A Muslim Brother Discovering Islām

From an early age; since childhood I had some form of connection to Christianity. My family’s background was as at the time Seventh day Adventist. I remember not liking having to go to church but was reluctantly dragged along with my older brother by my Grandparents. Family circumstances and dynamics eventually changed and I was free from the compulsion to attend church. I had no other insight into other religions at that point. In later life I would find myself attending numerous churches of vary denominations but I was always acutely aware of never feeling anything spiritually. Church, I suppose was a comfort blanket at the time. I would pray and believed in God. I don’t think that core belief fundamentally changed despite leaving Christianity; I would always lean on the need to have a conversation with God be that through prayer or carrying a little red Bible with me for a time.

I remember reading I think Genesis, and something about what I was reading was out of place; didn’t add up, but I didn’t have the capacity to challenge it or to place it under a microscope and examine it; comparative religion was unheard of then. The things that cause you doubt push you away or at least greatly undermine that thing you consider to be your truth. Christianity never hooked me but I felt at times that I needed to hook myself to it, but to no avail.



I developed a real interest in Buddhism. I would pass a Thai Buddhist temple and be intrigued by it. Eventually I knocked on the door and was welcomed by the Monks. They offered me hospitality and allowed me to observe their religious practices. There was no conversion from me. I don’t think I felt or saw that as necessary. I liked the emphasis on impermanence and life being about suffering. My youth was full of suffering and something about this emphasis in Buddhism resonated with me.

I remember the moment my interest in Buddhism ended and it was quite abrupt. There was some sort of Buddhist festival or special occasion of some kind; I didn’t understand it. I remember being asked by someone from the temple; a monk or Nun to carry a statue or image of the Buddha into the temple from outside. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable about this; thoughts of idolatry flooded my mind and I felt self-conscious and ashamed. A man walked past when I was carrying this statue. I knew nothing of Muslims but for some reason this man who may have been of Pakistani background, contributed to this sense of feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable. I don’t think I ever went back to the Temple after that.


Many years later

I started a new job. One of my colleagues at the time was Muslim. We talked about Islam. By then Islam and Muslims was on the lips of the entire world for all the wrong reasons. However, I still had absolutely no insight about Islam or Muslims; Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were both opaque reference points. The whole subject was a blind spot i didn’t know a thing about Islam. I was eventually signed posted to a prominent masjid in the city where I live. I sought and advice guidance from the worshipers there who were kind, friendly and sincere. They advised me to read literature and to listen to and watch video clips about Islam delivered by famous speakers.

There was a simplicity about Islam; it was linear. I found those qualities appealing and satisfying. Over the course of about 3 months, I struck up a close friendship with a brother who I would later take my shahada with. He said something to me that even now I reflect on. I’m paraphrasing but he said something about the possibility of me passing away before making the decision to take Shahadah. This thought focused my thinking immediately. I informed him that I wished to take Shahadah. I went home, showered, and went to the masjid. My new life began shortly afterwards.