that looked uninterested in life.  My friend started preaching about his thoughts and beliefs and I told him that my love for Protestant church was growing so that he would leave me alone.  I told him Jesus is my teacher; not a black man named Elijah Muhammad or Farrakhan.
 
My friend at that time was confused what the true Islam was. His Islam looked weird to me.  He believed that Nation of Islam was the true Islam; he did not know the differences, that the real Islam was not racist like Nation of Islam was.
 
I did accept his socialist belief in Communism and “Che” Guevara, and Fidel Castro became our Leaders for world modernization.  At the same time, I was not too happy, for Communism denounced God’s existence.  He pushed on about Islam, telling me to read his Koran, so I did.  I was amazed to see Jesus, Moses, Abraham, and many more Prophets of the Bible in this Koran.  He told me “We believe Jesus is a Prophet of God, not the son of God or God himself” and immediately responded that I believe in the same.  He said, “Your church believes that Jesus is God and the Son of God and they make up the Trinity,” I said to him that is not my belief in Jesus and God.  That made me think a lot more about Christianity and the Protestant church of their Triune god, because I never knew that Jesus was considered this even though I did go to church.  I felt confused but happy that there was a religion that had what I believed in.
 
In 1995, I went to work at a cafeteria at a University, a year after I graduated from High school.  At work, I saw so many cultures and different religious people.  I still had hate towards non-Latinos, yet my first week at work a group of students came to buy some stuff at the store I worked at, and they were fighting amongst each other, that everyone wanted to pay.  This incident was very touching to me because I was a very giving person yet my friends took advantage of that quality.  All the people in that group who came into the store wanted to pay for the others.  I asked one of them later that week, why Middle Eastern people were so generous amongst each other? He replied, “See, we owe it to Islam because Islam teaches us to be generous, some of us don’t practice that much but Islamic manners are imbedded in our hearts.” This statement moved me.  I told him that I used to study Islam for political reasons.  He asked, “Why did you stop?” I told him that I didn’t know where to get more information about Islam.  He looked at me with joy and he said I have an American Muslim friend that converted six months ago.  The next day they came to visit me, and I saw this white male dressed like the people in the Bible and looked like Jesus.  My heart felt this peaceful calm feeling that I still feel.  He started asking me about my health, my family and my work.  He didn’t mention anything about religion.  I was so happy that I told him to come every time he could to teach me. For two months, Muslims were coming to me with books, pamphlets, and just to talk.  It went on for two and half months and the place got closed during the summer.  So for two months I just relaxed and partied all summer. However, I started to feel guilty while drinking.  When I felt that way, I used to prostrate in forgiveness.  In September, I went to a party with my friends and I really got drunk that night and almost got into a fight, but my friend reminded me that I was studying Islam, so I stopped and asked him if we could go home.  The next day, at 9:00 in the morning I woke up with this disgusting feeling and the phone rang.  It was my friend from the University.  I told him to please pick me up and take me to the Mosque.  He came like a lighting flash to my house.  I was nervous and happy at same time.  We arrived at this beautiful Mosque, Darul-Al-Hijra, in northern Virginia ten minutes away from my house.  At 10:00 a.m.  the teacher came, very calm, and not pushing and asked me if I believed that God is One, I said, “Yes.” He asked if I believed that Jesus was a Prophet and the son Mary? I said, “Yes.” Do you believe that Muhammad is the Last Prophet of God, in doubts, I replied “Yes.” At that moment in doubts of Muhammad, I said to myself, “If I believe in the teachings of Islam, I must be a fool not to accept in the one who brought it, I told the teacher that I was ready to became a Muslim (in submission to God); He told me to repeat:
 
“Ashadu anla ilaha ilallah Wa ashadu ana Muhammadan Rasululah”
 
“I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship than Allah and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
 
“ Yo atestiguo que no hay nada digno de adoraci que Alah y Atestiguo que Mujammad es el Profeta de Alah”
 
At this point, I could smell the mercy and the sweetness of heaven, felt the presence of God in my torn, sick heart.  I felt brightness in my new way of life.  My life was ready for the next journey on earth, the journey to Paradise.
 
All Praises are due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds that He has invited me to Islam, from among billions of people in the earth to be a Muslim.  I am very thankful to Allah for giving me the chance to perform Umrah in 1997.

Ibrahim, Ex-Catholic, USA
A time comes in everyone’s life, or at least I hope it comes, when they realize that they have to not only believe what they believe in, whatever it may be, but get out there and proclaim it to the world.  Luckily, that time came early for me.  I am 17, and Islam is the belief that I’m proclaiming.
 
I was raised Catholic.  Not internally as much as externally.  I went to Catholic Sunday school, called CCD, but the Catholic view of God never played a major roll in my childhood.  It was a Sunday thing.  Anyhow, I started to enjoy Mass around 7th grade.  It made me feel good to do the right thing.  I was always a rather moral person, but I never really studied the fundamentals of Catholicism.  I just knew that I felt good worshipping my creator.
 
I really liked Catholicism, but I always saw it as us (the Catholics) with Jesus worshipping God, not us worshipping God and Jesus as one.  I saw Jesus (peace be upon him) as my example on how to be a good follower of and submitter to God’s will, but not as God himself.
 
Before I was confirmed in 8th grade, in the fall of 1999, I learned a lot about what Catholicism was.  The Catholicism of the Church had a lot on viewing Jesus as God in it.  Nothing like my “undivided God being worshipped by me with Jesus as an example” train of thought.  It was like they just opened up a can of cold, illogical confusion and tried to feed it to me.  It didn’t feel right.
 
I continued with Catholic church, and kept on worshipping.  But I talked to many in the church about my feelings that Jesus wasn’t God but more of a Prophet, an example.  They told me that I had to accept him as God and as a sacrifice, and so on.  I just wasn’t buying it.  I tried to buy it but I guess God withhold the sale for my own benefit.  There was a better car out there for me.  I continued at the church.
 
