My name is Ali. I’m a 29 year old Mexican American, or as some would say, a Chicano.
I think my story will in sha’ Allah (God willing) help people understand Islam and why it attracted me.
Many people have a wrong perception about Islam and Muslims. What little they know is usually from Movies and Television, which is almost all the time false.
My life before was bad – I had no direction. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out in the streets with my friends “partying,” getting high, drinking and selling marijuana.
Most of my friends were gang members (I myself was never in a gang). I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers, so it was not a problem. I slowly began to use harder drugs. I had dreams but they seemed too far away for me to make them a reality. The more I became depressed, the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.
One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana. I was eager to sample and buy some, so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment where there were a couple of people inside. We sat around and talked for a while and “sampled” the weed.
My friend and I bought some marijuana and were getting ready to leave when my friend told me that one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.
We left for the guy’s apartment, and when we got there, he gave my friend a book and asked him to read it, saying that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book. It was the Quran.
I had never in my life heard of the Quran. I began to briefly read some pages. While I was reading Quran, I knew that what I was reading was true. It was like a slap in the face – a wake up call. The Quran is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion. I used to laugh at people who went to church, and sometimes I said that there was no God, although deep down I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Quran. I began to read it and study it. I learned about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon him).
The Quran stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son: This was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the Trinity. The Quran describes the birth of Jesus and his mission. There is also a Chapter called Mary which tells her story as well.
As a child I always went to church. My mother was a Seventh-Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15. The rest of my family is Catholic. I always wondered why we were Seventh-Day Adventists and the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic church for weddings and quencenira’s (sweet 16 celebration).
Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind. The Quran tells the stories of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) in a clear and understandable manner. I did months of research on Islam, and I bought a Holy Quran at a bookstore and studied about World History and Islam’s contributions to Medicine and Science.
I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for about 800 years, and that when the Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian King and Queen (Ferdinand and Isabel), the Christian Spaniards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic. History and my Islamic roots were all becoming clear to me.
After months of study and research, I could not deny the Truth anymore. I had put it off too long, but was still living the same life as before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up.
One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the Truth. I found out that there was a Mosque by my house so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their services.
I saw that people from all races and colors attended the Mosque. I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the adhan (call for prayer). When I heard it, my eyes filled up with tears – it sounded so beautiful. It was all so strange at first, but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a Religion, but a way of life.
After going to a mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my shahadah (declaration of faith). I told the Khateeb (person giving the lecture) that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday, in front of the community, I said my shahadah, first in Arabic then in English: I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger.
When I finished, a Brother shouted, “Takbir!” and the entire congregation said, “Allahu akbar!” (God is great!) a few times. Then all the Brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs in one day. I will never forget that day, it was great. I have been Muslim since 1997. I feel at peace with myself and clear in my religion. Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I received my G.E.D. and now work in the computer field.
I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj (Pilgrimage) to the Holy city of Makkah. It was an experience of a lifetime: about 3 million people from every race and color in one place worshiping one God. Truly amazing! Alhamdulillah (all thanks be to God) in December of 2002, I got married in Morocco to a very good Muslim woman.
I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story in sha’ Allah will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the Light of Islam.