How I came to Islām

Accepting Islām – Starting Over
Originally published on Islamic Network here on Thursday, January 05, 2006

I come from a nominal Christian background, Presbyterian, the Church of Scotland to be exact. There was a point in my very early life where my parents were religious but by the time my memory starts to kick in, my Dad has gone from being a church elder to an atheist and my mother seems to have become generally uninterested.

At home there was no ‘religious talk’. However, we moved house a lot and a number of the schools that I attended had a religious slant. When we moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne in my early teens, I was sent to a Church of England middle school but the motivation from my parents seems to have been more to obtain good grades than to instil any religious belief.

I grew up equating religion solely with Christianity. I had a belief in God but little in-depth knowledge of Christianity, let alone any knowledge of another religion.

At school I was always happy to play the role of the class clown and had my fair share of being sent to the head master’s office but the belief in God that I had meant there were certain lines I wouldn’t cross. I remember being challenged by one of my peers at school to spit in a copy of the Bible but just couldn’t do it, although my friend happily did. Similarly in my teen years friends would use Bible pages as cigarette papers but again this was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.

By university I’d narrowed my belief system down to “I believe in God but not religion.” I finished university with an intention to “read the Bible some day.”

I’d heard the accusation that Jesus (`alayhi al-Salātu wa al-Salām) was the son of God but had never given it much thought or even questioned if such a statement made sense.

After university I began concentrating on my career goal which was in the music business. I had studied up to university level but that had always been “plan B” in my head, I had no desire to go down the road of a “normal job.”

So during the day I worked full time in a music store as a sales assistant. Outside work I wrote a monthly review section in a regional listings magazine, was busy promoting myself as a deejay, had a regular club night that I was organising, and was learning more about the studio side of things and soon finished recording my first track. It was through pursuing this goal that I met a friend, himself a revert Muslim. He was a partner in an independent music shop, an experienced producer and sound engineer.

We spent a lot of time in the recording studio together. It was a kind of student – teacher relationship. I was learning so much from him that I eventually decided to drop out of a college course that I was taking in sound engineering. He was a very outspoken individual and certainly not shy about his religion. Owing to the respect I had for his technical knowledge, I’d listen attentively whenever he strayed onto other topics; which was, more often than not, Islām.

Something that struck me early on was how his belief was not just restricted to thoughts and ideas; it was something that dictated action. In the middle of a recording session he would just stand up and announce it was time for him to pray and so everything would just have to stop until he had finished. I soon found myself watching what I would eat in front of him out of a feeling of respect for his religion.

The music business is full of sharks and there is a lot of behind door politics and insincerity. My friend was forced to leave Newcastle and return to London. I was left with my appetite whet for Islām but my only contact with the Muslims now some 250 miles away.

After he left I began sharing a house with a mutual friend of ours, someone that he’d also spoken to about Islām. I kept bringing up the subject of Islām in the house and my flat mate shared with me some of the da’wah (introductory) books that he’d been given.

I’d read little bits after work and was becoming steadily more intrigued. I remember sitting against the radiator in my bedroom reading a small pamphlet which had a transliterated version of the shahādah (testimony of faith) inside. I read it aloud to myself and I felt such a buzz from doing so, I didn’t yet understand it, nor could I pronounce it properly but I distinctly remember this positive feeling overwhelm me as I read.

At work my manager approached me to tell me that our company was opening a new store in a different city down south and asked if I would be prepared to go and assist with the opening week. It was very short notice but I thought to myself a week in a hotel, away from everyone? That would be the perfect opportunity to properly read these books and to reflect upon Islām.

On the train journey down I was reading intensively. I remember one small book that consisted only of bullet points of `aqīdah (beliefs), without mentioning the proofs or explanations for them, yet reading it I felt like I was absorbing facts not conjecture.

My thoughts started to turn to actions and I made the decision that I would never drink again. Having arrived at the hotel and worked my first day, I found that I was soon tested. Some of the staff wanted to go out for a drink together, as this is a long established method for strangers to get to know one another. I politely explained that I’d stopped drinking alcohol and that I had things to do in my hotel room. This was the first time that I got a look (one which I’ve seen many times since, whenever I explain I don’t do x, y or z) that conveys “why in the world would you impose that upon yourself?”