Sometime in mid-December of 1999, for no reason that I can recall I started reading up on Islam in encyclopedias.  I remember making a list of bolded words in the entry for “Islam” in an old 1964 Grolier World Book that I found in my closet, and studying them.  For some reason I was amazed by this faith and that it was all about God and that it was everything that I believed all my life - right here.  Previously, I had accepted that there was no faith like I felt inside of me.  But I was amazed that I had found this faith.  I found out that “my” faith had a name, and millions of other adherents!
 
Without ever reading a Qur’an or talking to another Muslim, I said shahada (declaring your belief in no god but God) on 31 December 1999.  As the months passed, I learned more.  I went through many periods of confusion, happiness, doubt and amazement.  Islam took me on an enlightening tour of me, everyone else, and God.
 
The transition was slow.  I was still attending Mass five months into my change of faith.  Each time I went, I felt more and more distant from the congregation, but closer and closer to God and the Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him.
 
During Ramadan 2001, the second time I fasted (the first year, I converted during Ramadan and did not fast), I went to the library during lunch period.  It was better than sitting at a table with my friends, because I got work done in the library.  I swear my grades went up.  Anyways, I started talking to the only other Muslim at my school, John.  We talked about Islam a little more each day.  He’s an awesome brother and he took me to the mosque on the last Friday of Ramadan.  Going was one of the best things I ever made in my life.  God really answered my prayers this time.  I thought I would be nervous, but I wasn’t at all.  It was the most natural thing I ever did in my life.  I felt home.  I realized something before leaving.  As I sat there on the floor, praying to God, I realized that the room was full of others but it was OK.  See, at home when someone asks me what I am doing, I never say I am praying.  I never admit it to anyone.  It is too awkward.  But there, at the masjid, I was praying to God in front of a score of other Muslims and I felt perfectly fine.  Better than fine! I felt secure and safe.  It was the most liberating thing since I accepted God into my heart that cold New Year’s Eve almost two years ago.
 
I never told my parents right out.  In fact, I don’t plan to.  The most significant clue that I gave came around 1:00 AM on 16 December 2001, when I finally told my dad I was going to the mosque in the morning with a friend when he asked me why I was setting my alarm.  He told me how he can’t wait for me to move out of the house, how displeased he is with me and how stupid the choices I make are to him.  I never told them straight out because I figured it was best to test the waters by revealing clues bit by bit; I didn’t want to send a shockwave through the family.  I can only imagine what my dad would do if he knew I was actually a practicing Muslim.  He seems to hate my guts just for studying the faith, which he thinks is all I am doing.  I understand that my dad is a depressed man, so I don’t really hold this all against him.  I mean, it is his fault for thinking himself so smart that he doesn’t need God.  That thought is what got him so depressed.  But I don’t think he realized how hard one’s heart can be when you deny your human need for a relationship with your Creator.  So I don’t hold it all against him.  He didn’t know what he was getting into.  My mom doesn’t know that I am a Muslim, but at least she hasn’t shown her anger over me going to the mosque.  She is upset over it but never told me that I displease her, at least.  As God commands, I’ll continue to try my best to be nice to my parents as long as they don’t attempt to take away my Islam.  The best thing that I can do for them is to be a good example so that maybe one day, inshallah, they can see that there is a better way of living than living in the dark world of God-denial.
 
I’ve never been to the Mid-East, but I am studying Islam every day. Right now, I am 100% a Muslim and that will never change, Inshallah.  I thank God that I’ve gone through so many periods of doubt.  When I look back I see that it was not God leaving me but God telling me that it was time that I asked myself how much I loved God, and what I was willing to go through to understand my faith.  A week of crying, depression, prayer, reading to the extreme, and ignoring most other things in life sounds harsh...but the reward - knowing so much more about yourself, God, and the relationship between you (Islam) - is worth more than any material things.  Through my interrogation of Islam I gained God’s most precious gift - Islam.  I’ve heard Christians say that with Christianity you “know God on a personal level.” In Islam, your relationship with God is so much deeper than that.  God is with me every moment, guiding me, teaching me, loving me, protecting me, liberating me, enlightening me, comforting me...  Alhamdulilah for Islam!
 
Islam has done a lot for me.  More than I could have ever guessed.  And every day, it just gets better.  I went from living my life on a trial-and-error basis to embracing guidance, and now knowing what the best choices are for me to make.  From seeking who I am and spending a life in confusion, I am being guided.  I can’t find the words to say what its like, but I’ll try again: God reveals to me what life is.  I don’t have to guess anymore.

Sa’ad Laws, Ex-Christian, USA
I have often been asked how I came to Islam.  I mean, it isn’t too often you see a white guy from “cow country” turn to Islam.  I guess the most amazing thing about the whole thing is where I started.  Now, I am not one of those stories of brothers who you hear were in gangs, addicted to crack, or worshiped devils at stone altars.  I come from quite a typical background.  I have two sisters; a brother; and both my parents are still married.  My father is an engineer; while my mother is a housewife (or domestic engineer, as she likes to say) and we are as middle-class as you can get.  My family lives in a small country hamlet, just to the south of nowhere.  To give you a glimpse of how rural it is, there is a general store about a mile from my house, where the lady who runs it say “ya’ll come back now, ya hear” when ever you leave the store.
 
Religion was always a strange subject in my house.  My father is an Irish-Catholic by birth and my mom is a Methodist.  We went to church on occasion, but for the most part, religion was a “spiritual” matter that you just had in your heart.  I can remember as a kid looking at a small figurine of Jesus (which I had “borrowed” from the family nativity set) and wondering why do we go to “number two” when we pray or want something?  Why don’t we just go to “number one”, God?  Growing up, the whole concept of the trinity never made since to me, but since I lived in a spiritual Christian family, this wasn’t really an issue.
 
