|©Robert Jasany/North American Landscapes|
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST COMPASSIONATE, MOST MERCIFUL
One night, not so long ago, I began to question my belief in the purity of the Bible. Because of this, I felt depressed. I knew that God was there, and I knew that He had sent down His religion to man, but I could not find it. Why was it so hard to find? Why would God allow it to be so hard? I prayed and asked God, Why would You send down a scripture (the Bible) and allow for there to be flaws in it? My Lord had been answering my question even before I asked.
About two years before this point, when I was sixteen, I had a religious yearning. It was like a thirst that I could not quench. I thought I was satisfied with my religion of Mormonism. But the truth was, I wasn't satisfied. It was as if God was calling me. I decided to put the Scriptures under close examination. I put aside my Book of Mormon, and picked up the Bible. I studied it from a viewpoint outside of what my religion taught me, since my religion taught me how to interpret the Bible in a very specific and "official" way. Instead, I looked at it not as one who had no religion, but as one who wanted to follow the Scriptures to the fullest.
As I studied, I noticed how Christ taught only to the Jews. He would not preach to anyone except the children of Israel. Studying his life closely, I noticed that this man did not follow any religion that actually exists today. He was a follower of God's law as it was sent to the Jews in the past. Right there, my religion was questionable. I also read in the book of Acts that the apostles would not eat pork or any other foods that were earlier prohibited by God. In the other books, the followers of Christ (peace be upon him) would follow all of the laws and traditions which God had sent down in the past. Neither my religion nor any other Christians that I knew followed this example.
Studying it even closer, I saw that all Christian churches relied upon the teachings of Paul, whose letters actually contradicted many of the words of Jesus (peace be upon him). Now I knew that my religion was definitely in question.
I believed in one God, I believed in Jesus, I believed in Moses, I believed in Noah, and I believed in all of the other prophets who preached the worship of one God. But what other Books existed to replace the Bible? I believed that there were none.
Then I remembered what an old Muslim friend told me. He said that Muslims believe in the Qur'an, in only one God, and in all the messengers of God, which includes all of the Christian and Jewish prophets. At that time, I had a book that explained Islam at a very basic level. It was a great source for me. I began to understand Islam much more, and found it somewhat interesting.
After this, I went on the Internet to look up things about Islam. I found some sites with arguments against Christian beliefs, and I studied their arguments closely. They explained how most Christians do not follow their Scriptures as closely as they should. In truth, the Muslim sites were confirming what I already knew.
My interest in Islam was soaring. I decided to ask my neighbor to borrow his Qur'an. I read it in a few weeks. I loved it – I believed every word it said. However, I could not believe that the crucifixion was a false story. I was so brainwashed by the Bible that I could not accept the truth at the time.
So, when the night came in which I finally lost my trust in the Bible's purity and incorruptibility, I decided to look into Islam again. In my heart during those two years, I knew that the truth lay in Islam, but I simply could not allow myself to accept it. There were personal reasons for my stubbornness – reasons planted in my heart by Satan. That night I went online to begin my new spiritual search. I went to many online sites, and I ordered information from many of them. Then I went to Why-Islam.org, and I read a beautiful article entitled, "The Fall of Atheism." I read some interesting facts about the Qur'an, and I said to myself, this might be the way that God has led me. But it was still too soon to tell.
Just before I logged off, I ordered more information about Islam. A few days later, a representative of Why-Islam.org sent me an email. He thanked me for my interest in Islam, and told me that I could write to him at anytime if I had any questions concerning Islam.
Thus, we began a dialogue online. He gave me a lot of information about Islam. I asked him a deep question: How do Muslims actually prove to Christians that the crucifixion did not happen? He wanted to meet up with me to discuss it, and I agreed. We met up in a neighborhood pizza parlor. Our discussion left me in awe. He showed me verses of the Bible that I had always overlooked. He left me with a Qur'an and a lecture on CD. As soon as I went home, I knew that this was God's religion, but I did not want to rush into it. Instead, I studied it more.
All my studies led me to the same conclusion: Islam was the path of God. Still, I was afraid to convert. Converting is a life decision, and I was not willing to take that decision lightly.
One day, the brother from Why-Islam.org wanted to take me to the Friday prayer (the Juma'a prayer). The night before, Satan struck with all his force. He knew that I was going to say the Shahada (the public declaration that there is no deity but God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger), and thereby convert to Islam. All night, he whispered things in my heart, trying to show me that Islam was not the way to go. In fact, so intense were his promptings that I slept for no more than an hour that night. I kept on praying to God, reading the Qur'an, and praying some more. Satan put so many thoughts in my head that even I believed that I was not going to convert.
