Lanky, blonde, green-eyed, middle aged Abdur-Raheem Green appears to be a character straight out of a Hollywood movie Ben Hur.
The Tanzania-born Britisher embraced Islam in 1988 and has been a dawah practitioner (preacher) in Britain since then. He wears a look that instantly evokes comparison with the popular portrayal of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) in the imagery of Christian Europe.
Green’s tryst with Islam took place in Egypt where he mostly spent his vacations. He lectured in Bangalore in early October on “God’s Final Revelation.” He spoke to the Islamic Voice while in the city.
I was born to British parents in Darussalam in Tanzania in 1964. My father Gavin Green was a colonial administrator in the still existent British empire. He later joined Barclays Bank in 1976 and was sent to Egypt to set up Egyptian Barclays Bank.
I was educated at famous Roman Catholic Monastic School, Ampleforth College, and went on to study history in the London University. However, I left my education unfinished.
Currently, I am working with an Islamic media company in England and engage myself in dawah activities (preaching) including lectures on Islam in London’s famous Hyde Park.
What kept you from obtaining a degree?
I grew totally disillusioned with the British educational system. It was thoroughly Eurocentric and projected world history in a way that suggested that the civilization attained its full glory and apogee in Europe.
In Egypt I’ve seen some of the majestic ruins which only archaeologists have access to, I found the West’s interpretation of history totally fallacious.
I began a private study of histories of other peoples of the world, various religious scriptures and philosophy. I was practicing Buddhism for nearly three years though never formally embraced it.
Study of the Holy Quran immediately attracted me. Its message had a magical appeal and I grew convinced that it was a divine revelation. I believe only Allah guided me, none else. I don’t know what made me deserve Islam.
But anything specific that could have appealed to you?
I was dissatisfied with Christianity from the age of eight. The concept that they taught to us through rhymes such as Hail Mary was not at all acceptable to me.
While on one hand the Christians described God to be eternal and infinite they felt no compunctions in ascribing birth of God from the womb of Mary. This made me think that Mary must be greater than God.
Secondly, the Christian concept of trinity was puzzlesome for me. The similitude like Canadian Maple leaf being one despite three sections appeared utterly inapplicable.
The crunch came when an Egyptian started questioning me. Despite my confusion about the Christian belief, I was trying to be dogmatic as most white, middle-class, English Christians do.
I was flummoxed when he led me to accept that the God died on the crucifix, thus laying bare the hollowness of the Christian claims of eternity and infinity of God. I now came to realize that I was believing in as absurd a concept as two plus two is equal to five all through my adolescent years.
The West’s prelaid, programmed life intensely repelled me. I began to question if a person has to live a life merely to get strait-jacketed in a rigorous schedule. I found Europeans struggling a lot to enjoy life. They had no higher purpose in life.
What contrast have you found between people’s lives in Egypt and the UK?
Egyptians were poor, suffered hardships, yet were happy. They left everything in the hands of God and forget their miseries when they return home. Prayers help them place their worries before their God. I noticed humility as well as intimacy in Islamic prayers.
But in England I found people shallow and materialistic. They try to be happy but happiness is superficial. Their prayers combined songs, dances, clapping but no humility, nor intimacy with God.
How do you find life as a Muslim in the UK?
The Western psyche emphasizes one’s individuality. This is at variance with Islam. Any sincere Muslim feels disturbed. He or she is constantly bombarded by sex and sexuality. Most girls lose virginity by 13 and it is normal for girls to have three to four boyfriends.
The dilemma before Muslims in the West is as to how to integrate with a society so steeped in sex, drugs, drinks and sexual intimacy. And if no integration, then how to save themselves from ghettoization.
From Islamic Voice.
(From Discovering Islam archive)