Islam in Switzerland
Switzerland, and Geneva in particular, is often associated with emirs and other sheiks who enjoy sumptuous palaces, stroll along the harbor in the shade of the fountain and buy out the luxury shops. True, these visitors from the Gulf do exist, and they are well-known and highly appreciated by our businesses, however the bulk of the Muslim population has little to do with them.
The second largest religion in Switzerland
In 1990, the Muslim population was 152,200, or 2.2% of the Switzerland’s resident population. A surprising development for those who know that in the early seventies, there were less than 20,000 Muslims living in Switzerland. Islam is now the second largest religion in Switzerland, after Christianity.
The Muslim community of Switzerland is comprised of several nationalities, within which there are different cultures, languages and ethno-cultural particularities. In 1990, the vast majority (4/5) of the Muslim community was represented by Turk nationals (65,000 people or 42.8%) and nationals of the former Yugoslavia (55,000 people or 30.4%). The Muslim community from North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) represented 4% of the overall community, while the Lebanese community represented 3.3%.
The Muslim population is spread out evenly across Switzerland, and mainly in big urban centers (73% of all Muslims). The largest number is found in the cantons of Zurich, Aargau, St Gallen and Bern. It is interesting to note that 76% of the Muslims are settled in German-speaking Switzerland, and 14% in French-speaking Switzerland, which corresponds closely to the resident population distribution. The Turk community is more concentrated in German-speaking Switzerland, while the bulk of the North African community lives in French-speaking Switzerland. Nationals of the former Yugoslavia are spread here and there throughout the country.
It can be affirmed that the number of Muslims is surely underestimated, since, during the 1990 census, 3.1% of foreigners (an exceptionally high proportion) did not answer the question on religious affiliation. As for more recent figures, we have to resort to estimates of the non-governmental agencies, such as, for example, the Islamic associations or organizations in Switzerland. According to these sources, the number of Muslims in Switzerland is currently estimated between 200,000 and 250,000 people (from 2.8 to 3.5% of the resident population).
A fragmented community...
Whereas twenty years ago there were only three mosques in Switzerland (two in Geneva and one in Zurich), there are now almost 90, generally referred to as "Islamic Cultural Centers", sometimes open for the five daily prayers, and certainly open for Friday prayer. The increase in the number of Muslims is a phenomenon split between several communities and several attitudes.
Turks, Bosnians and Albanians are each organized round a mother house in Zurich, with branches spread throughout Switzerland. A particularity amongst the Turks reproduces the political divisions of the country: a portion of the centers are controlled by the Dyanet, the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs, through a representative at the consulate in Zurich. On the other hand, twenty or so of the other centers are run by the Milli G?rush, an off-shoot of Refah, the former Islamic opposition party.
In the face of these structured entities, the Arabist world is not only minority, but also organized in less of a hierarchy, more difficult to decipher: between the so-called "official" centers, partially financed by Saudi Arabia (such as the Fondation, in Geneva) or by the United Arab Emirates (such as the Stiftung islamische Gemeinschaft, in Zurich), and movements of the Tabligh are also present.
...that is trying to develop structure
For several years now, under the leadership of the very diplomatic Ismail Amin, who is of Egyptian origin and a former university professor of Arab philology, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Zurich is attempting to structure the Muslim community: it brings together all the communities in the city, including the Dyanet and the Milli G?rush, including the Habache movement, including the centers that are connected with the Muslim Brothers or the Tabligh. Ismail Amin has also patiently developed contacts with the official Churches, Protestant and Catholic alike. The result is that the Muslims are given a better voice in the political issues that they hold dear.
All the same, there still exists a wide range of Muslim organizations in Switzerland, notably associations that run prayer locations and small local associations. .
