Men who changed their lives Source: www.islamreligion.

com Brandon Toropov, Ex-Christian, USA (part 1 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 one: A problem with conventional Christianity. By Brandon Toropov - Published on 08 Jan 2007 - Last modified on 15 Jan 2007 Viewed: 999 - Rating: 4 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 55 - Emailed: 0 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men A Wave of Conversions If you are a Christian, the idea that Jesus, may God praise 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 God praise 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 God praise 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 Page 1

Men who changed their lives 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 Page 2

Men who changed their lives 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: 789 - Rating: 4.7 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 52 - Emailed: 1 - Commented on: 0 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 God praise 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) Page 3

Men who changed their lives 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 Page 4

Men who changed their lives 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. Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 1 of 5) Description: Yusuf Estes, now an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his story about entering Islam. Part 1: Background. By Yusuf Estes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 04 Sep 2006 Viewed: 3190 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 4 Printed: 174 - Emailed: 4 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 5

Men who changed their lives 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: A Man from Egypt. By Yusuf Estes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006 Viewed: 2391 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 132 - Emailed: 2 - Commented on: 0 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 Page 6

Men who changed their lives 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) Page 7

Men who changed their lives Description: Preaching Christianity to a priest. By Yusuf Estes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006 Viewed: 2353 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 130 - Emailed: 1 - Commented on: 0 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, Page 8

Men who changed their lives 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: A big home and discussions about religion. By Yusuf Estes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 02 Feb 2006 Viewed: 2323 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 122 - Emailed: 1 - Commented on: 0 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 Page 9

Men who changed their lives 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: 2516 - Rating: 4.7 from 5 - Rated by: 25 Printed: 145 - Emailed: 19 - Commented on: 0 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 God praise 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 Page 10

Men who changed their lives 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. Clinton Sipes, Ex-Christian, USA (part 1 of 2) Description: A life of hate, crime and violence changes to one of peace and faith. Part 1: Early Life. By Clinton Sipes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 19 Jun 2006 Viewed: 2006 - Rating: 3 from 5 - Rated by: 2 Printed: 102 - Emailed: 3 - Commented on: 2 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 11

Men who changed their lives 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.Clinton Sipes, Ex-Christian, USA (part 2 of 2) Description: A life of hate, crime and violence changes to one of peace and faith. Part 2: The Servant of the Source of Peace. By Clinton Sipes - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006 Viewed: 1777 - Rating: 4.5 from 5 - Rated by: 10 Printed: 105 - Emailed: 5 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men The 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. Page 12

Men who changed their lives 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. Craig Robertson, Ex-Catholic, Canada (part 1 of 2): From Bad to Worse Description: After being raised in a Catholic household and spending much of his early childhood attending church, Craig rejects faith and takes to life in the fast lane. By Craig Robertson - Published on 11 Dec 2006 - Last modified on 25 Dec 2006 Viewed: 4055 - Rating: 4.7 from 5 - Rated by: 9 Printed: 98 - Emailed: 11 - Commented on: 2 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 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 Page 13

Men who changed their lives 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 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 Page 14

Men who changed their lives 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.Craig Robertson, Ex-Catholic, Canada (part 2 of 2): Learning to Accept Description: After finding his way back to Christianity, Craig is betrayed by his friends and again becomes lost, until his encouter with a Muslim at work. By Craig Robertson - Published on 11 Dec 2006 - Last modified on 15 Dec 2006 Viewed: 2567 - Rating: 4.8 from 5 - Rated by: 23 Printed: 76 - Emailed: 11 - Commented on: 9 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 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, Page 15

Men who changed their lives but when 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! Dawood Kinney, Ex-Catholic, USA Description: After indulging in the pleasures of most teenagers, Dawood finds his faith in Islam after being rejected by the Catholic Church. By Dawood Kinney - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006 Viewed: 1600 - Rating: 4.4 from 5 - Rated by: 13 Printed: 81 - Emailed: 3 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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. Page 16

Men who changed their lives 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. Don Trammell, Ex-Christian, USA (part 1 of 2) Description: A conversation about Islam leads a man to travel to Egypt and finally accept Islam. Part 1: The first step. By Don Trammell (from IslamOnline.net with permission) - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 04 Oct 2006 Viewed: 5889 - Rating: 4.2 from 5 - Rated by: 14 Printed: 174 - Emailed: 12 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. My journey to Islam was a bit more circuitous but in the end, it led me to the waiting mercy of God. I first heard about Islam back in 1999 while working for a Finnish software house. I was searching the Net and entered a chat room. While here, I met an Egyptian woman that was curious about wireless technology. We continued to meet Page 17

