Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Poncardas Romas, Ex-Christian, Philippines

I was born on December 2, 1959, in Kawit, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). Since childhood until I became Muslim in 1981, I had been a devoted SDA.

My Father’s Background

My father was a former member of the ILAGA and CHDF (Civilian Home Defense Force) formed by a former dictator, President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos. The Ilonggo Land Grabbing Association (ILAGA) is the name given to a cultic group of Christians who are trained to grab Muslim lands and annihilate Muslims in Southern Philippines. ILAGA members believe that they have an invisible bulletproof vest and some believe bullets do not hit them. They used to cut, roast, and eat the right ears of their victims, literally. Then, they make ashes of the remaining ears, and make these ashes as amulet (perfume-liquid bottles). The ILAGA members believe that the more Muslims they kill, the more power they will possess.

Brainwashing in Childhood

In childhood I was indoctrinated (brainwashed) that Muslims are pagans. We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines. Actually when I was a Christian, I did not know the difference between Islam, Muslim, and Moros—I believed they were all synonymous with paganism. What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!"

Personal Background

I was brought up in a conservative Christian educational institution (church school). In my early days of childhood we were trained to open the Bible quickly and explain the meaning of the text day and night. We were also trained to deliver speeches at the pulpit as smart as we could. In my youth, I conducted countless Ministerial works in the Seventh Day Adventist Churches. I studied at Southern Mindanao Academy, Managa, Davao del Sur; Matutum View Academy, Tupi, South Cotabato; Notre Dame of General Santos City; Forest Hills Academy, Bayugan 1, Agusan del Sur; and completed my college degree at the Silliman University, Dumaguete City. Silliman University was founded and supported by Protestant American philanthropists, a sister University of the UNIVERSITY OF PHILIPPINES (UP). I obtained a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Speech and Theatre, and a junior college degree in Mass Communication. In my youth, I was a battalion commander in paramilitary training. I was then the Senior Students’ president, and the Chairman of the Youth Organization, Science Club President, and Sabbath School Superintendent.

Training Ground

In 1981, I was trained extensively in Pagadian City, Philippines how to preach Christianity, particularly in Muslim community, and with the pretext of selling medical books under the banner of Adventism. We were later formed into groups and were assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism. Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Christianity (Adventism). Even today there are Christian Institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.

First Encounter

One day in Zamboanga City, I was assigned at the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual. His name is Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist. We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family (Memong Fernandez) were close friends and neighbors.

Proper Encounter

I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez. He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office. He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office. He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”

“Yes, of course!”

“ Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”

“Of course! We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist, unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”

He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”

I knew that if I answer “yes”, the next question would be; “Can you show me in your Bible that Jesus Christ was a Seventh Day Adventist?” I knew well that there is no passage in the Bible that mentions that Jesus Christ was an Adventist! I was shocked at the question, because in my experience I never encountered such question in my life. I tried my best to ignore his question, and I talked of things which were not related to his question. He repeated the question direct to my eyes, and said; “If you could not answer that question, please bring that question to your team leader and tell me his response.”

Shocking Revelation

Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ (may God praise him) whose name is Iesa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world. Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God. The religion of the Muslims and the prophets of Allah is Islam. And in fact, the prophets of Allah (God) were Muslims. He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc. All these words were like thunderbolts that awakened me from a deep sleep! After I heard those words I did convey them to my team leader, and I asked him what the religion of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus Christ was. He did not answer, instead I received warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez or I will be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction had pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts to my belief being a Seventh Day Adventist.

If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions!

I did not heed his warning. Again I went to Mr. Fernandez, then he asked me “DID JOSEPH, MARY, THE 12 DISCIPLES WORSHIP JESUS CHRIST AS GOD, AS YOU SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS DO TODAY?” I turned speechless. I went back to our quarter in Zamboanga City, and debated with my team leader! At that moment after our confrontation, our team leader immediately ordered me to pack up my things and leave. That time I could not accept that I was a Muslim. My team leader and our whole group branded me that I became a Muslim and not fit to do our task in Muslim community. With tears and confusion, I was forced to leave my SDA companions. That was the turning point which led me to research Islam and eventually became a Muslim a few months later in September 1981, Isabela, Basilan, Philippines

I pondered. The center of the Muslim world is in the Middle East! If the West and the East knew the life of the Prophets, and particularly Jesus’ life, how about in the Middle East - the birthplace of the Prophets, and where the Muslims are praying, in the House of God,… built by Abraham, may God praise him. There are almost two billion Muslims throughout the world, and more people are embracing Islam daily than any other religion. Why? This trend had challenged me to research history in the Middle East, and the life of the last Prophet.

I had never believed that Muslims believe in God

I never ever thought that Muslims believe in God, as well as the above mentioned. What I had believed before was that Muslims are people who are doomed to Hellfire. Some non-Muslims believe that Muslims are like rats, a menace to a developed and peaceful society. This might be the reason why some countries systematically carry out ethnic cleansing and deprive Muslims of basic human rights. Such state-sponsored activities were done in Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, Mindanao, and the occupied territories in Israel which originally belong to Palestinians. In my native land, there is a well-known maxim which says: “A GOOD MUSLIM IS A DEAD MUSLIM.”

I embraced Islam because I found out that Islam is the true way of life (religion) prescribed by God, given to the Prophets, and the Quran is the only perfect book of God that has never been revised. I am appealing to non-Muslims to know about Islam from the Quran and authentic sayings or references written by Muslims.

Sad Reality

At time I write this article, the population of the Philippines has reached 95 million, only 10% are Muslims. This means that more than 80 million are non-Muslims, and the majority of these non-Muslims are Christians. Most Islamic propagators in the Philippines are driven to Muslim-Arab Countries for economic survival. If our Arab Muslim brothers are sincere to spread the message of Islam, why don’t they send us back to our country with substantial support to propagate Islam there?

In Saudi Arabia 90% who embraced Islam are Filipinos. It is easy for the Filipinos to understand Islam, because the original culture and traditions of Filipinos are rooted in Islam. Historically, Islam came to the Philippines in 1380, almost 200 years before Christianity. Christianity came in the Philippines on March 16, 1521. Muslims remained a minority due to incessant civil war, struggle for independence and enormous efforts and well-funded activities of Christian Missionaries. The early Christians embraced Christianity not because they love and understand Christianity. They were forced to embrace Christianity through guns and cannons brought by the Christian Spaniards.

Personally, spreading Islam to Christians is interesting and challenging endeavor. Due to my background as energetic Evangelist in SDA, I am enthusiastic in propagating Islam both publicly or privately. Alhamdulillah! I strongly believe that light is for the darkness: Likewise the non-Muslims need Islam for them to see that light and embrace the truth.

Sara Hermansson, Ex-Christian, Sweden

How was your life before finding your way to Islam?

My life before Islam was empty in a way. Just the feeling to live for the day and not knowing the meaning and purpose of life. My self-confidence was quite weak. I didn’t feel that I belonged anywhere in the society, something was missing. I was searching for something, I just didn’t know what it was at that time.

What was the turning point that led you to choose Islam?

It was a long journey and it took time. I knew there was and is a God, I just couldn’t identify myself with Christianity. God for me has always been something so great and big that my mind is limited to understand what He is. This, as God has such great power and can not be compared to a human being. God has no limitation, he is capable to do whatever He desires.

I searched for a long time among different religions and the more I came to know about Islam, the more I felt Islam is the full truth and it made complete sense. Islam described God as I had always imagined Him.

What do you love most about Islam?

What I mostly love about Islam is Allah’s love and mercy.

What does being a Muslim mean to you?

For me, being a Muslim means to live in peace with yourself and your friends, family and the whole society. And to show the best behaviour as possible, according to Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Sunnah and how he treated people and how he showed love, charity and mercy. And also to please Allah (swt) [Editor’s note: (swt) is an abbreviation for Subhanahu wa Taala, used by Muslims, meaning Almighty] and follow His words and ask for forgiveness and thank Allah (swt) for everything.

What would you like to tell people about Islam?

Islam gives you a rich life, in the sense that life has a purpose and you feel peace and love in your heart.

Do you think Islam is relevant to today’s world? How?

I believe Islam is very much relevant to the world today. There is so much hatred in the world and a lot of people have the wrong concept of Islam, which is in many ways our own (we Muslims) mistakes in showing Islam in a wrong way. We need to show Islam in a peaceful way and with patience.

What do you think Islam has to offer the world today?

Islam has many things to offer the world today. For example, charity is very much emphasized and to not be greedy regarding money and material things. To share love with your neighbors and with strangers. To keep self-respect, to show that confidence is not to show your body, it is to protect it; which is the ground to confidence and good morals.

What are the obstacles that you faced after embracing Islam?

