Tena Both my husband and I converted to Islam. I converted during Ramadan last year and my husband shortly after. The thing that drew me to Islam was the hijab and loose clothing of the Muslim women. We both did research by Internet and then read ahadith. I was totally convinced. I went to a masjid for my first time. A sister there greeted me and gave me my first hijab which I will cherish always. I watched on as others prayed...too scared that if I participated I might offend someone ...but not realizing that they would soon become my brothers and sisters in Islam alhamdulillah. After I converted I did not wear hijab right away. It wasn't until a year after that I did. I found the right one to fit my head and also the right spot in my heart to wear it. Now I don't go out without it . My husband read the Qu'ran and then shortly after converted. Myself I'm from a Canadian Anglican background and my husband never joined his Christian church (Presbyterian). Our parents are dealing with it slowly. I've never had any bad experience when converting to Islam. I hope that by wearing hijab that I will prompt someone to research it too. I've met wonderful people in my walk in Islam and will continue to pray to Allah for the wonderful thing he has bestowed upon us!! Alhamdulillah. Peace, Sister Tena
24- Themise Cruz
Themise Cruz If anyone were to ask me when I became Muslim, I guess the only feasible answer would be that I was born Muslim, but just wasn't aware of it. We are all born into a state of Islam, but what is unfortunate is that many people never recognize this fact, and live lost in other circles of religion and lifestyles. I was horribly lost, and I suppose this was a good thing, because Allah felt my suffering and reached out to me. (al humd dulilah) My first introduction to Islam was through a course at the University where during Ramadan we were invited to Juma prayer. It was here where I met a wonderful Muslim sister who invited me to her home for study and food. I declined at the time because it seemed too foreign to me. I had built up so many stereotypes that I was not willing to open my mind to anything surrounding Islam, even an invitation to knowledge. The next message Allah sent me came by my friendship with several Arab Muslims at one of the Technical Colleges near my home. This is where I was exposed to the Islamic lifestyle. I was amazed at the fact that they refused invitations to wild parties and drinking alcohol. How could they sit and pray so many times a day. And fasting for a whole month, what had gotten into these people? From that point forward, I thought I was the American authority on Islam. But in actuality I knew nothing. The height of my confusion hit at this point. I was an observer, but never had any understanding of what it all meant. So, when I became a Muslim it was like Allah found me and gave me the answers to all the confusion that ran around in my head. It is so mind boggling to me that I was oblivious to the fact that I was so miserable. I was successful in the material aspects of life, but my mind and heart were uneasy. I was so weak in spirit that I tricked myself in believing that the material things that laid at my feet, were enough to cushion any hurtful blow that life dealt me. I was wrong. My mother died when I was 23, and all the money, my home, my education, the cars, jewelry, they all meant nothing. I tried to go on with life as though her death was just another event. But it was at this point that I could no longer ignore Allah. If I went on in my current state of mind, then my mother's life had been in vain. What purpose did she serve here on this earth? To what greater significance did her life have in this world? I could not believe that she meant so little. It was at this point that I began to hunger for this knowledge, and I opened all of myself to Allah. It is almost too difficult to describe what it is like for someone who begins to feel Allah in their heart. Islam means so much more than rituals, language, culture or country. Islam is a glorious state of being, and it is a fundamentally different experience than what I had previously been learning. My husband taught me much of what I know about Islam today. While observing, listening and opening my heart, I slowly began to understand. Allah presents himself to people in different ways, and Allah impacts everyone's life differently. I had to come to an understanding of what Allah meant to me, and why it was necessary that I follow this path of life. I began to learn the meaning and significance behind the rituals I had only before observed at a primitive level. I began to read Koran for hours at a time. Allah began to reach out to me and fill the vast hole that was in my heart. For when an individual does not follow the path of Allah, they are in a constant search for that missing element. And once I stopped refusing the knowledge of Islam and opened my heart to my fellow Muslims and the teachings of the Koran, the transition was as easy as eating a piece of pecan pie. Since then I have had contact with the original Muslim sister who I met in my university class. Many of the Muslim sisters get together once a month for study, prayer and informational sessions. I also visit the Masghed during Juma prayers and any other time that my schedule permits. Of course my husband and myself study Koran and Hadith, and are on a constant quest for knowledge. When you become a Muslim it is the beginning of a new path, a new way of life. Everyday Allah reveals himself to me in some