I was born of parents whose religion was Christianity and their denomination was Southern Baptist.
My parents began going to church very shortly after I was born.
From the time I was a small child I was taught stories from the Bible, of the various Prophets (peace be upon them all).
I grew up believing that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not only the son of God but also God himself. I attended Sunday school, 12 o’clock Worship (or big church as we called it) and Wednesday church regularly.
I was often faced with many questions as I read and heard the stories of the Bible. The answers to many of these puzzling questions left my fellow friends and myself in even more confusion. These questions augmented as I grew older. By the time I was twelve I was able to come up with wild confabulations in an attempt to rid myself of these difficult inquires.
At that age, after making a serious attempt to read the New Testament and understand it, I began to see that little of these laws were being followed. I also noticed the multiple contradictions in the Old Testament and New Testament text. It became more evident that if God was truly the revealer of the entire Bible then He was rebuking and detesting himself for the laws he revealed earlier.
But, I was persuaded to “develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ” after reading the so-called 4 Gospels and a lot of Christian literature many times. I was still nervous about the decision I was making on the day of my Baptism. The pastor asked if I was feeling ok after noticing my nervousness and I lied by saying that I was fine.
At the age of 13, I became very evangelical around some non-Christians. I would often scold Christians for not following the way of Jesus (peace be upon him). Many of these corrections were for things that I myself was doing.
A year and a few months passed and I began studying literature that was in opposition to Christianity (mostly atheist literature). I had become so foolish that I thought there was no possible reason for anyone not to accept Christianity and I thought that the only reason they would ever be anything else was that they had not learned about Jesus (peace be upon him) or were complete idiots.
My opinion changed as I read of how unreliable the Christian texts were and how little the evidence was to prove the existence of a Jesus 2,000 years ago. The responses to the criticism by atheist scholars were weak.
I began questioning the existence of God and after that time I became an agnostic (atheist will not claim me, saying that if I was truly an atheist at that time I would have never became a Muslim).
I began to read about Islam among some other religions. I was very suspicious at first. I was raised thinking that Muslims were all terrorists seeking to oppress women and cause violence.
I only knew that Muslims believed in one God and that Islam was a very strict religion. This is how almost all Christian children think of Islam, there are probably those who do not know that Muslims believe in a God at all. These myths carry on into adulthood.
Perhaps my first real interest in Islam came after reading an article in a 1979 National Geographic about an American Muslim’s hajj. I was unaware that there was such a thing as non-Arab Muslims.
I was taught that the terms Islam and Arab were the same in school (some teachers even think that the Elijah Muhammad’s teachings are the same as all Muslims). I read about some events from the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life in the article and began a month long study of the Quran and Sunnah.
After studying the Quran, authentic Hadith, and reading articles of scholars, I became very attracted to the simplicity, clarity, and beauty of the message of Islam.
When studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) I read the charges and refutations of the charges against the integrity of Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him).
I decided to embrace Islam and made my Shahadah. I have been growing in faith since then but still make many mistakes and forget my duty to Allah. In sha Allah, I will learn from these mistakes.
Impressed by Tufayl ibn Amr’s Story
I think the story of Tufayl ibn Amr is very similar to how myself and many reverts to Islam accepted this religion as the true religion of Allah.
His story demonstrates how the anti-Islam are discouraging us from embracing Allah’s true religion but when someone ignores their warnings they find that Islam is not what the anti-Islam have said of it. Here is Tufayl ibn Amr’s story:
“I approached Makkah. As soon as the Quraish leaders saw me, they came up to me and gave me a most hearty welcome and accommodated me in a grand house. Their leaders and notables then gathered and said: ‘O Tufayl, you have come to our town.
This man who claims that he is a Prophet has ruined our authority and shattered our community. We are afraid that he would succeed in undermining you and your authority among your people just as he has done with us. Don’t speak to the man. On no account listen to anything he has to say. He has the speech of a wizard, causing division between father and son, between brother and brother and between husband and wife.’
They went on telling me the most fantastic stories and scared me by recounting tales of his incredible deeds. I made up my mind then not to approach this man, or speak to him or listen to anything he had to say. The following morning I went to the place of worship to make tawaf around the Kabah as an act of worship to the idols that we made pilgrimage to and glorified.
I inserted cotton in my ears out of fear that something of the speech of Muhammad would reach my hearing. As soon as I entered the place of worship, I saw him standing near the Kabah. He was praying in a fashion which was different from our prayer. His whole manner of worship was different. The scene captivated me. His worship made me tremble and I felt drawn to him, despite myself, until I was quite close to him.
Notwithstanding the precaution I had taken, God willed that some of what he was saying should reach my hearing and I said to myself:
“What are you doing, Tufayl? You are a perceptive poet. You can distinguish between the good and the bad in the poetry. What prevents you from listening to what this man is saying? If what comes from him is good, accept it, and if it is bad, reject it.”
I remained there until the Prophet left for his home. I followed him as he entered his house, and I entered also and said:
“O Muhammad, your people have said certain things to me about you. By God, they kept on frightening me away from your message so that I even blocked my ears to keep out your words. Despite this, God caused me to hear something of it and I found it good. So tell me more about your mission.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) did and recited to me Surah al-Falaq. I swear by God, I had never heard such beautiful words before. Neither was a more noble or just mission ever described to me. Thereupon, I stretched out my hand to him in allegiance and testified that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
This is how I entered Islam. Even the leaders of Quraish were unable to resist hearing the Quran.”