بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
As to what follows, this is a brief recollection of the process in which I consider to be the best decision of my life, the stages of my life in which I embraced Islam.
Growing up as the only child I always had time to reflect and think about various concepts and topics. There was even a time where I brought up the concept of death to my senior kindergarten teacher at the mere age of 5. I was definitely not the average child. Growing up in the late 90’s I went through an experience which I consider to be the first turning point to how my life will eventually play out. I was hit by a car at 4 and by the grace of Allah I survived, and this was a significant reason as to why I was always motivated to live to my full potential with the belief that I am still alive for a reason. Coming from a Jamaican family living in Toronto, Christianity had major influences in my life growing up. From learning the stories of the prophets in Sabbath school to reading the bible alone in the middle of various nights, I would definitely reiterate that I was a different type of child. At the age of 16 I went through an event which shocked me nonetheless. I had a friend of 7 years which was killed; he was the same age as me. Reflecting on this I realized that this life is short and I often questioned myself am I living the life that I truly wanted to live? Shortly after this incident I shortened the time I’d be spending playing basketball and decided to turn to do something which was more productive. Something in which would benefit me when I die, as I was completely aware that death doesn’t discriminate and it will meet you when it is ready to meet you, often without any indications. So, I decided to start seeking to strengthen my relationship with the Lord, who I would say as of then I knew of Him, but never necessarily knew Him.
Around that time I had begun to have interfaith dialogue with one of my Muslim friend’s, I knew very little of Islam even though I grew up in an area of Toronto where there was a strong community of Muslims. Although the dialogue in which I had engaged in with my friend was healthy, I tried to defend Christianity, even though I didn’t necessarily feel content with the various concepts of the Trinity and ‘God dying for my sins’, the whole idea never sat well with me. I was asked questions by them like “Do you believe Jesus is God”, me sincerely replying no, it does not make sense started to make me ponder on my faith and if I chose to believe in this religion or am I just taking what I was given by my family. I was convinced that I wouldn’t become Muslim, even to the point where I said “I swear to God I would never convert”, not to the fact that Islam didn’t make any logical sense, but rather the fear to leave the faith my family followed. Months went by and another two guys that I knew were killed, this opened my eyes even more to the reality of life. As Allah the Most-Generous says in the Qur’an: “No soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it shall die” (31:34). This urged me even more to find a faith which made sense to me logically as well sat well with my heart. As time went on, I used to watch heavily Christian-biased videos on YouTube made to bash Islam to give me rebuttals in dialogue. I tried by all means to convince myself that Islam couldn’t be the truth. After seeing how disgusting the videos made Muslims seem, especially with my best friend from childhood being Muslim, I decided to learn Islam from the Muslims themselves and not from the Christians who simply make videos to discredit Islam. During my research on Islam I discovered a light, I swear by Allah that my thirst for knowledge was indescribable, Alhamdulillah. I used to ignore my homework and watch countless lectures on various topics because the religion made so much sense to me. During the time I told one of my good friends that I am learning about this religion, coincidently he said his friend recently converted and taught him a few things and Islam as well made sense to him, as it did make sense to me. This became a habit where my close friend and I would learn more about Islam and share to each other our thoughts and the little knowledge in which we possessed. This was a crucial period in my academic career; I was in grade 12 and needed the best marks to get into whichever University I wanted to attend. I forsaked this for my thirst for knowledge. Literally it was my addiction. It came to the point where I tried to practice how to pray salat in the washroom, ignorant to the impurities in which the washroom contained.I even made the effort to learn how to recite and memorize suratul Fatiha (i.e The opening chapter) and the 3 Qul’s (i.e the last 3 chapters in the Qur’an)
February of 2012 came; I was a 17 year old who decided that I wanted to embrace Islam. This was really hard to tell my family, so I tried to bring it up by asking questions about Christianity like “How can Jesus be God, if he prayed to God?”, “How can Jesus be God if Jesus died?”, “How can Jesus be God if he was dependant on his mother? (another creation). During this same time period my close friend who was also learning about Islam wanted to take his shahadah and embrace Islam as well. We then made the intention to tell our family first, even though it was ridiculously difficult – sometimes feeling impossible. I felt as if Satan really tried to pull me back from converting hoping I died without embracing the truth. A few months passed, the day after my high school’s prom, my friend and I decided to stop wasting time and just convert, knowing that this was the faith that we sincerely believed in. I excitedly got dressed as I left to go to the local Mosque. My childhood friend and I took our shahadah the same time. Once I took my shahadah I felt like I had the biggest weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt free, I texted my mom, kind of trying to hint that I converted, but she didn’t see the text as such. The next day I told her I’m going to the mosque, she was shocked and asked me if I am Muslim. I nervously replied “yes” and stood there as I got lectured on not informing my family on decisions as big as this.
