My journey to Islām – By Muhammad Tawfeeq (formally Karl Pryor)

Islāmic Preconceptions whilst growing up

My first account with Islām began with religious education studies in primary school where we learnt the five pillars of Islām, by this time I already felt a preconditioned idea of the religion, a stigma about it. From my earliest memories I could recount the news always depicting men with face wrappings and turbans chanting foreign phrases committing atrocities. Their constant presence in the media fuelled the idea that anyone who wears the same clothing as them were potentially dangerous or that they had extreme views. I had the idea that certain neighbourhoods were no go’ areas, that certain people couldn’t enter because of their looks and that we would be unsafe or un-accepted. Before learning about the Islāmic community I felt threatened by certain clothing they wore as it was worn by those the media depicted as bad, in which it constantly failed to educate me on how these people were monsters and not Muslims.


Meeting Muslims for the first-time

By 16, I went to study at a very diverse college where I saw a magnitude of boys and girls wearing the Islāmic clothing for the first time. It still felt very alien to me but it was fascinating to see people of my age wearing these clothes. It was a Friday and a new friend of mine called Sami wore what I learned is called a jubbah in white. From what I already learnt about him, I knew he was a very kind and considerate person which completely removed any pre-conditioned ideas I had developed from a young age.


Researching Islām

In my research for the name of the clothing I came across a video by an Islāmic authority who was talking about the importance of modesty which led to my fascination with his short YouTube clips that gave me basic understandings and values of Islām. Converting to Islām was out of the question despite me having no fear of it as I thought it was exclusive to certain races and that I would be viewed as quite bizarre.

I was very fortunate to discover a video by a scholar whom I unfortunately can’t remember the name of where he explained that every race is considered equal in Islām and showed depictions of Muslim brothers and sisters of all races including white. I was exhilarant at the idea that I would be equally accepted as any other brother to Islām. Eventually I exchanged contacts with Sami, and I sprung the idea on him about converting. He directed me to Mufti Adil [from the Islāmic Da`wah Academy] whom I was able to ask any final questions about Islām before my conversion. During this time from December to February, Sami also provided some of his books to me so I could slowly advance my knowledge.


Telling my mother becoming a Muslim

The day I told my mother was a terrifying day, as I knew her attitudes may have been stauncher, and it would have been difficult for her to accept. She was initially shocked and I could see the fear in her eyes, but that fear turned into love and my mother was herself again. This should be a lesson for us to never underestimate the love of our parents which will be made highly relevant when it comes to telling my dad.


Accepting Islām

My shahādah was on the 10th of February 2022. It was a beautiful ceremony at the  Islāmic Da`wah Academy where I had a huge audience who came to witness my shahādah at the hands of Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat. It was an ecstatic moment for me and a day I shall never forget. Prior to me declaring my shahādah, my teacher had made the point to explain to my mother how Islām would bring the best out of me as a human being. Shortly after my shahādah, we were invited to his house. We were hoping my mother could witness a Muslim home and experience Islamic hospitality and make her feel more at ease of me accepting Islām.


Telling my dad of being a Muslim

Now was the time to tell my dad. I was dreading to ever tell him that I converted to Islām as I viewed him as a very stereotypical British man who would out right disown me. Before I told him, I would wear an outfit under my Jubbah so that before I got off the bus, I would take off the Islāmic clothing and have a western outfit underneath. I was desperate to tell him so one day when I got to his house, I spoke to my step-mother as he was currently out and showed her my black Jubba that I was wearing. As I suspected she was completely fine with it and her attitude towards me has never changed. She eventually got in contact with one of my three step brothers and planned for all my brothers to be with me when I told him along with my step-mother. I was expecting the worst, but shockingly my father was completely accepting of my decision, with just a few questions he had.


Overthinking about others’ reactions

I felt like I was a complete pessimist in the whole ordeal of telling the ones I love of my decision to become a Muslim. I’m extremely fortunate in the sense that I was able to tell the ones I love the most that I decided to practice the Islāmic faith with no backlash or disownment of a family member. I’m proud of the loving family I have and will never have fear installed in me again in the same way. The whole process took me out of my comfort zone but I’m glad it did.


A more balanced outlook on the World

I have had the privilege to meet so many wonderful people and to be introduced into beautiful communities filled with different lifestyles and food. A whole new world was opened up to me and I can’t thank Allāh enough for such a special and unique experience in this world. Not only have I had the joy of meeting new people and discovering new lives, but have adopted a  more realistic outlook on the world  and being blessed with an intellectual awakening. Many humanitarian excuses have been used in order to exploit others in the past and present, whilst many innocent people have suffered. We should take note of how the media’s role influenced common people like me to think that a simple piece of clothing was a signal for danger. When we escape the mainstream propaganda and take an educated and balanced viewpoint, rather than going along with the status quo, we discover a whole new reality in which we were never taught.

Islām has brought me not only joy and happiness but independence with a free-  thinking mind set, where I’m not afraid to challenge other people’s views. Sensitivity along with emotions has long been a stronghold for biased liberalists, where they view us as wrong for simply having a different idea of opinion from theirs. The pressure to conform to status quo values is dominating, but what I’m especially fond of with the Islāmic community is our sense of community and resilience to imposed trends and to have remained authentic with our scriptures.


My own experience in accepting Islām

My journey has just begun, but for many more they will be just starting out. I was fortunate that my family were accepting of me but I know for some it will be much more difficult. However, we should reflect on the joy Islām brings us and remember our own happiness is key to a happy and prosperous life and nothing should stop us on our path as it’s our life and we shouldn’t compromise it for others or we set ourselves up for failure.


I would like to finally note that if we ever fear telling someone close to us about their conversion to Islām and the fear of them being aggravated, I would like to give a personal anecdote where my mother explained that she would order any Islāmic material I wanted but I would have to give her the money back as she didn’t want to have any contribution to my conversion. My mother later bought me my first Jubbah and has been to buy one with me at an Islāmic store along with hosting my Islāmic teacher Isa and his family for dinner.