Men who changed their lives and chat via the Internet and discuss the different aspects of wireless solutions and the future of the technology. Throughout our conversations, I asked more and more about Islam and why she believed what she believed. Through it all, she was very patient and understanding of my questions and was very good at explaining things to me about Islam and the differences between Islam and Christianity. My religious upbringing was fostered by my mother, a devout Christian that has a deep sense of spirituality and belief in God. In some ways, I could say that seeing her faith throughout my upbringing has left my heart open in the search for the true meaning of life. God has blessed me with a mother, who in many ways lives a life of Islam through her daily Christian actions of compassion, and understanding of those around her. My burgeoning interest in Islam coupled with an already instilled belief in God was perhaps the opening that I needed on my journey. Prior to my reversion, I could have been considered a “Christian-lite”. Basically, I was a Christian in name only. While I did believe in God, I had not submitted Him as the maker and creator of my destiny. I felt that this was something I was better off handling rather than letting God decide my fate. Being raised in the West and subjected to the influences with which we are constantly bombarded did not help the situation neither. In a word, you could say that I was living by my own set of rules. Over the course of about a year, a business relationship developed and I was introduced to several other Muslim gentlemen and we arranged that I would travel down to Cairo. It just so happened that my trip coincided with the holy month of Ramadan. While in Cairo my hosts were [fasting the month of] Ramadan and so were all of the individuals that we were meeting with. I was intrigued that everyone was fasting and “suddenly disappearing”, to return about 15 minutes later. To be part of the crowd, I decided that I would also begin to observe the days of fasting as a sign of solidarity with my hosts. I left Cairo a few weeks later wondering about the ritual with which I had just participated. I later returned to Cairo for business and was paired with someone in the marketing section of one of the largest ISP’s in Cairo to talk about how to integrate wireless solutions into the market down in Cairo. We were preparing for Cairo Telecomp, a large IT trade fair that required many sleepless days and nights of preparation. My host, Ms. Noha, and I were together night and day working on the presentation that we would deliver. I noticed that at certain times of the day, she would simply excuse herself and suddenly return about 15 minutes later. After a few days of interruptions I confronted her as to what was so important that she had to stop in the middle of or preparations. Shyly, and after several minutes of question avoidance, she admitted that she was going to do her daily prayers, and that she was performing them at their prescribed times. My feelings of annoyance quickly faded away and were replaced with feelings of awe and respect. I too wanted to have this feeling of the importance of God in my life. Slowly I began to ask more and more questions about Islam and what it is like to be a Muslim. Noha never pushed but used a gentle hand to guide me in the direction where I could find the information that I needed to learn more. I left Egypt at the end of Cairo Telecomp confused but with a desire and burning on my heart, not to mention a suitcase full of books to quench my thirst to learn more. A quick four-day trip brought me back to Cairo towards the end of March 2001. My first stop was to my virtual Islam teacher, to ask her more questions about the things that I had read. The time passed faster than what seemed expected on this trip as there was not enough time in the day to work and to talk about Islam. One important thing that I also realized is that I had fallen in love. My heart was completely with the warm and friendly people that I had grown to care for and to feel as good friends. It was as if God was opening my heart to another side of humanity that I had not known before. Being from the West, one can easily become jaded and not trust or accept the basic acts of kindness that seem to be pervasive in the Middle East. I felt that my heart had found a home.Don Trammell, Ex-Christian, USA (part 2 of 2) Description: A conversation about Islam leads a man to travel to Egypt and finally accept Islam. Part 2: The journey of a thousand miles. By Don Trammell (from IslamOnline.net with permission) - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 04 Oct 2006 Viewed: 3022 - Rating: 4.8 from 5 - Rated by: 23 Printed: 153 - Emailed: 13 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men Six long months passed by before I would step foot on Egyptian soil once again. In the previous months, the company that I worked for filed for Page 18