- From family, friends, and associates, etc.
There are unfortunately many misconceptions about Islam. For example, that women are oppressed and forced to do whatever men say. So, it was not strange that my parents were not happy after I told them that I reverted to Islam, but they knew that I started to read about Islam since a long time before that.

They had and still have a negative view about Islam. Very much due to what is portrayed in media, but also because of the many bad actions done by Muslims who fail to correctly represent their religion. Unfortunately, I am held responsible for other peoples acts.

My parents do accept me and they love me very much and when I’m there at their house they always cook food that I can eat as well. In that way they respect me, but they do feel ashamed if I need to pray somewhere.

What’s positive is that they think that I’m helping them a lot and that I’m very caring.

Some of my friends reacted in a negative way when I became Muslim. I have no longer any relationship with some of them, unfortunately.

Others, I still got a relationship with, but I try not to discuss Islam too much with them, as some could feel uncomfortable with that. However, they do sometimes ask me things.

My parents are not keen on discussing Islam. With time, I pray they will start asking and become Muslims inshaAllah (God willing).

It’s in the hands of Allah. I try to be kind to them, help them as much as possible, respect them and just show good behaviour.

I guess my relatives think I’m strange to revert to Islam, but none of them ever commented about it.

- From the Arabic language and/or specific acts of worship.
I have felt frustration on not understanding Arabic. I have also not felt completely free to pray in any place, even in Islamic countries.

What methods of dawah (Islamic Propagation) were used to invite you to Islam? Were they effective?

Friends who showed charity and love and open arms had a great effect on me.

What were you unhappy with in your own religion/lifestyle?

I felt I did not see a purpose with life. I had an empty feeling; no peace.

After accepting Islam did you embrace a whole new way of life; or did you experience just isolated changes to your life style?

I embraced a whole new way of life with daily prayers, etc. I’m still doing the things I liked to do before that are permissible.

How difficult was it to believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

It was not difficult for me to accept the belief in Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). When you read about his beautiful way in dealing with people with understanding and love and his respect and love to people as well as animals in addition to how logical his acts were, it’s easy to believe in him.

What role did current events have on your journey to Islam?

Current events had the effect of “A wakeup call”.

Did the search for a spiritual path lead to other religions before finally finding Islam?

Yes, I read about Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism before embracing Islam, I believe that knowledge about other religions is very relevant to be able to compare and to get a larger understanding for your own religion and for other religions.

If we, as Muslims, want people to understand and respect us and our religion; we must act in the same way to others.

What is your current state after embracing Islam?

Islam has given me a feeling of peace and harmony. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that I found the truth.

Melissa Riter, Ex-Christian, USA

I was raised in a sadly dysfunctional family. My father was anti-religion (all religions) and my mother was a non-practicing Southern Baptist. On my father’s side of the family, religion was something to ridicule while one was “straight” and to adopt when one was drunk or high. On my mother’s side of the family, religion was “understood” but never talked about. My mother’s father had been a Southern Baptist minister at one time, but faith was something only for Sunday sermons.

At a very young age (as young as nine or ten years old), I started to have an interest in “going to church”. I was allowed to go to Vacation Bible School during the summer as long as it kept me out of my parents’ hair, and I was allowed to go to church on Sundays as long as they served a hot lunch afterward. I learned to sing songs like “Jesus Loves Me” and “This Little Light of Mine”. It was good. It was fun. By the time I reached the age of 12, though, my father started to forbid me to go to church. Lessons in Sunday school were getting too serious. I had started to learn about morals. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke.. Stay away from drugs. Never talk about what happens between husband and wife. I brought those morals home and tried to teach them. Church was banned. Fortunately, I had learned enough to strengthen my desire to learn more.

My parents divorced when I was 12 ½ years old. I stayed with my mother and it was then that my search for the true religion began. I started attending a Pentecostal church every Sunday. I learned how to dress – no pants, no makeup, don’t cut your hair – and how to sing. I learned how to quote the bible. I learned how to worship Jesus (peace be upon him). God forgive me. The idea of God’s mercy stuck with me. It was the first truly important lesson that I learned in my search for guidance. Something was fundamentally wrong, though. I was saved and no matter what I did, I couldn’t go to Hell. It seemed to me that this couldn’t be right, or the Bible wouldn’t talk about punishment for our sins. There wouldn’t be commandments to follow. Where was the incentive?

I left that church and started studying other faiths. I stuck with the monotheistic religions by pure instinct. I knew in my soul that God was the key and that Jesus had to fit in there somewhere. I studied Judaism but the fact that they discounted Jesus altogether ruled that religion out very quickly. I moved on to the different Christian denominations. I tried Baptist, but there was no mercy there. If you did anything wrong, you went to Hell. Period. No chance. No hope. I studied Catholicism, but something about praying to saints (Mary included, God be pleased with her) didn’t sit well. Methodist and Presbyterian weren’t much help either. Eventually I went back to the Pentecostal churches for no other reason than that they offered hope of redemption.

There were two big questions that kept me confused much of the time. The first was, if Jesus was God’s son, then how could he also be God? The second was much the same as the first. If Jesus was God, then whom was he praying to in the Garden of Gethsemane? I asked these two questions of my pastor and was told, “If you ask those questions, you’ll go to Hell for lack of faith.” I was shocked! To quote Galileo, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended for us to forego their use.” I left the Pentecostal church never to return.

At the age of 19, I opened my door to a pair of Mormon missionaries. My search for the true religion was on again. I let them in and promptly began studies. Here was a religion that made sense! They told me that Jesus and God were not the same personage. They told me that those who truly strove to live the true religion would be rewarded with Heaven and that those who made big mistakes but who still had faith would only be punished a little while. Hell was not forever for believers. They told me about Prophets and how Moses wasn’t the last, after all. They explained that, even though they loved Jesus and considered him their eldest brother, they only prayed to God. I liked what they told me and it rang true. I joined their church and remained a member for 16 years.

During those 16 years, I found myself going through rough times. There were many times when I stopped practicing my religion altogether. I became an alcoholic and did the things alcoholics do. I divorced my husband and started “dating”. I degraded myself. There was always the belief, though. I always believed what the Mormons had taught me. I deluded myself into thinking that it didn’t matter what I did. Hell was only for people who didn’t believe. I could just go to the spirit prison after death and repent and then eventually make my way to Heaven.

There were times during those 16 years when I cleaned myself up and went to church. As one progresses through the lessons at the Mormon church, one begins to hear things that are kept quiet from “investigators” into the religion and from new converts. It was somewhere in late 2003 or early 2004 when it was “revealed” to me that God had been a human man on a different planet and that He had worshipped yet a different god. It was also revealed that any human from earth could become a god in his/her own right, if only he/she did the right things. This bothered me a little. Still, Mormonism was the closest I had come to anything that felt right both spiritually and logically. I tried to explain away those ideas of other gods by telling myself that they actually meant something else. I wasn’t quite sure what that other something might be, though.

In May of 2004, after having remarried and again left (for the last time) my previous husband, I stayed up late one night, playing on the Internet. I visited a chatroom that looked like the conversation was halfway decent and there met a very nice young man from Egypt. His name was Samy. Samy was very nice and always discussed appropriate topics. That was a first in my experience, so I sought him out online very often. We talked about his home, my home, family. We shared our hopes and dreams for the future. We also talked about God in a very general sense. We talked about Him a lot. I discovered that our basic beliefs about God were the same. In August of 2004, we began discussing marriage. It was then that I decided to study his religion – Islam.

It was never my intention to convert. After all, I was a Christian – a Mormon, at that – and to deny Jesus or the Holy Ghost was instant damnation. (In fact, I believed it was the only thing a person could go to Hell forever for.) My only intention was to learn enough of his religion to avoid offending him with mine.

Samy turned my studies over to his friend Ahmed, who is very knowledgeable about Islam. He said he didn’t want our relationship to influence me. Too many women convert just to please their husbands. I began by learning the nature of God. There is only One God. Omnipotent. He needs nothing from his creation, but all of creation needs Him. He neither begets nor is begotten. And there is nothing like Him. That was easy to accept. My soul clung to that information for dear life. Still, I couldn’t convert. There was the whole idea of Jesus and the Holy Ghost. I didn’t dare deny them.

Then I learned about Prophets. I learned that all the prophets were equal, and that Muhammed, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was the last prophet. I also learned that Jesus, peace be upon him, was a prophet, not the son of God. I had a little trouble with this one, so Samy’s friend showed me a number of places in the Bible where other prophets than Jesus had been called God’s begotten son, His only son and His firstborn son. He also showed me where Jesus himself forbade his disciples to call him the Son of God and pointed out that Jesus called himself the son of man. That cleared up part of my problem, but there was still the issue of the Mormon prophets. That was a little harder to clear up, but it came down to differences instead of similarities. The prophets in the bible had a message for all of mankind, and that message was always the same. Worship God alone, with no partners. The Mormon prophets had a message only for the Mormon church, and it usually had to do with things like food storage and self-reliance. Once it was pointed out, I wondered how I could have missed that one.

