I Was a Catholic Junkie!

Michael's Journey to Islam

My journey to Islam came somewhere from my Catholic roots. 

I was born and bred in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. 

Every week, I would attend mass with my mother, grandmother, and uncle. My uncle, a committed and traditional Catholic, had a huge influence on my faith, and for much of my childhood, I followed a strict Catholic tradition.

In 1984, my life was shattered with the death of my uncle, and I became more involved in the church. In my last two remaining years of school, I became involved in youth groups, vocation councils, and parish activities. After school, I worked for four years in a local clothing store and at night went to every church youth group meeting that I could attend. You could say I was a Catholic junkie.

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During that time, I learned a lot about the history of the Catholic Church and found that the Catholic Church was full of inconsistencies. However, I had a dream that I wanted to work for the Catholic Church, so in 1991, I applied to go to university to study education.

I figured that with an education degree and my background, I might find a job as a youth worker. Over that time, I was still involved in the church helping to form youth groups and becoming involved in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

I went to Melbourne for a month to take a youth worker course (sponsored by the local parish) and studied basic theology. I graduated from university and found a teaching position in a Catholic school in Stan Thorpe. It wasn’t youth work, but it was a start.

After two years, I applied for a diocesan-based position, working with intellectually disabled people. In this position, I was able to attend many in-service training courses on the Church, Jesus, and God. What I began to discover was just how much the Catholic Church had lost hold of its grass roots and had become institutionalized. I even found that two parishes in the same town disagreed with the nature of the church and Jesus.

While I was working in this position, I met my future wife, who had converted to Catholicism. We were married in 1997, and, in early 1998, we had our first daughter. After I had worked two and half years with disabled people, the funding ran out and I was offered a teaching position in a local Catholic school until the end of 1998.

My dreams of being a youth worker in the church were crushed after that and I began to suffer from depression, although I did not know it. In 1999, I worked at another local Catholic school and had another daughter, but it became evident by the end of 1999 that I could not keep on teaching. Subsequently, I was laid off from my job.

It was then that I lost all faith in the Church. I thought it was depression, yet it was something deeper. Little did I know my wife was also beginning to have reservations about the Catholic Church. I still managed to attend church, but it was no longer the same. I had faith in God, but what was this church that Jesus had begun?

My studies revealed a church that was created by men and riddled with corruption, that often threw out those who questioned it or were a burden, and this is what had happened to me.

My wife already had questions. She found that she had become part of a church that was full of inconstancies. She, too, had faith in God, but she had studied Islam while studying religion at the University of New England in Australia. 

In Islam, my wife had found a religion that held faith in God, preached peace and equality for all, and wasn’t afraid to answer a lot of hard questions. In 2001, she became a Muslim about a month before I did. She began wearing a hijab and dressing modestly.

My turning point came about one month after my wife unofficially reverted. During that month, I had become very disappointed in what my Church was, and during a sermon, the priest said, “If all Christians treated each other with respect, we would not have so many divisions.” It was then the penny dropped.

All Muslims treat each other with respect, men and women have equal status, and there is no hierarchy. In the Quran, it is said:

{O you men! surely We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.} (49:13)

I discovered that I had already been living my life with a lot of Islamic ideas — I always gave what I didn’t need to the poor; I always had faith and lived my life according to God’s will; and I always saw people as equals. 

All of mankind are from Adam and Eve. It is known in Islam that an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. A white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white — except by piety and good deeds.

Every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim, and the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing belonging to a Muslim is legitimate to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. We are reminded not to do injustice to ourselves. One day we will meet Allah and we will answer for our deeds.

Throughout my life, God was leading me to Islam; I just didn’t know it. My wife had already been in contact with the president of the Toowoomba Islamic Society, Dr. Shahjahan Khan. On June 16, 2001, Khan and his wife came over to our house and witnessed my wife and I say our Shahadah together. 

Praise be to Almighty Allah Who alone leads and gives mercy and light.