Men who changed their lives bankruptcy, and the thought of getting back down to Cairo seemed further and further away, but I was determined to continue my reading, learning and questioning. Finally, on a warm summer night, while surfing the Internet, a feeling or an epiphany came over me. I felt that I was wanted no longer to hold on to the things of my past or to live my life the way that it was. Some people talk about seeing a light, or hearing a voice, or something of this nature and I would be the first to say that it sounds very theatrical but I too felt something more than just a whisper but a push or an opening of my heart. I wanted to scream, to shout, to cry, to dance, to run, to laugh all at the same time. I had a complete flood of emotions that to this day, I cannot explain, nor do I really need to. Some things are better enjoyed rather than analyzed. I sent an email to Noha, to tell her what I felt and to ask her what I should do. She was gentle and kind and understood me completely. She told me to relax, to settle down and to gather my feelings. From this day forward, I decided that I had to return to Egypt , to my people, to my home, to find what was calling me there. My chance to return came while working as a consultant for a telecommunications consulting firm. I was to consult for a top Egyptian company in the marketing section. I enjoyed the work with Hatem, with whom I had a business relationship that was cultivated a several months earlier through my other Egyptian friends, Hany and Hisham, and I were very happy to work for a friendly face. I departed for Egypt at the end of August with the hopes of completing my journey, with the hopes of answering the call that I could not explain. I started working the next day at the offices where I met some really nice people who immediately made me feel at home. On this day, I met two people that would be instrumental in helping me to make the steps that would point me down the road, Mohammad and Sherief. Upon hearing that I wanted to know more about Islam and to possibly convert, Mohammad invited me to a men’s group where they talked about the Quran and the blessed prophet. After the end of the meeting, we all prayed the evening prayer, Isha. This was my first time to actually participate in a group prayer, and to hear the Fatihah (the first and one of the most important chapters of the Quran). It was so moving and solemn. I could not help but cry as the words from God moved my heart. The next day, I related the story to Hatem and Sherief and they were very supportive. I continued to read and ask questions and felt that my trek was drawing to a close. September 11th was the catalyst that began to bring things to a close or to fruition. After the attack, all of my work mates came to me and offered their condolences and said that this is not Islam, but something very terrible and please not to think that Muslims are bad people. I could feel the pain and sadness expressed by many. Measured by the climate followed the attacks, people in the West would not believe that Muslims really felt that way. I felt that these words of comfort spoke for many Muslims around the world. As the next few weeks drew on, it was clear that maybe the Middle East was not a safe place for an American, as sentiment against American policy, not Americans, were running rather high. I began to feel rushed and that I would not convert at all, and this was the reason in the first place to come to Cairo. Hundreds convert all over the world everyday but for me, it had to take place in an Islamic Arab country. Pure symbolism, but important symbolism nonetheless. Sensing my frustration, Noha introduced me again to a business acquaintance, Sameh (my dear brother). Sameh gave me a crash course in Wudu (ablution), how to pray, how to behave, what to do and what to give up forever. On October 2, 2001 , Sameh picked me up to go for a ride, and we ended up at Al-Azhar famous Mosque, and there I made my declaration that there is no God except God and Muhammad is His messenger. There was not a dry eye in the place. It was quite an experience for all involved. I look forward to the day when all those who helped me on my journey to Islam and myself will celebrate together in paradise. Last but not least, I would like to than my mother for her understanding of my decision to embrace Islam. Your faith in God has been a source of inspiration for me throughout my entire life. Your unwavering reverence for God is a shining example for those who ask “where have all the faithful gone.” They could look to you for guidance. Thank you for helping me to be the man that I am and the man that I am striving to become. May God show you mother the straight path of Islam as an extension of what you are now and a further fulfillment of the purposes and wisdom of your goodness. Eric Schrody, Ex-Catholic, USA (part 1 of 2) Description: An interview with the x rap star EverLast and his journey to Islam. Part 1. Page 19

Men who changed their lives By Adisa Banjoko (interviewer) - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006 Viewed: 3142 - Rating: 4.7 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 127 - Emailed: 5 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 20

Men who changed their lives 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).Eric Schrody, Ex-Catholic, USA (part 2 of 2) Description: An interview with the x rap star EverLast and his journey to Islam. Part 2. By Adisa Banjoko (interviewer) - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006 Viewed: 2267 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 6 Printed: 120 - Emailed: 10 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Warith Deen 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 Page 21

Men who changed their lives 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.” Adisa Banjoko is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. topic Malik Mohammed Hassan, Canada Description: Influenced by figures such as Alex Haley and Malcolm X, a blind man’s sparked interest in Islam leads him to accept Islam. By Malik Mohammed Hassan - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 17 Sep 2006 Viewed: 2457 - Rating: 4.6 from 5 - Rated by: 26 Printed: 106 - Emailed: 8 - Commented on: 2 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 22