We went on and on like this, learning a new point, disproving another point (of Mormonism), for seven months. All the while, I insisted that I was not going to convert and Samy and Ahmed both said, “I know.” I demanded proofs in the Bible for what they were saying, and they produced them, including an obscure revelation about Muhammed. They even showed me where Muhammed’s name had been in the Bible at one time and had been edited out. The name given was Ahmed, which equals Muhammed the same way John and Jack are often used interchangeably. Only the name was removed. The rest is still in there. He was foretold by Jesus, himself, as well as by Moses.

In March of 2005, I learned the final lesson that allowed me to shake off the fear of Hell and to accept Islam with all my heart, mind and soul. I learned about the Holy Ghost. As a Mormon, I believed that, if I denied the existence of the Holy Ghost, I would instantly be condemned to everlasting hellfire. There was no chance of repentance, no matter what. Thankfully, I don’t have to, and in fact never can, deny such existence. I learned that the Holy Ghost, also known as the Holy Spirit, is also known in the Old and New Testaments as the Spirit of the Lord. Again, they proved it with the Bible. We all know the story. The Spirit of the Lord appeared to Mary…. The Holy Spirit, or Spirit of the Lord is none other than the Angel Gabriel – and Muslims know about the existence of the angels. It was Gabriel who revealed the Quran from God to Muhammed.

The next day, I spoke with an online friend and told her I wanted to convert. I had a surprise in mind for Samy and Ahmed. She contacted my local masjid (mosque) and arranged for a sister and two brothers to come to my house so I could say shahadah. It was very easy. They guided me first in English and then in Arabic, and I repeated after them, saying, “I testify that there is no god but the One God (Allah, in Arabic) and I testify that Muhammed is His messenger.” The sister gave me my first headscarf (hijab) and helped me put it on as a symbol of my conversion.

That night, I met Samy and Ahmed online, where we always chatted. They were both very pleased to see that I had converted, but they weren’t surprised. And I found out why they always said “I know” when I said I wouldn’t convert. You see, a Muslim is one who willingly submits his or her own will to the will of God. All children are born in that state of submission and are pulled away by outside forces. Still, our souls seek the “face of God” and a return to that submission. My soul began that search in 1978, and in March of 2005, at the age of 34, I did not convert. I reverted.

Incidentally, I totally cleaned up my act the moment I converted. The incentive is there. God sees all and knows all. And, Samy and I were married in July of 2005 and he has taken over the responsibility of teaching me about Islam. There is always something to learn.



Troy Bagnall, Ex-Christian, USA

My name is Troy Bagnall. I’m a 22-year-old (soon to be 23) college student at Arizona State University (ASU) from Phoenix, Arizona in the US. I’m in a film & media studies program at ASU too.

I accepted Islam this past February for a multitude of reasons. I had been interested in Islam for quite some time, as it is a hot topic when it comes to the news and current events. I am very interested in ancient history and world history as well as war and politics.

As I would hear about conflicts in the news that were happening in places such as Sudan, Somalia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Lebanon, etc., I would research those conflicts simply so I would understand what was really happening in those conflicts as the media here tends to be very vague in explaining them in a fair and unbiased manner.

As I researched the conflicts, I also became interested in learning about the history of the Muslim world. I spent time on my own learning about some of the history and culture of the Muslim world. I also took a class at ASU called Islamic Civilization. As I learned about the history and culture of the Muslim world, I became interested in the religion, Islam, itself.

I had been raised Christian but quit practicing it when I was 15. I personally found Christianity to be very confusing and not logical. The trinity and doctrine of atonement really do not make sense considering there are verses from the Bible that contradict those doctrines.

When I took the Islamic History class I met a brother named Mohammad Totah who is very knowledgeable in the Bible, Quran, and all three Abrahamic faiths. We had many talks about comparing the faiths. I researched on my own as well. I learned more about how Christianity contradicts its own scriptures.

I learned more about how many Biblical scriptures actually support Islam too. Another thing that got me too was the Gospel of Barnabas which prophesized and mentioned by name, the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him). This Gospel was also removed from the Bible.

Now to the Quran, which is beyond amazing with its flawlessness. I found the Quran to be quite simple and easy to comprehend. Islam itself is a very simple and straightforward with no complex doctrines. Islam does not feature the blind faith that Christianity does.

It also has a feeling of fulfillment that Judaism does not have as Judaism denies later prophets such as Jesus (peace be upon him) and John the Baptist (peace be upon him) for example.

As I learned more about Islam, I realized that it made sense of the uncertainties I had with Christianity. I actually know more about the Bible and Christianity now since reverting to Islam than I did while I was a Christian.

I feel much closer to God as a Muslim, too. Not to bash Christianity, but I find it to be more about the teachings of Paul and the other Apostles instead of the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him).

I also spent much time learning about the history of the religions after they were established and how they spread across the world. I know that Islam is portrayed as being some exotic eastern religion here in the west, but it is really just what all the prophets were sent to teach, which is submission to God. It is also really frustrating how the media always portrays Islam in such a negative light.

I understand there are conflicts and violence in parts of the Muslim world, but those conflicts are really more about politics.

Yes, I will admit that it has been a bit tough practicing Islam considering I do live in America and the media here pushes negative stereotypes about Islam all the time. It is also a bit tough on me simply because it is not like there are many American college kids giving up the carefree party life and converting to Islam.

That was not much of a problem for me though, as I am pretty much a studious nerd. I get questions from non-Muslims concerning politics and Middle Eastern cultural practices, and I have to show them the difference between what is really Islam and what is political ideology and cultural practices.

The Middle East is obviously the center of the Muslim world, but it is frustrating too how the media stereotypes Muslims as always being Middle Eastern, as Muslims come from all over the world. I think racism is involved too, as the West seems to overlook the fact that Judaism and Christianity’s origins lay in the Middle East just like Islam.

To sum it up, I accepted Islam simply because I declared it to be the true religion of God. It is simple, straightforward, and not confusing.

I also love how Islam has such a universal bond of unity amongst its followers. Islam has helped me to become a better person.

I feel at ease when I practice Islam. It helps me feel better about life and helps me deal with stress and life problems.

I really hope that people here in the West become better educated on the Muslim world and what Islam really is as a religion instead of listening to the negative and not always entirely true criticisms that the media portrays about Islam.

I hope my story will inspire those who are interested in Islam to want to learn more about it.

Bruce Paterson, Ex-Christian, UK

I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my journey to Islam and I feel that by sharing this experience with you I can help you on your journey through life. We are all born into different cultures, countries and religions in what often seems a confusing and troubled world. Actually, when we examine the world around us, we can easily see what a troubled state it is in: war, poverty and crime. Need I go on? Yet when we look at our own upbringing and our education, how can we be sure that all the things that we have been told, are in reality the truth?

Unfortunately, most people in the world decide to try to hide and escape from the world’s problems rather than stand up and deal with the truth. Dealing with the truth is often the harder avenue to follow. The question is: Are you willing to stand up for the truth? Are you strong enough? Or, are you going to escape and hide like the rest?

I started my search for the truth a number of years ago. I wanted to find out the truth about the reality of our existence. Surely, to understand life correctly is the key to solving all the worldly problems that we are faced with today. I was born into a Christian family and this is where my journey began. I started to read the bible and to ask questions. I quickly became unsatisfied. The priest told me, “You just have to have faith.” From reading the bible I found contradictions and things that were clearly wrong. Does God contradict himself? Does God lie? Of course not!

I moved on from Christianity, thinking the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians are corrupted so there is no way that I can find the truth from the false. I started finding out about Eastern Religions and Philosophies, particularly Buddhism. I spent a long time meditating in Buddhist temples and talking to the Buddhist monks. Actually, the meditating gave me a good clean feeling. The trouble was that it didn’t answer any of my questions about the reality of existence. Instead it carefully avoided them in a way that makes it seem stupid to even talk about it.

I traveled to many parts of the world during my quest for the truth. I became very interested in tribal religions and the spiritualist way of thinking. I found that a lot of what these religions were saying had truth in them, but I could never accept the whole religion as the truth. This was the same as where I started with Christianity!

I began to think that there was truth in everything and it didn’t really matter what you believed in or what you followed. Surely though this is a form of escaping. I mean, does it make sense: one truth for one person and another truth for someone else? There can only be one truth!

I felt confused, I fell to the floor and prayed, “Oh, please God, I am so confused, please guide me to the truth.” This is when I discovered Islam.

Of course I always knew something about Islam, but only what we naively hear in the West. I was surprised though by what I found. The more that I read the Quran and asked questions about what Islam taught, the more truths I received. The striking difference between Islam and every other religion is that Islam is the only religion that makes a strict distinction between the creator and the creation. In Islam, we worship the creator. Simple. You will find however, that in every other religion there is some form of worship involving creation. For example, worshipping men as incarnations of God or stones, sounds familiar. Surely though, if you are going to worship anything, you should worship the one that created all. The one that gave you your life and the one who will take it away again. In fact, in Islam, the only sin that God will not forgive is the worship of creation.

