An American Police Officer Discovers Islam
By Linda Delgado (Widad)
One day, I asked them if they had an extra Qur’an. I wanted to read what it had to say.
About five years ago, I was fifty-two years old and a Christian.
I had not become a member of any Christian church, but all my life I had been searching for the truth.
I attended many churches and studied with their teachers. All fell short and I recognized none as being the truth about Allah.
Since I was nine years old, I had read the Bible every day of my life. I cannot tell you, over the many years, how many times I searched it for the truth.
During the long years of my search for the truth, I studied with many religious faiths. For over a year I studied two times a week with a Catholic priest, but could not accept Catholic beliefs. I spent another year studying with the Jehovah Witnesses and did not accept their beliefs either.
I spent nearly two years with the LDS (Latter-Day Saints, i.e. the Mormons) and still did not find truth. I had a Jewish friend and we had many discussions about the Jewish beliefs. I went to many Protestant churches, some for months at a time, trying to find answers to my questions.
My heart told me Jesus was not God but a Prophet. My heart told me Adam and Eve were responsible for their sin, not me. My heart told me I should pray to God and no other. My reason told me that I was responsible for both my good and bad deeds and that God would never assume the form of a man in order to tell me that I was not responsible. He had no need to live and die as a human; after all, He is God.
So there I was, full of questions and praying to God for help. I had a real fear of dying and not knowing the truth. I prayed and I prayed. I received answers from preachers and priests like, “This is a mystery.” I felt that God wanted people to go to heaven so He wouldn’t make it a mystery as to how to get there, how to live life accordingly, and how to understand Him. I knew in my heart that all that I was hearing was untrue.
About four years ago, I retired after twenty-four years as a police officer. My husband also retired as a police officer. The year before my retirement I was still a police sergeant/supervisor. Police officers worldwide have a common bond, which we call a law-enforcement brother-sisterhood. We always help one another no matter what police department or country.
That year I received a flyer asking for help with a group of Saudi Arabian police officers who had come to the United States to learn English at a local University and attend a police academy in the city that I live in. The Saudi police officers were looking for homes to live in with host families in order to learn about US customs and to practice the English that they would be learning.
My son is raising my granddaughter as a single parent. We helped him to find a house next to ours so that we could help in raising her. I talked to my husband and we decided that it would be good to help these police officers. It would be an opportunity for our granddaughter to learn about people from another country. I was told that the young men were Muslims and I was very curious.
An Arizona State University Saudi interpreter brought a young man named Abdul to meet us. He could speak no English. We showed him a bedroom and bathroom, which would be his when he stayed with us. I liked Abdul immediately. His respectful and kind manner won my heart!
Next Fahd was brought to our home. He was younger and shyer, but a wonderful young man. I became their tutor and we shared many discussions about police work, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Islam, etc. I observed how they helped each other and also the other sixteen Saudi police officers who came to the USA to learn English.
During the year they were here, I came to respect and admire Fahd and Abdul for not letting the American culture have any impact on them. They went to mosque on Fridays, said their prayers no matter how tired they were, and were always careful of what they ate, etc. They showed me how to cook some traditional Saudi foods and they took me to Arab markets and restaurants. They were very kind to my granddaughter. They showered her with presents, jokes, and friendship.
They treated my husband and me with much respect. Each day, they would call to see if I needed them to go to market for me before they went to study with their fellow Saudi officers.
One day, I asked them if they had an extra Qur’an. I wanted to read what it had to say. They sent to their embassy in Washington DC and they got me an English Qur’an, tapes, and other pamphlets. At my request, we began to discuss Islam (they had to speak English and this became the focus of our tutoring sessions).
My “foster sons” were to return home to Saudi Arabia, I planned a family dinner with all their favorite traditional foods (I bought some because I didn’t know how to cook all of them). I purchased a hijab and an abaya (long Islamic gown). I wanted them to go home remembering me dressed appropriately as a Muslim sister.
Before we ate, I said the Shahadah (public declaration of faith). The boys cried and laughed and it was so special. I believe in my heart that Allah sent the boys to me in answer to my years of prayers. I believe He chose me to see the truth by the light of Islam. I believe Allah sent Islam to my very home. I praise Him for His mercy, love, and kindness to me.
