Ms. Sumaya Fannoun Erin



April  12,  1998. Bismillah  Arahman  Araheem.  My  intention  in writing my story is that for Allah's sake, I may help someone who is searching for the Truth, to realize that they have found it in Al Islam. I began writing this on Easter Sunday, kind of appropriate, I think. I have been Muslim now for seven years, Alhamdu Lillah (all praise  is  for  Allah,  [God]).  I  first  learned  of  Islam  while  attending University, from a Muslim friend of mine. I had managed to get out of  a  very  good,  college-prep  high  school  believing that the Qur'an was a Jewish book, and that Muslims were idol worshipping pagans. I was  not  interested  in  learning  about  a  new  religion.  I  held  the ethnocentric view that if since the US was "#1", we must have the best of everything, including religion. I knew that Christianity wasn't perfect, but believed that it was the best that there was. I had long held the opinion that although the Bible contained the word of God, it also contained the word of the common man, who wrote it down. 

As Allah would have it, every time I had picked up the Bible in my  life,  I  had  come  across  some  really  strange  and actually  dirty passages. I could not understand why the Prophets of God would do such abominable things when there are plenty of average people who live their whole lives without thinking of doing such disgusting and immoral  things,  such  as  those  attributed  to  Prophets David, Solomon, and Lot, (peace be upon them all) just to name a few. I remember hearing in Church that since these Prophets commit such sins, how could the common people be any better than them? And so, it was said, Jesus had to be sacrificed for our sins, because we just couldn't help ourselves, as the "flesh is weak". 

So, I wrestled with the notion of the trinity, trying to understand how my God was not one, but three. One who created the earth, one whose blood was spilled for our sins, and then there was the question of the Holy Ghost, yet all one and the same!? When I would pray to God, I had a certain image in my mind of a wise old man in flowing robe,  up  in  the  clouds.  When  I  would  pray  to  Jesus,  I  pictured  a young white man with long golden hair, beard and blue eyes. As for the Holy Spirit, well, I could only conjure up a misty creature whose purpose I wasn't sure of. It really didn't feel as though I was praying to one God. I found though that when I was really in a tight spot, I would  automatically  call  directly  on  God.  I  knew  inherently,  that going straight to God, was the best bet. 

When  I  began  to  research  and  study  Islam,  I  didn't  have  a problem with praying to God directly, it seemed the natural thing to do.  However,  I  feared  forsaking  Jesus,  and  spent  a  lot  of  time contemplating  the  subject.  I  began  to  study  the  Christian  history, searching for the truth. The more I looked into it, the more I saw the parallel between the deification and sacrifice of Jesus, and the stories of Greek mythology that I had learned in junior high, where a god and  a  human  woman  would  produce  a  child  which  would  be a demigod,  possessing  some  attributes  of  a  god.  I  learned  of  how important it had been to "St. Paul", to have this religion accepted by the Greeks to whom he preached, and how some of the disciples had disagreed with his methods. It seemed very probable that this could have been a more appealing form of worship to the Greeks than the strict monotheism of the Old Testament. And only Allah knows. 

I began to have certain difficulties with Christian thought while still in high school. Two things bothered me very much. The first was the  direct  contradiction  between  material  in  the  Old  and  New Testaments.  I  had  always  thought  of  the  Ten  Commandments  as very straight forward, simple rules that God obviously wanted us to follow.  Yet,  worshipping  Christ,  was  breaking  the  first  command-ment  completely  and  totally,  by  associating  a  partner  with  God.  I could  not  understand  why  an  omniscient  God  would  change  His mind, so to speak. Then there is the question of repentance. In the Old Testament, people are told to repent for their sins; but in the New Testament, it is no longer necessary, as Christ was sacrificed for the sins of the people. "Paul did not call upon his hearers to repent of particular sins, but rather announced God's victory over all sin in the cross of Christ. The radical nature of God's power is affirmed in Paul's  insistence  that  in  the  death  of  Christ  God  has  rectified  the ungodly (see Romans 4:5). Human beings are not called upon to do good works in order that God may rectify them." So what incentive did we even have to be good, when being bad could be a lot of fun? Society  has  answered  by  redefining  good  and  bad.  Any  childcare expert will tell you that children must learn that their actions have consequences,  and  they  encourage  parents  to  allow  them  to experience  the  natural  consequences  of  their  actions. Yet  in Christianity, there are no consequences, so people have begun to act like  spoiled  children.  Demanding  the  right  to  do  as  they  please, demanding God's and peoples' unconditional love and acceptance of even vile behavior. It is no wonder that our prisons are over-flowing, and that parents are at a loss to control their children. That is not to say  that  in  Islam  we  believe  that  we  get  to  heaven based  on  our deeds, on the contrary, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told  us  that  we  will  only  enter  paradise  through  God's  Mercy,  as evidenced in the following hadith. 

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one's good deeds will not make  him  enter  Paradise."  They  asked,  "Even  you,  O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy on me." 

So in actuality, I did not even know who God was. If Jesus was not a separate god, but really part of God, then who was he sacrificed to? And who was he praying to in the Garden of Gethsemane? If he was  separate  in  nature  from  God,  then  you  have  left  the  realm of monotheism, which is also in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Old Testament. It was so confusing, that I preferred not to think of it, and had begun to thoroughly resent the fact that I could not understand my own religion. That point was brought home when I began to discuss religion with my future husband at college. He asked me  to  explain  the  Trinity  to  him.  After  several  failed  attempts  at getting him to understand it, I threw my hands up in frustration, and claimed that I couldn't explain it well because, "I am not a scholar!" To  which  he  calmly  replied,  "Do  you  have  to  be  a  scholar  to understand  the  basis  of  your  religion?" Ouch!, that really hurt; but the truth hurts sometimes. By that point, I had tired of the mental acrobatics required to contemplate who I was actually worshipping. I grudgingly listened while he told me of the Oneness of God, and that He  had  not  changed  his  mind,  but  completed  his  message  to mankind  through  the  Prophet  Muhammad,  Allah's  peace  and blessings be upon him. I had to admit, it made sense. God had sent prophets  in  succession  to  mankind  for  centuries,  because  they obviously kept going astray, and needed guidance. Even at that point, I told him that he could tell me about his religion, just for my general information.  "But  don't  try  to  convert  me",  I  told  him,  "because you'll  never  do  it!"  "No",  he  said,  "I  just  want  you  to  understand where I'm coming from and it is my duty as a Muslim to tell you." And of course, he didn't convert me; but rather, Allah guided me to His Truth. Alhamdu Lillah. 

At about the same time, a friend of mine gave me a "translation" of the Qur'an in English that she found at a book store. She had no way of knowing that this book was actually written by an Iraqi Jew for the purpose of driving people away from Islam, not for helping them to understand it. It was very confusing. I circled and marked all the passages that I wanted to ask my Muslim friend about and when he returned from his trip abroad, I accosted him with my questions, book  in  hand.  He  could  not  tell  from  the  translation  that  it  was supposed  to  be  the Qur'an, and patiently informed me of the true meaning  of  the  verses  and  the  conditions  under  which  they  were revealed. He found a good translation of the meaning of the Qur'an for me to read, which I did. I still remember sitting alone, reading it, looking  for  errors,  and  questioning.  The  more  I  read,  the  more  I became convinced that this book could only have one source, God. I was  reading about God's mercy and His willingness to forgive any sin, except the sin of associating partners with Him; and I began to weep.  I  cried  from  the  depth  of  my  soul.  I  cried  for  my  past ignorance and in joy of finally finding the truth. I knew that I was forever  changed.  I  was  amazed  at  the  scientific  knowledge  in  the Qur'an, which is not taken from the Bible as some would have you believe. I was getting my degree in microbiology at that time, and was particularly  impressed  with  the  description  of  the  embryological process, and so much more. Once I was sure that this book was truly from God, I decided that I had to accept Islam as my religion. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

I  learned  that  the  first  and  most  important  step  of  becoming Muslim  is  to  believe  in "La  illaha  il  Allah,  wa  Muhammad  arasool Allah", meaning that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. After I understood that  Jesus  was  sent  as  a  prophet,  to show the Jews that they were going  astray,  and  bring  them  back  to  the  path  of  God,  I  had  no trouble with the concept of worshipping God alone. But I did not know  who  Muhammad  was,  and  didn't  understand  what  it really meant  to  follow  him.  May  Allah  bless  all  those  people  who  have helped  me  to  understand  and  appreciate  the  life  of  the  Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), throughout these last seven years. I learned that Allah sent him as an example to mankind. An example to be followed and imitated by all of us in our daily lives. He was in his behaviors, the Qur'an exemplified. May Allah guide us all to live as he taught us. 

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