Jan 11 2022
Dmitriy is a native Russian who converted from Christianity to Sunni Islam after reading Islamic texts like the Quran. He became intrigued by Shiism when a friend sent him a video condemning them, later on after reading Nahj Al Balagha and pondering upon its magnificence and how it all seemed to make sense, he converted to Shia.
Interview with Dmitriy Kostov a Russian who converted to Shia Islam
I always had a question in my mind that among various existing religions which one was right. So, I started studying different religions and occult sciences (such as astrology and Tarot).
Please introduce yourself.
In the name of God, the compassionate the merciful. My name is Dmitriy Kostov. I’m a 21-year-old economics student. I’m from Russia and live in Saint Petersburg.
How did you know Islam and what religion you used to follow before converting?
I was born in a Christian family and I was orthodox Christian like the other Russians. Whenever I did research on my religion, I discovered several paradoxes which made me be opposed to the essence of Christianity. I always had a question in my mind that among various existing religions which one was right. So, I started studying different religions and occult sciences (such as astrology and Tarot).
The first time I became acquainted with Islam was at school when I started speaking to my Sunni Azeri friend about Islam and Christianity which attracted my attention to Islam. We went to a bookstore together to buy Islamic books and as soon as the bookseller understood that I was Christian, he started arguing with me in order to make me dispense with my idea of buying books. But when he understood he couldn’t change my mind gave me a book titled “God’s miracles” as a gift.
I read all the books I had bought at home. Some of them had explanations about the gins which were so interesting to me for I had read the Aladdin story when I was a kid. So when my friend said Muslims believe in the existence of creatures named “gin”, I became interested. I read all the books but I didn’t know that all of them were published by the Wahhabis. Some issues written in the books were completely lies or in contradiction with wisdom. For instance, in the very book “God’s miracles” there were some pictures of the clouds in the sky which were in the shape of the name of God in Arabic. Well, it wasn’t a miracle in my opinion because it wasn’t an unusual event.
I also read some other articles which were about the converts such as Neil Armstrong the American astronaut. According to that paper, Neil Armstrong heard the call of prayer (Adhan) in a conference in Egypt and when they told him that the sound was Muslims’ call of prayer, he converted to Islam because he had already heard it in the space. Of course, every human being is responsible for his own deeds and I don’t intend to say that the author of the article was lying but the story of Armstrong’s converting didn’t convince me scientifically for no sound can be heard in the space.
All these issues made me lose my interest in Islam but my next researches resulted in knowing that Quran is a wonderful book and Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is a divine prophet. I also discovered that Zoroaster was a divine prophet living in ancient Persia.
Moreover, I divided the religions I knew into two groups. The first group was consisted of the religions which had only one God and the second group included the religions which had multiple gods. I gave much thought to know which of those religions were right and what finally came to my mind was the righteousness of the first group because the gods in multiple-God religions were dependent and ate food and fought each other. Therefore, they couldn’t be the creators of this world. Even we human beings face challenges and discords while working in a group. So do the gods in such religions. Whereas, God is not dependent on anything and doesn’t need anything. So, I concluded that there’s only one God.
The reason I embraced Islam was that I saw such paradoxes and falsifications in other religions. Even some Prophets introduced in these religions had no faith in God. But there’s a story in Gospel of Matthew 21:34 which is a good reason for us about this issue (proving that prophets were sent to us by God).
Once Jesus Christ was talking with a group of knowledgeable men and telling them the story of the owner of a garden: “There was a big garden which its owner hired some employees to work there and share a definite portion of the fruits with him at the end. On the deadline, the owner sent his agent to receive the agreed portion but the workers disobeyed and expelled him from the garden”. Jesus Christ asked his companions: “what should the owner do in this situation?” They answered: “he must punish them, fire them and employ others instead of them.” Jesus also confirmed this solution. Therefore, we can conclude from this story that God has given us blessings and sent us his messengers. If we disobey the messengers it is as we have disobeyed God for, they represent God and speak and act on behalf of him.
And when the time of the fruit drew near … –The time of gathering the fruit. The vineyard was let out, probably, for a part of the fruit, and the owner sent to receive the part that was his. Sent his servants– These, doubtless, represent the prophets sent to the Jewish people. (Matthew 21:34)
Another issue is that the priests who intend to argue against Islam say “Jesus had several miracles while the prophet of Islam had none and didn’t foretell anything.” But it’s not right at all because there are many narrations proving Prophet Muhammad had several miracles and predictions. Besides some priests say: “all people witnessed the miracles of Jesus but Muhammad’s miracles were only seen by his companions.” A question can be posed here: who were the companions of Prophet Muhammad? People who lived in his time. So by this argument we can say that the miracles of Jesus were only seen by his companions and the information about them were written only in the Bible (Sacred text).whereas, the miracles of Muhammad were expressed in various books. I also personally believe that none of us have seen the miracles with our own eyes and just know through the books.
Generally, I couldn’t find a special reason to change my religion and whenever I thought about doing so I felt scared. But during this hesitation period, I bought a Tajweed (elocution) book in order to learn the Arabic alphabet.
Once, I saw a video clip shared in an Islamic group on the net showing the Christians’ sacred text named 50 signs predicting the emergence of Islam. One of those signs was the revelation of a new song to Prophet David’s tongue. It was claimed in the clip that the song was Quran. I became so angry after watching the clip because it was not true at all. Immediately I asked the members of that group about their claims. I told them “what was revealed in David’s tongue was sent from God but Quran was narrated by Muhammad. Why do you proselytize Islam by false information?” One of members who was a girl from Morocco started talking to me. Although she didn’t answer my question, she explained several issues including a few verses of the sacred texts (Book of Isaiah, 29:11-12) which made me convert to Islam:
The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, “Please read this,” he will say, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, “Please read this.” And he will say, “I cannot read.”
When I read the verses, I remembered the story of Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy when Gabriel said recite and he said “I cannot read”. Those verses influenced me and decided to convert to Islam.
How did you choose to become Shia?
After I converted to Islam, I decided not to follow any sect unless I know which one is right. I studied about Sunnis, Wahhabism and Sufism but there was no information about Shias. I asked my Sunni friends about Shiism and they sent me a video clip showing a Wahhabi mufti explaining Shia thoughts. He said that Shias are followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Wahhabis love Ali too for he was the bravest, the most knowledgeable and a just person in the Islamic society. But a few minutes later he said “if anyone believes that Ali is the first successor after Prophet Muhammad (like what Shias do) he would be a disbeliever”. That clip seemed strange and unreasonable to me for the mufti introduced Ali as the wisest and the purest. So how was it possible that believing in Ali’s succession would be a kind of disbelieving? This issue made me curious to know more about Shiism. I asked one of my Shia friends to introduce me Shia sources and he named “Nahj al-Balagha” and “knowing Shiism” by Ayatollah Makarm. I read the books and searched on the net to learn Shia ideology more and more. When I checked the debates between Shia and Sunni, Sunni arguments didn’t persuade me. Even when I read some Hadiths (narratives) of Sahih al-Bukhari, I realized that some of them didn’t describe Prophet Muhammad rightly and so was Sahih Muslim. In general, I couldn’t accept that all the hadiths in a book are mentioned correctly for there are unauthenticated hadiths that we cannot trust them. Besides the criteria for authenticity of the hadith is Quran and according to Quran, Prophet Muhammad’s temper was the best. But in Bukhari it is not written like that.
While searching on Shiism, some questions came to me about a tradition called Tatbir (self-harm in mourning ceremonies done by some Shias). I asked my question from my Shia friend and he replied “prominent Shia scholars such as Ayatollah Khamenei and other grand scholars have declared it forbidden. Tatbir is a wrong tradition promoted by clerics like Yasser al-Habib and some TV channels supported by Britain.” After hearing his reply and based on my previous researches, I became a Shia Muslim.