way. Sometimes it is with a new piece of knowledge, or maybe he grants me patience or understanding, and some days it is perseverance or a peaceful state of mind. No matter what the case I am always aware of the blessings that Allah presents to me, and I continuously work to live the way he has intended all of us as human beings to live, in submission to his will. I have also struggled throughout this search. My family is not accepting of my new way of life, nor are they accepting of my husband. I had a co-worker ask me one time, "How can you abandon Jesus, I love Jesus?" My response confused her I am sure. I simply explained that in Islam we abandon nobody. And in fact it is only now that I can read and understand the true significance of Jesus. Islam allows the follower to study the messages that Allah has sent throughout the ages, through the teachings of Jesus, Abraham and Mohammed. (Peace and Blessings be upon them) Because of this fact, as Muslims, knowledge is never hidden from us, and we are free in our search for truth and closeness to Allah. My struggle is far from over. Western culture is not accepting or understanding of Islam, and it is mostly out of ignorance that this is so. They think that we are fundamentalists or terrorists, or some other form of monster here to wreak havoc in a peaceful Christian world. The way in which I combat the unkind comments and glares is through kindness and understanding. I remember a point when my understanding was so low that I closed my mind and heart to anything that the Muslim community had to say. And to think that if they had turned me away because of my ignorance, I would not be where I am today. So it is up to all Muslims to have patience and compassion for those who do not understand our way of life. Eventually Allah reveals himself to those who seek true knowledge and understanding. February 27, 1997
Michael Yip June 23, 1996 I was introduced to Islam in 1995 by an Egyptian classmate who arrived in New Zealand the previous year, and who was placed into my Chemistry class. I had no religion before this, though I guess I was a non practicing Christian, since I attended Sunday school when I was young, (but mainly to learn Chinese, my native tongue, rather than religion). In fact I was uninterested in much that was taught to me, however I never at any stage discounted the notion of a higher being (ie. Allah, or God). Because of my background in religion, I did not know much about religions other than Christianity and Buddhism. My parents are Buddhists, but my knowledge of it was so weak that I did not even know the proper name for their religion until a few years ago. So I was naive when I met my classmate, Muhammed. During the first few weeks, another classmate of mine kept teasing Muhammed about his religion, asking leading questions and the like. I thus became interested in some of the things that this other classmate, James, was suggesting. So I got talking with Muhammed about this religion called Islam, and we became acquainted quickly. I requested to see a Quran but did not find the time to read it, during a busy school year. So when the workload became a bit lighter, I went to see my friend's father, who is our local imam. He spoke to me at length about Islam, and planted a seed which in a few months time, with the blessing of Allah, blossomed into strong muslim, alhumdulillah. I took shahada in November 1995. I am often asked why I came to Islam. The question seems logical, and simple, but in fact, I still find it the most difficult question to answer, even though I have been asked it so many times. You see, I saw many things in Islam that I liked. Included in this were the strong brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam, the way fellow muslims looked after each other, and the logic in Islam. The logic in women wearing hijab to deter from that which is haram, the logic in the forbidding of alcohol, which harms more than it ever will heal, and the logic in many other areas of our lives. I have been told that many people who revert to Islam find they fit right in with the religion. Indeed this was the case with me. Coming from a kafir country such as New Zealand (I have lived here most of my life), it is rare for a person to be good religiously like myself, alhumdulillah, masha Allah. You see, alhumdulillah, I made intentions in my heart never to drink in my life, and never have; I made intentions not to fornicate, even though everyone around me in school was either fornicating or planning to. So you see, alhumdulillah, Allah blessed me from the beginning, and I felt Islam was the next obvious step for me to take in my life. I decided in November of 1995, with the encouragement with some brothers and sisters on the Internet, to take shahada as a first step in Islam, and then take further steps to learn more about Islam, after all we are all in a constant state of learning about Islam. Alhumdulillah since then I have progressed slowly but surely, learning some surats from Quran during a very busy school year. Allah blessed me with some amazing results last year, alhumdulillah, and now I want to thank my Allah by increasing the time I spend learning Quran and about Islam this year, insha Allah, while I pursue entry into a Medical degree. May Allah give me the strength insha Allah to enter Medical school next year. May Allah help us all to learn more about Islam, and let us all undertake to live our lives in the correct way, and follow the one true and surely straight path, that of Islam. Ameen.
26- Yahiye Adam Gadahn
Yahiye Adam Gadahn My first seventeen years have been a bit different than the youth experienced by most Americans. I grew up on an extremely rural goat ranch in Western Riverside County, California, where my family raises on average 150 to 200 animals for milk, cheese, and meat. My father is a halal butcher [a butcher who slaughters in an Islamic manner -ed.] and supplies to an Islamic Food Mart a few blocks from the Islamic Center in downtown Los Angeles. My father was raised agnostic or atheist, but he became a believer in One God when he picked up a Bible left on the beach. He once had a number of Muslim friends, but they've all moved out of California now. My mother was raised Catholic, so she leans towards Christianity (although she, like my father, disregards the Trinity). I and my siblings were/are home-schooled, and as you may know, most home-school families are Christian. In the last 8 or so years, we have been involved with some home-schooling support groups, thus acquainting me with fundamentalist Christianity. It was an eye-opening experience. Setting aside the blind dogmatism and charismatic wackiness, it was quite a shock to me when I realized that these people, in their prayers, were actually praying TO JESUS. You see, I had always believed that Jesus (pbuh) was, at the very most, the Son of God (since that is what the Bible mistranslates "Servant of God" as). As I learned that belief in the Trinity, something I find absolutely ridiculous, is considered by most Christians to be a prerequisite for salvation, I gradually realized I could not be a Christian. In the meantime, I had become obsessed with demonic Heavy ****l music, something the rest of my family (as I now realize, rightfully so) was not happy with. My entire life was focused on expanding my music collection. I eschewed personal cleanliness and let my room reach an unbelievable state of disarray. My relationship with my parents became strained, although only intermittently so. I am sorry even as I write this. Earlier this year, I began to listen to the apocalyptic ramblings of Christian radio's "prophecy experts." Their paranoid espousal of various conspiracy theories, rabid support of Israel and religious Zionism, and fiery preaching about the "Islamic Threat" held for me a strange fascination. Why? Well, I suppose it was simply the need I was feeling to fill that void I had created for myself. In any case, I soon found that the beliefs these evangelists held, such as Original Sin and the Infallibility of "God's Word", were not in agreement with my theological ideas (not to mention the Bible) and I began to look for something else to hold onto. The turning point, perhaps, was when I moved in with my grandparents here in Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange, California. My grandmother, a computer whiz, is hooked up to America Online and I have been scooting the information superhighway since January. But when I moved in, with the intent of finding a job (easier said than done), I begin to visit the religion folders on AOL and the Usenet newsgroups, where I found discussions on Islam to be the most intriguing. You see, I discovered that the beliefs and practices of this religion fit my personal theology and intellect as well as basic human logic. Islam presents God not as an anthropomorphic being but as an entity beyond human comprehension, transcendent of man, independant and undivided. Islam has a holy book that is comprehensible to a layman, and there is no papacy or priesthood that is considered infallible in matters of interpretation: all Muslims are free to reflect and interpret the book given a sufficient education. Islam does not believe that all men are doomed to Hell unless they simply accept that God (apparently unable to forgive otherwise) magnanimously allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross to enable Him to forgive all human beings who just believe that He allowed Himself to be tortured on a cross... Islam does not believe in a Chosen Race. And on and on... As I began reading English translations of the Qur'an, I became more and more convinced of the truth and authenticity of Allah's teachings contained in those 114 chapters. Having been around Muslims in my formative years, I knew well that they were not the bloodthirsty, barbaric terrorists that the news media and the televangelists paint them to be. Perhaps this knowledge led me to continue my personal research further than another person would have. I can't say when I actually decided that Islam was for me. It was really a natural progression. In any case, last week [November 1995 -ed.]I went to the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove and told the brother in charge of the library I wanted to be a Muslim. He gave me some excellent reading material, and last Friday I took Shahada [accepted the creed of Islam -ed.]in front of a packed masjid. I have spent this week learning to perform Salat and reflecting on the greatness of Allah. It feels great to be a Muslim! Subhaana rabbiyal 'azeem!
