Saturday, 31 May 2014

Young brother passing through the alcohol section

Young brother passing through the alcohol section 
Teach your children that Taqwa is the only way by which to measure a person’s status. A person who has Taqwa is better than a person who doesn’t have Taqwa. Once they understand this, they will be confident and successful Muslim individuals in society.
The best way to teach your children is by example. Be patient with your children – they will make mistakes, and you have to be patient with them until they develop good habits. By teaching them the right fundamentals, you will put them on the path to a positive start.
In shaa Allah...

Friday, 30 May 2014

Ya Ilahi, Oh Allah! Great is Thy kingdom and exalted is Thy greatness Thy plan is secret,

Ya Ilahi, Oh Allah! Great is Thy kingdom and exalted is Thy greatness Thy plan is secret, Thy authority is manifest, Thy might is victorious and subduing and Thy power is prevalent throughout and it is not possible to escape from Thy dominion
Ya Ilahi, Oh Allah! Except Thee I do not find any one able to pardon my sins nor to conceal my loathsome acts Nor have I any one except Thee to change my evil deeds into virtues There is no god but Thou glory and praise be to Thee I have made my own soul to suffer I had the audacity (to sin) by my ignorance Relying upon my past remembrance of Thee and Thy grace towards me

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

why i became a sunni (muslim),

Why did I become a Sunni or a Muslim?
I have dedicated my story of Islam to shed light into understanding of Persians and Shiats which I hope it will help those searchers of truth. I personally believe that there are enough and complete admonition in Quran, Hadith and the lives of the companion of the Messenger of God ‘Mohammad’ (May the peace and blessing be upon him). But due to recent political situations around the world concerning Sunni-Shiat fights, arguments and quarrels, I felt that maybe I should break my silence and let the world know the truth. My Muslim name is Abubakr Hashimy belonging to a Persian middle class family and was born in Tehran, Iran. I grow up under secular style of life and ideology. When I was in Iran, my parents use to train me to love the former king of Iran ‘SHAH’ and to avoid religion and to love the west. I remember when my mother use to teach me that when they ask you to go to religious rituals just say that I have stomach ache so that they send you home, and that is exactly what I use to do. During my school years in Iran, we had to study the shiat version of Islam at the public schools, and I mean pressured way of religious studies whether we liked it or not. Time passed until mid-eighties when I was in 6th and 7th grade, when I became a big fan of western rock stars like Michel Jackson and other famous singers. I used to think that this is the coolest thing to do at those times and I was only 12 years old. I may seem very young to some people but my brain had the adolescent mentality unlike nowadays where you find most teenagers belonging to game boy generation. My parents used to feel worried about me that maybe one day the government extremist may arrest me for being pro-western and send me to war against Iraq as it was common in those days for kids to be recruited to join the Basiji or revolutionary forces. So they decided to migrate to the land of freedom where we all can be safe and happy. Therefore the ideal country for this purpose was United States where we could start a new life and live with those who have the same ideology as we did. But something was about to happen to me which was a shock to everyone and not just to my family members. When I arrived to United States, I felt very happy as the luckiest man in the world. But after sometime I started feeling homesick and went in to depression for loosing my friends, cozen and relatives back in Iran. I started feeling guilty for the things that I have done in my past life, anything that can be considered sin or mistake. I used to feel dark inside as if I could feel my heart tightened, so I burst into tears hoping for a way out of my misery. One day when I got out of the shower, I looked at my closet and suddenly remembered what my teacher said once to us in our class and this was about a year before I came to America. He was my religious teacher in the public school who said: ‘ If you want to respect the Quran, you will respect it by reading it’, this saying ringed in my head as soon as I gazed my eyes to the closet where I had a Quran with Persian translation. I was wearing my towel rope and went to the closet and saw the Quran; I picked it up and sat on my bed. I told myself, let Allah choose a page for me, so I just opened it and started reading. I didn’t have a good tajweed or proper Quranic recitation but I tried to read from what they thought us at the school in Iran and then read the Persian translation. Then suddenly when I was reading it, my head felt light and I felt peace in my heart as if someone threw a water to extinguish the fire. Such a strange feeling of tranquility! This was my first time that I actually was reading the Quran for myself and not for getting a good grade at school in Iran, it felt a huge difference. So I came across this ayah mentioning that if someone repents, Allah (God) will change the bad deeds to good deeds. So I was filled with hope and felt that this is the best deal that I can get. So I started reading more and more. But sadly, I didn’t know how to perform the five daily Muslim prayers or how to fast due to my dislike of learning Islam in the past when I was in Iran. But since I didn’t know any Islam but the Ayatollah Khomeini way of Shia Islam, so I thought that this was the guided way. My father got so worried that he sent me to YMCA or the fanatic Christian camp which they tried to convert me to Christianity but it back fired on him, because I was a rebellious and a revolutionary son. A year passed and I use to go to the market in the weekends because I had nothing to do at home and was bored. In the market, for the first time, I saw a Muslim from Palestine by the name Barraq Abdu. I came to know that he was a Sunni Muslim so I felt that since all the Sunnis are kafir (infidel) I have the obligation of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil by converting him to Shiaism. But as the shiat guidelines of how to hang around Sunnis, I used the art of Tuqiah or in an easy translation ‘The Art of Hypocrisy’, which meant that when we