How I became Muslim: Conversion Stories : I love my God
Stories of New Muslim converts/reverts provide a unique opportunity to learn about the thought process through which these individuals reached to bilieve that There is only one God and Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and Abraham (Peace upon them all) are prophets of The God Almighty. The narrations give a comprehensive account on comparative religion between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. No path to truth except His Guidance. May The Creator show us right Path. Ameen
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.
Chaplain Yusuf Estes
‘Amongst the converts there exists many famous personalities which is a great booster for the Muslims who have become a prey to accusations of terrorism and are living in fear’ in the words of Muslim leaders.
The Muslim Council has appointed the former health minister’s son Ahmed Dobson as chairman of their new committee which is striving to explain the reality of Islam to the whites living in the United Kingdom.
Herbet Scott’s great grand daughter, Emma Clark has also accepted Islam as a way of life, a former designer for the gardens of the Prince of Wales is now involved in designing a mosque’s garden. She stated to the press a few days ago that ‘I accepted Islam after detesting the doubt standards of Western values and to lee from the filth that surrounds it. Her great grandfather who was the prime minister of Britain in 1908-1916 led his people to the lines of victory in the First World War.
Most new converts have been greatly influenced by Charles Easton’s book, ‘Islam and the Destiny of Man’. He states that I’ve receives thousands of letters informing me that we have lost hope in today’s Christianity which is following the whims and desires of people and are searching for such a religion which does not have this.
The earl of Yarbrough who is the owner of over 28000acres of land in Lincolnshire told the press, ‘I have changed my name to Abdul Mateen and would only like to say that ‘Study Islam and you shall see its beauty’.
Her Majesty has given full permission for Muslim staff working in Buckingham Palace to take time off to perform their Friday prayers.
The above were examples of people who were directly connected to the kingdom, whose grandparents were the bearers of knighthoods and lordships, who used to sit in the houses of Parliament, wealthy people, from a nation who has never been ruled. But what happened to these people’s progeny? There was no slavery or force on them to make them accept Islam; ‘it was solely the unexplainable hearts contentment we found which compelled us.’
After all this I see not the reasons of my shyness, my regret, my inferiority complex that is stopping me from even performing my Jumu’ah Salaat amidst my colleagues at work only because of the fear of what will people say and that my business may lose important profits, yet the kingdom headquarters, Buckingham Palace, has such facilities…
The conversion in America is more visible in USA , there are three women amongst every four muslim converts. The similar trends can seen in Russia , Australia , new Zealand and across Europe.
The hilarious yet serious story of how an American professional comedian and former Jehovah's Witness "pioneer minister" came to Islam.
A forty-two-year-old Latino, Raphael, is a Los Angeles-based comic and lecturer. He was born in Texas where he attended his first Jehovah's Witness meeting at age six. He gave his first Bible sermon at eight, tended his own congregation at twenty, and was headed for a position of leadership among the 904,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States. But he traded in his Bible for a Qur'an after having braved a visit to a local mosque.
On November 1, 1991, he embraced Islam, bringing to the Muslim community the organizational and speaking skills he developed among Jehovah's Witnesses. He speaks with the urgency of a new convert, but one who can make immigrant Muslims laugh at themselves.
He told his story mimicking a cast of characters.
I remember vividly being in a discussion where we were all sitting in my parents' living room and there were some other Jehovah's Witnesses there. They were talking about: "It's Armageddon! The time of the end! And Christ is coming! And you know the hailstones are going to be out here as big as cars! God is going to use all kinds of things to destroy this wicked system and remove the governments! And the Bible talks about the earth opening up! It's going to swallow whole city blocks!"
I'm scared to death! And then my mother turned around: "See what's going to happen to you if you don't get baptized, and if you don't do God's will? The earth is going to swallow you up, or one of these huge hailstones is going to hit you on the head [klonk], knock you out, and you will not exist ever again. I'll have to make another child."
I wasn't going to take a chance of being hit by one of those big hailstones. So I got baptized. And of course Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the sprinkling of the water. They submerge you completely, hold you there for a second, and then bring you back up.
I did that at the age of thirteen, September 7, 1963, in Pasadena, California, at the Rose Bowl. It was a big international assembly. We had 100,000 people. We drove all the way from Lubbock, Texas.