Amal - USA/Catholic
As a young girl born in the Northwest of the USA, my dream was to become a nun. Growing up Roman Catholic, I saw the nuns have a spiritual presence that attracted me until I reached the age of 14. It was then I started having misgivings about Catholic doctrine, so I gravitated towards the Protestant faiths. The trinity was a lingering concern for me. I often just tried "to have faith" but my own logic overruled this, so many considered me "not serious enough to be spiritual". At the age of 20 I began talking religion to a cab driver, and heard the term Islam for the first time from a real person. The nightly news talked about Islam and the Muslims - sure, they were called terrorists. I presented this to my driver, who Alhamdulillah laughed softly and suggested I read Al-Quran. Actually, I read a few books on Islam first, then the Quran. This is when I knew I could have both my faith and logic, and Alhamdulillah I found I wasn't crazy after all. It took another two years before I took Shahadah, and another two before Hijab.
Alhamdulillah now at 29, I have my faith, health, oh, and a terrific husband as well (this is one of my first prayers or duas answered!). My story is not unusual, quite boring if you are not me I suppose, yet I never tire of telling others my story. I could tell of my family, that would be unusual. They have never been happier with me, although my sister still does not like my hijab, all members are in agreement, I am happier, more centered, and above all I have peace where before was chaos and confusion. It didn't happen over night, I have worked and am still working at this, you don't "convert" and that is it, everyday comes the struggle to learn, only now I welcome struggle. Inshallah, God Willing, my story has inspired someone, at any rate thank you for reading my story. May Allah Guide those who Search.
Jul. 29th, 1999
Taken from trueislam
Jenni Rauhala (Sumaiyah) - Finland/Christian
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatu Allaah wa Barakaatuhu!
I wanted to add one more reversion story to the many already on your page. I was born in Finland, Northern Europe, about 20 years ago. My parents were Evangelic Lutheran, though not very strict about it. We went to the church a couple of times a year, mainly during Christmas time. I believed in God but not as the church teaches. As a kid this was no problem and I didn't think about it.
Like almost all of the kids in Finland I also went to a so called confirmation camp. It takes about a week. 15-year-old teens spend one week away from their families just learning about christianity, doing religious stuff and hanging out with the youthful and sometimes witty priests. Many teens get their "religious awakening" there because finally you have time to think about religion and nobody is calling you boring because of it. I also realized that I am a Believer. But not a believer in the church doctrine.
After the camp I started studying christianity harder trying to understand it. I even went through study period of the bible that lasted several months. That course qualified me to teach the bible to the younger kids. I worked for the church for like a year but already during that I knew christianity wasn't the Truth. But in the beginning I thought there was some hope that christianity might be it and I studied other branches of christianity. Then I went on to study judaism. That phase did not last for too long as the way they see Jesus (Alaihis-Salaam) is kind of distorted.
A couple of years earlier I had read the translation of the meanings of the Qur'an in my native language. I read it again, and got hooked. Yes this is what I was looking for. One True God! Then I started slowly getting some Muslims as friends. I visited a family in Turkey and there learnt some things about praying and hygiene and so forth. Internet also played a major role as I got to know sisters of my age that lived close by me. I started visiting these sisters. They had all been christians like me. I was certain that Islaam is the Way.
I started high school and Al-Hamdulilaah, in my class there was a girl who also was interested in Islaam. We ordered books together from Saudi Arabia. We visited London together and many of its mosques. We were studying Islaam so much and teaching each other what we knew. We even took the Shahadah on the same day, Wal-hamdulilaah!
As my interest in Islaam grew, the more my parents got alerted. They were ready to throw me out of their house. Or do anything. I was a minor so I could not wear hijaab though I so passionately wanted to. Things got worse and worse everyday but I told them I'd rather give them up than Islaam. As I reached the age of consent and started wearing hijaab, things got out of hand and I left home without telling them. I got married abroad to a good Muslim brother, Masha'Allaah.
