Watch Islam

Sa’ad Laws, Ex-Christian, USA

I have often been asked how I came to Islam.  I mean, it isn’t too often you see a white guy from “cow country” turn to Islam.  I guess the most amazing thing about the whole thing is where I started.  Now, I am not one of those stories of brothers who you hear were in gangs, addicted to crack, or worshiped devils at stone altars.  I come from quite a typical background.  I have two sisters; a brother; and both my parents are still married.  My father is an engineer; while my mother is a housewife (or domestic engineer, as she likes to say) and we are as middle-class as you can get.  My family lives in a small country hamlet, just to the south of nowhere.  To give you a glimpse of how rural it is, there is a general store about a mile from my house, where the lady who runs it say “ya’ll come back now, ya hear” when ever you leave the store.

Religion was always a strange subject in my house.  My father is an Irish-Catholic by birth and my mom is a Methodist.  We went to church on occasion, but for the most part, religion was a “spiritual” matter that you just had in your heart.  I can remember as a kid looking at a small figurine of Jesus (which I had “borrowed” from the family nativity set) and wondering why do we go to “number two” when we pray or want something?  Why don’t we just go to “number one”, God?  Growing up, the whole concept of the trinity never made since to me, but since I lived in a spiritual Christian family, this wasn’t really an issue.
As I got older and entered high school, I quickly noticed that I was a bit different.  In my school, like in most schools in America, there were basically four groups with whom you could be associated: the “Alternative”, the “preps”, the “crack-heads” or the African-Americans (being that 90% of the county I grew up in was white, they ended up being somewhat alienated and kept to themselves).  Then there was me.  I have to say looking back now, that this was one of the blessings of Allah.  I very much feel like Allah was protecting me from all sorts of things which, had gotten involved in them, could have brought me down later on.  For example, I was always in search of a “girlfriend”, much like any other typical high schooler.  However, whenever the situation presented itself for me to take advantage of, I always found myself overwhelmed with shyness and I wasn’t able to do anything, not even move my lips.  I am extremely grateful for this now, even if I wasn’t then.
Although I hung out with the “Alternative” group, I never really felt like I fit in.  They liked to talk about music, trash their friends, and do drugs or some other mindless pastime.  I, on the other hand, was interested in the Black Panthers, Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.  This made me look a little odd to say the least and I received more than a few tags as being a “Black wannabe”.  It was at this time, while in the eleventh grade, that I began to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the ultimate anti-white leader, or so I was told.  I read his book, and the more I read it, the more I couldn’t put it down; his story was amazing to me.  He came from nothing and then…there he was.
But, it was the chapter entitled “Mecca” that would have the most profound effect on me.  In it, he told his story of how he was affected by the generosity and compassion of, not only the Muslims he met while making the Hajj, but also by Islam itself.  I read that and thought to myself, “who are these guys?”  So, I went to the school library and started to check out every book that I could about Islam.  I was amazed at what I read; here they believed in the same principals I has found so innate within myself.  They said that there was only One God, that Jesus was not his son, but a rightly guided Messenger and Prophet.  I was taken aback.  I knew that whatever this “Islam thing” was, I needed to be a part of it.
At that time I considered myself a Muslim.  If you had asked me what my religion was, I would have said Islam.  I hadn’t taken my official shahada mind you, but in my heart I was a Muslim.  I was a bit na├»ve at that point though.  I knew that Muslims were supposed to pray, but I didn’t know how many times, or how to pray and so on.  I didn’t know much, and there wasn’t anyone for me to learn from at that point.  I was just kind of walking around saying “hey, I’m Muslim”.  It was then that I got the jump-start that I needed.  A friend of mine got a bit agitated by me saying I was a Muslim all the time (I was a bit over zealous at this point) and said that I wasn’t really Muslim.  “You don’t even pray,” he told me.  I thought to myself, you know what…he’s right.  I knew I needed to take this being a Muslim thing a step further.  That’s where I ran into a problem.
Who were these Muslims?  I didn’t know a Muslim or where to meet any.  There wasn’t exactly a mosque down the block from my house you have to understand.  You could have literally found gold more easily than a Muslim where I lived.  So, I searched the phone book and came across a mosque in Washington D.C.  But, that was unfortunately about two and a half hours away and might as well have been two thousand miles away.  When I first called them I was so nervous.  Here I was about to talk to a Muslim!  They were very pleased by my enthusiasm towards Islam and my eagerness at becoming a Muslim.  But, they wanted me to come to the mosque.  This would of course be a problem.
At the time I was still in high school and under the reign of my parents, who also controlled my extended whereabouts, especially since it was the family vehicle that I was driving.  My chances of getting that car for a trip to D.C.  were slim at best.  What was I going to do?  I couldn’t get to the Muslims, so how was I going to be a Muslim.  I asked them if they could come down here, but that was to no avail.  I needed to do this now; I couldn’t just sit around for another year or two with this.  It was after much prodding that I finally convinced the brother to let me take my shahada right then and there, on the phone.  I guess that might have been a first…conversion by phone.
So, that is how I came to Islam.  I can truly say now, looking back on the whole story, that I was overwhelmingly blessed by the way Allah guided me to Islam.  I look back now and see my old friends from high school and how lost they are.  Then I look at myself.  I mean I know that I have more than a few rough edges and that I have much improving to do, not only as a Muslim, but also as a person in general.  But, I can’t help but feel a bit awed that I was guided and that Allah picked me to be guided and out of where?  Nowhere.
I look back and I think…what was it that guided me?  What could have led me to this?  This “religion of the Arabs”, that was so foreign to me that I would have needed a passport just to get in.  Then I realized that what happened to me was from Allah and that He alone has guided me.  I feel kind of awestruck when I think of it.  I mean, I don’t know why, but Allah picked me for this religion of guidance.  I feel like I have been saved from the Hell fire and plucked from the ashes.  It is this, my being guided to Islam by Allah and Allah alone, which is the greatest blessing that I have ever received.

