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INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC INFORMATION  & DAAWAH CENTRE (IIDAC)

 
 

 MY JOURNEY TO ISLAM

MY JOURNEY TO ISLAM AND THE AFTERMATH: AN INTERVIEW WITH MOHAMMED MICHAEL (A REVERT TO ISLAM)

 

BY ALI SALMAN

 

Mohammed Michael, a Muslim revert has successfully established an Islamic Dakwah centre, known as International Islamic Information and Dawah Centre in Kota Bharu, the heart of Kelantan. The Ghanaian born, who embraced Islam 21 years ago shares his pre Islamic experience and his current dakwah activities with Ali Salman. The following is what has transpired between them.

 

            When people ask Brother Mohammed why he converted to Islam, his answer is that, “My conversion to Islam cannot be attributed to any other cause or reason rather than the gracious direction of Allah (SWT). I converted to Islam through inspiration not by force, not by marriage nor by money as some people use to think. I converted by my own will”. Brother Mohammed who was brought up in Christian family, first came to know about Islam through his experience as a sailor on the ship.

 

There were few questions in his mind during his sailing career. Whenever his ship met a heavy storm at the seas, he did have some feelings about the creation of the seas and the protection of the ship and the crew on board. According to Brother Mohammed, there was a time when the ship he was sailing in nearly sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. 15 containers (cargo) fell into the sea during a heavy storm. He kept thinking about it and tried to get answers for what they encountered at seas.

 

Things took a different turn when he met a Syrian businessman in the hotel he was staying while on a three-month holiday in Europe. The Syrian businessman advised him to go to Bangkok if he really wants to enjoy himself because Bangkok is like paradise on earth. Mohammed traveled to Bangkok and he had a very good time. “Yet I still felt there was no satisfaction in my life after experiencing all the things I wanted”, said Mohammed. After five months in Bangkok, he got married to a Thai lady, a Buddhist, by the recommendations of a friend who he was staying with. He was taught to worship Buddha after his marriage. “I declared myself as a Christian and a Buddhist. On many occasions my wife took me to Buddhist temple for worship and I took her to the church on Sundays”, said Mohammed. Every morning, he stood before the Buddhist statue for worship in their house. Surprisingly, according to Mohammed, despite all the rituals, he never had a sincere belief in anything that was said, preached or practice in both religions – Christianity and Buddhism.

 

A week after his conversion to Buddhism, he met a brother from Ghana who was a second captain in a Malaysian ship. Brother Mohammed had this to say to the brother, “I felt like committing suicide because I felt life is worthless. The brother then advised me to be a Muslim so I asked him why? The brother said if I become a Muslim I will be very happy in my life”. Mohammed objected because he thought Islam is a very difficult religion to practice with a lot of restrictions. “First, I have to stop drinking and womanizing, must pray (solat) five times a day, and no freedom to do whatever I like”, said Mohammed. To him, to be a Muslim is just like being in a jail in this world. Islam, Mohammed, is a Dark Age religion and something very difficult for him to accept. The Ghanaian then left Mohammed alone.

 

A couple of days passed by and Mohammed met another man from the USA at the same area he met the Muslim brother from Ghana. They kept company together and while walking on the street of Bangkok, an Arab Muslim gave the salam (Assalamualaikum) to both of them and the American responded (wa’alaikumussalam). Mohammed was shocked because he didn’t know the brother from USA was a Muslim. They both then invited Mohammed a n office, a travel agency. There, Mohammed met another five Muslims of different nationalities. They introduced themselves and they offered Mohammed and his newly found friends something to drink. “After a short while, one of the brothers in the office observed that something was worrying me. So he asked me about my problem, but I refused to tell him my feelings and then he told me not to worry and that we are all human beings created by one God”, Mohammed said.

 

After the short meeting, Mohammed and the American decided to go and one of the Arabs accompanied them to show them a shop where the American can buy a rope to tie his goods. “The Arab paid for the American as a gift and then he left. After a short while walking with the American I felt like something touching my heart which prompted me to ask the American if he is a Muslim. His answer was yes and then he asked me why? I said to him I wanted to be a Muslim like him and want to know how to become one. I asked him if I need to go back to Saudi Arabia or Egypt before I can be a Muslim. He was shocked with disbelief and at the same time said that I can convert to Islam at any place even in Bangkok”, Mohammed said.