An Imam advised me to get in touch with my parents and I was talking with them on the phone only two weeks after leaving home. I didn't know severing kinship ties was a sin but Al-hamdulilaah I was told by that Imam. After being married for two months I returned home. I stayed with my parents for some time and then returned to my husband's country. We have been married for almost two years now. Just today my mum was telling me that it is such a good thing there are so good men as my husband. As you can read, things have gotten better, Al-hamdulilaah. My mum has even started reading the Qur'an. Please make du'aa that she'll also receive this Guidance from Allaah (SWT)!
Taken from trueislam
Captive Turns to the Truth
To gain some insight into the true position of a woman in Islam, refer to Yvonne Ridley’s lecture “Behind Enemy Lines: The Story of a Taliban Captive.” Ridley, a British journalist, was captured by the Taliban for 11 days, and released upon the condition that she would read the Noble Quran.
Approximately two years later, Ridley converted to the Islamic faith and wrote a book, “Behind Enemy Lines,” describing and detailing her life experiences. Ridley believes that the Noble Quran is the “Magna Carta for women” and that “oppression is cultural; it is not Islamic.” Despite the regular impulsive outburst and critique of dozens of claims that Islam oppresses women, Ridley exemplifies the reality of a Muslim woman as a strong member of her society and the world.
Ibrahim Khalil Philobus Former Egyptian Coptic priest and missionary
Source: The Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
Al-Haj Ibrahim Khalil Ahmad, formerly Ibrahim Khalil Philobus, was an Egyptian Coptic priest who studied theology and got a high degree from Princeton University. He studied Islam to find gaps to attack it; instead he embraced Islam with his four children, one of whom is now a brilliant professor in Sorbonne University, Paris France. In an interesting way, he reveals himself saying: "I was born in Alexandria on the 13th of January 1919 and was sent to the American Mission schools until I got my secondary education certificate there. In 1942 I got my diploma from Asiut University and then I specialized in religious studies as a prelude to join the Faculty of Theology. It was no easy task to join the faculty, as no candidate could join it unless he got a special recommendation from the church, and also, after he should pass a number of difficult exams. I got a recommendation from Al-Attareen Church in Alexandria and another from the Church Assembly of Lower Egypt after passing many tests to know my qualifications to become a man of religion. Then I got a third recommendation from Snodus Church Assembly which included priests from Sudan and Egypt.
The Snodus sanctioned my entrance into the Faculty of Theology in 1944 as a boarding student. There I studied at the hands of American and Egyptian teachers until my graduation in 1948.
I was supposed, he continued, to be appointed in Jerusalem had it not been for the war that broke out in Palestine that same year, so I was sent to Asna in Upper Egypt. That same year I registered for a thesis at the American University in Cairo. It was about the missionary activities among Muslims. My acquaintance with Islam started in the Faculty of Theology where I studied Islam and all the methods through which we could shake the faith of Muslims and raise misconceptions in their understanding of their own religion.
In 1952 I got my M.A. from Princeton University in U.S.A. and was appointed as a teacher in the Faculty of Theology in Asiut. I used to teach Islam in the faculty as well as the faulty misconceptions spread by its enemies and the missionaries against it. During that period I decided to enlarge my study of Islam, so that I should not read the missionaries books on it only. I had so much faith in myself that I was confirmed to read the other point of view. Thus I began to read books written by Muslim authors. I also decided to read the Quran and understand its meanings. This was implied by my love of knowledge and moved by my desire to add more proofs against Islam. The result was, however, exactly the reverse. My position began to shake and I started to feel an internal strong struggle and I discovered the falsehood of everything I had studied and preached to the people. But I could not face myself bravely and tried instead to overcome this internal crisis and continue my work.
In 1954, Mr. Khalil added, I was sent to Aswan as secretary general of the German Swiss Mission. That was only my apparent position for my real mission was to preach against Islam in Upper Egypt especially among Muslims. A missionary conference was held at that time at Cataract Hotel in Aswan and I was given the floor to speak. That day I spoke too much, reiterating all the repeated misconceptions against Islam; and at the end of my speech, the internal crisis came to me again and I started to revise my position.
