My mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, and my father would be called a "lapsed Catholic", but I was raised in the 1970s in a very tolerant atmosphere. In fact I have one uncle who is an Apostolic, and other family members are Anglicans.
I was studying history at university in the 1990s, and I developed a strong interest in all matters Islamic. As soon as we started touching on anything to do with Islamic affairs, or the Islamic religion or Muslim history, whether it’s in the Soviet Union, Soviet Russia, or whether it was in Religious Studies 101 (Introduction to World Religions), everywhere I went I kept coming across Islam, and I kept getting more and more interested. I read more and more books, and I just slowly became more and more convinced that this was the true religion, so it (the shahada) seemed a logical step.
August 1996 with Dr. Mustafa Farouq and Dr. Anis Al-Rahman in Hamilton and a large number of people whose names I have forgotten, although I remember Abu Saad, the Egyptian from Port Said, he will remember me. There were a lot of people, very good brothers whose names escape me completely, but I remember them everytime I go up to Hamilton.
Family and Friends Reaction
I had already expressed quite a lot of interest (in Islam), so I don’t think it came as much of a surprise to anyone, it naturally followed-on from what I was already talking about all the time in my spare time, so it sort of flowed-on. I don’t think there was anyone who was openly surprised, I didn’t have any arguments. Later on, other converts said they had terrible arguments with their families and all sorts of problems and obstructions. I thought I've been very lucky and very blessed because my family were very supportive and very helpful. My mother always goes out of her way to get us halal food for us whenever we come to visit. I have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever.
How Has Islam Changed My Everyday Life?
Islam helped me to be a better person by giving me some degree of focus, some conception that this world is not the only one I like to think that Islam made me slightly a better person, I hope it has made me a better person. I can't prove it physically with any evidence or anything but one always hopes. You always try to be a better person; try to be a better father, try to be a better employee, trying to be a better citizen and so forth.
I think Islam helped me to be a better person by giving me some degree of focus, some conception that this world is not the only one. My dad was always saying that we are all just part of the nitrogen cycle! Like this is it, and you are going to die, be dead, and be buried and that’s all. Islam gives you that faith that there is going to be a little bit more, there is going to be something better. It gives you something to work towards, instead of just the material things of this world, you can also sort of work towards the better things of the next world in the spiritual sense.