The question then becomes: How long will it take before you realize the Muslim inside, the one who wants to commit to a way of life that is founded upon absolute Truth?
I started the first 22 years of my life as a Protestant Christian. However, it was during high school when I began wondering why so many hours of so many Sundays of my life were spent singing praise-songs that sounded a little too contemporary for a formal and holy service for God.
My parents had agreed with me, saying how they preferred the more conservative hymns like “Amazing Grace” and “Rock of Ages.” But in my mind, conservative was once contemporary.
Deep down I was questioning the process that determined these Christian standards of praising and worshipping God.
Did Jesus (peace be upon him) sing these kinds of songs for the Sabbath, and so are Christians then following his example, as indeed the original Christians had been doing?
During college, I regarded myself more as a spiritual person than a religious person, and it was during this time when I explored how I could best manifest my desire to follow God.
I listened to my friends and their thoughts on spirituality and religion, and what I learned from my various conversations was that I should do what feels good, and avoid doing what feels bad.
I now regard this paradigm of living as one of the important sentiments among youth today: individuality, “have things your way”.
I respected many of my colleagues’ points of view that God regards individuality as a source of worship, and indeed, I agree with them still, though to a limited degree.
Looking for a Suitable Way of Life
But I was not searching for individuality. I was looking for structure, a way of life that guided me, a way of life that fellow brothers and sisters followed just like me, a way of life that the very first brothers and sisters of faith had followed.
I eventually took solace in writing out my thoughts in a journal, posing questions to myself concerning what I thought God was and what God would want His followers to do. The more I wrote, the more direction I realized I needed.
By my first year of medical school, I made decision to meet Muslims affiliated with the school through the undergraduate Muslim Students Association.
It was from meeting these brothers, talking with them, watching them in their prayers, in their daily lives, in the amount of care they took to live their religion, and in the amount of care they took to make sure that what they were doing each day was correct.
That is not only in the content of the action, but also in their intention in doing that action, whether it be eating in the name of God, or asking for forgiveness when exiting the restroom, etc. that I was given a closer insight of Muslims.
I don’t really know why I started thinking about Islam so much during my first year of medical school. Maybe it was the bad reputation that Muslims had been getting in the media and me wondering how, despite this, so many people were still Muslims.
It could have been the many years of me not knowing how or even what to follow as a Christian and that serving as a cue for me to look to another not-so-distant faith.
And then maybe it was from the character I observed from a Muslim classmate of mine for whom I have the utmost respect.
Finally a Muslim
I could go on and on trying to analyze the atmosphere that finally triggered me to pursue Islam. When it comes down to it, it was by the mercy and blessing of Allah that I finally took my Shahadah in the spring of 2006.
Whomever Allah guides, no one can mislead him, and whomever Allah misleads, no one can guide him.
So now, it is not uncommon for some of my fellow brothers to call me the “new” Muslim. The name reminds me of the term placed on cars that become “classic” only after having survived for at least 30 years or something to that nature.
Can we ever really become “old” Muslims? Are we really ever finished in the business of acquiring knowledge and working on being better Muslims?
I suppose it is just a matter of degree of how “new” we are, for there are many Muslims who know vast amounts, alhamdulillah; they are our Imams, our Scholars, our Muftis, may Allah reward them and guide them.