As I moved forward in my search, don’t think for one moment that I was waking up every morning and saying: “Now who am I going to meet and find today?”
But the world is a place, and it was a place then, particularly then, where people would grab me every now and again and try to pull me back into the world and just let the desires explode.
So “Come here, have this drink, have this, have that, it’s great”. You don’t need all that rubbish.
There was a guy at this time with whom I spent sometimes with at the weekends for 8 years. I remember one day in a weekend that he said to me “There’s something wrong with you, why are you so concerned about things, you are almost mad” and he even suggested to get me a doctor.
I was like this because I was striving against the norms in society.
Searching for the Truth
At that time I went through a lot. I was reading a lot and I started to drink because I wanted to just relax and take all the pain of the world away.
There were days then when I would look outside and see the light and just want to turn the light off. I would just look outside and say I don’t need this world. There is no purpose to it, so why would I bother myself with it.
There were times when I spent many days on my own without talking to anybody. And there were times when I looked out through the window at night and just search for the truth in the sky. I used to look at the stars and started reading about astronomy.
I would look at the sun and moons and read about theses heavenly bodies and I would think how enormous this universe is with the nearest star being 4 light years away from us. I really was frightened, so petrified because I didn’t know why these amazing things go around me in this manner.
The Church Across The Road
It was one day that I decided I’m going to walk to the church across the road. I thought they must have the answers at the church.
I went in there and the man in charge wasn’t ready to see me and asked me to book an appointment to see him. So I had to book an appointment to see the person who is going to tell me why I’m here like a doctor who is going to give me the medicine.
The day after, I came to his office. The first thing I noticed is that he was too busy to talk to me, shuffling books and papers around and answering the phone.
Then he said “What can I do for you?”
I poured my heart out to this man and said “Look, you are a man of God, I want you to tell me who is God and why am I here, you have to tell me”.
He said “Well, have you ever thought about doing a theology degree?”
I said “Yes, I have thought about it and I tried to go to Dublin Trinity, but I decided that all this stuff seemed like dogmatic and it didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t the truth”.
He said “Well, I don’t know then”. He suddenly got surprised because he didn’t expect that answer.
He said “Why don’t you start studying a bit about the world religions?”
I said “Well, I can’t do that, I want to know so please tell me who is God and why I’m here”
He said “You know what, I’ll be honest with you, I can’t really help you, do you see that church over there? I’m the person who opens it and closes it. I’m the person who looks after the people when they come in and leave and that’s it, that’s my job”.
The Search Continues
I just realized that it doesn’t matter whether you are in a church, where you are, who you are, if Allah hasn’t guided a person, it doesn’t make any difference. Nobody will be able to help you. Imagine that I’ve gone through Buddhism, Hinduism, socialism and Christianity now twice and the Christians hadn’t got the answers. I’ve gone also through Tai Chi and other sorts of martial arts, meditation, vegetarianism but none of them gave me the answer.
At one point, I went into science. I studied science and astronomy. That just confused me because what I realized is that science just stick labels to the things that are only obvious but there’s no explanation. That really worried me because I realized then that they didn’t have a clue, in fact they were hiding the truth from the rest of humanity because they did have the truth but they won’t experiment correctly, they won’t ask the right questions like why am I here? Where I’m going after this?
These are the important questions, the essential questions that every human being needs to ask himself and to others around him.
Then it was Ramadan about 15 years ago now. In the university I didn’t know it was Ramadan. I had this Malaysian girlfriend who happened to be a Muslim. I didn’t know that at the time and I didn’t even focus on the Muslim thing because it wasn’t important to me.
One day she came to me and said “Look, this month please don’t come here”.
I had struggled to make relations with this girl because I thought it would help me spiritually and emotionally. Then she tells me don’t come here for a whole month because of my religion?
I said to her “Either your religion doesn’t make any sense or you are not following your religion properly”
She became angry. She said “Don’t insult my religion, don’t you dare do that”.