As I got older and entered high school, I quickly noticed that I was a bit different.  In my school, like in most schools in America, there were basically four groups with whom you could be associated: the “Alternative”, the “preps”, the “crack-heads” or the African-Americans (being that 90% of the county I grew up in was white, they ended up being somewhat alienated and kept to themselves).  Then there was me.  I have to say looking back now, that this was one of the blessings of Allah.  I very much feel like Allah was protecting me from all sorts of things which, had gotten involved in them, could have brought me down later on.  For example, I was always in search of a “girlfriend”, much like any other typical high schooler.  However, whenever the situation presented itself for me to take advantage of, I always found myself overwhelmed with shyness and I wasn’t able to do anything, not even move my lips.  I am extremely grateful for this now, even if I wasn’t then.
 
Although I hung out with the “Alternative” group, I never really felt like I fit in.  They liked to talk about music, trash their friends, and do drugs or some other mindless pastime.  I, on the other hand, was interested in the Black Panthers, Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.  This made me look a little odd to say the least and I received more than a few tags as being a “Black wannabe”.  It was at this time, while in the eleventh grade, that I began to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the ultimate anti-white leader, or so I was told.  I read his book, and the more I read it, the more I couldn’t put it down; his story was amazing to me.  He came from nothing and then…there he was.
 
But, it was the chapter entitled “Mecca” that would have the most profound effect on me.  In it, he told his story of how he was affected by the generosity and compassion of, not only the Muslims he met while making the Hajj, but also by Islam itself.  I read that and thought to myself, “who are these guys?”  So, I went to the school library and started to check out every book that I could about Islam.  I was amazed at what I read; here they believed in the same principals I has found so innate within myself.  They said that there was only One God, that Jesus was not his son, but a rightly guided Messenger and Prophet.  I was taken aback.  I knew that whatever this “Islam thing” was, I needed to be a part of it.
 
At that time I considered myself a Muslim.  If you had asked me what my religion was, I would have said Islam.  I hadn’t taken my official shahada mind you, but in my heart I was a Muslim.  I was a bit naïve at that point though.  I knew that Muslims were supposed to pray, but I didn’t know how many times, or how to pray and so on.  I didn’t know much, and there wasn’t anyone for me to learn from at that point.  I was just kind of walking around saying “hey, I’m Muslim”.  It was then that I got the jump-start that I needed.  A friend of mine got a bit agitated by me saying I was a Muslim all the time (I was a bit over zealous at this point) and said that I wasn’t really Muslim.  “You don’t even pray,” he told me.  I thought to myself, you know what…he’s right.  I knew I needed to take this being a Muslim thing a step further.  That’s where I ran into a problem.
 
Who were these Muslims?  I didn’t know a Muslim or where to meet any.  There wasn’t exactly a mosque down the block from my house you have to understand.  You could have literally found gold more easily than a Muslim where I lived.  So, I searched the phone book and came across a mosque in Washington D.C.  But, that was unfortunately about two and a half hours away and might as well have been two thousand miles away.  When I first called them I was so nervous.  Here I was about to talk to a Muslim!  They were very pleased by my enthusiasm towards Islam and my eagerness at becoming a Muslim.  But, they wanted me to come to the mosque.  This would of course be a problem.
 
At the time I was still in high school and under the reign of my parents, who also controlled my extended whereabouts, especially since it was the family vehicle that I was driving.  My chances of getting that car for a trip to D.C.  were slim at best.  What was I going to do?  I couldn’t get to the Muslims, so how was I going to be a Muslim.  I asked them if they could come down here, but that was to no avail.  I needed to do this now; I couldn’t just sit around for another year or two with this.  It was after much prodding that I finally convinced the brother to let me take my shahada right then and there, on the phone.  I guess that might have been a first…conversion by phone.
 
So, that is how I came to Islam.  I can truly say now, looking back on the whole story, that I was overwhelmingly blessed by the way Allah guided me to Islam.  I look back now and see my old friends from high school and how lost they are.  Then I look at myself.  I mean I know that I have more than a few rough edges and that I have much improving to do, not only as a Muslim, but also as a person in general.  But, I can’t help but feel a bit awed that I was guided and that Allah picked me to be guided and out of where?  Nowhere.
 
I look back and I think…what was it that guided me?  What could have led me to this?  This “religion of the Arabs”, that was so foreign to me that I would have needed a passport just to get in.  Then I realized that what happened to me was from Allah and that He alone has guided me.  I feel kind of awestruck when I think of it.  I mean, I don’t know why, but Allah picked me for this religion of guidance.  I feel like I have been saved from the Hell fire and plucked from the ashes.  It is this, my being guided to Islam by Allah and Allah alone, which is the greatest blessing that I have ever received.

Steven Barboza, Ex-Catholic, USA
This African American former Catholic found spiritual peace and fulfillment in orthodox Islam having investigated and rejected the racist ideology of the Nation of Islam.
 
My abandonment of Roman Catholicism was spawned by a premature death, my mother’s at age 49, on the day before my 22nd birthday.  I prayed like crazy for God to spare her, and when He did not, I established a new line of communication.  I called God Allah and prayed with my palms cupped and my eyes wide open. Given the irony and absurdity of events in racially torn Boston, where I lived, Islam was a godsend.  A few months after my mother’s death, whites assaulted a black man in front of Boston City Hall, using as one weapon a flagpole with an American flag attached.  With that attack and my mother’s death, a lifetime of frustrations reached the breaking point.
 
My odyssey 26 years ago was not unlike that of hundreds of thousands of blacks in the United States.  The journey became my jihad--literally “struggle”--waged not for political power or economic enfranchisement but for control over my own soul.
 
