Comparative religion for all human: By TM Kamal Pasha

 Comparative Religion For all Human: 

 

By TM Kamal Pasha   

Content:

1.Br yusuf Estess (Former church priest) : How I become Muslim ?

2. Notable people converted to Islam.

3. Journalist and historian's comments.

4.  Yusuf Islam formerly Cat Stevens: How he became a Muslim.

5. Craig Robertson Ex-catholic canada: How i become muslim.

6. Dr. Jeffrey Lang, Professor of Mathematics at Univ. of Kansas, is a convert to Islam and author of several Islamic books.

1.Br yusuf Estess(Former church priest) : How I become Muslim ?


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. I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing.
Actually, a very nice Christian gentleman asked me through email why and how I left Christianity for Islam. So this is more or less a copy of the letter that I sent back to him.
My name is Yusuf Estes and I am the National Muslim Chaplain for American Muslims, sponsored by a number of organizations here in Washington, DC. 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 of rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests everywhere. Most 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 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 on my own personal experience to see if it would in anyway benefit you in your ministry. This may seem quite strange that I would offer to help you, while we perhaps share a few different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus, prophethood, sin and salvation. But you see, at one time I was in the same boat as you. Really, I was. Let me explain.

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.

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."

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. I made millions of dollars in 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.

And then there is the concept of the 'Trinity.' If 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.

Then one day in 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.'

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?

My First Meeting With a Muslim:
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, OK. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.

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. And then in 1991 he 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. Then my father mentioned that this man was a 'Moslem.'

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, how they are Terrorists; hijackers; kidnappers; bombers and who knows what else?

Not only that but: They don't believe in God. They kiss the ground five times a day and They worship a black box in the desert. No! 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. So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting.
But on my terms.

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.'

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. I'm looking for a huge man with flowing robes and big turban on his head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead.

This man had no beard. In fact, he didn't even have any hair on his head at all. He was very close to bald. And 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? . Never mind. I'll get right to work on this guy. He needs to be 'saved' and me and the Lord are going to do it.

So, 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."
I said: "What about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice his son for God?"
He said: "Yes."
Then I asked:
"What about Moses?" "Ten Commandments?" "Parting the Red Sea?"
Again he said: "Yes."
Then: "What about the other prophets, David, Solomon and John the Baptist?"
He said: "Yes."
I asked: "Do you believe in the Bible?"
Again, he said: "Yes."
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."
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.

I was winning souls to the Lord day after day and this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these 'Moslems' and 'convert' him to Christianity.
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.

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.

One day I came to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out of the home he have 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.

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 Oklahoma border. One preacher liked to 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.

One day my friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go to the Veterans 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.

I knew the man was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his life. So, I began to 'witness' to him about the Lord. I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. I shared the story of the prophet Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people to the correct way. Jonah had left his people and escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to sea. A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the ship. A whale came up to the surface and grabbed Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights. Yet because of God's Mercy, He caused the whale to rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return back home safely to his city of Nineveh. And the idea was that we can't really run away from our problems because we always know what we have done. And what is more, God also always knows what we have done.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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 it's 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.

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.

Anyway, one day the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about their experience there and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what all types of ceremonies they performed. He said they didn't really 'do' anything. They just came and prayed and left. I said: "They left? Without any speeches or singing?" He said that was right.

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).

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. 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. 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.

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." 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 lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I had to do. 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.

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, peace be upon him).

A few minutes later, my wife follow along and gave the same testimony. But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me being the third)

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).

The children were taken out of the Christian school and placed in Muslim schools. And now ten years later, they are memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.

My father's wife was the last of all to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God and that he must have been a mighty prophet of God, but not God.

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. An ordained minister and builder of Christian schools. And they all come into Islam! Only by His Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of Islam without any blinders on their eyes any longer.

If I were to stop right here, I'm sure that you would have to admit that at least, this is an amazing story, right? After all, three religious leaders of three separate denominations all going into one very opposite belief at the same time and then soon after the rest of the household.

But that is not all. There is more! The same year, while I was in Grand Prairie, Texas (near Dallas) I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee named Joe, who also came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while in BAPTIST SEMINARY COLLEGE!

There are others as well. I recall the case of the Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was forced to ask him why he didn't enter Islam. He replied: "What? And loose my job?" - His name is Father John and there is still hope for him yet.