However, the truth of Islam can be found in the Quran. The Quran is like a text book guide to life. In it you will find answers to all questions. For me, everything I had learnt about all the different religions, everything that I knew to be true, fitted together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I had all the pieces all along but I just did not know how to fix them together.

I would therefore like to ask you to consider Islam now. The true Islam as described in the Quran. Not the Islam that we get taught about in the West. You may at least be able to cut down your journey in search of the truth about life. I pray for your success, regardless.

Sara Bokker, Former Actress and Model, USA

I am an American woman who was born in the midst of America’s “Heartland”. I grew up, just like any other girl, being fixated with the glamour of life in “the big city”. Eventually, I moved to Florida and on to South Beach of Miami, a hotspot for those seeking the “glamorous life”. Naturally, I did what most average Western girls do. I focused on my appearance and appeal, basing my self-worth on how much attention I got from others. I worked out rigorously and became a personal trainer, acquired an upscale waterfront residence, became a regular “exhibiting” beach-goer and was able to attain a “living-in-style” kind of life.

Years went by, only to realize that my scale of self-fulfillment and happiness slid down the more I progressed in my “feminine appeal”. I was a slave to fashion. I was a hostage to my looks.

As the gap continued to progressively widen between my self-fulfillment and lifestyle, I sought refuge in escapes from alcohol and parties to meditation, activism, and alternative religions, only to have the little gap widen to what seemed like a valley. I eventually realized it all was merely a pain killer rather than an effective remedy.

As a feminist libertarian, and an activist who was pursuing a better world for all, my path crossed with that of another activist who was already at the lead of indiscriminately furthering causes of reform and justice for all. I joined in the ongoing campaigns of my new mentor which included, at the time, election reform and civil rights, among others. Now my new activism was fundamentally different. Instead of “selectively” advocating justice only to some, I learned that ideals such as justice, freedom, and respect are meant to be and are essentially universal, and that own good and common good are not in conflict. For the first time, I knew what “all people are created equal” really meant. But most importantly, I learned that it only takes faith to see the world as one and to see the unity in creation.

One day I came across a book that is negatively stereotyped in the West--The Holy Quran. Up until that point, all I had associated with Islam was women covered in “tents”, wife beaters, harems, and a world of terrorism. I was first attracted by the style and approach of the Quran, and then intrigued by its outlook on existence, life, creation, and the relationship between Creator and creation. I found the Quran to be a very insightful address to heart and soul without the need for an interpreter or pastor.

Eventually I hit a moment of truth: my new-found self-fulfilling activism was nothing more than merely embracing a faith called Islam where I could live in peace as a “functional” Muslim.

I bought a beautiful long gown and head cover resembling the Muslim woman’s dress code and I walked down the same streets and neighborhoods where only days earlier I had walked in my shorts, bikini, or “elegant” western business attire. Although the people, the faces, and the shops were all the same, one thing was remarkably distinct: the peace at being a woman I experienced for the very first time. I felt as if the chains had been broken and I was finally free. I was delighted with the new looks of wonder on people’s faces in place of the looks of a hunter watching his prey I had once sought. Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer spent all my time consumed with shopping, makeup, getting my hair done, and working out. Finally, I was free.

Of all places, I found my Islam at the heart of what some call “the most scandalous place on earth”, which makes it all the more dear and special.

Soon enough, news started breaking about politicians, Vatican clergymen, libertarians, and so-called human rights and freedom activists condemning the Hijab (headscarf) as being oppressive to women, an obstacle to social integration, and more recently, as an Egyptian official called it -“a sign of backwardness.”

I find it to be a blatant hypocrisy when some people and so-called human rights groups rush to defend women’s rights when some governments impose a certain dress code on women, yet such “freedom fighters” look the other way when women are being deprived of their rights, work, and education just because they choose to exercise their right to wear the Hijab.

Today I am still a feminist, but a Muslim feminist, who calls on Muslim women to assume their responsibilities in providing all the support they can for their husbands to be good Muslims. To raise their children as upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again. To enjoin good -any good - and to forbid evil -any evil. To speak righteousness and to speak up against all ills. To fight for our right to wear Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose. But just as importantly to carry our experience with Hijab to fellow women who may never have had the chance to understand what wearing Hijab means to us and why do we, so dearly, embrace it.

Willingly or unwillingly, women are bombarded with styles of “dressing-in-little-to-nothing” virtually in every means of communication everywhere in the world. As an ex Non-Muslim, I insist on women’s right to equally know about Hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman’s life as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being.

I couldn’t be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the “glamorous” Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person.

Today, Hijab is the new symbol of woman’s liberation to find who she is, what her purpose is, and the type of relation she chooses to have with her Creator.

To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say: You don’t know what you are missing.

Jonathan Abdilla, Ex-Christian, Canada

I feel honored to be a Muslim...

And I feel that way for many reasons. There are many norms in the society I live that are opposite to what it is to be Muslim. And when I first came to this way of life, I didn’t know how well I would fair with it. To become Muslim was essentially to join a visible minority, and that’s not something I would ordinarily be so keen to do. However, after learning the unadulterated teachings of Islam, I found myself compelled to embrace Islam as an absolute truth.

Having spent a large portion of my short life not being Muslim, I know the darkness that God speaks of in the Quran. I remember what it was like when Allah opened my eyes and shined light where the darkness had once been. In the beginning of my life, I had no definite form of absolute guidance.

The simplest aspects of creation would boggle my mind. I was totally oblivious to the miracles God put in nature. One time in particular I recall learning about evaporation in science class. I was unable to comprehend it. Not the how, but the why it to happened.

I understood the idea of the water cycle and its importance for life, but what would tell the water to essentially disappear and float back up to the sky?

When posing this question to my mind, without consciously knowing of God, my mind ran into a mental block where I could not come up with the answer. Boggled by the thought, I merely shrugged my shoulders and threw it to the back of my mind.

When looking at the human body, and how it’s made largely of water, or looking at the universe and trying to comprehend what was beyond it. I would be faced with the mental barricade of not being able to comprehend the reason for its creation.

Time and time again scientist could explain the how, but never the why. They could explain purpose within the mechanics of creation, but they could never explain the purpose for the mechanics itself. What caused the mechanics? What caused nature to have laws?

Having been brought up in a Christian family, not particularly practicing. I had a general understanding of the principles of Christianity. The reason why I never turned to it for guidance was because it had never made sense to me. When I heard the word “God” as a child, I recall remembering an absolute, single, omnipotent being somewhere out there.

My problem with Christianity was the dogma, and more specifically the beliefs about God. That is a “Triune” God that is essentially three different individuals that all unite to take on the role of the “One” God. I know that is not how the Doctrine of Trinity is official promoted, and any Bible thumpin Christian would probably accuse me of not understanding the Doctrine, but that’s the reality that I saw in it

Besides the inherent problems contained within the Doctrine of Trinity, I used to look at the fact that the Christians worship Jesus, and I would say, “If they worship Jesus, where does God come in?” Especially since Jesus is narrated as having said in the Bible that the Father who is in the Heavens is Greater.

Around that time, I unofficially rejected Christianity. I became a Christian / Atheist / Agnostic. I began to live life trying to come to terms with my surroundings and myself. Not knowing of a greater purpose, I saw no problem in taking part in destructive activities of any kind; on condition I would receive some sort of satisfaction from it.

I had little or no disregard for my own body, or anybody else’s for that matter. I began to turn to the common reality escape, namely drugs and alcohol. At first using them as a social tool, and eventually using them habitually as a sedative. If people ever told me I should calm down, I would tell them I could stop if I had a reason, but I had no reason. And I lead my life like that for some years, eventually going deeper into it, experimenting with other types of drugs and at one point I even began selling them.

But eventually I started to feel a consciousness within me looking for some sort of consoling. Although I was lost and in the dark, since I never saw the light, I didn’t know the difference between the two. I began to think of “the bigger picture.”

I began to think about death. I tried to comprehend the concept of nothingness, and as many times before in my life, when trying to contemplate the purpose, my mind drew blanks. Until one night, while I was deep in thought and laying on my bed, for reasons not knowing why until this day, I turned my face to the sky, and I said “God, if your real, and you exist, please help me!”

I went to sleep that night never really thinking twice about it. Then on 9/11 I watched the uncanny events unfold. I was confused about the whole situation, why it happened, what exactly happened, and how they knew who did it almost immediately. For the first time there was meaning being applied to foreign terms that I had heard, but never new anything about, namely Islam.

