No other religion professed by a large community have I found so
comprehensible and encouraging. There seems no better way towards tranquillity
of mind and contentment in life, no greater promise for the future after death.
The human being is part of a whole; man cannot claim more than being just a
particle of creation in its magnificent perfection. As such, he can only fulfil
his purpose of living by carrying out his function in relating himself to the
whole and to other living parts. It is the harmonious relationship between the
parts and the whole that makes life purposeful, that can bring it nearest to
perfection, that helps a human being to achieve contentment and happiness.
What place does religion occupy in this relationship between Creator and
creation? Here are some people's opinions on religion.
man's religion is the chief fact whith regard to him; the thing a man does
practically believe ... the thing a man does practically lay to heart, and know
for certain, concerning his vital relations to this Universe, and his duty and
destiny there ... that is religion."
(Carlyle Heroes and Heroworship)
"Religion is the sense
of ultimate reality of whatever meaning a man finds in his own existence or the
existence of anything else."
(G. K. Chesterton Come To Think Of It)
"Religion a daughter of
hope and fear explaining to ignorance the nature of the Unknowable."
(Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary)
"The body of all true
religion consists to be sure, in obedience to the will of the Sovereign of the
world, in a confidence in His declarations, and in imitation of His
(Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France)
"All religion relates to
life, and the life of religion is to do good."
(Swedenborg, Doctrine Of Life)
"Every man, either to
his terror or consolation, has some sense of religion."
(James Harrington, Oceana)
At one time or another every human being is confronted with
the Unknown, Incomprehensible, with the purpose of his existence. Questioning
himself he creates a belief, a conviction --- `Religion' in its widest sense.
First and foremost, it acquaints us with the Whole, the Creator: `In the name
of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful; Say: He, God, is one, God is He on Whom
all depend; He begets not, nor is He begotten; and none is like Him" (Al-Qur'an,
112:1-4). "To God is your return and He is Possessor over all things"
(Al-Qur'an, 11:4). "I, God, am the best Knower" (Al-Qur'an,
2:1). Again and again throughout the Qur'an we are reminded of the Oneness of
the Creator, "Indivisible", "Eternal", "Infinite",
"Almighty", "All-Knowing", the "All Just", the
"Helper", the "Merciful", the "Compassionate". So
the Whole becomes a reality; again and again we are asked to establish a
satisfactory relationship between Him and us; "Know that God gives life to
the earth after its death. We have made messages clear to you that you may
understand" (Al-Qur'an. 57:17). "Say I seek refuge with the
Nourisher of mankind" (Al-Qur'an, 114:1).
One might argue that in order to recognize and believe in God and to live
happily in a community it is necessary to believe in Divine messages. Does not a
father guide his children? Does he not organize his family's life so that it may
live together harmoniously?
Islam claims to be the only true religion that rehabilitates the truth of its
predecessors. It claims that the guidance provided by the Qur'an is clear,
comprehensible and reasonable. By guiding our way towards achievement of a
satisfactory relationship between the Creator and the created it brings about a
co-operation between physical and spiritual forces enabling us to equalize
internal and external forces in order to be at peace within ourselves --- the
most important factor to establish a harmonious state between one living part
and another and an important condition towards our striving for perfection.
Christianity stresses the spiritual side of life; it teaches a love that puts
a heavy burden of responsibility upon every Christian. The perfect love is
doomed to failure if its achievement does not lie within the reach of human
nature and contradicts reason and understanding. Only someone who has a deep
knowledge of human conflicts and combines it with sympathy, understanding and a
sense of responsibility may come near to the perfection of the Christian
principle --- and, even, then, he will have to bury his reason with his love. S.
T. Coleridge says in his Aids To Reflection: "He who begins by
loving Christianity better than Truth will proceed by loving his own sect of
Church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than
Islam teaches us to respect God, to submit to His laws entitling and
encouraging us to use our reason as well as our emotions of love and
understanding. The commandments of the Qur'an, the message of God for His
creatures, regardless of race, nation or social standard.
O people, the Truth has indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever goes
aright, goes aright only for the good of his own soul; and whoever errs, errs
only against it. And I am not a custodian over you."
No other religion professed by a large community have I
found so comprehensible and encouraging. There seems no better way towards
tranquillity and contentment in life, no greater promise for the future after
From "Islam, Our Choice"
I was born in a Christian environment, baptised in the Church of England, and
attended a Church school where at a tender age I learned the story of Jesus as
contained in the Gospels. It made a great emotional impression on me, as also
did frequent visits to the church, the high altar with candles burning, the
incense, the robed priests and the mysterious intoning of prayers...
