Friday, 20 June 2014

Changing faiths: Hispanic Americans leaving Catholicism for Islam

With more than 50 million Hispanics living in the US, the Latino community is now the country's biggest minority.

While most are brought up within the Catholic Church, a number of them are turning to Islam.

Precise figures are difficult to pin down as the US Census does not collect religious data, but estimates for the number of Latino Muslims vary between 100,000 and 200,000.


Islam is most commonly associated with the Middle East and the Arab world, but the simple truth is that 85 percent of the world's Muslims are non-Arab. Current estimates suggest that one-fourth of the world's population is Muslim (roughly 2.6 billion). When looking at the countries with the largest Muslim populations, most are from the Eastern World: Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Ian, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, China, Syria and Russia. But the prevalence of Islam doesn't just lie in the Eastern world, as new reports are suggesting that Hispanics are converting to Islam.
The Hispanic community is one that has strong roots in Catholicism, but yet BBC reports that the U.S. Census finds that Latino Muslims number between 100,000 and 200,000. BBC reporter Katy Watson spoke with Yousef, a half Colombian and half Ecuadorian. "I was very, I guess ignorant," said Yousef. "And I think what I saw enraged me -- I saw people falling from the towers. In the end, I hated Muslims. My hatred was diminished, it was extinguished really, my learning about Islam. My project I was given to learn about Islam in college. And once I did that, I made the decision to come to the faith."
In fact, in Union City in New Jersey, where more than 80 percent of the population is Hispanic, mosques and Islamic religious centers are popping up. One local mosque has a 30 percent Latino population and classes are held in Spanish to help converts learn more about the Qur'an. "We are a minority within a minority, growing very rapidly," says Nahila, a Mexican convert who works at an outreach center. "I think they're looking for that niche." Nahila goes on to explain that the hardest part of converting for a Latino is the feeling that they are leaving their family.
CNN reports that a 2011 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 2.75 million Muslims live in the United States and in 2008, four percent of America's Muslims identified themselves as Latinos. The vast majority of the Latino Muslim community were found in major cities, such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago and the Bronx. As for why Latinos are converting, the reasons are across the board ranging from marrying into the faith, disatisfaction in their birth faith, exposure to the religion during prison or attending interfaith events. One common factor found; however, is that most of the converts switch faiths in adulthood.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

German Brother reverts to Islam

 


My name is Yahya Schroder. 

I am a "European" Muslim. 

I became Muslim when I was 17. 

I am living now in Potsdam, Germany and I want to share my experience with you as a Muslim in a non-Muslim state.
As a convert to Islam, I think it's much easier to follow the deen (religion) than a born Muslim who is been raised up here.

Almost all young born-Muslims I know want to become Germans. For them Islam is only a tradition and they think that they have to give up their tradition (Islam) to be accepted by the Germans, despite the fact that the Germans won't accept them even if they gave up their religion.

I grew up in a little village. I lived with my mother and my stepfather in a huge house with a big garden and a big pool. And as a teenager I "lived a cool life;" I had some friends whom I used to hang around with, do stupid things and drink alcohol like every young German teen.

The life of a Muslim in Germany is quite difficult than one would think especially for me as a German Muslim because when someone asks a German what they know about Islam; they would tell you something about Arabs. For them it's like mathematical operation Islam = Arabs.

They still don't know about our big nation. When I converted to Islam I had to leave my family and I moved to the community in Potsdam near Berlin. I left this huge house and all my material valuable stuff.

When I lived with my mother and my stepfather I had everything; a big house, my own money, TV, Play-station. I was never concerned about money, but I wasn't happy. I was searching for something else.

When I turned 16 I met the Muslim community in Potsdam through my biological father who became Muslim in 2001. I used to visit my father once a month and we used to attend the meetings of the community which were held on Sundays.

At that time, I was interested in Islam, and my father noticed this and told me one day that he wouldn't speak about Islam when we are together because he wanted me to learn from people of greater knowledge so that other people won't say: "Oh he became Muslim just because he's 17 and does everything his father does."

I agreed and I started visiting the community every month and learned a lot about Islam but at that time something happened and changed my way of thinking. One Sunday, I went with the Muslim community swimming and I broke my back twice by jumping in the pool and I hit the ground with my head.

I noticed when Allah wants something; the individual's life can be turned over in one second.
My father brought me to the hospital and the doctor told me:
"You have broken your back quite bad and if you did one wrong movement you'll become handicapped."

This didn't help me much, but then just a few moments before they brought me to the operation room one of my friends of the Muslims community told me something: "Yahya, you are now in the hands of Allah, it's like a rollercoaster. Now you are on the top enjoy the ride and just trust in Allah." This really helped me.

