It’s been said that instead of saying, “All praise is for Allaah who has guided us to Islaam” we should say, “All praise is for Allaah who has guided us to Islaam and the Sunnah,” because many have entered into Islaam, but have left the Sunnah in terms of ‘aqeedah (creed),’ibaadah (worship), and character.
My journey to correct Islaam was truly one of trial and error. Having grown up in the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, like many misguided youth, I aspired to be no more than one of three things: an athlete, a rapper or a gangster. Without proper guidance and having such low aspirations for myself, I was drawn into the “street life,” and subsequently spent most of my life in and out of prisons and detention centers. Thus begins what I refer to as the first phase of my journey to Islaam.
Phase 1: Twisted- At age 18, I was serving a short sentence at a prison is Hagerstown, Maryland. While there, I attended the functions of the Nation of Islaam (N.O.I.) and the Moorish Science Temple of America (M.S.T.O.A.). One day when I was at a N.O.I. (Nation of Islaam) service, the speaker came out wearing his bowtie, having absolutely no hair on his face other than his eyebrows. Two bodyguards stood on both sides of the podium with rock faces. He began his talk: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall! Humpty Dumpty had a great fall! All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again!” He paused, and then he shouted, “Humpty didn’t fall, he was pushed!” He continued, “You see, Humpty Dumpty was an egg; and the egg represents life, and life represents the black man! ‘All the king’s horses and all the king’s men’ represents the white man, the powers that be! And they could’ve put Humpty back together again but they didn’t want the black man to be united because it would’ve meant the end of the white man.”
I came away with my head spinning. This must be the Truth; or so I thought. I had an older friend who was at the prison with me whom I respected. I had known him for years but did not know that he was a Muslim. When I returned from the service, he saw me and asked where I had been. So I told him blow for blow, word for word what I had heard (I have always had a relatively sharp memory). When I finished running it down, my friend could not control his laughter. “Nah, shorty. That ain’t it,” he said, “I’m going to take you to Jumu’ah with me.” I didn’t know what Jumu’ah (Muslims' Friday congregational prayer) was, but I was willing to go because I thought being rounded meant that you attended all services (i.e. Christian, N.O.I., Rastafarian, M.S.T.O.A. etc.) without committing to any group. The ignorant people call this being “universal”, “spiritual” or, “I have my own relationship with God.” But this only serves to mix you up and confuse about your Lord and religion in general.
Anyhow, I went to Jumu’ah that week and for several weeks thereafter as a guest, and did not hear one thing that confused me nor one contradiction. Unlike, the other services I had attended which were full of contradictions. The Christians claimed to be monotheists, yet I found them worshipping a trinity and saying that Jesus is their Lord and savior. The N.O.I. claimed that the Black Man was God and that the white man was the devil, at the same time believing that Allaah created Himself out of “triple darkness.” The M.S.T.O.A. say that they are descendants of the Moors yet they do not follow the religion of the Moroccans and they deny clear verses from the Quran.
So initially, I took my shahadah (testimony of faith to enter into Islaam)”, simply because rationally, it made no sense to me to reject something which is apparently true. However, at that time, the knowledge was not as prevalent in the prisons at it is now, and the brothers I was around were not so much concerned with tafsiyyah and tarbiyyah (purification and cultivation) as they with simply having you take shahaadah, and that’s it. It was more of a thing, like, “I got one!” (i.e. I got someone to take shahaadah). So at this stage, my Islaam was much like that of the Bedouin Arabs described in the Quran: "The bedouins say: 'We believe.' Say: 'You believe not but you only say, 'We have surrendered (in Islam),'' for Faith has not yet entered your hearts..." (49:14)
I did not know the rules and etiquettes of prayer; I recall one morning, I woke up for Fajr (dawn)prayer. I rolled out of bed in my underwear, made wudhoo (purification required for prayer), stood and prayed. Notice that I did not say I put my clothes on. I stood there in prayer wearing nothing but my boxers (Subhaan Allaah). This is elucidating for you my level of ignorance.
So when the month of Ramadhaan (the month in which Muslims observe fasting)came around, my older friend of whom I have mentioned earlier came to me and said, “As-Salaamu ‘alaykum, Ramadhaan is coming soon. Are you going to fast?” By him asking me whether or not I was going to fast, I assumed as a Muslim, I have a choice as to whether or not I wanted to fast. So I thought, “Leave my food and drink all day for a whole month?” So I replied, “Nah, I’ll sit this one out.” So my friend, who I later realized was as ignorant as I was, said, “I respect that Akhee (my brother).” (Allaah’s Aid is sought) Therefore, I did not fast my first Ramadhaan out of ignorance of the fact that fasting in Ramadhaan is obligatory for the one who is able.
My release date came and I was sadly ill-prepared for the battle that was to come. So when I got out, it was not too long before I abandoned my prayers (in boxers or otherwise) and was back involved with the drugs, the guns and the zinaa (fornication). This was 1995; I was 19 yrs. old.
Phase 2: Sincerity (Ikhlaas)- Traveling down the same destructive path, I travelled to Raleigh, North Carolina in late 1997 and continued a life of crime. Only this time, I was Muslim (depending on who you ask). I attended Jumu’ah, when I wanted to, and prayed when I wanted to. Shaytaan (the devil) had deceived me to the point that, if I planned to commit a crime on a particular day (an armed robbery, drug deal etc.) then I would make a prayer on that day, or if it was Friday, then I would go to a masjid and attend the Jumu’ah prayer. If I was successful in the crime, I would think that Allaah blessed me in my crime for the one prayer I made or the Jumu’ah I had attended.
Needless to say, I was arrested again in August of 1998 for armed bank robbery. This time it was federal. I was sent to a prison in Indiana.
In the federal penitentiary, the environment is different from what I had experienced in state prisons at home in Maryland. Inmates from all over the U.S. and different parts of the world are housed by the Feds. People hang together based upon what city or state they are from, their gang affiliations, or their race. And then there are the Muslims - those who come together for faith.
I was a bit rebellious, so I was torn between my “homies” (i.e. people from one’s hometown) from Baltimore, and my belief (as jaded as it was) in Islaam. Due to my ignorance and anger at myself for being in prison again, I inclined towards my “homies” who were into just about everything from wine to robbing other inmates. So the first year or so of my incarceration was a wild ride.
As a result of the mixture of different mentalities in prison, there is almost always some level of tension. Fights, stabbings and sometimes murders happen for the most trivial things; like sports, gambling or telephones. I along with some “homies”, were involved in an altercation with inmates from another town. A few days later, I was sent to a maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois.
While at this prison, I met the man whom I now refer to as my mentor. His name is Mujaahid Abdul-‘Alee Muslim, from St. Louis, MO. He was not like any Muslim I had ever seen. From him, I actually saw the beauty of Islaam in his character; for him Islaam was not just an association or something to do while in prison -as this is how a Muslim should be. This is what I say about him and I glorify no one over Allaah. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alahi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), said, “The best among you is he who when you see him, he reminds you of your duty to Allaah.” I realized what I needed to do.
So I finally began learning Islaam. With Mujaahid, I learned about the sunnahof Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alahi wa sallam. I actually learned about the miraculous nature of Allaah’s Book, the Qur’aan. With him, I studied the books: The Sealed Nectar (one of the best biographies of the Prophet Muhammad,), Tasfir Ibn Kathir (one of the best commentaries on the Qur’aan), Kitaab-ut-Tawheed (A book on the monotheistic nature of God), Fiqhus-Sunnah and many other works. I also began my studies in ‘Arabic and learned how to read the Qur’aan with its proper rules of recitation (Tajweed).
Then, in 2001, my mother became ill and I was just beginning to learn from Islaam the reverence that one should have for his mother. Being her only child, we were always close, but for me, Islaam drew me closer to her. So when she got sick, I became deeply concerned for her soul. So I really began to step up my studies in Islaam so that I could call my mother to this beautiful religion that I had grown to love. It would be a great task since she was a licensed missionary for the “Church of such and such in Christ,” and she was well versed in Christianity. We began to debate over the phone and in letters. I supplied her evidences from the Qur’aan and the Bible about the Truth of Islaam and the falsity of what she was upon. This went on until one day she said, “Baby, I recognize the Truth in everything you’re saying. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but as for right now, this is what I’m going to stick with.” (Allaah’s Aid is sought). Shortly thereafter, she had cardiac arrest which led to arrhythmia and a coma. While she was in the coma, I would call the hospital room and have my family hold the phone to her ear, and I would talk to her. I would say the shahadah in her ear and tell her to say it in her heart if she could hear me. Within a few weeks, she died. To Allaah we belong and to Him we shall return.