Many Changes Happened
My Saudi boys returned to their homeland about a week after my reversion. I missed them greatly but was still happy. I had joined the local mosque as a member almost immediately after my reversion and registered myself as a Muslim. I was anticipating a warm welcome from my new Muslim community. I thought all Muslims were like my Saudi boys and the other young Saudi officers whom I had met and spent time with during the previous year.
My family was still in a state of shock! They thought I would stick with this new religion for a while, become disgruntled, and move on to another religion as I had done all my adult life. They were surprised at the changes that I began to make in my daily life. My husband is a congenial man, so when I said that we were going to be eating halal foods and eliminating haram (forbidden) foods, he said, “Okay.”
Next, I wrote a letter to my non-Muslim family telling them about my reversion and how it would and wouldn’t change our family relationships. I explained a few of the basics of Islam. Still, my family kept their own counsel, and I continued to work on learning prayer and reading my Qur’an. I got active in sister groups on the Internet and this facilitated my learning about my new beliefs.
I also attended a “Fundamentals of Islam” class at the mosque when I could get away from my work. I was still a state police sergeant and it was difficult – no, impossible to cover. This became a source of real discontent and concern for me. Just eight months and I could retire, so I asked for and was granted the right to telecommute from my home three days a week doing planning and research projects.
After the first six months had passed, sisters at the mosque that I attended still hadn’t warmed up to me. I was disappointed. I began to feel like an outsider. I was puzzled and concerned. I tried to become active in community services with a few sisters who had been friendly towards me. I looked for the kindness, friendship, and best of manners that were practiced each and every day by my Saudi boys.
I made many mistakes at the mosque, such as talking in the prayer room as I tried to get up and down from the floor. I went to a community celebration and ate with my left hand; I wore clear nail polish on my trimmed nails and got scolded. I did wudu (ablutions) incorrectly and was frowned at. I became very discouraged.
Then one day I received a package in the mail from a sister-friend who I had met on the Internet. In the package were several abayas, hijabs, silk stockings, and a warm and friendly note welcoming me as her sister in Islam. She lives in Kuwait. Next, a dear sister sent me a prayer robe and prayer rug she had hand-made herself. This dear sister lives in Saudi Arabia.
I got an email that had a statement that I always remember at times when I get that “outsider” feeling. The note said: “I am glad that I became Muslim before I met many Muslims.” This is not an insult. It was a reminder that Islam is perfect and it is we Muslims who are imperfect. Just as I have shortcomings, so may my sisters and brothers. I also began to understand what I personally believe to be one of the greatest gifts that Allah gave to the Muslims: the sister and brotherhood in Islam.
Over the past four years, my life has changed dramatically. My family has come to accept with generosity and tolerance that I am Muslim and will remain Muslim. All thanks be to Allah for sparing me the trials of so many reverts who must deal with beloved family who strive to dissuade them from Islam.
As my health continued to fail and I grew weaker physically, I had to discontinue community service work and became more isolated from the local Muslim community. I continued to work hard on my prayer, having great difficulty with the Arabic pronunciation but not giving up.
My Islamic teacher made some cassette tapes, and a sister brought them to my home to help me. After two years, I had learned to recite four Surahs (chapters) of the Qur’an. This may seem like a small number to most Muslims, but for me, it was a very big accomplishment. I set about learning the words for the other parts of prayer; another two years of struggle.
During the early part of my third year as a Muslim, I suffered a heart attack and had heart surgery. It was a sad time for me, as I knew that I would never again touch my head to the floor when praying, but would forever have to sit in my chair and pray. It was at this time that I truly understood the provision from Allah that Islam is the religion of ease. Praying while seated in a chair is acceptable; not fasting when one is sick is acceptable. I did not have to feel that I was less a Muslim because of these circumstances.
After visiting several mosques and observing that they were like mini-United Nations, I began to see that the small groups within the mosque were mostly formed because of language and culture and not because of liking or disliking any person. I felt good that regardless of these differences, I could always count on a smile and an “As-Salaam Alaykum!”
After a while, I began to gravitate towards sisters who are reverts to Islam like me. We have much in common – we experience many of the same trials, such as non-Muslim family members, difficulty pronouncing Arabic, being lonely on Muslim holidays, and not having a family member to breakfast with during Ramadan.
Sometimes our reversions meant losing life-long friends who just couldn’t accept our new habits, or it was because of our discontinuance of activities common to non-Muslims, such as dancing and mixing in groups.