meet the Sunnis we say we all are Muslims, brothers, believing one book and should be united but when we go back to our shiat brethren, we call them kafir. One day when I was debating him about Shias and Sunnis, and I asked him if the Sunnis say in their Adhan(the call of prayer) that Omar or Abubakr (the first two caliphs of Islam) are the friends of god as the shias do with Ali �I bear witness that Ali is the friend of god, I bear witness that Ali is the proof of God, and he responded no, that in those days these issues and problems about who should be the first caliph and etc didn’t exist that is why this new innovation didn’t exist in the time of the prophet Mohammad(saw). This saying of his made me curious, hit me like an arrow and I started asking myself, that if it didn’t exist in the prophet time, then where did it come from and why? Why do we shias beat ourselves injure ourselves in the day of Ashura, when suicide and hurting ourselves are forbidden in Islam. I went and bought a book about knowing Islam in Persian written by a Sunni Iranian and learned a summary of the caliphate of Abubakr, Omar, Othman and Ali (May Allah be please with them). There was logical Islamic explanation for their election as the Khalifah or the caliph of Islam. For first time in my entire life, I came across hadith about Abubakr, Omar and Othman (RA). I was shocked, not even as a joke I expected to see our prophet praising them. But here it was our prophet saying if I choose a friend, I will choose Abubakr as a friend or Omar who was given the title of Al-Farooq which means the one who separate the right from wrong, or Othman whom our prophet (saw)said if I have another daughter , I would have married her to him. I didn’t even know that Ali (RA) used to love and defend the first three caliphs of Islam and they used to love him as well. So after I found out that I was living in darkness, I decided that it is time for me to enter the true Islam, the original Islam, or return to the fundamentals. A week before I become a Sunni, I saw my beloved prophet Mohammad (saw)in a dream. In the dream, I was running away from a crusader and went to this place and closed the door. Then I saw a road in the galaxy coming down towards my direction. I opened the door and it was Prophet Mohammad (saw). I saw him in a green turban as if it was real life and not a dream. In the coming weekend I went to my Palestinian friend in the market and asked him How can I become a Sunni? he said: You are a Sunni! It was a challenge for me as a young boy of 14 years of age entering Islam. I didn’t know what was Tawheed or Monotheism,because the shia tawheed or idea of monotheism is like Mushrikin or (pagans),they believe in the opposite,for example, they say that if you ask Allah via 12 Imams is better than you ask Allah directly,so they make shirk and partnership to Allah like some sufis. So I thought that now I must ask the first 4 caliphs of Islam for help or to use them like the shiat Imams as wasitah. It took me time to realize that this is a major sin in Islam and that it will kick the person out of Islam.Also their prayer,so I didn’t even know how to pray or fast,etc. My parents moved to the small city of Melbourne in the state of Florida. By then I was 15 years old. At one of the parties I met a so called muslim who told me that there was a mosque in that city so I got the direction and got on my bicycle looking for the mosque. After finding the mosque which was a humble house in those days, for first time in my life since my arrival to United States, I entered a mosque. I was so happy that I felt, this is my new home. I met many Muslims from different countries and it was so beautiful. I found a lots of good friends who used to help me and give me ride to the mosque if they see me walking in street. This is how I started learning about Islam. But my hardest exam from Allah was about to start. At first I used to hide my Islam and my connection to the mosque from my parents. I used to tell them that I go to library and study which I was truthful. I used to stop by the library on the way going to mosque so that I don’t lie in Islam. Even when I read the Quran, when my mother used to check on me in my room, I pull my history book forward from underneath my bed, and when she use to leave, I pulled my Quran back again. But this secret was not about to last for ever. It blew up when one of my parent friends found out from the same so called Muslim who told me about the mosque, but sadly this brother left his religion and turned the fire on me. I had my Quraish who were the secularist Iranians and my parents joining hands in hand against me turning this into a serious and big issue. They started by making many attempts to make me leave Islam including beating me while I performing my prayers, harassing me when reading Quran, forcing me into their wine drinking parties even by coming to the mosque and beating me which didn’t work. My father took a tire off my bicycle and even kicked me out in a cold winter. But nothing worked since I was willing to be killed but not losing Islam. I had no support, the brothers tried to help me by secretly taking me to the mosque because my father threatened the Imam that he will file a law suit against the mosque. Oh , and me, I had to respect my parents and be patient, turn my other cheek to my father if he slap me but to disobey them when it came to Islam.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Interview with ex-pastor João de Deus Cabral, aka Ibrahim de Deus. Regarding his choice of Islam as a religion, following the steps of Jesus, who was a Muslim.
Islam means submission to the Creator alone. Islam is the belief that there is only One God, whose proper name is Allah, which means the God.
Islam is the same message given to all the prophets, from Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and finally to the Prophet Muhammad, the last messenger (peace and blessings be upon them). They all brought the same message: worship only God, and stop worshipping human beings and their ideas.
Allah is the name of God in Arabic, Arab Christians use the word Allah.
Become a Muslim(Any Peaceful person who submits to the Creator alone) Now
If you believe there is only One God who should be worshipped, and no one/nothing else has that right but Him, and you believe Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a messenger who brought the same message as all the prophets before him, then you are basically a Muslim.(The Deen Show )