Eventually I started giving bigger talks - ten minutes in front of the congregation. And a circuit servant recommended me to give the hour lectures that are done on Sunday when they invite the general public. They usually reserved those [sermons] for the elders of the congregation.
[In an authoritarian voice:] "Sure he's young. But he can handle it. He's a good Christian boy. He has no vices, and he's obedient to his parents and seems to have pretty good Bible knowledge."
So at the age of sixteen I started giving hour lectures in front of whole congregations. I was assigned first to a group in Sweetwater, Texas, and then, eventually, in Brownfield, Texas, I got my first congregation. At age twenty, I had become what they call a pioneer minister.
Jehovah's Witnesses have a very sophisticated training program, and they also have kind of a quota system. You have to devote ten to twelve hours a month to door-to-door preaching. It's like sales management. IBM has nothing on these guys.
So when I became a pioneer minister, I devoted most of my full time to doing the door-to-door ministry. I had to do like 100 hours a month, and I had to have seven Bible studies. I started lecturing other congregations. I began to get a lot of responsibility, and I was accepted at a school in Brooklyn, New York, a very elite school that Jehovah's Witnesses have for the crème de la crème, the top one percent. But I didn't go.
A few things no longer made sense to me. For example, the quota system. It seemed like every time I wanted to turn a corner and get into another position of responsibility, I had to do these secular material things to prove my godliness. It's like if you meet your quotas this month, God loves you. If you don't meet your quotas next month, God doesn't love you. That didn't make very much sense. One month God loves me and one month He doesn't?
The other thing I started noticing is tunnel vision. Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who are going to be saved in God's new order, nobody else, because all of them are practicing false religions. Well, I thought, Mother Teresa's a Catholic. That's our dire enemy. So I said, Wait a minute, Mother Teresa has spent her entire life doing things that Jesus said: take care of the poor, the sick, the orphans. But she's not going to have God's favor because she's a Catholic?
We criticized the Catholic Church because they had a man, a priest, to whom they had to confess. And we'd say, "You shouldn't have to go to a man to confess your sins! Your sin is against God!" And yet we went to a Body of Elders. You confessed your sins to them, and they put you on hold, and said [Elder as telephone operator:] "Hold on just a minute . . . What do you think, Lord? No? . . . Okay, I'm sorry, we tried our best but you're not repentant enough. Your sin is too big, so you either lose your fellowship in the church or you're going to be on probation."
If the sin is against God, shouldn't I directly go to God and beg for mercy?
Probably the nail that hit the coffin was that I noticed that they started reading their Bible less. Jehovah's Witnesses have books for everything that are put out by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The only people on the entire planet who know how to interpret Bible Scripture correctly are that group of men, that committee in Brooklyn, who tell Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide how to dress, how to talk, what to say, what not to say, how to apply Scripture and what the future is going to be like. God told them, so they can tell us. I appreciated the books. But if the Bible is the book of knowledge and if it's God's instructions, well, shouldn't we get our answers out of the Bible? Paul himself said find out for yourself what is a true and acceptable word of God. Don't let men tickle your ears.
I started saying, "Don't worry so much about what the Watchtower says - read the Bible for yourself." Ears started to prick up.
[Old Southerner's drawl:] "I think we got us an apostate here, Judge. Yup. I think this old boy's one taco short of something."
Even my father said, "You better watch it, young man, that's the demons talking right there. That's the demons trying to get in and cause division."
I said, "Dad, it's not the demons. People don't need to read so much of these other publications. They can find their answers with prayer and in the Bible."
Spiritually I no longer felt at ease. So in 1979, knowing that I could not make headway, I left, disgruntled and with a bad taste in my mouth, because all my life I had put my soul, my heart, my mind into the church. That was the problem. I didn't put it in God. I put it in a man-made organization.
I can't go to other religions. As a Jehovah's Witness, I had been trained, through the Scriptures, to show that they are all wrong. That idolatry is bad. Trinity doesn't exist.
I'm like a man without a religion. I was not a man without a God. But where could I go?
In 1985, I decided to come to Los Angeles and get on the Johnny Carson show and make my mark as a great comedian and actor. I have always felt like I was born for something. I didn't know whether it was going to be finding the cure to cancer or becoming an actor. I kept praying and it got frustrating after a while.
