Conversion story.. or reversion.. Whatever works for you:
I was raised in a Christian household and we went to church every now and again. It must’ve been difficult for my parents because I remember hating having to go on a Sunday morning. We held on to Christian values to a certain extent – by that I mean the churches that we attended were quite typically Western and had St Paul’s doctrine firmly in place. This allows Christians to eat pork, drink alcohol to excess, in fact as sins have been paid for, Christians are able to forego commandments for an easier life.
I was either a young teenager or slightly younger when I lost faith in Christianity. I could say that it was a lack of evidence, a story that I found hard to believe, or even that I felt uncomfortable, but it just wasn’t in my heart I suppose.
I didn’t look into any other faiths in particular as I didn’t think I really needed one.. I classed myself as an agnostic – and that’s the way I stayed for most of my adult life.
I dabbled in a spiritual-type life from time to time.. sometimes going too far. The odd thing about calling yourself a spiritual person (at least from my point of view), is that you always think you know better.. So much of it feeds the ego, that you are certain you know the nature of God. You can come up with a theory and convince yourself of the validity of it. I also find that you can have a spiritual experience and you think that you’ve been given some amazing truth, a translation of a hidden world. Instead of just the glimpse of the unseen it might have been.
Events happened in my life that (in hindsight) gave me major clues that negative things had happened and directly effected the world around me. The more I seemed to dabble, the worse things got. Financial troubles, relationships, friendships… They all seemed to suffer. I had become such a heavy drinker, that a bottle of whisky lasted me about 6 hours and when I could, I took mostly anything else to avoid a cold, stark reality.
I was called an alcoholic, but the truth is, it was easy for me to stop.. I was never psychologically addicted to alcohol. It was the apprehension of the mundane, the disappointment of my perception of reality that made me want to constantly dull my senses. I used to dread thinking.
We have such convenient words for difficult situations… Some would call what I’ve described as depression, but it’s really a lot deeper than that. Besides, was the alcohol and drugs that much different to the psychotropic poison we get fed if we get a prescription?
I eventually moved to Worcester in the UK where I think I became a bit of an atheist. It was perhaps the most uneventful couple of years of my adult life. Having been used to consistent change – I was now in what felt like a state of limbo. Opportunities didn’t come my way as often as I was used to.. and when I tried to force my own chances, I had very little “luck”.
I began to have a mocking attitude towards religion.. Not to the extent that some “new atheists” have. I just liked to find holes in religion. I think it’s from there that I developed a bit of an interest in Islam.
I bought myself a “koran” translation. I flicked through it over and over again, often fascinated by the details of practical instructions for various life situations.
I started to ask a few Muslims at work about Islam and my good friend Ash, gave me a couple more books to read. Once my interest was sparked, I started to research other areas. I watched videos, listened to lectures and heard just about every rebuttal for the “sceptic” type of questions I usually ask.
I eventually needed the science and politics of Islam to convince me.. Then finally, when I was ready, I read my shahada (declaration of faith) with a mosque elder (Malik Fayaz). I owe a lot to my friend Maqsood for his gentle encouragement and patience.
Allah guides, and if I ever need humility (which is quite often), I just think of this favour from our Lord and it can still bring tears to my eyes. Allahu Akbar!
A spiritual side note:
That was my conversion story and the conversion happened in 2010… However, I’m not convinced I know all of it.. Allow me to explain.
In 2002, I was in Istanbul, Turkey. I went to the Blue Mosque to have a look around. When I returned to my hotel, someone suggested I check out the Topkapi Palace (museum). I didn’t have many other plans that particular day, so I went..
The details are sketchy, but I remember walking into the main part with all the relics and I saw some hair and a tooth of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
As I walked through, I was humbled by the rest of the artefacts from that time. My association with Islam was never bad.. When just a year before, the World Trade Centre towers had come down, even though I believed the official story at the time, I was never stupid enough to believe that Islam was responsible.
In Topkapi Palace, I was surrounded by these blessed items.. and I’m not completely sure, but I think I was effected by a certain barakah (blessing) that led me Islam 8 years later. Of course, Allahu alam (Allah knows best).
There you have it.. it has been a strange, testing and brilliant time since then. I’m honoured to be in this position.. especially at this time. All thanks and praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
Brother Ayyub’s blog, http://www.traversejournals.com/