Alhamdulillah, Allah placed mercy within my family in regards to how they treated me, more including my mother. Thanks to all the previous research I did I was able to answer all the questions my family bombarded me with such as, “What is up with Islam and terrorism?”, “Are women oppressed?” etc. Certain situations turn boys into men and this situation I believe, was the situation that turned this young 17 year old into the man he is today. May the one who grants life and death be my witness, accepting Islam was the best decision I have ever made in my life. It hurts knowing that none of my family accepted Islam, but then I remember Allah is the one who guides and my task is merely to convey the truth. My post-conversion experiences wasn’t necessarily an easy road, there were many dialogues with family and friends regarding my conversion and there were many times that I felt like all I was alone in a corner, remembering that Allah chose to guide me humbled me and gave me the patience I needed to get by. Looking back today, my childhood friend and I who accepted Islam motivate each other to do better in regards to practicing this beautiful way of life. I am truly blessed and grateful to be Muslim, Allah-willing one day my close family can experience the same feeling in which I experienced. Ever since that day I remained persistent in making supplication, asking Allah to guide them. My biggest advice for new Muslims and/ or Muslims who would like to practice correctly with parents that oppose, is to be patient and supplicate as much as you eat. Literally, supplicate in abundance. Remain patient, be persistent in du’aa and think good of your Lord. “And your Lord said: “Invoke Me, [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism)] (and ask Me for anything) I will respond to your (invocation)….” (40:60).
Islam teaches to worship your Creator with no associates, essentially this is what I was craving as an individual searching for the truth. Islam also has very similar narrations to the Prophets and Messengers in which I learned about in Sabbath school as a young Christian boy. The stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus caught my attention. Furthermore, the same way in which Islam stresses to worship the Creator of existence with no associates, is the same way Islam shuns the association of partners in the worship of the Creator. This is also the significant reason as to why I embraced this faith. I grew up with the notion that the Lord should be worshipped alone, and the concept of worshipping His creation puzzled me. I also came to the conclusion that if the Jewish people rejected Jesus as the Messiah, then there is a possibility that I myself as a Christian could have been rejecting another Messenger who came after Jesus (i.e Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them).
Reflecting on these experiences, I’d sincerely say that my upbringing gave me the tools I’d need to be a man, but the Islamic practices helped me even more to develop into the man I am today. There also comes to my mind a specific verse in the Qur’an when pondering on the blessing I have pertaining to being guided to Islam, and the verse reads: “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, – Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac) and Ya’qub (Jacob)], and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men thank not (i.e. they neither believe in Allah, nor worship Him).” (12:38)
Earlier in this recollection I stated how before I embraced Islam I felt like I knew of God, but didn’t know Him. I hope this phrase used became clear after this read. What I meant by this was that growing up I knew that there was a Creator of existence Whom deserved to be single out in worship and obedience, but I never had the necessary tools or knowledge to execute (i.e to single the Lord out in worship and obedience). With this I conclude.
I ask Allah to grant us good health and well-being in this world and the hereafter, and to guide us to what pleases Him, Oh Allah accept our invocation!