My background is that I was actually born a Greek orthodox.
I’ve been in many Christian schools whether Catholic or Christian, Maronite or Greek Orthodox or whatever.
Growing up, I sort of had a religious background when I was younger but I guess I fell away from going to church. It didn’t really suit me. I’ve always asked questions about a lot of things. I’ve never really accepted dogma as it was presented to me. I was one of people who would always question everything including religion. I guess in the last 25 years I’ve always been searching for answers to my questions. I think I found the answer I’ve been wanting in Islam. That’s why I embraced Islam 2 years ago, in 2009 to be exact.
Throughout the nineties, I’ve been really searching for a lot of things. I moved from Sydney to Queensland because Sydney was a very bad place for me. I was actually working at a liquor store for five years and I’ve seen the worst humans you can ever imagine. This really shook my belief in humanity I guess. When I moved to Queensland I was always searching for the truth whatever it was and I was praying to the Creator to show me the truth and I would accept it. During this time, I went to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the different congregations of Christianity to find out the truth. I could never get the concise answer that I wanted; “Why am I here? What’s the purpose of my existence?”
It wasn’t until September 11 that I had a little spark in my head. I thought “Oh, I never looked at Islam before and I don’t know anything about this religion”. I didn’t really research that any further but I thought I had a feeling that maybe the Muslims were the ones who were really practicing religion in the right way. It certainly had to make sense to me concerning why the whole world is actually engaged in war against the Muslims. I had the sense that maybe the Muslims were on the right track.
It wasn’t until 2005 that I actually went oversees to a trip with my then girlfriend. We went around the world. We went to the United States, Central America and Europe where I met my family in Greece. We spent about a week there in Greece with my family. Then on my way back home we went to Dubai before we went to Singapore and then back home. When I was in Dubai, I spent five days there. I really wanted to see the genuine Islam but I was actually disappointed because as everybody knows Dubai is not this sort of cities. There was one thing that really attracted me. I went to this museum in Dubai and there was a mosque across the road. I thought really compelled to cross the street and go to the mosque to find out about Islam. But I was in my casual wear and I looked like a typical westerner I guess. The people in the mosque were wearing local clothes. I didn’t realize it was Friday prayers. I didn’t understand that. I felt really drawn to it.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn’t really go to the mosque. I came back to Australia. I went in a new quest to research about Islam. In 2006, I bought my first Quran to read it. I was a very slow reader so it took me 2 years and a half to read it! I must say that as I was reading it I was shocked. I was in a state of shock. I didn’t know that Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the Quran. I didn’t know that Moses (peace be upon him) was in the Quran. I didn’t know that there were stories about Lot and Noah and Moses and other prophets. I didn’t know this all was in the Quran. When I knew it I was actually in a state of shock and I thought “Oh wow”. There was nothing in the Quran that’s onto war or hinted to the word extremism or terrorism or whatever. This really pumped my interest further. So for the next 2 or so years I researched Islam. I read the Quran once again.
It came to a stage in 2008 that I actually wanted to embrace Islam but I couldn’t find any Muslim to help me. I contacted a mosque. I sent them an email. I asked them “Can I have a copy of the Quran?” because at this stage I had my Quran in storage because I was going around quite a bit. No one would help me and I thought “Ok, maybe Allah doesn’t want me to become a Muslim”. I was actually becoming quite panicked by this.
Anyway, in 2009 I had to go back to Sydney to renovate a unit. I asked a few tailors to do that. It was strange that all the tailors in Sydney happen to be Lebanese. Anyway, there was one guy who I found to be very nice. His name was Samir. I didn’t think he was a Muslim because he had no beard and he is an apprentice. His son-in-law is called Adam and I thought those guys must be Christians. They were nice guys.
Anyway, at this stage I had already known how to do my prayers. I downloaded that from the internet so I was actually doing my prayers about a week ahead of my conversion. I had stopped drinking alcohol and eating pork by then. One day, Samir brought me a pizza and a drink. That was very hospitable for those lovely Christian people. I didn’t eat pork at this stage. So when I looked at the box and I saw salami on this pizza and I thought it was pork, I turned on to Samir and said “Is this Halal?” and he said “Yes, of course it is”. And then I said “Are you a Muslim?”, he said “Yes I’m.” I said “Oh, I want to become a Muslim.” The next day I took my shahadah. He brought me to his brother-in-law’s place and I took shahadah there. I felt very happy about that decision and I haven’t looked back since then.
My family reacted very positively, believe it or not! My mother was questioning me quite a bit. Initially, she was sort of negative but when I explained it to her- I actually gave her a lot of explanation and dawah- now she is really OK with it. She has seen how Islam changed me. So she is happy with that. My father had nothing to say about it. He doesn’t care either way really. He sees that I’ve become more stable, a better person I guess. Some of my distant relatives like my cousins don’t talk to me a lot now but they didn’t used to do that anyway. I’ve got the strength not to worry about that. I only care of what Allah thinks not of what people think. But in general my relationship with my family and friends was positive. One of my friends is a Christian. Considering that he is a Christian, I was actually quite nervous to tell him about my conversion. But when I did, alhamdulellah, he sort of was very happy because he understands that true Muslims and true Christians have actually a lot in common. So generally it’s a very positive experience.
Islam made me more disciplined through doing the five daily prayers, performing ablution, abstaining from eating during Ramadan and abstaining from eating pork and drinking alcohol. It has changed everything. It changed the whole dynamics of my life. The end result of that is that I felt a lot more calmer, a lot less agitated, a lot less angry, a lot more balanced in my thinking, a lot more reasonable and a lot more even temporized. I had a very bad temper but now I’m very relaxed. People could actually rub me up the wrong way quite a bit and I won’t react because Islam teaches us patience. I’m very happy for embracing Islam because it’s giving me a lot of qualities that I didn’t have before.
There’s no conflict between becoming Muslim and living in this country because true Australian values and Islam go together. Such values include good kinship, respecting parents, being a law-abiding citizen and all such Australian values that are coincidently Islamic values as well. So there’s no conflict. When you meet people who have a negative attitude towards Islam and you sit with them and explain Islam they find that Islam is a great system to follow and there’s actually no conflict between Islam and the Australian way of life. However, the bad aspects of the Australian way of life like drinking and gambling and having loose morals are not the things we embrace in Islam. What we say to Australians is “The best of Australian culture is what we follow in Islam”.See More