Christianity did not offer a complete way of life the way Islam did.  Attending mass once a week and calling it religion failed to satisfy my spiritual needs.  Islam offered a code of conduct on how to run my daily life and how to communicate with God.  Prostrating in prayer five times a day as a Muslim offered me more solace than I had ever found kneeling before a crucifix.
 
In 1974, as now, in the Roxburys and Harlems across America, only liquor stores outnumbered churches in vying for blacks’ attention, and in my opinion, both stupefied millions of black Americans.
 
Islam, as I was familiar with it, seemed the perfect way to fight back.  As a religion, it offered clear-cut guidelines for living; as a social movement, it stood for a pride born of culture and discipline.
 
Before my mom died, I had dipped into Malcolm X’s autobiography.  After she passed, I plunged into it.  Malcolm had undergone a metamorphosis: from hoodlum to cleaned-up spokesman for the Nation of Islam and finally a convert to orthodox Islam, and through his own transformation he had shown that change, even from the most miserable beginnings, was possible.
 
Of course, Malcolm’s life and mine were very different.  He had discovered Islam in prison.  I discovered it in college.  He was the spokesman for a black theocratic visionary.  I held down a mid-level white-collar job in a Fortune 500 company.  Still, I felt a kinship with Malcolm and the Black Muslims.  The color of our skin made us all cargo in a sinking ship, and Islam beckoned like a life preserver.
 
Two and a half decades ago in Boston and New York, however, there were few orthodox mosques.  In black neighborhoods, one institution, the Nation of Islam, dominated in the teaching of Islam, or, rather, a homegrown version of it.  Many blacks who converted took to the Nation’s teachings--its admonitions to self-love and racial solidarity, its belief in productivity and entrepreneurship.  And with equal ardor, they also took to the Nation’s other teachings--its racial chauvinism and belief that white people were genetically inferior, intrinsically evil “blue-eyed devils” who had been created to practice “tricknology” against blacks.
 
Using the twin motivators of myth and pride, Elijah Muhammad built the Nation into one of the largest black economic and religious organizations American had seen.  It claimed a heavyweight boxing champion the whole world adored, Muhammad Ali.  Its women looked like angels in their veils, crisp white jackets, and ankle-length skirts; its men cut no-nonsense yet gallant figures in their smart dark suits and trademark bow ties.  But sitting in the Nation’s Roxbury temple was like being on a jury listening to a closing argument.  The defendants (in absentia): white folks.  The prosecutor: a dapper minister who practically spat, saying whites were so utterly devilish that their religion was grotesquely symbolized by a “symbol of death and destruction”--the crucifix.  The charge: perpetrating dastardly deeds on blacks “in the name of Christianity.” The verdict: guilty.
 
I barely lasted my one visit.  To me, demonizing the “enemy” as the Nation did hardly seem the best way to learn to “love thyself.” Anyway, I abhorred the idea of colorizing God, or limiting godly attributes to one race.  And though Elijah deserved credit for redeeming legions of blacks from dope and crime when all else, including Christianity, had failed them, I didn’t believe that earned him the title of Allah’s “messenger.”
 
So I moved to New York and became an orthodox Muslim in the manner all converts do: I declared before Muslim witnesses my belief in Allah and my faith that the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was His very last messenger.  I entered a Sunni mosque and prostrated myself on rugs beside people of all ethnicities.
 
Here was what I deemed a truer Islam--the orthodoxy to which Malcolm had switched, the one most of Elijah’s followers opted for when the Nation of Islam waned after his death, the Islam to which most of America’s 135,000 annual converts, 80% to 90% of them black, belong.
 
On a plane to Senegal I sat next to a black American wearing a traditional Arab robe.  The man was headed to meet an imam, his spiritual leader, a black African Muslim.  I later met other black Americans who had spent years in Africa studying Islam.  Through research, I found that up to 35 percent of enslaved blacks brought to the New World were Muslim.  In converting, many black Americans may have been simply returning to the religion of their forefathers.
 
Over the years, I have come to understand what should have been obvious long ago--that Jesus had not forsaken my mother.  She died because God had willed it, regardless of what form my prayers took.
 

Dirk Walter Mosig, Ex-Catholic, Germany
 
At some point in your life, you should pick up a copy of the Quran and read it.  Whether or not you have pre-conceived notions about Islam or what Muslims are about, you should realize that this book, unlike any other book, is a communique from your Creator to you.  It is your duty to read it and ponder over the meanings as Dirk Mosig -a staunch Roman Catholic- did.  He travelled from Germany to Spain to Argentina and came full circle when he found Islam in the form of a Spanish Quran.
 
How was I introduced to Islam?
 
I was born in a German Christian family during the most ferocious part of World War II, in Berlin, in 1943.  My family moved first to Spain, during the same year, and later, in 1948, to Argentina.  There I stayed for 15 years.  I attended my grade and high school at the Roman Catholic "La Salle" school, in Cordoba, Argentina.
 
As was to be expected, very soon I became a fervent Catholic.  I was lectured daily for over an hour on Catholic religion and I often attended religious services.  At twelve, my dream was to become a Roman Catholic priest.  I was completely committed to the Christian faith.
 
God observed my folly, and one memorable day, nearly seven years ago, He permitted that a copy of the Spanish translation of the Noble Qur'an should reach my hands.  My father did not object my reading it, as he supposed that it would only contribute to give me a broader background, and nothing else.  He was far from guessing the effect the Words of God were going to exert on my mind.
 
As I opened the Noble Book, I was a fanatic Roman Catholic; as I closed it, I was completely committed to Islam.
 
