Posted 9/2/2004. Exclusively contributed to
Welcome-Back.org by Marc Springer.
“I started to see all of the
carefully crafted lies my life was based on crumble around me. I
slowly saw all of the truths that my life was based on unravel.
It is at this point that I started to question everything in my
life, including my religious beliefs. I took the stance that
everything in my life was suspect and had to be reevaluated …
In Islam, and the values it promotes, I saw the answer to my
problems and questions, and the future of mankind.”
My journey to Islam is, it safe to say, not the usual
one. Most white converts I have met came from a liberal and very open
background. My upbringing was far from this. Both of my parents were in
the US military and my upbringing was very strict. My father was very
racist, and because of this, I was very racist myself until about the
age of 24. I can remember as a child listening to my father lambast and
attack Arabs and Muslims and bash the religion, their way of life, and
their race. As this was the way I was raised this is the position I took
I had a very troubled childhood, as the above can only begin to
describe. My father was an alcoholic and a very physically abusive man.
I grew up with the constant fear of violence against myself, my mother,
and my brother and sister. Coming from such a background it only seemed
natural that I seek a group of people to replace the family life that I
did not get at home. The problem is, with the way I was raised, the
people I sought this companionship from were the worst of the worst.
For several years I was heavily involved in the racist skinhead
movement. As with anything else in my life, I was not content to be a
follower, but always enjoyed taking the lead, and my involvement in the
neo-nazi skinhead movement was the same. I was well known and feared in
the scene in the town where I grew up. My longing for family and
friends, however, never killed the seed in my heart that what I was
doing was wrong, that it was unjust. I remember a Mexican schoolmate of
mine asking me when I was 16 “why do you hang out with those loosers,
you are better than that.” He was right, but I guess there was a part of
me that, even though I hated my father for what he was doing to the
family, that I wanted to be just like him. That is where my racism and
hatred came from.
The situation at home became worse for me so I was forced to move out on
my own. I think from this moment this is what sealed my future as a
Muslim – getting away from my father, the hatred that he felt, and
experiencing the world and people on my own. The next few years were
pretty rough on me and I continued for many years on the path that I had
started on. I was drinking, I was doing drugs and I was getting into
very serious trouble with the law. All the while, all of the people I
had sought to take the place of my family turned out to be the worst
sort of people, violent, dishonest and untrustworthy.
I left the state I grew up in when I was 23 and for the first time in my
life was able to experience life without the overwhelming figure of my
father hanging over me and the malign influence of my friends. I started
to see all of the carefully crafted lies my life was based on crumble
around me. I slowly saw all of the truths that my life was based on
unravel. It is at this point that I started to question everything in my
life, including my religious beliefs. I took the stance that everything
in my life was suspect and had to be reevaluated.
I had a girlfriend at the time whom I later married. She had also been
active in the racist skinhead scene that I was involved with and there
was always this worry that I offend her with my new
|This passion of mine – reading – has lead me to collect a
small library of books that now consists of over a thousand
volumes, everything from Kant, Descarte to Ramadan and Edward
ideas and thinking. I had always been an avid reader, and I took the
next couple of years to read everything I could get my hands onto. This
passion of mine – reading – has lead me to collect a small library of
books that now consists of over a thousand volumes, everything from
Kant, Descarte to Ramadan and Edward Said.
During this time the Intifada was raging in Palestine. My father, racist
and anti-Semite though he was, had always supported the Jewish state. I
now think that he hated Jews, as well as any one else who wasnt white,
but he hated the Arabs more than he hated the Jews, so that is why he
supported Israel. As I was rethinking everything I was taught when I was
younger I decided to take a closer look at this struggle in the Middle
I started reading general books on Middle Eastern history and the
national politics of the area. Again and again I found that I was having
trouble understanding both the history and politics of the area because
I didnt have any sort of understanding about Islam. As a child I had
attended church from time to time, but didnt have a firm grounding in
any religion. My father had a hatred of Islam, so as a teen I had shared
this hatred without having a clue as to what Islam was about or what
Muslims believed. It goes without saying that I had never met a Muslim
in my life.
