My name is William, and I live in a
large Midwestern city in the United States.
I am a typical American in many ways
that are reflected in both my professional and personal lives. Professionally,
I am a supervisor with a major police department, and I have been in the
military, both active duty and in the reserves for the majority of my adult
Personally, I live in the suburbs with
my wife and child, drive a pickup truck and occasionally wear cowboy boots. I
pay my bills, treat my neighbors well, and prior to my reversion/conversion to
Islam, I followed my religion in the manner in which I had been instructed.
As I said, my life was that of a
typical American, with my main concerns being the little details of everyday
life that everyone worries about. Little did I know that my religious beliefs
would take me out of the “typical” life that I lead, and that they would
instead become a major factor in my life, providing me with a sense of peace
and completion that only a short time before I would not have thought possible.
My journey to Islam began with my
association, and later friendship, with a man named Nasir. I met Nasir through
work in the late 1980’s, and was impressed with his manners and the way that he
treated me. I had met very few Muslims, and I was always a little uneasy around
them as I was not sure how they would accept me.
Besides having the appearance of a
pickup-driving-shotgun-toting-redneck, I was also a Jew, and the combination
often seemed to unsettle people. Nasir, however, took everything in stride, and
as a result a friendship slowly bloomed. Through Nasir, I really formed my
first impressions of Islam and its adherents.
Over the years I watched how Nasir
dealt with different situations, and was constantly impressed with the wisdom
and patience that he displayed when he was dealing with difficult people or
situations. He always took the high road, even at times when I, if I had been
in the same situation, would have been tempted to treat the persons
If I asked him why he did certain
things, he would tell me a bit of wisdom which guided his actions. Most of
these, (I realized later), were direct or indirect quotes from the Quran, which
he told me not in a proselytizing way, but in a gentle manner as if he were
teaching a child the proper way to conduct itself in the world.
In fact, prior to reading the Quran, I
often marveled at how one person could be so wise and knowledgeable! Little did
I know that those guiding principles were written down where I or anyone else
could read them. I realize now how blessed I am that I was exposed to Islam and
Muslims in such a positive way.
Around the winter of 2000, I began to
have a serious interest in Islam. I read the Quran, but could not seem to fully
understand it. Despite this difficulty, I continued to have a nagging feeling
that I should continue, and so I studied other books about Islam. I learned a
great deal, but in an academic and not in a spiritual way.
I double checked the dates of many of the modern
“discoveries” that had been addressed in the Qur'an, and was astounded at
what I found.
Again I attempted to read and
understand the Quran, and again I had difficulties. I finally resolved to ask
Nasir for help, and then the 9-11 incident happened. Suddenly I had a host of
new worries, and I put my questions on hold. During this time period, I had a
great deal of exposure to Islam, however very little of it was put to me in a
As a police supervisor, I was
constantly receiving warnings about perceived Islamic threats, and as an
officer in the reserves I was around people who perceived Islam as a direct
threat and Muslims as possible enemies. So, to my shame, I continued to wait
and kept my studies on the Islamic world to those areas that directly
influenced my professional life.
Then, in the late summer of 2004, that
nagging feeling that had persisted suddenly intensified, and I finally asked
Nasir for guidance. He told me about the tenets of his faith, and about the
nature of the Quran. More importantly, he told me how crucial Islam was to his
life, and how strongly he believed in it, not only as the word of God, but as
the way in which man was meant to live.
He and his brother Riyadh then provided
me with booklets about Islam that had answers to many of the questions that I
had. With this knowledge in hand, I again approached the Quran, and suddenly
found that it was not only readable, but that it made sense! I can only think
that either I was not mentally ‘ready’ before, or that I simply needed the
extra input in order to properly understand and process the information. Either
way, I read and re-read everything that I had been provided, and then double
checked the facts that had been presented to me. The more I read, the more
amazed I was.
I found that the information that was
in the Quran would have been impossible for Muhammad to have known had he not
been a Prophet. Not only would it have been impossible for a man of his
background and geographic location to have known many of these things, it would
have been impossible for anyone of his time-period to have known them. I double
checked the dates of many of the modern “discoveries” that had been addressed
in the Quran, and was astounded at what I found. Not only did the Quran contain
information that was centuries ahead of its time, but it did so with details,
many of which could not have been known until this century.
I did not receive any new information or beliefs,
but was instead capable of understanding that which I had already learned.
I became convinced that Muhammad was
indeed a Prophet that had been inspired by God through his angel. Despite this,
I still faced a dilemma. Although I now believed that Muhammad was a Prophet, I
still was confused about what to do. Everything that I had ever believed was
suddenly turned upside down, and I was at a loss for an explanation.
That night I prayed for guidance and
understanding. I only believed in one god, but I wanted to know the manner in
which I should hold that belief. The prayer was simple, but heartfelt, and I
went to sleep full of hope that I would receive an understanding of the
situation. When I awoke, I did so with the feeling that I had experienced an epiphany.
Everything was suddenly clear, and I
understood how all the things that I had practiced before were simply
observances that had been contrived by man in an attempt to follow religious
principles that had changed over the millennia. I did not receive any new
information or beliefs, but was instead capable of understanding that which I
had already learned. I felt exhilarated, happy and at peace, and that morning I
said the shahadah.
I told Nasir, and he took me to a
nearby mosque for the Friday prayers. At the mosque I was lead to the front by
Nasir, and I told the assembled congregation about why I had come there. Then
Nasir and the Iman helped me repeat the profession of faith in Arabic.
Although I was a little nervous, the
joy I felt upon doing this far outweighed any other feelings that I had.
Afterwards, I was welcomed by the majority of the members in a manner that was
so welcoming that I can hardly describe it. Most of the congregation shook my
hand and welcomed me to Islam, and many of them offered to help me or to answer
any questions that I might have. It was a wonderful experience which I will
In closing, let me say that the feeling
of peace that came over me is still with me, and although I am still very early
in the learning stages, I am happy and confident that I made the right
decision. I am still a redneck-looking, pickup truck-driving, typical American.
Only now I am a Muslim American, and
with the continued guidance and assistance of people like Nasir and Riyadh, I
hope to one day set as good an example for others and they have been for me.