Mar 5 2022
Written by Brother Ali Ja’afary Stump
“In the Name of ALLAH, the Beneficent, the Merciful”
In order to find something to give me life again, I decided to turn towards God and religion. I studied some different religions; the first was to go back to my origins Christianity. I always deep down believed in a God, but the Christian point of view for me was limited, closed and very hard to accept. I recalled that whenever I questioned Christian authorities about certain issues, they could never give me an adequate answer. It seemed their policy was “take what we give you and be quiet”?. My heart cracked even more when I attempted to go to a religious gathering, given by a certain Christian group. I felt like I was attending a social club, where each person was put into his or her social class. The orator spoke of nothing of true importance, his speech lacked any traits of morality and was little more then a sing along after reading verses with no apparent objective, later he told us how after many years of material success, it was then, perhaps, a good time for people to think of marriage. “And what should we do in the meantime and can we receive support from this community if we were ready to be married and were not materially successful?”? I asked. The whole congregation gave me a cold stare as if my questioning the speaker was a sin. The worst was when I overheard some people there, planning their activities for after the religious gathering, I cannot even repeat the things I heard, said by them, they who claimed to be religious people. I guess they practiced the so-called “HAVE FUN!”? policy constantly fed to us by every means possible. At that point I got up and I left very disappointed, I thought surely Christianity would be far from the material traps of our Occidental society. I was wrong. “And be not like those who came forth from their homes in great exultation and to be seen of men, and (who) turn away from the way of ALLAH, and ALLAH comprehends what they do”?. (The holy Qur’an 8 Al-Anfal 47)
The aeroplane had not yet left the ground and I felt a pounding in my chest, I have flown on planes many times, so I knew it was not fear of flying. I had just finished visiting some people that I knew and I was rather full of anxiousness, looking forward to going home after a rather strange, bizarre and uncomfortable visit. I told myself the things that I had seen on this trip I must put behind me and forget. When I finally got to my seat my heart was overcome with grief, a kind of grief that I had never experienced before. I was lucky I was seated alone so I took a blanket, covered myself, laid down and cried bitterly and painfully for the entire 5 hour flight home. Little did I know that flight home would forever change my existence. The Prophet Muhammad (saww) said: “ALLAH the Almighty loves any grieving heart”?. (Al-Seyed Nasih al-Din/ Mishkat ul-Anwar fi Ghurar il-Akhbar 1646.)
Many months before this incident, I had been reflecting very deeply about existence, creation, life, death, good and evil. I realised during this visit that these people whom I knew for many years, where somehow different to me and I sensed that I seemed somehow different to them. My heart and soul was very far from them, I had very little to say to them and did not find myself comfortable around them. I changed my flight to leave there one and a half weeks earlier than scheduled, I could no longer support being around these people. I found myself distant; upon my return I found my apartment a sort of prison chamber, however, when I went out to breathe, the society around me disappointed and angered me, yet I had lived in this city all my life. I suddenly felt deep regret about my life, my conduct, my behaviour, my goals, my morality and my entire existence up to that point. I did not feel like someone in a depression, no this was much more spiritual and much more repentant, and not just a case of feeling sorry for myself. “And HE is it WHO accepts repentance from HIS servants and pardons the evil deeds and HE knows what you do”?. (The Holy Qur’an 42 Al-Shura-25)
Many times I had looked for answers to my questions by different sources and every time I searched with what the Occidental social system had to offer. I found myself in a deeper state of confusion and destitution. Their answers always had the same old themes to their so called solutions: “HAVE FUN!”? and in order to have what they call fun, you need a lot of material things and money. In order to get more material and money, you must then work much harder and longer. They keep pushing their materialistic illusions and dreams to the population, through their 24 hour media (television, magazines, radio, music, etc…), to the point that man ends up working himself away in useless jobs (except for making the system richer), he soon starts to loose touch with himself to the point he turns to intoxicants to relieve his ever growing stress. While his debt grows, he turns to crime in order to try and gain more money and then he becomes a social problem. The authorities then take full advantage of this poor deprived ignorant worker and blame him for all the problems of their heartless system. And if you dare to say to them before all this happens, “perhaps I can find my answers from God?”? They answer you “Perhaps we can recommend a very good doctor for you”?. “Evil is that for which they have sold their souls-that they should deny what ALLAH has revealed, out of envy that ALLAH should send down of HIS grace on whomsoever of his servants HE pleases; so they have made themselves deserving of wrath upon wrath, and there is a disgraceful punishment for the unbelievers”?. (The Holy Qur’an 2 Al-Baqarah 90)
But let’s not drift away from the subject at hand. Once I finally realised that the social system could not, in any way attend and cater to my needs, I decided to find another path. At this point I had now realised my heart was cold, hard and empty, my life no longer had any reason or essence. I woke up like an animal, I spent my day like an animal and I ended my days like an animal. “Surely the vilest of animals, in ALLAH’s sight, are the deaf, the dumb, who do not understand”?. (The Holy Qur’an 8 Al-Anfal 22).