Continuing his talk about the said crisis, Mr. Khalil said, “I began to ask myself: Why should I say and do all these things which I know for sure I am a liar, as this is not the truth? I took my leave before the end of the conference and went out alone to my house. I was completely shaken. As I walked through Firyal public garden, I heard a verse of the Quran on the radio. It said: ‘Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Quran). They said: We have really heard a wonderful recital! It gives guidance to the Right, and we have believed therein: We shall not join (in worship) any gods with our Lord.’ (Quran S72v1-2) ‘And as for us, since we have listened to the Guidance, we have accepted it: and any one who believes in His Lord, has no fear of either a short (account) or of any injustice.’ (Quran S.72 V.13)
I felt a deep comfort that night and when I returned home I spent the whole night all by myself in my library reading the Quran. My wife inquired from me about the reason of my sitting up all night and I pleaded from her to leave me alone. I stopped for a long time thinking and meditating on the verse; ‘Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, verily thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah.’ (S.59 V.21) And the verse: ‘Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and the Pagans, and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": Because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?’ (Quran S.5 V.82-84)
Mr. Khalil then quoted a third quotation from the Holy Quran which says: ‘Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), in the Taurat and in the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them what is bad (and impure): He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him and follow the light which is sent down with him, it is they who will prosper. Say: O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: It is He that giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger. The unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His Words: follow Him that (so) you may be guided.’ (Quran S.7 V.157- 158)
Now that same night, Mr. Khalil dramatically concluded: “I took my final decision. In the morning I spoke with my wife from whom I have three sons and one daughter. But no sooner than she felt that I was inclined to embrace Islam than she cried and asked for help from the head of the mission. His name was Monsieur Shavits from Switzerland. He was a very cunning man. When he asked me about my true attitude, I told him frankly what I really wanted and then he said: Regard yourself out of job until we discover what has befallen you. Then I said: This is my resignation from my job. He tried to convince me to postpone it, but I insisted. So he made a rumor among the people that I became mad. Thus I suffered a very severe test and oppression until I left Aswan for good and returned to Cairo.”
When he was asked about the circumstances to his conversion he replied: “In Cairo I was introduced to a respectable professor who helped me overcome my severe trial and this he did without knowing anything about my story. He treated me as a Muslim for I introduced myself to him as such although until then I did not embrace Islam officially. That was Dr. Muhammad Abdul Moneim Al Jamal the then undersecretary of treasury. He was highly interested in Islamic studies and wanted to make a translation of the Holy Quran to be published in America. He asked me to help him because I was fluent in English since I had got my M.A. from an American University. He also knew that I was preparing a comparative study of the Quran, the Torah and the Bible. We cooperated in this comparative study and in the translation of the Quran.
When Dr. Jamal knew that I had resigned from my job in Aswan and that I was then unemployed, he helped me with a job in Standard Stationery Company in Cairo. So I was well established after a short while. I did not tell my wife about my intention to embrace Islam thus she thought that I had forgotten the whole affair and that it was nothing but a transitory crisis that no more existed. But I knew quite well that my official conversion to Islam needs long complicated measures and it was in fact a battle which I preferred to postpone for some time until I became well off and after I completed my comparative study.”
Then Mr. Khalil continued, “In 1955 I did complete my study and my material and living affairs became well established. I resigned from the company and set up a training office for importing stationery and school articles. It was a successful business from which I gained much more money than I needed. Thus I decided to declare my official conversion to Islam. On the 25th of December 1959, I sent a telegram to Dr. Thompson, head of the American Mission in Egypt informing him that I had embraced Islam. When I told my true story to Dr. Jamal he was completely astonished. When I declared my conversion to Islam, new troubles began. Seven of my former colleagues in the mission had tried their best to persuade me to cancel my declaration, but I refused. They threatened to separate me from my wife and I said: She is free to do as she wishes. They threatened to kill me. But when they found me to be stubborn they left me alone and sent to me an old friend of mine who was also a colleague of mine in the mission. He wept very much in front of me. So I recited before him the following verses from the Quran: ‘And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of the righteous?’. (Quran S.5 V.84) I said to him, "You should have wept in humiliation to God on hearing the Quran and believe in the truth which you know but you refuse. He stood up and left me as he saw no use. My official conversion to Islam was in January 1960.”
