I wanted to share my story with you. I’ll begin by explaining to you that I was born and raised Christian.
I came from a good home with a wonderful and caring family.
My mother (63) and my father (71) have now been married for 48 years. They are indeed each others’ best friends in life. I have no sisters and only one brother. My brother is 45 and he is actually a Christian minister (head of the church). This is my family.
I am now 31 and still live in the same city which I was born and raised, Evansville Indiana.
About 4-5 years ago, I was a very closed up and bitter minded person, (I admit it). I thought I knew it all and I had no desire to see life through others’ eyes. A typical cocky and arrogant American, I guess. It was at a time when I was in need of a small, part time job. I began looking and sending out many applications, (résumé’s or CV’s). I was eventually hired to work for a business that was owned by Egyptian people (very unusual for around these parts!)
At first I did not feel comfortable there. Everything and everyone seemed so different, on the surface. I basically just went in, did my job, kept my head down and then left. I really kept to myself.
Following My Curiosity
In America, before 9-11, people knew very little of Islam and Muslims. My ignorant ideas were that Islam was a strange cult-like religion full of robotic- crazy people. (I knew nothing of it, really) I was very knowledgeable with Christianity and thought that this was the only true and correct religion that existed.
After working there for a couple of months, I started to really notice certain things that began to make me curious. The Egyptians were indeed so different from me, but I was surprised to see that it was “good” differences, not bad ones. I witnessed how they would openly pray in front of everyone. They had so much love and pride for their beliefs and were completely humbled to everything else.
I had never even seen such displays of open religion displayed before. No Christians that I knew were this open in front of rooms of strangers, as these Muslim men were. I was curious to know more. These individuals were so good to people too. There were times when I saw them give food to poor people who could not pay and other times when I saw the Muslim business-owner look out his warm window and walk outside to offer a car ride to strangers standing at a bus stop in the middle of a very cold winter.
Such acts like these were very common and were a very crucial part in WHY I became so interested to know more. Why did these people conduct their lives with such humbleness and such kindness? What made them behave so respectfully and so unlike anything that I had negatively heard on the American news and media channels? WHY?
I have to stop here and explain that I had always been a very curious individual. Always had an intellectual-curious side about me. I loved to learn things. At some point, I sought out answers. I wanted to learn for the sake of knowledge. To learn for learning, only. I never intended to convert! I began to buy a few books and study materials on Islam. I kept this very private.
Learning of a “semi-forbidden” religion must stay a big secret! None of my friends or family would understand me if they knew I was learning about it. That was my thinking at the time. I read everything I could get my hands on. All sorts of books and opinions on Islam—(good ones/ bad ones)—I wanted all sides to the story, so to speak. I eventually told one man that I was interested in books on Islam.
It was an older, African-American, converted Muslim man that I worked with. His name was Ron but he had took on the name of Lukeman Ali. He was a very nice and caring man and he loved so much to speak clearly to anyone about Islam. He was my friend.
One day Lukeman showed up for work and he came up to me with something wrapped in a cloth, under his arm. He spoke to me very softly yet very seriously. He pulled out a book. This was the Quran. He gave me certain instructions on how I had to handle this book with the upmost respect, always. I thanked him for purchasing it for me and I went and hid it until I could finish my shift and go home.
Everyday Lukeman would quietly take me aside and ask me if I had been reading the Quran. I always minimized it, to him. I would make it clear to him that I was only reading it for the sake of knowledge, nothing more! At this point I cannot say to you when or exactly how it happened, but it just did.
At some point, I began to change. The more I read the Quran, the more I believed it. The more I believed, the more I felt. I was finding so many “answers” in Islam. A whole life of Christianity had only seemed to pose question after question for me. Islam gave me my first look into “answers”. It was a practical religion that seemed as more of a guide to human beings. I remember being so amazed at all the similarities.
Islam was not some crazy, separate religion! It seemed more to be a linked-religion or perhaps a continuation from Christianity. Most of the beliefs were identical. As an American, I never realized this! I never knew that the word Allah was simply another word for God. I never realized that Allah was the same, one God that all people worship. Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims… all were worshipping the same, one God! The only difference that was separating us from each other is the “path” or the “route” that we take to reach God. With each of these religions we see different prophets or “front men”—you might say—different amazing individuals that we must seek in order to take our path to reach the same one God.
Some of us may believe more in the powers of gifts of Mary, others believing more in the powers of Jesus, and others believing more in the works of Muhammad (peace be upon him). But the similarities were far greater than the differences.
All of us seeking the most true and righteous path to serve Him. Before I knew it, I was a Muslim. Initially not through prayer, nor through discipline, no. But I was a Muslim because my heart and my mind knew that I had found the most true answers for me. I could not learn of and hear such guidance and then reject it! That was not an option.
My life forever began to change. Looking back now, 4 years later, I now notice so many powerful signs. Lights that guided me along the way. So much kindness from others.
Firstly, I was extremely fortunate and blessed to have worked for such a unique and wonderful group of Muslims! They were indeed like a rare, beautiful flower to me along the way, even though neither them nor I realized it, at the time.
Secondly, and perhaps most amazing was that, when I first began to look for a job, back then. I had sent out over “45” applications ! That’s a lot! Out of all 45 of these applications, I only received calls from two businesses. The only two places that called me in to hire me, also just happened to be the only two Muslim-owned businesses within 200 miles of my city! I thought nothing of it then. But now, I know 100% that this was meant to happen.
It is a very extreme feeling to know that Allah Himself wanted to show me the correct way. There are no words to describe.