I went back to my hotel room and read some more. I was really becoming convinced, scared, happy, lost, a lot of different emotions all interacting. I didn’t know what to do. I’d read in one book about raising hands outstretched up to Allāh, i.e. making du’ā (supplication). So I composed myself and then feeling really nervous, I held up my arms and started to supplicate Allāh. And it was to Allāh this time, I wasn’t just making a general address to God, I was making a step of recognition here, addressing Him by His name, no longer just some concept of God but using His name. I was really emotional, hands outstretched, tears streaming down my face. I sat on my bed begging to be given the strength to accept the truth.

I woke the next day feeling fresh and in high spirits. I remember being really emotional that day and I came close to bursting into tears in front of people a number of times. As soon as I finished work I phoned my friend in London and told him that I wanted to come down and see him. I was actually ready to drop everything, walk out of the job and just go there but he advised me to take things easy and finish the week and to return home. So I went back to Newcastle with the decision made that I wanted to become Muslim.

I’d always thought of myself as a person of principle and so when confronted with the truth I felt I just had to accept it. I couldn’t reconcile truth with not acting upon it. However, the immediate problem for me was that the only Muslim I knew was in different city; so I decided the best option would be to leave everything and to start a new life in London.

I told my parents who were a little shocked by my decision but they were still relatively uninformed about Islām and didn’t raise many objections. I handed my notice into the magazine I wrote for. I told my landlord I was leaving. I told my employer I was resigning; they kindly offered to give me a job in London, but I didn’t want to go straight into employment, I wanted time to adjust to learn how to pray, to study a little bit about this new way of life that I now I wanted so badly.

It’s a humbling process to reach your adult years and to have to come to terms with much of what you’ve previously learned in life being incorrect. I wanted to time adjust to this wiping of the slate.

My step brother had been living in London for sometime. He told me over the phone that he’d support my decision and that he was a little intrigued about Islām himself; as he also knew my Muslim friend.

Early life in London involved a lot of sleeping on friends’ floors. By the time I was taken to the London Central Mosque for my “official” declaration of faith, my step-brother had decided that he was convinced of the truth of Islām and made his declaration with me.

I wasn’t long in Islām before I came across the issue of the illegality of music. Music had been one constant in my life and was something that I was dearly attached to. I’d spent a good ten years of my life being obsessed with it but reasoned now that if it had to go – then it just had to go.

I did as much research as I could and became convinced that Music was something impermissible for Muslims and further that any financial gain from it was similarly unlawful. So the question arose for me, having amassed an extensive collection as a deejay, what should I do with it all?

Wind of my intention to dispose of my collection soon reached one of my old friends in Newcastle and we spoke on the phone; in disbelief he complained “You can’t just get rid of it, why don’t you give it away? You’ve got some really rare stuff there!” So I explained that, in fact, I was giving it away. And I was – to the bin man. Each week I’d snap around 100 – 200 records and stick them in the trash until, as the months steadily passed, I managed to dispose of the lot.

I opted to do it slowly because I figured the bin man would notice and complain if my wheelie bin was too heavy for him to pull to the dump truck. It was a kind of a sentimental process snapping each record individually as I knew so much about each piece, where I’d bought it, how much, who the producer was, where it was recorded, where it was pressed, I’d even memorised some catalogue numbers. I prayed then and do now that Allāh gives me something better in its place in the Hereafter as only He knows how dear it was to me.

If anyone would like to read more on the issue of music in Islām (in English) then I’d recommend this khutbah from al-minbar.com as a concise summary:

Forbidding Music

If someone wanted a more detailed analysis of all the related issues, then I haven’t found in English a more thorough look at the topic, than a book by Abu Bilal Mustafa al-Kanadi called, “The Islamic Ruling on Music and Singing.” The book can also be read online in its entirety on this site:

“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (al-Baqarah 2:127)

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48 responses to “How I came to Islām

  1. Oh.. i love revert stories… sigh. Jazakallah khair for writing this. May Allah reward you for your sacrifice, and keep you on the Truth, Ameen.