I suppose for those few years I was a fervent Christian. Then with the increase
of schooling, and being in constant contact with the Bible and everything
Christian I had the opportunity to think over what I had read and observed,
practised and believed. Soon I began to be dissatisfied with many things.
By the time I left school I was a complete atheist. Then I began to study the
other main religions in the world. I began with Buddhism. I studied with
interest the eightfold path, and felt that it contained good aims but was
lacking in direction and details.
In Hinduism I was faced not with three, but with hundreds of gods, the
stories of which were too fantastic and revolting to me to be accepted.
I read a little of Judaism, but I had already seen enough of the Old
Testament to realize that it did not stand my tests of what
a religion must be. A friend of mine persuaded me to study spiritualism and to
sit for the purpose of being controlled by the discarnate spirits. I did not
continue this practice very long as I was quite convinced that, in my case
anyway, it was purely
a matter of self-hypnosis, and would be dangerous to experiment further.
The war ended. I took work in a London office, but my mind never strayed far
from the religious quest. A letter appeared in the local paper to which I wrote
a reply contradicting the divinity of Christ from the Biblical point of view.
This brought me in contact with a number of people, one of whom was a Muslim. I
started discussing Islam with this new acquaintance. On every point my desire to
resist Islam fell down. Though I had thought it impossible, I had to acknowledge
that perfect revelation had come through an ordinary human being, since the best
of twentieth century governments could not improve upon that revelation, and
were themselves continually borrowing from the Islamic system.
At this time I met a number of other Muslims and some of the English girl
converts endeavored to help me, with no little success, since, coming from the
same background, they understood better some of my difficulties. I read a number
of books, including The religion of Islam, Muhammad and Christ and The
source of Christianity, the latter showing the amazing similarities between
Christianity and the old pagan myths, impressed me greatly. Above all I read the
Holy Qur'an. At first it seemed mainly repetition. I was never quite sure if I
was taking it in or not, but the Qur'an, I found, works silently on the spirit.
Night after night I could not put it down. Yet I often wondered how perfect
guidance for man could come through imperfect human channels at all. Muslims
made no claim for Muhammad that he was superhuman. I learned that in Islam
prophets are men who have remained sinless, and that revelation was no new
thing. The Jewish prophets of old received it. Jesus, too, was
a prophet. Still it puzzled me why it did not happen any more in the twentieth
century. I was asked to look at what the Qur'an said: "Muhammad is the
Messenger of God and the last of the Prophets." And of course it was
perfectly reasonable, too. How could there be other prophets to come if the Holy
Qur'an was the book ... explaining all things and verifying that which is with
you and if it was to remain uncorrupted in the world, as is guaranteed in the
Qur'an, and perfectly kept so far? "Surely We have revealed the Reminder
(i.e. the Qur'an) and surely We are its Guardian." In that case there could
be no need of further prophets or books. Still I pondered. I read that the
Qur'an is a guide to those who ponder (XVI: 65) and that doubters were asked to
try and produce a chapter like it (II: 23). Surely, I thought, it must be
possible to produce a better living plan in 1954, than this which dates back to
a man born in the year 570 C.E.? I set to work, but everywhere I failed.
No doubt, influenced by the usual condemnation of Islam from Christian
pulpits on the subject, I picked on polygamy. At last
I thought I had something; obviously Western monogamy was an improvement on this
old system. I talked of it to my Muslim friend. He illustrated with the aid of
newspaper articles how much true monogamy there was in England, and convinced me
that a limited polygamy was the answer to the secret unions that are becoming so
distressingly common in the West. My own common sense could see that,
particularly after a war, when women of a certain age group far outnumber men, a
percentage of them are destined to remain spinsters. Did God give them life for
that? I recollect that on the radio programme known as `Dear Sir' an unmarried
English girl had called for lawful polygamy, saying she would prefer a shared
married life rather than the loneliness to which she seemed to be destined. In
Islam no one is forced into a polygamous marriage, but in a perfect religion,
the opportunity must be there to meet those cases where it is necessary.
Then about ritual prayers I thought I had a point. Surely prayers repeated
five times a day must become just a meaningless habit? My friend had a quick and
illuminating answer. `What about your music practice, he asked, where you do
scales for half an hour every day whether you feel like it or not? Of course, it
is not good if it becomes a dead habit --- to be thinking of what is being done
will give greater benefit --- but even scales done without thinking will be
better than not doing them at all, and so it is with prayers.' Any music student
will see the point of this, particularly if he bears in mind that in Islam
prayers are not said for the benefit of God, Who is above needing them, but for
our own benefit as a spiritual exercise, besides other uses.
