Muhammad Alexander Russel Webb (U.S.A.)
About the Author:
Muhammad Alexander Russel Webb
was born in 1846 at Hudson, Columbia county, New York. Educated at Hudson and
New York he became an essayist and a short-story writer. He took to journalism
and became the editor of St. Joseph Gazette and of Missouri Republican.
In 1887 he was appointed United States Consul at Manila, Phillipines. It was
during this assignment that he studied Islam and joined its fold. After becoming
Muslim he extensively toured the world of Islam and devoted the rest of his life
to Missionary work. He also became the head of the Islamic Propaganda Mission in
U.S.A. Mr. Webb died on 1st October 1916.
I have been requested to tell you why I, an American, born
in a country which is nominally Christian, and reared under the drippings, or
more properly perhaps the drivelling, of an orthodox Presbyterian pulpit, came
to adopt the faith of Islam as my guide in life. I might reply promptly and
truthfully that I adopted this religion because I found, after protracted study,
that it was the best and only system adapted to the spiritual needs of the
humanity. And here let me say that I was not born as some boys seem to be, with
a fervently religious strain in my character. When I reached the age of 20, and
became practically my own master, I was so tired of the restraint and dullness
of the Church, that I wandered away from it and never returned to it ...
Fortunately I was of an enquiring turn of mind --- I wanted a reason for
everything, and I found that neither laymen nor clergy could give me any
rational explanation of this faith, but either told me that such things were
mysterious or that they were beyond my comprehension. About eleven years ago I
became interested in the study of Oriental religions.. I saw Mill and Locke,
Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Huxley, and many other more or less learned writers
discoursing with a great show of wisdom concerning protoplasm and monads, and
yet not one of them could tell me what the soul was or what became of it after
death... I have spoken so much of myself in order to show you that my adoption
of Islam was not the result of misguided sentiment, blind credulity, or sudden
emotional impulse, but it was born of earnest, honest, persistent, unprejudiced
study and investigation and an intense desire to know the truth.
The essence of the true faith of Islam is resignation to the will of God and
its corner stone is prayer. It reaches universal fraternity, universal love, and
universal benevolence, and requires purity of mind, purity of action, purity of
speech and perfect physical cleanliness. It, beyond doubt, is the simplest
and most elevating form of religion known to man.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
Why Do Westerners Embrace Islam? There are various reasons for it. In
the first place, truth always has its force. The basic tenets of Islam are so
rational, so natural and so appealing that an honest truth-seeker cannot help
being impressed by them. To take, for example, the belief in monotheism. How it
raises the dignity of man and how it frees us from the grip of superstition! How
naturally it leads to the equality of men, for all have been created by the same
God and all are the servants of the same Lord. For the Germans, in particular,
the belief in God is a source of inspiration, a source of fearless courage and a
source of the feeling of security. Then the idea of life after death turns the
tables. Life in this world remains no more the main objective, and [a] great
part of human energy is devoted to the betterment of the Hereafter. The faith in
the Day of Judgement automatically spurs a man to give up misdeeds, for good
deeds alone can ensure eternal salvation, although the wrong deeds may prosper
here for a limited period. The belief that none can escape the consequences of
the judgement of a Just, Impartial and Omniscient Lord makes one think twice
before one does anything wrong and surely this internal check is more effective
than the most efficient police in the world.
Another thing that attracts foreigners to Islam is its emphasis on tolerance.
Then the daily prayers teach one punctuality and the one month of fasting
enables one to exercise self-control over oneself and without doubt punctuality
and self-discipline are two of the most important attributes of a good man and a
Now comes the real achievement of Islam. It is the only ideology which has
succeeded in instilling in its followers the spirit of observing the ethical and
moral limitations without external compulsion. For a Muslim knows that, wherever
he is, he is being observed by God. This belief keeps him away from sin. As man
is naturally inclined towards goodness, Islam also offers peace of mind and
heart --- and this is what is totally absent from the Western society of today.
I have lived under different systems of life and have had the opportunity of
studying various ideologies, but have come to the conclusion that none is as
perfect as Islam.
Communism has its attractions, so have secular democracy and Nazism. But
none has got a complete code of a noble life. Only Islam has it, and that is why
good men embrace it.