Friday, 23 May 2014

Money can’t do

Our belief is wrong, our impression is totally false, unable to understand Allah’s desire. Allah had planned that this thing would happen through money. Likewise it’s through Allah’s desire that we are restored to health. It was Allah who had planned to recover us through the medicine, but we didn’t see Allah’s will and didn’t ponder over it, we just saw the medicine and the stomachache subsiding so we judged that it was the medicine which recovered us. The reality can’t appear in front of us, we can just imagine it.
Allah has opened in front of us the bondage we have with this world whereas the connection Allah has with this world is invisible to us. The connection that the means have with Allah is not observable. It is the order that comes from His side, which is carried out. We all are humans, neither through our want nor with the help of the human system, it was just that Allah willed to make us human beings.
He could have made us monkeys, dogs, horses, mules, he could make us all vanish into thin air as He has said “in yasha’ yuzhibkum” “He can do away with you if He wills” Ibrahim 19. (in akha dzallahu sam’akum wa absarakum wa khatama ala qulu bikum man ilahun ghairullahi ya’teekum bih). If Allah takes away your hearing and your sight and seals up your hearts, is there any deity other than Allah who could restore them to you?” Al-Anaam: 46.
In this verse Allah is telling us that He has bondage with you and that which is ordered from there is carried out.
The belief that things happen through money was penetrated/drilled into the heart via what we saw and heard. Allah’s prophet’s words tell us that your money bond is with Allah. Your existence is through Allah. When Allah wills, it happens, when Allah doesn’t will, the entire universe can’t make it happen.
(Lawijtama al insu wal jinnu ala an yanfa’uka bi shai’in lam yanfa’uka bi shai’un illa qad katabahallahu laka) “If all the jinn and mankind will to benefit you with something they cannot benefit you but with what Allah has destined for you”.
Our weakness is that we want all our wishes to be fulfilled in this world and the next. Whereas Allah has appointed a principle, (yaa abdii anta tureed wa ana ureed wa laa yakunu illa ma ureed in sallamta lee fee ma ureed kafaituka fee ma tureed, wa illam tusallim lee feema ureed atabtuka feema tureed tsumma la yakunu illa ma ureed) “Oh my servant! You want and I want and only that will happen which I will, thus, if you submit yourself to My will, I will be sufficient for you in what you want, and if you do not submit to My will, I will tire you in seeking your desire, and only that will happen which I will”.
Allah (SAW) also says: (in yamsaskallahu bi dhurrin fa la kaashifa lahu illa huwa wa in yuridka bi khairin falaa raada li fadhlihee) “If Allah afflicts you with any harm, none can remove it other than Him and if He intends to bestow a favour upon you, none can withhold His bounty ” Younus 107.
(Maa yaftahillahu linnaasi min rahmatin fa laa mumsika laha) “Whatever grace Allah opens for man, none can withhold it” Faathir 2. If Allah opens the doors of mercy, honour, wealth and subsistence for you no one can close that door…(wa maa yumsik falaa mursila lahu mim ba’dihi) “And whatever He withholds none can hence forth release” Faathir 2. If He closes the door, the entire world has no strength to open it.
Now, if we compare our knowledge with Allah’s, our knowledge and intelligence tells us that when there is money there is luxury, honour, and prosperity. Our money has no bondage with Allah, wealth is the only means to achieve all these things.
On the contrary, Allah’s knowledge tells us that when He opens the doors of affluence and abundance then only will you obtain all these bounties, and if He closes them no one can bestow them upon you. You will get if He gives, it will happen if He wills, if He doesn’t will it, then it can’t happen. These are the two main factors. And because of this He said in the beginning that man is weak, foolish and ignorant (dhaluman jahulan, ajula) ‘unjust, foolish and hasty’. And because of his feebleness, his mind is weak and so is his experience. No one can challenge Allah’s knowledge (laa mubaddila li kalimaatihee) “None can alter His words” Al-Anam 115.
(laa mubaddila li kalimaatihee) “No change can there be in His words” Al-Kahf 27.
(laa raiba feehi) “There is no doubt in it” As Sajdah 2.
(innahu laqaulun fasl) “It is a word which distinguishes [good from evil]” At-Tariq 13.
(kitaabun uhkimat ayaatuhu tsumma fussilat min ladun hakeemin khabeer) “Whose verses are perfected and issued in detail from One Wise, Informed” Al-Hud 1.
(Ar Rahmanu fas’al bihee khabeera) “The Most Gracious! Ask, then, about Him one who is aware” Al-Furqan 59. Don’t ask some imprudent person about me. Ask someone who is aware of the glory and might of your Lord.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Someone asked via