Thus gradually I became convinced of the truth in the teachings of Islam, and
formally accepted the faith. I did this with great satisfaction, as I could
fully realize that it was no emotional craze of the moment, but a long process
of reasoning, lasting nearly two years, through which I went despite my emotions
that pulled me so strongly the other way.
From "Islam, Our Choice"
I come from a Jewish family in New York. My mother was from S. A. but also
Jewish. She never was comfortable with anyone knowing that. When my father died,
she remarried a Catholic and became one herself. And that is how she brought us
up. From the age of 5 I was told that Jesus was also God...? I never felt
comfortable with it.
We moved to the Philippines - that is where my stepfather was from. And life
there was unbearable. My stepfather, to put it mildly, was abusive to me and my
2 brothers. The effect of that hard life: my spelling is poor, one of my
brothers is now a drinker, and the other has a low selfworth.
When I grew up and we returned to the USA, I left home. I took care of myself
by working hard. I never had time for God, whoever He was. I did not feel that
God helped me in any way, so why bother? I did try to get back to my roots but
Judaism made no sense, so I let that go. I did come across Muslims from time to
time but the effect was, how do they dress that way, and why do they seem
different? Over time, the idea of Islam kept coming back to me, so I tried to
find out more. I read the history and life of Mohammed (saas). That is what got
to me: such kindness and sabr (patience) in the face of hardships.
It seemed to me that my life had no direction, so I went to learn more. After
reading surah Al-Fatihah, I knew I had come home - this is where I wanted to be!
I became a Muslim and have never regretted it. I always knew there was only ONE
God - ALLAH - and things have not been always easy for me. My mother died of
cancer soon after I became a Muslim. But the faith I have helped me make it.
Just being able to go to ALLAH with all my pain was such a relief. It is the
only true lifestyle known to man, and it is the truth and the last chance for
us. I wish all mankind could come to know the truth (haqq) of Islam, and its
peace and beauty!
I was raised to believe in God from childhood. I attended church nearly every
Sunday, went to Bible school, and sang in the choir. Yet religion was never a
really big part of my life.
There were times when I thought myself close to God. I often prayed to him
for guidance and strength in times of despair or for a wish in times of want.
But I soon realized that this feeling of closeness soon evaporated when I was no
longer begging God for something. I realized that I even though I believed, I
I perceived the world to be a game in which God indulged in from time to
time. He inspired people to write a Bible and somehow people were able to find
faith within this Bible.
As I grew older and became more aware of the world, I believed more in God. I
believed that there had to be a God to bring some order to the chaotic world. If
there were no God, I believed the world would have ended in utter anarchy
thousands of years ago. It was comfort to me to believe there was a supernatural
force guiding and protecting man.
Children usually assume their religion from parents. I was no different. At
the age of 12, I began to give in depth thinking to my spirituality. I realized
there was a void in my life where a faith should be. Whenever I was in need or
despair, I simply prayed to someone called Lord. But who was this Lord truly? I
once asked my mother who to pray to, Jesus or God. Believing my mother to be
right, I prayed to Jesus and to him I attributed all good things.
I have heard that religion cannot be argued. My friends and I tried to do
this many times. I often had debates with my friends about Protestantism,
Catholicism, and Judaism. Through these debates I searched within myself more
and more and decided I should do something about my emptiness. And so at the age
of 13, I began my search for truth.
Humankind is always in constant pursuit of knowledge or the truth. My search
for truth could not be deemed as an active pursuit of knowledge. I continued
having the debates, and I read the Bible more. But it did not really extend from
this. During this period of time my mother took notice of my behavior and from
then on I have been in a "religious phase." My behavior was far from a
phase. I simply shared my newly gained knowledge with my family. I learned about
the beliefs, practices, and doctrines within Christianity and minimal beliefs
and practices within Judaism.
A few months within my search I realized that if I believe in Christianity I
believed myself to be condemned to Hell. Not even considering the sins of my
past, I was on a "one way road to Hell" as southern ministers tend to
say. I could not believe all the teachings within Christianity. However, I did
I can remember many times being in church and fighting with myself during the
Call to Discipleship. I was told that by simply confessing Jesus to be my Lord
and Savior I would be guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. I never did walk down
the aisle to the pastor's outstretched hands, and my reluctance even increased
my fears of heading for Hell. During this time I was at unease. I often had
alarming nightmares, and I felt very alone in the world.
