My name is Antoine Bernando, born in the richest part of Paris called Neuilly-sur-Seine almost 39 years ago. There were very few Muslims there so I wasn’t aware of the any other faith than the one I grew up in which was the Christian faith.
I became Muslim in America in 2001. I became Muslim mostly through meeting a French Algerian brother outside a nightclub in which I was working as a DJ at the time.
God made it so that we met right there in front of that nightclub. He heard me speak French and he was just coming into town. I basically helped him move in and we became roommates and co-workers. That’s how I really get the first feeling of what being a Muslim was, simply just through being with a Muslim like this.
Along the theoretical part basically, there was more of metaphysical part, where my first encounter with the Quran was very strong.
I became sick at the time, I had bunch of different symptoms that I couldn’t really explain… my concern was with my health actually. I opened up to this brother and he said:
“Well, maybe the Quran can help.”
He new about the healing of the Quran. The first time I actually heard about the Quran was in the big condo we were living in, where we were doing parties, and I was sitting in a chair with a Moroccan brother that he had brought in, who started reciting the Quran in Arabic and I started reacting to it very strongly… I started shaking.
It was very unsettling for me at first. The first thing that crossed my heart was “There is something there for you.” “This is the direction”.
This call was overwhelming to the point when I became Muslim, I went to the mosque for the first time to take shahadah, I thought:
“What’s going to happen to me?” “Just reciting the Quran has this profound effect on me, what’s going to happen to me when I do this in front of hundreds of people?”
The truth was overwhelming but not the way I expected it… I was overwhelmed because the people came to me. It was like a huge family brings me in, giving me money and gifts and all this. It was just entering a family in a way that I didn’t know before.
I was in the U.S. at the time away from my family for quite a long time, so my concern was how were they going to react when they hear that I changed my religion? I was a bit worried about how my family and friends would perceive me.
The first thing that Islam brought back to me is this sense of no separation between all that’s around us. This connection was so strong that physically I was shaking and internally things were changing. I did change physically, I did change in a lot of different levels.
It’s hard to explain in words the feelings that I have, the overwhelming wellness that Islam has brought to me.