The Distant Dawn:
To be honest I always got very confused when God was described in forms, with body parts, with partners, in groups, as objects or as human. My idea of god at that time was much greater than any of the religions I explored. I could not understand why they insisted to put God in a certain image and then tear down that image in order to fit their groups’ (religious movements) desires. As if they, in some hidden way, wanted to have some sort of control over God (may ALLAH Azz wa Jall forbid such blasphemous ways of thinking), much like the idolaters of ancient times. Truly I only found ignorance in their calling for somehow they lacked any sense of truth in what they preached. But I don’t want to go far from the subject at hand. I needed to find The One Creator and the Only Originator above all existence; I had not yet discovered Islam. “And most of them do not follow (anything) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail aught against the truth; surely ALLAH is cognizant of what they do”?. (The Holy Qur’an 10 Yunus 36)
Then one day I read: “La ilaha illa Llah”? (There is no god but ALLAH) on a short booklet from Iran, that a man showed me, who said he was going to become a Muslim in order to get married to a certain lady. My interest drifted away quickly from his story, for the words I had just read on the booklet are the words I longed for so long to hear. The sight of such miraculous words took me away far from where I was. I politely asked him to borrow the booklet and quickly went home. When I arrived, I pulled the booklet out of my back-pack and began to read it. Never had I read such words, I only imagined such great things or seen them in dreams, I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness and at the same time full of repentance and regret not to have found such truth before. I needed to know more so the next day, I returned to the man who lent me the booklet, I asked him if he had any other literature on Islam or knew anyone who did. He knew very little about the subject, however, he did lend me another booklet and a translation of the Holy Qur’an. I decided to read them carefully and to try to find answers to my questions, a new day was dawning. “He said: O my lord! Expand my breast for me”?. (The Holy Qur’an 20 Ta-Ha 25)
The Purification of my Heart
I closed myself in my apartment and began to read it, or did I? I felt more like I was being absorbed into the miraculous sentences written within the pages. I kept telling myself this was for sure not written by any man. My true understanding of the Holy Qur’an at that time was very limited, but believe me my brothers and sisters, I, at that very second testified to my most inner self that I was holding in my hands the Greatest Miracle to ever come down to mankind. My heart was beating rapidly, the more I read the more I fell into a deep state of repentance. As I read more I kept asking myself “What have you been doing with yourself all of this time?”? I wasted 33 years of my life, living with no heart, ignorantly, arrogantly, in painful lies, amongst the non-merciful, wasting my time and life in idle activities, living only for the temporary joys of this transitory life. I felt so much remorse, regret, disgrace and pain. Besides this I felt so incredibly overwhelmed that despite all the wrong I had done ALLAH (swt) in all His Mercy and Compassion gave me the chance to discover the truth and purity of ALLAH’s chosen religion Islam. For 2 days and nights I stayed in my apartment reading the Holy Qur’an, reflecting, repenting and crying. “Yet surely your Lord, with respect to those who do an evil in ignorance, then turn after that and make amends, most surely your Lord after that is Forgiving and Merciful”?. (The Holy Qur’an 16 An-Nahl 119)
I cannot put into words or in feelings the incredible effect and overwhelming impact that the discovery of Islam had and still has on me. Every second of my life ever since that day I am so thankful to ALLAH (swt) for opening my heart to this Miracle. The first thing I did I searched to find how I could take the pledge (shahadatayn) of faith and to begin my life. I found a Sheikh that I could easily go and visit and open my heart completely to ALLAH, to beg forgiveness, to re-discover life and Insha’ALLAH take the Straight Path. After a very interesting discourse I made the pledge with the words: “Ashhadu an la ilaha illa-Llah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasulu-Llah”?. It was only a week or so before the Holy month of Ramadan; even though I did not have knowledge