As I grew less able to do community services, I searched for some way to contribute to the greater Muslim community. I continually asked Allah for His help in this. One day, my young granddaughter suggested that I write books about my Saudi boys, Islam, and my family’s experience with Islam. I decided to write the books and also include stories about a group of young girls, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who were friends. The stories would include the young girls’ problems encountered at school and at home and I would use my knowledge of Islam as a guide for these book characters.
I began writing a book series that I called Islamic Rose Books. I created an e-group for sister authors and aspiring writers and this developed into the creation of the Islamic Writers Alliance. The Alliance is an international organization created to provide support for female Muslim authors and aspiring writers.
Our main goal is to help each other promote our works to readers and publishers. I also decided to help two Muslim food banks by creating databases that help them to track their inventory, clients, and contacts and to create reports necessary for funding purposes. I decided that I would spend a large portion of my profits from book sales to buy books for Islamic children’s libraries. I have discovered that many such libraries have lots of empty shelves where Islamic books belong.
I still have much to learn about Islam. I never tire of reading the Qur’an and one of my favorite pastimes is reading about prominent, historical Islamic figures. When I am unsure about something in Islam, I look to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). I see how he responded to situations and use this as my guide.
My journey in Islam will continue, and I look forward to many new experiences. I thank Allah daily for His Mercy and Love.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.
Linda (Widad) Delgado is a Muslim, lives in Arizona, is married, and has three children and eight grandchildren. Mrs. Delgado is a graduate of the University of Phoenix and is a retired State Police Sergeant. She is the Director of the Islamic Writers Alliance www.islamicwritersalliance.net. She is also a publisher: Muslim Writers Publishing www.MuslimWritersPublishing.com and author: 2005 AMWA Excellence in Media, Literary Art Award for Islamic Rose Books. Click here to read her journey to Islam. You can reach her at www.widad-lld.com.
By Danielle LoDuca
A friend of mine once began ranting about how God in Islam is angry and vengeful. I came to its defense without even realizing it, opening it up and easily flipping to one of the many pages that said, “Surely, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
I never aspired to be a Muslim.
I didn’t even want to be a Christian.
The whole concept of ‘organized religion’ was distasteful. I sought to use my mind, not resort to some ancient book for assistance in living my life.
If you had offered me millions of dollars to join one faith or another, I would have declined.
One of my preferred authors was Bertrand Russell, who maintained that religion is little more than superstition and generally harmful to people, despite any positive effects that it might have. He believed that religion and the religious outlook serve to inhibit knowledge and promote fear and dependency, in addition to being accountable for much of our world’s wars, persecution, and misery.
I remember laughing out loud while reading “Hey, Is That You God?” By Dr. Pasqual Schievella, in which he derided the concept of God through satirical dialogue. It all seemed so logical. Thinkers like us were surely above religious devotees, I thought smugly.
But, for me, it wasn’t enough to just think I was better off without religion. I wanted to systematically prove religions were no more than a hoax. I purposefully set out to do just that.
Yet, here I am. Muslim.
Sure, I made the declaration of faith, but the choice I had was really no choice at all. Essentially, I was compelled – forced to accept Islam.
Interestingly, in my talks with followers of religions, especially those other than Islam, I have often noticed that they clearly desire to believe. As if, no matter how many contradictions or errors are pointed out in their scriptures, they brush them aside and maintain their unquestioning faith.
Rarely do I ever find that the scriptures themselves convinced them, but rather they decided to have faith, and then the studies began after that decision, if at all. They knew what they believed, either by having been raised upon it, or like a friend of mine told me, “Islam seems foreign, so I never looked into it. Christianity is more familiar and convenient because most of the people around me are Christian. So when I was seeking God, I chose Christianity.”
Personally, I never considered myself to be seeking God, but if I had, the last place I think I would have looked would have been in an old book, or a building, or a person.
Some people, who decide to believe in something at the outset, may then develop selective vision when it comes to learning the faith they’ve chosen. I had also decided to believe something; I chose to believe that religions were simply fabricated delusions of grandeur.
In actuality this notion was not built on hard facts, it was an assumption. I had no evidence. When I undertook reading the religious books, I was not biased towards them, but my intentions were to look for flaws. This approach helped me manage to maintain a fair amount of objectivity.
My paperback translation of the Qur’an had been acquired for free. I didn’t even stop to chat with the MSA students standing at the table stacked with books. I curtly asked, “Is it free?” When they replied in the affirmative, I grabbed one and continued on my way. I had no interest in them, only the free book to assist me in accomplishing my goal of debasing religions once and for all.