So I just went to the Catholic church close to my house, and I tried it. I remember on Ash Wednesday I had that ash cross on my forehead. I was trying anything I could. I went for about two or three months, and I just couldn't do it anymore, man. It was:
Stand up. Sit down.
Stand up. Sit down.
Okay, stick your tongue out.
You got a lot of exercise. I think I lost about five pounds. But that's about it. So now I'm more lost than ever.
But it never passed through my mind that there is not a Creator. I have His phone number, but the line's always busy. I'm doing my little movie shots. A film called Deadly Intent. A telephone commercial in Chicago. An Exxon commercial. A couple of bank commercials. In the meantime I'm doing construction work on the side.
We're working on this mall. It's the holiday season, and they put these extra booths in the hallways. There was a gal at one, and we had to pass right in front of her. I'd say, "Good morning, how are you?" If she said anything, it was "Hi." And that was it.
Finally, I said, "Miss, you never say anything. I just wanted to apologize if there was something I said wrong."
She said, "No, you see, I'm a Muslim."
"I'm a Muslim, and Muslim women, we don't talk to men unless we have something specific to talk about; otherwise we don't have anything to do with men."
She said, "Yes, we practice the religion of Islam."
"Islam - how do you spell that?"
At the time, I knew that Muslims were all terrorists. She doesn't even have a beard. How could she possibly be Muslim?
"How did this religion get started?"
"Well, there was a prophet."
I started some research. But I just came from one religion. I had no intention of becoming Muslim.
The holidays are over. The booth moves. She's gone.
I continued to pray, and asked why my prayers weren't being answered. In November of 1991, I was going to bring my uncle Rockie home from the hospital. I started to empty his drawers to pack his stuff and there was a Gideon Bible. I said, God has answered my prayers. This Gideon Bible. (Of course, they put it in every hotel room.) This is a sign from God that He's ready to teach me. So I stole the Bible.
I went home and I started praying: O God, teach me to be a Christian. Don't teach me the Jehovah's Witness way. Don't teach me the Catholic way. Teach me Your way! You would not have made this Bible so hard that ordinary people sincere in prayer could not understand it.
I got all the way through the New Testament. I started the Old Testament. Well, eventually there's a part in the Bible about the prophets.
I said, Wait a minute, that Muslim lady said they had a prophet. How come he's not in here?
I started thinking, Muslims - one billion in the world. Man, one out of every five people on the street theoretically could be a Muslim. And I thought: One billion people! C'mon now, Satan is good. But he's not that good.
So then I said, I'll read their book, the Qur'an, and I'll see what kind of pack of lies this thing is. It probably has an illustration on how to dissemble an AK-47. So I went to an Arabic bookstore.
They asked, "What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for a Qur'an."
"Okay, we have some over here."
They had some very nice ones - thirty dollars, forty dollars."
"Look, I just want to read it, I don't want to become one, okay?"
"Okay, we have this little five-dollar paperback edition."
I went home, and started reading my Qur'an from the beginning, with Al-Fatihah. And I could not get my eyes off of it.
Hey, look at this. It talks about a Noah in here. We have Noah in our Bible too. Hey, it talks about Lot and Abraham. I can't believe it. I never knew Satan's name was Iblis. Hey, how about that.
When you get that picture on your TV set and it's got a little bit of static and you push that button [klop] - fine tune. That's exactly what happened with the Qur'an.
I went through the whole thing. So I said, Okay, I've done this, now what's the next thing you got to do? Well, you gotta go to their meeting place. I looked in the yellow pages, and I finally found it: Islamic Center of Southern California, on Vermont. I called and they said, "Come on Friday."
Now I really start getting nervous, `cause now I know I'm going to have to confront Habib and his AK-47.
I want people to understand what it's like for an American Christian coming into Islam. I'm kidding about the AK-47, but I don't know if these guys have daggers under their coats, you know. So I come up to the front, and sure enough, there's this six-foot-three, 240-pound brother, beard and everything, and I'm just in awe.
I walked up and said, "Excuse me, sir."
[Arabic accent:] "Go to the back!"
He thought I was already a brother.
I said, "Yessir, yessir" [meekly].