So in my grief, I focused on Islaam and poured all I had into it. I studied and memorized as much Qur’aan as I could. I memorized the hadeeths (prophetic traditions) and was steadfast in my worship of Allaah, and Allaah has aided me in it.
Phase 3: Happiness in Salafiyyah (Following the Righteous Predecessors – True Islaam) – In 2003 my mentor was sent to another prison and shortly thereafter, so was I. I ended up at a prison at Jonesville, Virginia. This is where I first encountered brothers who openly called to the way of the Salaf (predecessors) as a methodology, although they made a few mistakes. I listened to the lectures from the well known scholars and students of knowledge on cassette tapes, like: Dawud Adeeb, Abu Uways, Bilaal Davis, Rasheed Barbee, Abul-Hasan Maalik and many others. And from the scholars: Shaykh ibn al-Uthaymeen, Shaykh Muqbil ibn Haadee, Shaykh Rabee’ ibn Haadee, Shaykh al-Albaanee and many others. I also memorized the books: “The 3 fundamentals of Islaam,” “The Four Principles,” and “What Nullifies One’s Islaam” by: Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab, and studied the works of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Al-Qayyim and others.
I studied Arabic grammar with my Muslim brother Talib Shakir, and another brother from Palestine. The bulk of my Arabic grammar studies were with my friend Hossaam Abdel-Jaleel from Egypt.
In this phase I learned the difference between Islaam, and what some of the Muslims are engaged in from innovations, crimes and terrorism, which can in no way be called Islaam.
Since then, I’ve been to five other prisons between the federal system and the North Carolina state system, continuing my studies and calling to correct Islaam. I have encountered many trials along the way, but Allaah has aided me in my endeavors. He has illuminated my heart with the light of faith and guided me to a path that is straight. So All the Praise is for Allaah who has guided me to Islaam and the Sunnah.
After 9/11 happened, things became somewhat hard for the Muslims in prison. Prison administrators strive harder to hinder the growth of Islaam using too many methods to mention. However, they could never put out the Light of Allaah. Islaam is continuing to grow and flourish, and due to the help of many Salafee organizations, the correct knowledge and methodology of Islaam is spreading. However, there is still much work to be done.
On June 1st, 2010, Phase 4 of my story begins. This is when I’ll be released from prison, inshaa Allaah (God willing). I am much better prepared for the battle this time. And the best provision is that of Taqwaa (piety).
Written by one in need of Allaah. Raha Batts As-Salafee
Kenneth L. Jenkins, Former Minister and Elder of the Pentecostal Church (USA)
As a former minister and elder of the Christian church, it has become incumbent upon me to enlighten those that continue to walk in darkness. After embracing Islam I felt a dire need to help those who have not yet been blessed to experience the light of Islam.
I thank Almighty God, Allah, for having mercy upon me, causing me to come to know the beauty of Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad and his rightly guided followers. It is only by the mercy of Allah that we receive true guidance and the ability to follow the straight path, which leads to success in this life and the Hereafter.
Praise be to Allah for the kindness shown to me by Shaykh 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz upon my embracing Islam. I cherish and will pass on the knowledge gained from each meeting with him. There are many others who have helped me by means of encouragement and knowledge, but for fear of missing anyone, I will refrain from attempting to list them. Sufficient it is to say that I thank Almighty God, Allah, for each and every brother and sister that He has allowed to play a role in my growth and development as a Muslim.
I pray that this short work will be of benefit to all. I hope that Christians will find that there is yet i hope for the wayward conditions that prevail over the bulk of Christendom. The answers to Christian problems are not to be found with the Christians themselves, for they are, in most instances, the root of their own problems. Rather, Islam is the solution to the problems plaguing the world of Christianity,as well as the problems facing the so-called worldof religion as a whole. May Allah guide us all and reward us according to the very best of our deeds and intentions.
Abdullah Muhammad al-Faruque at-Ta'if, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
As a young boy I was raised with a deep fear of God. Having been partially raised by a grandmother who was a Pentecostal fundamentalist, the church became an integral part of my life at a very early age. By the time I had reached the age of six, I knew all too well the benefits awaiting me in Heaven for being a good little boy and the punishment awaiting in Hell for little boys who are naughty. I was taught by my grandmother that all liars were doomed to go to the Hellfire, where they would burn forever and ever.
My mother worked two full-time jobs and continued to remind me of the teachings given to me by her mother. My younger brother and older sister did not seem to take our grandmother's warnings of the Hereafter as seriously as I did. I recall seeing the full moon when it would take on a deep reddish hue, and I would begin to weep because I was taught that one of the signs of the end of the world would be that the moon would become red like blood. As an eight year old child I began to develop such a fear at what I thought were signs in the heavens and on earth of Doomsday that I actually had nightmares of what the Day of Judgement would be like. Our house was close to a set of railroad tracks, and trains passed by on a frequent basis. I can remember being awakened out of sleep by the horrendous sound of the locomotive's horn and thinking that I had died and was being resurrected after hearing the sound of the trumpet. These teachings were ingrained in my young mind through a combination of oral teachings and the reading of a set of children's books known as the Bible Story.
Every Sunday we would go to church dressed in all of our finery. My grandfather was our means of transportation. Church would last for what seemed to me like hours. We would arrive at around eleven in the morning and not leave until sometimes three in the afternoon. I remember falling asleep in my grandmother's lap on many occasions. For a time my brother and I were permitted to leave church in between the conclusion of Sunday school and morning worship service to sit with our grandfather at the railway yard and watch the trains pass. He was not a churchgoer, but he saw to it that my Eamily made it there every Sunday. Sometime later he suffered a stroke, which left him partiallyparalyzed, and as a result, we were unable to attend church on a regular basis. This period of time would be one of the most crucial stages of my development.
I was relieved, in a sense, at no longer being able to attend church, but I would feel the urge to go on my own every now and then. At age sixteen I began attending the church of a friend whose father was the pastor. It was a small storefront building with only my friend's family, myself, and another schoolmate as members. This went on for only several months before the church closed down. After graduating from high school and entering the university I rediscovered my religious commitment and became fully immersed in Pentecostal teachings. I was baptized and "filled with the Holy Ghost," as the experience was then called. As a college student, I quickly became the pride of the church. Everyone had high hopes for me, and I was happy to once again be "on the road to salvation".
I attended church every time its doors would open. I studied the Bible for days and weeks at a time. I attended lectures given by the Christian scholars of my day, and I acknowledged my call to the ministry at the age of 20. I began preaching and became well known very quickly. I was extremely dogmatic and believed that no one could receive salvation unless they were of my church group. I categorically condemned everyone who had not come to know God the way I had cometo knowHim. I was taught that Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and God Almighty were one and the samething. I was taught that our church did not believe in the trinity but that Jesus (peace be upon him) was indeed the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I tried to make myself understand it even though I had to admit that I really did not fully understand it. As far as I was concerned, it was the only doctrine that made sense to me. I admired the holy dress of the women and the pious behavior of the men. I enjoyed practicing a doctrine where women were required to dress in garments covering themselves completely, not painting their faces with makeup, and carrying themselves as true ambassadors of Christ. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had finally found the true path to eternal bliss. I would debate with anyone from a different church with different beliefs and would totally silence them with my knowledge of the Bible. I memorized hundreds of Biblical passages, and this became a trademark of my preaching. Yet, even though I felt assured of being on the right path, a part of me was still searching. I felt that there was an even higher truth to be attained.
I would meditate while alone and pray to God to lead me to the correct religion and to forgive me if what I was doing was wrong. I had never had any contact with Muslims. The only people I knew that claimed Islam as their religion were the followers of Elijah Muhammad, who were referred to by many as the "Black Muslims" or the "Lost-Found Nation." It was during this period in the late seventies that Minister Louis Farrakhan was well into rebuilding what was called "The Nation of Islam." Iwentto hear Minister Farrakhan speak at the invitation of a coworker and found it to be an experience that would change my life dramatically. I had never in my life heard another black man speak the way that he spoke. I immediately wanted to arrange a meeting with him to try to convert him to my religion. I enjoyed evangelizing, hoping to find lost souls to save from the Hellfire - no matter who they were.
