SR NAJIBAH BARHAM-VIC
I grew up in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne in a Christian home where prayers were said daily and church was attended regularly. Even so, I believe I have always been a Muslim.
In church, I listened to the Minister proclaiming the Trinity of God and knew that God was not three. My God was One and Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was not His son, but a man, , and a separate entity.
By the age of twelve I refused to attend church. I did not need the church to remind me of God's existence. I saw God
everywhere - in nature and in science. The Creation spoke to me and I believed unquestionably that, God's Essence
surrounded all I did. Unable to accept my parents beliefs, I began to search for the God I knew. As the Bible was the only holy book I knew, I began to study it. Its contradictions and illogical statements did not help me, only serving to reinforce the messages I was to read in the Holy Qur'an.
When I was seventeen I had a religious experience that proved to me beyond doubt that God existed and helped people in need when they asked for help. Still searching and never satisfied, I studied every new religion I came across - desperately looking for something concrete that confirmed what I believed. When I was twenty-six, I finally found my evidence in the Holy Qur'an. I had always been drawn to people with Arabic names, never realizing they were probably Muslims. My only known contact with Islam came from the movie studios of Hollywood. Call me naive, but I never associated Arabs with a religion.
My first contact with practising Muslims was through my Bangladeshi and Pakistani friends. One day we went to see the
movie "Jesus, son of Man". Afterwards we spent hours discussing Prophet Jesus (pbuh). Suddenly, I was asked: "Have
you ever read the Holy Qur'an?, I have read your Bible many times" I had to admit I hadn't and had no knowledge of the Book.
"You should read it", I was told.
Because I had great respect for the person who made that all important suggestion, and because I felt I had a duty to do so, I went in search of the Holy Qur'an.
The only copy I could find was "The Meaning of the Glorious Qur`an" translated by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. I took a week to read it. During that week I realized I had finally found a book that portrayed God and The Creation as I perceived it. I was overjoyed. My beliefs were verified and I realized millions of people believed in the same way as me.
I no longer needed to search for the meaning of life or my purpose on Earth. A doorway to a new life had been opened for me and I willingly stepped through it.
Wanting to share my joy, I gave my copy of the translation of the Holy Qur'an to my sister and asked her to read it and then tell me what she thought.
She came back to me a few days later and said: "We should be Muslims, Christianity is the wrong religion."
Elated, we discussed what we should do. Being very practical, she suggested we find a mosque. After inquiring, we were told that there was a mosque in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, in Preston.
It was late at night before we found the mosque. Only a caretaker was there, but we were welcomed and shown over the mosque, given pamphlets about Islam, and invited back the next day to meet and talk with Muslims.
The people we met were open and friendly. If their lives were full of chaos, it was because God was testing them. They
expected to be tested and were happy, as they had God's assurance that "He" would not test them with something they
couldn't bear. The Holy Qur'an solved their everyday problems, giving them Divine Guidance. They were at peace and feared only God. The calmness that surrounded them and the conviction that they were right in their beliefs added strength to everything they did.
It made me believe even more that I had come home, that I belonged, and I never wanted to leave them for the insecurity that had been my previous life.
Islam catered for the humanitarian in me. It offered brotherhood of man, equal rights, women's rights, and conservation of Earth's resources. It offered a purpose to life and the promise of Eternal Life in clear, precise terms. No wonder I eagerly stepped through the doorway and into the world of Islam.
Seventeen years later, I still have no regrets in doing so. Alhamdulillah.
"On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: Before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: They will never be wronged." (Qur'an 23:62)
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Wednesday, 18 July 2007
SR NAJIBAH BARHAM-VIC