I didn't know what I was going back for, but I went back anyway. They had the tent and the rugs were out. I'm standing there, kind of shy, and people are sitting down listening to the lecture. And people are saying, Go ahead, brother, sit down. And I'm going, No, thanks, no, thanks, I'm just visiting.
So finally the lecture's over. They're all lined up for prayer and they go into sajdah. I was really taken aback.
It started making sense intellectually, in my muscles, in my bones, in my heart and my soul.
So prayers are over. I say, hey, who's going to recognize me? So I start to mingle like I'm one of the brothers, and I'm walking into the mosque and a brother says, "Assalaamu alaikum." And I thought, Did he say "salt and bacon"?
There's another guy who said "salt and bacon" to me.
I didn't know what in the world they were saying, but they all smiled.
Before one of these guys noticed that I was not supposed to be there and took me to the torture chamber, or beheaded me, I wanted to see as much as I could. So eventually I went to the library, and there was a young Egyptian brother; his name was Omar. God sent him to me.
Omar comes up to me, and he says, "Excuse me. This is your first time here?" He has a real strong accent.
And I said, Yeah, it is.
"Oh, very good. You are Muslim?"
"No, I'm just reading a little."
"Oh, you are studying? This is your first visit to a mosque?"
"Come, let me show you around." And he grabs me by the hand, and I'm walking with another man - holding hands. I said, These Muslims are friendly.
So he shows me around.
"First of all, this is our prayer hall, and you take your shoes off right here."
"What are these things?"
"These are little cubicles. That's where you put your shoes."
"Well, because you're approaching the prayer area, and it's very holy. You don't go in there with your shoes on; it's kept real clean."
So he takes me to the men's room.
"And right here, this is where we do wudu."
"Voodoo! I didn't read anything about voodoo!"
"No, not voodoo. Wudu!"
"Okay, because I saw that stuff with the dolls and the pins, and I'm just not ready for that kind of commitment yet."
He says, "No, wudu, that's when we clean ourselves."
"Why do you do that?"
"Well, when you pray to God, you have to be clean, so we wash our hands and feet."
So I learned all these things. He let me go, and said, Come back again.
I went back and asked the librarian for a booklet on prayer, and I went home and practiced. I felt that if I was trying to do it right, God would accept it. I just continued to read and read and visit the mosque.
I had a commitment to go on a tour of the Midwest on a comedy circuit. Well, I took a prayer rug with me. I knew that I was supposed to pray at certain times, but there are certain places where you are not supposed to pray, one of which is in the bathroom. I went into a men's room on a tourist stop and I laid out my carpet and I started doing my prayers.
I came back, and when Ramadan was over, I started getting calls from different parts of the country to go and lecture as a Jehovah's Witness minister who embraced Islam. People find me a novelty.
[Two immigrants converse:]
"This guy like apple pie and he drives a Chevy truck. He is a red-blooded American boy. He was a Jehovah's Witness."
"Those people that come in the morning?"
"That never let us sleep on Sundays?"
"Yeah, this guy was one of them. Now he's one of us."
Eventually somebody would come up to me and say [Pakistani accent], "Oh, brother, your talk was so good. But you know, in the Shafi'i school of thought.."
The only thing I could do was turn to them and say, "Gee, brother, I'm so sorry, I wish I knew about that, but I don't know anything about Islam except what's in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Some of them are taken aback and say, "Ha-ha! Poor brother. He doesn't know anything. He only knows the Qur'an."
Well, that's what I'm supposed to know. And it's been a very loving protection. I think it's all in Allah's hands
(Source: The Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186)
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 on the Internet and then read hadiths.
After this, I was totally convinced. The first time I went to a masjid, 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. 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.