Obviously, my opinion of Islam was not a favorable one before I read the Noble Qur'an.  I took the Noble Book with curiosity, and opened it with scorn, expecting to find in it horrible errors, blasphemies, superstitions and contradictions, I was biased, but I was also very young and my heart had no time to harden completely yet.  I went through the Surah (chapters) reluctantly at the beginning, eagerly then, and finally with a desperate thirst for Truth.  Then, in the greatest moment of my life, God gave me His guidance and led me from superstition to Truth, from darkness to Light, from Christianity to Islam.
 
In the blessed pages of the Noble Qur'an, I found solutions to all my problems, satisfaction to all my needs, explication for all my doubts.  God attracted me to His Light with irresistible strength, and I gladly yielded to Him.  Everything seemed clear now, everything made sense to me, and I began to understand myself, the universe and God.
 
I was bitterly aware that I had been deceived by my dearest teachers, and that their words were only cruel lies, whether they were aware of it or not.  My whole world was shattered in one instant; all concepts had to be revised.  But the bitterness in my heart was amply superseded by the ineffable joy of having found my Rabb (Lord, Creator, Provider) at last, and I was filled with life and gratitude to Him.  I still humbly praise and bless Him for His Mercy with me; without His help, I would have remained in darkness and stupidity forever.
 
Swelled with joy and enthusiasm, I hurried to communicate my findings to other people, to my parents, to my schoolmates, to my instructors.  I wanted everybody to know the Truth, to be free of ignorance and prejudice, to feel the joy I felt.  I met a fortress surrounding them, a thick wall separating them from the Truth.  And I was not able to remove that rampart, because it was in their hearts, harder than stone.  I was received with scorn and persecution, unable to understand the blindness of my persecutors.  I learned that only God can give Light.
 
The more I learned, the more I felt compelled to express my gratitude to God for having led me to Islam, the Ideal Religion.
 
I have read sacred Scriptures of every religion; nowhere have I found what I encountered in Islam: perfection.  The Noble Qur'an, compared to any other Scripture I have read, is like the light of the sun compared to that of a match.  I firmly believe that anybody who reads the Word of God with a mind that is not completely closed to Truth, will become a Muslim, if God pleases.  He will also travel from darkness to Light.
 
May God grant His Guidance to all the sincere seekers of Truth.  The arms of Islam are open to receive them in the heart of a community called by God Himself: "the best people that were ever raised for the benefit of mankind."
 
Praise is to God, the Lord of the universe!

Jamal Jordan, Ex-Christian, USA
 
My name is Jamal Jordan, born and raised in South Carolina, USA.  My family raised me Baptist (Christian) and I was an avid, active Christian up until about a month ago when I embraced Islam.
 
I was born down in Florida in 1995 to a family of nothing but Christians.  We then moved to South Carolina, and we currently reside in the region known as “the Bible Belt”.  As the name hints, there is a lot of Christianity around here.  There are churches everywhere, and churches are always holding events and dinners.  Pretty much the whole community is Christian.  Needless to say, I was raised in a Church, and thus adopted the beliefs and never really questioned them.  I enjoyed the Church.   I joined a local youth group and a choir.  I attended many leadership conferences and other seminars, and I eventually obtained a leadership position in my church’s youth.  We launched many mission trips across various under privileged areas to help “spread the good news” and build churches.  I considered myself lucky, and proud to have been a Christian, and not born into any other religion.  Little did I know that we are all born as Muslims.
 
This leads me to the next part, Islam.  Growing up I didn’t know anything about Islam, except that they called God “Allah” and followed a man named Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him).  And the only exposure I had to Islam was the through the media in the wake of 9/11.  I remember my dad telling me that “Muslims are your enemy“.  I didn’t really know what to think, but I avoided Islam all together.  And then a Muslim family moved here from Jordan.  I became friends with the boy who is my age, when we had a class together earlier this year.  When he mentioned that his religion was Islam, I was intrigued, and asked him a few questions.  That’s when I found out that they are very similar to Christians.  This little revelation interested me, but not to the point that I was motivated to study.
 
One day, when traveling to a church conference, I was discussing Islam with another friend of mine, a Christian, and he said that he wanted to read a Quran, so that he could see what it said for himself.  I agreed with him.  While at the conference, I contemplated about how to convert my friend to Christianity.  I came to the conclusion that I would first build a relationship with him, and then start the process.  I continued with this plan for a while actually, but one day I went into my school’s library, and it changed everything.  I saw a book entitled “Islam basic beliefs and teachings” and decided to check it out.  Later at home when I read it, everything I read amazed me for some reason.  There was literally something inside of me making me want to believe what I was reading.  It all made sense.  I read about the prophets, peace be upon them, and the biography of Muhammad, (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him).  Also, the book displayed how to pray, and I thought it was beautiful.  That same day, I did some searches on the internet, and learned all I could about Islam.  I was still a Christian, but whenever I read articles from www.answering-christianity.org, or listened to debates, I found myself pulling for the Muslim side.  At this point, I had already been convinced about Islam, but I still needed background information… So I studied for about 6 months.  I studied every topic in Islam at least twice.
 
At about 5 months in, I was basically a Muslim.  I knew how to pray in Arabic, I had memorized 4 surahs (chapters) of the Quran and I owned 3 copies of the Quran.  But I was still having identity issues.  Eventually I mustered up the courage to go online and convert.  I used the site “Chat Islam online” al-hamdulillah (All praise and thanks are due to God) it was great! The sister I converted with was very nice and helpful, and sent me more valuable information.  And the next day, I told my Muslim friend about my conversion, and he was extremely happy for me.  He welcomed me as a brother, and even got me a prayer mat.   Allah made it easy for me, and for that I am most grateful.
 
Although there is one problem that lurks over me today… I am practicing Islam in secret.  I am only 16, and still live under the jurisdiction of my parents.  They would probably harm me if they found out I converted, not to mention I would be ostracized and maybe disowned.  I have faith that God will guide me and protect me.
 
