"O my soul, it is only a few days, bear them patiently.A lifetime seems long but a flitting reverie"

~Imam Shafi~
" “The heart will rest and feel relief if it is settled with Allah and it will worry and be anxious if it is settled with people.” – Ibn al-Qayyim"....Say : "This is my way; I invite unto Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me with sure knowledge" (Qur'an - 12:108) "Say: we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il: Isaac, Jacob and The Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another, among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Qur'an, Al-Imran 3:84) . "And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),We would have seized him by the right hand;And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him" (Qur'an,Al-Haqqah 69:44-47) "Do they not ponder the Quran! If it were revealed from a source other than Allah,certainly they would have found,many contradictions."[Holy Quran 4:82] " O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, and you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did)" [Holy Qur'an, 84:6] Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." ~Holy Quran 6:164 Imam Malik (rh): “Do not look to the sins of people as if you are Lords, but look to your own sins as if you are slaves. Have mercy on the people of affliction and praise Allah for your well-being, and never say, ‘This person is from the people of Hellfire, and this person is from the people of Paradise.’ Do not be arrogant over the sinners, but rather ask Allah to grant them hidayah and rashad (i.e. guidance).” Ibn Kathir (Ra) narrated: كان نقش خاتم عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه : كفى بالموت واعظاً ياعمر “The engraving on ‘Umar ibn al Khataab’s(Ra) ring was: “Sufficient is death as an admonisher O Umar”. ["Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaaya]. "When you fear the creation, you run away from it, but when you fear the Creator, you feel close to Him,& run towards Him.".Ibn Qayyim . "Allahumma la‘aisha illa‘aish-al-Aakhirah": 'There is no life but the life of the next world' "And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death)". (Quran 15:99) “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways.And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.” [Quran: 29:69] "... And my success is not but through Allah . Upon him I have relied, and to Him I return." ~ Al Quran 11:88
"Nothing in this world is really useful to you unless it has some utility and value for the next world"-Imam Ali(R)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, (also Sayyid Ahmad Khan) (Urduسید احمد خان} (October 17, 1817 – March 27, 1898), commonly known as Sir Syed (although this is technically incorrect; he would have properly been called "Sir Ahmed" as Sayyid is itself a title in this case), was an educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. Sir Syed pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in sub-continent by founding theMuhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims in India. He is widely considered as a 'traitor' in leftist and patriotic circles of India.

Born into Mughal nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he remained loyal to the British and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. After the rebellion he penned the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (اسباب بغاوت ہند The Causes of the Indian Mutiny) — a daring critique, at the time, of British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt. Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organizing Muslim intellectuals. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of sub-continent’s Muslims.

One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Rule. He denounced nationalist organizations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organizations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Muslims of sub-continent, and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and intellectuals. Although hailed as a great Muslim leader and social reformer, Sir Syed remains the subject of controversy for his views on Hindu-Muslim issues.

Early life
Syed Ahmed Khan Bahadur was born at Delhi, India on 17th October, 1817, then the capital of the Mughal Empire. His family is said to have migrated from Herat (now in Afghanistan) in the time of Emperor Akbar, although by other accounts his family descended from Arabia. Many generations of his family had since been highly connected with the Mughal administration. His maternal grandfather Khwaja Fariduddin served as wazir ( وزیر Minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab,( منصب designate) a high-ranking administrative position and honorary name of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Sir Syed's father Mir Muhammad Muttaqi was personally close to Akbar Shah II and served as his personal adviser. However, Sir Syed was born at a time when rebellious governors, regional insurrections and the British colonialism had diminished the extent and power of the Mughal state, reducing its monarch to a figurehead status. With his elder brother Syed Muhammad Khan, Sir Syed was raised in a large house in a wealthy area of the city. They were raised in strict accordance with Mughal noble traditions and exposed to politics. Their mother Azis-un-Nisa played a formative role in Sir Syed's life, raising him with rigid discipline with a strong emphasis on education. Sir Syed was taught to read and understand the Qur'an by a female tutor, which was unusual at the time. He received an education traditional to Muslim nobility in Delhi. Under the charge of Maulvi Hamiduddin, Sir Syed was trained in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and religious subjects. He read the works of Muslim scholars and writers such as Sahbai, Rumi and Ghalib. Other tutors instructed him in mathematics, astronomy and Islamic jurisprudence. Sir Syed was also adept at swimming, wrestling and other sports. He took an active part in the Mughal court's cultural activities. His elder brother founded the city's first printing press in the Urdu language along with the journal Sayyad-ul-Akbar(سیدالاخبار) . Sir Syed pursued the study of medicine for several years, but did not complete the prescribed course of study. Until the death of his father in 1838, Sir Syed had lived a life customary for an affluent young Muslim noble. Upon his father's death, he inherited the titles of his grandfather and father and was awarded the title of Arif Jung (عارف جنگ) the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Financial difficulties put an end to Sir Syed's formal education, although he continued to study in private, using books on a variety of subjects. Sir Syed assumed editorship of his brother's journal and rejected offers of employment from the Mughal court. Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed entered the British East India Company's civil service. He was appointedserestadar at the courts of law in Agra, responsible for record-keeping and managing court affairs. In 1840, he was promoted to the title of munshi(منشی) .