Mr. Khalil was then asked about the attitude of his wife and children and he answered: “My wife left me at that time and took with her all the furniture of our house. But all my children joined me and embraced Islam. The most enthusiastic among them was my eldest son Isaac who changed his name to Osman, then my second son Joseph and my son Samuel whose name is Jamal and daughter Majida who is now called Najwa. Osman is now a doctor of philosophy working as a professor in Sorbonne University in Paris teaching oriental studies and psychology. He also writes in ‘Le Monde’ magazine. As in regards to my wife, she left the house for six years and agreed to come back in 1966 provided that she keeps her religion. I accepted this because in Islam there is no compulsion in religion. I said to her: I do not want you to became a Muslim for my sake but only after you are convinced. She feels now that she believes in Islam but she cannot declare this for fear of her family but we treat her as a Muslim woman and she fasts in Ramadan because all my children pray and fast. My daughter Najwa is a student in the Faculty of Commerce, Joseph is a doctor pharmacologist and Jamal is an engineer.
During this period, that is since 1961 until the present time I have been able to publish a number of books on Islam and the methods of the missionaries and the orientalists against it. I am now preparing a comparative study about women in the three Divine religions with the object of highlighting the status of women in Islam. In 1973 I performed Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and I am doing activities preaching Islam. I hold seminars in the universities and charitable societies. I received an invitation from Sudan in 1974 where I held many seminars. My time is fully used in the service of Islam.”
Finally Mr. Khalil was asked about the salient features of Islam which have attracted his attention most. And he answered: “My faith in Islam has been brought about through reading the Holy Quran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. I no longer believed in the misconceptions against Islam and I am especially attracted by the concept of unity of God, which is the most important feature of Islam. God is only One. Nothing is like Him. This belief makes me the servant of God only and of no one else. Oneness of God liberates man from servitude to any human being and that is true freedom.
I also like very much the rule of forgiveness in Islam and the direct relationship between God and His servants.
‘Say: O my servants who have transgressed against their souls!, despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and submit to Him before the Chastisement comes on you: After that ye shall not be helped.’ (Quran S.39 V.53-54)
Health Benefits of Saying "Alhamdulillah"
By Karima Burns
There are many examples in the Qur'an and Hadith of the virtues of a positive mental attitude, perseverance and optimism in the face of adversity. However, did you know that patience and a positive outlook on life are two of the greatest healing tools that you can use?
The Qur'an (2:155) says, "Give glad tidings to those who exercise patience when struck with adversity and say, 'Indeed, we belong to God and to Him is our return.' Such ones receive [the] blessings and mercy of their Lord, and such are the guided ones." According to the findings of modern science, it appears that this mercy may often come in the form of improved health.
Bernard Jensen says, in his book The Science and Practice of Iridology, "The doctor of the new day will recognize that a man's most important workshop is not the physical body, but the mind that controls it." Dr. Ted M. Morter confirms this in his book, Your Health... Your Choice, when he says that "negative thoughts are the number one acid producer in the body (and high body acidity levels are a major cause of disease)… because your body reacts to negative mental and emotional stress brought about by thought the same way it reacts to 'real' threats of physical harm."