My name is Ericka, I live in the United States, I am a housewife and I am 27 years old.I am of Mexican origin and born and raised in a “Catholic” atmosphere, my family so far is somewhat “devout” in the traditions surrounding this “religion”.About three years ago by invitation of a girlfriend, I visited a “Christian” church, they were Evangelists, they seemed very similar to me in that time and assisted me many times and I understood many things among them the discipline to read the Bible and although I did not always understand it at least I took the ideas to study for the following class on Sunday.On one occasion the Reverend made an affirmation that Muslims “hated” Jesus and that they worshipped another God who was called Allah. I decided to investigate ISLAM to confirm what he said. To my suprise I met Muslims who loved Jesus as much as Christians (we who wait for his coming), and that Allah means God in the Arabic language and it is another way for us to speak of Him as if the Americans worship another God that is called God, or the Italians do when they say “Dio”, etc. I investigated and I realized that in effect Jesus is not God as people now affirm the Christian belief in it, because the same person Jesus prayed to the same God, just like us.I investigated the origin of the Bible and its authors and discovered that it has many contradictions and unknown authors and some are Jews and other single famous ones and some of the authors didn’t even know Jesus but nonetheless wrote what he said.I resisted it in the beginning but I began to see the truth with my own eyes because it was sad to think that my so sacred and well-regarded book, which to me was the word of God, was distorted.I prayed to the All-powerful God that guided me and let me see the truth, that He guided me to worship Him without worrying about the consequences.One of my major doubts was what if the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was not prophesied in the Bible, because if the Bible said that, it was truth.I encountered many proofs of it and my heart already felt the correct guidance, so I commenced to read on about Islam.I discovered that the Koran is the pure word of God and this one is not corrupt, I discovered that it is a right and logical religion with all the answers for this life and the other, it is a religion of peace and of delivering yourself wholly to God, with blessings for the believers.After much time thinking, I wanted to be Muslim and one day I went to my husband, who is also a Muslim and he helped me to say my testimony and when I did I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders, I felt free, clean, and with much faith, since then I wear my veil and obey the living God peacefully, armored with the faith of which each day Allah gives us because everything in the earth He has already given it, because Islam is not a single religion but a way of life.I have not had any major changes, my family has accepted it, and I am very happy.Note: You can read sister Ericka’s introduction in SpanishWhat was your first religion?ChristianityWere you observant in it?YesDid you belong to a particular sect or denomination?Protestant, EvangelistWhen and why did you start thinking to change your religion?When I started reading the Bible and couldn’t understand it. When the Rev. at church said that Muslims “hated” Jesus and worshiped another god named Allah. I though that if a person like him “teaching” us was ignorant enough not to know the very basic about other religions, he must not be qualified to “guide” anyone, mis-informing people about others, what guarantees me that won’t mis-inform me about his own? So I started reading about Muslims and Islam, my husband is a born Muslim, so I went to him and asked him everything I was concerned about, I also attended the Mosque sometimes for non-Muslims classes, I also asked some knowledgable Christians about ISLAM, they knew nothing, when I asked about Christianity they knew very little.What concerns did you have with your previous religion?The main concern to me was to know, the origin of today’s Bible. I found many contradictions whithin itself that it cannot be the word of God. The founder of Christianity, Paul, gets more credit that Jesus himself and he doesn’t even keep his stories straight about his so claimed conversion. The fact that he was not a follower of Jesus in the first place is enough for me to not trust his writings. The fact that he was a Jew and of the “chosen people”, and “converted” to being not chosen. The fact that Protestants are always critizicing Catholics, but yet do the same in a very “holy” way, listen to music, even sing at church, they celebrate the sweet 15 just like Catholics do, drink alcohol in very small quantities at church just like them. So I thought, what is the difference here if they are doing the same. They even do concerts and other celebrations that within Christianity and Biblical rules are not suppose to be done!What other religions did you study?I knew a little about, Judaism, Buddhism, but I did more searching about Islam.What pros and cons did you see in the religions you studied?Judaism worships just one God, the other one is a peaceful religion, without the same God. The covering of my hair was at the beginning the excuse of not accepting Islam, but it was weak. The other was the language, other than that everything was great to me..What were your criteria in making a decision about which religion to follow?Everything, is a religion of Justice, love, peace, fairness and closeness to the Only God. The blessing of worshiping God directly and feel closer to Him. To know that my sins as a non-Muslim would be forgiven and that, that was