But, as I read that Qur’an; as its cover became worn and its pages tattered, I became more and more subdued. It was distinct from the other religious books I had also collected. I could understand it easily. It was clear.
A friend of mine once began ranting about how God in Islam is angry and vengeful. I came to its defense without even realizing it, opening it up and easily flipping to one of the many pages that said, “Surely, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”
It was if the Qur’an was speaking to me directly – responding to my life. It was an “old book” but somehow, it was entirely relevant. Something about its cadence and imagery and the way it communicated to me intimately; It was an exquisite beauty I hadn’t really felt before, reminiscent only of the moments I had spent out west, staring out over a seemingly endless desert landscape. I found it exhilarating; comparable to the way it felt running barefoot in the sand under the stars with powerful waves crashing at my side.
The Qur’an was appealing to my intellect. Offering me signs and then telling me to think, to ponder and consider. It rejected the notion of blind faith but encouraged reason and intelligence. It directed humanity towards goodness, recognition of the Creator, plus moderation, kindness, and humility.
After some time, and life-changing experiences my interest intensified. I began reading other books about Islam. I found that the Qur’an contained prophecies, as did many of the hadiths. I found that the prophet Muhammad was corrected several times in the Qur’an. This seemed strange if he had in fact, been its author.
I had begun walking down a new path. Led by the amazing Qur’an, paired with the beautiful paradigm of devotion; the Prophet Muhammad. This man showed no signs of being a liar.
Praying through the nights, asking forgiveness of his oppressors, encouraging kindness. Refusing wealth and power and persevering with the pure message of devotion to God alone, he endured unfathomable hardship.
It was all so uncomplicated, easy to understand. We’ve been created; all this intricacy and diversity could not pop out of nothing. So follow the One who created us – Simple.
I remember the warm artificial lighting in my apartment and the weight of the air on the night I read this verse:
“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We split them asunder and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:30)
My mind was split asunder when I read this. It was the Big Bang – suddenly not just a theory… And every living thing from water… wasn’t that what scientists had just discovered? I was astonished. It was the most exciting and yet frightening time of my life.
I read and studied and double-checked book after book until one night I sat in my library at Pratt Institute, staring wide-eyed at the piles of open books. My mouth must have been dropped open slightly. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I realized I had in front of me, the truth. The truth I had been so sure did not exist.
There were only two choices and one was no choice at all. I could not deny what I had discovered, ignoring it and going on with my life as before, though I did consider it briefly. That left only one option.
I knew I had to accept it because the only alternative was denying the truth.
Danielle LoDuca is a third generation American, raised in a homogeneous, white, suburban community. Although raised as a Catholic, she considered herself agnostic and was disdainful of religion in general until she chose Islam in 2002.
Danielle is an artist with a BFA from Pratt Institute, as well as a wife and mother of five. She welcomes questions and invites everyone to read and interact with her by commenting at The Muslim Next Door: http://youramericanmuslimneighbor.com/. She can be reached by email at: [email protected]
By Truth Seeker Staff
“Within the next 20 years the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here”, says Rose Kendrick
The Spread of a World Creed
Lucy Berrington finds the Muslim Faith is winning Western admirers despite hostile media coverage.
Unprecedented numbers of British people, nearly all of them women, are converting to Islam at a time of deep divisions within the Anglican and Catholic churches.
The rate of conversions has prompted predictions that Islam will rapidly become an important religious force in this country. “Within the next 20 years the number of British converts will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith here”, says Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher at a Hull comprehensive and the author of a textbook guide to the Koran. She says: “Islam is as much a world faith as is Roman Catholicism. No one nationality claims it as its own”. Islam is also spreading fast on the continent and in America.
The surge in conversions to Islam has taken place despite the negative image of the faith in the Western press. Indeed, the pace of conversions has accelerated since publicity over the Salman Rushdie affair, the Gulf War and the plight of the Muslims in Bosnia. It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the widespread view in the west that Islam treats women poorly. In the United States, women converts outnumber men by four to one, and in Britain make up the bulk of the estimated 10, 000 to 20, 000 converts, forming part of a Muslim community of 1 to 1.5 million. Many of Britains “New Muslims” are from middle-class backgrounds. They include Matthew Wilkinson, a former head boy of Eton who went on to Cambridge, and a son and daughter of Lord Justice Scott, the judge heading the arms-to-Iraq inquiry.