    I’m curious, why are you in Saudi now? You’ve probably written about it somewhere else… please link me up, if so. 🙂

  2. Wa iyyākum.

    I don’t think I’ve ever really wrote about “why” I came here. I briefly announced my departure but never really went into much detail about the motivations.

    I guess I just felt increasingly unwelcome in the UK as a Muslim and when the opportunity came to work here, in Saudi, I saw it as means of escape.

    That plus the ease of access to the Haramayn from here (although I’m admittedly a lengthy bus ride away).

    My arrival, and the inevitable culture shock I faced, in Saudi is compiled on my old blog Hāts from this post onwards.

    I don’t know if that answers your question in enough depth though.

    • Umar

      Salam, Abu
      Your Lines are quite moving, I can see it, because I am a revert myself, I would like to talk to you about many things and perhaps exchange experiences, It is fantastic that you have actually made the jump from England to Saudi Arabia, how can get you e-mail; address, Alhamduliallah, Subhannahallah, Mashallah.

      Umar

  3. Subhanallah!

    May Allah reward you for sharing this and for all the sacrifices that you’ve made. I always feel sad for myself and other Muslims who take their eeman for granted.

    May Allah enrich you with wisdom and strength of faith.

    Abu Mus’ab

  4. Amīn

    Jazākum Allāhu khayran.

  5. As salam ‘aleykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. MashaAllah.

  6. Abu Maryam

    Bismillah
    Barakallahu feek akhi. May Allah Keep u steadfast.

  7. Abu Zahra

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    That’s an amazing story. I’m amazed how when people are guided to the truth, they are so convinced of it that they stop everything that they were previously doing which was not compatible with Islaam.

    May Allaah keep us all on the Straight Path until our time is up. Ameen.

    What do you think you got that was better than, or to take the place of music?

    • Wa ‘alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

      I’m hoping for something better in the Hereafter, insha‘ Allah, assuming of course that Allah has mercy on me for my sins.

      But in terms of the dunya, I’d have to say my kids.

  8. Abu Nuh

    Allah reward you akhi and keep us firm on His din. I used to live with a brother who also had to snap all of his wax into pieces and cut his projects with people. You guys are ‘ajib and I really love you for that. I’m a convert myself, but reading you guys just makes me cry and laugh at the same time (in that positive way, ofcourse).

    Hadana Allahu ajma’in.

    • Amin.

      Yeah, I kind of miss my DAT tape with the tune I made and there were more than a few rarities in the collection but I guess with all this torrent sharing nowadays they wouldn’t have been anything special any more.

      Plus I assume vinyl DJs have been made obsolete anyway, what with all the technological advances and that.

      Al-hamdu lillah, for the blessing of Islam.

  9. Vinyl still seems to be out there…I don’t know what you did exactly, but in some cases I can’t help but wonder how a person can scratch a a cd or better yet a soundfile!

  10. It’s almost easier with a CD because there’s less chance that the needle will jump, plus you’ve got various looping and sample options.

    However, it’s less visually appealing, there’s more scope for a bit of gymnastics with a pair of 1210s and some vinyl.

  11. Abu Nuh

    Dang. What’s the point in faking the scratch of a vinyl which cannot come off a cd with a cd – Why not just use the vinyl *confused*. Personally, I think all of the point is lost. Also, the gymnastics and not letting the needle jump seemed to be a big part of it.

    Well, nothing much you could scratch now anyway!

    • Essentially all a scratch is the sound going backwards and forwards (at varying speeds), so it’s technically possible with CDs or even on a computer with a sound file.

      But it’s like a guitar, a computer can mimic it but it will never sound as “good” as someone playing the real instrument.

      Similarly a scratch dj using vinyl, 1210s and some Stanton needles will always sound that little bit better than someone sitting at home with whatever software’s in vogue nowadays.

      “Well, nothing much you could scratch now anyway!”

      I’d be lying if I said it’d never crossed my mind to see what I could do with a couple of nashids, a cross fader, and a bit of the ol’ transform (a scratch invented by Jazzy Jeff), the crab or some phasing, etc. *sigh* 🙂

  12. 'Abd al-Kareem

    Assalamu ‘alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

    Subhan Allah!

    May Allah grant you His Mercy akhi.
    A truly wonderful and inspiring story!

    May Allah grant you firmness upon the Truth always.

  13. I’m sorry but I cannot fathom (even after reading your motivations intently), how you can achieve spiritual guidance from Islam rather than Chritianity. They are both fundamentally complementary and Chritianity serves your intellect, as your mental state is a construction of the Judaeo-Christian moral and ethical reality.

  14. Islam is an Abrahamic faith, if you will, and is the culmination of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. The Prophet of Islam comes from the same lineage as the prophets mentioned in the Judaeo-Christian texts and was sent to deliver the same message of worshipping God alone.

    So there will be some areas of overlap between these faiths as we’d maintain this is because they were, in their original form, the same message. As Muslims we believe that this message of worshipping God alone without partners came with the first prophet, Adam, and was restated with subsequent prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.

    It was just that in the times after the earlier revelations of this message of God being One, the people took their religion and introduced and altered concepts in it.

    Hence there was a need to send more messengers to call the people back to the original message. And Islam, or in English “submission to God”, was a restating of this previously revealed message.

    However, with Islam being the final and last revelation of it, its book and teachings were preserved and passed on in an unaltered form.

    So for me, I found that Islam contained much of the good that was previously stated in Judaism or Christianity, however it did point out some of the excesses that had crept into their teachings and reaffirmed that God was One.

    The Islamic concept of God being one free from partners, having no children and no-one sharing in His divine attributes was a much purer belief system to my mind.

    It also addressed the, as we would see it, Christian excesses whereby Jesus was attributed divinity or part divinity by later generations of Christians.

    As Muslims we see Jesus as a man and a messenger to mankind that was raised amongst the people to call people to worship God. However, it was in the generations after him that people took his teachings in a different direction and started worshipping him as a “son” of god or in other denominations even as an incarnation of god himself.

    To me it made perfect sense that having had nations of people elevate Jesus to such a point that God would raise another prophet from mankind to call the people back to worshipping God alone.

    Anyway, I hope that goes some way towards explaining what within the Islamic tradition I found convincing, in contrast to the Christian beliefs I’d initially been raised upon.

  15. Also, I forgot to mention, I liked a lot of the artwork on your site. Keep it up.

  16. Sayf

    Salaamualaikum akhi!

    I can relate to how it must have felt to get rid of those records. It’s rough, but giving up things we really love for the sake of Allah on the path of truth comes along with a really unexpected higher level of joy and contentment doesn’t it?

    “Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will replace it with something better.” (Musnad Ahmad)

  17. AbdulHasib

    as-salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah

    Yo Abu Ilyas mate :), where you been at akhi masha’Allah.

    email me at the section where “EMAIL is REQUIRED” haha been a while wanted to see what you been up to?

  18. Abd

    Assalamualekum,
    very keen to read what you had to say about your experience in saudi(you talked abt in this comment https://dotsunderconsonants.wordpress.com/how-i-to-came-islam/#comment-76 ),but unfortunately the page is dead, do you have a backup of it ,can you send it across.
    JazakAllah

  19. Wa ‘alaykum salām wa rahmatullāh,

    Unfortunately there’s a lot of dead links on this blog. I kind of left it to fend for itself for a while and there’s a lot of work that needs doing to tidy it up.

    Like for some reason when you hit a category title it gets treated like a tag and you get redirected to a list of WordPress blogs who also have the same category. That didn’t use to happen when I started this blog some years back.

    So I’m aware that there’s more than an few outdated references/redirects on here.

    The (Smāll) Hāts Ōn Vōwēls site went down a few years ago when Muslimpad didn’t include it among some updates or tweaks that they did.

    I still have it saved on one of my laptops somewhere but I had trouble trying to transfer it over to WordPress. For one thing, I could only get it import three months worth of posts when I last tried.

    I’d like to do some work on this site when my exams (well not mine, my students’) are finished, inshā‘ Allāh.

    It’s just been a bit off-putting starting the clean up process, as the latop that I use the most runs on Vista and for some reason has major difficulties accessing the admin board.

  20. Irfan Ashraf

    Asalam-u-Alaikum

    May Allah keep you & me on Islam forever. Kindly read this book “What is Christianity” http://www.islamicgoodsdirect.co.uk/product_info.php/products_id/2324

    by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani ” http://www.albalagh.net/taqi.shtml

    By reading this book you will get more knowledge of Christianity So this will help you to give dawa to other christians & make them Muslim.

    Jazak Allah
    Your Brother In Islam From Pakistan

  21. How the heck does Struggle Poetry get on your list and i dont?

    1) I got feelings

    2) I know people!

    3) Im coming saudi and il find you…

    • Lol, you can call off the hunt for me in Saudi now, I’ve updated the list.

      My links are mashed up. There’s a fair few dead links up, sites that need removing and sites I liked but never got around to adding. I need a weekend with nothing to do to sort it all out.

  22. Assalaamu alaikum,

    SubhanAllah very inspirational story, jazakAllahu khayran for sharing akhi.
    May Allah accept your dua and grant you something better than your music not only in akirah, but the life of this world too. Aameen.

  23. agai

    AsSalamu Alaikum,

    May Allah swt reward you. That was truly inspiring. We all have our personal inner struggles and I wish I could be so firm as you were to just say- if has to go then it has to go. I’m trying to quit listening to music, but it’s baby steps. I have stopped listening to stuff with profanity, crude words, or the degradation of women…slowly but surely insha’Allah.

  24. zkthepoet

    Many years ago you told me that there was a guy you grew up with that took shahada and that you kinda just went along with him. I don’t see that part in here.

  25. zkthepoet

    Bro, 100% you. Cos it was tied in with the whole thing about Scotland and your parents not having heard anything about Islam. Maybe I truncated it a lil in my head and it could have been your stepbrother.

  26. Truncated? More like completely remixed it in your head 😀
    I didn’t follow my step brother into Islam, him taking his shahada was like something that came in addition to my own journey.

    The account of how I came to Islam above is the same story that I’ve been relating all these years, I’m not sure where you got the idea that I followed a friend into Islam out of the spirit of tagging along from.

    The only friend from my school days that I know of who took Islam was my step brother. I switched cities when I decided to become Muslim and so I lost contact with a lot of the people I grew up with and made new friends when I came to London.

    Anyway, where’s your story bro? It should be up in black and white somewhere. Just make sure you include the bit about your first ‘Umrah and the cool brothers that accompanied you on it. 🙂

  27. zkthepoet

    Hmm… I guess I musta given it the Lil’ Jon treatment in my head. I have been known to create reality out of my own dreams. I was so sure though that I always meant to ask you what happened to that guy. It was that you done everything with him and his interest sparked yours. Possibly it was to do with the reaction of your parents, I dunno.

    I wrote one a few years ago, but it’s so long-winded that I’m embarrassed of it now. Plus it’s so uninteresting that I find people drifting away after a few seconds. If it’s not Cat Stevens lost in the sea then a lot of brothers aren’t interested!

  28. JK

    Wow man. That’s some transformation you went through. To each his own I guess. Religion…never ceases to entertain.

  29. A.K

    OK! thats cool! may Allah forgive ur past sins! btw im under 15 but it even lightens my heart reading what uve just wrote! i mean… wat was ur name before u became muslim!? plz reply n let me now! jazakallahu khair!

  30. Very Very Emotional, MAY ALLAH always keep you on right path

  31. SubhanAllah bro. That was really touching. May Allah reward you with khar in this life and the hereafter and raise your rank in Jannah for each record that you snapped and for every step that you took towards Him.

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