My name is Jared, and I converted to Islam one year ago.
Before I became a Muslim, I was a Christian, a non-practicing Christian, really just a spirituality in the back of my mind.
I was really never a lot into Christianity, the kind who went to church every Sunday and Wednesdays. I celebrated Christmas, I celebrated Easter. That was what I was, a non-practicing kind of Christian.
I really only knew what I saw in the media, it was really nothing more than what Fox said to me, what CNN said to me, what all these different media corporations say to me, this is what Islam is, this is what the Muslims do, this is who the Muslims are. I never bothered to myself speak to Muslims, I never bothered to myself read the Quran or do any of these types of things, I really didn’t have a chance to do until I came to Fort-Collins.
The only reason I knew Islam even existed was because Fox News told me that there were people out there to hurt me, and they were called Muslims. If you did not try to put the thought in my mind that a religion existed, I wouldn’t have come to it.
I was first studying about all world religions in an eastern religions course. I was learning about Hinduism, I was learning about Sikhism, I was learning basically all the religions from the eastern half of the world, except Islam. That was the only thing that was not included in the course.
Through the help of a young Muslim in the free writing course, I got my hands on a copy of the Quran, which I still have to this day, and I just read it and it reminded me a lot of the Old Testament. I was able to arrange a trip to a masjid during Jumu’ah, I was not aware it was Jumu’ah, but when I got there was Muslims everywhere. It was hectic, they were trying to prepare food for Jumu’ah, they were trying to clear way for the khutbah, it was wild, it was a homey kind of wild, everybody knew everybody else, it was a family kind of thing, it made me feel a lot more comfortable, especially since I was really nervous.
I wanted to know who are these people? What are they practicing? What did they really believe?
They said they were these monsters, the people who wanted to hurt everybody else, and were waging a holy war on us, and that is the complete opposite of what I found. It was none of that. And I listened to what they believed, and I listened to who they were, spoke with them, and it was so convincing, every word was just so convincing, it changed my life.
The main thing that convinced me to become a Muslim was the sincerity of the whole religion. In Christianity, it’s not OK to ask questions, if you say what if Jesus wasn’t the son of God, that’s looked upon very poorly.
But in Islam, if you ask questions like why does it say this in the Quran, or why does Prophet Muhammad say we should do this… Islam is not afraid to answer them. It’s not like oh, Jesus is the son of God accept as truth, and that’s it. It’s OK there is only One God, and we know there is only One God because He has proven it to you in the previous words of previous religions, in works that you see every day, in the Quran that you hold dear. Both the sincerity of the people and the sincerity of the teachings really convinced me to become a Muslim.
As I was becoming a Muslim, as I was gradually converting, I was honestly too afraid to speak to my parents about it. It was almost two months before I said anything to my family. I mean it came up when my mom was saying something like you know “they are just a bunch of terrorists”, and I was like “Mom, I am a Muslim, I am not a terrorist.” And it was just heart-breaking because it really just tore up my whole family. My mom, she practically disowned me, still till this day, my step-dad does not actually think I’m a Muslim…
It hasn’t really affected my relationship with my brother. He seems really understanding, he has accommodated me, he knows that I don’t drink alcohol, which I used to before I became Muslim I did drink, and after I became Muslim I said to him if I’m coming over try to keep some soda stocked in the fridge.
We hang out, we play ball games, we play video games and things like that, and there is no need for alcohol. We order a pizza, we get a cheese pizza, I ask him for a different cutter so they don’t get any pork or anything like that on the cheese, but other than that it has not changed. We are brothers, we are close as we have ever been, we have more in-depth conversations. Among my entire family, he has been the linchpin to me just to stay with my family, to talking with them, discussing with them because he has been so accepting, he has been a brother…
Even after I became a Muslim, my family hasn’t really noticed the change, and I don’t think it’s because I am not acting as a Muslim around them, even though they bang me right in my face I would just turn the other cheek, and I’ll say mom it’s not true, please have some patience, just listen to me, let me speak for a minute, and even with all this I think that they are just closing their eyes, because like I said the area I came from is very Christian, it’s on a straight Christian path. If you aren’t Christian, you’re incorrect, that’s basically where I came from, and it’s made convincing them a very difficult task…
I’m not really trying to convert my brother to Islam. He asks questions, and I explain it to him in the best of terms that I can, and without trying to sound pushy. If he converts, Al-Hamdulel-Allah, that’s good, I will be very happy for him.
I would love to be the conduit that he uses to become a Muslim, if he ever decides to become a Muslim, which I do hope he decides to become one, but I would never say if you don’t become a Muslim I won’t love you, or if you don’t become a Muslim you are not my brother, or I’ll kill you or something stupid like this. He’s my brother, he will always be my brother, and whether he becomes a Christian, or he becomes a Muslim, or whatever else he becomes he’s still my brother and I will still love him…
While I’m working, I don’t hide the fact that I’m a Muslim, I mean it’s caused some controversy with some fellow workers of mine…
I know it’s a little unorthodox, but I absolutely refuse to sell pork and alcohol. And working in electronics, it’s not as hard to do as one might imagine. If pork and alcohol come through, somebody wants to get their beer, their ham back in electronics, because they all done shopping they have a hard drive, they have pork, they have bread, they have eggs, usually what I do is that I put the rest of the stuff through, and I ask somebody else to finish the transaction for me, I say I finished everything, could you please come and sell the pork or sell the alcohol for me, I’m not going to do it because it’s against my religion to purchase it, it’s against my religion to sell it, it’s against my religion to buy it, to eat it, to drink it, consume it, so I don’t do it myself.
If I say hey Alex, hey Anna, come finish this for me, usually it doesn’t spark too many questions, like OK whatever he’s not 18, not 21 or whatever, but there are the odd customers here and there who say why are you not passing out, and I kindly explain to them well I am a Muslim, so it is against my religion for me to sell these products to you, even though I’m part of Wall-Mart, I do like to avoid the things that are against my religion at all costs…