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I Found God in the Australian Bush

I am originally from the United States but I have not been there for like thirty years. The last ten years of my life, I spent in the bush in Australia.

I basically secluded myself from civilization. I had enough of everything. And I needed a break. A long break. I needed to find myself again and find the purpose of life.

Much of my time in the Australian bush was spent in social seclusion and only with the bare minimum of worldly things that were necessary to survive.

I went to a small town once every two months to get whatever was necessary for my survival. I usually called my family to check how they were doing. So, I spend long hours in meditation or contemplation about this life.

Thoughts About God

I grew up in a Christian family but left the faith a long time ago. I did not want to have anything to do with any religious or social system that wanted to enforce its ideology and way of living on me.

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I have never been a strict atheist but probably never more than an agnostic. However, my meditation and contemplation had an impact on me. And honestly, deep inside of me, I felt that there was this burning flame of longing for that Higher Being ready to ignite me. I found myself having thoughts about God in His role as Creator and Sustainer. I caught myself talking to Him.

Message From An Old Friend

Then one day during one of my visits to ‘civilization’, I decided to check my email account. I had not opened it for a long time. Now something pushed me to do so.

It was full with spam, of course. But one email caught my attention. I knew the name of the sender. It was my old friend from college. I opened the email and started reading. He said that he had moved to Malaysia a few years back. And he invited me for a re-union with two more of our college friends.

I had not been on a plane for years. However, something moved me into visiting him in Malaysia. A few weeks later I was on the plane to Kuala Lumpur.

My First Visit to a Mosque

My old friend picked me up from the airport. We spent the whole evening talking. He also told me that he became Muslim. I was not really shocked hearing that but I wanted to know more about his choice.

The next day he took me to the mosque nearby his home. It was quite a big mosque with beautiful carpets but otherwise empty. I really liked the emptiness. This emptiness seemed to provide the perfect space for conversation between a human and his Lord.

Strangely, it was this emptiness of the mosque that attracted me most to Islam. Clear from the world. Clear from civilization although representing one of the most influential civilizations of the world.

Embracing Islam

I guess God just moved my heart. And becoming Muslim was the most natural thing to do at that moment. I told my friend that I wanted to embrace Islam. He just smiled at me knowingly. He called two men working in the mosque and then we sat down and I recited my shahadah after them.

That happened around one year ago. God and Islam filled my life. Becoming Muslim was the natural continuation of my hermit life in the Australian bush. I am now able to live in the world without being disturbed by it. I am now able to live in seclusion without having to leave civilization. For me, the emptiness of the mosque symbolizes all of that.

I Have Arrived

After all these years, I feel like I have arrived at the purpose of my life. It is in the prostration to God. In abstaining from food for His sake. And in following His commands. Not because any social system tells me to but because the Lord of the worlds Himself created me for this purpose.

This is James’ story. He converted to Islam more than one year ago at the age of 68.

About Claudia Azizah
Claudia Azizah is originally from Germany and mother of two children and writer. She served as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia until August 2019. She is co-founder of the Ulu-Ilir-Institute in Indonesia. She regularly writes for the German Islamic newspaper. She is interested in Islamic spirituality, art and Southeast Asia. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: #clazahsei