Challenges of a Muslim revert

Reverting to Islam is one of the bravest things anyone can do, especially in today’s Islamophobic climate. I had the opportunity to chat to one of my readers who used to be a deacon in a church. He became disillusioned and after much research decided to embrace Islam.

I asked him about practical things relating to his current lifestyle as a Muslim which I am sure other reverts also grapple with. Here is his compelling account of how he came to Islam followed by a Q & A of how he deals with the day to day practicalities of being a new Muslim.

I wish to thank Dani’yal for sharing his beautiful story and wish him the very best on the rest of his life’s journey.

How I came to Islam

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh my dear brothers & sisters.

I was a good Christian. I was always on time for church, being a deacon in the church & having pastoral duties such as choir conducting, theological seminars, caring for the sick and singing in the choir. In all of this, I never found the answers I was looking for & when I asked questions, I was told never to. Yet, the Bible says: “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His Righteousness.”

I started questioning myself & asked myself what the purpose was of all of this, living on earth & what heaven was, what hell was. I thought to myself how can we go to heaven if we commit sin all the time & use the holy communion as a trump card to wash it away, yet God will still judge us? It didn’t make sense to me, because Jesus said to follow God, and seek His aid and worship God alone.

I started doing studies based on religion and all forms of religion with what is happening on the Dunya (earth) at the moment.

What made it interesting to me was that Prophet Jesus (Allah’s blessings be upon him) was portrayed as the Son of God, this was my firm belief but then I saw how he was paganised by making him divine and to worship him when he said we shouldn’t. The root of the Son of God started with Nimrood and that’s where it all started, along with the sons of Mithras, or the Mithraic religion. This was too much for me and I wanted to disbelieve this. But then Allah gave me more guidance. Allah says: Be, and it is. Then when I did further studies, I found out that Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessings be upon him) is in all religious scriptures, even in ancient religions. This fascinated me even more and they all said Muhammad (Allah’s blessings be upon him) is the final prophet.

This then became my new belief and I realized that everything comes from one source, from Allah. Everything submits to Allah, man was given choice and reasoning to distinguish what is right from wrong and given intellect to research and look into things.

Then I realized that all prophets of Allah gave the same message, meaning one source and one God. I used to cry about the fact that the prophets were defiled by the kings of this earth and that former religions became man made to suit man. This disturbed me greatly to see how man would prefer to live by his own laws rather than the law of Allah.

Then one night I came to the Masjid and I approached the Sheikh and I told him how I felt. I also remember telling him that I took religion seriously and I would like to learn more. At this point, things started to move very quickly.

My parents soon found out that I was not active in the church. I refused to partake in ascribing partners to God and then I eventually had to leave my home because they weren’t happy serving two Gods as they put it.

But Alhamdulillah, Allah has made plans before I could even blink my eyes and I was sheltered by Him and protected safely in His love. I was assisted by the Imam of the mosque in my area and every evening I was well looked after. I got settled in and I started learning more things and new things in the Deen. There would come a time when I’d speak about how wonderful the Deen is and just cry because of the overwhelming Mercy that Allah has for us as His slaves.

Then on the 12th April 2011, a brother came home from Umrah. While he spoke of his encounters, I felt like getting up to say my Shahada (declaration to ONE GOD & that Muhammad SAW is the Final Messenger & Prophet of GOD) but something kept me back. I was literally rocking back & forth on my knees then I felt this tranquility come over me and I felt a presence on either side of me, it was a good feeling I had. I then knew it was time for me to say my Shahada. I went to greet the brother then turned to Sheikh. I was in tears and Sheikh said to me everything will be ok. So I told Sheikh I was ready. I then took my Shahada on that evening and today I can say Alhamdulillah that I am a Muslim and blessed to have received this gift from Allah.

Today, my name is Dani’yal, meaning “My judge is Allah” and “Intelligence”. I greet you by saying “Asalaamu Alaykum” meaning “Peace be with you” like the Prophet Muhammad did. Like Prophet Jesus said by saying As salaamu ‘alaykum (Aramaic language) & Prophet Moses did by saying “Shalom Aleichem” (Hebrew language) which means EXACTLY the same thing.

May Allah guide us all to the straight path & keep us all on it & bless us. Let us do good deeds so that we may receive the highest place in Jannah (Heaven) Insha Allah Ameen!

Q & A

Is finding halaal food a problem at all in the area you live?
Not at all. Things have really become much easier now since the last five/ six years being Muslim. There are new restaurants opening up all the time. The quality and diversity is also improving which is great. One thing I had to adjust to is that Muslims in general treat every restaurant as a family restaurant, mainly because there aren’t much nice places to eat at and kids get bored in upmarket settings and there is nothing to cater for entertainment for them.

Do you find it difficult to maintain making Salaah 5 times a day?
The difficulty lies with me and my nafs (desires). There should be no difficulty to perform salaah in any situation because things are becoming easier for Muslims to perform Salaah in malls and the likes. If not, there’s always a patch of land waiting to testify for you on the day of Judgement that you made salaah there.

How did you become used to fasting?
Prior to Islam, everyone will say that Muslims are crazy to fast, let alone go without water. Fasting is a complex form of worship to Allah. The food is the easy part. Everything else isn’t. This is my challenge in Ramadan.

What is it like when visiting your family, and are they sensitive to your needs for Halaal food?
In the beginning it was hard for them to accept, because I come from a lineage that has strong roots in their faith so it was difficult, and over time we became good to each other. Some of my family now call me by my Muslim name and if they know that I am coming, they will cater for me by ordering from their friends or colleagues who are Muslim. If they cannot then they will inform me before the time and I make arrangements for myself. I believe that food should not separate family, and even if they never catered for me, me being with them is more important than a plate of food.

How do you manage when you go out with non-Muslim friends, do they take your needs into consideration or do you adjust?
My friends go where I go, they make it very easy for me and this is never an issue for me. I have few friends, and if they invite me over, lets say for a braai, I bring my own grid with and my own meat, but I am never in a position to feel left out.

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