bismillah

How I Embraced Islam

Why Islam?
By Sr. Amirah

Many people, Muslim and Christian alike have asked me, "why Islam"?

What was it that made a young Southern woman leave the only religion she knew and had been taught for over 20 years and choose Islam? The answer, for me is very simple. The "Bible" itself convinced me of the purity and truthfulness of Islam.

Since my reversion to Islam over four years ago, I have tried adamantly to focus more on the similarities between Islam and Christianity rather than the differences. We are told in the Holy Qur'an:

'Say, "O people of the book (a term which particularly refers to Jews and Christians) come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him (in His powers and divine attributes); that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah.' If then they turn back say you "Bear witness that we are Muslims, (bowing to the will of God)." (Translation of Surah Al-Imran 3:64)

In doing da'wah, (which all Muslims are commanded to do) ("convey my message, even one ayah.") it is imperative that respect be shown one to another. However, this is not to mean that we have to agree with each other. Islam does not teach that heated debates and hate filled arguments are the means to be used in the education of non-Muslims. Rather, we are told in the Holy Qur'an:

"Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation and argue with them in ways that are best." (Translation of Surah An-Nahl 16:125)

Therefore it is not my intention in this writing to further the gap between Muslims and Christians, but to only briefly explain on a personal scale why I chose Islam based on my studies of what the Christians believe to be the divine word of God, the "Bible". To give you a short insight to my upbringing, I can assure you that I have never once regretted being raised as a Christian (Southern Baptist). Perhaps some will not understand this, but true Christianity teaches a way of living by honor, solid morals and values as well as a deep commitment to family and God. As a young child I sat almost every night listening to my father read to my mother and I from the Bible. Sundays and Wednesdays were spent at church practically from dawn to dusk since my father was the preacher. Many nights were spent holding Bible studies in our home. As I grew older and continued to study my religion and read the Bible with a better understanding, many questions, and doubts began to arise in my mind. However, I was taught that a true believer never questions the word of God (Bible) so these doubts and questions were kept hidden deep inside. I can not begin to recount all of the doubts and questions I had, so I will try and recall those that are foremost in my memory.

The Original Sin

The Bible teaches first in Genesis 2:15-16 and Genesis 3:16-19, that all mankind would suffer due to the disobedience (sins) of Adam and Eve. I did not understand this as a child and it was even harder for me to comprehend as a young adult. Imagine, if you will, my confusion when I read in Deuteronomy 24:16 where Moses (pbuh) says: "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man will be judged and put to death according to his own sin." Also, in Ezekiel 18:19-20 the Bible says: "Yet you say, Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity (sin) of the father? When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall not suffer for the iniquity (sin) of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

Just from those two verses alone it is obvious that there are contradictions to the doctrine of the "original sin", so allow me to explain.

Christians believe that the Old Testament (where both of the above verses were taken from) and its laws were destroyed when Jesus (pbuh) arrived. However, in the New Testament (where today's Christians places its emphasis) in Matthew 5:17 Jesus (pbuh) says: "think not that I come to destroy the laws or the prophets before me: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Studying further, in John 9:1-3 Jesus (pbuh) himself said: "As Jesus passed by, he (Jesus) saw a man blind from his birth, (2) and his (Jesus) disciples asked, "Master, who did sin? This man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (3) Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God be manifest in him".

As you can see for yourself in the above verses there are many contradictions to man's doctrine of "The Original Sin" both in the Old and New Testament. Thereby, the seed of doubt and confusion was planted in my mind.

Doctrine of Atonement & The Trinity

Christians also believe and teach what is known as the "Doctrine of Atonement". In layman's terms it simply means that God was sent to earth in human form (Jesus), He died on the cross and was resurrected thereby; cleansing us of our sins and "saving" us from eternal death in hell. The Doctrine of Atonement was accepted by the Church almost four centuries after Jesus left the earth.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth (have faith) in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace and faith ye are saved". Ephesians 2:5

"For by grace are ye saved through faith in Jesus Christ and not works". Ephesians 2:8

So if a person would just say the words "I ask Jesus Christ into my heart as my personal Lord and savior", you were "saved". This alone was a disturbing thought. It was as though I could commit murder or any other heinous crime and provided I had faith I would go to heaven? Was I the only one that had seen something wrong with these teachings? When you logically look at this doctrine no one can deduce that Allah (swt) Almighty, All Merciful, All Knowing, was in need of assistance to "save" His own creations. If you read Romans 6:23 it says:

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Jesus did not tell the people that! This verse came about from a letter written by Paul to the people of the Church of Corinth.

Then later I read: "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead being by itself." James 2:17

So which was it, faith or works that was our promised path to heaven? Was I dead, or was I alive? Was I still paying for Adam and Eve's sins? The confusion mounted.

Jesus And God Are One?

From the time Jesus was a small boy he told the people what his mission was.