my new start, my chance to live my live with sense and purpose. It offered me a new life and a great understanding of everything around it. Islam offered me a new way of life.Were there any external factors which influenced your decision?Yes, the lack of respect for women today in almost everywhere in the world, as wives, as daughters, as mothers and most of all as women. They are used as sex objects, sales products, and motives of sin basicaly. Husbands cheating on their wives, mothers abandoning their babies, teenagers having no respect for their bodies by fornicating with so many parters, wives don’t respect their husbands, divorces, suicides, child abuse, domestic violence I could go on, and on, but all of this because they don’t have fear for their Creator, they have no love for themselves, they don’t believe about the rewards in paradise or the punishment in hell, therefore they don’t care where they will go. They don’t have faith, because they have no God.What religion did you choose?ISLAM, MASHALLAH… Because it gives me a complete way of life, a chance to get closer to God. A chance to recieve His blessings, and a chance of live in the hereafter. It gives me peace and light to see the path I need to follow. It gives me faith and trust in my Creator, and most of all it gives me the guide to be happy here in this life. It lets me see the reason of creation, the logic behind it and the purspose of it.Did you have any problems after your conversion?MashAllah, I haven’t had any, whatever I get, won’t be seen as such, but as a chance to get stronger in what I believe.How would you advise others who are studying Islam?To study with and open mind and heart, seek the guide of God to see the truth regardless of the consequences. To take the time to find out what they are followed and by who. To take the time to balance the positive and the negative with proofs and logic. I would advice to ask instead of making assumptions If so, make sure they are asking the right person, (for Islam ask a muslim.. etc…)Are there any other points you would like to make?Dear reader, don’t be afraid to know about Islam, at least to understand it and not criticize it, only if you know you will understand and if you understad you will respect. Don’t give up in your search, and ask Allah (God) for guidance.
Recounted in a letter
“And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not.” Qur’an 2:154
Your family and mine have been friends for many years, and I know that it disturbs you that I have become a Muslim. In particular you are very anti-Islam because of the teachings related to the Martyrs. You have said it is an insidious and evil teaching - the belief that martyrs do not really die. Of course I have to tell you that I believe it absolutely, and there have been some remarkable instances which have strengthened my belief in the Qur’anic text totally.
Let me tell you what I mean:
There was an interesting case about ten years back when an Imam phoned me and asked would I interview an Australian man who had become Muslim and claimed to have come through a very strange circumstance.
When I made contact with this man I discovered that he was about fifty years of age. He was married to a Spanish Catholic woman and had two sons. He had recently come to Queensland from another state.
Anyhow, as he put it, he went to bed one night nominally Christian, and awoke, the next day, a Muslim!
On questioning him I discovered that he had lost his father during World War 11 when he was five years of age. When told of this he had sat quietly and spoken to God, saying, “My father is dead, will you be my father now?”
At first this was a comfort to him and he shared his news and feelings with God. But over the years his life altered and he had almost forgotten his earlier request to God - to take the place of his Father. There was nothing unusual about his life. He went through his schooling and eventually took up a trade. He married and had children.
Nothing spectacular at all had happened in the intervening time, and on the night in question, years later, he went to bed as usual.
During the night he had a dream that he was in the desert. As he looked about him he saw a man wearing Arab clothing and sitting cross-legged on the sand. He recognised this man’s great anguish and saw him look to heaven, raise his arms and cry out, “Ya Allah!” He said that there was so much pain that the man wept and as he did so his tears fell onto the sand. Suddenly where they fell a pond appeared. Then from heaven a tear- drop blood red fell into the water and beautiful plants appeared.
Suddenly the dream changed and he found himself looking upon Arab/Muslim dead - he said that as far as the eye could see there were mountains of dead Muslims. It was so real that he felt he could almost have smelled the odour of death.
Then a veil was drawn across. Just as he was standing wondering what was to happen next, it was drawn back. This time he saw all of the dead alive - they were greeting each other and were happy and laughing, and he was relieved and amazed.
Suddenly his dream changed and he found himself outside an enormous doorway. He knocked and asked to be let in but a voice told him that this was a doorway through which only Muslims could enter and he
must return. At this he awoke. The next day he was walking with his wife and felt a great urgency to discover more of Islam. In the shopping Centre he saw two men whom he took to be Italians. Suddenly he decided that he would ask them. “Are you Italians?” he asked. “No,” they replied, “we are Arabs.” With this he asked if they were Muslim, to which they assented, and he begged them to take him to a mosque so that he may learn further.