A small-scale survey by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester suggests that most converts are aged 30 to 50. Younger Muslims point to many conversions among students and highlight the intellectual thrust of Islam. “Muhammad,” said, “The light of Islam will rise in the West” and I think that is what is happening in our day,” says Aliya Haeri, an American-born psychologist who converted 15 years ago. She is a consultant to the Zahra Trust, a charity publishing spiritual literature and is one of Britain’s prominent Islamic speakers. She adds: “Western converts are coming to Islam with fresh eyes, without all the habits of the East, avoiding much of what is culturally wrong. The purest tradition is finding itself strongest in the West.”
Some say the conversions are prompted by the rise of comparative religious education. The British media, offering what Muslims describe as a relentless bad press on all things Islamic, is also said to have helped. Westerners despairing of their own society – rising in crime, family breakdown, drugs, and alcoholism – have come to admire the discipline and security of Islam. Many converts are former Christians disillusioned by the uncertainty of the church and unhappy with the concept of the Trinity and deification of Jesus.
Quest of the Convert – Why Change?
Other converts describe a search for a religious identity. Many had previously been practicing Christians but found intellectual satisfaction in Islam. “I was a theology student and it was the academic argument that led to my conversion.” Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher, and author, said she objected to the concept of the original sin: “Under Islam, the sins of the fathers aren’t visited on the sons. The idea that God is not always forgiving is blasphemous to Muslims.
Maimuna, 39, was raised as a High Anglican and confirmed at 15 at the peak of her religious devotion. “I was entranced by the ritual of the High Church and thought about taking the veil.” Her crisis came when a prayer was not answered. She slammed the door on visiting vicars but traveled to convents for discussions with nuns. “My belief came back stronger, but not for the Church, the institution or the dogma.” She researched every Christian denomination, plus Judaism, Buddhism and Krishna Consciousness, before turning to Islam.
Many converts from Christianity reject the ecclesiastical hierarchy emphasizing Muslims’ direct relationship with God. They sense a lack of leadership in the Church of England and are suspicious of its apparent flexibility. “Muslims don’t keep shifting their goal-posts,” says Huda Khattab, 28, author of The Muslim Woman’s Handbook, published this year by Ta-Ha. She converted ten years ago while studying Arabic at the university. “Christianity changes, like the way some have said pre-marital sex is okay if it’s with the person you’re going to marry. It seems so wishy-washy. Islam was constant about sex, about praying five times a day. The prayer makes you conscious of God all the time. You’re continually touching base.
The Times – Tuesday, 9th November 1993 – Home-news Page
 There is no such statement by Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) – IslamReligion.
By Ebrahim A. Bawany
Muhammad Asad’s two important books are Islam at the Crossroads and Road to Mecca. He also produced a monthly journal Arafat and an English translation of the Holy Qur’an.
Muhammad Asad was born Leopold Weiss in July 1900 in the city of Lvov (German Lemberg), now in Poland, then part of the Austrian Empire. He was the descendant of a long line of rabbis, a line broken by his father, who became a barrister. Asad himself received a thorough education that would qualify him to keep alive the family’s rabbinical tradition.
In 1922 Weiss left Europe for the Middle East for what was supposed to be a short visit to an uncle in Jerusalem. At that stage, Weiss, like many of his generation, counted himself an agnostic, having drifted away from his Jewish moorings despite his religious studies. There, in the Middle East, he came to know and like the Arabs and was struck by how Islam infused their everyday lives with existential meaning, spiritual strength, and inner peace.
At the young age of 22, Weiss became a correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung, one of the most prestigious newspapers for Germany and Europe. As a journalist, he traveled extensively, mingled with ordinary people, held discussions with Muslim intellectuals, and met heads of state in Palestine, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
During his travels and through his readings, Weiss’ interest in Islam increased as his understanding of its scripture, history and peoples grew. In part, curiosity propelled.
Muhammad Asad, Leopold Weiss, was born in Livow, Austria (later Poland) in 1900, and at the age of 22 made his visit to the Middle East. He later became an outstanding foreign correspondent for the Frankfurter Zeitung, and after his conversion to Islam traveled and worked throughout the Muslim world, from North Africa to as far East as Afghanistan. After years of devoted study, he became one of the leading Muslim scholars of our age. After the establishment of Pakistan, he was appointed the Director of the Department of Islamic Reconstruction, West Punjab and later on became Pakistan’s Alternate Representative at the United Nations. Muhammad Asad’s two important books are Islam at the Crossroads and Road to Mecca. He also produced a monthly journal Arafat and an English translation of the Holy Qur’an.