More? Yes. The very next year I met a former Catholic priest who had been a missionary for 8 years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and entered into Islam. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas Texas.

Any more? Again, yes. Two years later, while in San Antonio, Texas I was introduced to a former Arch Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.

And since my own entrance into Islam and becoming a chaplain to the Muslims throughout the country and around the world, I have encountered many more individuals who were leaders, teachers and scholars in other religions who learned about Islam and entered into it. They came from Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians from Egypt, non-denominational churches and even scientists who had been atheists.

Why? Good question.
May I suggest to the seeker of truth do the following NINE STEPS to purification of the mind:

1.) Clean their mind, their heart and their soul real good.
2.) Clear away all the prejudices and biases
3.) Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in a language that they can understand best.
4.) Take some time.
5.) Read and reflect.
6.) Think and pray.
7.) And keep on asking the One who created you in the first place, to guide you to the truth.
8.) Keep this up for a few months. And be regular in it.
9.) Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while your are in this state of "rebirth of the soul."

The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the Universe. If you truly love Him, then He already Knows it and He will deal with each of us according to our hearts.

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.

And once again I thank you for your email today. If you hadn't sent it, I probably would still not have completed this task of putting down the story once and for all of how "Priest and Preachers Are Coming to Islam."

May Allah 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 Allah the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.

Your friend,

Yusuf Estes

--Chaplain Yusuf Estes

 2.Notable people who converted to Islam:

 

Faith - Belief - Salvation: All topics discussed by preachers of all faiths and many people change from one faith to another on a daily basis. Yet, the real question should be, "Why do so many knowledgeable religious leaders - GO TO ISLAM?

Yusuf Estes explores this topic after meeting with many of those listed below, he believes he has discovered an amazing common fact amongst all of them. His comments are at the end of this story, inshallah.

First, let's begin with a list of some of those prominent preachers, bishops, clerics and scholars from all faiths who have left behind everything to enter into Islam:

 

Yusuf Estes -- Former businessman from Texas and music minsiter in Church of God (Texas USA)

Father Peter Jacobs -- Former Priest of Roman Catholic Church. From New York (USA)
(he entered Islam with Yusuf Estes)


Dr. Jerald F. Dirks, USA – M.Div. [Harvard US] Psy.D Former Priest of the United Methodist Church (Denver, CO. USA)

Yvonne Ridley – [BBC Reporter captured by Taliban] (London, UK)

Dr. Polosin A. Viacheslav Sergheyevich. M.A., PhD [Moscow State University]

Learned & Respected Ex Archpriest of Orthodox Church, Russia

Anslem Tormeeda, A Former Priest and the Greatest Christian Scholars, and Authors of Several famous Books.
I.K. Philobus, Dip. Theology, M.A. Theology [Princeton University USA Former Priest, and Secretary General of The German Swiss Mission 

Raphael Latino, Los Angles, USA Former Jehovah’s Witness Minister, Los Angles, USA
George Anthony, Sri Lanka . Former Catholic Priest in Sri Lanka 

Kenneth L. Jenkins, Texas, USA. Former Priest and Elder of the Pentecostal Church USA
Dr. Martin John Mwaipopo, Dip. In Church Administration [England], B.A.; M.A. ; PhD in Divinity [Berlin Germany]. Former Lutheran Archbishop and Member of World Council of Churches 

Moisha Krivitsky
Former Rabbi [Jewish Priest] of Makhachkala Synagogue, Russia
Dr. Laurence Brown -- Medical Doctor (USA)

Professor Khadijah ‘Sue’ Watson, Master Degree in Divinity -- Former Pastor, Missionary, & Professor (USA)
Johann Wolfgang Goethe -- German poet, novelist, playwright and natural philosopher, one of the greatest figures in Western literature, namely Goethe Institute (Germany)

A. M. LeBlanc -- Author of "The Bible led me to Islam"
Monica -- Christian Catholic Church (Ecuador South America)

M. John Webster -- English (London, UK)
Sophie Jenkins --  Middle-Class English Ex-Christian of Protestant Church, from (UK)

Anna Linda Traustadottir, B.A. McGill University Montréal, Canada -- Danish/Icelandic, Ex-Christian of Lutheran Church, from Denmark

Dominique Scheppers -- City of Brussels, Belgium, European Union.
Indrani, and Chandra - Both were very pious Hindus (Singapore)

Monica Nur Sammour-Wust – From Switzerland, European Union
Kristiane Backer - Famous MTV Presenter, London 

Michael Yip - Medical Student, From New Zealand
Na’ma B. Robert - From Southern London, United Kingdom. 