After graduating from college I began to work on a full-time basis. As I was reaching the pinnacle of my ministry, the followers of Elijah Muhammad became more visible, and I appreciated their efforts in attempting to rid the black community of the evils that were destroying it from within. I began to support them, in a sense, by buying their literature and even meeting with them for dialogue. I attended their study circles to find out exactly what they believed. As sincere as I knew many of them were, I could not buy the idea of God being a black man. I disagreed with their use of the Bible to support their position on certain issues. Here was a book that I knew very well, and I was deeply disturbed at what I deemed was their misinterpretation of it. I had attended locally supported Bible schools and had become quite knowledgeable in various fields of Bible study.
After about six years I moved to Texas and became affiliated with two churches. The first church was led by a young pastor who was inexperienced and not very learned. My knowledge of the Christian scriptures had by this time developed into something abnormal. I was obsessed with Biblical teachings. I began to look deeper into the scriptures and realized that I knew more than the present leader. As a show of respect, I left and joined another church in a different city where I felt that I could learn more. The pastor of this particular church was very scholarly. He was an excellent teacher but had some ideas that were not the norm in our church organization. He held somewhat liberal views, but I still enjoyed his indoctrination. I was soon to learn the most valuable lesson of my Christian life, which was "all that glitters is not gold." Despite its outward appearance,there were evils taking place that I never thought were possible in the Church. These evils caused me to reflect deeply, and I began questioning the teaching to which I was so dedicated.
Welcome to the Real Church World
I soon discovered that there was a great deal of jealousy prevalent in the ministerial hierarchy. Things had changed from that to which I was accustomed. Women wore clothing that I thought was shameful. People dressed in order to attract attention, usually from the opposite sex. I discovered just how great a part money and greed play in the operation of church activities. There were many small churches struggling, and they called upon us to hold meetings to help raise money for them. I was told that if a church did not have a certain number of members, then I was not to waste my time preaching there because I would not receive ample financial compensation. I then explained that I was not in it for the money and that I would preach even if there was only one member present... and I'd do it for free! This caused a disturbance. I started questioning those whom I thought had wisdom, only to find that they had been putting on a show. I learned that money, power and position were more important than teaching the truth about the Bible. As a Bible student, I knew full well that there were mistakes, contradictions and fabrications. I thought that people should be exposed to the truth about the Bible. The idea of exposing the people to such aspects of the Bible was a thought supposedly attributable to Satan. But I began to publicly ask my teachers questions during Bible classes, which none of them could answer. Not a single one could explain how Jesus was supposedly God, and how, at the same time, he was supposedly the Father, Son and Holy Ghost wrapped up into one and yet was not a part of the trinity. Several preachers finally had to concede that they did not understand it but that we were simply required to believe it.
Cases of adultery and fornication went unpunished. Some preachers were hooked on drugs and had destroyed their lives and the lives of their families. Leaders of some churches were found to be homosexuals. There were pastors even guilty of committing adultery with the young daughters of other church members. All of this coupled with a failure to receive answers to what I thought were valid questions was enough to make me seek a change. That change came when I accepted a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
A New Beginning
It was not long after arriving in Saudi Arabia that I saw an immediate difference in the lifestyle of the Muslim people. They were different from the followers of Elijah Muhammad and Minister Louis Farrakhan in that they were of all nationalities, colors and languages. I immediately expressed a desire to learn more about this peculiar brand of religion. I was amazed with the life of Prophet Muhammad and wanted to know more. I requested books from one of the brothers who was active in calling people to Islam. I was supplied with all of the books that I could possibly want. I read each and every one. I was then given the Noble Qur'an and read it completely several times within four months. I asked question after question and received satisfactory answers. What appealed to me was that the brothers were not keen on impressing me with their knowledge. If a brother did not know how to answer a question, he would tell me that he simply did not know and would have to check with someone who did. The next day he would always bring the answer. I noticed how humility played such a great role in the lives of these mysterious people of the Middle East.
I was amazed to see the women covering themselves from face to foot. I did not see any religious hierarchy. No one was competing for any religious position. All of this was wonderful, but how could I entertain the thought of abandoning a teaching that had followed me since childhood? What about the Bible? I knew that there is some truth in it even though it had been changed and revised countless numbers of times. I was then given a video cassette of a debate between Shaykh Ahmed Deedat and Reverend Jimmy Swaggart. After seeing the debate I immediately became a Muslim.
I was taken to the office of Shaykh 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz to officially declare my acceptance of Islam. It was there that I was given sound advice on how to prepare myself for the long journey ahead. It was truly a birth from darkness into light. I wondered what my peers from the Church would think when they heard that I had embraced Islam. It was not long before I found out. I went back to the United States for vacation and was severely criticized for my "lack of faith." I was stamped with many labels - from renegade to reprobate. People were told by so-called church leaders not to even remember me in prayer. As strange as it may seem, I was not bothered in the least. I was so happy that Almighty God, Allah, had chosen to guide me aright that nothing else mattered.
Now I only wanted to become as dedicated a Muslim as I was a Christian. This, of course, meant study. I realized that a person could grow as much as they wanted to in Islam. There is no monopoly of knowledge - it is free to all who wish to avail themselves of the opportunities to learn. I was given a set of Saheeh Muslim as a gift from my Qur'an teacher. It was then that I realized the need to learn about the life, sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad . I read and studied as many of the hadlth collections available in English as possible. I realized that my knowledge of the Bible was an asset that is now quite useful in dealing with those of Christian backgrounds. Life for me has taken on an entirely new meaning. One of the most profound attitude changes is a result of knowing that this life must actually be spent in preparation for life in the Hereafter. It was also a new experience to know that we are rewarded even for our intentions. If you intend to do good, then you are rewarded. Itwas quite different in the Church. The attitude was that "the path to Hell is paved with good intentions." There was no way to win. If you sinned,then you had to confess to the pastor, especially if the sin was a great sin, such as adultery. You were judged strictly by your actions.
The Present and Future
After an interview by the Al-Madinah newspaper I was asked about my present-day activities and plans for the future. At present, my goal is to learn Arabic and continue studying to gain greater knowledge about Islam. I am presently engaged in the field of da'wah and am called upon to lecture to non-Muslims who come from Christian backgrounds. If Allah, Almighty, spares my life, I hope to write more on the subject of comparative religion.
It is the duty of Muslims throughout the world to work to spread the knowledge of Islam. As one who has spent such a long time as a Bible teacher, I feel a special sense of duty in educating people about the errors, contradictions and fabricated tales of a book believed in by millions of people. One of the greatest joys is knowing that I do not have to engage in a great deal of dispute with Christians, because I was a teacher who taught most of the dispute techniques used by them. I also learned how to argue using the Bible to defend Christianity. And at the same time I know the counter arguments for each argument which we, as ministers, were forbidden by our leaders to discuss or divulge.
It is my prayer that Allah will forgive us all of our ignorance and guide us to the path leading to Paradise. All praise is due to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His last messenger, Prophet Muhammad, his family, companions, and those following true guidance.
Source: High Commission for the Development of Riyadh (http://www.arriyadh.com)
Aaron (Haroon) Eugene Nichols (Monterey, California, USA)
Convert finds peace in Islam Aaron Nichols looked into religion after Sept. 11 By ANDRE BRISCOE Herald Staff Writer
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Aaron Eugene Nichols, then 17, did what many in the United States couldn't think of doing: He embraced Islam. "I wanted to know both sides of the story. I wasn't just going to believe what I heard on TV," said Nichols, now 21, who has changed his name to Haron, Arabic for Aaron.
"Everybody was saying how Islam and Muslims were terrorists, so I wanted to find out for myself. I was taught to think for myself, not to believe what others tell me. And I found out it was the complete opposite," said the Monterey man. Just as the events of Sept. 11 changed America, they also changed Haron and many other Americans who have accepted Islam and become Muslims, said a local imam.
Abdellah Khidar, who heads the Islamic Society of Monterey County's mosque in Seaside, said that in the years since the attack he has seen a greater interest by Americans in Islam. "It's true, after 9/11 there was a big change," said Khidar, a native of Morocco. "Before 9/11 there wasn't that much interest from Americans about Islam. But since then I have been asked to give speeches at universities, schools, even synagogs. Many who have wanted answers to questions about Islam have converted. Not just Haron." Khidar took over as imam at the Seaside mosque last year and has seen at least 20 Americans of different ethnic backgrounds convert to Islam, including one man who works at the Defense Language Institute. "The most important thing is that Americans have opened up," he said. "They are eager to learn the truth about Islam."