So I started to look into Islam, its history and beliefs. This was when
the internet was gaining in populatarity so I used both paper texts and
sources from the internet to help me gain an understanding on the basics
of Islam and its history. At this time I was living in Washington state
and was not aware of a Muslim community there, so there was really no
one I knew with whom I could talk to. Shortly after this my wife’s job
transfered her to England so this was all about to change.
When I got to England my interests strayed for awhile. I was in a new
country with a long and rich history, so I spent a few years exploring
this history and traveling all over Europe. But from time to time events
would draw my attention back to the Middle East and the politics there.
I was now in a country with a long standing and well established Muslim
community, although the town I lived in didnt have any such community. I
began now to read in ernest about Islamic beliefs, ideology, and
history. I also started reading The Qur’an.
From the very begining some things struck a chord with me and answered
doubts I had always had concering the religion I was raised in. I had
always taken issue with the idea that God would ever have offspring.
From my reading I recognised this belief as one pulled from pagan
sources. Zeus, Odin, and numerous other pagan gods all had children. In
the case of Odin, his followers even believed he hung on a tree, much
like Christians believe that Jesus (PBUH) hung on a cross. Odinists, the
name given to the followers of this ancient Northern European religion,
also believed in a trinty of sorts formed by Odin, his son Thor, and his
consort Freja. It was clear this innovation of the Christians did not
have its basis in God, but in previous pagan beliefs.
The other issue that I had always struggle with was the concept of
original sin. The idea that God could be so unjust as to hold myself and
everyone else responsible for the sins of others who died thousands of
years before me just seemed so unjust. I had a basic concept of God, and
the idea He
|The idea that God could be so unjust as to hold myself and
everyone else responsible for the sins of others who died
thousands of years before me just seemed so unjust. I had a
basic concept of God, and the idea He could be so unjust to do
such a thing just did not sit well with me.
could be so unjust to do such a thing just did not sit well with me. It
always seemed to me that Christians just didnt have the answer to these
questions, and if they did, their answers just reinforced these unjust
positions. I looked to Judaism, but that religion offered more questions
than answers as well. Their attitude towards the prophets, peace be upon
them all, was disgracefull. Their religious texts accused these greatest
of men of the most terrible crimes and I refused to belive God would
pick such men to lead his people on earth. If Judaism held such beliefs
how could I look to them for guidance?
It seemed clear that Islam had all of the answers. It cleared up the
confusion of the lie of the trinity, and asserted Jesus'(pbuh) true role
as a prophet, and not the son of God. Islam reveared all of the
prophets, peace and blessings of God be upon them, and recognised them
for the great people they were. In Islam, and the values it promotes, I
saw the answer to my problems and questions, and the future of mankind.
The issue was to now try to impliment Islam in my life.
I have said before, I had married a woman who came from the same
background as I did. She didnt have an easy time dealing with my
interest in this subject, whether it be Islam or Middle Eastern
politics. I knew the way I needed to change my life to start living in a
proper manner was going to cause us serious issues. It eventually came
to the point where I would be unable to practice my new found religion
and stay married to this lady, so we split up. Before I left England I
went with a young Lebanese man I had met to London where I said my
Shahada in a mosque there.
When I left my ex wife I was forced to leave England. I would have loved
to have stayed there because the opportunity to learn about my new found
religion there would have been great, but Alhamdulillah, I was to learn
later why God chose this turn of events for me. I quickly got a job
working for the US government in Alaska. Of course there is not much in
the way of a Muslim community in Alaska, and what there is is centered
in Anchorage and Fairbanks. I was working hundreds of miles from either
of these cities, so I took the opportunity to continue reading and
searching out information concering Islam the best I could, from the
internet and other sources.