Sarah Joseph, OBE - Lecture & Producer of Emel Magazine London, UK.
Kimberley McCrindle – From Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom. 

Karen Allen - ATV Scheduler, From East London, United Kingdom.
Dr. Jeremiah McAuliffe, Jr. - BA, MA, PhD. [Mideastern, US] 

Dr. Moustafa Mould - Former Boston American Jewish linguist.
Noor – University of Essex, United Kingdom 

Shakira Graham - University of Alabama, USA.
Nakata Khaula - Japanese from Japan. 

Dr. Kari Ann Owen. PhD. - From San Francisco. USA
Karlsson - From Sweden. 

Bruce Paterson, - Britain Imperial Computing Graduate (UK)
Helena - Former Christian Protestant (Sweden)

Sir J. Lauder Brunton - Oxford University. He was an English Baronet and a public man of wide repute (UK)
Colonel Donald S. Rockwell (USA)

Juan Gelvan – (Mexican American)
Khalidija Evans - (Alabama USA)

Chua Gim Sam – Ex-Taoist and Believer of Christianity (Singapore)
Leila Raffin – From Paris (France)

Debbie Rogers’ – A Scottish Woman on a Mission (Scotland)
Thomas Irving – Social Workers from Canada (Canada)

Cecilia M. Cannolly - Ex Member of Roman Catholic Church (Australia)
Jenny’s Testimony – From Melbourne (Australia)

Maryam Buston –  (Australia)
Times Newspapers, London– By Giles Whittell, London (UK)

Digital Chosun Korea – By Zafar Khan (Korea)

The New York Times, Wednesday, April 7, 2004. - By Marc Lacey/NYT

Carole Sturm & Cherie Lyle– Carol Sturm a former member of Roman Catholic Church and Cherie Lyle a former member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church USA

Westerners Converted – By Christine Hauser, US

“Experiences of Somayyah [Irish Women], Katty Gregg [American], Bilal Philips [Canadian], Asma Markusson, [former US army reservist], Jumana Sharpe, [British], Jan Lifke [American]”…“Philips manned an Islamic information centre in a tent at an air force base in Dhahran.

In the six months after the war 3,000 Westerners converted at the centre, 98 percent of them US servicemen or women, he said. They gave up alcohol but wearing Muslim attire and praying five times a day clashed with military duties”.

3.Journalist and Historian's comments:


Evening Standard London - Nick Compton, London

“Caroline Bate, a 30 years graduate from Cambridge, Middle England's dream daughter or daughter-in-law., she considers herself Muslim.

The same with Eleanor Martin, a 24-year-old TV actress. Matthew Wilkinson, a former head boy of Eton, became Tariq, when he converted to Islam in 1993.

Jonathan Birt, son of Lord Birt, late of the BBC and now the government's transport guru, converted in 1997.

The son and daughter of Lord Justice Scott also converted.

Joe Ahmed Dobson, the 26-year-old son of the former Health Secretary Frank Dobson, has recently and, somewhat reluctantly, emerged as the voice of new Muslim converts in Britain.”

 

Kay Jardine discovers why they are so keen to become Muslims:

"McCrindle's always searching for something that would make her feel happy, that would make her feel she belonged. She is one of a rapidly increasing number of British women turning to Islam, thought to be the fastest growing religion in the world”

“Similarly, to Lucy Norris, who lives in Edinburgh, her twin sister, Victoria, and their brother, Matthew, grew up as practicing Christians in a rural area in the West Midlands, where they attended Sunday school in the little church at the top of their road. As they got older, the three stopped going to church and seven years ago, at the age of 20, both, Lucy and her sister Victoria converted to Islam - six months after their brother Matthew”

 

More stories, articles and books of scholars and clergy entering Islam:
Thousands White Elite Embrace Islam – A Study By Jonathan Birte.

