Asalaamu alaikum. So we have now reached the last part of this series, and we have finally gotten to the point at which I become a Muslim; submitting to Allah (SWT) and his religion. Part three ended with me at the age of 24. I had just concluded my 18 month backpacking experience across Asia, and surprised my family with an unexpected return.
At this point I was still a non-muslim. I had become much more open to the idea of the supernatural, however I had not officially accepted any particular religion despite believing in a Creator. I had done a bit of research in each of the major religions, and having spent a lot of time in buddhist temples I was experimenting a lot with buddhist practices.
Having just returned home, I was filled with energy, very excited, and had big plans and hopes for the future. I had fallen in love with travelling, and although I missed my family I by no means wished to stay home. My intentions were to save up and leave again to go backpacking as soon as possible. I gave myself a time frame of 3 months, and hoped to leave again by the new year.
However, things did not quite go to plan. My mum’s house was a bit crowded, and so me and my brother had to move out and find our own place, which we did. But this required us to pay rent and bills, soaking up my money and making it difficult to save. I got my old job back but at less than half the salary than I was on prior to travelling (dropping from around £26k pa to around £11k pa). I also had a very bad weed addiction, which was eating up a lot of my cash. As time progressed and the 3 months mark arrived, I could see that I was going to be stuck home for much longer than I wanted to be. And to add to this, the excitement of my return quickly wore off.
After being away for 18 months, I felt as though I had changed dramatically several times over. The world presented itself in many new ways. But when I got home, it felt like no time had passed at all. Everyone was very much the same, doing the same things and caught in the same cycles. People’s eagerness to hear my stories were also short lived. It eventually felt as though my talking turned into boasting; although I never intended to be boastful, in hindsight I can see how it probably came across that way. I became impatient with conversations that felt silly or trivial. I lost all motivation, and was eventually signed of work as severely depressed and suffering from intense social anxiety; in time I lost my job altogether.
I felt lost, adrift, stuck in place and unable to progress towards anything productive. To top it all off I was heavily addicted to weed, and had it around me all the time due to the people I had in my company. I began to hate talking about anything that wasn’t profound, and I started hating myself. I was incredibly critical of everything, and everyone; and I was no exception to this. I became more and more isolated, staying in my room in the attic and avoiding socialisation as much as I could. It was at this low point in my life that I became incredibly self-reflective. I pondered on my bad habits, my past mistakes, the relationship I had with my father and towards how his death had effected me. I thought about my obsession with hedonism and materialism. I also started to think about the universe, the idea of A Creator, and of the existence of life. All of these things bounced around my head, one after the other and without respite. I became consumed by my thoughts and on the significance of life. I started writing poetry, blogging, and trying to set myself up with an online presence to engage with people on “the big questions”. However, this usually just left me feeling unsatisfied and more alone.
Eventually, at some point in this process, I returned to the Quran for the second time in my life. I had read it previously when I was younger (before travelling), but read it from the position of disbeliever. This time, I decided to read it from the perspective of someone who believed. I wanted to make the assumption that God existed, and that the Quran was the word of God, and then see how my experience of it might change. When I came across something I found problematic, I assumed there might be a fault in my finite capacities to reason, and tried to understand the underlying reasons as to why I might have a conflict with it. I assumed everything I had believed previously was just another illusion which was fed to me, and that this book had the ability to reveal this.
In doing so, I had a strange experience. I knew from the get go that this was a thought experiment, and that in undergoing it I was not committing myself to anything, and so I had nothing to fear in exploring it. However, persisting through the reading, I was struck by how much more everything made sense through the Quran. The more I read, the more it ceased to feel like a thought experiment and the more it felt like an experience of the divine. I stopped and thought about what I believed with regards to God, or Allah (swt). I went through the general arguments people put forward for and against faith, and I found the arguments against wanting (I will go through some of these typical arguments in future posts/videos). I found myself more and more in agreement with the Islamic concept of a Creator the more I investigated it. Christianity didn’t satisfy my search for answers with their idea of the trinity, the Jews made very little effort to spread their religion or engage with disbelievers, nor did they believe Jesus had any connection to God. The polytheists all relied upon the idea of a first creator, and so had their origins in monotheism until they developed their stories further. There wasn’t much out there that could deter me away from the concept of The One God, and all those who tried, only led me back to this idea as the only obvious choice.