I used to literally think that Islam was an Island somewhere in the Middle East (which surprisingly is still a common misconception amongst a large portion of the population today, thinking Islam is a country). I knew of the Muslim religion, but I looked at Muslims like Buddhist, with strange rituals. I used to think they worshipped idols. But that night when I went out with my friends, Islam had become a hot topic.

Some of my friends started to bash Islam, saying that it was a stupid Religion. While for the first time, some of my friends I happened to be Muslim began to defend the religion. And now, a different meaning had been applied to the terms I had heard earlier in the day. Being curious about the whole topic, and its impending impact on the near future, I began to investigate. And what I found surprised me.

I found out that the Muslims worshipped God. Furthermore I found out that the Muslims believed in Jesus as being a Muslim (one who submits to God), who was a Prophet and Messenger of God, that God saved him from the Crucifixion, and that he was no part divine or any part of God, and that God alone should be worshipped.

Those pieces of information struck a chord with me. Because I remembered believing in God as One Absolute being when I was younger, and likewise, I remember rejecting Christianity based upon it’s worship to Jesus devoid of God who was Greater.

Thus I began an inquest into Islam and Christianity. I became interested in the Subject of Religion and began reading constantly. I would consult my grandmother (May Allah have Mercy on her) on issues regarding Christianity, and would consult my friend on Islam. I would bring the arguments back and forth to one another to see whose arguments would stand up.

Eventually after reading through the Quran and the Bible, observing God’s Miracles in nature and undergoing a thorough soul searching experience. I said to myself about Islam, “it sounds so true, but can it be real?” And right in that instance, I remembered my previous prayer when I said, “God, if your real, and you exist, please help me!” I was covered in goose bumps. I realized that this was the answer, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to become Muslim. I didn’t know how well I would fit in with the Muslims from an ethnic standpoint.

I continued reading and was really looking for something to give me a conformation about my decision. Then one day while reading the Bible, I came across verse 26:39 in the Gospel of Matthew. The verse reads:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

For me, this verse confirmed three things that I had learnt from an Islamic view of Jesus. That he was Muslim, as he prayed as a Muslim by falling to his face in prayer. That he didn’t want to die, because he prayed for the cup of death to be removed from him. And that he was not God, because he himself prayed to God for help.

This was the conformation that I needed that really solidified my decision to embrace Islam. And I couldn’t accept the Message, without accepting the Messenger. So on December 28th, 2001 by the Mercy of Allah, I took the declaration of faith (To say I bear witness none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), and embraced Islam. And since that time, by Allah’s Grace, I have achieved things, and been places, and have done things that I never would have imagined possible.

After tasting faith, I know the fruits it bears, and I pray that Allah allows me to do more good, and allows me to live the remainder of my life on His path. All praises are for Allah, and peace and blessing be upon His messenger, Muhammad. Ameen.

Jason Cruz, Ex-Priest, USA

Alhumdulillah (Thank God), I have been blessed by Allah with the gift of Islam since 2006. When I was asked to write about the path that I took and how Allah has blessed me, I was hesitant. I have seen others get caught up with personal fame by telling how they came to Islam and I knew that I didn’t want to have the same challenge.

I ask you then to take this story as the work of Allah and focus on his mercy and greatness rather than my story in particular, insha Allah. No one comes to Islam without the mercy of Allah and it is his work not that of the revert that truly matters.

I was born to a nominally Roman Catholic family in Upstate New York. I had a Roman Catholic mother and a Presbyterian father who converted to Catholicism in order to get married.

We attended church on Sundays and I went through catechism, first communion, and eventually confirmation within the Roman Catholic Church. When I was young I began to feel a call from Allah. This call I interpreted as a call to the Roman Catholic priesthood and told my mother as such. She, pleased with this, took me to meet the priest at our local parish.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this particular priest was not happy with his vocation and advised me to stay away from the priesthood. This upset me and even today, I do not know how things would have been different if his response had been more positive.

From that earlier brush with Allah’s call, and out of my own foolishness and in my teen years, I went the other way. My family broke up at an early age when I was seven and I suffered from the loss of my father who was not present after the divorce.

Starting at the young age of 15, I began to be more interested in nightclubs and parties than the Lord of the Universe. I dreamed of becoming a lawyer, then politician with a penthouse in Manhattan so I could participate in a party lifestyle with style.

After I graduated with honors, from my high school, I went to college briefly. But my own twisted focus led me to drop from college and move to Arizona (where I continue to live until now) instead of getting my degree.

This is something that I regret to this day. Once in Arizona, my situation went from bad to worse. I fell in with a much worse crowd than I had at home and began to use drugs. Due to my lack of education, I worked low end jobs and continued to spend my time in drugs, promiscuity, and nightclubs.

During this time, I had my first encounter with a a Muslim. He was a kind man who was attending a local college as a foreign student. He was dating one of my friends and often accompanied us to nightclubs and other parties that we attended. I did not discuss Islam with him but did question him about his culture which he shared freely. Islam did not come up. Again I wonder how things would have been different had he been a practicing Muslim.

My bad lifestyle continued for some years and I won’t belabor it with details. I had lots of trauma, people that I knew died, I was stabbed and otherwise wounded but this is not a tale of the dangers of drugs.

I only mention it to state that no matter where you are, Allah can bring you back from it insha Allah. I will fast forward to when I became clean from drugs. Part of the process of getting off of drugs and narcotics is to establish a relationship with a “higher power”.

For most this is God and or other expressions of divinity. I had long before lost my connection to Allah so I went on a search for my higher power. Sadly, I did not find the truth at first. Instead I went to Hinduism, which appealed to me because of its explanation of why suffering had happened to me.

I went all into it, even changing my name to a Hindu name. It was enough to keep me off of drugs and move my life in a more positive direction, for which I am grateful. Eventually, though I began to again feel the tug from Allah. This began to show me that for me, Hinduism was not the true way.

Allah continued to needle me until I left Hinduism and I began to go back to Christianity. I approached the Roman Catholic Church to become a priest, as this is what I felt Allah was calling me for, and they offered me an education and a post in a monastery in New Mexico. By this time my family (mother, brother and sister) had moved to Arizona and I had close relationships with many friends.

Needless to say I was not yet ready. Instead I found an independent catholic church that I could study through their seminary program from home and become ordained and assigned where I was already living. This independent Catholic Church also appealed to my liberal ideals that I had developed through my years living rough. I attended their seminary program and in 2005 I was ordained a priest.

My first ministry in my new role was interfaith relations. My assignment was to visit and learn about the different faith traditions in the Phoenix Metro area and share with them an interfaith message of peace and understanding from my church.

Most Christian traditions I already had studied and knew. I brushed up on Judaism and other Far East religions. I was what is known as a worker-priest, which means I had a job at the same time as I was doing my ministry. I had changed from working in corporate America to working in a behavioral health agency.

My post was down the street from a Masjid. I thought that this was my chance to learn about Islam for my interfaith relations. I went to the mosque and met some very nice brothers who directed me to the mosque in Tempe, Arizona.

I also began to read about Islam independently and was startled by how touched I was with what I was reading. Allah had me now but I did not yet know it. I went to the Tempe mosque and was to meet a wonderful teacher in the form of Ahmad Al Akoum.

Br. Al Akoum, who is the regional director of Muslim American Society, had an introduction to Islam class open for people of all faiths that I began to attend. While attending this class, I began to see that Islam was the truth. It was only a short time later that I gave Shahadah at the Tempe mosquewith the Sheikh Ahmed Shqeirat. Both Br. Al Akoum and Sheikh Shqeirat are great men and without them I would not have been as comfortable coming into Islam. I resigned from the church and have been Muslim ever since, Alhumdulillah.

My life has changed dramatically for the better since embracing Islam. At first my family was saddened that I left the priesthood and didn’t understand, even feared, Islam. But since my way of interacting with them, based on my increased happiness and my striving to adhere to Quran and Sunnah, has changed—they have seen that it is a good thing.

Br. Al Akoum knew that the first year is always toughest for the revert. To lessen the stress of it, he made sure that I was included in multiple community activities and met lots of good practicing brothers. It is only through contact with other Muslims that a revert can be successful.

Left on his or her own, it can be too daunting and their faith may slip too far, so if you know a revert, please visit them at least once every three days. I have advanced further in my job because of my new base as a Muslim. I became a manager of a program that seeks to prevent alcohol and drug abuse, HIV, and Hepatitis for at risk populations.

I have become a volunteer in not only Muslim American Society but also the Muslim Youth Centre of Arizona and other Muslim causes. I have been recently nominated to the board of the Tempe mosque where I first took shahadah. Alhumdulillah it has also clarified who are my true friends versus who were not.

I have less non Muslim friends now as I cannot participate in the activities that they choose to do for fun but I have developed valuable friendships with Muslim brothers that are better than anything I have had in the past. Insha Allah, if Allah chooses, I would like to go and study Fiqh to further the cause of Islam and benefit the Ummah that I love. All of this was through the grace of Allah and only the mistakes are mine.

