Peter Schütt, born in 1939, is a German journalist and author. He found his religious home in an Islamic Center in Hamburg, Germany. He is the author of several books and known as a political activist.
Searching for the True Religion
I spent more than half of my life searching for the true religion. I was born in a Lutheran family. When I was nineteen, I converted to Catholicism. I wanted to get away from the narrowness of my Lutheran home. I needed more spirituality.
Actually that was the only true conversion in my life. Because it really meant a rupture in my life. Thirty years later, I officially announced my conversion to Islam. But embracing Islam was not a rupture. Rather it was the final result of my search to gain spiritual insight and realization.
Observing the Islamic Ritual Prayer
Actually, I was fascinated with Islam from an early age. I grew up in a small village in post-war Germany. Our part of Germany belonged to the British occupation zone.
There were also soldiers from British India who were Muslims. They were very kind to us children. They gave us dates and figs. And we observed their prayers. I was intrigued by their prayer movements. This childhood memory of observing the Islamic ritual prayer stayed with me.
Stories about Pilgrimage
It was in an old, venerable church near my home village that I learned about well-known Germans who were interested in Islam. The pastor of the church told me about these famous Germans who studied about Islam. Carsten Niebuhr, for example, was called the first German Hajji by the famous German poet Goethe.
These stories filled my heart with excitement and curiosity. I wondered about this special place called Makkah. And why people traveled far and wide to reach there.
Theology of Liberation
During my studies at university as well, I came in contact with Islam. I especially focused on the art and culture of the exotic Orient. And in my student dorms, I lived door to door with Muslim students from Iran, Egypt, and Nigeria. We spent nights discussing religion and belief. And we organized inter-religious dialogue forums on campus.
During that time, I saw Islam as a theology of liberation for the people of the third world. My African-Muslim friends on campus were among those who inspired me to bring down the memorial monument of Hermann von Wissmann. He was a German colonial butcher in East Africa. I was politically active and took part in the student revolt.
It was in 1991 that I finally took my shahadah. The Islamic center near the Alster in Hamburg became my mosque. It was and still is a modern mosque. Not just a place for worship but a place for many different activities.
Inter-religious dialogue and discussions are important regular events. Interesting speakers from all over the world come to this center to talk about Islam. It was my teacher Mehdi Razvi who led me through my conversion.
Conversion Needs Patience
It took over half of my life for me to finally arrive. However, I don’t feel that I have arrived at the end point. I arrived in Islam. And this is a whole new journey altogether.
Of course you become Muslim once you speak the shahadah and means to accept Islam. But to become a true Muslim with all your heart and soul requires more than just speaking the profession of faith.
To become a true Muslim, it requires a life-long learning process. You have to start again every day. It needs patience and perseverance. It was in 1967 that my teacher started teaching the interpretation of the Quran in our Islamic center. His successor has still not finished the whole Quran. Understanding needs time.
I was not born a Muslim. And I was not pushed to become a Muslim. Neither did I become a Muslim over night. It was a long process of finding the truth. And inshaAllah, if God wills, I will continue to come closer to the truth with every day of my life spent.
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