Let us now turn to Asad’s own words on his conversion:
In 1922 I left my native country, Austria, to travel through Africa and Asia as a Special Correspondent to some of the leading Continental newspapers, and spent from that year onward nearly the whole of my time in the Islamic East. My interest in the nations with which I came into contact was in the beginning that of an outsider only. I saw before me a social order and an outlook on life fundamentally different from the European; and from the very first there grew in me sympathy for the more tranquil — I should rather say: more mechanized mode of living in Europe. This sympathy gradually led me to an investigation of the reasons for such a difference, and I became interested in the religious teachings of the Muslims. At the time in question, that interest was not strong enough to draw me into the fold of Islam, but it opened to me a new vista of a progressive human society, of real brotherly feeling. The reality, however, of present-day Muslim life appeared to be very far from the ideal possibilities given in the religious teachings of Islam. Whatever in Islam had been progress and movement, had turned among the Muslims into indolence and stagnation; whatever there had been of generosity and readiness for self-sacrifice, had become, among the present-day Muslims, perverted into narrow-mindedness and love of an easy life.
Prompted by this discovery and puzzled by the obvious incongruency between once and now, I tried to approach the problem before me from a more intimate point of view: that is, I tried to imagine myself as being within the circle of Islam. It was a purely intellectual experiment; and it revealed to me, within a very short time, the right solution. I realized that the one and only reason for the social and cultural decay of the Muslims consisted in the fact that they had gradually ceased to follow the teachings of Islam in spirit. Islam was still there, but it was a body without a soul. The very element which once had stood for the strength of the Muslim world was now responsible for its weakness: Islamic society had been built, from the very outset, on religious foundations alone, and the weakening of the foundations has necessarily weakened the cultural structure — and possibly might cause its ultimate disappearance.
The more I understood how concrete and how immensely practical the teachings of Islam are, the more eager became my questioning as to why the Muslims had abandoned their full application to real life. I discussed this problem with many thinking Muslims in almost all the countries between the Libyan Desert and the Pamirs, between the Bosporus and the Arabian Sea. It almost became an obsession which ultimately overshadowed all my other intellectual interests in the world of Islam. The questioning steadily grew in emphasis — until I, a non-Muslim, talked to Muslims as if I were to defend Islam from their negligence and indolence. The progress was imperceptible to me, until one day — it was in autumn 1925, in the mountains of Afghanistan — a young provincial Governor said to me: “But you are a Muslim, only you don’t know it yourself.” I was struck by these words and remained silent. But when I came back to Europe once again, in 1926, I saw that the only logical consequence of my attitude was to embrace Islam.
So much about the circumstances of my becoming a Muslim. Since then I was asked, time and again: “Why did you embrace Islam? What was it that attracted you particularly?” — and I must confess: I don’t know of any satisfactory answer. It was not any particular teaching that attracted me, but the whole wonderful, inexplicably coherent structure of moral teaching and practical life program. I could not say, even now, which aspect of it appeals to me more than any other. Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other: nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composure. Probably this feeling that everything in the teachings and postulates of Islam is “in its proper place,” has created the strongest impression on me. There might have been, along with it, other impressions also which today it is difficult for me to analyze. After all, it was a matter of love; and love is composed of many things; of our desires and our loneliness, of our high aims and our shortcomings, of our strength and our weakness. So it was in my case. Islam came over me like a robber who enters a house by night; but, unlike a robber, it entered to remain for good.
Ever since then I endeavored to learn as much as I could about Islam. I studied the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him); I studied the language of Islam and its history, and a good deal of what has been written about it and against it. I spent over five years in the Hijaz and Najd, mostly in al-Madinah, so that I might experience something of the original surroundings in which this religion was preached by the Arabian Prophet. As the Hijaz is the meeting center of Muslims from many countries, I was able to compare most of the different religious and social views prevalent in the Islamic world in our days. Those studies and comparisons created in me the firm conviction that Islam, as a spiritual and social phenomenon, is still, in spite of all the drawbacks caused by the deficiencies of the Muslims, by far the greatest driving force mankind has ever experienced; and all my interest became, since then, centered around the problem of its regeneration.
