The story of a convert by Brother Ali Ja’afary Stump part 1

 

“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 Darkness:

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:

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)

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)