My name is Slava, I’m from Siberia, Omsk- Southwest Russia. I was christened as a Russian orthodox. I went to church maybe once or twice… so the first time for my christening and the second time, I can’t remember why I went there.
Then by the time I reached the UK, I think I was a protestant Christian by then… I was in church services committee at school, singing in the choir and everything else.
The thing that attracted me most to Islam is that it makes sense, not only overall but at that specific point in time, it just made perfect sense to me.
It wasn’t the most pleasant of times even though times were actually good, I went through different financial stages with my family, going through life and at that point in time, it was probably at its peak, it was the highest time… things were good. But it was also the worst time for me looking back.
I got to a stage in life where I just thought “this is not possible, I just can’t keep doing this” time and time again and I often my studies were slipping… everything else was just going backwards.
Being in London around that time, in 2005-2006, it was after the London terror attacks and obviously the 2001 events, the media was savage about Islam generally and I knew for a fact that it simply can’t be; you can’t be painted in such a picture where you have the complete extremes. It’s only extreme here or extreme there; it’s got to be somewhere in the middle.
I’m quite a stubborn guy and when someone says “don’t do something” I find 99 ways of trying to prove them wrong. So I sat down and I wanted to find out what the religion was actually about.
What I found most interesting is that there was never really pressure to become Muslim, it was just a whole lot of information being thrown at you.
So from trying to experience fasting, I thought I’m going to try to do it, I’m going to have a test drive… and it became just a period of complete tranquility, I was so relaxed… yes I was hungry, I was tired but I was just completely relaxed and I was at peace with myself… and looking back, nothing else in this world can plug that gap.
I was at the London central mosque and I was looking for a person, I said “well! How do I join this? How do I do this?”
So I did.
I can’t really describe the feeling of it. As the years go on, the best feeling I can think of to describe that moment is just gratitude that I was actually put down on the right path and that all of the concerns that I’ve had.
My biggest concern back then was how will my parents take it? How will my friends take it? How everybody that I know, including my roommate at that time, who was actually one of the biggest opponents of me joining Islam, how would he take it?
All the friends that I’ve had previously who found out about it, the real ones stayed, the flaky ones that I was concerned about flaked off. What I’m concerned about now is what if my friends find out that I’m doing this tractable work. Or what would people think of me when I’m spending so much time in the mosque.
A lot of people ask “why Islam?” and I say, well, how can you deny something by way of religion where you give, and the more you give the better you feel… you find yourself in things where you think… I would have never done this five years ago.
Now that I’ve accepted Islam, I have a clear structure, clear guidelines. Nine years ago when I accepted Islam, there wasn’t half of the things that we have now… every morning I wake up and there is some Islamic news on my phone, because it’s just set as an update. If I have some free time, I’ll download a podcast of an Islamic scholar.
And it’s just fantastic! There is so much knowledge around you, all you have to do is focus on it.
Find yourself a person who you consider to be a friend, open up to them and tell them “Look, I’m doing this… I’m very worried… I’m afraid” and believe me they will come to your aid more time than you can possibly think. They will always there to guide you… they want to help you.
Remember, if you get someone to accept Islam and you are their door to Islam, you get so many good deeds.