Friday, August 12, 2005

My Conversion to Islam, Part 4

When I came back to reading it was with full force. I once again checked out the Qur’an because it was basically the only monotheistic religion left for me to explore. If none of these shoes fit, then I was out of luck. I also met some Muslims.

This will make you laugh but I started going to halaal markets, and Middle Eastern stores to get a feel for the people and religion. I was trying to meet Muslims and didn’t really know how to. Eventually, through my various ways of trying to meet some, I did. One of these people was a nice Palestinian guy who taught me how to smoke a hookah and then gave me a copy of the Holy Qur’an and a guide to Islam.

I didn’t touch either for months.

Then, one night, I pulled out the books late one night on a night I was feeling particularly disillusioned and read and read and read. I read the Bible too. I had several books sprawled out all over my couch. All of a sudden, it all came together. These religions were more alike than different. These are the passages that really got me:

Quran 9:128: “There has indeed come to you a messenger from among yourselves. Grevious to him is whatever afflicts you; he is full of concern for you (your guidance) and most kind and merciful to the believers.”

Compare that with:

Deuteronomy 18:18-19: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”


And this:

Quran 2:114: And the Jews say, 'The Christians stand on nothing' and the Christians say, 'The Jews stand on nothing;' while they both read the same book. Even thus said those, who had no knowledge, like what they say. But Allah shall judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they disagree.

To me this was saying that all the religions are linked so why is everyone fighting? And I felt at the very least, they shouldn’t be fighting in God’s name. All of ‘em when it’s really about land. Land ultimately is the reason for all war and not religion like many believe (my opinion). The religion is tied to the land but land is where the resources lie (oil, water, travelways, etc). Religion is really just another part of the equation. But when it comes to places like Israel, it really is the religion because they basically want to evict people from their homes. It’s like someone going to a New York borough and saying “You know, all you people in the Brooklyn gotta go.” This is now only for us Jewish people and if you are not Jewish you must leave. If you don’t leave on your own, we will tear down your homes, and if we want we’ll kill you. Oh, don’t think of fighting us because we will take away your weapons. Only we can have tanks, guns and planes. Oh, and also, don’t think about asking for help because we have the U.S. on our side so you are really screwed. We are doing this because God promised us this land.” What they really should be saying is “We are doing this because we are selfish and we like to kill innocent people.”

All of this just made me start thinking about what God would really want.

The science in the Qur’an and the fact that the information in the Qur’an hasn’t changed since its revelation really helped me to believe. The Bible, I knew from the beginning had been rewritten and rewritten to the point where who knows what it said in the beginning. I believe it originally probably looked a lot like the Qur’an since much is still in line with the Qur’an but as a whole, it can’t be trusted to be the absolute truth of what happened or what God said. It must be treated with caution. That’s man’s error in his pursuit of greed and trying to make people submit (especially women).

So the science part amazed me and how ahead of the times it really was. I could list a ton of stuff but a lot can be found on various websites (and books) including this one and this one.

While reading all this stuff that night I was affected by much. What got me most were these passages from the Qur’an:

Qur’an 3:91: Those who have disbelieved and died in disbelief, the earth full of gold would not be accepted from any of them if one offered it as a ransom. They will have a painful punishment, and they will have no helpers.

I didn’t want that to be me.

Qur’an 13:28: Truly, in remembering do hearts find rest.

This heart needed rest.

Also, reading about the trinity:

Qur’an 5:73-74: Indeed, they disbelieve who say: “God is the third of three (in a trinity),” when there is no god but one God. If they desist not from what they say, truly, a painful punishment will befall the disbelievers among them…

I never believed Jesus was God so this cleared that up. And the fact that it was in the Qur’an so specifically mentioned so long ago really got to me. I knew the Qur’an was speaking the truth. The Bible said there was only one God and it was pretty obvious it wasn’t Jesus. I didn’t even realize that some Christians thought Jesus was God until I moved to the south. Their explanations of how and why Jesus could be God go completely against the Bible. This is what the Bible says on there being one God:

Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Deuteronomy 5:9: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…”

That pretty much sums up that praying to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, or believing the trinity has any weight with God is all wrong. There is one entity only: God. He is one divisible by none.

This all made sense.

But still, I thought, well I’ve probably sinned too much so converting wouldn’t help me. I’d still go to hell. But then maybe if I converted and did everything right from here on out, I’d be forgiven (I didn’t realize that once a person converts, the sins are wiped out).

I decided to convert regardless…it was worth a shot.

I took out a towel to use as a prayer rug. I wrapped a scarf around my head – I didn’t have a hijab so I used a Palestinian plo scarf that I had and wrapped it around in a crazy way not knowing how to tie it properly and I positioned the towel in the direction of Mecca (to the best of my knowledge) and I said the shahada. I sat there for a long time crying. I was so scared. That’s the feeling I will always remember. I had never been so scared in my life. I was so afraid of turning my back on my religion (Christianity), Jesus, my family, my friends, etc. I cried and cried. I cried for everything I had done wrong in my life and for everything I wanted my future life to be. I apologized to God if I was doing the wrong thing and I asked for forgiveness for all my sins. When I stopped crying I asked Allah to guide me to the right thing, whatever that thing was, whether it was to continue in Islam or to go back to Christianity. Whatever was the right thing was, please guide me to it. And to have mercy on me.

I then got on the internet, looked up a mosque, called them and left a message asking for help on learning how to pray. I said that I wasn’t ready to convert, but I wanted to learn to pray. (I didn’t want to be a part of the mosque yet. I wanted to do this on my own and didn’t want to be persuaded in any direction, this was going to be between me and my God – that’s why I said I wasn’t ready to convert). The sheikh called me back the next day and told me to come by the mosque on Thursday and he would give me a cd with the prayers on it and answer any questions I had.

I became a Shia Muslim. Now, there’s another whole story on how and why I became Shia and not Sunni. I’d go there, but it often just brings up disagreements, arguments, and what not. Besides, hasn’t all my blabbing just wore you guys out. Like you need to hear another lengthy explanation. Besides, to me a Muslim is a Muslim and the whole sect thing just really tires me and I refuse to argue my beliefs. I believe Allah guided me to what’s right and for me it is. I’ll leave it at that.

BTW. If anyone wants more information on how the Bible and Qur'an are similar and say much of the same thing, I put together a whole document of what i found and would share it. It wasn't easy information to find at first when i was converting and maybe it would help some person through the process.


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