So I moved off and the next day, I went straight to the Islamic society in the university and said “You’re going to tell me about Islam. I love this girl and I want to find out about it so maybe we can patch things up.”
He told me “First thing, don’t go with that girl”.
I said “That’s not really very fair because I love that girl, what’s wrong with that?”
He said “No, she is not supposed to do this” So they gave me some books. I started reading loads of books about Islam.
I got back to her and told her “You are not supposed to do this and this. Why didn’t you tell me these things? I would have respected you. I wouldn’t have done those things”.
She said “It’s only for religious people and stuff like that”
I said at the end of the day “Why don’t we just get married and sort this out?”.
At that time I hadn’t read that I have to be a Muslim to marry a Muslim girl…
So she put me off and she became very angry with me because she saw I was getting close to this thing that may ruin things, you know.
Suddenly In Focus
Little bit by bit and through reading a lot, I started to look at the world outside with new glasses on. Like someone who put new glasses on, suddenly I could see things in focus. I could see the foreground and I could see the background. Whereas before, things were a bit cloudy and hazy.
The more I studied … I started to fast in the month of Ramadan. Sometimes I would go to the mosque and join Muslims in their prayers although I didn’t know what they said. I just did the motions.
And after sometime, this occasion happened when I was with some people one night and I had been continually fasting and reading and making Zikr and asking Allah for help. She was getting further and further away from me. And my objective was to get closer to her through reading the books and doing the fasting.
I started to see the world as a totally different place. You wouldn’t believe how someone could change overnight in about two weeks, from someone who didn’t know anything to somebody who really had some sort of confidence about why he was here. But it wasn’t written on me yet, it wasn’t part of Yusuf, it wasn’t part of Tim.
I was in London and I was with these guys that I used to know back in the days. I had a terrible evening with them because everything they did was contradicting what I was doing for two weeks. I won’t even mention what they were doing … disreputable things. They were contradicting me, and I was contradicting them.
For the whole night, I just kept reading a book, they were gone and I was sitting in a room on my own. I went to the bathroom and made wudu and ghusl. I didn’t know what I was doing because I didn’t know ghusl really. I just read some stuff in a book. I became totally and utterly focused on the fact that Islam has to be the right way.
At The Mosque
After that night, in the morning, I woke up early just to get away from the house because I didn’t want to be with those people anymore. It was like they were dirty and there were some serious problems about them and I needed to get out of there. Something forced me out of the door. I walked up the road and I met this man who had brown skin, so I thought maybe he knows where the mosque is. He told me there is a mosque up the road.
I went to the mosque and this guy grabbed hold of me and he sai:
“What’s going on, why are you here?”
“There’s something I have to do today”
I didn’t know that it was called Shahadah. That place over there was bad and I knew there’s a better way and I believe that the Quran can answer my problems. So alhamdulellah, by the grace and mercy of Allah, that was in the month of Ramadan, early in the morning I went to the front and I took the shahadah.
The whole mosque loaded with brothers, there must have been 300 or 400 people in there, all of them, each and every one of them embraced me and said salams to me and “Congratulations that you found your life”.
The solicitude of what I’ve done, comparatively speaking, was like life vs. death and death vs. life. Because if Allah the Almighty hadn’t guided me, it would have been just like death. And it’s like that for 80 to 90% of the world’s population if you think about it. It’s just death upon death.
Each day you are just going closer to your appointed period of death. You are being dead in life and you are going to be dead in the grave and you are going to be punished in the hereafter. You have no idea of the mercy and bless of Allah the Almighty when He makes a person come to this religion. Alhamdulellah.
Before I reverted to Islam, the truth of the matter is that I didn’t know what contentment was. Because contentment comes from finding yourself upon the truth and if you are upon the truth you will be contented. I’m not just talking about one day. I’m talking about no matter what happens to you. Wherever you are, whomever you are with, you will have that ultimate peace and tranquility in your heart.
