My Conversion to Islam
There isn’t a question I have had more since becoming a Muslim than my conversion story. Alhamdulillah it is all good – It is nice to have such caring brothers and sisters. Truly the Ummah of RasooLullah (saw) is one big family.
After looking back at my life I have realised that life takes it’s twists and turns, leaps and falls and you never really know what’s going to happen next. Whether you perceive situations and events to be bad or even a calamity at the time, you can sometimes look back at the bigger picture and realise that everything happened the way had Allah had planned for you. These life experiences contained wisdom and were necessary to take you to where you are today – they are the catalyst for your growth and development – into the person you are meant to be.
The early years
I grew up in humble surroundings in a working class family in Handsworth, Birmingham. My father was quite sick and unable to work, which left my mother with no other choice but to go out and work to support the family. My father was quite a successful self employed builder before I was born but was diagnosed with terminal lupus in his mid 20’s which was induced by a trial arthritis medication prescribed by the NHS. They tried to claim for compensation but to no avail and I am still not clear why up to this day.
I always had a strong belief in God, even as a child. I used to go to a Catholic school which would teach a Roman Catholic Christian teaching. I took it very seriously at the time and was quite knowledgeable when it came to the Bible. My mother and father were not very religious (which I had a lot to say about). I can still remember when as a boy, I used to preach to them how important it was for them to believe in God.
The early part of my teens were happy times, I had enjoyed secondary school.. I was quite popular and I was in all the top sets for my classes. In particular I had excelled religious education – and in all my GCSE results, it was the only subject I had scored an A in.
The smooth sailing of my early teens were soon to be disrupted by an emotional hurricane… When I hit the age of 17 my father died unexpectedly of lung cancer. This is where I feel the course of my life took a diversion.
At the time I was studying sport and exercise science at college, but due to my father’s sudden passing I went “off the rails” in numerous ways. I don’t really want to go into specifics but I was pretty unstable and I ended up dropping out of college. Every day, my mother would ask me what I wanted to do with my life, until one day I had a rush of the blood to the head and I told her that I would join the army.
The army days
Yes that’s right… I was in the army. So many times I have been asked, “How do you become a Muslim if you were in the Army?” The thing is, I did actually travel to Afghanistan for 3 months. Thankfully I was not involved in any fighting. I was stationed in Kabul where there was mostly peace and we could concentrate on helping the local community by providing security and giving out food and medication. I had never been the sort of person who had hatred for anyone and I sincerely did my best to help as many people in Afghanistan as I could. I can actually remember hearing the azhan for fajr in the morning and I used to wonder what it was all about.
Seeing the children in Kabul was always heart warming. They would run up to you and shout “Hey Mr…Pen”, they would be so happy over something so small which was really inspiring for me. It made me realise how ungrateful we are sometimes in the West. We have everything at our fingertips but we still manage to get depressed?
Another thing I found so beautiful about Afghanistan was the hospitality of the people. People didn’t have much, but they would still invite you inside their home for a cup of tea. If you were to get lost while you were travelling and you knocked on someone’s, door they would look after you, feed you and give you somewhere to stay. There aren’t many people like that in the West the days.
If you were to knock someone’s door in England looking for food and shelter you would probably end up in the shelter of a police cell.
Looking back. I don’t regret my time in the Army because I learned a lot and its been part of my path which has led me to Islam.
Upon returning from Afghanistan I found that I wasn’t happy in the army any more and I decided that I wanted out. I was depressed with life, I was feeling unhappy and I was psychologically unwell to say the least.
After being discharged, the struggle continued and things were not going to well. I was feeling lost – it was like I didn’t know how my life had ended up quite so bad, I was suffering from addictions and was a servant to my lower self, trapped in a world of misery.
Until one day…
I was on Facebook and I had stumbled across a video that was a bit of a conspiracy theory video talking about some hidden lyrics in a song by a woman named Rihanna. I watched it and found it a bit weird at the time, but at the end it said “search for The Arrivals”. Me being the inquisitive person that I am decided to search for The Arrivals and see what it was all about.
It’s a series of videos that look at the world from an alternative viewpoint and it had some Islamic teaching along side it – such as hadith from the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and a range of different Muslim speakers from all the different schools of thought and a couple of sects. I was instantly taken aback by some of the hadith that I read. I’d never heard what the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had said before. Once I read the first hadith I was in complete awe, it was as if I had already started to believe, but was scared at the same time because of the negative misconceptions that were programmed into my mind from an unfair Western media.
I started to research Islam and would actively read everyday while turning to God for the first time in years to ask for Guidance. It felt so right for me in my heart – as if it had just clicked…This was it! This is the Truth! After weeks of reading I had considered myself a Muslim in my heart, even though I never had any Muslim friends nor had I taken the shahada (declaration of faith). It was like I was living this fake life, where outwardly I was living the typical Western lifestyle and inwardly I had this immense faith in Islam trying to break free. I couldn’t take it any more, after speaking to a brother I met online on an internet forum, he advised me to call a local mosque and ask for help.
I began searching Google for mosques in Birmingham and called a few of them… none answered. I thought, maybe it’s not to be?