To Haron's friends and family, initially, the words Muslim or Islam were considered synonymous with terrorism. Haron was brought up Christian, though he never seriously practiced the faith. "I never felt comfortable in a church. But I felt very comfortable in a mosque," he said, clutching a large blue Quran written in Arabic, which he is teaching himself so he can read the Muslim holy book in its original form. Nichols, who is of Irish and American Indian heritage, was born and raised in Monterey. He wears a kufi, a white knit hat, traditional for Muslim men. His 29-year-old-wife, Cynthia, covers her head with an hajib, traditional for Muslim women to preserve their modesty. She also converted after seeing the positive change becoming Muslim made in Haron. Haron was living in Fresno when he began studying Islam. He regularly attended a mosque across the street from California State University at Fresno, and studied under the mosque's imam, a Sudanese man named Omar. "We would have talks and I would ask questions. He always gave me straight answers but if he didn't know, he would ask somebody who had the knowledge he didn't have. That really showed me something about the integrity of Islam. That you don't just try to come up with some answer so you can get members."
Two years later he moved back to Monterey, but continued studying at a Castroville mosque. He finally converted late last year during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Now, as a Muslim, he feels it is his obligation to speak out against many misconceptions and misrepresentation about Islam. "Allah does not love aggressors. You're only supposed to fight a war if (someone) is attacking your home or your family," he said. "There are so many things in the Quran that says not to be a terrorist. Very blunt, very specific, about not being a man of bloodshed."
Nichols also defends the religion in terms of its treatment of women. Islam "says woman are more special than men because they are the mothers of our children," he said. "They are a blessing to men." Women are more likely to be treated poorly in the United States, he said, where their physical beauty is valued more than their intelligence. Instances where woman have been subjugated to men, not allowed to drive or vote in certain Islamic nations, are rules applied by particular countries, he said.
Nichols' family is supportive of his and Cynthia's acceptance of Islam. They see the positive changes he has made in his life. "My mom sees the peace it has created in me," he said. Nichols used to fret about money and his job as a car salesman, said Cynthia Nichols. "Now he has peace in mind and heart that he never had before," she said. Nichols continues to express enthusiasm and support for his new-found faith. People, he says, should "read the Bible, then Hadith, the Quran and figure it out for themselves... at least they will know that Islam is not a bad religion. Believing in a certain religion is not a crime." The only way for the public educate themselves about Islam is the do what he did -- "find out for themselves."
A 28 yr. old revert of unique heritage. Daawood speaks to islaam.ca reflecting upon a life of choas before entering the peace and submission of Islam. He speaks about the reasons for his conversion, the differences is his life (then and now) and his advice to the non-Muslim who might be listening...
Mutah Beale [Formerly 'Napoleon' of the Rap group, 'Outlawz'] (Los Angeles, USA)
-The first and original interview-
The following is excerpted from a biography on wikipedia.org
Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale (born in Newark, New Jersey on October 7, 1977) is an former rapper more commonly known as Napoleon. He was born to Muslim parents, his mother Aquillah Beale, (puerto rican) and his father, Salek Beale(african american). When he was three years old his parents were murdered in front of him and his two brothers by family friends and members of the Nation of Islam.
After this, he along with his big brother, Moonie Beale, and his little brother, Kamil "Hellraza" Beale, moved in with their grandparents in Irvington, New Jersey. As Beale grew older he started rapping. In 1994, he ran into his childhood friend Yafeu "Kadafi" Fula who he hadn't had contact with for years. Both of them were rapping and Kadafi's Godbrother was the notorious rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur. Kadafi's mother, Yaasmyn Fula, told Tupac about Mutah. She told him how he witnessed his parents being murdered and it made him cry. He felt he had to meet Mutah. They met and Mutah joined their group, Dramacydal. Unlike the other members he didn't go under an alias, he just went under his first name.
On April 5, 1995, Tupac's LP, Me Against the World, was released(which sold 3 millions copies) Mutah guest appeared on the song "Outlaw." In 1995, Mutah, Bruce "Fatal" Washington, Kadafi, Katari "Kastro" Cox, Malcolm "E.D.I." Greenidge, young noble and Tupac formed the group the Outlaw Immortalz; later renamed to the Outlawz. Tupac gave each member of the group an alias taken from an enemy of America or so called tyrants and he gave Mutah the alias Napoleon after French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. On February 13, 1996, Tupac's double LP All Eyez on Me was released selling 10 million copies. Napoleon guest appeared on "Tradin' War Stories," "When We Ride," "Thug Passion," and "Run Tha Streetz."
On September 7, 1996, Tupac was shot six times in a drive-by-shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was taken to University Medical Center where he died a week later. Napoleon and the rest of the Outlawz moved back to New Jersey. On November 5, Tupac's LP, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, was released. Napoleon guest appeared on the song "Life Of An Outlaw." On November 10, after visiting his girlfriend, Kadafi was shot. He was taken to University Hospital where he died that afternoon. Who killed him remained unknown until 2000 when Napoleon said in an interview with The Source that it was his cousin, Roddy, who accidentally killed him. Apparently, Kadafi and Roddy were drunk and high, they were playing with a gun,
Roddy pulled the trigger and a bullet hit Kadafi in the head. Napoleon convinced Roddy to turn himself in. In March 1997, Napoleon and the rest of the Outlawz with the exception of Fatal, moved back to California and signed with Death Row Records. They did this despite the fact that Tupac had several times told them not to. On December 21, 1999, the Outlawz's debut LP, Still I Rise, was finally released. Napoleon and the rest of the Outlawz besides Fatal formed Outlaw Recordz and released their second and third LPs, Ride Wit Us Or Collide Wit Us and Novakane, on November 7, 2000 and November 6, 2001. One of the first artists who signed with Outlaw Recordz was Napoleon's brother Hellraza. Napoleon made his acting debut in Thug Life which also starred The Lady of Rage and Willie D.
Napoleon's the father of two sons, Salek and Muhammad. Napoleon's solo debut album, Have Mercy, was due out this year. It features Jon B and other artist. It has been completed but will not be released, and Napoleon has completely retired from music due to it's impermissabilty in the religion of Islam, Napoleon said himself. He lived in Abu Dhabi for three or four months while requesting permanent residency in Saudi Arabia. He is now back in the United States. He had a minor hit called Never Forget featuring Val Young and Johnny J. Johnny J produced the song as well.
In July 2006, Napoleon visited Sydney, Australia to give a talk to the Muslim youth who were being influenced by "gangsta culture" (which had resulted in the killing of two young muslim men) and advise them against it. His background as a mainstream, successful rapper and his friendship/affiliation with Tupac Shakur, the rapper idolised most by the Sydney youth, ensured that his words had a lot of impact on them. In November 2006 he also visited London to give similar talks in East London he had visited stepney green school to give a speech to the students. He also visited the Pakistan Centre in Nottingham to give a talk about his life and gangsta culture.
An interesting interview with a former rapper who became inspired to learn about his Muslim roots. After following in the footsteps of Malcolm X and making the Hajj, he began to learn about the essence of Islam (tawheed - the oneness of Allaah) and decided to leave a fast lifestyle of music, intoxicants and vice for the simplicity of Islam. Why you may ask? We invite you to listen and find out...
Amir Junaid Muhadith (born Chauncey Lamont Hawkins, June 20, 1975) better known by his stage name Loon, formerly an African-American rapper who was part of P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records. Amir (Loon) accepted Islam in Dec. 2008 whilst on tour in Dubai, UAE. His inspiring story of rising up from the ghettos of Harlem, NY to street-hustling and later making it in to the rap game and eventually realising the truth of Islam and becoming Muslim, is quite a story. Amir never attained true personal fulfilment despite enjoying the pinnacle of material life (wealth, success and fame), no matter how hard he strove, he couldn’t attain that inner peace that can only be realised by submitting to one’s Lord, living for the hereafter and not the present life, the complete contentment of believing in, worshipping and supplicating to the Lord of the worlds, practising the beautiful religion of Islam.
Biography of Loon from loon140.com (now offline)
It begins with charisma, smooth like the finest of Harlem's hustlers and it continues with flow; laid back yet confident, like the finest of ghetto storytellers. Now, check the resume: a new artist with a #1 R&B/ hip-hop single of the year, both on the charts and in the clubs off of the most notoriously successful hip-hop label of all time. Put it all together and what do you have? An artist ready to present himself to the world with a force and a swagger that could only have been nurtured in Harlem USA. A talent, that's ready to blow. Yeah, you know the name. Loon. The brother who needed a girl - not once, but twice. Loon. The brother with the slick Harlem style and suave lyrical delivery. Loon. The young gifted and black brother that's poised to take on the industry like a true Bad Boy. Loon did more than spit memorable rhymes on "I Need A Girl Pt. 1" & "I Need A Girl Pt. 2," he articulated the thoughts of a man for whom this story needs little introduction: Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.
