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|Topic: From white extremist to pious Muslim|
Joined: 30 July 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Online Status: Offline
| Topic: From white extremist to pious Muslim
Posted: 02 August 2005 at 7:46pm
From white extremist to pious Muslim, 20.5.05
FEW conversions to Islam are as amazing as that of Mohammed Islam, a former ‘Paki-bashing’ member of white extremists British National Party (BNP). Formerly known as John Ord, he went from being an active BNP member to a devoted Muslim.
Mohammed Islam (pictured) said: "Growing up, I was never particularly religious. I only went to church for weddings, funerals and baptisms."
Raised in the north-east, John Ord joined the BNP at the age of 16 because his friends were members. He quickly bought into the BNP idea that all Asians and black people were a threat to his way of life.
He said: "My father wasn’t particularly bothered because he disliked Jews and Muslims anyway, and my mother put it down to a phase I was going through.
"Like most parents, they didn’t know what I got up to while I was out with the lads."
The Geordie described how he used to actively go ‘Paki bashing’ in an area where he knew there was a small but growing Asian community.
He said: "We would find them and give them a good kicking and say stereotypical things such as,‘Why are you in our country and why are you taking our shops and jobs?’"
However, he soon became frustrated with what he said were the "only two policies the BNP had at the time", which were ‘to beat them up’ and ‘to kick them out’.
Disillusioned, he left the party when he was in his early 20s. Still a racist, he went to London and got involved with other like-minded people who saw Islam as a threat.
He claimed that his new-found group would be specifically briefed by the police to go to meetings, to make provocative statements and cause trouble in front of Muslims. By doing this, he thought he was helping the police.
He said: "Our job was to help them get evidence. We would always get a response to our statements and this gave the police a reason to arrest Muslims. Often the police would use this method to target those Muslims who were wanted by other countries."
The turning point in Ord’s life came when he unknowingly bought a copy of the Quran for 20 pence from a book stall.
He said: "I bought the book because of the picture on the cover – it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen, with the most gorgeous colours and a beautiful building. I thought I’d buy a cheap frame and ended up with a nice picture. I had no idea I had bought the Quran until I got home."
He decided to read it to find things to use against Muslims.
He said: "My mind was telling me that like any book written by humans, it would contain errors and contradictions. I had this view of Islam being this great bad religion."
He would read the Quran and take verses out of context and quote them to Muslims just to catch them out. He had no idea that he had just begun on a life-changing journey. While reading the Quran, he realised that Islam was totally opposite to what society had led him to believe.
He also observed that many Muslims were not following the teachings in their own book. He started to debate with Muslims regularly asking them why they were not following the Quran. He would question Muslims about why they were selling alcohol or inquire about women’s rights.
He said: "I even asked Muslims to intellectually prove that God exists and the Quran is the word of God. Time and time again I felt let down by Muslims because they had no explanation and even tried to justify their actions."
He returned back to the north-east in 1992.
By this time, he was enjoying debating with Muslims as he found them easy to catch out due to their lack of knowledge. He was also observing anomalies in their actions compared to what he was reading in the Quran.
In that same year, he approached a group of Muslims at a stall in Newcastle expecting to debate with them and win. He said he was surprised to find that they were able to defend themselves with ease.
He said: "Not only were they able to intellectually prove that God existed but also that the Quran was the word of God."
The group instead challenged Ord to try and intellectually prove that God did not exist and the Quran was not the word of God. If he succeeded, they would become Christians, but if he failed then he would have to become Muslim.
Without thinking twice about the surprising challenge, he had no hesitation in accepting it. He said: "I returned to the stall many times with what I thought were convincing arguments but they would always have answers. Eventually I got scared and backed off."
Four years later, he bumped into one of the Muslims from the stall and told him that he wanted to become a Muslim. He took his shahadah in November 1996 and became a Muslim himself.
Now called Mohammed Islam, he said: "Because I knew I was about to make a momentous decision that would affect the rest of my life, I felt as if a big rock was crushing me and that I couldn’t breathe.
"Once I was a 100 per cent sure that I wanted to become a Muslim and took the decision, I felt as if everything just lifted and I immediately felt better."
Most people close to Mohammed were not shocked by his conversion to Islam. He said: "I had made the decision to convert a year before and had told people that I was going to become a Muslim."
Although most of his friends accepted his decision and supported him, it was not the case with his family. He said: "My sister stopped talking to me and still does not talk to me. My father did not want to discuss it because Islam was a totally alien concept and an alien way of life to him. My mother seemed more concerned about what the neighbours would think. Initially she said I couldn’t pray in the house and I told her I’d pray in the garden. But my mother is okay about it, now."
Mohammed has lost all of his old friends. He said: "My friends were going out drinking and chasing girls and I had absolutely nothing in common with them anymore."
Mohammed said that he has no difficulty in practising his new faith because he had made a number of changes to his lifestyle a year before becoming a Muslim, such as not drinking alcohol.
He said: "Although becoming a Muslim has been a big step, it has not been a massive step in terms of practical issues."
The devout Muslim feels that he has been accepted more by non-Muslims and says many Muslims have accused him of being fanatic or fundamental just because he chooses to simply follow the fundamental principles of Islam.
Since converting, Mohammed has married and moved to the Midlands.
The 42-year-old is now looking ahead to a career in social work and is hoping to start his degree in September 2005. Once qualified, he wants to focus on the Muslim community and focus on problems that community leaders are not aware of or are simply ignoring.
He said: "I want to try and deal with these social problems that especially affect the youth, with an Islamic perspective."
Joined: 16 August 2005
Online Status: Offline
|Posted: 16 August 2005 at 2:35am|
As Salamu Alaikum,
Good story, but I disagree with the bit about women's rights being equated to the selling of alcohol. In the Qur'an (2:228) Allah (subhana wa t'ala) does state that "women have recognized rights as men have ...." Women's rights are no innovation, but are indeed at the core of our deen.
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