I felt myself making a connection with the Quran that is hard to put in words. Because of this book, I was beginning to feel more at peace again. It spoke to me as though we were having a direct conversation; like every word was written with the knowledge that I would one day read it. Then I turned to the life of the prophet, peace be upon him. I had heard so many things about him at this point (good and bad) that I decided to look them up. I went through all the arguments for or against him ﷺ as a prophet, and I looked into the events of his life. The more I looked the more I came to admire him ﷺ. What I found was an admirable person, with great character, who united a people and helped establish one of the greatest and most successful religions that has ever blessed this earth.
At this point, it all started to sink in. It began as a thought experiment, but in the end it presented itself as more plausible to me than anything else I had believed before. I recalled a moment a few years earlier that I spent with a good friend, where I told him that I believed it was possible that God (swt) existed, and that it was possible that Mohammad ﷺ was a prophet; and I recall him asking me why I don’t just become a Muslim. I was trying to think why I hadn’t in the past, and what was stopping me now. Truth be told, it was a scary decision to make. If I was to accept Islam as my religion, my life would have to be turned upside down to accommodate it. I would have to work towards giving up all my addictions; spend less time with the wrong kind of people; tell my family of my decision and deal with their reactions; start praying five times a day, give more to charity and only eat halal food. It wasn’t simply saying a sentence for me, it was the acceptance of a complete transformation which led to a completely different world. A world where there was a lot of unknown variables and potential outcomes that made me anxious. It was a scary decision to make, but many years later I made it. I took my shahada in private, and for a short time told only one person: my closest friend, the only other muslim I really had any contact with at the time.
I kept it secret from my family and non-muslim friends for a good while. There are still some people that probably have no idea (but that may be due to me not staying in contact with them). Also, keep in mind I was suffering from a deep depression at the time; and severe social anxiety. I moved out of the house with my brother and his friends, and got my own place where I lived alone. I was trying to focus myself on goals and actually decide what I wanted to do. Eventually I went to college to study Combined Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Maths), which I passed with distinction. Then I went on to university to study a BA in Philosophy, which I have recently graduated with a first class degree, alhamdulilah. I have since been married (my wife has also reverted) and have been blessed with a beautiful daughter who will turn two years old soon, (again, alhamdulilah). I gave up smoking and drinking, I only eat halal and pray all my daily prayers. I told my family that I’m a muslim, and also finished a 1 year course in the foundations of Islam. I am by no means a perfect Muslim, there are many things I need to improve on still and insha’Allah I will succeed. But looking back I have made a clear progression. I am no longer depressed, and my social anxiety (although still present) is manageable enough that people around me don’t notice.
Islam took me from a very dark place, where only God knows what I might have become, to where I am today over 5 years later. I have had rocky moments with regards to my faith, but the more I look into it and the more I investigate, the more I believe. Now I am at a stage where I have no interest in letting go of my religion. Allah (swt) is at the very top of my value hierarchy, and as far as I can see He is there to stay insha’Allah.
When people ask me what made me become a Muslim, I can’t help but feel as though they expect it to have been a moment that occurred in a flash. That there was some sort of experience where everything became so clear instantly and then boom, i was a Muslim. But this isn’t the case at all. It was a long process that began when I was a child. Each event leading to the next, all of which unfolded to the moment where I did eventually decide to take my shahada. I don’t think my decision to revert makes much sense without seeing how everything fell into place before it. All of it. I’ve emitted a lot out to keep this as short as possible, and so can’t help but feel the complete picture is still not clearly revealed. However, I’m hoping it gets at least a part of that story across, and that you, the reader, are closer to understanding my journey than you were before you read any of this.
Whats in store for the future?
Moving forward, I wish to establish myself as a self-employed freelance writer, blogger and youtuber (insha’Allah). I will be progressing towards making that a reality. My interests lie in religious discussions, philosophy, politics and current affairs (among many other things), and so the content I will be producing will be centred mainly around this. If you are interested in these subject areas, subscribe, follow me on twitter, and leave a comment below. I will be sure to respond to you; I’m here to engage, so any discussion at all will be welcomed and I will reply as soon as I am able.