No stranger to the streets or the industry, Loon's been on the come up for some time now. A Harlem baby from the Espinard Houses who "turned protecting cats into a business," as well as being the son of Carol Hawkins and William "Hamburger" Hughley, the real-life Bonnie & Clyde team that ran 116th Street like a true-to-the-game super-couple, Loon's been repping the streets. Don't let the love songs fool ya.
Loon isn't a new jack in this game either. In 1996, Loon was signed to Tommy Boy Records as a member of the two-man group Crime Family. Flash forward three years later and enter Harlem World, a rap collective put together by Mase under Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label. Packaged as a Harlem-fueled set of super-friends who could spit, but because of Mase's decision to become a man of the cloth and get out of the business, the crew fizzled out before they ever really took off. But for the brother who wrote more than half the rhymes on Harlem World's album, there was no time or use for crying over spilt milk.
That same year Loon landed another deal, one that had been waiting for him since before the Harlem World debacle, from none other than Clive Davis. No sooner than a lead single was chosen (featuring background vocals by an as-yet-unheard songstress Alicia Keys), Clive left. Down and out, lesser artists would have crumbled. Three strikes and your out, right? Wrong.
Harlem's Bad Boy is back with a vengeance and ready to do the damn thing. Toting fifteen songs of pure Bad Boy hip-hop, Loon's debut album doesn't need a catchy slogan or flashy name to get your attention. Done with the skill passion and commitment expected from one of Harlem's finest, the album shines all on its own, all on the strength of Loon. The joint is self titled because it is Loon. All Loon. And really, that's all that needs to be said.
"The legacy of Harlem is what triggered and motivated me to become an artist," says Loon. "If I'm going to do this, that's what I'm going to rep." And that's exactly what he does on the blazing old-school feel-good jam "I'll Be There" featuring Carl Thomas. And best believe heads - old and new- will be bouncing to Loon's remake of the Guy classic "I Like". And yes, Aaron Hall is on the record.
Loon reps for all the ballers, pimps, players, and entertainers who never bow out. Ridin' as the first artist on next-generation Bad Boy. Rockin' for the neighbourhood and culture that he calls his own - minus the drama.
Loon, the album is as suave charming and laid back as is Loon, the man. Not lost in the hype or bright lights is the heart of a hustler born and raised in Harlem and the soul of man destined to shine. "I'm gonna get money. I'm from Harlem. Ours is a 24/7 hustle. Gimme an inch, I'm taking a yard. Gimme a rope, I'm a cowboy…" Give him a self-titled album, and it's a wrap
In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful All praise is to Allah, and may He exalt the mention of His noble Messenger Muhammad and grant him peace and security. To proceed:
I was raised with traditional Christian values--my parents instilled with me not to lie nor steal and they forbade me from ever getting any tattoos or piercings, praise be to Allah. My father, a federal judge, was Gre[size=4][/size]ek Orthodox and my mother, a registered nurse/"home-maker" was a Lutheran. I used to frequent both church's and I had a strong faith and love for Christianity. I felt that Christianity had the answers to everything and I never questioned its doctrines, always feeling that I understood them.
In school I was a class clown, an honor student, and I made it my life's goal of becoming the President of the United States. I was angry at the various injustices that were taking place in America and around the world. I decided that, as a Christian, I should do what I can to try to change the courses of evil. I wanted to live what I thought was a perfect life. At age 15 I decided never to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, do drugs, and to be completely abstinent from sexual relationships and girlfriends.
When I tried to follow the steps that I had laid out in life I found so many obstacles and met with failure. I was so frustrated, "Why isn't God helping me? Am I not doing the best thing in the sight of God?" I had plunged into the dark depths of depression and angst. At 16, I was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with major depression and I believed that I was someone whom I was not. I had a hatred for everything in existence, especially for God for bringing me into existence, yet I was in deep love with myself and with Adolf Hitler. When I was 17 I felt as though I was going to implode and I was unable to keep control. I left school, afraid of what I would do to my classmates. I checked myself into an adolescent psych ward--during which time two skyscrapers in New York City came crumbling to the ground in late summer 2001. This excited me into thinking that this would give me some purpose of living. After getting out of the hospital I went to the United States Armed Forces recruiting center after persuading my parents to let me drop out of school--they only wanted for me what would make me happy. The Marine Corps refused to even speak to me because of my illnesses, even though my father had served with them aforetime during Vietnam.
I started being homeschooled and would frequent the library to occasionally brush up on philosophy and hitlerian literature. During one visit, I saw "The Qur'aan" and it really caught my eye. I wondered, "is this the same as the koran? If I read this, I can say hey, guess what the Muslim's believe!"
Now I was a writer. In fact I would spend most of my days writing poetry and screen plays. I wasn't a "writer" like how anyone who likes to lament calls them self a writer. I later received a writing scholarship to a prestigious private college. But when I read the first chapter of the Qur'aan, those 7 verses, I was shaken. Philosophers will spend hundreds of pages deciding whether or not they exist. Yet here were 7 verses that answered, who is Allah, what are His qualities, what will this life amount to, what is our relationship with the Creator, and what it is we are to do and not to do in life. I could not read anymore. I remember saying if the rest of this book is anything like this, then there is nothing like it. And I wanted to remain in my path of self-destruction, yet my curiosity brought me back to the Qur'an after a couple days of keeping away. When I read about the descriptions of humanity in the first verses of chapter 2 I was blown away. No human being could or would ever say these things. Describing the attributes of those who believe, disbelieve, and those who used their claimed religion as a worldly tool seemed to describe everything around me that I could not put my finger on but felt very strongly about. Reading verses like Allah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrongdoing... and Verily, Allah is not ashamed to set forth a parable... and others seemed to put the title of ALMIGHTY back into its spot. It had always bothered me that people treated God like some nosy old neighbor with occasional words of wisdom to put on the fridge with a use You when I need You and leave You when I don't attitude. Yet I did not immediately know that God "The Father" and "Allah" were actually one in the same. I just saw that Islam believed in a Creator of all things whereas God "The Father" was at a much lower status. For example, in the "verse of the footstool" (2:255) the Qur'an states that the footstool of Allah extends beyond the heavens and the earth. But in the Bible (Matthew 5:35), Jesus [peace be upon him] is attributed to saying that God's footstool is the earth. I perceived that "Allah" and "The Father" were different, each with separate religions making the same claim yet there was no comparison between the awesome power and might of Allah, the One Who could not be reached through any intercessor. I believed that this message--grand, foreign, old as it was--was a personal message to me from Allah. I was so excited to read from the Qur'an--I even remember taking it to my grandmother's house and reading passages of it to her. When I finally came to the verse "O you who believe! Enter perfectly into Islam..." [2:208] I closed the book and knew that I did not want to live anymore without being a Muslim.
But I took precaution none the less. I went to church the next Sunday to see if I felt anything from it. Then, I visited with one of my former counselors, Father Michael, from the Greek Orthodox church. I told him my intention which of course shocked him. He asked me what I thought about during the service and I confessed I couldn't stop wondering if Allah approves of all these statues and pictures. He admitted not knowing hardly anything about Islam and did not try to dissuade me from my path. Instead he furnished me with the number and address of a local Islamic center and prayed for me that I would be like the prodigal son.
For those who don't know, the prodigal son is a biblical story of a man who leaves the home of his raising to adventure into the world. After being away for a long time pursuing the glitter of this world he realizes the need to return to the home he left behind. He fears that his family will be mad at him and cast him out upon return but instead finds them joyous wherein they give him a great reception. And it may be that this is really a parable of a person returning to their fitra, or what they were naturally created for, and Allah knows better.
After my meeting with the reverend I had told my parents about my intentions and I don't think I could have said I'm going to the mall and gotten any different response. They were calm and collected but my mother mentioned to me to do some research first. I suppose that I had put them through enough already that nothing from my end could surprise them. It wasn't until right before I would go to the local mosque later that week that my parents realized that I wasn't joking. My father was very passive it is not uncommon to have doubts about one's religion and organized religion at this age he would say. My mother was very devastated--several years later I learned that she thought I became a Muslim only to spite her. My feeling of need for Islam outweighed anything and I threatened my parents to take my own life or to live on the streets in downtown Peoria if they made life difficult for me on account of becoming a Muslim. After that stance of mine, irregardless of how right or wrong it was, my parents have always been very tolerant of my becoming a Muslim, giving me support, and reading/listening to what I offer them.