Anyone considering Islam that is in a position similar to mine should have the same faith, that God will help you out if you embrace Islam.  I hope my story can serve a good purpose for anyone out there who is considering Islam. 

Martin Guevarra Abella, Ex-Catholic, Philippines
I am Martin Guevarra Abella.  I was born in Manila, Philippines in1966 to Catholic parents. I was baptized a Catholic when I was two weeks old!  My family rarely missed Sunday mass and we never failed to observe different Christian, or shall I say “Catholic” activities like Christmas, All Saint’s Day, Holy Week/Easter, etc.  By the time I was 12, I was a devout Catholic. I even attended masses devoted to the “Virgin Mary” on Wednesdays and prayed the “rosary” daily.
 
I was deeply interested in religion and read the Bible cover to cover but it never strengthened my Catholic faith and instead only rocked my faith. I started questioning Catholic practices of worshipping/praying to graven images and having one God with three personas?  I mean, how can 1=3?  I questioned the different sacraments of the Catholic Church like baptism, wedding and mass, for all were completed with their due “fee”Even prayers for the dead and blessings for the dead with a sprinkling of “holy water” were not exempted.
 
I turned to my distant relatives who are priests and nuns and I questioned them about these matters whenever I had the opportunity.  They could not answer my questions and I could see from their eyes that they just simply dismissed me as a “Catholic who sings a different tune, a thorn in the side of an established order.”
 
I questioned the doctrine of limbo regarding the status of unbaptized infants/individuals who die without being freed from “Original Sin” (as Catholics believe). Medical personnel can baptize patients who are in critical condition (near death) and this was believed to be sufficient if the patient/individual dies.  But if the patient survives, he still needs to go to a priest for baptism! Now this did not make sense, how would this be considered in one instance, ‘sufficient’ and in another insufficient?
 
Relatives of the dead who are rich can offer unlimited masses to remove the souls of their loved ones in “Purgatory” (an invention of the Catholic Church) of course for a hefty fee, again, paid to the Church.  This made it possible for the rich to buy his/her way to “Heaven” while the “poor” souls whose relatives cannot afford to pay, is sure to rot in purgatory or much worse go straight to Hell.  Even the tolling of church bells to announce the death of someone in the community has a related fee.
 
When I got married at age 21 and had a family of my own, I ceased to be a Catholic.  I stopped attending masses.  I began my search for the true religion as I no longer believed in the Catholic faith.  This led me to study the faith of those who profess to be Protestant Christians - who believe that mere acceptance of Jesus as your personal Savior will lead you to salvation. Protestants believe that “faith alone” is necessary for salvation.  I find that odd.  Sorry, but I thought that this must be the religion of those too “lazy” to do good deeds for the pleasure of God!
 
I then studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses who insist that God’s name is Jehovah, despite admitting themselves that Yahweh must be the more proper name of God as there are no vowels in the Hebrew language!
 
I also became a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC).[1] Again, I had many questions regarding their practices inside the INC that made me continue my search for the true religion.
 
It was during my work in the island of Mindanao for two years, specifically, Cotabato City in the late 1980s that I first came into contact with Islam; although, I didn’t get a chance to study Islam, this exposure would later draw me to Islam.
 
Christians see our Muslims brothers as troublemakers, polygamous terrorists, murderers, kidnappers, drug traders, suicide bombers such that there is really a well-known saying “A good Muslim is a dead Muslim” Being a Muslim during this stage in my life was the last thing on my mind, for I believed that there must be an intermediary between God and man (due to my two decades of struggling in Christianity) and that religion should not foster violence (though I am also aware of the history of Catholic inquisition).
 
All in all, it took me more than two decades or 23 years to be exact, when I stopped using the Bible as a standard of measure of what I consider should be the true religion.  I began reading the Holy Quran and made countless searches on the web to satisfy my curiosity.  The deepest questions in my mind were answered one-by-one when I learned of this site, IslamReligion.com.  There are many helpful articles readily accessible for one searching for the truth.  A seeker of the truth must be very careful when searching online, there are many sites that propagate lies, twist facts or try to deviate from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.
 
With God’s mercy, my eyes were opened.  My zeal to search for the truth was further awakened. I realized a very important lesson, not every Muslim upholds Islam as they should; so it isn’t fair to judge Islam based on what Muslims do.
 
I learned that Islam is a religion of peace and that violence is farthest from the mind of a true Muslim.  I learned the six pillars of faith and the basic beliefs and practices in Islam. I had the conviction of finally saying the Shahada (The Testimony of Faith) and enter the fold of Islam.
 
Life is not just being born, studying worldly knowledge in some university, earning money to spend for one’s needs, and then old age, sickness and eventually death.  For if this was the meaning of life, then life would truly be miserable because “even if you win the rat race, you still remain just a miserable rat.”
 
Without embracing Islam and spending one’s life purely for the pleasure of God life will remain meaningless and full of troubles.

Sam Needham, Ex-Agnostic, UK
I think I first became aware of Islam through watching Spike Lee's film Malcolm X.  Though America's Nation of Islam is more a political movement Malcolm X did convert to orthodox Islam after going for Hajj.  I was impressed even back then when I was 15, how a lowlife hoodlum could completely rewire his upbringing and instinct to be an ambassador for freedom and spirituality.  Even though at the time, I was more concerned with worldly pursuits; Drinking, substance abuse and women were my top priorities, and seemed to be everyone else's as well.  Though my parents brought me up well, I couldn't resist the temptations surrounding me, and as a boy from a poor family, I began to steal to attain these habits.  I disrespected myself, my girlfriends and worst of all my parents.  It was an incredibly selfish and destructive path to follow.  I became a better person when a Muslim family befriended me and invited me to live with them.  The wife and mother of the family taught me many aspects of Islam, and that I should respect and honour my parents and myself, and that I should eat halal and not ingest poisons. They taught me to be loving, kind and charitable and also to be humble.  I saw the wisdom in this and gained happiness briefly by following her example.  At that point in time, I was 19.  Unfortunately, this good woman's husband was not a very good Muslim, and was a thief and a drug dealer, and I began to follow his example as well, which was conflicting.
 