"I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me scripture and has made me a Prophet. He has blessed me wherever I may be and has made prayer and charity my duty as long as I live." (Translation of Surah Maryam 19:30-31)

In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke there are approximately 22 references to Jesus (pbuh) as the son of God, but not in any of these verses will read where Jesus (pbuh) himself said he was the son of God. In fact when Jesus was brought before a high priest, you read in Matthew 26:62: "And ask if he was the Son of God, Jesus remained silent. Again the high priest said, "Have you no answer to make?" What is it that these men testify against you? But Jesus was still silent. The high priest then said to Jesus, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said, "YOU have said so."

Even Jesus himself said: "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:9

Also, in Mark 12:29 it says: "And Jesus answered him saying", "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O' Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord."

In John 5:30 Jesus in his own admittance says: "I can of my own self do nothing."

All doctrines of modern Christianity were made by men: The Trinity, Divine Sonship of Jesus, The Original Sin and the Atonement. Doctrines of men can lead nowhere but to confusion. Even the Bible backs this up in I Corinthians 14:33: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

In numerous verses throughout the New Testament, Jesus never claims to be God nor did he claim divinity.

John 8:28 - "I do nothing of myself."
John 14:28 - "My father is greater than I."
Mark 12:29 - "The Lord our God is one Lord."
Mark 15:34 - "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Luke 23:46 - "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

In addition to all the other contradictions, in Luke 4:1-13 the Bible tells us that Satan tempted Jesus for forty days. However, in James 1:13 it is said: "...for God cannot be tempted with evil..."

Are you seeing now how the seed of doubt that was planted in my mind as a child was only nurtured by the contradictions in what was taught to me to be the word of God? Again, Jesus never called himself God or referred to himself as he and God being one in the same. If you look at what Jesus (pbuh) actually claimed to be, a messenger (prophet) of God, you can plainly see that this goes hand in hand with the Islamic teachings and the Divine word of God found in the Holy Qur'an. In The Holy Qur'an the angels told Mary (Maryam):

"Mary, God gives you good tidings of a Word from Him who name is Messiah Jesus, son Mary; high honored shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men from the cradle, and of age, and righteous he shall be. "Lord, said Mary, "how shall I have a son seeing no man has touched me? "Even so", he said, "God creates what He will: "When he decrees a thing He does but say to it "Be", and it is. (Translation of Surah Al-Imran 3:45-47)

"Then the angels called him, while he was standing in prayer in Al-Mihrab (a praying place or a private room) (saying): Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya (John the Baptist), confirming (believing in) the word from Allah (i.e. the creation of Isa (Jesus), the word from Allah ("Be"...and he was!), noble, keeping away from sexual relations with women, a prophet from among the righteous. (Translation of Surah Al-Imran 3:39)

"That is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting. It is not for God to take a son unto Him. Glory be to Him! When He decrees a thing, He but says to it "Be", and it is. (Translation of Surah Maryam 19:34-35)

Jesus (pbuh) said in the Qur'an: "And verily, Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him (Alone). That is the Straight Path. (Allah's religion of Islamic Monotheism which He did ordain for all of His Prophets)." (Translation of Surah Maryam 19:36)

Islam knows that Jesus had no human father, however; this does not make him the son of God or God Himself. If the Christians were basing their beliefs and doctrine on the fact that Jesus had not an earthly father, then it would stand to reason that Adam had more entitlement to be labeled the son of God, as he had neither a human mother nor father. The Qur'an states the miraculous creation of both Adam and Jesus in the following verse:

"Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him, "Be", and he was. (Translation of Surah Al-Imran 3:59)

"O, Mankind: worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, so that you may ward off evil; who has appointed the earth as a resting place for you, the sky a canopy, and who causes water to pour down from the heavens, thereby producing fruit as food for you. So do not set up rivals to God, when you know better." (Translation of Surah Al-Baqarah 2:21-22)

As an adult teaching Sunday school, many times the children would ask me questions and I can remember the guilt I felt when all I could give them for an answer was "we just have to have faith". One afternoon, I went to the public library in my town looking for a concordance to help explain that which I didn't understand in the Bible. I was taken to a long row of books where over 1700 versions of the Bible were located. I remember feeling so lost and not knowing where to begin. Finally I reached for one and sat down in the middle of the isle and began to read. It seemed all the translations were different in one way or another. (Note: Some versions of the Bible had completely omitted the miraculous conception of the virgin Mary (Maryam) or had worded so that the entire meaning was lost. Since the Christians believe Jesus and God are one in the same I found it very odd that this miraculous birth of Jesus was left out) I remember praying to God to guide me to help me find the truth. I was searching, but I didn't know for what. As I was about to leave the library the title of a book attracted my attention. Upon closer investigation I saw that there were was an entire wall covered with "Missing chapters of the Bible"! I broke down into tears. Had God answered my prayers so quickly? I believe, yes.

