BORN in London I was brought up Christian of the Protestant persuasion. In 1930, in my teens, I was confronted with the problems normal to a reasonably intelligent young man, these problems being basically relating to the reconciling of everyday affairs with the claims of religion and here I came across the first weakness of the faith. Christianity is a dualism, which regards the world as sinful and seeks to turn its back on the realities of life, projecting its hopes into a future world.
As a result of this there is created a Sunday attitude toward religion, which has no place in the rest of the secular week. At this time in England there was a great deal of poverty and social discontent which Christianity made no attempt to resolve. More emotional than knowledgeable, with the enthusiasm of youth I rejected the Church and became a communist.
Communism has a certain satisfaction at an emotional adolescent level but again it did not take long to realize the hateful nature of communism based upon class warfare, in itself immortal.
Having rejected the materialism of communism I turned to the study of philosophy and religion. The unity which I observed all around me led me to identify myself with what is known as Pantheism, a natural law religion.
We in the West find it difficult to acquaint ourselves with Islam for since the days of the Christian Crusades there has been either a conspiracy of silence or a deliberate perversion of Islamic matters.
Anyway at the time living in Australia I asked for a copy of the Holy Qur’an at the Sydney Public Library, when I was given the Book and was reading the preface by the translator, the bigotry against Islam was so obvious that I closed it up. There was no Qur’an translated by a Muslim available. Some weeks later in Perth, Western Australia, I again asked at the library for a copy of the Qur’an stipulating that the translator must be a Muslim.
It is difficult to put into words my immediate response to the first surah, the Seven Opening Verses: Then I read something of the life of the Prophet (peace be on him). I spent hours in the library that day, I had found what I wanted, by the mercy of Allah. I was a Muslim. I had not at this time met any Muslim. I came out of the library exhausted by the tremendous intellectual and emotional experience I had received. The next experience, I still ask myself: Was it true or was it something I had dreamed up, for in cold print it seems impossible to have happened. I came out of the library intending to get myself a cup of coffee. I walked down the street and raising my eyes to a building beyond a high brick wall, I saw the words ‘Muslim Mosque,’ I straightway said to myself ‘You know the truth, now accept it.’
‘La illaha illalah Muhammad ur Rasul Allah’ (There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God) and so by the mercy of Allah I became a Muslim.
Muhammad John Webster is the president of The English Muslim Mission, England
n Courtesy: www.discoveringislam.org