The operation took five hours and I woke up after 3 days. I couldn't move my right arm but I was feeling like the happiest person on this earth. I told the doctor that I don't care about my right arm I'm so happy that Allah has let me survive.

The doctors have told me that I have to stay in the hospital for few months. I stayed for only two weeks there, because I was training very hard. One day a doctor came and said: "today we will try to take one step on the staircase," the exercise that I did on my own two days before the doctor told me.

Now, I can move my right arm again and I was just two weeks there Al-hamdu lillah. This accident changed a lot in my personality.

I noticed when Allah wants something; the individual's life can be turned over in one second. So, I took life more serious and started thinking more about my life and Islam, but I was still living in this little village.

I made a lot of da`wah to my classmates and now I even have a praying room although I'm the only Muslim in my school.
My wish to become Muslim became so strong that I had to leave my family. I left my stepfather, my mother and the luxury lifestyle to go to Potsdam. I moved to my father's apartment which is rather small and I had to stay in the kitchen but it was okay because I had nothing just a very few clothes, school books, and some CDs.

It must sound for you like I lost everything but I am very happy, I'm as happy as when I woke up in the hospital after the dreadful accident. The next day was the first day of Ramadan. The day after this was my first school day in my new school.

In My New School

The day after my first day in school I said Shahadah Al-hamdu lillah. So, everything was new for me, new apartment, new school, and first time without my mother. Like in my school when they first noticed that I am a Muslim they started to make jokes at me. I think this is usual because of what they learned from the media. "A terrorist," "Osama bin Laden is coming," "Muslims are dirty," some people thought I am just a crazy guy. And they even didn't believe me that I am German.

But now after 10 months the situation has changed. I made a lot of da`wah to my classmates and now I even have a praying room although I'm the only Muslim in my school.

My classmates changed from making jokes to asking serious question about Islam and they noticed that Islam is not a religion like the other religions. They noticed Islam is cool! They see that we Muslims have Adab (manners) in dealing with each other. They noticed that we are independent from all this peer pressure, we just keep it real we don't need to be in a special group like in my school.

At my school there are three main groups: the hip hop guys; the punks; and the party people. Everybody tries to be a member of one group, so as to be accepted by others. Except me! I can be a friend with everybody. I don't have to wear special clothes to be "cool." So what happened is that they are always inviting me and my Muslim friends to their barbecue parties.

The special thing on this is that they respect me as a Muslim and even more, they get Halal food especially for me and they have organized two barbecue grills one for them and one for us Muslims!

The people here are very open for Islam.

(Contributed by  brother Yahya on onislam.net)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

American Policeman reverts to Islam


My name is William, and I live in a large Midwestern city in the United States.
I am a typical American in many ways that are reflected in both my professional and personal lives. Professionally, I am a supervisor with a major police department, and I have been in the military, both active duty and in the reserves for the majority of my adult life.
Personally, I live in the suburbs with my wife and child, drive a pickup truck and occasionally wear cowboy boots. I pay my bills, treat my neighbors well, and prior to my reversion/conversion to Islam, I followed my religion in the manner in which I had been instructed.
As I said, my life was that of a typical American, with my main concerns being the little details of everyday life that everyone worries about. Little did I know that my religious beliefs would take me out of the “typical” life that I lead, and that they would instead become a major factor in my life, providing me with a sense of peace and completion that only a short time before I would not have thought possible.
My journey to Islam began with my association, and later friendship, with a man named Nasir. I met Nasir through work in the late 1980’s, and was impressed with his manners and the way that he treated me. I had met very few Muslims, and I was always a little uneasy around them as I was not sure how they would accept me.
Besides having the appearance of a pickup-driving-shotgun-toting-redneck, I was also a Jew, and the combination often seemed to unsettle people. Nasir, however, took everything in stride, and as a result a friendship slowly bloomed. Through Nasir, I really formed my first impressions of Islam and its adherents.
Over the years I watched how Nasir dealt with different situations, and was constantly impressed with the wisdom and patience that he displayed when he was dealing with difficult people or situations. He always took the high road, even at times when I, if I had been in the same situation, would have been tempted to treat the persons differently.
If I asked him why he did certain things, he would tell me a bit of wisdom which guided his actions. Most of these, (I realized later), were direct or indirect quotes from the Quran, which he told me not in a proselytizing way, but in a gentle manner as if he were teaching a child the proper way to conduct itself in the world.
In fact, prior to reading the Quran, I often marveled at how one person could be so wise and knowledgeable! Little did I know that those guiding principles were written down where I or anyone else could read them. I realize now how blessed I am that I was exposed to Islam and Muslims in such a positive way.

Around the winter of 2000, I began to have a serious interest in Islam. I read the Quran, but could not seem to fully understand it. Despite this difficulty, I continued to have a nagging feeling that I should continue, and so I studied other books about Islam. I learned a great deal, but in an academic and not in a spiritual way.
I double checked the dates of many of the modern “discoveries” that had been addressed in the Qur'an, and was astounded at what I found.
Again I attempted to read and understand the Quran, and again I had difficulties. I finally resolved to ask Nasir for help, and then the 9-11 incident happened. Suddenly I had a host of new worries, and I put my questions on hold. During this time period, I had a great deal of exposure to Islam, however very little of it was put to me in a positive manner.
As a police supervisor, I was constantly receiving warnings about perceived Islamic threats, and as an officer in the reserves I was around people who perceived Islam as a direct threat and Muslims as possible enemies. So, to my shame, I continued to wait and kept my studies on the Islamic world to those areas that directly influenced my professional life.
  
Then, in the late summer of 2004, that nagging feeling that had persisted suddenly intensified, and I finally asked Nasir for guidance. He told me about the tenets of his faith, and about the nature of the Quran. More importantly, he told me how crucial Islam was to his life, and how strongly he believed in it, not only as the word of God, but as the way in which man was meant to live.
He and his brother Riyadh then provided me with booklets about Islam that had answers to many of the questions that I had. With this knowledge in hand, I again approached the Quran, and suddenly found that it was not only readable, but that it made sense! I can only think that either I was not mentally ‘ready’ before, or that I simply needed the extra input in order to properly understand and process the information. Either way, I read and re-read everything that I had been provided, and then double checked the facts that had been presented to me. The more I read, the more amazed I was.
I found that the information that was in the Quran would have been impossible for Muhammad to have known had he not been a Prophet. Not only would it have been impossible for a man of his background and geographic location to have known many of these things, it would have been impossible for anyone of his time-period to have known them. I double checked the dates of many of the modern “discoveries” that had been addressed in the Quran, and was astounded at what I found. Not only did the Quran contain information that was centuries ahead of its time, but it did so with details, many of which could not have been known until this century.
I did not receive any new information or beliefs, but was instead capable of understanding that which I had already learned.
I became convinced that Muhammad was indeed a Prophet that had been inspired by God through his angel. Despite this, I still faced a dilemma. Although I now believed that Muhammad was a Prophet, I still was confused about what to do. Everything that I had ever believed was suddenly turned upside down, and I was at a loss for an explanation.
That night I prayed for guidance and understanding. I only believed in one god, but I wanted to know the manner in which I should hold that belief. The prayer was simple, but heartfelt, and I went to sleep full of hope that I would receive an understanding of the situation. When I awoke, I did so with the feeling that I had experienced an epiphany.
Everything was suddenly clear, and I understood how all the things that I had practiced before were simply observances that had been contrived by man in an attempt to follow religious principles that had changed over the millennia. I did not receive any new information or beliefs, but was instead capable of understanding that which I had already learned. I felt exhilarated, happy and at peace, and that morning I said the shahadah.
I told Nasir, and he took me to a nearby mosque for the Friday prayers. At the mosque I was lead to the front by Nasir, and I told the assembled congregation about why I had come there. Then Nasir and the Iman helped me repeat the profession of faith in Arabic.
Although I was a little nervous, the joy I felt upon doing this far outweighed any other feelings that I had. Afterwards, I was welcomed by the majority of the members in a manner that was so welcoming that I can hardly describe it. Most of the congregation shook my hand and welcomed me to Islam, and many of them offered to help me or to answer any questions that I might have. It was a wonderful experience which I will never forget.
In closing, let me say that the feeling of peace that came over me is still with me, and although I am still very early in the learning stages, I am happy and confident that I made the right decision. I am still a redneck-looking, pickup truck-driving, typical American.
Only now I am a Muslim American, and with the continued guidance and assistance of people like Nasir and Riyadh, I hope to one day set as good an example for others and they have been for me.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Indian actress Monica converts to Islam

South actress Monica has been converted to Islam religion, today, May 30, 2014. The actress has revealed few images of her in which she is seen wearing the Islam's traditional costume burka. Monica started her career as a child artiste in Tamil cinema and has acted in more than 50 films. She is also the popular face in other South Indian film industries like Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. However it is still not known what exactly made him to opt for one of the biggest religions in the world. The reason behind her getting converted into Islam religion has not been revealed yet. After getting converted into Islam, Monica has changed her name to MG Rehima.
 Monika announced her decision which she claims to be backed by her parents Maruti Raj and Gracy, in a recent press meet. She said that her decision to follow Islam is not based on monetary concern and it is only because she is inspired towards the Islamic tenets.

Monika who has acted in 70 films in all has said she has decided to quit acting in films and will be entering wedlock soon. She also promised to announce her wedding plan soon.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Meet a Ex-Hindu who convert 108,000 people to Islam

MATLI: Such are Deen Mohammad Shaikh’s powers of persuasion that he has converted 108,000 people to Islam since 1989, the year he left his birth religion Hinduism behind.
His multi-coloured business card describes the Matli dweller as the president of the Jamia Masjid Allah Wali and Madrassa Aisha Taleem-ul Quran – an institute for conversions to Islam.
The reedy 70-year-old brandishes an embellished cane. A red-and-white keffeiyah perched on his shoulder offers people a hint to his theological leanings.
As he speaks to The Express Tribune, his arm slices an invisible arc through the air. He is gesturing to a vast expanse of nine acres of donated land where converts are invited to pitch a tent and stay. “My heartfelt wish is that the entire world becomes Muslim,” comes his response, when asked about the en masse conversions. His piety is matched only by its ambition.
But contrary to the grandiose proclamation, this preacher isn’t a repository of rehearsed sound bites. It is only after he settles down on a charpoy that he deigns to embark on the journey of a Hindu named Jhangli who became an expert in evangelism.
“I always loved Islam,” he begins. “I read the Holy Quran and realised that 360 gods were not of any use to me.”
At first he had to study the Holy Quran in secret. There was the risk of being misunderstood if a Muslim caught him with the holy book. He started fasting and in fact he would begin a day before Ramazan started.
Shaikh’s mother grew alarmed at her son’s forays into another faith. She thought that if she married him off, he would not ‘leave’. Thus, he was barely 15 when his wedding took place, followed by a quick overtaking by nature – four girls and eight boys.
But despite this, he was drawn back to his curiosity and managed to find a teacher, Sain Mohammad Jagsi, who instructed him in the Holy Quran and Hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
Fortunately, Shaikh’s uncle was of the same mind and the two men agreed that they would give each other the strength. Shaikh held off until his daughter was married to a Hindu as planned, since he had already “given his word”. Then there was no turning back.
After his conversion, Deen Mohammad Shaikh made it his mission to woo others. He began in his own backyard, preaching to family, before venturing beyond this comfort zone. Encounters with the rich and powerful helped pave the way. Retired Pakistan Army general Sikandar Hayat, who owns a sugar mill in Matli, offered Shaikh money, which he turned down. Instead, he urged Hayat to give jobs to some of the new converts. Hayat and his daughter proved extremely helpful in providing assistance.
Now, Shaikh says, his fame has spread and people come to him from as far as Balochistan, members of all religions and sects, who would like to convert. A small mosque has sprung up in his residential compound along with a number of rooms where children – mostly girls – are taught how to say their prayers and recite the Holy Quran.
One of the teachers is 14-year-old Sakina, who is just 15 days into the job. “Only a few students are difficult to teach,” she says while commenting on their ability to recite a text in an unknown language.
Shaikh is aware of the difficulties converts face while taking on what appear to be the initially daunting rigours of a brand new system. He makes life easy for the first 40 days. “They only have to pray farz!” he says while referring to the mandatory parts. This relaxed schedule ensures that they can ‘confirm their faith’. He understands that if he demanded they start out with praying five times a day to offer even the optional and ‘bonus’ parts, “They would run away!” as he puts it with a look of mock horror on his face.
Other than this, he is reluctant to actually explain how he influences the people. All he offers is a nugget of fire and brimstone: “I tell them that I was a Hindu too and that they would burn in Hell if they are not Muslim.”
More than saving a soul
There are other practical considerations that accompany conversions. In order to ‘save’ the converts from influential Hindus in other districts, Shaikh packs them off to Hub Chowk while the Kalima is still moist on their lips. “Their families would beat them up (for converting) otherwise,” he explains.
This trick of the ‘trade’ he learnt from personal experience. He alleges that he was kidnapped along with his daughter-in-law by influential Hindus who threatened him so that he would stop converting people. “They don’t want these poor Hindus to stand up to them when they become Muslims,” Shaikh maintains.
Despite 108,000 conversions, for which a record is kept, Shaikh still doesn’t feel his work is done. He wants everyone to be a Muslim and learn from his example. He also attends the Tablighi Jamaat’s annual congregation in Raiwind, although he doesn’t believe in sectarian divisions. “All groups are like brothers to me,” he declares.

(source:hopeitw.com)