But not only did I lack belief but I had many questions that I posed to every
knowledgeable Christian I could find and never really did receive a satisfactory
answer. I was simply told things that confused me even more. I was told that I
am trying to put logic to God and if I had faith I could simply believe and go
to Heaven. Well, that was the problem: I did not have faith. I did not believe.
I did not really believe in anything. I did believe there was a God and that
Jesus was his son sent to save humankind. That was it. My questions and
reasoning did, however, exceed my beliefs.
The questions went on and on. My perplexity increased. My uncertainty
increased. For fifteen years I had blindly followed a faith simply because it
was the faith of my parents.
Something happened in my life in which the little faith I did have decreased
to all but nothing. My search came to a stop. I no longer searched within
myself, the Bible. or church. I had given up for a while. I was a very bitter
parson until one day a friend gave me a book. It was called "The
I took the book and read it. I am ashamed to say that during my searching
never did I once consider another religion. Christianity was all I knew, and I
never thought about leaving it. My knowledge of Islam was very minimal. In fact,
it was mainly filled with misconception and stereotypes. The book surprised me.
I found that I was not the only one who believed there was a simply a God. I
asked for more books. I received them as well as pamphlets.
I learned about Islam from an intellectual aspect. I had a close friend who
was Muslim and I often asked her questions about the practices. Never did I once
consider Islam as my faith. Many things about Islam alienated me.
After a couple months of reading the month of Ramadan began. Every Friday I
could I joined the local Muslim community for the breaking of the fast and the
reciting of the Quran. I posed questions that I may have come across to the
Muslim girls. I was in awe at how someone could have so much certainty in what
they believed and followed. I felt myself drawn to the religion that alienated
Having believed for so long that I was alone, Islam did comfort me in many
ways. Islam was brought as a reminder to the world. It was brought to lead the
people back to the right path.
Beliefs were not the only thing important to me. I wanted a discipline to
pattern my life by. I did not just want to believe someone was my savior and
through this I held the ticket to Heaven. I wanted to know how to act to receive
the approval of God. I wanted a closeness to God. I wanted to be God-conscious.
Most of all I wanted a chance for heaven. I began to feel that Christianity did
not give this to me, but Islam did.
I continued learning more. I went to the Eid celebration and jumua and weekly
classes with my friends.
Through religion one receives peace of mind. A calmness about them. This I
had off and on for about three years. During the off times I was more
susceptible to the temptations of Satan. In early February of 1997 I came to the
realization that Islam was right and true. However, I did not want to make any
hasty decisions. I did decide to wait.
Within this duration the temptations of Satan increased. I can recollect two
dreams in which he was a presence. Satan was calling me to him. After I awoke
from these nightmares I found solace in Islam. I found myself repeating the
Shahadah. These dreams almost made me change my mind. I confided them in my
Muslim friend. She suggested that maybe Satan was there to lead me from the
truth. I never thought of it that way.
On March 19, 1997 after returning from a weekly class, I recited the Shahadah
to myself. Then on March 26, I recited it before witnesses and became an
I cannot express the joy I felt. I cannot express the weight that was lifted
from my shoulders. I had finally received my peace of mind....
It has been about five months since I recited the Shahadah. Islam has made me a
better person. I am stronger now and understand things more. My life has changed
significantly. I now have purpose. My purpose is to prove myself worthy of
eternal life in Jannah. I have my long sought after faith. Religion is a part of
me all the time. I am striving everyday to become the best Muslim I can be.
People are often amazed at how a fifteen year old can make such an important
decision in life. I am grateful that Allah blessed me with my state of mind that
I was able to find it so young.
Striving to be a good Muslim in a Christian dominated society is hard. Living
with a Christian family is even harder. However, I do not try to get
discouraged. I do not wish to dwell on my present predicament, but I believe
that my jihad is simply making me stronger. Someone once told me that I am
better off than some people who were born into Islam, in that I had to find,
experience, and realize the greatness and mercy of Allah. I have acquired the
reasoning that seventy years of life on earth is nothing compared to eternal
life in Paradise.
I must admit that I lack the aptitude to express the greatness, mercy, and
glory of Allah. I hope my account helped others who may feel the way I felt or
struggle the way I struggled.
as salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahee wa barakatuhu,
Natassia M. Kelly
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