Men who changed their lives 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) Muhammed Umar Rao, Ex-Hindu, Brahmin Description: After a severe hate for Muslims, Muhammad takes to reading the Quran to refute them, and finds that a world he once knew immaterializes. By Muhammed Umar Rao - Published on 07 May 2007 - Last modified on 13 May 2007 Viewed: 603 - Rating: 4 from 5 - Rated by: 9 Printed: 29 - Emailed: 6 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Quran and also embraced it 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. Page 23

Men who changed their lives I was associated with RSS for 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] should 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 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. Meantime, my mother, sisters worked 2 months in 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 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 comparative study with whatever common sense which God had blessed me then. By now, in the verge to know more about Islam, I started reading 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, people around that who has seen God almighty to paint /make images of God, all answered me that none 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 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 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) Page 24

Men who changed their lives 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, Grace of God, I started working as 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. Musa Caplan, Ex-Jew, USA Description: Musa, only 15 years of age, describes what he saw in Islam in relation to Judaism which caught his interest and led him to accept it. By Musa Caplan (Edited by IslamReligion.com) - Published on 02 Apr 2007 - Last modified on 15 May 2007 Viewed: 717 - Rating: 4.6 from 5 - Rated by: 10 Printed: 23 - Emailed: 4 - Commented on: 3 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 25

Men who changed their lives 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. N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA (part 1 of 5) Description: A Catholic who rejects his faith and takes to Philosophy, and then later accepts Islam due to many unanswered questions. Part 1: Doubting in the faith. By N.K. - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 30 Oct 2006 Viewed: 1984 - Rating: 3 from 5 - Rated by: 2 Printed: 128 - Emailed: 5 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 26

Men who changed their lives 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?N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA (part 2 of 5) Description: A Catholic who rejects his faith and takes to Philosophy, and then later accepts Islam due to many unanswered questions. Part 2: The study of Philosophy and reading the Quran. By N.K. - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 07 Feb 2006 Viewed: 1585 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 120 - Emailed: 0 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 27

Men who changed their lives 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.N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA (part 3 of 5) Description: A Catholic who rejects his faith and takes to Philosophy, and then later accepts Islam due to many unanswered questions. Part 3: Reflections on fishing in Alaska. By N.K. - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 07 Feb 2006 Viewed: 1564 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 118 - Emailed: 0 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 28

Men who changed their lives 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 Page 29

Men who changed their lives 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.N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA (part 4 of 5) Description: A Catholic who rejects his faith and takes to Philosophy, and then later accepts Islam due to many unanswered questions. Part 4: More unanswered questions in Philosophy and readings into Islam. By N.K. - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 07 Feb 2006 Viewed: 1474 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 117 - Emailed: 3 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 30

Men who changed their lives 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.N.K., Ex-Catholic, USA (part 5 of 5) Description: A Catholic who rejects his faith and takes to Philosophy, and then later accepts Islam due to many unanswered questions. Part 5: A trip to Egypt and accepting Islam. By N.K. - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 31 Jul 2006 Viewed: 1506 - Rating: 4 from 5 - Rated by: 4 Printed: 119 - Emailed: 6 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 31

Men who changed their lives 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, Page 32

