Wrestling Champion Finds Peace in the Quran


Wrestling Champion Finds Peace in the Quran,It was like all the weights of the world have been lifted off me.

My name is Ismail Chartier, and I converted to Islam 10 years ago.

I was raised Irish catholic in a neighborhood called Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, which when I was a kid was a very bad neighborhood. It was full of drug use. The Irish mafia ran it with an iron fist and if anyone got in their way, they were dealt with.

My mum and dad are both first generation Irish American.

There was a mixture of Puerto Rican Catholics and Irish Catholics there, and never did the two ever meet. There were two parishes in my neighborhood, one for Roman Catholics and one for Irish Catholics and we never went to the other parish.My brothers and I are second generation Irish American, which comes with a lot of culture and heritage. You have to learn wajibat (mandatory, obligatory) to learn what it means to be Irish, the culture, the dancing, the music, and the hate of English occupation of Northern Ireland especially when your family is from Belfast.

I wrestled from the time I was 5 years old to the time I was 20 years old. That’s who I was. It was my identity. Everything I was, was this. I was known as Brandon the wrestler. That’s who I was. I was 4-time state-wrestling champion.

I was in university, at the University of Arizona in the wrestling team. And I got hurt really bad. I hurt my back and I couldn’t wrestle any more. And I remember the day that the trainer and the coach brought me in to their office and they said “You are finished, you can’t do this anymore” and when I couldn’t do that anymore, I didn’t know who I was and all I felt was pain and anger, and I wanted the world, not just certain individual but the whole world to feel as much pain that I felt…

Searching for the Truth

I don’t believe God would limit His religion to one nation.

I started a journey where I went through every religion that I could think of and find. So I went to get the orthodox of Christianity. I was raised with the Irish Catholic and then with the Protestant view so I wanted to see the other view of Orthodox. So I went to Greece, studied there for a year and said “I just can’t believe this”. So I said “I will look to the Torah, I will get the first five books of the bible.” So I said “OK this makes sense, they say worship only one God.”

So I went to a local temple and I said “I want to be a Jew”.

The Rabbi said “Is your mother Jewish?”

And I said “No. My mum is not Jewish.”

He said “Are you going to marry a Jewish girl?”

I said “If you have one, bring her out. We will see what happens.”

You know, if we like each other we will see how it goes. He didn’t like that and he asked me to leave.  So I said “I don’t believe God would limit His religion to one nation. I think God would want all the creation, all of mankind to experience salvation, to experience liberation in worshiping him.” Then I went through all religions. I spent a year in Nepal studying Buddhism and Hinduism.

So as I walked by this little section in the university library called Islam which was really a small section that consisted of like 8 books. And I said this is also something that I don’t know anything about. So they had books by Elijah Muhammad, Rumi and Ghazali. And then they had the Quran in English. So I said “This is the book that Muslims follow. This is the book that they claim to follow. So I’m going to read this book. And I will base my decision about Islam on this book.”…

I studied the Arabic language and I read the Quran. I came back to my wife. I looked at her and I said “I couldn’t be a Christian any more. I want to be a Muslim. I’m going to be a Muslim. I’m going to change my religion and I’m going to start now.” And she said “OK, whatever.” She didn’t believe that it would be a life-changing experience for me or for her.

what made me have this sense of peace and tranquility, was that I actually for the first time in my life had this hole in my heart filled

I think that number one change she noticed right away was that I had peace and tranquility within myself which I didn’t have before. I love my wife. I still do love her. But I was still angry at everybody, so my temper was quick. Irish people have a naturally quick temper. We are known for this internationally, and when I accepted Islam all that went away. It was like all the weights of the world have been lifted off of me and my wife saw this. She saw this tranquility and this peace that have overtaken me. After a week of me being a Muslim, she noticed such a change to me that she became a Muslim like 5 to 7 days after me, that she accepted Islam a week after me based on how much I changed during those 5 to seven days.

I think what changed me, what made me have this sense of peace and tranquility, was that I actually for the first time in my life had this hole in my heart filled. A lot of people try to fill that hole with drugs, alcohol, or shopping, and we all have this sense of emptiness. And tranquility happens when this sense of emptiness was gone, the void has been filled and it was filled with this kalimat al-tawheed (words of the oneness of God) la illaha illa allah (There is no God but Allah) and I felt at one with everything around me; complete and total serenity….

My mum and dad were angry, and they were angry for a very long time. They stopped talking to me actually for two years. They wanted nothing to do with me but I continued to call them and mowed my dad’s lawn and shoveled his walk when it snowed. I’m trying to be a good servant to Allah who created us and sustained us. That’s why I’m doing these things for you. That’s why I’m mowing your lawn and I’m shoveling your walks because that’s what the Creator had commanded me to do…

Now we have a very good relationship alhamdulellah. They love my kids. My kids love them. We go there and see them once a week. So we have a better relationship now than we did before I was a Muslim.

There is always respect. The golden rule is the same, treat people as you want to be treated. That translates into Islam too. It’s a basic principle of Islamic behaviors “Adab”, to treat people with respect if you want to be respected…

In 2002 when I met Talib and he explained the idea of “Guidance behind walls” to me, I thought it was the most beautiful idea I have ever heard in my life about a grass root organization that was really designed to change society at a very base level to start wherever there was injustice, where there was crime, where there was drug use. It was really a program based on a complete total social change but through our religion. And it really gives us the chance as Muslims to demystify our religion, one person at a time.

(Continued via onislam.net)



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