Islam is not theoretical; it is practical. Islam is not a departmental
affair; it means complete submission to the will of God.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
About the author:
Muhammad Asad, Leopold Weiss,
was born in Livow, Austria (later Poland) in 1900, and at the age of 22 made his
visit to the Middle East. He later became an outstanding foreign correspondent
for the Franfurtur Zeitung, and after his conversion to Islam travelled and
worked throughout the Muslim world, from North Africa to as far East as
Afghanistan. After years of devoted study he became one of the leading Muslim
scholars of our age. After the establishment of Pakistan, he was appointed the
Director of the Department of Islamic Reconstruction, West Punjab and later on
became Pakistan's Alternate Representative at the United Nations. Muhammad
Asad's two important books are: Islam at the Crossroads and Road to Mecca. He
also produced a monthly journal Arafat. At present he is working upon an English
translation of the Holy Qur'an. [Asad completed his translation and has passed
In 1922 I left my native country, Austria, to travel
through Africa and Asia as a Special Correspondent to some of the leading
Continental newspapers, and spent from that year onward nearly the whole of my
time in the Islamic East. My interest in the nations with which I came into
contact was in the beginning that of an outsider only. I saw before me a social
order and an outlook on life fundamentally different from the European; and from
the very first there grew in me a sympathy for the more tranquil -- I should
rather say: more mechanised mode of living in Europe. This sympathy gradually
led me to an investigation of the reasons for such a difference, and I became
interested in the religious teachings of the Muslims. At the time in question,
that interest was not strong enough to draw me into the fold of Islam, but it
opened to me a new vista of a progressive human society, of real brotherly
feeling. The reality, however, of presentday Muslim life appeared to be very far
from the ideal possibilities given in the religious teachings of Islam.
Whatever, in Islam, had been progress and movement, had turned, among the
Muslims, into indolence and stagnation; whatever there had been of generosity
and readiness for self-sacrifice, had become, among the present-day Muslims,
perverted into narrow-mindedness and love of an easy life.
Prompted by this discovery and puzzled by the obvious incongruency between
Once and Now, I tried to approach the problem before me from a more intimate
point of view: that is, I tried to imagine myself as being within the circle of
Islam. It was a purely intellectual experiment; and it revealed to me, within a
very short time, the right solution. I realised that the one and only reason for
the social and cultural decay of the Muslims consisted in the fact that they had
gradually ceased to follow the teachings of Islam in spirit. Islam was still
there; but it was a body without soul. The very element which once had stood for
the strength of the Muslim world was now responsible for its weakness: Islamic
society had been built, from the very outset, on religious foundations alone,
and the weakening of the foundations has necessarily weakened the cultural
structure -- and possibly might cause its ultimate disappearance.
The more I understood how concrete and how immensely practical the teachings
of Islam are, the more eager became my questioning as to why the Muslims had
abandoned their full application to real life. I discussed this problem with
many thinking Mulsims in almost all the countries between the Libyan Desert and
the Pamirs, between the Bosphorus and the Arabian Sea. It almost became an
obsession which ultimately overshadowed all my other intellectual interests in
the world of Islam. The questioning steadily grew in emphasis -- until I, a
non-Muslim, talked to Muslims as if I were to defend Islam from their negligence
and indolence. The progress was imperceptible to me, until one day -- it was in
autumn 1925, in the mountains of Afghanistan -- a young provincial Governor said
to me: "But you are a Muslim, only you don't know it yourself." I was
struck by these words and remained silent. But when I came back to Europe once
again, in 1926, I saw that the only logical consequence of my attitude was to
So much about the circumstances of my becoming a Muslim. Since then I was
asked, time and again: "Why did you embrace Islam ? What was it that
attracted you particularly ?" -- and I must confess: I don't know of any
satisfactory answer. It was not any particular teaching that attracted me, but
the whole wonderful, inexplicably coherent structure of moral teaching and
practical life programme. I could not say, even now, which aspect of it appeals
to me more than any other. Islam appears to me like a perfect work of
architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support
each other: nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking, with the result of an
absolute balance and solid composure. Probably this feeling that everything in
the teachings and postulates of Islam is "in its proper place," has
created the strongest impression on me. There might have been, along with it,
other impressions also which today it is difficult for me to analyse. After all,
it was a matter of love; and love is composed of many things; of our desires and
our loneliness, of our high aims and our shortcomings, of our strength and our
weakness. So it was in my case. Islam came over me like a robber who enters a
house by night; but, unlike a robber, it entered to remain for good.
