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 of 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 he 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!