Finding My Way….Lynette Wehner's conversion to Islam

How a spiritually dissatisfied American Catholic teacher found fulfillment and direction through her new job at a Muslim school.
My new position at the Islamic school was received with reserved enthusiasm from my Christian family. “Just make sure you do not convert,” my father-in-law at the time told me when he found out about it. My mother-in-law was intrigued by the idea of being around something “exotic”. I grappled with whether I wanted to work at this school. While I would have my own classroom (which I desperately wanted), I would only be part-time and I would be required to dress Islamically (even cover my hair). This whole concept was very foreign to me. I debated with myself for a day or two until deciding to take my first teaching assignment at this school. I was open and determined that this would be a learning experience for me. Boy, was it ever….

On the first day, the new “non-Muslim” teachers were given a “scarf” lesson by a sister in the teacher’s workroom. We were laughing as we tried different styles. I still remember that morning being pretty relaxed, and it was during this event that I realized I always thought Muslims were stern and serious. It is strange how one can hold certain stereotypes of people without even knowing them. Cross off one misconception…

During my 1st year of teaching, I learned many things. I was extremely impressed with the way that my students knew my religion (Christianity) better than I did. How did they know the stories? My students were always asking me questions about my beliefs, and they made me think. What DID I believe?

I was brought up Catholic, and as an adult, I started to stray from it. I didn’t know what it was that I felt uncomfortable with, but I just knew something wasn’t right. I ventured a little into the new-age type of Christianity, but some of that didn’t sit right with me either. I just knew that I wanted to connect with God. I didn’t want my religion to become something that I felt I had to do in order to be considered a “good person” in the eyes of my relatives (as was the case with my husband). I wanted to feel it in my heart. Looking back now, I was lost, but didn’t know it at the time.

Kids will be kids, and my Muslim students were no different. They left their books in my classroom instead of taking the home. This was a blessing in disguise as I started to read these books after class. So much of it made sense. To help matters along, one sister and brother were more than happy to answer all of my questions, and I had many! We would discuss Islam and religion for hours. It was very intellectually stimulating and I was excited about it. I felt that I had found what I was looking for. There was a peace slowly spreading over my heart…

Around this time, I started to read the Qu’ran at home. My husband at the time (I have since divorced him) did not like my interest in Islam. When I would read the Qu’ran, I would do so in private without his knowledge. At first, I felt that I was doing something blasphemous. I remember being very scared that God would be upset with me. How can any book other than the Bible be from God?? I tried to listen to my heart, and it was telling me to read. Some of the passages of the Qu’ran felt as if they were written just for me. I found myself sitting there and crying many times. All at once, I felt at peace, yet confused. There was something holding me back from accepting it full-heartedly.