Amazed By Muslim Women's Dress

I am an American who grew up in a strict religious Christian family. By the time I was 16 I became very devout and religious myself. The church was like a home away from home. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

I had read and studied the Bible on a regular basis. All the while I was noticing many errors in the Bible. Many conflicting stories. So I would ask my grandmother or the pastor of the church about it, but would never get a solid answer.

I was told to just brush it off and not worry about these little details that weren’t adding up. So for a time I did.

Later on in my early 20s I was appointed as Youth Pastor at my local church. It was during this time that my biblical studies had become intense. The more I studied, the more questions I had.

Due to the lack of answers I was not getting from the church, I decided to enroll into Bible College. “For sure I would find my answers there,” I often thought to myself. Again, no such luck.

Nothing could ease my mind and so I decided to step down from “Youth Pastor”. I felt I could no longer lead the youth since I was confused and doubting things myself. I was the one in need of a leader. My heart was crying out to find some peace in all this confusion.

One night I turned on the TV and happened to flip straight to CNN. They were reporting straight from Iraq. Then, there in the background I saw the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

She was adorned only in black from head to toe. She was so modest, and to me that made her so beautiful. I knew that she was a Muslim but I didn’t know what the religious beliefs of Muslims were.

I was more caught up in her clothing attire. It sparked my interest more than anything. My heart immediately desired to be like her. Pious and modest. So this is where my search began.

I immediately got online and searched “Muslim Woman Dress” & “Muslim Woman Face Veil”. This is when I came across the words “Hijab” and “Niqab”. Wikipedia also referred to the women who wore it as Hijabis or Niqabis.

These hijabis and niqabis were my newly-found role models. So I immediately changed all my online nicknames to “hijabi” or “niqabi”. It had not occurred to me to investigate the beliefs of Islam yet. But it was soon to come….

One afternoon my neighborhood was having a community cookout. I was setting next to my closest neighbor and we somehow got on the subject of religion.

He said “You know us Christians will probably be in trouble when we stand before God?”

I just nodded in agreement but not really sure where he was going with this.

He said, “Yeah, you know those Muslims pray 5 times a day faithfully and we Christians can barely make time to pray once a day.”

More curiosity sparked!

I immediately excused myself and ran back to my home. I opened the Computer and began searching the Internet about Muslim beliefs. I was amazed at their beliefs as it seemed to fit in line with mine.

But I wanted to be sure there were no surprises hidden in their beliefs; you know nothing that was going to throw me for a loop if I choose to convert.

The following weeks I drove to the closest mosque, which happened to be 50 miles away, requesting information. I searched the Internet into the wee hours of the morning reading all about Islam.

After a couple of months of researching and reading, I decided that I want to convert. I drove back to the mosque and took the Shahadah! A peace entered my heart and soul like never before. Subhanallah!

Gerda, Ex-Christian, Lithuania

I am from a little Eastern European country called Lithuania where Christianity is the dominant religion, and where a baby in his first days in the world is made a Christian. I‘ve never been an atheist, but I never called myself a good Christian. It was the time when I was going to the church every Sunday, not just for prayer, but to help the priest and to sing in the church choir that I had God in my heart the most, even though I would ask my parents why they baptized me without asking me if I would like to be a Christian or not.

All my life, as I remember, I couldn’t be a good Christian, and I couldn’t understand the meaning of the Christian religion. But I was looking for meaning. I would read a lot of books about Christianity, while continuously asking the priest for help. I could say that I felt and I believed that “Somebody’s” watching over me, but I could not call myself Christian.

Life without God Almighty’s guidance was difficult, scary, and lonely wherever I went. I was looking for God all the time, and yet I felt that He was so close to me. I was feeling God’s help all the time with me; I felt like He was talking to me. I saw how He was taking care of me and letting me find the way of life that He had already chosen for me. I was trying to understand a lot of signs that he was sending me daily almost like He was speaking to me.

I am the second child in my family, and my mother’s delivery pains with me were much harder than with her first baby. I was very lucky to survive the delivery, and I believe God saved my life. After two really serious accidents later in my life, which people said that nobody could possibly survive after, I started to really appreciate my life. I felt how fragile human life is and that only God knows how long I will live.

God let me trust Him every minute of my life and this helped me to enjoy my life even when I was sick or feeling bad. I know that God is giving us everything, wanting us to appreciate Him, so we will understand that He is doing it just for us.

I had a car accident right after my graduation exams, and I was told to stay in a bed for no less than six weeks. I could only move my head and arms, but with God’s help I nonetheless finished my school and enrolled in university while still lying in bed. Even my doctor couldn’t believe that I accomplished that much! Most people would be screaming with pain or asking for a pill to make them sleep. It couldn’t just be luck - it was a miracle from God for sure. After this, my faith increased but “SomeOne” still kept me away from church. I can now understand what was going on - for me, church wasn’t the way to God.

True understanding of God, what I had been wanting for so long and which would be my only way to real happiness through the calmness of my soul, I found through my husband. How we met each other was one of God’s miracles too. In the beginning, we never talked about religion, and we never had disagreements about it. One day, when I was in a really happy mood because I had just met an old friend, he (in that time we still weren’t married) told me that he wanted to give me the best thing in his life - faith. God put the correct words on his lips that day, and I was really interested to hear what he had to say about the Holy Quran, about miracles written in it, and about the meanings of every motion of his body while he prayed. Though it was just one conversation about the topic, it was enough to make me read as many books as I could get my hands on. With every book, with every page, I started to understand what I was missing in my life, that is, what I had been looking for all those years when I was asking priests for answers. Books would talk to me - God was talking to me through books. I found answers to a lot of questions; I found calmness in my soul while those around me were still searching.

I became Muslim just a few months ago, and it’s amazing to feel the miracle of a rebirth in faith. God loved me so much that He let me be born again though I was already 21 years old, an age when I was able to appreciate His amazing gift. Now I am a Muslim. Nobody can believe how different it is to be Muslim!

God made me see the sun in a different way than I used to see it when I was a Christian. The sun has a different meaning for me now. I know that this sunshine that God is sending to us everyday is His way of showing us how much He cares about us, how much He loves us. Because of His mercy, we do not feel cold, and we can see the world in many colors. God created night in order to show us how amazing His light is. He made us trust Him that after a cold and dark night, He will bring forth a nice, fresh morning. In this way, God is showing us signs. He gave us eyes to see His words in every miracle.

I’m so happy and thankful for God’s gift to see this world anew - to finally appreciate my life. He gave me a new and fresh light in my life, and now I can see His signs all around me in a different way. Everything I do, everywhere I go, God is saying welcome to me. In miracles that He is showing me, I see that I’m on the right way, that He is with me (in His Knowledge). The world didn’t change in one day, it didn’t even change in 21 years. All that has changed is the quality of my life when true understanding of God came into my heart.

I wish the whole world would change too. Now people are angry and tired of looking for calmness through worldly success. They are tired of hating each other, and of being jealous of one another. Nations try to survive by fighting each other; countries try to live in peace but cannot stay without war. Each day, the world is sinking deeper and deeper down. The only way to stop it is to make Islam the way of life of humanity. With love and knowledge of God in everybody’s heart, we will find and enjoy the life that we are now just dreaming about. We will build an optimistic future for our children; we will not be scared to meet each other and live as a single humanity.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Gheebah

by Shariffa Carlo

Living in non-Muslim societies, it is easy for us to fall into the habits and customs of these lands. We start to set our moral compasses in relation to theirs. Sometimes, we go so far as to think that if what we are doing is better than what they are doing, its acceptable.
While this may be true in a society of honorable people, in this society where the woman who wears a one-piece bathing suit instead of a bikini is considered modest, we can not use them to set our compasses.

We have to set our standards much higher. They have to correspond with the teachings and understandings of Islam. Also, we have to recognize that when it comes to morality and values, Islam is the standard. Want to know a prime example? Ever heard of the Golden Rule? It says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Sound familiar? It should, the Prophet stated the same basic thing. He said,

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 2, Number 12.

What about the statement, " If you can't say something good, say nothing at all." Here it is in our beloved Prophet's words.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbor..." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 482.

All this goes to preface the idea that we have to care about each other in a way that is in line with Islam, not the lessor standards of the non-believers. Let them follow us. When we think of gheebah (gossip, backbiting), most of us think that this is the speech as defined by the non-believers - saying something negative about someone - whether truthful or not. But Islam has given it a stronger definition:

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: Do you know what is backbiting? They (the Companions) said: Allah and His Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) know best. Thereupon, he (the Prophet) said. "Backbiting implies your talking about your brother in a manner that he does not like." It was said to him, "What is your opinion about this that if I actually find (that failing) in my brother which I made a mention of? He said, "If (that failing) is actually found (in him) what you assert, you in fact backbiten him, and if that is not in him it is a slander. Sahih Muslim: Book 31, Number 6265, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, others...

and

Al-Muttalib ibin Abdullah said, "The Messenger of Allah said, 'Gheebah (gossip, backbiting) means that a man mentions about a person something which is true, behind his back."(Al_Suyuti, Zawa'id Al Jami from the report of al Khara'iti in Masawi Al Akhlaq. Malik reported something similar with a Mursal Isnad as mentioned in Al-Sahihah, No. 1992)

Just imagine the high standards that Islam has set, that this horrible sin is not even confined just to the oral or written statement.