I can honestly say that I do not remember a time that I ever doubted there was a God, perhaps on more than one occasion I questioned who He was, simply because of all the contradictions I had read in the Bible. But Allah (swt) is all Knowing all Wise, and through these contradictions and confusion it opened my heart and mind so that when the truth was presented to me, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was the True Religion of God. When Islam was first presented to me, I knew it was pure. One of the first things I asked was "how many "versions" is there of the Qur'an?". I was told only one text had ever been in existence and that the original text had never changed. I found myself going to every bookstore and library I could find, looking for some contradictions in the Qur'an. Although there are several interpretations of the Qur'an, never will you find contradictions even in the interpretations. I also compared the Arabic text from one Qur'an to another. I didn't need to be able to read Arabic to visibly see that the text was the same. Finally, satisfied that I wasn't going to be deceived again, I began to read the translations. I was amazed with the similarities of what was found in the Qur'an and what was contained in the Bible, without the contradictions though. Once I started reading I couldn't stop. The emphasis placed on the oneness (tawheed) of God found in the Qur'an was like reading the truth for the first time. There were no doubts; there was no confusion. I had found what I was searching for.

The Holy Qur'an (The Final Revealed Text From God)

Mankind was sent the Divine guidance through two forms. First, the word of Allah (swt) and second the Prophets who were chosen by Allah (swt) to go out and orate His will to the humane race.

In the original text of the Bible, tawheed (monotheism) was taught. Tawheed is a revolutionary principle and constitutes the essence of the teachings of Islam. It means that there in only One Supreme Lord of the universe, He is all-Powerful, all-Knowing and the Sustainer of the world and of humanity. However; for the most part this concept was lost from the Bible when the people of that time elevated Jesus to the level of being God himself. The Old Testament, the Gospels, and the New Testament were all sent before the Qur'an was revealed but even those were only transcripts simply because the followers of Prophet Moses (pbuh) and Prophet Jesus (pbuh) made little to no effort to record and preserve the teachings of their own Prophets.

When the Qur'an was revealed there were thousands upon thousands who not only recorded the Divine words of Allah (swt) (sent to Prophet Muhammed through the angel Gabriel) but who also memorized them. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph entrusted the collection of the whole Qur'an in one volume to the Prophet's scribe, Zaid Ibn Thabit. This volume was with Abu Bakr till his death. Omar the second Caliph was given the text to protect and preserve next and after him it came to Hafsa, the Prophet's wife. It was from this original copy that the third Caliph Uthman prepared several other copies and sent them to different Muslim territories. The Qur'an was perfectly preserved as it was to be the Book of guidance for humanity for all times to come. That is why it does not address the Arabs alone in whose language it was revealed. It speaks to man as a human being:

"…This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion… " (Translation of Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:3)

After the Qur'an was revealed, many people started unfounded rumors about it's authenticity. Allah (swt) in all His infamous wisdom knew they would and sent down the following challenges to mankind found in the ayah's below:

"Or do they say: "He (Muhammed) has forged it?", Say: "Bring then a Surah (chapter) like unto it, and call upon whomsoever you can besides Allah, if you are truthful!" (Translation of Surah Yunus 10:38)

"Or they say; "He (Prophet Muhammad) forged it (the Qur'an)." Say: "Bring you then ten forged Surah (chapters) like unto it, and call whomsoever you can, other than Allah (to your help), if you speak the truth! (Translation of Surah Hud 11:13)

"Say: "If the mankind and the jinn were together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they helped one another." (Translation of Surah Al-Isra 17:88)

"And if you (Arab pagans, Jews and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur'an) to Our servant Muhammad, then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful." (Translation of Surah Al-Baqarah 2:23)

Many years had been spent in confusion; many years of thirst had gone by…and finally, alhamdulillah my thirst was quenched. May Allah (swt) guide you as well in your search for the truth to the one and only true religion of God, Islam. Ameen.

Ashhadu Alla ilaha illalAllah
(I bear witness that there is no God but Allah)

Wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammad Rasulul Allah
(and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Messenger)

Written by an American Convert
By Sr. Amirah for The Islamic Bulletin

Resources used:

- King James Bible
- New American Standard Bible
- The Living Bible
- The New International Version
- The Qur'an

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The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

August 2000
Jumaada 1420
Note from the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Islam Makes Inroads in Italy
Britain's Prime Minister Praises Islam
Barbri Demolisher Accepts Islam
The Most Beautiful Names of Allah
Death is Coming
Al-Banna's Letter to a Muslim Student
Women in Islam
How I Embraced Islam
The Qur'an & Science
Benefits of Sujud
The Origin of Arabic Numerals
Stories of the Sahabah
Sayings of the Prophet
The Miracle of Honey
Kid's Corner
Cook's Corner
This is Islam
The Stranger
Everybody - Nobody