After months of reading, talking with people, and a lot of soul searching, there was one event that I consider to be the determining factor in my becoming Muslim. I was standing in my son’s room trying to pray. I had a book on Islam opened to the “how to pray” section. I was standing there in conflict with myself. I was not used to praying directly to God. All of my life I was taught to pray to Jesus, who would then tell God my prayer (or something like that). I was so scared that I was doing something wrong. I didn’t want Jesus mad at me. At that moment, it hit me like a tidal wave. Did I really think that God would be upset at me for wanting to get closer to Him? Did I really believe that Jesus would be upset with me for trying to get closer to God? Isn’t that what he wants me to do? God knows my intent. To this day, I believe it was God talking to me-that is how powerful the feeling and voice inside my head was. What did I have to fear?? How could I NOT convert to Islam? At that moment, I started crying and crying. It was what I needed to hear. I knew at that time that I had to convert to Islam. It felt right and nothing else mattered.

After taking my shahada in front of the entire school, I was a new person. I did not have that “where-do-I-belong-and-what-do-I-believe-in” feeling anymore. It was gone. I knew that I made the right decision.

I have never been so close to God as I have been since becoming Muslim. Alhamdullilah. I am so lucky. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience with you.

Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lauren Booth converts to Islam

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law has converted to Islam after having a ‘holy experience’ in Iran.

Broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth, 43 - Cherie Blair’s half-sister - said she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.
Conversion: Lauren Booth
Conversion: Lauren Booth
She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.

‘It was a Tuesday evening and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy,’ she told The Mail on Sunday.

When she returned to Britain, she decided to convert immediately.

‘Now I don’t eat pork and I read the Koran every day. I’m on page 60. I also haven’t had a drink in 45 days, the longest period in 25 years,' she said.

From racist Christian to inclusive Muslim

A British reporter in tears from hearing the Call to Prayer! Glorious is Allah!!!

CAIR: Chicago Sees Increase in Muslim Population

...The metropolitan region has seen its Muslim population rise recently, adding about 25 percent to the ranks in the past several years.

"The Census Bureau doesn't ask questions about faith affiliation, but I think it's safe to say there are about half a million
Muslims in the greater Chicago area," said Amina Sharif, communications coordinator for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR is coordinating the legal challenge to the County Board's denial of Irshad's permit request. The complaint names Chairman Robert Schillerstrom, ZBA Chairman Robert Kartholl and the 16 members of the two boards who voted against the petition. The defendants late last month filed a motion to dismiss the case. Court dates have not yet been set, Sharif said. (More)

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Source: CAIR

Mike Tyson to perform Umrah

Yousuf Muhammed

(Arab News) Tyson, who embraced Islam, is on his first visit to the Kingdom to perform Umrah.


MADINAH: Former boxing champion Mike Tyson, who embraced Islam while serving a prison sentence in the 1990s, is on his first visit to the Kingdom to perform Umrah. He arrived in the holy city of Madinah on Friday to perform prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.

While in Madinah, Tyson met Dr. Muhammad Al-Oqala, president of the Islamic University, who briefed the world heavyweight champion on the services being rendered by the university to students from across the world.

From Madinah, Tyson will travel on to Makkah to perform Umrah, press reports said. He will also visit Jeddah, Abha and Riyadh as part of his Saudi tour.

His visit to Saudi Arabia was arranged by the Canadian Dawa Association (CDA) as part of visits it organizes for new Muslim celebrities to the Islamic sites in the Kingdom. Shazad Mohammed, president of CDA, was present at Prince Muhammad International Airport in Madinah to receive Tyson.


Mohammed, an ambassador of peace with the United Nations, said Tyson would be in the Kingdom for one week, visiting the holy places as well as important landmarks in the country and meeting with Saudi people to get to know their culture and traditions
Source: AJP

Source: Muslims.net

RENOWNED Swiss politician Daniel Streich, who rose to fame for his campaign against minarets of mosques, has embraced Islam.

A member of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and a well-known politician, Daniel Streich was the first man who had launched a drive for imposition of ban on mosques minarets, and to lock the mosques in Switzerland. The proclamation of Streich’s conversion to Islam has created furore in Swiss politics, besides causing a tremor for those who supported ban on construction of mosques minarets.