When we parted ways I was a better person with better morals.  I believed in God now, would only eat halal, and was respectful of my parents, charitable and humble, and didn't steal, but I was not yet a Muslim.  Being a night owl, I thought it would be impossible for me to commit to the Fajr prayer.  I also didn't believe I could master the Arabic prayers and commit to giving up alcohol and women.  I was also unsure as to which religion was the right one as I had met many wonderful Hindu friends as well.  But it was a start.
 
For the next 16 years I worked, and studied and gradually elevated myself to a respectable place in society, I earned a good degree in animation and became a successful animator/illustrator. I marreid a wonderful woman and fathered a girl and boy (along with a girl from my wife's previous marriage).  I had met many British Muslims along the way, and felt an affinity with them and respect for their ways, always defending them in discussions and looking up to them.  We visited Turkey in 2010 and it opened my eyes to see how family-orientated, friendly and unmaterialistic the Muslim Turkish people were.  But it wasn't until August 2011, the month of Ramadan, when we as a family visited Luxor in Egypt on holiday.  My wife and I were dumbfounded by Muslim Egyptian people's hospitality and generosity, even though they were very poor.  The fact that they would fast for 15 hours a day in the scorching heat and still be utterly kind and loving, especially to our children.  Here were a people that prioritized charity and brotherhood and sisterhood over material possessions and wealth.  Our family was welcomed into the family of a poor horse and carriage driver who took us into their very humble home and lavished us with feasts.  At the end of each day we would be invited to dine by the side of the road by complete strangers in celebration of breaking the fast.
 
I began to look again closely at the beauty of Islam, the science of Islam, and the life of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. I began looking at all the fundamentals of Islamic Faith and marvelled at each one. The way that Muslims prayed and humbled themselves before Allah 5 times per day, served as a constant reminder that they were mortal and following a higher power. The fasting served as a reminder that one was to take care of those less fortunate and be thankful to God for what blessings they received. The way that Muslims followed the example of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was indeed something to marvel.
 
Things that had originally put me off the religion through “the Western eye” now made perfect sense to me.  When we returned from Egypt I could not find peace.  I wanted to convert to Islam but didn't want to if my loving wife didn't as well.  I read about the scientific research that had been completed regarding the Quran from all over the world, such as the description of the developing stages of a foetus, and that a man living 1500 years ago could not have possibly known of such things, and that it was proof that the Quran was the Divine word of God, and this was the catalyst for me.  Here was scientific proof for something otherwise deemed as faith alone.  I decided to convert and prayed that my wife would follow after seeing the change it brought about in me.  I was apprehensive about learning the Arabic prayers, but within a month had easily memorized them to an advanced level.  I am now utterly at peace with myself and Allah.  Though my wonderful wife has not converted, she believes in God and is a good person, and is very supportive of my choice and is raising our 2 infants as Muslims.

James, Ex-Christian, USA
It all began back in the late 90’s.  I was a San Diego police officer and I had found myself at the desk.  I had found myself in the middle of an internal affairs investigation.  Of course these types of investigations seem to take forever; I had the fortune of working with another officer.  After being around this for a few weeks, we had the opportunity to talk about various subjects.  Never once speaking about Islam, although I knew this officer was Muslim.  I knew this because we met during the month of Ramadan.  So I saw firsthand the sacrifice’s he would make during the day.  I often thought to myself, “how could he do this and why”.  As our time together continued I would see how he would interact with the public and other officers as well as superiors.  On several occasions he would take his lunch break and go to the local mosque to pray.  I was amazed that he would be back within the hour.
 
I had always thought that going to church was an all-day affair, I had no idea what going to the mosque entailed.  Becoming a police officer had always been a life’s dream, so when I achieved this goal, I thought I was better than most.  I looked down on regular people and even stopped associating with regular folk.  As I spent more time with this officer, I began asking him different questions regarding Islam.  I had no idea about the difference between true Islam and the “Nation of Islam”.
 
He was very patient with me and explained the differences between the two religions.  He kept a Quran on the desk and I asked if I could read it.  Of course he said “yes” and so began my journey.  I grew up not really religious but my mom was a devout Baptist, so I had some idea of what religion was all about.  However, I could never get my head around Jesus (peace be upon him) being God and God being Jesus and then a holy spirit mixed all in there for good measure.  It seemed to me that people would only pray on Sundays, during Wednesday Bible study and when they wanted something good to happen.
 
So I began reading the Quran, not really knowing what I was reading, but it seemed to make sense to me.  It was very clear - not all mystical and mysterious.  However this only pecked my interest.  I was still brainwashed on what I had been taught for so long.  For about ten more years I did my research on this thing called Islam.  Subsequently I had to drop all my worldly things and move back to the East coast to take care of mother.  I became obsessed with trying to become successful and taking care of an ailing mother.  Taking care of her every need consumed so much of my time that I strayed away from my journey.  However, every so often I would pick up the fact finding mission.  I was trying so hard to find some fault with Islam.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not find any such thing.
 
Two very important things happened in the mid 00’s.  My mother passed away, God bless her soul, and that I succumbed to my journey and began believing in Islam.  However, I had accepted it in my heart but I still had to take my shahada.  This took a few more years to do.  I said my shahadah in the year 2009. At this point in my life, I had the opportunity to move back to the West Coast.  After coming back to the West Coast I quickly realized the woman I had spent so much time waiting for, was never going to change enough for us to have a life.  I had gone through the most painful experience one could ever go through.  It was then that I set out on my journey to truly follow Islam and start living my life for me and Allah, and I never looked back.
 
