Born into a not quite so practising Muslim family, I found religion of little interest when I was young, although I took precaution with refraining from the one thing every Muslim under the sun seems to avoid… pork. Actually I tell a lie, sometimes even a pack of Haribo’s would look too tempting and I’d just give in to those gelatine filled tasty sweets!
A Muslim by name was all I was and even then it wasn’t something I took pride in. Having said that, to say I disliked my religious affiliation would also be untrue. Once I reached puberty I was taught how to pray by my mum, a practise I lost interest in within no more than a month. I just had no interest in leading a religious lifestyle. There was no appeal, no real reason why I should; and so I lived my life like any ordinary teenager does. I’d be lying if I said I did all sorts of unthinkable acts (I was a bit of a goody two shoes) but I wasn’t exactly a pure soul either.
So I opened up to a friend of mine who too was an atheist and I declared my apostasy from Islam to him. I told him I’d like to disprove the religion completely…
When my time at secondary school came to an end, I moved to college where I didn’t do particularly well in my first year and although I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to study at university, I realised I was facing the possibility of missing out on it altogether. So with not long to go until my exams I picked up my prayer mat and to the bemusement of a Muslim friend, I began praying. I remember feeling sincere, desperate, and hopeful. Yet after about a month (or should I say after my last exam) I turned my back on my prayer mat, as my friend had himself said I would. I mean why pray anymore? I’ve sat my tests now, it’s not as if God will change my answers or the mark scheme will He?
Days turned to weeks and weeks to months and before I knew it my results were out. Turned out I’d missed out on my university choices. At this moment panic set in and after weighing up my options I decided to get into university through clearing, and thankfully I was accepted and enrolled onto an engineering course.
All the while at home this was an interesting time. My brother had begun practising Islam and was giving the family dawah, much to most of our displeasure. I found myself for example, being questioned on why I’d abandoned prayer, and found myself being fed religion quite forcefully, leaving a very bitter taste in my mouth. Furthermore with my father quite adamant in his own beliefs (which didn’t quite line up with the religious beliefs of my brother), tension began to grow and arguments ensued. These vocally strong debates would take place at all moments and times and after one late night argument which had me wake up at 2am to the sound of my father and brother shouting at one another, I found myself being repulsed by Islam, as since the moment it had entered the house all it had done was rip my family apart.
Yet it quickly became apparent that the road to disproving Islam was one long… potentially lifelong.
At that point I found myself slowly starting to question whether Islam was even a legitimate religion from God, and in fact, whether or not the very existence of God was true. So I opened up to a friend of mine who too was an atheist and I declared my apostasy from Islam to him. I told him I’d like to disprove the religion completely, to find evidence within the actual so called “holy” book and rid my life and the life of others of what I felt was a poison.
I began this by downloading an app of the Qur’an, and within a few moments of reading it I came across verse 34 of Surah Baqarah, stating:
And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam”; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.
The Holy Quran 2:34
“There it was” I thought, “exactly what I was looking for”. The evidence that there was a flaw in the Qur’an. “Was Iblees not a jinn?” I asked my brother, who replied in the affirmative. So why was he referred to as an “angel”? Did this not contradict itself? I questioned a couple of Muslim friends at uni and they seemed unable to answer, strengthening my thoughts. However I didn’t feel satisfied. What was it I really wanted? Was it to disprove Islam, or was it to conduct a thorough study and find the truth? Could I really use this an enough of an argument to reject a whole religion? But if I kept looking and learning, if I would listen to arguments on both sides, how much more certain could I be in my views!
The answer I found, although not the most satisfying, was that God referred to the gathering by the majority. There were many angels and only one jinn, and so He referred to the party as angels. Unconvinced in this as a strong enough response, yet accepting that it was one nonetheless, I kept reading. Yet it quickly became apparent that the road to disproving Islam was one long… potentially lifelong. And so I decided to research all the contradictions online. I came across a website claiming to contain over 100 contradictions in the Islamic holy book, and I began to analyse each of these in turn, deciding that just one that I couldn’t defend would prove ample evidence for me to disprove the message of Muhammad.
As I looked through the list I would go through about 10 a day, finding many easy to defend myself without reliance on Sheikh Google, although a couple were pretty straightforward to answer within moments of typing the verses name in the search engine.
However nothing could have prepared me for what would happen a few nights later…
I was at home, staring out of my loving room window as the sky had turned red and meteors were raining from the sky. The commotion was quite some distance away yet it was getting progressively closer and I could tell that I was facing death. It was too late to study, too late to research. Too late to submit to God. Life was prematurely coming to an end and in those moments all I could do was stare at death as it approached me and humbly accept defeat, and my fate.
It seemed pointless to wait any longer. I’d looked at arguments against Islam; I now wanted to look “for” Islam.
Before I know it I suddenly woke up, my bed sheet thrown to one side. Drenched in sweat, I shot out of bed. Normally I’d reach over for my phone, check the time and the news but the only thing my hands were grabbing for were the curtains. I pulled them apart and looking outside, and to my relief, the sky was blue. Buildings were still standing. I was still alive.
I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. What I’d just felt. Short on breath I decided that I had to find an answer. My days were short, and my need for the truth was great. I started dedicating even more of my time, relentlessly chipping away at the now weak appearing contradictions the Internet had to offer. I breezed through them and felt that nothing could answer what I now felt was the real truth. It seemed pointless to wait any longer. I’d looked at arguments against Islam; I now wanted to look “for” Islam.
It didn’t take long, a week at the most. And the words “Asshadu Illah ilaha ill’Allah wa asshadu anna Muhammadan rasullullah” flew off my tongue.
Peace filled my heart; calmness could be felt in my mind. I was so ignorant, and so arrogant in my ignorance, yet I’d just had a change of heart, a change of life. There I was, back where I started, but not quite like before. There I was… a Muslim, once more.