In fact, hospital studies show that, of all the patients who consult outpatient clinical facilities in the United States, an astounding seventy percent are found to have no organic basis for their complaint. That figure is amazingly high. However, although medically these patients are not found to have an obvious organic source for their complaints, there actually is a physical basis for this phenomenon. Since Freud popularized the idea of psychoanalysis, people have often focused exclusively on the mental realm to solve certain problems, forgetting that we cannot separate the physical and mental realms. The mind is in the brain, and the brain is an organ. Like all other organs, it feeds from the same pool of nutrients that other body organs feed from and is susceptible to all of the same problems. Ultimately, the brain is just a part of our body like all of the other parts and is completely dependent on the body. It requires sugar to develop energy unlike other tissues that can develop it from potassium and fats. Consequently, it is the first organ to suffer from low blood sugar and it reacts most severely. Freud himself said that psychoanalysis was not suitable for treating diseases such as schizophrenia, and he postulated that their causes eventually would be found to be biochemical.
If we keep in mind that the brain is an organ and that it works in harmony with the other organs and feeds from the same bloodstream, we can understand how various mental events can affect us physically. For example, simply using our brains to think and study burns up nutrients in our system, particularly phosphorus. Heavily exercising the brain can cause us to suffer from a phosphorus deficiency. And we find that the reverse is also true in this relationship. People who have high intellectual capacity usually have high levels of phosphorus in their system.
There is much wisdom in the Prophet's (SAW) statement (narrated by Abu Huraira), "The strong [person] is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong [person] is the one who controls himself while in anger." In fact, staying patient and calm is key to physical strength.
Phosphorus is not the only nutrient that can be depleted by mental stress and a lack of spiritual calm. If the thyroid gland, the primary organ to handle our emotions, works overtime, we can suffer from a deficiency in iodine. Stress from a demanding job, a divorce or relocating can cause a loss of potassium and sodium in the body because it effects the adrenal glands creating more of a need for these minerals.
Even hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be caused by excitement. The prophet (SAW) recommended our taking the more moderate path in life; however, we often engage in or expose ourselves to intense excitement by yelling, excessively watching television, and going to the mall, movies, parties, amusement parks, etc. When we see something exciting, our adrenal cortex is stimulated and there is an increase in our blood sugar. This, in turn, stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin into the blood to lower the sugar level, causing us to then feel tired or weak.
It produces calm and health to practice saying, "Alhamdulillah" for what we have and for what we are faced with. We should try to keep our home and work environments peaceful and as free from stress as possible. One way we can counteract the effects of stress are to simply be aware of the stress we are encountering, and to consume sufficient nutrients and supplements such as herbs.
For instance, if a person is up late praying or reading Qur'an during Ramadan, they can eat phosphorus rich foods and those that will help them maintain their phosphorus intake. If a person is moving, traveling or making Hajj or Umra, they may want to increase their intake of foods high in potassium and sodium as well as vitamin B complex.
If we completely ignore the relationship between mental and physical health, we are missing an important detail in the picture of personal health. And, as in most health problems, practicing prevention is superior to finding a cure. Therefore, the best manner to avoid having negative attitudes and emotions control our bodies is simply to practice the wisdoms that we have been given throughout the Qur'an and Hadith. We should say, "Alhamdullilah" for what we have; "Insha'Allah" for what we intend; and, "Subhana' Allah" when we see something exciting or amazing. We should remember to say, Astaghfir'Allah" when we lose our tempers or become weak, and most importantly, "Allahu Akbar" when we are faced with the challenges of life. These five phrases, said regularly, are like taking a multi-vitamin for holistic health.
Akifah Baxter - USA/Christian background
I have always been aware of the existence of God. I have always felt that He was there. Sometimes that feeling was distant, and often times I ignored it. But I could never deny this knowledge. Because of this, throughout my life, I have been searching for the truth of His Plan.
I have attented many churches. I listened, I prayed, I talked to people from all different faiths. But it seemed that there was always something that didn't feel right, it felt confusing, like there was something missing. I've heard many people in the past say to me, "Well, I believe in God, but I don't belong to any religion. They all seem wrong to me." This was my feeling exactly, however, I didn't want to just let it go at that and just accept it. I knew that if God exists then He wouldn't just leave us with no direction, or even a warped version of the truth. There had to be a plan, a "true religion." I just had to find it.
