My name is Zachary West. I’m 28 years old, and I became Muslim 6 years ago when I was 22.
Serving in the Catholic church, serving as an altar boy was I think very integral. I was in church one day and I don’t really remember any sermons from- they call them homilies in Catholic church- except for one, which was the priest was talking about the first three commandments.
He was talking about the commandment of not making idols or graven images of God… So I got into the car with my father while we were waiting for the girls to come out and I said:
“Dad, we believe Jesus is God, right?”
And he said:
“So dad, if that is not what we know Jesus looked like and we believe he’s God, then doesn’t that make the sculpture hanging above the priesthood a false image?”
My dad said:
“Yes Zak it does.”
I took a comparative religions course in sophomore, year of high school. Our section on Islam was delivered very well by a nice Mormon lady.
I remember turning to my best friend who was taking class with me… it was an elective and I leaned across the row to him and said:
“Hey, Rayan, why don’t we believe this?”
Most people aren’t really convinced of God as I am… and that if I go down this path then I am just going to be ostracized by everybody; I’m going to be the biggest loser in school… And I’m not going to have any friends… I am going to be like this crazy god nut…
Am I Going to Be a Terrorist?
I started to get scared because I didn’t know much about Muslims. And I knew I was becoming angry over the wrongs that were being done in the world and what I was studying in school…
I started to become concerned and worried that if I become Muslim, am I going to be a terrorist? Am I going to fight and become like one of these guys?
I didn’t know that anything about suicide bombing or any of these stuff, or any proofs that some of these people use… and so I didn’t know like, “is that what the religion is going to demand of me?” Because then, if I accept this thing, I’m going to take all of it.
And before you go on a trip, you buy a book to read on the flight down and in your spare time… So I bought a translation of the Quran and I read a verse in the Quran:
We sent this book to confirm other books before it so that you can know it was the truth. (6:92)
I wasn’t going to change, and I wasn’t going to become any sort of bad person, but that this was the religion that I always believed in… This is just building on; this is only going to empower all the things from the Bible that made me such a strong believer from the beginning, and it’s going to fuel that.
And so, that’s when I took my shahadah and I said I believe there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
It was like a veil was rent from something, from even my gaze… and I prostrated and said:
“Please, give this to my parents.” And He did, eventually.
From my experience, Islam is just chill. It going to make your only concern and your whole state of being just one of complete relief and one of complete ease, and ease upon yourself and ease upon others.