Ever since then I endeavoured to learn as much as I could about Islam. I
studied the Qur'an and the Traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be
upon him); I studied the language of Islam and its history, and a good deal of
what has been written about it and against it. I spent over five years in the
Hijaz and Najd, mostly in al-Madinah, so that I might experience something of
the original surroundings in which this religion was preached by the Arabian
Prophet. As the Hijaz is the meeting centre of Muslims from many countries, I
was able to compare most of the different religious and social views prevalent
in the Islamic world in our days. Those studies and comparisons created in me
the firm conviction that Islam, as a spiritual and social phenomenon, is still
in spite of all the drawbacks caused by the deficiencies of the Muslims, by far
the greatest driving force mankind has ever experienced; and all my interest
became, since then, centred around the problem of its regeneration.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
Born in London I was brought up Christian of the Protestant persuasion. In
1930, in my teens, I was confronted with the problems normal to a reasonably
intelligent young man, these problems being basically relating to the
reconciling of everyday affairs with the claims of religion and here I came
across the first weakness of Christianity. Christianity is a dualism which
regards the world as sinful and seeks to turn its back on the realities of life,
projecting its hopes into a future world. As a result of this there is created a
Sunday attitude towards religion which has no place in the rest of the secular
week. At this time in England there was a great deal of poverty and social
discontent which Christianity made no attempt to resolve. More emotional than
knowledgeable, with the enthusiasm of youth I rejected the Church and became a
Communism has a certain satisfaction at an emotional adolescent level but
again it did not take long to realise the hateful nature of Communism based upon
class warfare, in itself immortal. Having rejected the materialism of Communism
I turned to the study of philosophy and religion. The unity which I observed all
around me led me to identify myself with what is known as Pantheism, a natural
We in the West find it difficult to acquaint ourself with Islam for since the
days of the Christian Crusades there has been either a conspiracy of silence or
a deliberate perversion of Islamic matters. Anyway at the time living in
Australia I asked for a copy of the Holy Qur'an at the Sydney Public Library,
when I was given the Book and was reading the preface by the translator, the
bigotry against Islam was so obvious that I closed it up. There was no Qur'an
translated by a Muslim available. Some weeks later in Perth, Western Australia,
I again asked at the library for a copy of the Qur'an stipulating that the
translator must be a Muslim. It is difficult to put into words my immediate
response to the first surah, the Seven Opening Verses: Then I read
something of the life of the Prophet (peace be on him). I spent hours in the
library that day, I had found what I wanted, by the mercy of Allah. I was a
Muslim. I had not at this time met any Muslim. I came out of the library
exhausted by the tremendous intellectual and emotional experience I had
received. The next experience, I still ask myself: was it true or was it
something I had dreamed up, for in cold print it seems impossible to have
happened. I came out of the library intending to get myself a cup of coffee. I
walked down the street and raising my eyes to a building beyond a high brick
wall I saw the words `Muslim Mosque' I straightway said to myself `You know
the truth, now accept it'.
`La illaha illalah Muhammad ur Rasul Allah' and so by the mercy of
Allah I became a Muslim.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
Why We Embraced Islam,
Books 9 & 10. Edited by Dr. Arafat El-Ashi (1419H/1998), Toronto, Canada
Brother Muhammad Yahya, embraced Islam in 1989 whilst studying politics
and modern history at Manchester University. He was originally an atheist, but
was struck by the behavior and piety of a muslim friend of his. He began to
explore Islam for himself. He was particularly impressed by the purely
monotheistic teachings of Islam, coupled with the exemplary life of the Prophet
Muhammad, (peace be upon him). He is currently studying at the University of
London and is actively involved with the student's Islamic Society there.
He begins his story in the following words:
My reversion to Islam is only Allah's mercy and his guidance upon myself,
otherwise I would never have been guided to Islam. As an undergraduate of
Western history, I became disillusioned with an unending story of exploitation
and materialism. There seemed no one of selfless good, willing to aid mankind
for no fee.
I never thought of God or religion, except to satirize them in my ignorance.
I remember starting across night-club dance floors wishing for more than just
mindless hedonism and a lifetime of chasing the next job promotion. One point,
however, which had provoked my curiosity was the contentment I observed in the
faces of the religiously inclined. I often wondered how they had achieved that.
A fellow student, who was a muslim, came to be an inspiring example for me.
In the four years that I knew him before embracing Islam, it was his actions,
more than anything, which convinced me of the truth. He looked after me like I
was his younger brother, he was full of patience and concern. He never became
angry. He was kind, solicitous, generous and hospitable.
I often watched him perform his prayers in such a way that I instinctively
felt that such devotion could not be false. Gradually I realized that his
fulfillment in life came from the awareness that Allah is One and He has created
us to worship Him alone. I saw that goodness for oneself and for mankind could
only come from the ultimate source of goodness, Allah.
Every year has brought new certainty to my faith. My reversion to Islam was
instinctive, a recognition of the heart. Continuing studies show the
unfathomable depth of understanding of human nature that lies within Islamic
teachings and the comprehensive reformation that it brings; proof upon proof of
its Divine origin.