Courtesy with slight editorial modifications from islamreligion.com.
By Sir Jalaluddin Lauder
It became so abhorrent to me that I almost became a sceptic.
I am deeply grateful for this opportunity of saying a few words as to why I embraced Islam. I was reared under the influence of Christian parents. At an early age, I became interested in theology. I associated myself with the Church of England and took an interest in Mission work without an actual active part in it. Some years ago I gave my attention to the doctrine of “Eternal Torment” of all mankind except a few elects. It became so abhorrent to me that I almost became a sceptic. I reasoned that a God that would use His power to create human beings whom he foreknew and pre-destined should be Eternally Tormented, could be neither wise, just, nor loving. His standard would be lower than that of many men. I continued, however, to believe in the existence of God, but was not willing to accept the commonly understood teachings of God’s revelation of Himself to men. I then turned my attention to the investigation of other religions, only to feel baffled.
An earnest desire to worship and serve the True God grew in me. The creeds of Christianity claim to be founded on the Bible, but I found these to be conflicting. Is it possible that the Bible and teaching of Jesus Christ had been misrepresented? So, I turned my attention again to the Bible and determined to make a careful study, and I felt that there was something wanting.
I determined to strike out for myself ignoring the creeds of men. I began to teach that men possessed a “Soul”, and an “Unseen Force” which was immortal, that sins were punished both in this world and in the next, that God in His Goodness and Mercy was ever ready to forgive our sins if we only were truly repentant.
Realizing the necessity of living up to the Truth and digging deep, so that I may find the “pearl of great price”, I again devoted my time to the study of Islam. There was something in Islam which appealed to me at this time. In an obscure and almost unknown corner of the village Ichhra, I was devoting my time and service to God’s glory amongst the lowest classes of society with the earnest desire to uplift them to the knowledge of the True and only god and to instil a feeling of brotherhood and cleanliness.
It is not my intention to tell you as to how I laboured amongst these people, nor what were the sacrifices I had under-taken nor the extreme hardships I had undergone. I was simply going on with a singleness of purpose to benefit these classes both physically and morally.
I eventually took up the study of the life of Prophet Muhammad. I knew very little of what he did, but I knew and felt that the Christians with one voice condemned the celebrated Prophet of Arabia. I was now determined to look into the matter without the spectacles of bigotry and malice. After a little time, I found that it was impossible to doubt the earnestness of his search after Truth and God.
I felt that it is wrong, in the extreme, to condemn this Holy Man after reading his great achievements for humanity. People who were wild idol-worshippers, living on crime, filth and nakedness, he taught them how to dress, filth was replaced by cleanliness, and they acquired personal dignity and self-respect, hospitality became a religious duty, their idols were destroyed and they worship the True and only one God. Islam became the most powerful Total Abstinence Association in the world. And many other good works were accomplished which are too numerous to be mentioned. In the face of all this and his own purity of mind, how sad to think that such a Holy Messenger of God should be run down by the Christians. I became deeply thoughtful, and during my moments of meditation an Indian gentleman named Mian Amiruddin came on a visit, and strangely enough, it was he who fanned the fire of my life into a flame. I pondered over the matter a great deal; brought one argument after the other bearing upon the Christians’ present-day religion and I concluded in favour of Islam, feeling convinced of its truth, simplicity, toleration, sincerity and brotherhood.
I have now but a little time to live on this earth and I mean to devote my all to Islam.
This article is taken with due reference and slight editorial modifications from discoveringislam.org.
By Mushfiqur Rahman
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.
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 and 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, 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. It was little surprise that one day he would end up being a professor of mathematics, a matter subject that leaves no place for anything but logic. During his senior years at the Notre Dame 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 after his becoming an atheist that he first saw the following dream:
It [sic] There 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 losing 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 shahadah, 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 and:
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 had once 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 become “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 the author of two books — both make interesting readings and are useful for both Muslim converts and born Muslims to read. He is married and has three daughters. It is no surprise that his children inherited some of his inquisitive mind. The boy who once threw questions at his father was now a father himself who had to face questions from his own 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.
- Lang, Jeffrey. Struggling to Surrender. Beltsville: 1994.
- Lang, Jeffrey. Even Angels Ask. Beltsville: 1997.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from www.welcome-back.org.