So when I became a Muslim, when I re-found the fitrah (my origin – natural disposition), I discovered that my depression disappeared. I discovered that my reliance on alcohol at that time completely disappeared, that I didn’t need anything or anyone because I found that ultimate truth from within and externally. And of course I had the brotherhood.
For myself and my wife, we arranged the marriage ourselves because when you revert to Islam, there is a lot of people who are not really practicing Islam. They are practicing what there forefathers were practicing which is their culture, and it is not much to do with Islam.
One of the groups who should receive alms in Islam are reverts. Why is this?
Because Allah the Almighty in His infinite wisdom and mercy recognizes the need to support those people who are in the most needy categories and one of those categories is when you come into the path of Allah. You need as much support as you can, why? Because the Satan is attacking you from all directions to knock you off the path.
The first 2-3 years of marriage were tough. And we tried to practice the religion; we tried to pray a little bit. My wife tried to put the hijab on a bit and we grew organically as Muslims. You have to remember the Quran was revealed over a period of 23 years. It didn’t just come overnight and everybody just sat and said we believe in it and this is what we are going to do.
Likewise when people come into the religion, we all need to realize that they need supporting. They need to be guided correctly. We need to use wisdom with them. We need to use fair preaching with them. We need to treat them like babies. They are small babies, that’s what they are. I’m actually only 15 years old!
The rest of my life was just struggling and getting through and getting by. So the family affairs were good, alhamdulellah, after 2 or 3 years. And then when kids started coming that gave me an added purpose.
I hadn’t seen my father a long time ago.
Before I reverted to Islam, I went to Ireland to see my father because I thought he would somehow know who am I and what I’m doing here. I had his new address but it was incomplete, no postcode, so it took me ages to find the place.
I found my uncle and my extended family there. I stayed with them for 2 weeks. Unfortunately my father was alcoholic. He just lived digging the roads and building houses and just get drunk at the night and that was his whole life. When I embraced Islam, he just thought it was a bit of a joke. He didn’t really even know what was going on.
My mother and the rest of the family initially considered it was just a passing phase. They said we saw you as a Buddhist, we saw you talking about Christianity, vegetarianism and socialism. This is only another phase. Good, it’s all very healthy, we all really like it.
I married my wife three years after I became a Muslim alhamdulellah. They started to see this wasn’t so much of a passing phase. Firstly, it lasted for 3 years. Secondly, I was married to a woman who was Moroccan and alhamdulellah she wanted to practice the religion of Allah.
Thirdly, I started to turn down invitations which were about alcohol, partying and dancing and stuff like that. So I didn’t have any interest in those things. I didn’t need those things. When we got to that stage they became a little bit suspicious then.
On The News!
Then one day I was invited to give a lecture in Trafalgar Square. At that time, I didn’t know that the BBC was there filming it all. When I gave my talk, I just became emotional and started to put my fist in the air and shouting Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest), crazy stuff that you don’t do really in front of the BBC.
As it happened, the BBC filmed me and showed me on the 6 O’clock and the 9 O’clock news.
So then when I got home, I had this mad rush of calls from my family saying “Tim what’s wrong? What’s happened to you?”. So in actual fact, they found about my Islam via the mass media machine who made it look like I was a complete nutter. Ever since then, generally speaking, they really haven’t trusted me.
So there is a message here, it’s about the media and the way we use the media. And I believe that they know this has changed my life for the best. For instance, I’m the only member of my extended family as far as I know now who is stable. I don’t go around beating my kids and beating my wife. I don’t run off with another woman and my wife doesn’t run off with another man. And it’s normal and it’s healthy. And they’ve seen it.
And even my sister, they interviewed her the other day by another channel, she said “He is brilliant. What happened to him was absolutely brilliant”.
After the interview she even said to one of the researchers “You know, I really love my brother and I think that I’m worried about what he is upon, he is upon this terrorism thing”.
So this just tells you what the media system does in terms of brainwashing the people about the truth of Allah the Almighty.