Scholarly worksThe Social Reformer was a pioneering publication initiated by Sir Syed to promote liberal ideas in Muslim society. While continuing to work as a jurist, Sir Syed began focusing on writing on various subjects, mainly in Urdu. His career as an author began when he published a series of treatises in Urdu on religious subjects in 1842. He published the book A'thar-as-sanadid آثار لصنادید) Great Monuments) documenting antiquities of Delhi dating from the medieval era. This work earned him the reputation of a cultured scholar. In 1842, he completed the Jila-ul-Qulub bi Zikr-il Mahbub (جلال القلوب بذکرالمحبوب) and the Tuhfa-i-Hasan تحفۂ حسن)) along with the Tahsil fi jar-i-Saqil (تحصیل فی الجارصقیل) in1844. These works focused on religious and cultural subjects. In 1852, he published the two works Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh نمیق در بیان مسلۂ تصور شیخ)) and Silsilat ul-Mulk (سلسلۃالملک) He released the second edition of A'thar-as-sanadid (آثار لصنادید) in 1854. He also penned a commentary on the Bible — the first by a Muslim — in which he argued that Islam was the closest religion to Christianity, with a common lineage from Abrahamic religions.

Acquainted with high-ranking British officials, Sir Syed obtained close knowledge about British colonial politics during his service at the courts. At the outbreak of the Indian rebellion, on May 10, 1857, Sir Syed was serving as the chief assessment officer at the court in Bijnor. Northern India became the scene of the most intense fighting. The conflict had left large numbers of civilians dead. Erstwhile centres of Muslim power such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur were severely affected. Sir Syed was personally affected by the violence and the ending of the Mughal dynasty amongst many other long-standing kingdoms۔ Sir Syed and many other Muslims took this as a defeat of Muslim society. He lost several close relatives who died in the violence. Although he succeeded in rescuing his mother from the turmoil, she died in Meerut, owing to the privations she had experienced۔

In 1858, he was appointed to a high-ranking post at the court in Muradabad, where he began working on his most famous literary work. Publishing the booklet Asbab-e-Bhaghawath-e-Hind اسباب بغاوت ہند)) in 1859, Sir Syed studied the causes of the revolt. In this, his most famous work, he rejected the common notion that the conspiracy was planned by Muslim élites, who were insecure at the diminishing influence of Muslim monarchs. Sir Syed blamed the British East India Company for its aggressive expansion as well as the ignorance of British politicians regarding Local culture. However, he gained respect for British power, which he felt would dominate sub-continent for a long period of time. Seeking to rehabilitate Muslim political influence, Sir Syed advised the British to appoint Muslims to assist in administration. His other writings such as Loyal Muhammadans of India, Tabyin-ul-Kalam (تابین الکلام) and Series of Essays on the Life of Muhammad and Subjects Subsidiary Therein helped to create cordial relations between the British authorities and the Muslim community۔

Muslim reformer 
Through the 1850s, Syed Ahmed Khan began developing a strong passion for education. While pursuing studies of different subjects, Sir Syed began to realize the advantages of Western-style education, which was being offered at newly-established colleges across India. Despite being a devout Muslim, Sir Syed criticized the influence of traditional dogma and religious orthodoxy, which had made most sub-continent’s Muslims suspicious of British influences. Sir Syed began feeling increasingly concerned for the future of Muslim communities. A scion of Mughal nobility, Sir Syed had been reared in the finest traditions of Muslim élite culture and was aware of the steady decline of Muslim political power across sub-continent. The animosity between the British and Muslims before and after the rebellion (Independence War) of 1857 threatened to marginalize Muslim communities for many generations. Sir Syed intensified his work to promote co-operation with British authorities, promoting loyalty to the Empire amongst Muslims. Committed to working for the upliftment of Muslims, Sir Syed founded a modern madrassa in Muradabad in 1859; this was one of the first religious schools to impart scientific education. Sir Syed also worked on social causes, helping to organize relief for the famine-struck people of the Northwest Frontier Province in 1860. He established another modern school in Ghazipur in 1863.