of all the facets of fasting (physically, emotionally, spiritually, religiously, etc…) I did decide to fast this most privileged month and the first experience of fasting was a great one. I also began to purchase books in order to learn more and to gain closeness to ALLAH Azz wa Jall. My life forever changed at that moment I began to sleep better, I began to notice and see things I had never understood before. I began my Jihad against my €˜self’, I repented so much and I realised the inner battle will be one that will never end, this new inner conscious and code of morality, not only imprinted in my mind, but in my heart and soul as well. Imam Ali (a-s) said: “A man’s personality is imperfect before he learns the religious questions, manages the affairs of his livelihood moderately, tolerates the misfortunes that befall him and finds sweet the bitterness of friends”?. (Tuhaf Al-Uquul chapt Imam Ali (a-s) hadith # 148)
Into the Light of Islam
The deep regret and repentance I felt traveled with me at all times, along with the new light of hope. Until this day I ask myself WHY? Why did ALLAH Azz wa Jall open my heart, why did he fill me with so much love, never did I ever do anything to ever deserve one tiny little small microscopic blessing or mercy. But ALLAH (swt) gave me the greatest and biggest blessing man can ever possibly want and need. ALLAH opened my heart to ISLAM in HIS Enormous and never ending Generosity, HE gave me the opportunity to strive in his way and possibly enter paradise to live in felicity and blissful happiness for all eternity. And every day that I raise from my bed I thank ALLAH (swt) for this amazing chance; I reflect and thank ALLAH (swt) for this is possibly my last day in this life. And I go to sleep at night thanking ALLAH (swt), reflecting and knowing that the Angel of death may take me tonight. Truly ALLAH (swt) saved me from the darkest possible place on earth, and HE filled me with the greatest of lights, the Light of truth, the Light of ISLAM. Glory to ALLAH (swt) THE MOST HIGH, THE MOST MERCIFUL. I became very interested in studying Islam in a deeper way, I tried to get knowledge were I could, I began to buy many books on many different Islamic subjects. Its now been about 4 years since I’ve embraced Islam, I now have over 400 books about Islam in my home, until now I’ve read over 130 books on different Islamic issues (Alhamdulillah wa Shukranlillah), I read constantly and study what I read, I try to practise what I learn. I dedicate all the free time I get in order to learn more, not out of obligation, but out of pure and deep love for ALLAH (swt). I’ve chosen to follow the school of the Ahlul-Bayt (a-s), and when I embraced Islam with all of its glory, I embraced it as a Shia. For Shi’ism was the only logical way to the True Islam. I now hope Insha’ALLAH to have an opportunity to advance and to go to study in the Hawza and to gain even more closeness to my most beloved Lord ALLAH Azz wa Jall, I truly pray that this opportunity will come to me Insha’ALLAH. “Therefore remember ME, I will remember you, and be thankful to ME, and do not be ungrateful to ME”?. (The Holy Qur’an 1 Al-Baqarah 152)
I am also constantly blessed by ALLAH (swt) in so many different ways. One week after converting to Islam, I decided that it would be very important to learn Arabic in order to understand many of the deeper meanings of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saww) and his Ahlul-Bayt (a-s). With the guidance of ALLAH (swt) I obtained the name and phone number of a scholar, I contacted him and met him at his office. He was very kind and has been extremely patient with me. He taught me the Arabic alphabet then to read, write and speak. May ALLAH (swt) bless him and his family with the best of blessings both in this life and for the hereafter. He also showed me the Salat (prayer) and many other Islamic Issues; he became a best friend, a trustworthy companion and the very best of brothers. He always took the best care of me since the beginning. May ALLAH Azz wa Jall be pleased with him. “They shall have the abode of peace with their Lord, and He is their guardian because of what they did”?. (The Holy Qur’an 6 Al-An’am127) “Surely (as for) those who believe and do good deeds for them will ALLAH bring about love”?. (The Holy Qur’an 19 Maryam 96)
