THIS IS HOW I WAS FORCED TO ACCEPT ISLAM

I never aspired to be a Muslim. I didn't even want to be a Christian. The whole concept of 'organized religion' was distasteful. I sought to use my mind.. not resort to some ancient book for assistance in living my life. If you had offered me millions of dollars to join faith or another, I would have declined. One of my preferred authors was Bertrand Russell, who maintained that religion is little more than superstition and generally harmful to people. He believed the religious outlook served to inhibit knowledge and promote fear independency.. in addition to being accountable for much of our world's wars.

 I remember laughing out loud while reading ''hey, is that you God'' by dr. Pasqual, in which he derided the concept of God through satirical dialogue. It all seemed so logical. thinkers like us were surely above religious devotees. I thought smugly. I wanted to systematically prove religions were no more than a hoax. I purposefully set out to do just that yet, Here I am Muslim. Sure, I made the declaration of faith' but the choice I had was really no choice at all. essentially, I was compelled, forced to accept Islam.

Interestingly in my talks with followers of religions especially those other than Islam. I have often noticed that they clearly desire to believe as if no matter how many contradictions or errors are pointed out in the scriptures. They brush them aside and maintain their unquestioning faith. Rarely do I ever find that the scriptures themselves convinced them but rather they decided to have faith and then the studies began after that decision, if at all..

They knew what they believed, either by having been raised upon it, or like a friend of mine told me: ''Islam Seems Foreign'' so I never looked into it. Personally I never considered myself to be seeking God but if I had the last place I think I would have looked would have been in an old book, or a building, or a person. In actuality, this notion was not built on hard facts. It was an assumption. I had no evidence. when I undertook reading the religious books, I was not biased towards them but my intentions were to look for flaws.

This approach helped me manage to maintain a fair amount of objectivity. My paperback translation of the Quran had been acquired for free. I didn't even stop to chat with the MSA students standing at the table stacked with books. I asked ''is it free? when they replied ''yes'', I grabbed one and continued on my way. I had no interest in them, only the free book to assist me in accomplishing my goal of debasing religions once and for all but as I read that Quran; as its cover became worn and its pages tattered. I became more and more subdued.

It was distinct from the other religious books I had also collected. I could understand it easily, it was clear. A friend of mine once began ranting about how God in Islam is angry and vengeful. I came to its defense without even realizing it. Opening it up and easily flipping to one of the many pages that said ''surely, God is forgiving, merciful.'' It was as if the Quran was speaking to me directly, responding to my life. It was an old book but somehow it was entirely relevant. The Quran was appealing to my intellect. offering me signs and then telling me to think, to ponder and consider. It rejected the notion of blind faith but encouraged reason and intelligence.

It directed humanity towards goodness, recognition of the Creator, plus moderation kindness and humility. After some time life-changing experiences my interest intensified. I began reading other books about Islam. I found that the Quran contained prophecies as did many of the hadiths. I found that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was corrected several times in the Quran. This seems strange if he had in fact, been its author.

I remember the warm artificial lighting in my apartment and the weight of the air on the night I read this verse 'Have Those Who Disbelieved Not Considered That the Heavens and the Earth Were a Joined Entity, and We Split Them Asunder and Made From Water Every Living Thing? Then Will They Not Believe'' My mind was split when I read this. It was the big bang - suddenly not just a theory and every living thing from water.. wasn't that what scientists had just discovered?

I was astonished. It was the most exciting and yet frightening time of my life. NOW WHAT? There were only two choices and one was no choice at all. I could not deny what I had discovered, ignoring it and going on with my life as before... Though I did consider it briefly, that left only one option. I knew I had to accept Islam because the only alternative was denying the truth.
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