Upon his transfer to Aligarh in 1864, Sir Syed began working wholeheartedly as an educator. He founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh, the first scientific association of its kind in sub-continent. Modelling it after the Royal Society and the Royal Asiatic Society, Sir Syed assembled Muslim scholars from different parts of the country. The Society held annual conferences, disbursed funds for educational causes and regularly published a journal on scientific subjects in English and Urdu. Sir Syed felt that the socio-economic future of Muslims was threatened by their orthodox aversions to modern science and technology. He published many writings promoting liberal, rational interpretations of In face of pressure from religious Muslims; Sir Syed avoided discussing religious subjects in his writings, focusing instead on promoting education.

Advocacy of UrduThe onset of the Hindi-Urdu controversy of 1867 saw the emergence of Sir Syed as a political leader of the Muslim community. He became a leading Muslim voice opposing the adoption of Hindi as a second official language of the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). Sir Syed perceived Urdu as the lingua franca of Muslims. Having been developed by Muslim rulers of sub-continent, Urdu was used as a secondary language to Persian, the official language of the Mughal court. Since the decline of the Mughal dynasty, Sir Syed promoted the use of Urdu through his own writings. Under Sir Syed, the Scientific Society translated Western works only into Urdu. The schools established by Sir Syed imparted education in the Urdu medium. The demand for Hindi, led largely by Hindus, was to Sir Syed an erosion of the centuries-old Muslim cultural domination of India. Testifying before the British-appointed education commission, Sir Syed controversially exclaimed that "Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar. His remarks provoked a hostile response from Hindu leaders, who unified across the nation to demand the recognition of Hindi.

The success of the Hindi movement led Sir Syed to further advocate Urdu as the symbol of Muslim heritage and as the language of all the Muslims of sub-continent. His educational and political work grew increasingly centered around and exclusively for Muslim interests. He also sought to persuade the British to give Urdu extensive official use and patronage. His colleagues and protégés such as Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Maulvi Abdul Haq developed organisations such as the Urdu Defence Association and the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu انجمن ترقی اردو , committed to the perpetuation of Urdu. Sir Syed's protégé Shibli Nomani led efforts that resulted in the adoption of Urdu as the official language of the Hyderabad State and as the medium of instruction in the Osmania University جامعہ عثمانیہ . To Muslims in northern and western areas of suh-continent, Urdu had become an integral part of political and cultural identity. However, the division over the use of Hindi or Urdu further provoked communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus in sub-continent.

Founding Aligarh
On April 1, 1869, Sir Syed travelled to England, where he was awarded the “Order of the Star of India” from the British government on August 6. Travelling across England, he visited its colleges and was inspired by the culture of learning established after the Renaissance. Sir Syed returned to sub-continent in the following year determined to build a "Muslim Cambridge." Upon his return, he organized the "Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning among “Muhammadans" (Muslims) on December 26, 1870. Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed to establish in an article written sometime in 1872 and re-printed in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of April 5, 1911:

I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli (شیخ چلی, a character) but we aim to turn this M.A.O. College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College. The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim. It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers (namaz) at all the five times. Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap. Bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a "liar" will be treated as an abuse to be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs… Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betels shall be strictly prohibited. No corporal punishment or any such punishment as is likely to injure a student's self-respect will be permissible. It will be strictly enforced that boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true.

By 1873, the committee under Sir Syed issued proposals for the construction of a college in Aligarh. He began publishing the journal Tahzib al-Akhlaq (تہذیب الاخلاق Social Reformer) to spread awareness and knowledge on modern subjects and promote reforms in Muslim society. Sir Syed worked to promote reinterpretation of Muslim ideology in order to reconcile tradition with Western education. He argued in several books on Islam that the Qur'an rested on an appreciation of reason and natural law, making scientific inquiry important to being a good Muslim. Sir Syed established a modern school in Aligarh and, obtaining support from wealthy Muslims and the British, laid the foundation stone of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College on May 24, 1875. He retired from his career as a jurist the following year, concentrating entirely on developing the college and on religious reform. Sir Syed's pioneering work received support from the British. Although intensely criticized by orthodox religious leaders hostile to modern influences, Sir Syed's new institution attracted a large student body, mainly drawn from the Muslim gentry and middle classes. The curriculum at the college involved scientific and Western subjects, as well as Oriental subjects and religious education. The first chancellor was Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, a prominent Muslim noblewoman, and Sir Syed invited an Englishman, Theodore Beck, to serve as the first college principal. The college was originally affiliated with Calcutta University but was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. Near the turn of the 20th century, it began publishing its own magazine and established a law school. In 1920, the college was transformed into a university.

Political career In 1878, Sir Syed was nominated to the Viceroy's Legislative Council. He testified before the education commission to promote the establishment of more colleges and schools across sub-continent. In the same year, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Association to promote political co-operation amongst Muslims from different parts of the country. In 1886, he organized the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Aligarh, which promoted his vision of modern education and political unity for Muslims. His works made him the most prominent Muslim politician in 19th century’s sub-continent, often influencing the attitude of Muslims on various national issues. He supported the efforts of political leaders Surendranath Banerjea and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for locals in the government and civil services. In 1883, he founded the Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association to encourage and support the entry of Muslim graduates into the Indian Civil Service (ICS).