The eventual upshot of it was that this man became a practising Muslim. In a short time he applied and was accepted to go to Saudi Arabia to study Arabic and Religion. So what can one say to such an event!
Indeed, it seems that the prayer of his childhood was heard and accepted and we are told:
“When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every supplicant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way.” Qur’an 2:186.
Truly the Love and Mercy of Allah is beyond anything which we may imagine, and His Guidance something of which we can only marvel:
“….Say: Allah’s guidance is the (only) guidance, and we have been directed to submit ourselves to the Lord of the Worlds!”
In truth Robert, I am so very happy that I am among those who are Muslim, who have been very blessed. May it please Allah, upon Whom our very beings depend, to grant you His similar Guidance.
The story of how I reverted to al Islam is a story of plans. I made plans; the group I was with made plans, and Allah made plans. And Allah is the Best of Planners. When I was a teenager, I came to the attention of a group of people with a very sinister agenda. They were and probably still are a loose association of individuals who work in government positions but have a special agenda — to destroy Islam. It is not a governmental group that I am aware of, they simply use their positions in the US government to advance their cause.
One member of this group approached me because he saw that I was articulate, motivated and very much the women’s rights advocate. He told me that if I studied International Relations with an emphasis in the Middle East, he would guarantee me a job at the American Embassy in Egypt. He wanted me to eventually go there to use my position in the country to talk to Muslim women and encourage the fledgling women’s rights movement. I thought this was a great idea. I had seen the Muslim women on TV; I knew they were a poor oppressed group, and I wanted to lead them to the light of 20th century freedom.
With this intention, I went to college and began my education. I studied Quran, hadith and Islamic history. I also studied the ways I could use this information. I learned how to twist the words to say what I wanted them to say. It was a valuable tool. Once I started learning, however, I began to be intrigued by this message. It made sense. That was very scary. Therefore, in order to counteract this effect, I began to take classes in Christianity. I chose to take classes with this one professor on campus because he had a good reputation and he had a Ph.D. in Theology from Harvard University. I felt I was in good hands. I was, but not for the reasons I thought. It turns out that this professor was a Unitarian Christian. He did not believe in the trinity or the divinity of Jesus. In actuality, he believed that Jesus was a prophet.
He proceeded to prove this by taking the bible from its sources in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and show where they were changed. As he did this, he showed the historical events which shaped and followed these changes. By the time I finished this class, my deen [religion] had been destroyed, but I was still not ready to accept Islam. As time went on, I continued to study, for myself and for my future career. This took about three years. In this time, I would question Muslims about their beliefs. One of the Individuals I questioned was a Muslim brother with the MSA [Muslim Students’ Association]. Alhamdulllah, he saw my interest in the deen, and made it a personal effort to educate me about Islam. May Allah increase his reward. He would give me dawaa [i.e. tell me about Islam] at every opportunity which presented itself.
One day, this man contacts me, and he tells me about a group of Muslims who were visiting in town. He wanted me to meet them. I agreed. I went to meet with them after Ishaa [night] prayer. I was led to a room with at least 20 men in it. They all made space for me to sit, and I was placed face to face with an elderly Pakistani gentleman. Mashallah, this brother was a very knowledgeable man in matters of Christianity. He and I discussed and argued the varying parts of the bible and the Quran until the fajr [dawn prayer]. At this point, after having listened to this wise man tell me what I already knew, based on the class I had taken in Christianity, he did what no other individual had ever done. He invited me to become a Muslim. In the three years I had been searching and researching, no one had ever invited me. I had been taught, argued with and even insulted, but never invited. May Allah guide us all. So when he invited me, it clicked. I realized this was the time. I knew it was the truth, and I had to make a decision. Alhamdulillah [Alla praise be to Allah], Allah opened my heart, and I said, “Yes. I want to be a Muslim.” With that, the man led me in the shahadah [the testimony of faith] - in English and in Arabic. I swear by Allah that when I took the shahadah, I felt the strangest sensation. I felt as if a huge, physical weight had just been lifted off my chest; I gasped for breath as if I were breathing for the first time in my life. Alhamdulillah, Allah had given me a new life — a clean slate — a chance for Jennah [Paradise], and I pray that I live the rest of my days and die as a Muslim. Ameen.