Different people are attracted to Islam in very different ways. The interest in Islam for Chris was initiated when the members of his favorite hardcore punk group called Hardline accepted Islam. Their reversions to Islam made Chris curious and lead to his research and study of Islam and today he is a Muslim. Read his story in his own words.
My name is Christopher Alan Booty , 22 years old from Florida, USA and have reverted to Islam. I haven’t changed my name as I am keeping out of respect for my mother and love of the Prophet Jesus. I was raised non-religious and was atheist before coming to Islam
I've been involved in too many things and I've been looking for a sense of community for as long as I can remember. This has caused me to wear different masks in the past and pretend to be a lot of people that I'm not. Finally, I've found something that works for me. I have found Islam.
Interest in Islam
My interest in Islam started after becoming interested in a hardcore punk band called Vegan Reich. The band and the associated movement called “Hardline” was all about being drug free, vegan, and caring for all life, whether its an unborn child, an animal in a factory farm, or the ecology of the planet that is being murdered by ungrateful modern industrial civilization. Eventually the lead singer for Vegan Reich along with a lot of other Hardliners converted to Islam and I was really interested in why so many people with my same views would turn to this one religion.
I started reading about Islam and after reading about Islam I started to consider converting/reverting to Islam, but then I started to move away from it. At one point, I even told a friend that I was glad I didn’t convert, because it would have kept me from enjoying certain aspects of this dunya (world). But then a customer at work invited me to a night of prayer and dhikr ( remembrance of Allah)with his tariqa. In the next couple of weeks, especially in dhikr, I had really strong urges to just submit to Allah and I felt His healing love in ways I had never before. I really decided that God does exist and this is the way to live.
Reaction of your parents/friends/relatives
Everyone was pretty supportive, actually. My family is nonreligious so they don’t really understand why I would choose these restrictions in life, but they don’t hold anything against me for it and, in sha Allah, I hope someday they’ll see the truth as I have. Some of the most supportive people have been Christians who are just happy to see an atheist turn towards God.
Challenges after reverting to Islam
The biggest challenge has been and continues to be keeping a barrier between myself and women around me. The area I live in is very Hispanic and the culture tends to be one where hugging and kissing between sexes is just what people do when meeting or saying good-bye. Stopping a hand shake, and especially a hug, can come off as an insult or embarrassing for the other person so I have trouble finding the right way to say it. And for older women who are like aunties to me, but are not blood relatives, it has been especially hard. Non-Muslim women who know not to touch Muslim men make it much easier.
I haven’t really interacted much with the Muslim community. I’ve spent time with some Sufi converts and recently started to enjoy the Shia community, but other than that most of my interaction has been over Facebook. It can be stressful having people try to impose their views on Islam to someone that may be easy to influence like a new convert. New reverts do need thoer own space sometimes.
Right now my future plans are unclear. I plan to move with my sister and my niece to stay close to my family. Where we’ll end up will depend on where she can get a job. But right now, I am very interested in a kind of gardening called permaculture that seeks to mimic natural systems in their efficiency and real understanding of how God’s creation works to be beneficent to all life. I’m pretty convinced that this is something the ummah needs to reduce hunger, thirst, clean abused environments and make them a place for our children to play and remember Allah after we are gone.