Malik Assalamalaikum brothers and sisters and non Muslims. First off all, I would like to start by saying that this true story is not for my own fame or admiration but for the sake of my Lord and your Lord Allah. All praises due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, the Beneficent, the Merciful Owner of the day of judgement. I would like to repeat to you something I heard: the journey of a thousand miles has to start with the first step and this is the first part of my journey. My name is Malik Mohammed Hassan and I have recently converted to Islam. When I was in junior high school I was first introduced to Islam by reading the book Roots by Alex Haley. It taught me a little bit about the strong will that most Muslims possess, myself included. It also introduced me to Allah. I had never heard of Allah in his real form until I read that book and I was very curious. I then started reading about The Nation Of Islam (specifically Malcolm X) and it fascinated me how devoted he was to Allah, especially after he left the self serving Nation Of Islam. Reading about Malcolm made me think about a God who (for a change) did not have any physical form or limitations and, being a totally blind person, it made me relate to these people: the people who Malcolm and Haley referred to as Muslims. I continued reading what I could about Islam which wasn't as much as it should have been. My reading material was very limited because like I said above: I am a totally blind person and the material available about Islam in braille or on tape was not only very little, but also very general. I believe the reason was that the material that I had access to wasn't written by Muslims and it kind of painted a dark picture of Islam. I think most of the literature written by Christians or non Muslims about Islam tends to do that most of the time. And I didn't know that their were even Muslims in Halifax so I obviously didn't know any. I didn't even know about the local Islamic association until I was already a Muslim. So, I read what I could until my first year out of high school around the month of May, 1996, when I received a phone call asking me if I wanted to participate in a camp for blind and visually impaired people known throughout Canada as Score. I agreed and sent them a resume and praise be to Allah I was excepted for work. At first I really didn't want to go but something kept telling me it would be a good idea if I went. So, on June 30th 1996 I boarded a plane from Nova Scotia to Toronto and took my last trip as a non Muslim; I just didn't know it yet. I got to Toronto and everything at first was pretty normal... It was on the second day that I was there when the journey of a thousand miles first started. I arrived on a Sunday and on the next day I met the person who Allah would use with His divine power to help guide me to the beautiful Religion of Islam. I met a sister named Rizvana and if she reads this I hope she doesn't get mad at me for using her name. When I met her, I immediately wanted to talk to her because I liked her name. I asked her of what origin her name was and she told me that it was Arabic; so I asked her if she was Muslim and she replied with the answer of yes. I immediately started telling her what I already knew about Islam which lasted about ten seconds. I started asking her questions and also asking her to talk to me about Islam. One particular incident that comes to my mind is when all of the workers at the camp went to a baseball game and the sister and I started talking about Islam and missed pretty much the whole game. Well, anyways, we talked for about three, maybe four days on and off about Islam and on July the fifth if my memory doesn't fail me I became a Muslim. My life has been totally different ever since. I look at things very differently than I used to and I finally feel like I belong to a family. All Muslims are brothers and sisters in Islam so I could say that I have approximately 1.2 billion brothers and sisters all of whom I'm proud to be related to. I finally know what it feels like to be humble and to worship a God that I don't have to see. For any non Muslim reading this just look at it this way. It's good to learn, but you never know when you will be tested and if you're not in the class at the time of the final exam no matter how much you know you'll never get any credit. So like I said it's good to learn but if you want to get credit sign up for the class. In other words, declare shehada (testimony to faith) and let Allah teach you everything you need to know. Believe me the reward is worth it. You could say the reward is literally heaven. If any good comes out of this story all the credit is due to Allah; only the mistakes are my own. I would like to mention a part of a hadith that has had a great effect on me and that is: "Worship Allah as if you see him and if you don't see him, know that he sees you." - Sahih Muslim, Volume 1, Number 1 Oct. 23rd, 1996
28- Kusmari Rendrabwana