Hasan Ibin Al Makhaariq reported that "Once a woman visited Aisha and when the woman got up to leave, Aisha made a sign with her hand indicating to the Prophet that the woman was short. The Prophet immediately chastised her, saying, "You have backbitten!" (Ibin Jareer tafseer Al Quraan al AdHeem, vol. 4, p. 328)

and

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: I said to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him): It is enough for you in Safiyyah that she is such and such (the other version than Musaddad's has:) meaning that she was short-statured. He replied; You have said a word which would change the sea if it were mixed in it... Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 41, Number 4857:

Here we can see that Gheebah (gossiping, backbiting) is also what we do that a person may dislike if done in reference to them.

This is a serious sin. I know it is easy to underestimate its worth, but Allah has warned us about it in His Glorious Book,

O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful. 49:12

Allah described backbiting as an act of eating our brothers or sisters flesh. But don't think of this as only metaphorical. Our beloved prophet proved this to us in one of his great miracles.

Ubaid, the freed slave of the Prophet, reported that someone came to the Prophet and showed the Prophet two women who were fasting and said that they were dying of thirst. The Prophet turned away silently refusing to give permission for them to break their fast. So, the man begged him again, mentioning that the women were on the verge of death. The Prophet then said, bring them to me and bring along a bowl. When they turned to him, he turned to one and told her to vomit in the bowl. She complied, spitting up a mixture of vomit, blood, pus and pieces of flesh which half filled the bowl. He then turned to the other and had her do the same. After the bowl was filled, he said, "Verily these two have fasted from what Allah has made halal for them and broken their fast from what Allah has made haram. They spent their fast eatting the flesh of others." Ahmad

These women gave up food and drink - halal substances, and instead partook of the flesh of their brothers and sisters. So distasteful was this fare that it made them sick to the point of near death. Subhanallah!

Further, our scholars have warned us and have warned us to repent from it: Al Qurtubi said, "The scholars agree that it is a major sin, and that the committing of this sin necessitates repentance (tawbah) to Allah" (Al-Qurtubi, Tafsir of Surat Al Hujirat).

The Prophet has warned us of great punishments which may befall us as a result of committing this sin:

Narrated AbuBarzah al-Aslami: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: O community of people, who believed by their tongue, and belief did not enter their hearts, do not back-bite Muslims, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in the open for everyone to see, even if he hid it in the innermost part of his house. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 41, Number 4862, Sahih Sunan Al Tirmidhi (1655), Ibin Hiban, Hasan by Al Albani, Ghaybah al-Muram, 420

See, we talk about others, exposing them and Allah gives us a taste of our own medicine - exposing us. Which of us has no secret which would harm us if exposed? Who among us can afford to risk this punishment? Allah Protect us form his Wrath.

We have to be very careful. Remember, on the day of Judgement, Allah may forgive us the sins we committed against Him, but He will not take away our rights as individuals. A person will have the right to take our good deeds or even give us their bad deeds because of crimes we have committed against them. One of these crimes is gheebah, where we sacrifice the honor of our brothers and sisters.

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: Do you know who is poor? They (the Companions of the Prophet) said: A poor man amongst us is one who has neither dirham with him nor wealth. He (the Prophet) said: The poor of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and Zakat but (he would find himself bankrupt on that day as he would have exhausted his funds of virtues) since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others and unlawfully consumed the wealth of others and shed the blood of others and beat others, and his virtues would be credited to the account of one (who suffered at his hand). And if his good deeds fall short to clear the account, then his sins would be entered in (his account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire. Sahih Muslim: Book 31, Number 6251

Let's reflect on this. Here we are. We thought we were doing good. We prayed. We fasted. We worked hard on doing good deeds. Yet, there we will be on the day of Judgement. We will have survived all of the horrible trials, the judgement, the bridge and the huge thorns which snatch us according to our deeds and throws us into Hell. (Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577). We will have been through all this, only to lose all our good deeds because we could not or would not control our tongue.

On this day, we will stand there and be asked by those whom we harmed for their rights. A person whom we have backbitten may take that one crucial deed that means Heaven or Hell. How many deeds can you afford to GIVE away? Personally, I don't feel that I can spare one. Subhanallah! On this day, the mother will drop her load. Your mom will not know you or care about you! Your mother! The Prophets will be saying, "I am not fit for that" The Prophets, what chance do you or I have??? We must not give ourselves so much credit that we actually have the gall to believe that we can afford to give away even one deed. Allah protect us all.

This is a major sin that we have to guard against. We can not allow ourselves to fall into it. Allah warns us that nothing will be hidden on that day. We will have even our limbs speaking against us or for us:

Allah says,

On the day when their tongues and their hands and their feet shall bear witness against them as to what they did. 24:24

And Our Prophet warns us to be careful of our tongues, what we say. He also encouraged us with the rewards we get for doing so.

Narrated Sahl bin Sa'd: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 76, Number 481:

and

Narrated AbuHurayrah: Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) said: The servant (whose fault) Allah conceals in this world, Allah would also conceal (his faults on the Day of Resurrection. Muslim: Book 31, Number 6266

and

Narrated Uqbah ibn Amir:: Whoever covers the faults of believer is like one who has brought to life a female child buried alive. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 41, Number 4873

Mashallah. The rewards are so great. We should be so careful in this matter to avoid the punishment and to receive the great blessings.

There are a few situations where it is allowed for us to talk about something, but these are limited. Here are a few allowed situations:

Marital advice or protection from possible harm: Fatimah bint Qays went to the Prophet seeking marital advice when both Muawiyah Ibin Abu Sufyan and Abu Jahm had proposed to her. The Prophet told her, "Muawiyah is stingy and tight fisted) and Abu Jahm beats his women." So marry Usamah instead. (Muslim, Abu Dawud, At Tirmidhi, An Nisai, and Ibin Majah

Complaint: Narrated 'Aisha: Hind, the mother of Mu'awiya said to Allah's Apostle, "Abu Sufyan (her husband) is a miser. Am I allowed to take from his money secretly?" The Prophet said to her, "You and your sons may take what is sufficient reasonably and fairly."Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 34, Number 413:

Seeking advice from someone who has the power to help: Abu Hurayrah narrated that a man said, ""O Messenger of Allah! I have a neighbor who is harassing me." He said, "Go and put your belongings on the street." So, the man went and put his belongings on the street. People gathered and asked, "What's wrong with you?" He said, "I have a neighbor who is harassing me; I told the Prophet about it and he told me to go and put my belongings in the street." The people began to say, "O Allah Curse him! (about the neighbor). the neighbor heard about this so he came to the man and told him, "Go back into your house, by Allah I will not disturb you again." Bukhari: Adab Al Mufrad 124 (Al Mundhiri classified its isnad as Hasan in Targhib wal Tarhib)

Now, once we have seen this, we have to reflect upon it. What if we have committed gheebah, what should we do? Well, Al Nawawi said, "The Ulama have said that if you have committed Gheebah, then ask forgiveness for it. Commenting on this, Shiekh Al Albaani said, "This is if you do not fear any worse evil to result from askinf him for forgiveness; otherwise, it is enough to pray for him.' (Gossip and its adverse effects on the Muslim Community, Husayn Al Awayishah, 76).

So, how do we repent from this awful deed? We have to first ask Allah to forgive us and make a decision to not repeat it. Then, we go to the person, if possible, and ask them to forgive us. Remember, Allah will forgive us his right, if we ask sincerely, but He will not remove a right from a believer. So we must ask the believer for his forgiveness as well.

One last note: What shall we do if we are in a situation where others are backbiting? We have to first remember Allah, and have them do so as well by advising them nicely. If this does not work, we must leave, because sitting there and listening is as bad as doing the deed. For the scholars agree that a person who is in attendance when a sin is being committed is as guilty as the ones who are committing the sin. Your presence is a kind of approval of the deed. If your friends are angry with you for not participating in their sins, they are not really friends. Why would they want to harm you? Your deen? or hurt your chances to get to Paradise? Also, remember in doing so, you are protecting the honor of your brother or sister, and look to the reward of doing so:

The Prophet said, "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will deflect fire from the face of one who defends his Muslim brother's honor in the latter's absence." At Tirmidhi

O Allah! Guard our tongues. O Allah! Guard our actions. O Allah! Forgive us our sins against You and ease the hearts of those we have harmed so that they too will forgive us. Ameen

Islamic Values vs. Muslim Values

An Article written by : Atiq Ebady

The misconceptions that surround Islam in this day and age are too great to number.