One of my neighbours told me that the qiblah towards which I was praying was wrong and was not in accordance with the qiblah of the neighbouring mosque. Based on this, I changed the direction for a few months, including last Ramadaan. Then I found out that the first qiblah had been correct. What is the ruling on prayers that I did facing the incorrect qiblah? I hope you can answer me because I am confused. Thank you very much. wrote:
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (6/314): If a worshipper does his best to figure out the direction of the qiblah and prays, then he finds out that he was mistaken, his prayer is still valid.
In Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) (10/421) it says: If a believer does his best to figure out the direction of the qiblah, when he is in the desert or is in a city in which he is not sure where the qiblah is, and he prays on that basis, then he finds out that he prayed in a direction other than the qiblah, then he should continue to pray according to his latest estimate, if he believes that it is more correct than his first estimate. His first prayer is still valid because he did his best to work out the qiblah.
>>link to full explanation:

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Seraya bersyukur dan berharap keridaan Allah Yang Mahakuasa, dan menyampaikan salawat serta salam kepada Nabi Besar Muhammad SAW, keluarga, dan sahabatnya
Seraya mengakui bahwa Allah menciptakan manusia berbangsa-bangsa dan bersuku-suku agar mereka saling mengenal
Dan mengakui bahwa tak ada seorang pun yang lebih mulia dan utama daripada lainnya, kecuali karena ilmu, iman, dan amal baik
Dan mengakui bahwa Nabi Muhammad SAW telah diutus untuk menyempurnakan akhlak manusia, membawa pesan keadilan dan perdamaian, serta menyebarkan cinta dan kasih sayang
Dan tegas mengutuk berkembangnya virus kebencian sektarian dan konflik internal di dalam Umat Islam yang telah menelan banyak korban tak berdosa di banyak belahan dunia, khususnya di negeri-negeri berpenduduk mayoritas Muslim seperti di Asia Selatan dan Barat.
Dan memahami bahwa virus kebencian itu kini sedang menyebar ke negeri-negeri Asia Tenggara, termasuk Indonesia dan Malaysia
Karena itu, kami, para cendikiawan Muslim, sepakat kepada poin-poin dalam deklarasi ini untuk menghadapi dan menghapuskan virus kebencian sektarian dan meluasnya konflik internal di dalam Umat Islam:
1. Kami menyatakan bahwa pembunuhan terhadap sesama manusia berdasarkan warna kulit, keyakinan, etnis, dan agama adalah Haram dan bertentangan dengan Syariah.
2. Kami mendukung definisi Muslim sesuai dengan deklarasi “Pesan Amman”.
3. Kami menyatakan bahwa perbedaan di internal Umat tidak boleh berujung pada pernyataan “kafir” dan “sesat” terhadap sesama Muslim, dan jika itu yang terjadi maka kami menyatakan perbuatan itu (menyatakan “kafir” dan “sesat”) Haram dan bertentangan dengan Syariah.
4. Kami menyatakan bahwa semua perbedaan di antara Muslim harus diselesaikan dengan dialog dan konsensus seraya tetap menjaga kehormatan satu sama lain.
5. Kami akan aktif bersama-sama membangun dan menjaga hubungan di antara mazhab serta organisasi Islam yang berbeda dan menghadiri kegiatan satu sama lain sebagai cara membangun, menjaga, dan mengembangkan persaudaraan.
6. Kami akan mempromosikan dan menjaga harmoni di antara semua kelompok Muslim melalui media cetak, elektronik dan media sosial.
7. Kami merekomendasikan agar sekolah-sekolah mengembangkan silabus dan kurikulum yang mendorong perdamaian, persaudaraan, serta persatuan di antara semua anggota masyarakat Muslim.
