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The Refugee Crisis Brought Me to Islam

“One morning, I woke up and I thought: Today I will convert to Islam. And that is what I did.” This is how Max Klein explains the day he became a Muslim. Today, Max is only 19 years old. He helped refugees in his small home town in Germany during the refugee crisis.

An Empty Space

I was the ordinary teenager: parties, girls, alcohol. I had fun. But there was also this other side of me. My parents are not my real parents. I was adopted as a baby.

Since I understood what this means, it left an empty space inside of me. It also left me wondering where I really came from. Maybe it was this fact that pushed me to just jump in and help wherever I can when the first refugees from Syria and other countries arrived in our small town.

Helping and Sharing Time

It was in September 2015 when I went to meet the refugees for the first time. I just knocked on the door and said that I am here to help. Until they left again, I went there almost everyday. I helped clean up the beds and cleaned the floors. I accompanied the refugees to the doctor. And I played with the kids.

In the evening I did not leave. I sat down with them. We drank tea together. And I listened to their stories. Stories of grief. Stories about the war and stories of leaving one’s homeland and missing the family. We also talked about religion and belief.

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Why Do You Not Have a God?

And then one day, one question changed everything. There was this female teacher from Lebanon. She said:

“You help so much. You do so much good. Why don’t you have a God?”

Why did I not have a God?

I repeated this question to myself many times. But I did not have an answer. I never really had a connection to Christianity. I did not connect to the Christian idea of God. But starting from this evening, I carefully listened when my refugee friends talked about Islam. I observed them praying. And I asked myself: how would it be to live with Allah, to live as a Muslim.

Becoming Muslim

Then one morning in spring 2016, I woke up. And I thought: I will convert to Islam now. It was a Friday. I sat down in front of the computer and googled how one can become Muslim. Then I dressed, took my bike and went to the small mosque in our town. I went straight to the imam. I introduced myself and informed him that I wanted to become Muslim now. I already chose my new Muslim name: Yafer, the helper.

Discussions and Arguments

When my mother found out, she was shocked. She thought I would become one of these radical Muslims. She was afraid of loosing me. For the first two weeks after my conversion, she only cooked pig meat. I did not eat it. When I confronted her later about that, she said that she did not do it on purpose. She just could not adjust to the new circumstances quick enough.

My mother was worried. I was 17 years old when I became Muslim. For the first few months after my conversion, we often ended up in heated discussions and arguments. But it has become better now. Alhamdulillah. My mother now accepts my decision. She knows that Islam is important to me. And she respects my new way of life.

My Old Friends Left Me

When I told my friends about my decision, they were just quiet. I told them that I could no longer drink and party with them. All of them slowly left my life. I am not sad about it. That is life. We took different ways.

I found my way in Islam. In praying, in following Allah’s commands. I love going to the mosque. I learn Arabic and I learn to read the Quran.

There is so much to do. Since I don’t party anymore, my life also became more stable. I am in my second year of learning a profession now. Something that I tried before twice but always stopped halfway. My Muslim life style helps me with my everyday life as well.

The Other Half of Religion

I really found my home in Islam and in my Muslim community. I just love it how every Muslim is my brother and sister. However, I feel that I am ready to have a family. I want to get married, have a halal relationship, take care of my wife, and be there for her. That is something I miss in my life. I hope that Allah will grant me a pious wife soon.

About Claudia Azizah
Claudia Azizah is originally from Germany and mother of two children and writer. She served as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia until August 2019. She is co-founder of the Ulu-Ilir-Institute in Indonesia. She regularly writes for the German Islamic newspaper. She is interested in Islamic spirituality, art and Southeast Asia. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: #clazahsei