 

            There and then, according to Mohammed, the American Muslim took him to his hotel and interviewed him for a while. Mohammed narrated his life story to the American brother and said to him, “the brotherhood I found in Islam is something which has really touched my heart to accept Islam. He then gave me a book with the title Khalifa Rashidin and gave me the address of Masjid Haroon in Bangkok to go there and embrace Islam. When I was about to leave, he gave me some money for taxi and hugged me so hard that I shed tears continuously”.

 

From there Mohammed took a taxi to Masjid Haroon where he met a group of Muslims from Malaysia (Daawah Tabligh). “When I first saw the group inside the mosque, I felt a bit scared and started wondering about such a secret religion”, Mohammed said. He then narrated his story to them and he was taught to say the Kalima Shahada, declaration of faith. “After that there was a tremendous happiness among all the people inside the mosque. The people started to embrace me and some gave me money and gifts. In fact, frankly speaking that was the time I felt I was born”, said Mohammed. It is one of the unforgettable events which make him cry each time people ask him about his conversion to Islam.

 

The next morning, Brother Mohammed told his wife about his conversion to Islam. She got very angry and demanded for divorce, but he managed to bring her to Masjid Haroon and later that day she accepted Islam. After three days, the Islamic Ijtimak brothers persuaded Mohammed and his wife Aminah (Muslim name after conversion) to move to Kelantan. In Kelantan, he registered with the Muslim Welfare Organization (PERKIM) where he obtained the basic Islamic knowledge. “I was very anxious to know more about Islam; therefore I committed my self to reading the Quranic translation in English. I was very impressed to learn about the contents of the Quran which emphasize the whole aspect of creation. I started discovering the answers for all my previous questions”, Mohammed said. What really struck Mohammed was one of the verses he came across in the Quran regarding the ship at sea, which is mentioned in Surah Lukman 31-32 which says: “Has thou not seen how the ships glide on the sea by Allah’s grace, that he may show you of his wonders? There is indeed a portent for every steadfast, grateful heart”. Mohammed was a seaman before embracing Islam. From then on Mohammed kept on learning from various institutions and at the same time attended few Islamic courses and seminars organized by the Religious Council in Kelantan.

 

            According to Brother Mohammed, after conversion, he found that Islam is indeed the true religion, but the question is why Muslims are hiding the most beautiful religion on earth. “So I thought it over and over and decided to do something by talking to non Muslims with nice approach telling them about the beauty of Islam and the basic message, especially the Tauheed (the oneness of God)”, said Mohammed. On his approach of Dakwah to the Christians, Brother Mohammed said, “I begin by talking about comparative religion and the truth about Jesus Christ, Nabi Isa, the story which is mentioned in the Quran and The Bible”.

          

          After seeing the light about the true religion, Mohammed didn’t keep it to himself. “I began corresponding with my elder brothers in Ghana informing them to do a comparative study of both the Quran and the bible to find out the truth for themselves. After one year study of both the Quran and the bible, they embraced Islam”, Mohammed said.

           

           The climax of his Dakwah work was in 2002 when he decided to set up an Islamic centre in Kelantan to propagate Islam to both non Muslims and Muslims. “I therefore talked to few friends and a Muslim businessman. The businessman welcomed the idea and therefore gave me some money to find a place somewhere in the centre of Kota Bharu”, said Mohammed.     Mohammed then put the matter before the Chief Minister of Kelantan, The Mufti (the head of the Islamic Council) and the Mayor of Kota Bharu. They all welcomed and approved the idea without hesitation. Alhamdulillah, a portion of land was offered to Brother Mohammed by the Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bharu (Kota Bharu City Council) as wakaf gift, where he set up the International Islamic Information and Daawah Centre (IIDC) near the Kelantan State Mosque and the Kelantan State Museum, a tourist attraction area. “Thanks to Allah, many people are very happy to see the centre and the noble work I am doing”, said Muhammad.

 

 The centre has become a gateway for those who want to know more about Islam, especially foreign tourists visiting the state. According to Mohammed, many people think there must be branches of the centre throughout the states in Malaysia for the benefit of the public. The centre is operating not only to give information about Islam, but also to help the new converts, the poor and the needy as well in various ways.                 

           

Brother Muhammed’s final word on his conversion to Islam is, “I am very happy and grateful to Allah (SWT) for chosen me to be among His servants. The brotherhood of Islam, regardless of race, colour or country of origin, is the main thing that drew me towards Islam. Alhamdulillah! Praise be to Allah the most Merciful”.

 

 

 

Article

My Journey to Islam
Muhammad Michael, a Muslim revert has successfully established an Islamic Daawah
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