I decided I would try one more, thankfully it answered!!! Looking back now, I am so grateful that it was that mosque that answered as I could not have imagined my journey any other way. It happened to be Ramadan in 2010. The brother who answered the phone gave me a phone number to “Uncle Abid” who was designated by the mosque to help people in certain cases. Uncle Abid invited me to the mosque – It was taraweeh time. I sat at the back and observed the congregation – everything seemed surreal. I wasn’t sure what was taking place at the time, but all I knew was that there was something different about this place. I could not help but be lured in by the sense of peace that was present.
After the prayers had finished, Uncle Abid invited me to go and have some food in the kitchen of the mosque where he talked about Islam with me. I then visited everyday over the coming weeks until I finally decided to formally become a Muslim by reciting the shahada. It was the 27th night of Ramadan which people said was the laylatul qadr (night of power) and there was a couple of thousand people in the mosque, I was invited to the front where I recited the Islamic testimony of faith – that there is only one God and Muhammad (saw) is servant and messenger.
Afterwards, I had probably never had so many hugs and handshakes in my life from brothers who were genuinely pleased for me. I had started to feel love again in my heart which had been absent for so long. I could finally see the light at the end of the dark tunnel which had lasted from the age of 17 until 22 – the age that I became Muslim.
I’m not going to go into my journey since becoming Muslim – at the time of writing this I have just turned 26 and lets say the journey has been nothing short of immense, for which I’m still striving to be grateful to Allah for. My life has taken a turn for the good Alhamdulillah and I am completely different to the person I once was (in a positive way).
Another person who I would like to do dua for, was Uncle Abid who took the time out to help me out over the period of 1-2 years. May Allah grant him Jannah (eternal paradise) for his efforts.
Light bulb moments when learning about Islam….
There was so much about Islam that had started to inspire me at the time, it’s is so unique that even after four years you still learn something new everyday which inspires you even more. Its like having light bulb moments that increase you in Love for God and his messenger (saw). Here are just a few examples:
- Another huge shocker for me was when I had realised that parts of the Bible actually eluded to the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). Not just once but quite a few times. If it was just once you could say it was anecdotal but more than once with such accuracy is just undeniable. In fact, in the original Hebrew version the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is mentioned by name in the Songs of Solomon (a book in the old testament). Please have a look at this video series to see all the information regarding the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in the Bible.
- The Miracles of the Quran – God sent the Quran in such a miraculous way, that there are verses with scientific information that mankind has only discovered recently. Information that scientists deem impossible for men at the time to know, unless that information had come from God. Please see here for more information.
- The Beauty and character of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is captivating. After hearing some narrations of what the Prophet said, it is hard to deny his noble character. Even his own enemies had attested to this fact. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) is actually the most influential man that has ever lived, having a positive effect on Billions of lives. As a human being it is essential to know more about this man who has had such an effect on humanity through the blessings and bounties of the Creator.
- Muslims are not terrorists – Sorry to it break to you, but Islam does not condone suicide bombings on any level. To commit suicide is against Islamic law, to go one step further and kill innocents in the process is certainly not from Islam. Is it right to blame Christianity for the foolishness of the IRA when they were bombing the UK left, right and centre? Of course not – the IRA were not acting upon the Bible- they were acting upon their own political agenda.
- Having grown up as a Christian myself, I happened to have stumbled upon some parts of the Bible which didn’t add up to me. Which then started to give me some doubts. I couldn’t ignore it, they plagued my mind. All these years I had been brought up a Christian, to find out that there are many contradictions in the modern day Bible, due to it being edited by mankind over the centuries. Believe it or not, I didn’t know that Islam was an Abrahamic faith, I had no idea that as Muslims we believe in all the Prophets such as Jesus (Isa), Moses (Musa), Abraham (Ibraheem) And many more (May Allah send blessings on them all). As Muslims we have to believe that God did send revelation to Jesus but it is stated in the Quran that it has been changed over time. The Holy Quran on the other hand remains unedited in the language it was revealed. It is the word of God that was sent to remain pure and stand the test of time.
There are many more light bulb moments that I have had and still continue to have. Inshallah I will share more as time goes on.
What did my parents say?
At first my mother thought it was just a phase I was going through – she even thought I was going a bit loopy because she couldn’t understand it. After a while she warmed to the idea after she had seen the positive transformation of my life.
What did my friends say?
To be honest I didn’t see many that I used to hang around with. The reason being that to change my life for the better, I had to eradicate that which was no longer compatible with my new found way of life. Most of my friends were involved with drinking and drugs on a regular basis. The Prophet Muhammad advised us to be careful of our company lest we may become like them. It wasn’t about falling out with them or anything like that, I will always be there for them If they would want to change their life for the better as well.
I was going through issues myself at the time – I had to get out of their and create an environment which would be the best for my future.
Wrapping it up
Thanks for reading my story – there is quite a lot left out but it’s hard to condense everything into a blog post.
There is much more to share, so please subscribe to find out when Ayyub and I make a blog post. Any more questions, use the comment fields or hit us up via email!