Men who changed their lives 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) Paul Jane, Ex-Atheist, UK (part 1 of 2) Description: Paul, a lad aged 15, discusses his early childhood, and the incident which actually led him to read about Islam. By Paul Jane - Published on 26 Feb 2007 - Last modified on 27 Feb 2007 Viewed: 907 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 1 Printed: 39 - Emailed: 0 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men This is the story of my religious life before entering the fold of Islam. I was born a caesarian in a large city in Honduras, a country with semi-large poverty and the largest child murder rate in the world. My parents had both just turned 18 and they decided to see my mothers relatives there. My mum was half Honduran, and my dad was English from near Cornwall. Neither of them were terrifically well off when I was born, but when I was, they became a lot poorer as they wanted to keep me fed and well kept as a baby. For six months after I was born, I lived in Honduras, and my parents had struggled so much to keep me well that at one point for a whole month they ate nothing but plain porridge oats, as that was all they could afford then. My grandparent on my mums side had told me that whilst I was living there, I was christened. My mums family were predominantly Catholics, and I am not sure of my dads. However, both my Mum and my Dad hated and still do hate religion. They believe that religion is just a word of a few people who wish for people to fear and then to gain power out of their emotions. The only group I can think of that does this is the Christian church, where, the Vatican had changed the words of God and the message of the prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, to suit their liking and gain them power; even though in the bible there was no reference of Jesus asking for worshiping of him or claiming he was the direct son of god. Anyway, a year and 10 months after I was born, my mum had given birth to my sister. Nothing much happened since then as I do not remember it; but I do remember, my mum and my dads family falling out and not wishing to speak to one another, moving from Cornwall to Wiltshire, from Wiltshire to Germany, and then almost finally, Germany to Somerset, which is where I have spent most of my life. I moved to Somerset when I was eight and began settling in well there. Unfortunately though, my mum and dad had lots of struggles with money, supporting me and my sister, and about my mum and my dads families relationship; so my dad moved abroad and separated from my mum. Obviously my mum was upset and chose to move herself, but because my mum wanted us (me and my sister) to stay in the same city we moved, but stayed in the same province so we could go to the same schools and not be affected much. For a while not much happened, except we did move again once more to move closer to my current comprehensive school. In the latest house, my sister became more and more aggressive than before, in her anger and her mind and was genuinely always fighting with my mum or shouting at me; even at one point she threatened to kill me with a carving knife if I didn’t give her the TV remote because I was watching something (I forget). Me and my mum did not know why she was like this until a while later when she brought a knife into school intending to kill herself and slit her wrist (she only has one for she was born with one hand). She didn’t go ahead with her intention, but we found the reason was because someone had been bullying her and telling her to do this on the internet. The boy who told her to was in her year at school and had been bullying her for a long time. A few months after this incident, she had run away from home on a bus to another city about a quarter of the length from London to Bristol. The police helped us find her the same night, and she was back home safe. My mother was obviously worried as she had gone to a big city during night time with all the scares of pedophiles and rapists in the media. This incident was also inferred from her being bullied. On a third occasion, she had taken paracetamol pills into school and had eaten the whole packet of them, which knocked her out. She had to get her Page 33

Men who changed their lives stomach pumped, but the reason she took them was because she thought it would kill her. This was caused by her being bullied as well. To stop her doing anything “crazy” again, my sister moved in with my dad and had many falling outs with him too, so four months later she moved back in with us. She moved in with us again at the beginning of September 06. After that, my dads current girlfriend had bought me a book to read as it was going cheap. It was the Da Vinci code. In there, I had learnt much of the controversies of the church (not of the prophet Jesus, peace be upon him) and how they had manipulated the great prophets words to gain them power (as I explained earlier). In the book I heard of these gospels which were denied from the bible and classed as heresy. So I went myself to look into more research of this. A couple of weeks ago I had found a book in a local bookstore called “The Gnostic Gospels” and at the same time I bought the Quran translated into English. I bought the Quran as I wanted to know why and what the extremist Muslims in the middle east were apparently bombing themselves for. (back then I did not know that the Quran was of the same doctrine as the bible and Torah) So I bought the Quran and the Gnostic gospels book and read them at about the same time and pace as each other. What I found astounded me…Paul Jane, Ex-Atheist, UK (part 2 of 2) Description: Paul describes what he found in the Quran which made him realize that Islam is the Truth. By Paul Jane - Published on 26 Feb 2007 - Last modified on 27 Feb 2007 Viewed: 803 - Rating: 4.7 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 37 - Emailed: 1 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men The Gnostic gospels are the gospels associated with Prophet Jesus which were declined from being introduced into the bible by the Church, as I read some of the gospels out of interest, I found that there was mention of “multiple heavens” and I read in the Quran in Chapter 2: “It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.” (Quran 2:29) Reference to multiple heavens! Now how could just any man from 1400 years ago of known and talked about something which was long lost and all burned by the Christian church 300 years before then? There is only one answer: He was told by the Archangel Gabriel! This had me thrilled with interest, I was interested enough just to know about the gospels which were declined from the bible, but to then find out that the answers were already here on Earth for 1400 years? It answered so many unanswered questions! After that I decided to look up on the net of how Islam must be truth, and found the prophecies of Muhammad, peace be upon him, and was happy and joyous to find that many of the prophecies have already happened! This sealed my belief that Islam must be true! I was so happy, because I knew God had found me and that God had helped me to find Islam! I felt blessed. Islam was true! Now that I believed, I tried to find out what I must do to become a true Muslim, I searched the net for a helpful site and then came across this one www.islamreligion.com I clicked onto the converting to Islam article (http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/204/) and found out that all my previous sins will be forgiven if I pronounce the testimony of Shahaada[1]. I have not done the testimony yet, but I will soon. I am currently in troubles and strife of my own (I think its Jihad, but I’m not sure). I contacted www.IslamReligion.com, and they were the only site I have ever contacted to ever contact me back. That’s another reason why this site is also my favourite. They helped me with my troubles; my friends accept me of my faith, and I know more about what I can and cannot do. The main trouble I have though is making my parents understand my religion instead of hating it, and hopefully save them from the fire. For God I have: Given up eating swine Been kinder to animals Page 34