Allah ordains all that passes and we are at times left in awe of His wisdom. I had the unfortunate fate of having my leg amputated above the knee.  This event was a life changing one in so many ways.  After a three month stay at the local hospital, I was released and was fortunate to move in with a longtime friend.  After a year of recuperating and learning my way as a one legged person, I ventured out on my own and began going to the local mosque.  I met some really nice people who took me by the hand and started teaching me the proper way to pray etc..  Being a handicapped person I do have certain restrictions and limitations.  I was so worried that I would not be accepted, but so far so good.
 
Every day I learn something about this great religion.  I hope my story leads others to Islam.

James Den C.  Bedico, Ex-Christian, Philippines
I was Mr.  James Den C.  Bedico now I am Mr.  Afraz Saleem C.  Bedico, a former of member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church of Christ in the Republic of the Philippines.
 
The Iglesia Ni Cristo is one of the most influential and the second largest Christian group here in the Philippines next to the Roman Catholic.  I was born, raised, and baptized inside the Iglesia Ni Cristo since my parents, brother and sister, and most of my relatives are dedicated members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
 
During my early childhood, I was very active in every religious activity of the Iglesia Ni Cristo and I regularly went to church every Thursday and Sunday. I never missed a congregational service except in cases of extreme illness.  I was part of the choir and my parents still hold key positions in the Church, such as deacon and deaconess. I studied college in a school owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo, all its students are members of the church. In total, I spent thirty years of my life being an Iglesia Ni Cristo worshipper.  I never had the chance of listening to the teachings of other religions.
 
In relation to Islam, I was never interested to learn about it, this was partly on account of the minority status Muslims hold in the Philippines. I would usually see them while going home; they seemed to be members of a tribe, a blood lineage, or a group of natives living in the isolated islands of the Philippines.  I never thought that they had a religion! I never heard the word “Islam” during my childhood, or it could have been that I never gave attention to that word.  Basically Islam here in the Philippines is a forgotten religion. The Philippines is a Christian dominated society, especially in the northern and central parts of the country. In the southernmost part, Muslims are quite dominant.  This is because they are adjacent or near to Malaysia, a Muslim country in southeast Asia.
 
As the years passed by, I was drifting away from my religion, I felt ‘empty’, as though yearning for something. Then in the beginning of 2012, I had a strange dream about a Muslim child wearing a hijab (veil) covering all of her body except her eyes.  The child would be about 6 years old.  She was looking at me at a distance of about 5 ft from where I was standing and then she uttered the words: “Assalamu Alaikum!” I woke up, shocked and confused…why would I have such a dream?
 
After dreaming about the Muslim child, I searched about Muslims online. I typed in the word “Islam” and one of the websites that came up was  www.islamreligion.com.  I visited the site and I was amazed because I never thought that Islam was a religion, and that it preached the ONENESS OF GOD.  It was from this moment that I became very interested in Islam. My interest perked further when I read an article about God. It stated that He had no partner or son! This doctrine was similar to my former religion, but there was a significant difference. From the fundamental beliefs that we were taught is that Christ is the son of GOD.  So, I thought to myself that if my former religion teaches us that there is only one GOD and that Jesus Christ is the son of GOD, then it would be possible for GOD to multiply himself by having another son.  This process could continue until there would be numerous gods who would help the ONE GOD on his tasks as a GOD.  It was on account of this that I lost faith in my former religion and I began to dig deeper into the Islamic faith.
 
I constantly visited www.islamreligion.com and read some enlightening articles about Islam.  I was so amazed with the method of the Muslims’ prayers.  It was quite evident to me that these prayers were more holistic, sincere, humble, and submissive to GOD ALMIGHTY, especially when Muslims perform the ruku or bowing (bowing is a sign of respect to a MASTER) and then the sajdah or the prostration.  There is so much respect in the prayers performed by Muslims.  I wondered why in my former religion, during prayers why we would just stand and fiddle with our hands, this causes so much distraction!
 
In my mind, I began to see the beauty of the Islamic teachings. I thought if we bow to a person it shows so much respect to that individual, so why shouldn’t we bow to ALMIGHTY GOD? When a gun is pointed at us, we prostrate before the person begging for his mercy, so why shouldn’t we prostrate to ALMIGHTY GOD WHO IS capable of causing our death and capable of putting our souls in Hell?
 
I realized that Islam is a religion that calls for worshipping GOD with great respect through sincere prayers, solid faith, and strong belief.
 
Another reason why I embraced Islam is the life of Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him).  I was amazed to see how Muslims took good care of their Prophet (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) right up to his last breath and how the Prophet fought for the ONENESS OF GOD and the Muslim’s struggle to spread the message of God.
 
This is the essence of Islam, we firmly believe in the ONENESS OF GOD and we respect the Messenger of GOD: Prophet Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him).
 
Now, as a Muslim, my actions are more refined.  I am more GOD-fearing and GOD-conscious.  I always remember GOD by praying regularly, I remember Him in everything I do through supplications and remember Him by repenting to Him when I commit sins.  These are all the pleasant changes of my life.  I enjoy my religion and I am very happy that I embraced Islam as my new religion.  I am very happy that I am now legally converted into Islam here in the Philippines and I am now using my Muslim name Afraz Saleem C. Bedico. I thank the website’s operator Samy for assisting me in pronouncing the shahadah (Testimony of Faith) and I thank the website’s operator Tariq for answering my questions during the Live-Chat sessions, and I thank www.Islamreligion.com for being a guide to those who do not know the right path.
 
ALHAMDULILLAH (All praise and thanks are due to God) for guiding me to the right path.