My Journey From a Life of Crime, Women and Alcohol to Catholic Monk to a Muslim Writing Books and Giving Lectures
My name is Salahuddin Decero and I am from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I was born into a Sicilian family in South Philadelphia. Born a Roman Catholic Christian.
I was born in North Carolina in July 31, 1987. My family was all living in Philadelphia, but my family moved down south for a very short stay. We moved to Philadelphia because all my relatives lived there and I grew up in Philadelphia. I was born Roman Catholic but my family never practiced. The only times I ever went to church were Baptism and first Holy Communion. So throughout my youth I was very innocent, but when I hit my teenage years my family was very shaky and dysfunctional. My mom became very sick and my dad became very sick. It was one of the hardest moments in my life. So I began hanging with the wrong crowd.
From the age of 13-17 my life consisted of very few things. Women, Alcohol, Marijuana, crime, and money. I quickly fell into a life of worldly pleasures and comforts. I quit school in the 9th grade and got a full time job doing landscaping. I moved out of my house at 15 years old to live with a friend of mine who I got in trouble with, and we worked together and lived together. I really don’t remember a lot of my teenage years because I was always so intoxicated and high. But then right when I would turn 17 something happened!
I had my first rational thought in my life. I was sick and tired of this life style but I did not know how to change. I was willing to do anything. So there was this one man who was a friend of my family who had a similar past as mine and changed. So I went to him and asked him what he did and how I wanted to change. He told me very clearly I found God! I laughed because I did not believe in God at all ! But again he said I found God. I went home that night and suffered great temptations to run back to my usual life ways. The next day out of fear I went to this man and said to him I am willing to find God but I don’t know who God is! He said Jesus Christ is God and Savior and he died for you. I heard the name Jesus before but I knew absolutely nothing about him.
So I said to my friend what must I do? He said you have to pray, go to Mass, go to Church, pray the rosary, go to confession, and read the bible while entrusting your life to him. I said to my friend you are crazy you cannot expect me to do anything like that. He said if you want to change you must. So that night I went home got on my knees and prayed to Jesus with all my heart asking him to help me and free me from this bondage of sin I was in! All of a sudden a deep peace came upon me and I felt like this was the right thing to do. The next day I went to my friend and told him I started praying to Jesus and he was very happy. After that day I went to confession to the priest and told him all my sins since I was a kid and had my sins forgiven. Then from that day I started going to Church everyday and never missed.
I started feeling great and I was developing deep faith. I became very religious very fast in the beginning. I started having thoughts that I wanted to be a priest and monk but I was hesitant to express it to anybody. About 10 months after I started practicing my Catholic faith I went to live in the monastery a life of a monk in philadelphia and began studying with the intention of becoming a priest. I was moved from Philadelphia to Minnesota after about 3 years and I lived there the same life. Then my studies took me as far as Rome, Spain, France, and Italy!
I came back to Philadelphia, at the monastery where I started when I was 17 years old, I was now 25 at this point. I was in the monastery a total of 8.5 years. I was a Discalced Carmelite hermit. We lived the roughest of lives! We woke up everyday at 330 AM and prayed all morning and separated our day between prayer and study and our day ended at 10 PM.
July 2012 I was living my life and it was the first time I was given Dawah (Invitation to Islam)! I wanted to prove this African American brother wrong about Islam and so we talked. This all took place in Philadelphia. My reversion to Islam was a slow process it was not an instant ‘Yes I must be Muslim!’ This person and I began talking about Jesus and he was a Christian before Islam and he knew the bible quite well.
I am not going to lie he asked me questions about the church, Jesus, Mary, and history! Some questions he asked me I had never thought about before and I was amazed. He kept asking me where Jesus said I am God! Yet I could not answer him because Jesus does not say that! I had never thought about it. I was told Jesus was God and that was it but I never stopped to just think about if he says the words I am God!
I went home after that thinking about what we talked about. I spent all night pondering it. I began reading the Quran and must had read it 2 times in a row. I began reading some Seerah of Muhammad, and the hadith which I really liked. I began investigating how Muslims prayed. But most of all I began looking into the Bible to see who Jesus says he is! After about 4 months I came to the conclusion that Jesus was not God, Son of God, or Trinity! I came to the conclusion that Original sin does not come out of Jesus’ mouth.
I realized the Jesus I believe in was the Jesus the Catholic Church taught me, not the Jesus in the Bible. So now I was in turmoil I did not know what to do! I started having pains in my head and stomach because I was so confused and lost. I really no longer believed what I did before but I did not know what was right. When I was becoming a Muslim the hardest part was not giving up Jesus was God, the hardest part was giving up 8.5 years of my life invested time.
I was very well known in America and certain places in Europe I was very respected and people loved me. But I knew that Christianity was not the truth! So for the first time in November I went to a Mosque in Philadelphia near my mother’s house and told the Imam I wanted to become a Muslim. He asked me what I knew of Islam and I said little. He taught me so much about Islam right there for about 2 hours. Around 12 PM I became a Muslim and took Shahada and said I testify that there is none worthy of worship but Allah(God), and I testify that Muhammad is his messenger. From this moment my life changed again!
Now that I was a Muslim I felt like a new born child because I had to learn everything over again. The Imam at the mosque taught me how to make Wudu and how to pray. The brothers at the mosque were so helpful and happy to have me a part of the place. Having religious inclinations as usual, I began going to the mosque from the beginning for Fajr, Meghrib, and Isha everyday! I began reading the Quran, Hadith, and Tafseer! I am an intellectual and I love learning and studying.
When I became a Muslim I asked Allah to help me learn Islam more than I ever knew Christianity. slowly but surely this is coming true Inshallah. I began studying Arabic with a good brother five days a week. The most helpful thing was the Imam and I would sit down six days a week and talk from one to three hours about Islam and he helped me so much may Allah reward him. I truly cannot express to you how this Imam helped me for months. The Imam wanted to get me involved in Dawah, and so he started taking me to churches and dawah meetings with him telling my story!
I myself began going to Churches, friends, and family telling them about Islam. To this day there is not one day where I don’t find at least one person to tell Islam to! This Imam suggested to me about a year ago to write books. So I began an outline on my first book which is called Jesus in the Bible and the Quran! After completing it I went on to start a second book called Muhammad in the Bible! And after completing this book I am now on my third book called Did Jesus say I am God?
The Imam that was such an asset to me studied in Yemen for a couple years and then from there to Al Azhar in Cairo. He just went back to Azhar in Cairo to get his Doctorate Inshallah. we talk to this day on a bi weekly basis about Islam and the future. I also have applied and Inshallah hope to get accepted into Medina University. If not I will try other places until I find a place to study Islam Inshallah. I did happen to get married to a Palestinian woman and we had our first son Muhammad 7 months ago.
My life has changed drastically in the past two years. My family hates that I am a Muslim but Allah(God) gave me the best friends in the world when I became Muslim.
Islam has changed me to the person that I truly wanted to be! Allah has allowed me to study Christianity for 8.5 years and use that knowledge to bring non Muslims to Islam. I love being a part of the field of Dawah! I have no lectures online but I do give lectures in the city at different Masjids. If you would like to contact them you just ask. I spend a lot of time promoting my books and Allah has blessed me with much success alhumdulilah. The joy of my life is just telling people about Islam and learning. From rebel teenager filled with women, alcohol, and crime, to a Catholc monk studying to be a priest for 8.5 years, to a Muslim today Alhumdulilah writing books, giving lectures, and trying to go over seas and seek knowledge. What better story could there be?
Your brother in this Ummah, Salahuddin.