Kusmari Rendrabwana Kusmari Rendrabwana Childhood I was born and brought up into a devoted catholic family. My father comes from a family whose members mostly turned out to become priests and priestesses, while my mother still has a certain aristocratic blood in her family. My parents were blessed with five children, of which I am the only male and the youngest one. I never had anyone of them to play with since I was a child because of the quite significant difference in age, they were always occupied with their school tasks whenever I needed someone to play with. As it turned out to be, I got used to spending my time with the maidservant and when I was bored, I simply went out to play. For that reason I was used to make friends with people outside of my family, people in my neighborhood who were mostly muslims. In my family, everything that has a "muslim taste" in it was usually considered inappropriate. So every thursday when the time was for the recitation of the Qur'an (we only had TVRI, the government's station back then) the TV set was immediately turned off, that's how my family was like. When I got to school age, naturally my parents chose a catholic institution, as with all my sisters. Even so, I alwasy found it easier to be friends mostlye with people who were muslim. Adolescence Perhaps it was because of my negative childhood image, that when I grew up to be a teen-ager my family always thought of me as being this troublesome kid. In other words, to them I was always the one to blame for everything, anything good that I did was practically nothing to them. Hence, I always tried to look up for answers of my problems through sources outside of my family. My academic records were also nothing special except for English language. And so I started to contemplate with questions that I had in my high school year, I asked and kept asking, I read many books and literature, trying to explore everything about my faith then. But as it goes, the more I gained something, the more I felt that, "This isn't it, this is not what I want." What's worse is that the more I involved myself with religious activities, the more I went further from what I expected, which put me down more and more. What I always found in there was nothing but negative views on somebody else's faith. Whenever I tried to give in another view, they put me down saying that I'm taking sides, I'm giving too much of a value judgement, so on and so forth. Eventually I became more distanced from them, but interestingly (and this is what had always happenned) I felt myself drawn closer and closer with my muslim friends, they seemed to accept me without any sort of tendency to judge. They knew I didn't share their faith but most of them didn't seem to mind or be disturbed by it whatsoever. Adulthood My adulthood started when I entered college. I enrolled in a private college whose students were predominantly muslims. Even so, I still tried to involve myself in religious activities with students of the same faith. In that community, the old conflicting trauma appeared afresh, even worse. Eventually I lost my interest in it. As a college student, I felt more comfortable in my soul searching process. Naturally, I had more access to many references, times and places of interest, because I never felt home with my relatives, even with my sisters. And so I went on with my life as usual, until this deep spiritual experience happened. This is the story: One morning, I don't remember the date, but it was in 1993. I was abruptly awoke from sleep and just quickly sat down. Then unconsciously went up and washed my face, hands and feet, then got back sitting with my legs crossed. Exactly then the call to fajr prayer started..but very differently. I listened to it with an indescribable feeling and emotion,..it was touching me so deeply, in short. I myself never could explain what really happened that morning, but so it did. Ever since then I looked for answers and learned with a practicing muslim friend, read books, started everything from scratch. The first obstacle for me naturally came from my family, especially my mother. I became uncertain again, this is the most difficult choice in my entire life. And so months I spent trying to think over my intention to become a muslim. I felt that I had to make a choice. And of course I chose to become a muslim eventually. In early 1994 I declared my shahadah after finishing the maghrib (evening) prayer in jama'ah (congregation). It was really emotional, friends from my faculty in college even made me work out a written statement with them as witnesses, how touchy it was. In short, I've lived my life as a new person ever since then. After finishing my school, I started working. Even though my relationship with my family is falling apart, I try to pull everything together and be strong as to endure the hardships. My new life was again put to a test when I was going to marry. Because I'm considered an apostate in my family's view, I had to do everything by myself, the proposal, etc., everything. No wedding reception or any of that sort, just the obligatory ones. And then when my mother died, unfortunately I didn't get to see her for the last time. Her wish, which of course I cannot comply to, was for me to return to my old faith. Wassalaamu 'alaikum wrahmatullahi wabarakatuhu, Rendra.