8. Kami mendesak pemerintah untuk mengembangkan dan mengimplementasikan undang-undang yang memerangi ujaran kebencian dan mendorong pemidanaan yang lebih efektif terhadap pelanggaran atas undang-undang tersebut.
9. Kami menyadari bahwa konflik sektarian adalah jebakan yang bertujuan untuk melemahkan Umat Islam, dan kami harus mencerahkan Umat tentang jebakan itu.
10. Kami akan aktif memediasi semua kelompok Muslim yang berselisih agar bisa melakukan rekonsiliasi.
Dan berpegang teguhlah kamu semuanya pada tali (agama) Allah dan janganlah kamu bercerai-berai. Dan ingatlah akan nikmat Allah kepadamu ketika kamu dahulu (jahiliyah) bermusuh-musuhan, maka Allah menjinakkan antara hatimu, lalu menjadilah kamu karena nikmat Allah orang-orang yang bersaudara. Dan kamu telah berada di tepi jurang neraka, lalu Allah menyelamtkan kamu daripadanya. Demikianlah Allah menerangkan ayat-ayat-Nya kepadamu agar kamu mendapat petunjuk. (Quran 3:103)
Jakarta, 4 Mei 2014

Monday, 12 May 2014


Whilst praising and hoping for the pleasure of Allah Almighty, greeting and blessing the lord of the Prophet Muhammad along with his family and companions
Whilst recognizing that Allah create mankind peoples and tribes that they may know one another
And recognizing that no one is more noble or superior than others except for his acquaintance, faith, and good deed
And recognizing that the Prophet Muhammad was sent to enhance human morality, bring message of justice and peace, and spread love and compassion
And strongly condemning the growing of sectarian hatred virus and internal conflict within the Islamic Ummah which has been claiming many innocent victims in various parts of the world, especially in the Muslim majority countries such as in West and South Asia
And understading that the virus is now spreading to South East Asian nations, including Indonesia and Malaysia
We, Muslim scholars, agree to the points in this declaration to counter and remove sectarian hatred virus and violence and further escalation of internecine conflict within Muslim society:
1. We state that killing fellow human beings based on colour, creed, ethnicity and religion is Haram and against the Syariah;
2. We endorse the definition of Muslim according to the Amman Message declaration
3. We state that the differences within the Ummah should never lead to issuing “takfir” against fellow Muslims, and if it does lead to issuing “takfir” we declare such action to be Haram and against the Syariah.
4. We state that all dissent among Muslims should be resolved by dialogue and consensus as well as respecting the honor of one another.
5. We will jointly and actively establish and maintain relationships between our different schools and organisations as well as attending each other’s events and programmes as a way to establish, maintain and develop brotherhood.
6. We will promote and maintain harmony between all groups of Muslim through print, electronic and social media networks.
7. We recommend that the schools should develop their syllabus and curriculum which is promoting peace, brotherhood and unity among all members of Muslim society.
8. We urge the government to develop and implement the legislation combating hate speech and push for more effective prosecution of violations of such legislation.
9. We realize that the sectarian conflict is a trap aimed to weaken Muslim Ummah, and we have to enlighten the Ummah of the trap.
10. We will actively mediate all disputing groups of Muslim so that they can reconcile with each other.
And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided. (Quran 3:103)
Jakarta, 4 May 2014