On October 26th, 2001 I pulled up to the local Islamic center and waited in the parking lot. I stopped to look at who would go inside. When I saw an Arab pull up and escort his wife to one entrance and himself take a different one I realized that this was not a Nation of Islam center so I went ahead and entered. At 6:20 pm I met the first Muslim I had ever met, Abu Usaamah Khalifah adh-dhahabi (may Allah guide him) who helped me repeat ash-hadu an la ilaaha illa Allaah wa Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasoolullah -- the words necessary for becoming a Muslim. About 30 people accepted Islam in Peoria following September 11th. Of those, I am the only one practicing today, and Allah knows best.
But life did not become rosy and peachy from then on. [Can anyone say that it does?] In fact, for two and a half years I called myself a Muslim, and Allah knows better about that. The books I was given on the onset of accepting Islam were miles over my head (Shaykh al-Albaani's unabridged description of the prayer and Kitab-at-Tauheed). I was assigned a mentor who, with all due respect, was very kind and caring, and I greatly appreciate his help and support throughout my various car accidents and laziness. But the brother did not teach me what I needed to be taught when I was ready. Everyday in that first week I would wake up at 5 am to drive 30 minutes downtown for the morning prayer at the Bradley MSA yet how quickly did the enthusiasm begin to wane. Then, after being a "Mozlem" for 3 months I tried to debate with my parents about religion and I felt so humiliated that I overdosed on aspirin. The next morning I was in the hospital vomiting--back to the psych ward. After this second hospitalization I finished my junior year without incident and returned to the actual brick/mortar building for my senior year whilst I pulled up my grades.
After graduating from high school I went to Knox College to study political science. I chose Knox because of its proximity (close to home, but not at home), large international community, and faculty . But when I saw the Muslims there Yeah, you should meet Temur, he's very conservative, he prays...I realized I was in trouble. I tried to spend as much time as I could with "Temur the conservative" (whose dorm furniture was made out of Papa John's pizza boxes). After a year at Knox being a "jumu'ah man" Temur asked me to be the imam the following year. I protested to this but when I considered everyone else... I reluctantly accepted the post.
All this time I was having problems with praying so I asked the Peoria imam for advice but he told me to read about Tauheed. I thought what kind of advice is this? I ask about prayer and he says tauheed? And it took me three attempts at Kitab-at-Tauheed (Muhammad ibn AbdulWahhab Raheemahullah) before I realized what I was reading. But this was the defining moment of my life as a Muslim. It was like smoke was being removed from my eyes, my mind, and my heart. I started praying regularly and on time and have yet to falter, praise be to Allah.
I now realize that this advice was based upon the Prophetic instruction, let the first thing you call them to be singling out Allah for all aspects of worship, if they obey you in that, then tell them that Allah has ordered 5 prayers for every day and night. Before then, I was occasionally reading "Islam and science" and "Islam and Christianity" and other useless literature. Praise be to Allah, I now realize that a person will never attain true certainty or strength as a Muslim except by following this methodology of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) by beginning all affairs with Tauheed [understanding the true relationship between the Muslim and Allah].
I started writing down questions and I asked my former mentor if he could answer them for me but due to his busy schedule he directed me to another brother. This man later became my best friend, an orthodox Muslim from Kuwait. I was impressed with the way he answered questions it doesn't matter what I think, but the Qur'aan says... and the Messenger says... and the scholars explained for us that this means... He didn't offer any of his own opinions, amusing anecdotes, nor tell any stories, everything was to the point and from the only sources that mattered. He furnished me with the right books and so that summer I decided to read and read and read until it became an all-day addiction.
When I returned to college I couldn't focus on my studies as I was so busy reading about Islam. I decided to abandon political science and I thought about going into culture studies until I realized that I wanted to devote the rest of my days to the study of Islam. It took a series of lengthy letters to my family and becoming extremely sick before I could leave Knox College for good. The summer after my would be sophomore year saw a trip to the psychiatrist that I had known for years. The medication I had been taking for 3 years--powerful enough to make a pharmacist gasp...which I was supposed to be taking till the day I die, was relinquished--doctor's orders. My mother fell to the ground crying, saying I knew this day would come.
I have since become a respected member of the Muslim community, given some lectures about Islam, done some occasional writing as well as teaching Islam for the local masjid weekend schools.
Recently, I decided to gather my thoughts and perform hajj. I went with many of those most beloved to me on earth, the brothers from Newark, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. Therein, Allah blessed me with a chance to see some of the great scholars of our time, Ubaid al-Jaabiree and Rabee' al-Madkhali among others, may Allah preserve and protect them. I was awestruck in their presence from what light (noor) and weight that seemed to emanate from them and their words.
But today I'm a welder, and I'm distancing myself from saying anything about Islam because of the loftiness and tremendous weight with that station. I'm currently making plans to move to the east coast, get married, find a way to learn Arabic and ultimately live amongst the Muslims and learn more about this blessed religion of Islam. This way of life which Allah blessed me with in my most desperate hour. I used to come home from school every day and place my face in a pillow and cry, fantasizing about death, and praying for deliverance. I, like so many millions and billions, was unaware that anything like Islam existed. I'm so happy that Allah chose me amongst the billions upon billions on earth that are in need of His guidance. I know that there is nothing I did to deserve His Help except that He has fulfilled His promise to Help those who call upon Him. And He has thus far answered my prayers, "Oh Allah, place me amid the rightly-guided, in this life and the next." Sometimes in the midst of my daily affairs I pause and think about Islam, to consider the vast scope of its guidance. There is perfection in every matter, whether it is the way in which the Muslim is called to believe and understand their Lord and the unseen world about them, or to behave with himself, or to establish a family and live in society. Balance, justice, truth, and practicality are some of the aspects of this way of life, but they are perfected beyond any scale of human conception. The difference between Islam's guidance in a matter and anything else are not like the comparison of one step above another, but rather like the comparison of the stars above to what we are down here--if there is any comparison. When I consider that all of this guidance was revealed to one man in a single 23-year period, when before then the Arabs new nothing of guidance... I am floored. The only thing I can do is praise and thank Allah, keep my duty to Him as much as I am able, and never be too proud to ask His forgiveness for whenever I err.
"Is he who was dead (without Faith by ignorance and disbelief) and We gave him life (by knowledge and Faith) and set for him a light (of Belief) whereby he can walk amongst men – like him who is in the darkness (of disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy) from which he can never come out? Thus it is made fair-seeming to the disbelievers that which they used to do." [6:122]
• American • Was a Christian • became a Muslim In Feb 1997
"When I reached 10 years of age my father decided that he would become a preacher. I myself was baptized at the age of 11. Later I attended Northeastern Christian Jr. College. I received my AA degree and then transferred to Abilene Christian University. While at ACU I became involved with the mission dept. I thought that I could find the relationship with God in the mission field. However, during the year at ACU I really began to question the scriptures and my personal basis for faith...no one could give me answers. I felt doomed and very lonely. I wandered around to different denominations within Christianity and none satisfied me. I felt so empty — an incredible void in my soul. During my search for God I met an Algerian man at work. We started seeing each other and within a few months we were married. We didn't really talk too much about religion. He did however loan me a Qur'an in English, I thumbed through it and told him it was similar to the Bible. Later as our relationship hit bumps and I had unexpectedly got pregnant, all the religious issues surfaced. Unfortunately, actually a blessing from Allaah, I lost the baby at 13 weeks. Within a couple of months my husband began going to the mosque on a regular basis. One day he brought home some fliers and booklets. Among those was the Embryology in the Qur'an. I could not believe what I read. The descriptions in the Qur'aan of the baby's conception and the development in the uterus fascinated me. I was so amazed with what I read. I began to read everything that my husband brought home and left on the coffee table. I finally found the answers within Islam to the questions I had all my life. I could not think of any other questions or arguments to support a decision against Islaam. I had no choice but to submit to the will of Allaah...knowledge makes us accountable for our actions. I took the Shahada (testification of faith).
One day when I was six years old, my parents gave me a shiny quarter, as they did every Sunday morning and told me to put it in the collection plate for church "to give it to Jesus for his work." When I returned, however, the quarter was still in my purse. I was frank in explaining that I hadn't given my money for Jesus because he was absent. My parents were more amused than concerned, probably thinking that my genes would prevail, having descended from a family with three Christian ministers as my grandparents.
