Abu Bakr’s Way To Islam
When asked what had triggered his search to find the true meaning of life, for that was the primary aim of his quest, his response was this: “There were a couple of things. It was the year my parents said they were going to separate. It was not the year they formally divorced, but it was the year my Dad moved out of the house. I went a little off the rails. I (even) had trouble with the police.. . . I was drinking a lot.” It may be seen that this was a painful time for this young man. This was to be further compounded, for it was in this year that one of his friends died. Of this event he said: “That led me to think, ‘There’s my mate. He just died, and he is only eighteen years old! Is he just worm food?’ You know what I mean. That’s when I started relating it to my life, thinking, ‘If I died tomorrow what would it matter? What would it matter except to the few who know me among the billions on this Earth?’ So I started thinking, ‘No! There has to be more. There has to be more than just this!’”
It was with these questions in mind that Abu Bakr commenced his journey, looking to religion for the meaning of existence. He describes his experiences in this way:
“First, I mean, logically, I’m an Aussie, so I went straight to Christianity, and I thought I’d have that fish sticker on the back of my car, and “I love Jesus”. I was thinking I’d go buy them and see if they did something for my parking fine!” his waggish sense of humour bubbling to the fore. Then seriously he explains, “Honestly I went through all the (Christian) religions; well not all the religions, but the ones I had access to I investigated. Christianity, including Catholicism, I investigated quite a bit. But the problem was I just couldn’t find the answer. While they were all nice, I couldn’t sit there and say, ‘This is the religion for me!’ and ‘This sounds beautiful!’”
His search continued:
“I looked at Hinduism when I was working in a service station with some Hindu friends. We had conversations all the time. We didn’t argue because we were pretty good friends. One would say, ‘You have to believe in this god about this, and this god of that.’ I would go, ‘Come on man! What if they argue?’ He was not to know it, but his argument was one already mentioned in the Qur’an: “Allah hath not chosen any son, nor is there any god along with Him; else would each god have assuredly championed that which he created, and some of them would assuredly have overcome others. Glorified be Allah above all that they allege.” Surah 23:91
“Then I looked at Judaism. Again it didn’t get me in the way that I thought it would!”
“However, what started to get me was Buddhism. I thought, ‘This is really nice you know!’ But nowhere
could I read or see that Buddha was actually talking about himself. Not (other than) as a person that you
follow - not as a deity! And this was a religion. “So you know what I mean, it was just a nice way to be. It’s
not ‘This is the purpose of why you are here’. And while it was nice I thought, ‘This can’t be it either.’
“My friend, a Christian who had earlier said to ‘vow to God’, said, ‘Why don’t you try Islam?’
I said, ‘Naah man! They’re terrorists! I’m not going near a mosque. No way!’
“But I found myself near a mosque, Preston Mosque. I went in and started to ask questions. And basically every question I asked, no-one would answer from their minds, everyone was pulling out a Qur’an and saying, ‘Here it is.’ And that really surprised me because (almost) every time I went to a priest, I did not see the Bible once. They almost never pulled out the Bible, they were just, ‘Here’s your answer.’ This was the same with almost every religion. There were some who did read from the Bible a couple of times. But in the mosque, every single time - out came the Qur’an, and that got me. This is not about these people, it’s about the Book, and that’s when I started reading the Qur’an. It took months and months though, six to seven months. I had a lot of questions!”
At the end of these months how did this young man, now twenty years of age, decide to become Muslim?
The crucial moment of his conversion came one night, as he explained:
“One night I had just been speaking to a couple of Australian brothers at the mosque. They told me to take the Qur’an home and read it. I had already taken one, but they gave me this one with big letters - the other one I had was little and was harder to read. That night I sat in bed and lit a candle. I had the window open. It was a nice summer’s night. It had this atmosphere, this religious atmosphere. I was set, and I was sitting there thinking, ‘This is beautiful and very sacred!’
“Everything was really good and I started reading Qur’an and thinking, ‘This is very beautiful, it says exactly what I think it should say.’ It feels like it’s right you know, but I’m not quite there, you know! I just need a bit of a hand. And I sat back, Qur’an in hand, and said, ‘O God, give me a sign! But it has to be pretty good - like lightning,’ - and it was a clear summer’s night. ‘If you do lightning, I’m yours - I’m your servant. And maybe if you can’t do lightning - something like a crack or something; or a flash of light; or the candle! I would be pretty impressed if the candle just blew up to about two feet high, you know, like in the movies!”
“And I’m sitting there waiting!”. . . . .
“Nothing at all happened! Like I couldn’t even say a creak in the wall was my sign! So I’m sitting there pretty disappointed, and I’m angry . . Right? And I’m like, ‘God, I’m asking you. You’re supposed to be All-Powerful! Alright - I’m going to give you a second chance.’ Like that was a fair bit to ask - summer, lightning! ‘Okay, maybe like, a car can just backfire that goes past - that’s something that happens all the time, but at least I’ll know it’s for me.’ So I lowered my levels . . Right?
“Subhan’Allah!” (Exalted is Allah) he exclaims, shaking his head at the very thought of it. “And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Alright!’ So I look around again - Nothing! All is so silent . . I could have been in space. Not even an ant made a noise, and by this time I was shattered, because this was the moment! I had thought, ‘This is it!’ you know, ‘This is my time!’ . . . And nothing happened!”
