I shall recount here one of the most wonderful stories that ever happened to me in my whole life; a story that filled my eyes with tears and my heart with awe.
Last week, I was giving a lecture on the role of ethics in introducing Islam. I mentioned a story that I heard seven years ago from Dr. Ahmad Khalifah, the luminary preacher and intellectual and head of the Munich Islamic Center, Germany.
In brief, it was about an advertisement Dr. Khalifah came across in a German newspaper that read, “I need a preacher to baptize me into Islam”. The advertiser left his address and phone number.
Dr. Khalifah called him but the man did not answer. So, he immediately headed for the mentioned address, but still the man was not there. Dr. Khalifah asked the neighbors, but they did not give him answers, and were rather afraid of him.
So, he left a message for the man with his address for correspondence, and then rode the bus to the college where he was working.
As the bus reached college, Dr. Khalifah added, I felt that something was preventing me from getting off the bus. I had a desire to go to the Islamic Center by the same bus.
At the Islamic Center, I found a message from a friend of the man I had been looking for, which read, “The man who posted the advertisement is in hospital suffering critical conditions. He needs you and urgently asks for you,” with the address of the hospital mentioned in the message.
Dr. Khalifah swiftly headed for the hospital and when he approached the man, he became cheerful, and said, “Are you the Muslim preacher?”
Dr. Khalifah answered, “Yes”.
The man turned to a Christian priest who was with him in the room, and said to him, “Come closer, for I shall embrace Islam now”.
And he started to recount his story.
Journey to Morocco
He traveled to Morocco as a tourist where he was entertained by a Moroccan Muslim named Hasan, who hospitably received him.
The man added that he could not believe that Hasan intended no harm or evil for him. He said,
“I pretended to be asleep so that I see what he would do to me, but as Hasan perceived my fear, he tried to reassure me. Still, I felt afraid of him.
Then, in the morning, he brought me breakfast. I offered him money for entertaining me, but he did not take it. He said that I am his guest and that Islam orders Muslims to hospitably entertain the guests for three days. He insisted not to take the money.
So, we agreed that I shall visit him every year. I loved Hasan and felt attached to him. I kept wondering what religion is that which maintains such ordinance to its followers.
Thus, I wanted to learn about this religion, and the only way was to post such an advertisement about my need for a Muslim preacher to baptize me into Islam.
I would be a fellow brother to Hasan and meet him the next year as a Muslim like him. So, tell me about this religion.”
Dr. Khalifah, the prudent preacher, replied,
“Islam is the religion of pure natural disposition [Fitrah]; its ordinances are limited in number and are congruous to man’s life. And the pillars of this religion are five.”
When Dr. Khalifah talked about Pilgrimage (Hajj), the man asked, “But I am sick, and I cannot make the journey. Can my brother Hasan perform Hajj on my behalf?”
Dr. Khalifah replied, “Yes”.
Thereupon, he said, “What should I do then to become a Muslim?”
Dr. Khalifah said, “You should declare the Shahadah [i.e. bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah]”.
The man gladly declared the shahadha and said “Thanks to Allah that I am now a Muslim. Should I change my name?”
Dr. Khalifah said, “It is not necessary.”
The man said, “I shall change it, and my name shall be Hasan.”
Then, Dr. Khalifah bade the man farewell and promised to communicate with him. Next day, Dr. Khalifah called the hospital to inquire about the man, but he was informed that the man passed away immediately after he [Dr. Khalifah] left him.
Still impressed by what happened, Dr. Khalifah said to me,
“I am still waiting for the meeting between my brother, the Moroccan Hasan, and my other brother, the German Hasan, in Paradise, in sha’a Allah.”
The story did not end!
After I finished relating the story, a Moroccan youth who attended the lecture called his mother and told her the story over the phone. The mother cried and said to the youth, “Your paternal uncle, Hasan, had entertained a German man around twenty years ago. Perhaps it is the man mentioned in the story.”
The youth talked to his uncle, who said this is exactly what happened. He told his nephew, “Can you ask about the year in which the story took place?”
I asked Dr. Khalifah about the year, and he said it was 1981. This was the same answer of the Moroccan uncle, Hasan.
Interestingly, the Moroccan Hasan is an ordinary, uneducated man, who is a smoker, and who is neither a preacher nor a sheikh. When he was informed of the story, he said, “Well, this is high time for sincere repentance and true return [to the right path].”
Lessons to learn
This wonderful story, though strange, contains highly important lessons:
1. The most important means to introduce Islam to people and to call them to it, and to change the negative image about it, is morals and practical behavior.
A European views Islam through the conduct and morals of the Muslims in the West. And truthful indeed was Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah when he said that the Companions moved the nations towards Islam and did not convey Islam to the nations. That happened through their good conduct and honesty in trade. So, they did not convey Islam through translated books, lectures or conferences.
2. One should not belittle his own good deeds, for such deeds may be an unforeseen reason for another person’s guidance to Islam.
3. The intuitive Islamic behavior of the Moroccan Hasan towards the German Hasan was a reason behind the latter’s guidance to Islam, without the former’s realizing it. Many times, the opposite occurs, with a Muslim, through bad conducts or negative trait rejected in Islam, unknowingly repelling people from the Way of Allah and driving them away from Islam, and in such a way, that Muslim becomes a factor of alienating the disbelievers.
4. This story, as well as other similar stories, represents the most eloquent counterargument to those who issue Fatwas for the European Muslims claiming that it is obligatory for them to leave the non-Muslim lands and return to Muslim countries. For, Islamic presence in the West constitutes a major gate for the introduction of Islam and for repairing the negative image about it in the minds of non-Muslims.
5. We can benefit from tourism in our Arab and Islamic world by introducing Islam to the tourists, so as to maintain cultural communication and remove the gaps among nations and peoples that have produced by the media over history.
I ask Almighty Allah to gather us with the two “Hasans” in Paradise, and to make us guides to the bewildered humanity, so that we can improve and redress its desolation.