University Professor of Comparative Religion Shares his Islam Story
With his eyes closed, I started to look around and I saw at the other corner these men with long black beards, white robes (jalabiyahs) and white turbans. They were Africans or African Americans but they looked like as if they walked out of the pages of The Bible. They looked like Noah or Abraham or something like that. So I thought, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I thought, why not?, why not to talk with them.
After the Jew for Jesus man finished his prayer, I went over there and asked them what they were and what they were preaching. They told me that I probably wouldn’t be interested about that.
I said “Why not?”
They said “Because you are the devil”.
I said “Really?, I’m the devil?”
And they said “Well, all white men are devils.”
I replied “If I’m the devil, just let me ask you this one question, if I’m the devil, why am I so thirsty to know God?”
They explained to me that even the devil believes in god. I asked them from where did they get this knowledge, I actually knew, I mean I’ve read in a paper in college about Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, and so I understood they were probably related to those black nationalist movements.
But I asked them what’s their source for this claim of my satanic nature and they gave me some verses from The Bible, Book of Daniel I think, and I said “No no no, if I want the bible I would go down the street to the Jew for Jesus guy or some other Christian, what about your book? Don’t you read the Quran?” They said yes and they gave me some verses to read from surat al-Kahf and I took it home.
I took home the paper that the verses were written on and immediately I went up to my bookshelf where I had the Quran copy that was given to me about six years earlier by my friend Mansour. I started reading, I looked for the passages they directed me to and of course I read it and there was no indication there that I was a devil or that any other white person was a devil.
But since I started reading, I went to the beginning of the book and I just began to read. I read and I read until I fell asleep with the book in my hands. The next day, I read over and over again when I had free time.
The Quran moved me in a way that other books hadn’t, certainly in a way that The Bible didn’t due to the Quran’s directness and the fact that the lord of the worlds, the creator as the book describes, the author, is speaking directly to you, very directly and very intimately. It moved me in a way that I had not felt before. I can’t tell you when or where exactly, I know that there were times that I would read it and I could feel tears in my eyes running down on my face. Sometimes I would read it and the hair of my arm would stand up and on the back of my neck. I can’t pinpoint precisely the time and the place, but at some point I think I had realized that I was reading the words of God.