Men who changed their lives Helped to look after the world by recycling, walking to and from school when I can so petrol doesn’t get used, and general stuff like that. Unless I am mistaken, God entrusted the world into the care of Adam, and we should take care of what he has made. My Plan for helping Islam: I will first pronounce the testimony of Faith; I will do this New year, at the start of the 7th year of this millennium. Maybe I’m just suspicious, but 7 because it’s the number of God[2]. 7 continents on this Earth 7 Firmaments 7 colours of the rainbow shown to Noah after the great flood 7 Days to make the Earth[3] 7 Prophets: Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, David, Jesus, Muhammad ( I think anyway, I’m not too sure, please comment saying I’m wrong if I am), peace be upon them.[4] 7 God sworn to have revenge on the one who kills Cain seven-fold. 7 stars, angels and churches in the revelation of Jesus Christ in the bible. Curious that number in the bible and the Quran. After I have said my testimony I will try to get others first to understand Islam, and that it is not just another religion like Hinduism, Paganism etc, but of the same Doctrine as Christianity, and that Jesus, peace be upon him, had prophesized another prophet and that Muhammad, may God praise him, was that prophet. The people who help with the spread of Islam and who save numbers of peoples from the fire, will be rewarded seven-fold![5]

Footnotes: [1] Paul has since then accepted Islam on the date mentioned later in this article. – IslamReligion [2] Islam does not give any special traits to certain numbers. [3] It is actually six, as mentioned in the Quran. [4] There are many more than that. God says he sent prophets to all nations throughout history. [5] Disclaimer - This is the experience of Paul, and as this was his early stages of learning before actually accepting Islam, his notes about certain tenets of Islam may not actually represent it. -IslamReligion Radko, Ex-Atheist, Czech (part 1 of 2): Atheism to Christianity Description: A hardcore atheist becomes attracted to Christianity, but after a while finds crucial questions left unanswered. By Radko - Published on 01 Jan 2007 - Last modified on 08 Jan 2007 Viewed: 1016 - Rating: 3.7 from 5 - Rated by: 3 Printed: 40 - Emailed: 0 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 35

Men who changed their lives 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.Radko, Ex-Atheist, Czech (part 2 of 2): A Sewn Seed Grows Tall and Strong Description: A meeting with an Iraqi sparks a once atheist Christian’s interest in Islam. By Radko - Published on 01 Jan 2007 - Last modified on 31 Dec 2006 Viewed: 888 - Rating: 5 from 5 - Rated by: 4 Printed: 44 - Emailed: 2 - Commented on: 0 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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. Page 36

Men who changed their lives 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. Yousef al Khattab, Ex-Jew, USA Description: Born and raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish environment in America, Yousef moves to the Israel and discovers Islam! By Yousef al Khattab - Published on 14 May 2007 - Last modified on 15 May 2007 Viewed: 334 - Rating: 4.8 from 5 - Rated by: 6 Printed: 11 - Emailed: 1 - Commented on: 1 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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 Page 37

Men who changed their lives 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. Bruce Paterson, Ex-Christian, UK Description: Tired of the unanswered questions in his faith, a truth seeker seeks enlightment in Eastern religions, tribal religions, and finally finds it in Islam. By Bruce Paterson - Published on 16 Jan 2006 - Last modified on 06 Aug 2006 Viewed: 2318 - Rating: 4 from 5 - Rated by: 28 Printed: 89 - Emailed: 12 - Commented on: 2 Category: Articles > Stories of New Muslims > Men 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? Page 38

Men who changed their lives 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.

Page 39

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful