October 28, 1996. My conversion to Islam began in my eighth grade year. There was a Muslim student by the name ofRaphael who first told me a little about Islam. At the time he was not so knowledgeable about Islam, but he put the initial interest in my mind, which never went away. In the ninth grade there was another student by the name of Leonard who claimed at one time or another that he was a Muslim but he was more or less a pretender. The one thing he did do was to give me a pamphlet on true Islam, which increased my interest in Islam. I didn't hear much more about Islam until my tenth grade year.
That year me and Leonard would sit in the back of geometry class and blame all of the world's problems on white people while we would exalt the status of black people above all other races. At that time in my life I thought that Islam was the religion for black people, but unfortunately the Islam I was talking about was nothing more than black nationalism with a slight touch of true Islam. It was very similar to The Nation of Islam. As time went on I began to see that my black nationalist views and my perception of what Islam was about became tired. It was useless to hate almost all white people and to blame this on Islam. Around the same time I totally denounced Christianity as my religion. I got tired of the unintelligible doctrines and the many contradictions within the religion.
The next year of high school I was conversing with a few students about religion and they told me to buy a Qu'ran so I did. I went to the nearest bookstore and bought a very poor translation of the Qu'ran but it was the first real look into the truth about Islam. Within a few weeks I took on the beliefs of a Muslim even though I hadn't taken shahadah yet. Most of what I was doing concerning Islam was wrong because I never had a chance to go to a masjid because my mother totally forbade it. As time went on I finally got an Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Qu’ran, which opened my eyes to so much about Islam. In the meantime my mother was doingeverything in her power to prevent me from embracing Islam. She took me to see her preacher three times, which was of no avail. As time passed I began to learn more and more about Islam from various books I could get my hands on. I finally learned how to make salat correctly from one of these books. My mother was still trying her best to make me become a Christian again.
My mother and I would frequently argue about religion until one day my mother had enough and told my dad that I was going to have to live with him. He had absolutely no problem with this. The day after I graduated from high school I moved in with my dad. I can see now that my parent's divorce was actually a blessing in disguise. Their divorce provided me with a place to live in which I could practice Islam freely. My dad had no problem with my interest in Islam.
One day I called the Islamic Learning Center in Fayetteville and a brother by the name of Mustafa told me to come down for the Taleem (lesson) to learn more about Islam. Everybody was extremely hospitable and Mustafa even gave me a ride home. After three weeks of going to Jumuah (Friday congregational prayers) and Taleem I finally took my Shahadah on July 2,1995. Ever since then I have been an active member of the Islamic community. I am also very pleased to say that Raphael (the person who gave me my initial in interest in Islam) got back to Islam seriously and took Shahadah a few months before I did. We still keep in touch even though he is in England.
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