That there is no contradiction in its teachings shows the oneness of Allah.
Whereas I could never accept polytheism or the Christian doctrine of the
Trinity, the knowledge of our All Powerful and All Merciful Creator, who has no
partner, is in harmony with human reason.
Upon the open declaration of:" I testify that there is no one worthy of
worship except Allah, and I testify that Muhammad, (may the peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him), is the servant and Messenger of Allah" the heart
A Muslim is one who has surrendered to the will of Allah, and through this
submission comes peace. A secular society, which has made personal desires its
God, satisfaction can never come to it as desire will never be fulfilled. The
chase for material well-being has brought the exploitation of whole continents
and the destruction of the environment.
Man, as vice-regent of Allah, cannot walk arrogantly on the earth, and must
fulfill the rights of the Creator and of all of Allah's creation. The true
believer values all life, opposes injustice, protects the weak, leads a simple
life, content with what Allah has ordained for him, enjoins righteousness,
forbids evil, and remains in ever constant consciousness of his Lord.
One might ask, show me such a person? There are many examples throughout
Islamic history; but even they are but dim reflections of the last and final
Prophet of Allah, Muhammad, (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him).One may see him as a universal man, described as "the walking Qur'an"
by his wife. His life is the most exemplary life with all the virtues, it is
among the signs of Allah. His greatest miracle given to him from Allah, the
Qur'an, remains unblemished and incomparable, a challenge to all deviant ways of
thinking until the end of time.
Anyone, considering embracing Islam, should not pause to think of negative
reactions from friends, family, or from society at large. Those who love you
truly, will accept you, in time, and if you reflect the teachings of Qur'an in
your life, they may accept Islam also. Once the truth is perceived, to deny it
would be like denying ourselves.
True refuge is with Allah and the real life is in the Hereafter. To die
without true faith is to be eternally unsuccessful. Death is certain whilst the
span of our life is not. Also the unity and fellow feeling amongst Muslims is
such that you would feel your family to number in millions on declaring your
The Prophet (may the peace be on him) said: "Religion
is sincere advice". We (his companions) said:"To whom?" He
said:" To Allah and His book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the
muslims and their common folk." (An-Nawawi's 40 Hadith)
[In the following article, "NOI" refers to
the Nation of Islam, which in spite of its name, is a group far removed from
I grew up Baptist, in a family of ministers, in rural
Mississippi. I went to college at Morehouse College in Atlanta, so I was exposed
to the NOI, but I had the good fortune to become friends with an orthodox Muslim
who explained to me the difference between NOI and Islam, and the lack of
knowledge most NOI have of true Islam. Later, after I left school and began
working, I got an internet account, and started to study some of the religions
of the world. I had never really been a particularly religious person, due to my
somewhat scientific nature. I always insist on proof. I started to delve deeper
into Christianity, and studied it intently on the Web. I was somewhat disdained
however by some inconsistencies in the Bible. I principally was troubled by the
Trinity, though. I just did not see it. The one passage I saw as being most
supportive (1 John 5:7) was partially forged. When I read Mathew 19:16-17, and
Jesus (pbuh) says "Why callest thou me good?, it was clear to me that he
was saying that he was not good, and only God was. But most of the Christians
seemed to think Jesus was being tongue-in-cheek at this point. I found that I
would have to be dishonest to accept this.
Then fortune? smiled upon me. I hit a deer in my car. It was out of service
for almost a month. During that time, I was unemployed, but had saved money, so
I could live (I also have two roommates). I still had my internet account, and I
decided to study more. After I had studied the Biblical contradictions, in
addition to the inherent idolatry and unscriptural nature of the Trinity, along
with other things, I rejected Christianity as a religion. Even Jesus did not
seem to teach it, he taught belief in God. I went a time without any religion,
thinking maybe it was all a sham. I have a friend who is in the 5% NOI, and I
saw how much he hated religion, and I decided that I did not want to be like
that. I believe that God kept my mind open and my heart from hardening against
Him, and I studied Islam. Everything just seemed to fit: a reasoned faith
which was very prayerful to keep us on the straight path, yet did not disdain
acquisition of knowledge (the preachers back home loved to rail against
education, as if ignorance is preferred by God). Islam seemed to be made for me.
A good Muslim was the exact sort of person I aspired to be. After another month
of study and prayer, I decided that if Muhammad (pbuh) was not a prophet, then
there had never been prophets in the first place. The moment of decision came
one night when I was reading the Qur'an and I read 21:30, and I read of God
expanding his creation. Now, I almost became an astronomer at one point, and I
still am interested, and these verses hit me like a sledgehammer. I became
fearful of God, and wanted to worship him better.
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