As I began to understand more about the deeper aspects of Islam, I began to visit Masjids (mosques) and met many good and supportive brothers. I also got the chance to exchange ideals and knowledge with them. Many of them took a lot of care to be sure I was always comfortable in all circumstances. They always made me feel very happy. They truly have a place in my heart and all my support in all occasions. The brotherhood they showed me, I never thought possible before I embraced Islam. To them all I owe many thanks, they have followed the lead of their Prophet Muhammad (saww) in promoting equality and brotherly love. Surely I can never say enough good things about them, they are an example for all. They are truly righteous and good. Imam Sajjad (a-s) said: “The meeting of the righteous invites you to goodness”?. (Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol.78, p.151)
The support and good hearts of the people of our Islamic community shines like no other. We must continue to spread the true message of Islam; we are the guides for the ignorant and lost. We must now more than ever stand together in a strong bond, so we can reach even further and go beyond our expectations. We must not forget we are the followers of the religion of ALLAH (swt) and it is this religion that HE chose for our Prophet Muhammad (saww) and for all of mankind. Believe me brothers and sisters if you knew what life was like far away from Islam, you would protect your beliefs, your morals and your Islamic faith above all things and until your death. We must not forget that our Imam; Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi (a-s) (may ALLAH (swt) hurry his advent) will re-appear, we must be an outstanding community to receive such a great honour and privilege. And by the power of ALLAH Azz wa Jall he will be commanded to judge amongst us. We must be to him as the companions of Imam Hussayn (a-s) were to Imam Hussayn (a-s) on the day of Ashura in Karbala. I thank you all for your continuous support. Imam Ali (a-s) said: “The best of you are those whom when seen remind the people of ALLAH (swt)”?. (Mishkat-ul-Anwar fi Ghuraril-Akhbar Hadith # 525)
As for myself:
It is very difficult for me to put into words all the greatness and all the blessings and peace Islam has given to me. For all of us it is not so important how and when we became a Muslim (by birth or by conversion), it is much more important the fact that this extraordinary blessing of purity and truth has deeply touched and effected our lives and it is at very least our duty to protect it, to follow and obey the word of ALLAH Azz wa Jall (The Holy Qur’an), to follow the teachings of our beloved and infallible Prophet Muhammad (saww) and his pure and infallible Ahlul-Bayt (a-s). I pray that I may be successful in my travel towards the Straight Path. I strive to turn away from this transitory life’s material distractions, I tremble and shake to be one who on The Day of Judgement has a bright and clear face and not a blacken and mournful face. I beg and plead to ALLAH (swt) to please give me protection from all evils around, in front, in back, above, below me and those contained within me. I cry and repent to ALLAH (swt) for guidance in all my affairs and to make me one who lives completely and only to be close and near to ALLAH (swt). I beseech and Implore for forgiveness for all the sins, errors, misdeeds, transgressions, offences and wicked acts that I had committed, that I am committing, and that I will commit. All praises and all thanks are to ALLAH (swt) The CREATOR and The ORIGINATOR of absolutely all existence; never can I thank ALLAH Azz wa Jall enough for saving me from the horrible darkness that I lived in and the most atrocious hell fire I was preparing for myself in my extreme ignorance. Now the veil has dropped to the ground around me and for the first time in my life I can see the TRUTH. O ALLAH, please protect us from the fire, O ALLAH, bless Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt just as THOU hast guided us by him! Bless Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt just as THOU hast rescued us through him! Bless Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt with a blessing that will intercede for us on the Day of Resurrection, the day of neediness toward you! THOU art powerful over everything, and that is easy for YOU! “ALLAH is the guardian of those who believe. HE brings them out of the darkness into the light”?. (The Holy Qur’an 2 Al-Baqarah 257).
A Very Special Thank-you:
I wish to thank all the entire Community of Islam and in particular my very dear brothers at Al-Hawra.com and Masjid Al-Hawra Zainab (a-s) Foundation for all of their support and encouragement, for their great friendship and brotherhood. May ALLAH AZZ wa JALL bless them and their families.