Finding the Truth with the Help of a Priest
By Br. Jamal
I was six years old when my mother accepted her Christian faith. My father on the other hand didn’t dedicate himself to any specific church, but his beliefs were based on the trinity. For approximately five years my family would go to church every Sunday. By the time I reached eleven years old, the only two people in my family still attending the church were my mother and I. I went to church every Wednesday & Sunday, taking bible study classes and learning scriptures. I went to a church summer camp and went to the altar and accepted Jesus into my heart. I really didn’t have a concept on the whole trinity, but I had a lot of questions that couldn’t be answered. I would ask my teachers “ How could Jesus be the son of God, when he was a man like me?” But there was absolutely not one person in this church who could answer my question. The only answer given to me was, “I walk by faith and not by sight.” This was aggravating and not the type of answers that I was looking for. I beg my dad to let me stop attending Church, and the answer was, “Church is good for you.” This was funny, because if it was good for you, then why did he stop attending? I left the Church at 13 years of age although I still wanted to worship God, but where would I start?
When I turned fourteen I started getting into lots of trouble, doing anything from stealing, drugs, and drinking. At this point I started thinking why try and be good if I don’t even have a religion anymore. From this age until eighteen I got involved in gangs, selling drugs and even robbery. I moved out of my house and rented an apartment with two friends, this is when my life went downhill. I went to one of my friend’s houses that was a non-Muslim and saw on his bookshelf a Quran. This book looked powerful and was very intimidating to me, but I had the urge to pick it up and start reading. My friend asked what I was doing and I told him I never saw a Quran before, inside of my head I was thinking this is the religion of the Arabs. I asked him if I could borrow it to read, and he replied no but if you want to buy it that’s cool. I bought my first Quran for $2.00 and rushed home to read. I remember going to my room and locking the door. I remember the first thing I wanted to know was what did they say about Jesus. The verses that I read were so beautiful and I agreed with what they said in totality.
I had been reading the Quran off and on now for two years and it was time for me to see the mosque. I called one of my good friends and asked was I allowed to go to the mosque. He rushed to my house that day and took me with him, what a beautiful place this was. I walked in and asked him where do we sit, and he said follow me. We sat on the floor and waited for the prayer time to come. I was so curious, I couldn’t stop looking around. I asked him “ where are all the women”, he smiled and said behind us. I was thinking: how weird, why don’t the women and men sit together? At this point they were calling the adan (call to prayer). I didn’t understand what it meant, but it sounded so beautiful and sent chills through my body. This adan that I had no idea what it meant is what put in my heart a softness that I never felt before. I saw everyone praying as I sat on the side. This made me think that I could not be a Muslim. I don’t speak Arabic and couldn’t understand a word they were saying. My friend explained to me that I could learn Arabic and pray just as they did. After this experience, I left and was kind of confused. I was discouraged that I would have to learn Arabic in order to read the Qur’an in its authentic text.
I started going back to my old ways and began doing drugs and drinking. But there was something different now, every time I would do something bad I would think of God. I tried to get it out of my head but it wouldn’t work. Not too happy with everything I heard about Islam, I read on every one of the major religions, all of them seemed weird or contradicting. I read about Islam again and now it was different, I felt in my heart this is real. I found out that they only believed in one God, and they were very strong about this. Once again, I went to Dar Al-Hijra to a Sunday class they had. I remember not knowing where to go so I stood in the lobby and kept reading the same scripture engraved on the wall. The Imam came and asked if could he help me, I asked where the class was and he directed me there. I sat in the class and saw lots of non-Muslims asking questions. I just listened and left with my friend. My friend had actually been someone from my past whom I would hang out with frequently. He had accepted Islam two years ago. I went home and wanted to cry because I wanted this so bad, but I knew I had to stop drinking and doing drugs before I accepted the faith.
About two years went by and I was reading here and there, but nothing serious. One day my mother begged me to just go back to the church for one service. I agreed just to make my mother happy, but when I walked in the church it was as if everyone knew that I didn’t believe in the trinity anymore. I had a person who was in the church congregation whom I had known for some time ask me over and over to accept Jesus in to my heart. I refused, and then he asked me why? I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to back Islam up so I said I’m just not ready. The man replied “ son, you have to catch the fish, then you clean it, then you cook it, and after all that you eat it”. What he said was so true, but not for this church. This is what inspired me to want to accept Islam. I knew that in my heart I was a Muslim, but where do I go, and who will give this to me. I didn’t know what to do. So after a while, I once again went back to drugs. One night, I went out and I was so drugged up and drunk, when I came home and looked in the mirror. What I saw scared me. I couldn’t even recognize my own face. It was as if I was looking at one of those people on the streets who are strung out. I fell to the ground and cried, wondering what had happened to me. I felt sick and disgusted, how could I even walk into that mosque again? I thought I wasn’t good enough to be a Muslim. I prayed all night, begging God to help me to be a better person and to help me with this situation.
The next day, I was sitting in my living room, when I heard a knock on my door at 11:00pm. I looked through my peephole and saw my friend who was already Muslim. This person was someone very beloved to me, and I fully trusted him. He came into my house and began to speak to me about Islam, at this moment I was crying inside wanted to just say yes. We talked about four hours and after that my best friend and I accepted Islam. This was the best decision I would ever make…