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Canadian Mathematician and former Christian Missionary who has converted to Islam

Dr. Gary Miller (also known as Abdul-Ahad Omar) is a Canadian Mathematician and former Christian Missionary who has converted to Islam. Using Critical Thinking based on clear proof, he shows how we can establish true faith by setting standards of truth. He illustrates a simple but effective method of finding out the right direction in our search for truth.
He was active in Christian missionary work at a particular point of his life but he soon began to discover many inconsistencies in the Bible. In 1978, he happened to read the Qur’an expecting that it, too, would contain a mixture of truth and falsehood.
He started reading the Qur’an more thoroughly hoping to find a mistake but he was shocked when he read Surah 4:82 that says:
“Do they not consider the Qur’an? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.” Surah 4:82
Dr Miller says about this verse: “One of the well known scientific principles is the principle of finding mistakes or looking for mistakes in a theory until it’s proved to be right; Falsification Test. What’s amazing is that the Qur’an asks Muslims and non-muslims to try to find mistakes in this book and it tells them that they will never find any”. He also says about this verse: “No writer in the world has the courage to write a book and say that it’s empty of mistakes, but the Qur’an, on the contrary, tells you that it has no mistakes and asks you to try to find one and you won’t find any.”
He discovered to his amazement that the message of the Qur’an was precisely the same as the essence of truth that he had distilled from the Bible. He became a Muslim and was active in giving public presentations on Islam including radio and television appearances.
He is the author of several articles and publications about Islam.
If you are interested in his discussions, you can check his audio and video lectures from

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Raised Catholic, soldier and wife convert to Islam

Raised Catholic, soldier and wife convert to Islam
(This story from 2011 to support our new brother in Islam )

Some Muslim servicemembers struggle to balance faith and service

Cristina Tarantino, who, along with her husband, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, converted to Islam and started a charity to send food to Somalia, stands with her sons, Andrew and Kayden, outside their home on Ben Franklin Village in Mannheim,
The Tarantinos say converting to Islam has given them new purpose, meaning and guidance in their lives. The adults have given up music and alcohol. The children have given up the tooth fairy and Santa. In their back yard, from left are Andrew and Jayden, and their parents, Chris and Cristina.
They’d both been raised Roman Catholic, she in Mannheim, Germany, he in Kissimmee, Fla.
But when Spc. Chris Tarantino deployed to Iraq in 2006, his wife began to ask questions about life and death that led her to convert to Islam.
“I was really, really scared something was going to happen to him,” said Cristina Tarantino.
She started to wonder what happened after death, she said, and how to best live life on earth.
She was spending time with her older sister, who had converted to Islam after marrying a Palestinian, and she sought her sister’s guidance.
Her sister’s answers about Islam made sense to Cristina and gave her some serenity, she said.
She discussed her spiritual progress with her husband in frequent phone calls between Camp Taji, Iraq, and Mannheim.
Even so, “I was kind of shocked when I heard her say it — ‘I’ve accepted Islam,’” Chris, now a sergeant, said.
His first question was whether she had begun wearing a hijab. She wasn’t ready yet, she said. But he didn’t ask her a lot, he said. “I asked for guidance in my prayers.”
And by last year, the second time he deployed to Iraq, the blond, blue-eyed soldier had also become a Muslim. He decided not to hide it.
“I went to Kuwait and bought a prayer rug and started praying right there,” he said. “I saw it wasn’t the end of the world to say I was a Muslim.”
During the past decade of fighting in Muslim countries, some soldiers occasionally have to battle perceptions that Muslims are hostile to the military they serve.
Chris enlisted in the Army in 1998, before radical Islamists attacked New York and Washington, D.C., and the U.S. went to war in two Muslim nations. He said he’d never had any feelings, positive or negative, about Muslims, even when heading to Iraq.
“All I knew was we were going to combat terrorism,” he said. “As a soldier, I just did what I was told. They say ignorance is bliss. I guess I was ignorant.”
Then, as his wife grew more religious and he was drawn with her to a Sunni mosque in Mannheim, he said the whole idea of radical, violent jihad against the West seemed utterly wrong.
“I follow the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. What the prophet Muhammad teaches does not condone that,” Chris said. “I don’t associate myself with radicalism whatsoever.”
But his situation is unusual: He’s the only U.S. soldier at his German mosque, one of the few Muslims in the Army and one of even fewer Muslim soldiers who are not from a traditionally Muslim family or African-American.
“I have to say that I’ve met zero that are of my race,” he said. And although the couple’s conversion is personal, not political, his views on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and war in general, have changed.
“As Muslims, we believe that if you kill one innocent person, it’s as if you’ve killed the entire world. But if you save one person, you save the entire world,” said Chris, who is in the Signal Corps and works on communications equipment. “I want to be on the side that’s helping.”
As part of that idea, the couple helped start a non-profit group to send food and medical supplies to Somalia, a failed state undergoing the worst famine in decades.
Since 2006, the country has faced an insurgency led by al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group that controls much of southern Somalia.