I traveled from time to time to the Washington DC area for business. I
made friends here within the Muslim community. At this point I had been
thinking about getting married. I had been divorced for several years
and I knew that one of the main ways to fulfill your deen is marriage. I
was a bit worried about this, being a convert. I know that many Muslims
come from ethnic backgrounds that would not be too welcoming of a white
American convert for their daughter. This was compounded further because
I had tattoos that I had gotten as a teenager, and I was very uncertain
that I would find a Muslim woman and her family that would accept me.
A new friend of mine said that he knew of a sister that was looking to
get married as well, so he asked her if it was okay to give me her
number. I tried to call her when I first got home, but she wasnt there
so I left message. So the next day I called her back and we talked for
hours. We exchanged e-mail addresses and for the next three days we
talked for dozens of hours. We hardly slept those first three days. I
got so little sleep I found myself falling asleep at work. We talked
about all of the important things that we would need to know to make a
successful marriage work.
It was clear from the begining that we had a lot in common, and that it
all centered around our devotion to our faith and to God. I had this
feeling that she was meant for me. She was such a good God fearing
Muslim woman and she had so much she could teach me about the religion.
Not only could she teach me religion, but she could help me with Arabic,
as she is a native speaker. We talked on the phone and via e-mail for
Talking and e-mails were wonderful, but we both knew that we had to meet
each other face to face to see if the connection we had would transfer
face to face. Always keeping God and our religion in mind we wanted to
make sure we did everything Halal and in the proper manner. We decided,
with the permission of her family, that I would visit during Ramadan of
that year to join the family for dinner and the breaking of the fast. I
was very nervous, and I think I had a right to be. There is one bit of
information I have left out here and after I say this you will
understand my nerves, my wife and her family are from Saudi Arabia, both
parents were born in Makkah. My earlier fear of the cultural issues that
any prospective wife and her family might have with me were compounded
about 100% by this fact.
Trusting in God, and having a lump in my throat, I set off to meet this
wonderful woman and what I supposed to be her intimidating family. I
arrived in DC right before sundown and collected my bags and waited for
a taxi. When it was my turn for a taxi I jumped in. The taxi driver was
wearing a red and white checkered gutra, or Arabic headress. When I got
into the taxi I greeted him with “Asalaamu Alaykum” and he returned the
greeting. The sun had gone down and he was just breaking his fast with a
date, he asked if I was fasting, and when I replied in the positive, he
offered me one of his own dates to break my fast. It turned out this
nice older gentleman was originally from Afghanistan. I saw this is a
very positive sign.
After dropping off my luggage at my hotel I proceded to the family’s
house with a traditional gift of dates and incense in hand. As I got out
of the taxi and started walking up to the door I just said “Bismillah”
to myself and knew God would choose the best for me. All sorts of
scenarios played through my mind. She would like me, but the family
would hate me. The family wouldnt mind, but she would be indifferent.
What if they liked me and I didnt like them? The 20 feet from the curb
to the door seemed to be miles. Finally I got to the door and rang the
What seemed to be a dozen people answered the door, family elders,
people my age, sisters, sons, daughters, and family friends. I was
warmly welcomed and asked to come into the house. After I entered I was
asked to take off my shoes and join the family in the meal they had made
for me. It turned out, Alhamdulillah, that I need not have been worried.
The family and I took to each other instantly. In talking during the
dinner and after it was clear that the nice young lady and I had a
connection that transcended the miles and the phone line.
I came back to the DC area that January where we were married in front
of friends and family. We took a nice honeymoon, and then I had to
return to my work in Alaska which was not to finish until the end of
April. When it finished I moved to the DC area where I took up a job
with a division of my company here. I have been here almost two years
It is amazing, Subhan’Allah, how God led me from disbelief in a home
filled with hate, and guided me to Him. At first glance it might seem
that in my childhood house I couldnt have been farther from Allah, but I
would argue that wasnt the case. Allah was always there looking out for
me, He directed me through some dangerous and bad times to become the
man and the Muslim that I am today.
People say that miricles do not happen today, but I would contend that
my story proves them wrong.