“So I’m sitting there, pretty disappointed, and I thought, ‘I may as well keep on reading Qur’an”. So I looked down and turned the page, and the very next ayat (verse) was something to the effect: For those of you who ask for signs, have I not shown you enough already? Look around at the sky, the trees, the water, these are your signs. These are the Signs for those who know!”
“Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah's Sovereignty) for people who have sense.” Surah 2:162
“I was sitting down; I freaked out! I closed the Qur’an and chucked the quilt over my head. I was freaking out because here it was! You know what I mean?”
“So the next morning I went straight to the mosque and told them I wanted to become Muslim, because I had had my sign. I had it, even thought it was not my sign. I shouldn’t be arrogant and think I have a sign.
Isn’t the water my sign and all these things around me are signs, you know, that there is a Creator!”
With this in mind, one cannot help but wonder whether this young man had put aside all his previous fears of terrorism and danger which he and countless peoples perceive to be part of Islam and Muslims?
But let us continue:
“That evening at the mosque there were all these Muslims there - heaps of people! And I’m thinking, ‘Look at this religion. So many people! They’re all so strong!’ Then I realised that it was the first night of Ramadan, the fasting month. They were all there to do their last prayer (for the day) you know. But I really did think this was amazing. So you see, my first real experience there was this. Quite honestly there must have been a thousand people at Preston Mosque that night, maybe more!
“While I was waiting to give the Shahadah (the declaration of faith) there at tarawih (the night prayer during Ramadan), I’m sitting there thinking, ‘If I get these words wrong I’m a dead man! They’re going to kill me!’
“So now I’m standing up there, in front of all these people, and Sheikh Fehmi says to me, ‘These are the words that you say,’ and so I started saying them. And I’ve got to admit that I was nervous before - but as soon as I started speaking the words, I felt like it was just me standing there by myself; like, that there was no-one else, and I felt, honestly, the only way I can describe this feeling is as if there is a shower on the inside of my head - a cold shower, going straight through my body. I’m standing there, hair standing on end . . . then all the brothers came and hugged me!”
One can only imagine the warmth and fellowship that this young brother experienced; such that fear of terrorism and its accompanying horrors melted away in the light of knowledge and the empathy of brotherhood which is peculiar to Islam alone. Is it not said: “He it is that hath strengthened thee (Muhammad) with His aid and with (the company of) the Believers. And (moreover) He hath put affection between their hearts: Not if thou hadst spent all that is in the earth, couldst thou have produced that affection, but Allah hath done it: for He is Exalted in might, Wise.”(Qur’an 8:62,63).
However, this was not all he learned, his education was just beginning:
“But you know, I didn’t even know how to pray! I had to fast - and I was still eating ham! I didn’t even know that you shouldn’t eat it - so I’m fasting and then eating, like, a whopper burger with ham. I didn’t know it was haram (forbidden) but I did know that you’re not supposed to eat from before sunrise until after sunset. You know, I was fasting, but it was pretty hard!”
So did Abu Bakr, his chosen Islamic name, finally reach his goal?
“I (now) know why I am here; what I am here to do; and what it is all about.”
When asked if becoming Muslim had changed his personality and his life his reply was:
“I feel like I am here for a different purpose, but I don’t think that if you met me when I was fifteen years old and then you met me now that you’d say, ‘Man! You have changed so much! You’re not the same person I knew before.’ I think I have carried through most of the person I always was. I just don’t do some things I used to do. And I don’t think in some ways about things that I used to think about. I think I’ve always been positive, but Islam has given me that (extra) - like if the guy outside put his bobcat through the house, I’d just go: ‘Subhan’Allah! I’ll have to fix that.’ It’s not like I’m going to go, ‘Oh why do you always do this to me?’ You know, it’s just a thing that is not so important. Probably my priorities are completely different. Like, before, it was all (about) me!”
Abu Bakr’s family received news of his reversion very positively: “My family was happy for me but concerned as to how this would change our relationship.” Of course friendships did not all stand the test: “I lost a few friends (so-called) as I no longer wanted to drink, go out, etc.”
Of reversion generally he stated: “I use the word revert because, I mean, everyone uses convert because that is just a Western ideal. You know (in the Western context) that you have converted to something. But when you look into Islam I guess you realise that the term Muslim just means it comes from Islam, Right? It is a statement of what you are. So Islam means to submit your will to God; to do what God asks you to
do; whereas a Muslim is someone who is doing it. So if you are not doing what God has asked you, you are not a Muslim. So, in effect, Muslim is not a noun, it’s a doing word (a verb). Therefore, my tree in the backyard is doing what God asked it. The tree is Muslim to me, you know! It’s submitting its will to God. Everything has energy. So when you’re born, you’re Muslim, you know! ‘I’m hungry’ - you cry - that’s Islamic you know,” he says laughing. “You are acting in accordance with your nature, and it’s only when you get a little bit older, and people teach you stuff, that you go away from Islam because you take on someone else’s ideals. Then when you want to come back, you revert, because you were already Muslim when you were born.”
So it was that in 1996 in Preston Victoria a young Australian man found that for which he was searching. His life has been quite eventful and it is noted that Abu Bakr is now a Psychologist and a Film maker. May it please Almighty Allah to continue to bless this young man.