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Islamic Voice Logo
MONTHLY    *    Vol 12-10 No:142    *   OCTOBER 1998/ JAMADI-UL-AKHIR 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

WHY I EMBRACED ISLAM


Abu Haneef Etheridge Rediscovers the True Path


Abu Haneef Etheridge Rediscovers the True Path

The following is just one example of a born Muslim who rediscovered Islam.

“I was born and raised in Guyana, a beautiful Island off the northern coast of South America. Christianity is the most widely practised religion on the Island, although there is a sizeable Muslim community. In fact, any religion you care to mention can be found to be practised here.

Today there is a revival of Islamic awareness amongst the Muslims living in Guyana, and this is something that is happening all over the world.

My half-caste father , a Muslim, whose father was English and mother of Indian origin, hardly knew anything about Islam, as he was too busy in the sugar plantations and also trying to raise a family. My mother, who was also a Muslim but illiterate, also discovered Islam at about the same time that I did. She became a devout Muslim and died in London at the age of seventy three, some years after performing the pilgrimage to Makkah. She was an invaluable source of inspiration to me when I truly discovered the religion of Islam.

As a child, my parents often sent me to a Muslim school where I learnt Arabic and Qur’anic recitation. My knowledge of Islam during my youth was quite limited until I was about seventeen years old. I cannot describe what I was then, a Muslim or a non-Muslim; however, what I am sure of now is that I was wandering in the wilderness like many other Muslim children who do not even know the basic tenets of Islam. We were left helplessly as prey for the domineering Christian preachers and missionaries who lay in wait.

One evening sometime in 1952, a friend and I were walking down the road in my town when we were attracted by a large crowd at the roadside. On a rostrum stood a Canadian preaching and telling people about Christ. He was crying like a child, pleading and inviting people to come along to some Christian meetings and prayer services in a nearby school building.

Being somewhat religiously inclined, although Islam was not at that time deeply enrooted within me, I attended a few of the meetings and was soon to be baptised. However, a strong force within me kept me back from going through with it.

One Saturday morning I went to the local market, where I saw a Muslim priest selling books. Among the books for sale was a book entitled: ‘The Western Awakening to Islam’ by Al-Haj Al-Farook Lord Headley, who was a former member of the House of Lords, and an English Muslim. I scanned through the book quickly and bought it. I finished the book the next day. What I had read convinced me without doubt that Islam is the only true religion for the salvation of all mankind. In the evening I went to the district Mosque and performed the evening prayer and thanked God for His guidance which he had chosen to bestow upon me.

I then began a self-study of Islam, based on any material that I could lay my hands on. I was like a hungry lion, and the more I read, the more convinced I became about the truth of Islam. My studies included the Holy Qur’an, the life of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and his companions, the Arabic langauge, the traditions, Islamic law, and writings by prominent Muslims. I am still in pursuit for further Islamic knowledge.

My advice to Muslim parents is to educate yourselves and your children in Islamic knowledge, so that they will have the foundation to protect themselves from the devil who awaits at every nook and corner. Since my return to Islam my faith has grown stronger each day. For over forty years now, I have never doubted the truth of Allah’s last law to al mankind, that is Islam.

One of the things in Islam that impressed me the most, is the life of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). To sum up my admiration for the Prophet (Pbuh) , I wish to quote the words of La Martine, who described the Prophet (Pbuh) in the following words; “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means, and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius; who could dare to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad (Pbuh).

The most famous men created arms; laws and empires only. They founded, if any at all, no more than material powers which often crumble away before their eyes. This man not only moved armies; legislations; empires; people and dynasties; but also millions of men in one third of the then inhabited world.

He created a spiritual nationality which blended together people of every tongue and every race. He has left for us the indelible characteristic of this Muslim nationality, the hatred of false gods, and the passion for the one and immaterial God.

Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogma, of a faith without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire; that is Muhammad (Pbuh). As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask is there any other man greater than he?

One of the repeated and most outrageous myths ever to be told to mankind is that the religion of Islam was spread by compulsion or by the sword. This accusation was brought about mainly by Christian historians, followed by Hindu priests, only to discredit Islam. Their ulterior motives were to keep the masses in ignorance and fan the fire of hatred in their hearts towards the Muslims. I have this to say to these blasphemers who continuously criticise Islam: If our fore-parents were forced to accept Islam because of threats by a sword, then what force is keeping us back from denouncing Islam? Instead, our faith gets stronger in recognising these lies and distortions.

The religion of Islam is a way of life. If an individual genuinely wants to change from his evil ways and turns to Islam, he will become a different person altogether. Each day he finds himself in search of knowledge which will in turn bring him closer and closer to God, which is the ultimate goal for all believers.

Today, many Europeans are searching for a new form of spiritual upliftment which might save them from the maladies of paganism and materialism which they have allowed themselves to fall into, and they are seeking to discover their salvation and enlightenment in false religions. These religions are based on idolatry and paganism. The truth they are really seeking to solve their problems and confusions is actually right here in their midst; and this truth is Islam - into the light.

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