But the Tarantinos and others at Al-Faruq Omar Mosque felt they had to do something.
Cristina was one of seven people from their mosque who formed a group called IslamischerHumanitaererEntwicklungsdienst, or the Islamic Humanitarian Development Service(
In just a few weeks, the charity had collected and put onto pallets 135 tons of food and medical supplies, Cristina said. Her husband provided some of the muscle.
“I help when there’s a load to be carried,” he said.
It was all collected, organized and carried during Ramadan, when Muslim adults don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. “You’re talking about some guys who were completely kaput,” Chris said.
The food and supplies were picked up from a warehouse near Cologne and shipped by sea late last month. Cristina said the supplies would arrive in northern Somalia in the beginning of November, then be driven to the central region for distribution. Another charity, Human Plus, found sponsors to pay for transporting the supplies, which cost about 40,000 euros or $57,400.
At home, the Tarantinos continue to study their new faith and seek to live it as fully as they can.
Cristina wears the hijab when she leaves the house, as well as a long skirt and long sleeves. In Germany, her clothes rarely raise an eyebrow. At their mosque, for instance, “there are so many German converts,” she said, mostly women. There are also Moroccans, Bosnians, Poles and Russians.
The family lives on base, and when she goes to the commissary, people stare at her. “I feel like an astronaut,” she said. “Last time, when I went with my sister, they asked her if she was there to work,” she continued, explaining that some Turkish women wearing hijabs clean the local schools.
“I tell my husband, ‘They probably think you brought me from Iraq.’”
But her husband has never had a problem with acceptance. Soldiers in his unit, the 72nd Signal Battalion rear detachment, know he’s a Muslim. “I’d stop for prayer. I’d talk to them about Islam because it’s my chance to do a good deed,” he said.
“At first, they were - “What?” “You are?” “Really?”’ he said. After, they’d say, “Sgt. Tarantino, it’s prayer time.’ They were respectful,” he said.
Only once did he get a bad reaction. He greeted a “brother,’’ another Muslim soldier, and an African-American, by saying in Arabic, “Peace be upon you.”
“And the other soldier said, “Shhh,’” Chris said.
He plans to get out of the Army within the next year and move the family to the United States. Cristina plans to continue working toward a bachelor’s degree in communications, and her husband plans to continue his studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“The same stuff I’ve been trained to do. Just without a gun,” he said.
The couple met on base in Mannheim more than a decade ago. They’ve been married three times: Once at city hall, once in church and the last time at their mosque.
One of the hardest things about their conversion had to do with their two young sons. “We were like, ‘What do we tell the kids?’’’ Cristina said. “So, gradually there was no tooth fairy, no Santa Claus. ... They took it very well.

Friday, 9 May 2014

The challenges faced by British women who have converted to Islam have been investigated in a study by the University of Cambridge Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) and the New Muslims Project.