I attended an Episcopal Private School where we studied world religions during my last year of elementary school. I was intrigued with my father's Swedenborgian faith for a time, as it injected an element of mysticism into his essays on faith, however, the trinity was a point of contention for me as I felt it wasn't logical. How could one father (The Great Spirit), plus what was called 'His Son' (Jesus), and one Holy Ghost (who I now understand to be Angel Gabriel) all be together as one, inside one being? It was logically impossible, and I had been raised to use rational thought to make decisions in my life, I knew I couldn't accept the creed of three equaling one. I continued reading the Bible every Sunday with my father after dinner, looking for answers and enjoying stories of historical Prophets, at the same time not feeling totally satisfied. I was told I should not question, but simply believe in good faith, However, I never was one for blind following, and I needed to feel the proof on my own.
In High School, I met some students from the Middle East who were Muslims. Noticing my inner dissatisfaction, one asked if I had ever read about Islam, and suggested that I make use of our school library to discover more information about it, I was elated to discover that there was even a copy of the Our'an which I checked out to borrow, When I brought some books home, my grandfather encouraged me to learn, and reassured my family that Islam contained a good moral code of living. He himself had immigrated to America in 1913 when he was a boy from a Russian province next to Turkey on the Black Sea, and remembered haring the call to prayer, and that some of our relatives had Arabic Muslim names, such as Maryam and Sophia. The more I read, the more my understanding and excitement grew. I found the answers to all my question, and more! Everyday I looked forward to reading more, and my discoveries enlightened me. Islam was clear, logical, with explanations and guidance for every aspect of worship and human relations.
At the age of 17, 1 began regular Salat (prayer) and completed my first Ramadan fast. If I went to the park, or out with friends, I would stash a bag of dates (if I had them), a bottle of water, and maybe a sandwich or can of food, and break my fast wherever I was at that moment. My non-Muslim friends would good naturedly remind me of the sun's setting so I could break my fast. That summer I took the train for 2days to Bloomington, Indiana to attend the Muslim Students Association's lectures and seminars to learn more about my new faith, stayed on campus with other Muslims for a week, and my faith blossomed, I returned home with a prayer rug, prayer beads, books, and several scarves, al-though unfortunately I did not have the courage to continue wearing the scarves once I left.
I attended Portland State University with a major in teaching English as second language, and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. I hoped to go to Saudi Arabia to work, visit Makkah and Madinah and perform Ha]]. In my last year of study, I began to push myself too hard, too fast. I began to doubt I would realize my goals, and became depressed. Trying to compete with my friends in graduating early, I did myself a disservice by overloading myself with extra classes which resulted in my having a nervous breakdown. As I stood one evening overlooking beautiful lights of the city from a high rise building, I thought how easy it would be to just step off into the air and end it all. However, suicide in Islam was a big sin (I didn't know that at the time), but I knew how it would deeply hurt my close relatives and friends if I 'took the easy way out.' Besides, I reasoned with myself, there's still that tiny chance that Merciful Allah might let me get to Makkah after all, so why not wait to find out? Indeed, Allah works on His own timetable and everything has a plan if it is good for us.
Advised to make a fresh start, I moved to Houston, Texas to seek employment, instead of study. I thought if I could start out on my own in a strange city, I could certainly later get the courage to go to the Middle east. I hoped that my three years of Arabic studies would help me find a job in ARAMCO or one of the other major companies in Texas. After arriving in Houston now wearing Hijab, I searched for the mosque in the telephone directory and asked there if I could find a Muslim girl to be my roommate. Allah was generous, and one welcomed me into the community as a sister. I soon after found work and my confidence grew, One evening at an international costume party I, met a polite gentleman whom I later found to be an intelligent Saudi student. We married shortly thereafter, and through him God has let my dreams come true. We have three lovely children, and he has taken me on Hajj.
I am content and satisfied and greatly thankful to the Almighty God, who certainly answers earnest Dua'a (supplications), If it is good for us. If we are patient, and have Iman (faith), Allah does help us even in ways we don't expect.
• American • Was a Christian from the Church of God • Became Muslim in 1977
"I continuously asked my Pastor why do we pray to Jesus, yet the Bible tells us, 'Not to have any God before Me'. My Pastor could never give me a satisfactory answer. So at the age of 17 I went in search of an authentic religion that made sense. I studied the books of the Bible that were left out, and found out the reason for this is due to the fact that the information in those books contradicts the Bible! It is well known that the Bible has been changed many times. Islam is authentic. The Qur'an has not been changed or altered, the Bible has. I accepted Islaam in 1977 at the age of 17."
My name is Zachary David Simpson and I am 31 years old. I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah in a family that was converted to mormonism by my Mom. We always went to church every Sunday and I always felt out of place there. I was quiet and shy and the kids in the sunday school thought that I was a loser so they made sure to treat me accordingly. When I was 8 they dunked me in a pool in white garments and said I was now officially one of them. However, my Dad decided to stop attending church that year, and I followed him in his decision, even though my Mom objected to it. I spent the following years until I was 14 being harassed and shunned by these people that think they will eventually become gods. (and Allaah's refuge is sought)
Then I decided to become a musician in emulation of my favorite guitar player. I spent the next 11 years playing and practicing with people I considered dispicable.. (because of their drug use and their abuse of women). Then I decided just to play for myself and not join anymore bands as I was fed up with them. I was a person who would do anything for my art so I went to the library to find something I could read to improve my concentration. I found a book on Zen and started practicing the techniques in it. After that I decided to check out what other religions say (other than buddhism). The first religion I investigated was Islam. Up until that point I thought there was a God but there was no proof for His existence. Then the book I read quoted an example that if you see footprints in the sand you know that a man was there and it finally made sense that God's signs are everywhere. The sun, the moon, the birds flying in the sky with no support but Allah holding them there. The book also quoted many examples of our beloved Messenger Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam (May Allah mention him amongst the greater gatherings of the angels). His character with his wives is what impressed me the most about him as well as his complete and utter trustworthiness. So I accepted Islaam about 3 weeks later.
I was torn between my love of music and Islam but I finally decided Allah was more important than a 'block of wood with wires on it.' I finally sold my equipment after I read the story of Salman al Farsi [the Persian] (May Allah be pleased with him) and how he was making hijrah (migration) to Madinah and the idolaters stopped him but he told them he would give them his wealth if they would let him go. Soon thereafter Allah the Majestic sent someone who is my closest friend now to teach me how the people of Islam and the Sunnah (Prohetic way) implemented the religion. He was also a former mormon so we had alot in common right from the start. Islam is the only way to achieve true joy as Eemaan (true faith) frees you from the chains of idolatry and oppression and injustice. Wherever you are you know that Allah controls every situation you are put in and He is All-Powerful and All-Knowing of everything and everyone. So there is no reason to fear anything but Him and Him alone. May Allah guide those who read this and give us that great reward (of inviting to Islam), Ameen. Ash Hadu an laa Ilaha Illa Allahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu wa Ash Hadu anna Muhammadan Abduhu wa Rasuluh (I bear witness that there is nothing deserving of worship except Allaah, Alone wihout any partners and I bear witness that Muhammad is his slave and Messenger).
“I was born & raised in a Puerto Rican household in NYC. Once I was able to think for myself, without getting into much trouble, I started asking questions. ‘How can it be that
Jesus IS God?’ ‘How do you figure 3 different entities to BE 1 God?’ ‘Why can't we pray directly TO God, instead of through others?’ ‘Who said you HAVE to be Christian to go to Heaven?' 'How come we're only religious on Sundays and holidays?' The usual response was, 'Because that's the way it is.' I found, and still find, that answer unacceptable.
By the time I finished high school I'd decided on my own religion: ‘Jubieism’. I believed in 1 God. I believed that God sent various Messengers and Prophets to various people in order for His message to be spread.
And then in 1993, I went to college... a CATHOLIC college... a Catholic college where you were REQUIRED to take a religion class to graduate... So I took "Survey of World Religions".
We had several guest speakers on various religions. We only studied Islam for a month, but it was definitely the most interesting section of the semester, and a lot of misconceptions were knocked down.
I remember asking one Muslim lecturer If `I'm a Christian who believes in 1 God only, and believes that Mohammed was a Messenger of God, and am a good person, am I still going to Hell?' She smiled, and said `No. But that means you aren't a Christian either.'
She was right...
And here I am...1 year after I've graduated from that Catholic College (and after a lot of research, and even more soul searching), I still have the same beliefs I did before. Except now, it’s not ‘Jubieism’, it's Islaam."