“The new study by Yahya (formerly Jonathan) Birt, son of Lord Birt, former director-general of the BBC, provides the first reliable data on the sensitive subject of the movement of Christians into Islam. He uses a breakdown of the latest census figures to conclude that there are now 14,200 white reverts in Britain. Speaking publicly for the first time about his faith this weekend, Birt argued that an inspirational figure, similar to the American revert Malcolm X for Afro-Caribbeans, would first have to emerge if the next stage, a mass conversion among white Britons, were to happen.

“You need great transitional figures to translate something alien (like Islam) into the vernacular,” Birt, whose doctorate at Oxford University is on young British Muslims, was quoted by the Times.

The New Your Times – By Jodi Wilgoren.
“One expert estimates that 25,000 people a year become Muslims in this country; some clerics say they have seen conversion rates quadruple since Sept. 11.

“Experts say Islam is attractive because of its universal message - the faithful believe that everyone is born Muslim and thus call the transformation reversion, not conversion - and because its teachings incorporate other traditions, honoring Jesus Christ, the Jewish patriarch Abraham and other Biblical figures as prophets. Though missionary work is rare in Islam, spreading the message is demanded by the Koran. Conversion is as simple as reciting one sentence - "I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger" - in front of witnesses, a ceremony known as Shahadah.”


The Observer, London – By Martin Bright

“A year ago they feared their religion would be tarred by the atrocities that left over 3,000 dead in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. But Muslims across Britain are now crediting an '11 September factor' for the upsurge of interest in their religion.

“The rise in Islamophobia and even racist attacks has been matched, sometimes in the same geographical area, by a thirst for knowledge of a religion which many are surprised to find has common links to Christianity and Judaism. Moses and Christ are both considered prophets in Islam"

Yusuf Estes has this to say after meeting, interviewing and comparing the stories and experiences of many of these and others who have given up everything of this life; Jobs, friends, wealth, position, reputations and even their own close family - for Allah and His messenger - For Islam:

"I have noticed a common thread amongst every single person I have given shahadah to over the last two decades, and it matches exactly with what I have heard from many of the religious scholars and preachers listed in this story, and that common thread is quite simple and beautiful at the same time:

Everyone of these folks have said to me, they were asking deep, down in their hearts - the very same thing I asked for over 20 years ago, with my head on the ground in Texas - we have all said these words: "O God! Guide ME!"

And it is only Allah Who Guides to His Straight Path - Al Hamdulillah Rabbil Alameen.

By the way, this list is no good - if you don't share it right now!

4. Yusuf Islam formerly Cat Stevens How he became a Muslim:
 
All I have to say is all what you know already, to confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as given by God - the Religion of Truth. As human beings we are given a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of creation. Man is created to be God's deputy on earth, and it is important to realize the obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a preparation for the next life. Anybody who misses this chance is not likely to be given another, to be brought back again and again, because it says in Qur'an Majeed that when man is brought to account, he will say, "O Lord, send us back and give us another chance." The Lord will say, "If I send you back you will do the same."

MY EARLY RELIGIOUS UPBRINGING
I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature - it is only his parents that turn him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all.

I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents.

POP STAR
Gradually I became alienated from this religious upbringing. I started making music. I wanted to be a big star. All those things I saw in the films and on the media took hold of me, and perhaps I thought this was my God, the goal of making money. I had an uncle who had a beautiful car. "Well," I said, "he has it made. He has a lot of money." The people around me influenced me to think that this was it; this world was their God.

I decided then that this was the life for me; to make a lot of money, have a 'great life.' Now my examples were the pop stars. I started making songs, but deep down I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became rich I would help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an, we make a promise, but when we make something, we want to hold onto it and become greedy.)

So what happened was that I became very famous. I was still a teenager, my name and photo were splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to live larger than life and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated (with liquor and drugs).

IN HOSPITAL
After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me? Was I just a body, and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in bed?" - and I started looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power,' and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body. This awareness came to me at the hospital.

One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized, 'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will lead you where it wants to go.

Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path.

I also wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out." I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society.

I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed.

THE QUR'AN
When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find something in it also.

And when I received the book, a guidance that would explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.

I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap the other.

Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space. They become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.
When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says,

"Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers."
Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.


CONVERSION

Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what was my name. I told him, "Stevens." He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jummah' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalimah) at this hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, "You don't understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the salat. This is the process of purification.

Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Ameen!

-- Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) 
5. Craig Robertson, Ex-Catholic, Canada (how I become Muslim):
 
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 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 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.

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, 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!

6. Dr. Jeffrey Lang, Professor of Mathematics at Univ. of Kansas, is a convert to Islam and author of several Islamic books. 

 His Bibliography:

"For those whom Islam has embraced, the greatest witness to God’s unremitting, pursuing, sustaining, and guiding love is the Qur’an. Like a vast magnificent ocean, it lures you deeper and deeper into its dazzling waves until you are swept into it. But instead of drowning in a sea of darkness, as described above, you find yourself immersed in an ocean of divine light and mercy. … as I read the Qur’an and prayed the Islamic prayers, a door to my heart was unsealed and I was immersed in an overwhelming tenderness. Love became more permanent and real than the earth beneath my feet; its power restored me and made it so that even I could feel love … I was happy enough to have found faith in a sensible religion. But I never expected to be touched by such intoxicating mercy."
“Dad, do you believe in heaven?”

When young Jeffery asked his father about the existence of heaven as they walked their dog along the beach, it was apparent that this child possessed a highly inquisitive mind. There perhaps was also a sign that he would subject things to a logical scrutiny and validate them from a rational perspective. Little surprise was it, then, that one day he would end up being a professor of mathematics, a matter where there is no place for anything but logic.

During his senior years at the Notre Dam Boys High, a Catholic school, he formed certain rational objections against belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. Discussions with the school Priest, his parents, and classmates could not convince him of the existence of God, and to the dismay of the Priest and his parents, he turned into an atheist at the age of eighteen. He was to remain so for the next ten years throughout his undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral studies. It was a little before or after his becoming an atheist that he first saw the following dream:

It was a tiny room with no furniture, and there was nothing on its grayish-white walls. Its only adornment was the predominantly red-and-white patterned carpet that covered the floor. There was a small window, like a basement window, above and facing us, filling the room with bril­liant light. We were in rows; I was in the third. There were only men, no women, and all of us were sitting on our heels and facing the direction of the window.

It felt foreign. I recognized no one. Perhaps I was in another country. We bowed down uniformly, our faces to the floor. It was serene and quiet, as if all sound had been turned off. All at once, we sat back on our heels. As I looked ahead, I realized that we were being led by someone in front who was off to my left, in the middle, below the window. He stood alone. I only had the briefest glance at his back. He was wearing a long white gown, and on his head was a white scarf with a red design. And that is when I would awaken.

During the next ten years of his atheist life, he was to see the same dream several times. He would not be disturbed by the dream, however, for he would feel strangely comfortable when he awoke. But not knowing what it was, he could not make any sense out of it and thus gave no importance to it despite its repetitions.
Ten years later in his first lecture at the University of San Francisco, he met a Muslim student who attended his mathematics class. He was soon to develop a friendship with him and his family. Religion, however, was not the topic of discussion during the time he shared with that Muslim family, and it was much later that one of the family members handed to him a copy of the Qur’an.

He was not looking for a religion. Nevertheless, he started reading the Qur’an, but with a strong prejudice. “You cannot simply read the Qur’an, not if you take it seriously. You either have surrendered to it already or you fight it. It attacks tenaciously, directly, personally; it debates, criticizes, shames, and challenges. From the outset it draws the line of battle, and I was on the other side.” Thus he found himself in an interesting battle. “I was at a severe disadvantage, for it became clear that the Author knew me better than I knew myself.” It was as if the Author was reading his mind. Every night he would make up certain questions and objections, but would find the answer in his next readings as he continued his readings in the accepted order. “The Qur’an was always way ahead of my thinking; it was erasing barriers I had built years ago and was addressing my queries.” He fought vigorously with objections and questions, but it was apparent that he was loosing the battle. “I was being led, working my way into a corner that contained only one choice.”

It was early 80’s and there were not many Muslims at the University of San Francisco campus. He discovered a small place at the basement of a church where a few Muslim students made their daily prayers. After much struggle in his mind, he came up with enough courage to go and visit that place. When he came out of that place a few hours later, he had already declared the shahada, the proclamation of a new life – “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger.”