About an hour after I had fallen to sleep, my mother woke me up saying that I had to watch the kids until she came back from the hospital. My little brother's toe was hurting him and my mother believed that it was broken. She needed me to stay home with the other kids so she could take him to the doctor. She did not expect to be back until six in the evening.
When I heard this, I knew that I was not going to the Juma'a prayer service. I had to stay home with the kids at the time that it started. The brother from Why-Islam.org called me up. He asked if I was ready, and I told him the story. He explained that he felt especially bad because this Friday was his only Friday in which he was free to bring me there. He even told me that I could bring the kids with me. I figured that they would feel awkward there, and so I said no. I told him to call me after half an hour. Maybe I would have a solution by then, but deep inside I did not expect to go.
I talked to my mother and asked her if it was possible for me to go. She found some extra money for the kids to go with her, thus letting me off the hook. I thank God for this little miracle, for this event changed my life. The Muslim brother later told me that he had relied on God to lead me to the mosque that day. When he heard that I was not going to come, he prayed to God knowing that I did not have a choice in the matter. If I was to become Muslim, it was God Who was going to make me a Muslim. If I was not going to become a Muslim, that was again God's will.
When the brother heard that I was able to come, he was very happy. He picked me up shortly after that. On the way there, I began to feel sick. I felt nauseous, weak, dizzy, as if I was going to collapse. It was Satan doing this to me. He was desperate to get me away from the mosque and he made me think that I was feeling too sick to go. In fact, these were just minor side effects from having too little sleep the night before.
In the car on our way to the mosque, I told the brother that I was thinking about changing my mind about taking Shahada. He told me that the choice was mine, but to beware of the doubts that Satan puts into one's head. For a while, we talked in the car about Satan whispering into people's hearts, and how Satan tries to drag someone from the Light. He explained to me that only Muslims and non-Muslims who are on their way to becoming Muslim are heavily affected by Satan. He said that non-Muslims are generally left alone, because Satan does not need to distract them from God, since they are already far from Him. He explained that last night, all the thoughts that flooded my head were from Satan. Satan put so much doubt in my head in that one night in order to pull me from the Light. This was how desperate Satan was – he knew that I was going to take Shahada the next day and was trying anything to prevent this.
We went into the mosque, and the brother taught me how to make ablution (wudhu-cleaning one's self before prayer). After the ablution, I felt brand new, and my nausea had left my body. I was not even thinking about the sickness anymore, I just felt good to be in a place where God is worshiped. We approached the director and told him that I wanted to take the Shahada that day after the service. He smiled and congratulated me with a warm hug. Another brother who overheard us did the same. He said, "God bless you, and congratulations." These were beautiful people, people of God. These were the kind of people I wanted to be like.
During the service, the Imam amazingly gave his speech about Satan's whisperings into the hearts of men in the attempt to lead them away from the Light. It left me in utter shock. The brother was talking to me about this in the car, and by an amazing coincidence, the Imam thought it was best that day to talk about Satan's whispers. This, I believe, was God getting His Message across to me, telling me to ignore Satan. I could not wait to declare the Shahada, and when the time came after the service, I rushed up to the front.
After publicly declaring my Islam, I think that every Muslim brother present that day came and hugged me. There were at least a few hundred brothers present, so you can imagine how many hugs I received. They congratulated me and said, "God bless you, you made the right choice."
Two forces were at work that day: Satan and God. But God's force was too powerful for me to resist, and so I submitted to Him in Islam. The brother told me that the greatest gift that God gives to us in this world is Islam. This gift I shall keep for the rest of my life, God willing (in sha' Allah). He also told me that he never went to a Friday service where the Imam talked purely about Satan's whispers. He said that the subject was mentioned occasionally, but it almost never actually made up an entire service.
I pray that my story helps those who go through the same mental struggle that I had with Satan. My experience is so amazing to me that I cannot truly describe it in words. I pray that those who read this will be able to overcome Satan as I was able to that day. Remember, Satan only whispers to the heart, but God shouts to the heart. It was God's shout that brought me to Him in Islam.
As-salaam `alaikum. May God guide you as he guided me.
Editor's Note: Anthony accepted Islam on September 19, 2003. He now goes by the Muslim name Talib Abdul Hamid. He adds, "Right now I'm learning Arabic and studying Tafseer [Qur'anic exegesis]. Since I took Shahada, my life went in a different direction, a positive direction, and I can only thank God for it."