Mr. Ibrahim Karlsson

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I was born in an ordinary, non-religious Swedish home, but with a very loving relationship to each other. I had lived my life 25 years without  really  thinking  about  the  existence  of  God  or  anything spiritual what-so-ever; I was the role model of the materialistic man. Or was I? I recall a short story I wrote in 7th grade, something about my  future  life,  where  I  portray  myself  as  a  successful games programmer (I hadn't yet even touched a computer) and living with a Muslim wife!! OK, at that time Muslim to me meant dressing in long clothes and wearing a scarf, but I have no idea where those thoughts came from. Later, in high school, I remember spending much time in the school-library (being a bookworm) and at one time I picked up a translated Qur'an and read some passages from it. I don't remember exactly what I read, but I do remember finding that what it said made sense and was logical to me.

Still, I was not at all religious, I couldn't fit God in my universe, and I had no need of any god. I mean, we have Newton to explain how the universe works, right? Time passed, I graduated and started working. Earned some money and moved to my own apartment, and found  a  wonderful  tool  in  the  PC.  I  became  a  passionate  amateur photographer, and enrolled in activities around that. At one time I was  documenting  a  marketplace,  taking  snapshots  from  a  distance with my telescope when an angry looking immigrant came over and explained that he would make sure I wasn't going to take any more pictures of his mum and sisters. Strange people those Muslims...

More things related to Islam happened that I can't explain why I did  what  I  did.  I  can't  recall  the  reason  I  called the  "Islamic Stories of New Muslims73information organisation" in Sweden, ordering a subscription to their newsletter, buying Yosuf Ali's Qur'an and a very good book on Islam called Islam - our faith. I just did!  I read almost all of the Qur'an, and found it to be both beautiful and logical, but still, God had no place in my heart. One year later, whilst out on a patch of land called "pretty  island"  (it  really  is)  taking  autumn-color  pictures,  I  was overwhelmed by a fantastic feeling. I felt as if I were a tiny piece of something greater, a tooth on a gear in God's great gearbox called the universe.  It  was  wonderful!  I  had  never  ever  felt  like  this  before, totally  relaxed,  yet  bursting  with  energy,  and  above  all,  total awareness of god wherever I turned my eyes.

I  don't  know  how  long  I  stayed  in  this  ecstatic  state,  but eventually  it  ended  and  I  drove  home,  seemingly  unaffected,  but what I had experienced left unreasonable marks in my mind. At this time Microsoft brought Windows-95 to the market with the biggest marketing blitz known to the computer industry. Part of the package was the on-line service The Microsoft Network. And keen to know what is was I got myself an account on the MSN. I soon found that the Islam BBS were the most interesting part of the MSN, and that's where I found Shahida. Shahida is a American woman, who like me has converted to Islam. Our chemistry worked right away, and she became  the  best  pen-friend  I  have  ever  had.  Our  e-mail correspondence  will  go  down  in  history:  the  fact  that  my  mailbox grew to something like 3 megabytes over the first 6 months tells its own tale. She and I discussed a lot about Islam and faith in god in general, and what she wrote made sense to me. Shahida had an angels patience with my slow thinking and my silly questions, but she never gave up the hope in me. Just listen to your heart and you'll find the truth she said.

And I found the truth in myself sooner than I'd expected. On the way home from work, in the bus with most of the people around me  asleep,  and  myself  adoring  the  sunset,  painting  the  beautifully dispersed  clouds  with  pink  and  orange  colours,  all  the  parts  came together,  how  God  can  rule  our  life,  yet  we're  not  robots.  How  I could  depend  on  physics  and  chemistry  and  still  believe  and  see God’s work. It was wonderful, a few minutes of total understanding and peace. I so long for a moment like this to happen again! And it did, one morning I woke up, clear as a bell, and the first thought that ran through my brain was how grateful to God I were that he made me wake up to another day full of opportunities. It was so natural, like I had been doing every day of my life! After these experiences I couldn't  no  longer  deny  God's  existence.  But  after  25  years  of denying God it was no easy task to admit his existence and accept faith. But good things kept happening to me, I spent some time in the US, and at this time I started praying, testing and feeling, learning to focus on God and to listen to what my heart said. It all ended in a nice  weekend  in  New  York,  of  which  I  had  worried  a lot,  but  it turned out to be a success, most of all, I finally got to meet Shahida!  

At this point there was no return, I just didn't know it yet. But God kept leading me, I read some more, and finally got the courage to call the nearest Mosque and ask for a meeting with some Muslims. With trembling legs I drove to the mosque, which I had passed many times  before,  but  never  dared  to  stop  and  visit.  I  met  the  nicest people there, and I was given some more reading material, and made plans to come and visit the brothers in their home. What they said, and the answers they gave all made sense. Islam became a major part of my life, I started praying regularly, and I went to my first Jummaprayer.  It  was  wonderful,  I  sneaked  in,  and  sat  in  the  back,  not understanding  a  word  the  imam  was  saying,  but  still  enjoying  the service.  After  the khutba  we  all  came  together  forming  lines,  and made the two 'rakaas'. It was yet one of the wonderful experiences I have  had  on  my  journey  to  Islam.  The  sincerity  of  200  men  fully devoted to just one thing, to praise God, felt great!  

Slowly  my  mind  started  to  agree  with  my  heart,  I  started  to picture myself as a Muslim, but could I really convert to Islam? I had left the Swedish state-church earlier, just in case, but to pray 5 times a day? to stop eating pork? Could I really do that? And what about my family and friends? I recalled what Br. Omar told me, how his family tried to get him admitted to an asylum when he converted. Could I really do this?  

By this time the Internet wave had swept my country, and I too had  hooked  up  with  the  Infobahn.  And  "out  there"  were  tons  of information  about  Islam.  I  think  I  collected  just  about  every  web page with the word Islam anywhere in the text, and learned a lot. But what really made a change was a text I found in Great Britain, a story of a newly converted woman with feelings exactly like mine. 12 hours is the name of the text. When I had read that story, and wept the tears  out  of  my  eyes  I  realized  that  there  were  no  turning  back anymore, I couldn't resist Islam any longer.  

Summer vacation started, and I had made my mind up. I had to become  a  Muslim!  But  after all, the start of the summer had been very cold, and if my first week without work was different, I wouldn't lose a day of sunshine by not being on the beach. On the TV the weatherman painted a big sun right on top of my part of the country. OK then, some other day... The next morning; a steel grey sky, with ice-cold gusts of wind outside my bedroom window. It was like God had  decided  my  time  was  up,  I  could  wait  no  longer.  I  had  the required  bath,  and  dressed  in  clean  clothes, jumped in my car and drove the 1 hour drive to the mosque.  

In  the  Mosque  I  approached  the  brothers  with  my  wish,  and after dhuhr prayer the Imam and some brothers witnessed me say the Shahada.  Alhamdulillah!  And  to  my  great  relief  all  my  family  and friends have taken my conversion very well, they have all accepted it, I won't say they were thrilled, but absolutely no hard feelings. They can't understand all the things I do. Like praying 5 times a day on specific  times,  or  not  eating  pork  meat.  They  think  this  is  strange foreign  customs  that  will  die  out  with  time,  but  I'll prove  them wrong. InshaAllah!  


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