However, Sir Syed's political views were shaped by a strong aversion to the emerging nationalist movement, which was composed largely of Hindus. Sir Syed opposed the Indian National Congress (created in 1885) on the grounds that it was a Hindu-majority organization, calling on Muslims to stay away from it. While fearful of the loss of Muslim political power owing to the community's backwardness, Sir Syed was also averse to the prospect of democratic self-government, which would give control of government to the Hindu-majority population:
His fierce criticism of the Congress and Indian nationalists created rifts between Muslims and Hindus. At the same time, Sir Syed sought to politically ally Muslims to the British government. An avowed loyalist of the British Empire, Sir Syed was nominated as a member of the Civil Service Commission in 1887 by Lord Dufferin. In 1888, he established the United Patriotic Association at Aligarh to promote political co-operation with the British and Muslim participation in the government. Syed Ahmed Khan was knighted by the British government in 1888 and in the following year he received an LL.D. honoris causa from the Edinburgh University.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan lived the last two decades of his life in Aligarh, regarded widely as the mentor of 19th- and 20th century Muslim intellectuals and politicians. He remained the most influential Muslim politician in India, with his opinions guiding the convictions of a large majority of Muslims Battling illnesses and old age. This great scholar and leader died on 27th March, 1898, at Aligarh, India and was buried besides Sir Syed Masjid inside the campus of the Aligarh University. His funeral was attended by thousands of students, Muslim leaders and British officials. Sir Syed is widely commemorated across South Asia as a great Muslim reformer and visionary.

Sir Syed was mourned by a large number of friends and admirers both within and outside South Asia.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pop star to Dheen's star

by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens)

All I have to say is what you know already, to confirm what you already know of the message of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) as given by God – the Religion of Truth. As human beings we are given a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of creation. Man is created to be God's deputy on earth and it is important to realize the obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a preparation for the next life. Anyone who misses this chance is not likely to be given another, to be brought back again, for it says in the Qur'an Majeed that when man is brought to account, he will say, "O Lord, send us back and give us another chance.' The Lord will say, 'If I send you back, you will do the same.'"

My early religious upbringing

I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the highlight of show business. I was born into a Christian home.

We know that every child is born in his original nature, and it is only his parents that turn him to this religion or that. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus, and Jesus was in fact the door to Good. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all.

I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. When they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I believed it, simply because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents.

Pop star

Gradually, I became alienated from this religious upbringing, and started making music. I wanted to be a big star. All those things I saw in the films and on the media took hold of me, and perhaps I thought this was my god: the goal of making money. I had an uncle who had a beautiful car, and I thought "Well, he has it made". He had a lot of money. The people around me influence me though think that this was it, this world was their God.

I decided then that this was the life for me, to make a lot of money, to have a 'great life'. My examples were the pop stars, and so I started making songs. But deep down, I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became rich, I would help the needy. (It says in the Qur'an that we make a promise, but when we make something, we want to hold on to it and become greedy)

So it happened that I became very famous, as a teenager, and my name and photo were splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to live larger than life, and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated (with liquor and drugs).

In the hospital

After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: what was to happen to me? Was I just a body and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance to open my eyes, 'why am I here, why am I in bed', and I started looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading and the first thing I began to become aware of was of death, and that the soul moves on, it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power', and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body, this awareness came to me at the hospital.

One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and I realized, 'wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey and it has to be trained where it has to go, otherwise the donkey will lead you where it wants to go.

Then I realized I had a will, a God given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: 'I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell, do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?' and I knew I was on the Path.

I also wrote another song 'The way to find God out.' I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous and at the same time I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is alright and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world, I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society.

I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible, and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem, and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed.

The Qur'an

When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find something in it too.

And when I received the Book, (a guidance that would explain everything to me: who I was, what the purpose of life was, what reality was, and where I came from), I realized that this was the true religion – religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious; we must follow the will of God, then we can rise even higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.

I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt that I was a Muslim, on reading the Qur'an. I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an: it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One who has created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap the other.

Even when many astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space, and they become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.

When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to me and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says "Those who believe don't take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers." Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.


Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what was my name; I told him 'Stevens'. He was confused. I then joined the prayer though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about 1½ years after I received the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jummah I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) at his hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, 'You don't understand the Hindus, we believe in one God, we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate.' What she was saying was that in order to reach God one has to create associates that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers, the only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the Salat. This is the process of purification. Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized no person is perfect, Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him), we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the Ummah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Ameen!