The challenges faced by British women who have converted to Islam have been investigated in a study by the University of Cambridge Centre of Islamic Studies (CIS) and the New Muslims Project.
Thousands of British women have converted to Islam but nobody has ever studied the difficulties they face in being accepted, says Shahla Suleiman, the project manager for the study for which 47 converts were interviewed.
“Considering the stereotypical and largely negative picture Islam has in the media and society at large …we wanted to understand the seemingly paradoxical issue of why highly educated and professionally successful Western women convert to Islam.”
The report says more support is needed for converts, but also recognises the potential converts can have on the heritage Muslim community and British society as a whole.
The Catholic child
Imelda Ryan, a charity sector worker from Oxfordshire tells the BBC, with a wry smile: “My conversion was about, 26/27 years ago. I still haven’t gone back to Catholicism yet .”
Ryan was brought up by her mother in an Irish Catholic single parent household in the UK. As a child she aspired to be a nun, but during her teenage years she broke away from the Catholic faith.
By her late twenties, with a successful career in the charity sector, financial security and many friends, Imelda felt something was lacking in her life. The mother of four said: “I joined the Samaritans as I wanted to do something, so called, meaningful with my life”.
She worked with Muslims, and fondly looks back on the time when they would try to convert her to Islam. Many of her colleagues suggested reading the Koran, but it was reading a book explaining Islam, that brought about her conversion.
Mrs Ryan said: “In that book it sort of gave an a-z of what a moral, ethical, spiritual, person should be. “It just knocked me over. This book is saying, what you would like to be is Islam.”
Mrs Ryan recalls her own conversion, and how telling friends of her new faith was relatively easy. However telling her family was more of a challenge.
“When I told my mum, understandably the question was, if you want to be religious, if you want to be spiritual, why don’t you come back to Catholicism? Why did you go to another religion? Why didn’t you come back to your own religion?”
Everyone’s religion
Unlike some of the women taking part in the study, Imelda was able to maintain a close relationship with her mother. She told the BBC: “I had to explain to her, actually, Islam is everyone’s religion. If you read about Islam, it incorporates Christianity, Judaism, it’s a religion for all people, of all faiths.”
Mrs Ryan thinks the strength of her mother’s faith made it easier for her to understand her daughter’s conversion. She didn’t need to explain to her mother the need for spirituality in her life, as it was already an integral aspect of her mother’s life.
In fact Mrs Ryan thinks her religious and moral upbringing was the natural starting point for her journey to Islam. She recalls telling her mother:
“I’m coming from a place you began, it’s a continuance for me, and a fulfilment of the person, you wanted me to be.”

After her mother’s death Mrs Ryan found a letter she had written to her. It said ‘I know one day you will come back to Catholicism.’
“That made me very sad, it’s not that she didn’t accept me, we had a wonderful relationship, but there was a tiny bit of her that hoped I’d sort of made a mistake.”
Mrs Ryan is able to reflect on the changing perception of Islam over the last 26 years. She said:
“I think since I converted that so many more people know about Islam, the saddest aspect of that is they know about it through 9/11 and 7/7…We want to say this is not in our name.”
Wearing a hijab
Mrs Ryan believes the decision to wear a head scarf is down to the individual. One of the reasons she has chosen to wear a hijab is to be recognised by other Muslim women.
“I’m proud to be Muslim I don’t shy away from it … but actually in terms of negativity and positivity I think there are many more positive things that have happened as a result of me wearing than not.”Mrs Ryan said.
The report found the experiences of women wearing headscarves varied depending on the environment they live in. Muslim women are often far more visible in British cities.
Mrs Ryan lives in a quite Oxfordshire village, and jokingly describes herself as ‘the only Muslim in the village’. She enjoys the conversations that start because she is wearing a hijab and answering questions for the curious. Ruqaiyah Hibell is the author of the report and a researcher for the New Muslims Project. From her own experiences converting to Islam, she can empathise with and help new Muslims. She told the BBC: “The basic set of challenges that they all face are, how to integrate into existing heritage communities. How to retain contact with their original heritage while moving on and being the person they want to be within a new environment as well.” New Muslims are often directed to Caring for Converts, who have a helpline as well as offering social, spiritual and educational services.
The report found many converts keep their faith a secret, afraid to share their spiritual journey with family and friends. Mary Batool Al-Toma, director of the New Muslims Project told the BBC:
“I think spirituality in itself draws from people around a variety of different responses. Some of them not so pleasant, some of them quite positive and wholesome.”
But there are problems facing all British Muslim women, whether recently converted or born into the faith, they all face a general lack of inclusion in mosques.
Mrs Al-Toma compares the situation, with her own experiences attending a Catholic church in Ireland as a child. She recalls how men and women were separated into two lines as they approached the priest. The report also highlights the need for sermons to be conducted in English, alongside other languages.
The research shows the huge variety of experience and challenges Muslim converts face, and some of these challenges are universal. Imelda Ryan worked hard to maintain the loving relationship she had with her late mother. She told the BBC:

“I hope she realised as a Muslim girl I was a better daughter, maybe a better mother, a better wife I don’t know.”