Streich propagated his anti-Islamic movement far and wide in the country, sowed seeds of indignation and scorn for Islam among the people, and paved way for public opinion against pulpits and minarets of mosques.
But now Streich has become a soldier of Islam. His anti-Islam thoughts finally brought him so close to this religion that he embraced Islam. He is ashamed of his doings now and desires to construct the most beautiful mosque of Europe in Switzerland.

The most interesting thing in this regard is that at present there are four mosques in Switzerland and Streich wants to lay the foundation for the fifth one. He wishes to seek absolution of his sin of proliferating venom against Islam. He is thinking of a movement contrary to his previous one to promote religious tolerance and peaceful cooperative living, in spite of the fact that ban on mosques minarets has gained a legal status.
This is the greatest quality of Islam that it comes up with even greater vigour, when it is faced with confrontation.

Abdul Majeed Aldai, the president of OPI, an NGO, working for the welfare of Muslims, says that Europeans have a great desire to know about Islam. Some of them want to know about the relationship between Islam and terrorism; same was the case with Streich.

During his confrontation, Streich studied the Holy Quran and started understanding Islam.

He wished to be hard to Islam, but the outcome was otherwise. Aldai further says.

Recently the question of ban on minarets was put to voting in Switzerland, wherein the Swiss nationals gave the issue a legal status.
-www.cssforum.com-

Nine African Boxers & Coach Highly-Impressed by Muslim Culture Embrace Islam

Pervez Bari, TwoCircles.net,

Bhopal: Highly-impressed by the Muslim culture and the Pakistani hospitality, six visiting Central African Republic, (CAR), and three Cameroon boxers and their coach converted from Christianity to Islam at a simple ceremony in a Karachi hotel on Tuesday.

According to a news story posted with byline Shazad Ali on web news portal www.dawn.com the six pugilists from CAR – Gbodo Ygor, Selebangue Bienvenu, Vomitiande Huges, Grassa Thibault, Niambongui Davy and Ngocko Martial – had announced on Monday there wish to be converted to Islam.

However, three Cameroon boxers, Ketchemi Joseph Justin, Mendoua Blase, Mulema Joseph and their coach Tchuem Justin also embraced Islam along with the six from CAR on Tuesady. The conversion ceremony was also attended by CAR coach Mohamed Kalambaye who is a born Muslim.

The nine African boxers and coach Justin, who were attired in crisp white kurta shalwar (shirt and baggy trousers), were garlanded and offered sweets by the organisers of the boxing tournament after they converted to Islam.



The Central African Republic boxers and Cameroon pugilists pray along with their coaches (centre) during conversion ceremony from Christianity to Islam on Tuesday

The nine boxers and the Cameroon coach are in Karachi to participate in the ongoing Benazir international boxing tournament.

Kalambaye said the three Cameroon boxers and their coach joined them when the CAR pugilists were about to convert to Islam, the website said.

When they (Cameroon boxers and coach) saw how I am being greeted by everyone here, they were impressed. And when they came to know that six of our boxers are about to convert to Islam, they also joined them. This is how they also converted to Islam,' Kalambaye told Dawn.com.

Kalambaye said that his boxers have converted to Islam on their free will and without being instigated by him or anybody else and the pugilists were impressed by the teachings of Islam and Pakistan's hospitality.

All our boxers have converted from Christianity to Islam by heart and there was no compulsion on them,' Kalambaye reportedly said. "I am a Muslim since my birth and know there will be no problems for these boxers back home", he said.

While the Central Africans were impressed by the local hospitality, they were also inspired when they saw their coach being greeted and welcomed warmly by the locals.

However, according to Kalambaye the African boxers in fact were even more impressed with Islam since it does not discriminate on the basis of cast, creed or colour of skin.

The event was overseen by chief cleric of the Jamia Binnoria institute Mufti Naeem at a local hotel. Naeem termed the occasion an “historic event.”

“This is a historic event. I have travelled round the world but have never seen so many people embracing Islam at one time. This proves Islam is an exemplary religion and teaches humanity,” said Naeem.“No one can impose religion on anyone by force and I hope these boxers further study the religion and become good humans and Muslims,” he added.

While Islamophobia has been increasing in the West because of terrorism and religious extremism, it was a unique incident in Pakistan where visiting sportspersons from foreign Christian-dominated countries have converted to Islam, the report said.

It may be mentioned here that the ongoing boxing event is the first-ever international sporting event to be staged in Pakistan since the attacks on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore some 10 months ago.