A repeated scene is that of a Muslim having a discussion with a non-Muslim and trying to explain that Muslims are not terrorists, Muslims are not wife-beaters, that these actions are the deeds of a few which are then unjustly imposed on the whole Muslim population. But if the whole Muslim population had presented themselves in an Islamic manner in the first place, the reputation of a Muslim would be far too virtuous to allow the misdeeds of a few to tarnish the image of the whole Muslim world. But Muslims generally do not present Islamic values, they present Muslim values; and the difference between these two can sometimes be as vivid as night and day.

What do I mean by Islamic values and Muslim values? Islamic values are those that are set out in the Quran and the practice of the noble Messenger, Muhammad (S). Muslim values are those that are created as part of the culture of the Muslim communities. These include the day-to-day interaction between the Muslims and their outlook on Islam's rules and regulations. The difference is that Islam is perfect and pure, while the values formulated by the Muslims may or may not be in accordance with Islam. The detriment that arises from this is that many times precedence is given to the Muslim values over the Islamic values.

This is not to say that Muslims do not care about Islam, they care for and love Islam deeply, they have concern for their children's Islamic upbringing and the welfare of the Muslims all over the world. But what happens is that certain practices become common among them and their mentalities are set on justifying these practices instead of accepting the Islamic rulings on such things. They become a part of the Muslim culture and mentality, and so it becomes difficult to try to explain to them that Islam forbids such things. Because of this transformation in mentality, the average person in such a community will be hostile to someone bringing Islamic rulings forbidding things such as music and dancing and enforcing things like hijab and modest conduct. Having gatherings and parties that center around music and dancing, and removal of the hijab and modest conduct have become common among many Muslims, and so they constitute what we have called Muslim values, as opposed to the Islamic values.

The Muslim values are caused by a relaxation on the enforcement of Islamic laws. The Islamic values, principles, and priorities are contained within these laws. Prayer, fasting, charity, hajj, hijab, modesty, being kind to others, giving parents their due rights, emphasizing the importance of marriage, attending the Islamic centers and masjids, gaining knowledge, all of these are designed to build spiritually healthy individuals and a spiritually healthy society. When the performance of these actions is relaxed then a void is created that is receptive for outside and often unIslamic ideals.
When there is relaxation then a distorted concept of freedom is adopted, it gives the Muslims the courage to challenge the Islamic laws and present their own philosophy as to why following the laws is not necessary. They make excuses to oppose the laws and create their own, when the Quran has clearly said,

And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Apostle have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying. (Al-Ahzab, 33:36)

An understanding has to be conveyed that the Muslim communities will only thrive if they adhere to the principles of Islam. The concept of Islam that the non-Muslims have is directly related to the actions of the Muslim communities, because the majority of them will not go out and research about Islam, they will make their judgments based on what they see the Muslims doing. So it is not surprising for them to think that Muslims drink alcohol, that they eat pork and haram food, they listen to music, dance, go to discos and nightclubs, engage in promiscuous relationships, and many other things that a Muslim should not be doing. On the flip side, it is not surprising for them to be ignorant of the fact that a Muslim is supposed to pray at least five times a day, he/she has to fast during Ramadhan, go to Hajj once in a lifetime, abstain from cursing and abusive language, abstain from backbiting, go to masjid on Fridays for jum'a prayer, read Quran, and other basic obligations that a Muslim has.

The result is that a distorted image of Islam, the pure and perfect religion, is presented to them, and in response the Muslims try to say that it is a few Muslims ruining it for the rest of them. But this is not the case, the responsibility lies with the majority of the Muslims who themselves are not acting Islamically. Yes, it is true that the terrorists are few, and that the equation of a Muslim with a terrorist is wrong and unjust. But this is an isolated incident, and in general it is the majority of the Muslims ruining things for themselves. This can only be corrected by starting at the root of the problem, the Muslim family and attendance in the Islamic centers. If the parents are consistent in teaching their children and are themselves consistent in practicing Islam, and if the entire family attends the Islamic centers on a regular basis, then we will see an amazing transformation in the conduct of the Muslims, as individuals and as communities. Then when the non-Muslims look to the actions of the Muslims they will actually learn about Islam, and will not have to worry about whether or not what they are seeing is Islam.
As Muslims, we have to strive to make our Muslim values the same as our Islamic values. Only then can we truly be considered believers.

Throwing Culture to the Wind (The sorry state of Muslims today)

The first eighty or so years after the Prophet (peace be upon him) were the best time in all human history in which to live.  Pure, true, uncorrupted Islam was practiced and spread.  In His Infinite Wisdom, Allah revealed the Qur'an in Arabic to Arabic speaking people.  These same people, only had to hear the Qur'an and immediately they understood its significance.  The greatest thing in their culture was their depth of understanding of the pure Arabic language. Islam was the means of transforming them into the most outstanding civilization of all time.
Whenever Islam spread, naturally the Arabic language was learned and hence the doors to Islamic knowledge were opened.  Indeed the love for learning and spreading true knowledge was an essential part of life.

Time through the ages and the ebb and flow of Islamic resurgence continues - parallel to the obedience or disobedience of the people.  Islam, like waves on an ocean, ever flowing, moving across time - sometimes strong and resilient and at other times weak and helpless.  The moment the individual and hence the society, lets go of the Trustworthy Handhold; the moment they feel self reliant; the moment they choose to knowingly disobey Allah the Creator of all - that, is the moment when the ever waiting tides of evil will overcome the 'Islam' of the people, for truly Islam is submission and obedience to Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him).

Today the Muslims are a fragmented group, reveling in nationalism, self- glorification and desire for the world.  They often carry their Islam as a kind of insurance card, ready to use it when necessary, thinking that their recitation of the Shahadah will alone save them from the evil consequences of their deeds.

We hear about Islamic culture in this pro-multicultural world of the new age, as if Islam is a cloak we choose to wear while other's cultures are deemed equal in beauty and truth.  But is Islam really culture?  We have Turkish culture, Lebanese culture, Asian culture and Western culture and then we have Islam.  Islam is 'the' way of life prescribed by the Creator for His  creation. It contains no manmade elements; choice remains either in obedience or disobedience to the Creator.  Hence freedom is an illusion. 

Unfortunately however, throughout the world we have the notion of 'culture' seeping through to the mosques and those who desire to govern them. Each ethnic group believing it has a more legitimate right to lead, govern and control.  In this process the beauty of Islam; the spiritual and practical manifestation of the love and fear of Allah - courage, loyalty, forbearance, trustworthiness, honesty, punctuality and piety have been squeezed out of modern day 'cultural Islam.'

An unidentifiable mixture of one's culture and Islam often masks the beauty of the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  The Arabic language is no longer sought like before, and understanding the Qur'an in Arabic is no longer a priority.  In doing so, we have lost the essence!

How much thinking is controlled by family and societal expectations, which contain a smattering of superficial Islamic manners and 'traditions', acting as a fa├žade against self-centered nationalism?

What a sorry state we are in!  The Zionist enemy sits and watches us destroy ourselves through our own neglect, as we leave the essence of Islam - the sincere obedience to Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) and commitment and sacrifice in His way along with a burning desire to learn, learn, learn!

By the time we have finished whittling away our Islamic foundation, the enemies of Allah, will have no need to work so hard to complete the final bricks of modern day colonialism.  A large majority of Muslims have already adopted their language, their fashions, their manners, and their habits. They praise their tyranny and send their precious children to their schools.  What is left of our Islam?

Come on!  Let's shake off the shackles of cultural thinking, nationalist pride and love of the West and sincerely follow the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was sent by Allah the Almighty to be our example.

Let's turn to the Creator. Put our foreheads on the ground in humility and obedience and then, I'm sure, that Allah will turn in His Mercy to those who truly seek His pleasure.  On that day, the enemies of Allah will scatter amidst their evil plans and will destroy themselves, as we have nearly done.
 
Contributed by : Velma Cook, Australia

Bite your tongue

        Everything we say and do in life has consequences. Just like throwing a stone into a pond, sends ripples across the water affecting all around it. We are free to say and do as we choose but the consequences of our words and actions are our responsibility.

How many times have hasty words been spoken making a wedge between once loving friends or spouses? Sometimes we think something bad about a person and in anger or when emotions are high, we make those thoughts vocal. If we could have waited a little, these negative thoughts may well have been replaced with more kindly ones.

To speak or act while in a state of anger is really a mistake. It is a good idea to bite your tongue and wait until the next day. If the same level of emotions are present, then speak out, but chances are you will have forgotten why you were angry.

{The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! He between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.} (Sura Fussilat 41:34)