My early religious training was in the Christian faith. This, however, was a matter of birth, not of choice-our early religious training is generally in the faith of our parents. Later in life, our religion is usually accepted as a matter of fact. We, however, question and examine everything except our religious faith, particularly if it is Christianity.
The Christian Bible, being the textbook of Christianity, is a book which I have read many times. I doubt if there is a person who does not shudder while reading its pages, filled as they are with blood-curdling slaughter, rapine and destruction, along with its tales of incest, rape and other vile obscenity. Indeed, after reading the Bible one cannot help but wonder as to the nature of this "God of the Christians".
Almost every Christian home contains the Bible, but it is generally used as a mantelpiece decoration. If it were the custom of the printer to deliver this book with its edges uncut, it would, no doubt, remain so for many years. Charles Francis Potter, D. D., in his book "The Story of Religion" wrote: "The Christian Bible may be ‘the book nobody knows’ in America, but the Qur'an is the “book everybody reads in Islam." Yes, indeed, and it is an advantage to Christianity that the Bible is "the book nobody knows." The Bible was the first cause in leading me away from Christianity.
Having lost all interest in Christianity, I began a study of other world religions, as well as various "ologies" and "isms." All this was followed by agnosticism and atheism. However, there is, I believe, in mankind an innate certainty deeply rooted which persists in proclaiming the fact that there is a God, a Divine Creator, Master of the universe. But not the God who glories in bloodshed, atrocities and sensuousness. It was this "innate certainty" which caused me to return to a further study of religion.
I found that Islam appeals to one's reason; it does not contain the pessimism of Buddhism; it is not void of Divinity like Shintoism or Confucianism, nor is it a money made religion. I found that it invites and encourages the pursuit of knowledge. The pages of history are filled with facts citing the hindrances which Christianity placed in the pathway of progress and civilization. It was a traditional saying of the Prophet Muhammad of Blessed Memory that "who so pursue the road of knowledge, God will direct him to the road of Paradise; verily the angels spread their arms to receive him who seek after knowledge; verily the superiority of a learned man over a mere worshipper is like that of the full moon over the stars."
I do not hesitate to state that were Islam better known in the Western World, it would astound the civilized world by its gain in adherents. The reason why it is not better known is that it is with difficulty that one can obtain authorized or even unbiased literature pertaining to the Islamic faith. However, I am sure, time will rectify this condition.
In bringing this article to an end, I wish to state that I am very happy to add my voice to the millions who proclaim to the world that “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger”.
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.
Allah 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 Allah 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, Allah 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. Allah 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 Allah.
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 Allah can give Light.
The more I learned, the more I felt compelled to express my gratitude to Allah 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 Allah with a mind that is not completely closed to Truth, will become a Muslim, if Allah pleases. He will also travel from darkness to Light.
May Allah 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 Allah Himself: "the best people that were ever raised for the benefit of mankind." Praise is to Allah, the Lord of the universe!
Sherman (Jaffar) Whittenburg - Ex-Model and Actor Speaks to islaam.ca on His Conversion to Islam
Sherman Whittenburg is a former model and actor who modelled for magazines such as 'GQ' and 'The Source' and had acting spots in 'All My Children' and TV commercials. A former College basketball player from New York, Whittenburg turned to modelling and acting after sustaining an injury. After enjoying some quick success as a model and actor, Allah opened his heart to Islam. Sherman shares his unique and beautiful journey to Islam with islaam.ca - an inspiring story of hard-times in Brooklyn, New York to almost overnight stardom in modelling/acting to his eventual journey to Islam in which he left behind a world of opportunity and wealth for the simplicity of worshipping the one, sole creator, the religion of Islam.
Zakiyyah F. Amatullah (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
I grew up in the United States, Philadelphia Pa. I was raised as a Christian in the Baptist Church. My mother made me go to church every Sunday and on that day the only music that was allowed to be played was Gospel. I never liked church very much, it always seemed to me, to be a place for a fashion show. You had to wear you very best outfit and sit and check out everybody elses as they came through the door. I would see people nudging each other as they seen the people come through the door and gossiping about them or looking at them with their noses in the air. I noticed some were very uncomfortable about what they had on,because they knew they would be discussed after the service. I never liked that atmosphere. Then it came time for the service, now was the preacher's time to show out. He would start slow and easy with the preaching and it would build up as he went along. Soon he would grab the Bible and start preaching and jumping up and down, sweat running everywhere.
The people would get happy with him and start shouting and carrying on. And it never failed, when the people became excited like that, that they would pass around the money container,and out of being so fired up they would give all they had without even thinking about it. I never could understand why,when the preacher got excited, so did they. It never hit me like that, and I use to wonder why. So I use to go home and start reading the Bible. I was sure I would find my answer in there as to why I wasn't like the rest of the 'Holy people'. I really thought I wasn't doing something right. But as read the Bible, I never noticed any of their people in there ever jumping up and down and getting happy. I remember reading when Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples named Judas and he (Jesus)went behind a mountain to pray. I can remember thinking, who is God (ASTAGHFIRULLAH - May Allah Forgive me) praying to? I knew something was wrong then. So I asked about this to my mother and grandmother and they would tell me he is praying to the Father. Well that threw me into total confusion and I went on that way until I was a teenager and concluded that church just wasn't for me. So I never was a religious person.
I use to notice the Muslim women walking along or on the bus, they stood out to me, I wanted to know what they were all about, but I didn't know how to approach them. I had a friend and she told me to greet them with 'assalaamu alaikum'. So I said the next time I see a Muslim lady I would say that. She told me the Muslims have a book called the Noble Quran and that they don't eat pork. Neither one of us understood why they covered (up) like that, but thought it was kind of neat. It made them stand out, and they always carried themselves so well.
One day I was on the bus going downtown and a Muslim woman got on the bus, and I greeted her with 'assalaamualaikum' and she greeted me back,so I asked her where could I get a copy of the Noble Quran and she told me. The very next day I went and got one. When I started to read this book, it gave me a good feeling, I could understand it and I couldn't put it down. I decided to go into the military and I took the Quran with me and continued to read it and told my army buddies about what it said. This continued for three years and I re-enlisted for two more years and went to Texas.
My roomate was a Buddhist and I use to see her do her thing at a little box and she would chant and ring bells in front of candles.I told her I was interested in Islam and about what I was reading. One day she went out and when she came back she handed me a sheet of paper and said: Maybe you would be interested in this. It was about Islam and where they met at on Fridays. I took it and threw it in my locker. About a day or two later I decided to go to this place and see what Islam was all about. I went and listened to the khutbah and liked very much what I was hearing. He (the speaker) was talking about the people and their behaviour,and how the women dressed, and sex before marriage. It left a good impression on me and the (Muslim) sisters were so nice to me. They didn't try to convert me, but they invited me back. So that next friday I went back again and again I love the khutbah (sermon), what he was saying was a reality, it was true. The sisters told me they would be having a picnic at the park that next week and would like for me to join them and I accepted the invitation.
The next week arrived and off to the park we went. We arrived in the afternoon and I watched while the brothers (Muslim men) covered the ground with white sheets. I thought to myself, this is where we will sit and eat! While the sisters and I were sitting on a bench a brother got up took off his shoes and stood in the middle of the sheets, put his hands up to his ears and started singing (at lest that's what i thought) and I said to myself: What on earth is he doing? I asked the sister close to me what was he doing and she said this is a call to prayer. Then I watched them as they made the Sunnah prayer (a optional short prayer). While one was standing up another was bending over and yet another had his face to the ground. I sat and observed.
When they all had finished another brother came and called again to prayer, but this time everybody got up and made lines like we did in the army. One man was in front, while all other made were behind him in rows, just like we did in formation. The women were in the back farther away. And they started to pray. I had never seen anything so amazing in my whole entire life, I was so overwhelmed when I saw that. I knew right then and there I wanted to be a Muslim. When the day was over I told them I would come back the next week and I did, but this time I told the sister I wanted to be a Muslim and they told their Imam and I took the shahadah (testification of faith - see How do I Become a Muslim?) . That was the happiest day of my life. All the Muslim sisters hugged me and congradulated me, I felt like I had been lifted into a new world and I never felt any difference until this very day. Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin (All Praise and Thanks are due to Allaah, Lord of all Creation).
May Allah (the one true Almighty God) guide us all to accept His decree. May Allah make us all strong in following, practicing and accepting this great religion in its entirety. Ameen!!!