Muslim converts, Oct - Dec 2007

My Conversion Story

By Ali Melena

My name is Ali. I’m a 27 year old Mexican American or as some would say a Chicano. I thought I would write my story to tell how I became a Muslim. I think it will Insha’Allah, God-willing, help people understand Islam and why it attracted me. People have a wrong perception about Islam and Muslims, what little they know is usually from movies and television, which is almost all the time false. I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story Insha’Allah will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.

My life before was bad I had no direction in life. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out in the streets with my friends “partying”, getting high, drinking, and selling marijuana. Most of my friends were gang members. I myself was never in a gang. I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers so it was not a problem. I slowly began to use harder drugs. I had dreams but they seemed too far away for me to make them reality. The more I became depressed the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.

One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana. I was eager to sample and buy some, so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment. There were a couple of people inside. We sat around and talked for a while and “sampled” the weed. My friend and I bought some, and we were getting ready to leave when my friend said one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.

We left for this guy’s apartment when we got there. He gave my friend a book and asked him to read it. He said that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book that the guy gave him. It was the Qur’an. I had never in my life heard of “The Holy Qur’an.” I began to briefly read some pages. While I was reading, I knew that what I was reading was true. It was like a slap in the face, a wake up call. The Qur’an is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.

The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion. I used to laugh at people that went to church and sometimes said that there was no God. Although deep down, I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Qur’an. I began to read it and study it. I learned about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (Peace be upon him). The Qur’an stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son. This was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the trinity. The Qur’an describes the birth of Prophet Jesus (P.B.U.H) and his mission. There is also a Surah, or Chapter, called Mary and tells her story as well.

As a child I always went to church, my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15.The rest of my family is Catholic. I always wondered why we were Seventh day Adventist, but the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic Church for weddings and Quencenira’s, a sweet 15 celebration.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind. The Qur’an tells the story’s of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) told in a clear and understandable manner. I did months of research on Islam. I bought a Holy Qur’an at a bookstore and studied about World History and Islam’s contributions to Medicine and Science.
I learned that Spain was a Muslim country for about 800 years and that Muslims were expelled from Spain by the Christian King and Queen Ferdinand and Isabella. Later, Christian Spaniards came to Mexico and forced the Aztecs and others to become Catholic. History and my Islamic roots were all becoming clear to me.

After months of study and research I could not deny the truth anymore, I had put it off too long, but was still living the life I was before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up. One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth. I found out that there was a mosque by my house, and so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service. I saw that people from all races and colors attended the mosque. I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the Adthan, or call to prayer. When I heard it my eyes filled up with tears. It sounded so beautiful. It was all so strange at first but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.

After attending the mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my Shahada, or declaration of faith. I told the Khatib, the person giving the lecture, that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday in front of the community I said my Shahada first in Arabic then in English. I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is His Messenger.

When I finished a brother shouted, “Takbir!” Then, all the community said, “Allah O Akbar!” (God is great!) a few times, then all the Brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs in one day. I will never forget that day; it was great. I have been Muslim since 1997. I’m at peace with myself and clear in religion. Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I have received my G.E.D. and work in the computer field. I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj, or Pilgrimage, to the Holy city of Mecca. It was an experience of a lifetime. About three million people from every race and color in one place worshiping one God. Islam is amazing!