After he made his proclamation, it was the time for the afternoon prayer and he was invited to participate. He stood up in rows with other students behind a prayer leader named Ghassan, and started following them in prayer -

We bowed down in prostration with our faces on the red-and-white carpet. It was serene and quiet, as if the sound had been turned off. And then we sat back on our heels again.

As I looked ahead, I could see Ghassan, off to my left, in the middle, below the window that was flooding the room with light. He was alone, without a row. He was wearing a long white gown and on his head was a white scarf with a red design.

The dream! I screamed inwardly. The dream exactly! I had forgotten it completely, and now I was stunned and frightened. Am I dreaming? I wondered. Will I awaken? I tried to focus on what was happening to determine whether I was asleep. A rush of cold flowed through my body, making me shudder. My God, this is real! Then the coldness subsided, succeeded by gentle warmth radiating from within. Tears welled up in my eyes.

Everyone’s journey to Islam is unique, varying from one another in many different ways, but Dr. Lang’s is an interesting one. From one who challenged the existence of God, he became a firm believer in God. From a warrior who fought a fierce battler against the Qur’an, he became one who surrendered to it. From one who never knew love and who only wanted to live a comfortable materialistic life until he died and became “long-forgotten soil underneath an unmarked grave”, he turned into one whose life became full of love, mercy, and spiritualism. “God will bring you to your knees, Jeffery!”, said his father when he denied the existence of God at the age of eighteen. Ten years later, that became a reality. He was now on his knees, and his forehead on the ground. The highest part of his body that contained all of his knowledge and intellect was now on the lowest ground in complete submission before the Majesty of God.
Like all Muslim reverts, Dr. Lang felt that he was favored by God’s mercy and that it was God Himself who directed him to Islam. “I perceived that God was always near, directing my life, creating the circumstances and opportunities to choose, yet always leaving the crucial choices to me. I was awestruck by the realization of the intimacy and love that reveals, not because we deserve it, but because it is always there and all we have to do is turn to Him to receive it. I cannot say with certainty what the meaning of that vision was, but I could not help seeing in it a sign, a favor, and a new chance.”

Dr. Lang is author of two books – both make interesting readings and are useful for both Muslim converts and born Muslims to read. He is married with three daughters. It is no surprising that his children shared some of his inquisitive mind. The boy who threw questions at his father, was now a father himself who was to face questions from his children. One day he was confronted by his eight-year-old daughter Jameelah after he finished the noon prayer with her -

“Daddy, why do we pray?”

Her question caught me off guard. I didn’t expect it from an eight year old. I knew of course the most obvious answer—that as Muslims we are obligated to—but I did not want to waste the opportunity to share with her the experience and benefits of salah. Nevertheless, as I tried to put together a reply in my mind, I bought a little time by beginning with, ‘We pray because God wants us to!’

‘But why, daddy, what does praying do?’ she asked.

‘It is hard to explain to a young person, honey. Someday, if you do the five prayers every day, I’m sure you’ll understand, but I’ll do my best to answer your question.’

‘You see, sweetheart. God is the source of all the love, mercy, kindness, and wisdom—of all the beauty—that we experience and feel. Like the sun is the source of the light we see in the daytime, God is the source of all of these and much more. Thus, the love I feel for you, your sisters, and mommy is given to me by God. We know that God is kind and merciful by all the things He has given us in this life. But when we pray, we can feel God’s love, kindness, and mercy in a very special way, in the most powerful way.

For example, you know that mommy and I love you by the way we take care of you. But when we hug you and kiss you, you can really feel how much we love you. In a similar way, we know that God loves and is kind to us by the way He takes care of us. But when we pray, we can feel His love in a very real and special way.’

‘Does praying make you a better daddy?’ She asked me.

‘I hope so and I would like to think so, because once you are touched by God’s love and kindness in the prayer, it is so beautiful and powerful, that you need to share it with those around you, especially your family. Sometimes, after a hard day at work, I feel so exhausted that I just want to be alone. But if I feel God’s kindness and mercy in the prayer, I look at my family and remember what a great gift you are to me, and all the love and happiness I get from being your daddy and mommy’s husband. I’m not say­ing that I am the perfect father, but I believe I would not be as good a father without the prayers. Am I making any sense at all?’

‘I kind of understand what you mean,’ Jameelah answered.
Then she hugged me and said, ‘And I love you, Daddy!’
‘I love you too, sweetie pie. I love you too.’

Comparative Religion