The convert: Why I left Islam to follow Jesus
There he met Heidi, a Texas-born Army brat. .. He converted in and studied with Islamic scholars in the United States and abroad. Every Muslim knows several, if not dozens, who chose to convert to Islam as a become Google scholars to find all sorts of anti-Islam propaganda written by extremists and Islamophobes. . Do my heart and mind meet?. The following is an incomplete list of notable people who converted to Islam from a different . Li Nu – Chinese scholar in the Ming dynasty who visited Persia, converted to Islam, .. "Integral in Iran: In Qom: Meeting with Conservative Clergy ".
In fact, it seemed to make more sense. My mother was disappointed and my father quietly accepting.
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Other members of my family felt betrayed. I used to wear a scarf, which can mean many things. It can be a signifier of one's faith, which is helpful when you don't wish to be chatted up or invited to drink. In the end, not wearing the scarf has helped make my faith invisible again and allowed me to revisit my personal relationship with God.
One of the biggest challenges I face is the prohibition of women from the mosque. It's sad to go somewhere, ready to connect with a higher being, only to be asked to leave because women are not allowed. In the past, I have prayed in car parks, my office corridor and in a fried chicken shop. The irony is that while my workplace would feel it discriminatory to stop me praying, some mosques do not.
I've been married twice, have three stepchildren and five stepgrandchildren. I converted 21 years ago. It was the result of a long search for a more spiritual alternative to Catholicism. Initially, I didn't consider Islam because of the negative image in the media.
The conversion process was gradual and ultimately guided by the example of the mother of the current Sultan of Oman — one of my patients — and by a series of dreams. My family were initially surprised, but accepted my conversion.
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I have friends for whom my conversion is an accepted eccentricity, but I lost many superficial ones because of it. When I converted, I was told by the imam that I should dress modestly, but didn't need to wear the hijab because I was already old.
During Ramadan, however, I do warn patients that I'll look a bit different if they see me coming back from the mosque. The response has been fascination rather than repulsion. I tried to join various Islamic communities: Turkish, Pakistani and Moroccan.
I had cancer and not one Muslim friend except a very holy old man came to pray with me in nine months of treatment.
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But these are small annoyances compared with what I've gained: I've now finally found my Muslim community and it is African. Many Muslims come to London as immigrants.
Their ethnic identity is tied to the mosque; they don't want white faces there. There will be a time when white converts won't be seen as freaks. I interviewed everyone from Bob Geldof to David Bowie, worked hard and partied hard, but something was missing. He gave me books on Islam and invited me to travel with him through Pakistan.
Those trips opened a new dimension in my life, an awareness of spirituality. The Muslims I met touched me profoundly through their generosity, dignity and readiness to sacrifice for others. When we meet, he declares: This is a cultural issue, not an Islamic one. I would rather live as a Muslim in the west than in most of the Muslim countries, because I think the way Muslims are allowed to live in the west is closer to the Muslim way. A lot of Muslim immigrants feel the same way, which is why they are here.
Thirty years ago, he seemed destined not for Islamic scholarship, but for the Greek Orthodox priesthood.
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Then, a near-death experience in a car accident and reading the Koran diverted him towards Mecca. But he cannot be easily dismissed as a western patsy, a "collaborator", as his opponents have already dubbed him, or as Bush's "pet Muslim".
Trained for more than a decade by the best Islamic scholars in the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco and Mauretania, Yusuf's learning commands considerable respect, particularly with the English-speaking elites of traditionally Muslim states.
Although he calls on Muslims to see what is good in western society, he has a long track record of criticising western decadence, injustice and impoverished spirituality.
He inspires confidence that you can build Islam in the west from all the local ingredients. You do not have to include political or theo logical burdens from traditional parts of the Muslim world. His goatee beard is almost fashionable. Sporting a turban plus an American accent, he is curiously familiar. Could he be that singer from the Monkees, I wonder momentarily. However, in the flesh, his angular features, intellectual intensity and learned, didactic style recall another American icon: Yusuf has just arrived in Britain from Rome.
Shaking my hand, he buzzes with excitement after attending an inter-faith procession for peace. Did you know St Francis persuaded the Pope to let Christians make a pilgrimage to Assisi instead of going on the crusades? It is no wonder I became a bold opponent of the Trinity. We learnt the story of his life and did our utmost to follow it.
The reverence we accorded him was barely secondary to our reverence for Allah. Although Islam teaches that the Bible and the Koran originated from God, we were effectively instructed that they were polar opposites: So, as a young Muslim I ardently called others to the way of Islam.
I was certain of its truth.
My confidence in Islam translated into zeal for Allah, Muhammad, the Koran and sharia. But contrast is the mother of clarity. The time came when I challenged him on the reliability of the Bible, and I had finally met someone who was equipped to defend his faith. Ultimately, he challenged me to contrast the history of the Bible with that of the Koran. It was then that I discovered there had been so much dispute over the Koran early in its history that an official edict established one standard Koran and ordered all the rest destroyed Sahih Bukhari 6: