My upbringing did not really include anything about God. I was christened, although I am not sure why. I would guess that this happened as it was the ‘done thing’ in my family. In addition I have vague memories of going to Sunday school, and of course the religious education later at school, which could be re-named ‘Christian education’ as no other religions ever got a look in.
Without any firm religious values, I lived my life according to my own set of moral values. Basically I just used to drift from one point of view to the next, and do my best to ‘fit in’ with whichever group of people I was with. I did have a belief in God, although I have to admit that I did not do a lot about it.
Then I met a Muslim. This opened new channels of discussions, and re-kindled the flame of my belief in God. Many a conversation took place on all sorts of topics, the existence of God, Heaven and Hell, other religions, the Prophet and his Family; even topics such as to what was the point of dinosaurs, and aliens. Everything was a muddle in my mind, question after question I asked, and to each question there was an answer that satisfied it. I was confused though, if this religion was so correct, why hadn’t I heard about it already? What about all the kinds of people I had met that were not Muslims – surely their good deeds would count? Why do you have to become a Muslim if you live your life properly, i.e. do not steal, commit adultery etc. etc.?
As time passed I soon realised that I was just searching for excuses. I knew that Islam was correct, but I needed to dig deep to find the courage to change. No longer could I hide behind a wall of questions and ‘what ifs’. It was time to stand up and be part of something that I believed in.
I was very nervous, every few minutes my stomach churned, waves of adrenalin rushed through my body. It was the night that I would declare myself a Muslim and change the rest of my life. I was sure about my decision to revert, but scared at the prospect at the same time; conflicting emotions and feelings taking it in turns to pop into my head, but all along I knew that Truth would win.
“Perfected is the Word of thy Lord in truth and justice. There is naught that can change His words. He is the Hearer, the Knower.” Qur’an 6:115
The time had come, we gathered in a group. I repeated everything that the Imam said to me, I hung onto every syllable and repeated as best I could, I was afraid that if I didn’t pronounce the Arabic words properly then my declaration would not count, and it had to count! I went into a kind of dream world, feeling as if this wasn’t really me, I was watching someone else. The emotions started to rise, I looked around and realised that I was not alone with my tears. My declaration was touching the hearts of those around me. The Imam then said a number of prayers for me and also for my family, I felt somehow indebted to him, I felt the need to repay him in some way for what he had enabled me to become.
Tears continued to roll as this pious Imam asked me to pray for him that night. How could one of my prayers be worth anything when compared to his? We shared a cup of water, I was allowed to drink first, followed by all my good friends, and I was now part of what they stood for. I had been accepted.
From that point onwards I was a Muslim, not only had this been witnessed by those around me, but also by all the Prophets who, I was told, grace every declaration with their presence. I felt so honoured that I could hardly believe it.
The final part of the transformation was to wash. I needed to purify myself and all my sins would now be forgiven, as if they had been washed down the plughole with the soapy water. It was as if I had just been born; from now on it would be up to me.
It was related that Abu Huraira said that The Messenger of God (prayers & peace be upon him) said:
“When a servant washes his face every sin he thought of doing will be washed away from his face with the water, or with the last drop of water, and when he washes his hands every sin they committed will be erased from his hands by the water, or with the last drop of water, and when he washes his feet, every sin his feet have walked towards will be washed away with the water, or with the last drop of water, so that he will emerge pure from all sin.” Hadith – Muslim
The world now appeared differently to me. I noticed aspects of people that I had missed before, I was much more aware of good and evil around me. I could look back at my past and it really felt as if that wasn’t me at all. I had a feeling that I had been given a whole new life, and I had been detached from my previous actions. This carried with it a responsibility, a desire not to blemish my new clean record. I had so much to learn, so much to read and take in. I had to be different towards people at work and even my own family. I had to get rid of clothes, books and pictures, now that I had been purified I had to make an attempt to purify my surroundings.
With the help I have had from Allah, I have now found the true path, and take the Prophet and his Family as my examples to follow. I must try and remember them with my every thought. My only wish now is that they may remember me on the Day of Judgement