The various Christian churches is where I concentrated my search, simply because that is what I grew up with, and there seemed to be some truths in some of their teachings. However, there were so many different views, so many conflicting teachings on basic things like how to pray, who to pray to or through, who was going to be "saved", and who wasn't, and what a person had to do to get "saved." It seemed so convoluted. I felt I was near giving up. I had just come from yet another church whose views on God, and the purpose of our existence, left me so completely frustrated because I knew what they were teaching wasn't true.
One day, I had wandered in the bookstore and I went over to the religious section. As I stood there gazing over the vast array of mostly Christian books, a thought occured to me to see if they had anything on Islam. I knew virtually nothing about Islam, and when I picked up the first book it was solely out of curiosity. But I became excited with what I was reading. One of the first things that struck me was the statement 'There is no god but Allah,' He has no associates, and all prayers and worship are directed to Him alone. This seemed so simple, so powerful, so direct, and made so much sense. So from there I started reading everything I could about Islam.
Everything I read made so much sense to me. It was as if suddenly all the pieces of this puzzle were fitting perfectly, and a clear picture was emerging. I was so excited my heart would race any time I read anything about Islam. Then, when I read the Qur'an, I felt like I was truly blessed to be able to read this. I knew that this had come directly from Allah through His Messenger (SAW). This was it, the truth. I felt like all along I had been a Muslim but I just didn't know it until now. Now as I start my life as a Muslim, I have a sense of peace and security knowing that what I am learning is the pure truth and will take me closer to Allah. May Allah keep guiding me. Ameen.
Taken from trueislam
Islam in China
Yusuf Abdul Rahman
Although it may come as some surprise, Islam has survived in China for over 1300  years. It has done so despite such upheavals as the Cultural Revolution as well as regimes hostile to it.
Even though there are only sparse records of the event in Arab history, a brief one in Chinese history, The Ancient Record of the Tang Dynasty describes a landmark visit to China by an emissary from Arabia in the seventh century. Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (ra), one of the companions of Prophet [Muhammad (s)], led the delegation [in 650 C.E.], which brought gifts as well as the belief system of Islam to China. According to the traditions of Chinese Muslims, this event is considered to be the birth of Islam in China.
Although the emperor of the time, Yung-Wei, found Islam to be a bit too restrictive for his taste, he respected its teachings and considered it to be compatible with the teachings of Confucius. For this reason, he gave Saad complete freedom to propagate the faith among his people. To show his admiration for Islam, the emperor ordered the establishment of China's first mosque at Ch'ang-an. The mosque still stands today, after thirteen [fourteen] centuries.
As time passed, relations between the Chinese and the Muslim heartland continued to improve. Many Muslim businessmen, visitors, and traders began to come to China for commercial and religious reasons. [Arabs had already established trade in the area before Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam).] The Umayyads and Abbasids sent six delegations to China, all of which were warmly received by the Chinese.
The Muslims who immigrated to China eventually began to have a great economic impact and influence on the country. They virtually dominated the import/export business by the time of the Sung Dynasty (960 - 1279 CE). Indeed, the office of Director General of Shipping was consistently held by a Muslim during this period.
In spite of the economic successes the Muslims enjoyed during these and later times, they were recognized as being fair, law-abiding, and self-disciplined. Thus, there is no record of appreciable anti-Muslim sentiment on the part of the Han (Chinese) people.
By the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 CE) Islam had been nourishing in China for 700 years. Up to this time, the Muslims had maintained a separate, alien status which had its own customs, language, and traditions and was never totally integrated with the Han people. Under the Ming Dynasty, generally considered to be the golden age of Islam in China, Muslims gradually became fully integrated into Han society.
An interesting example of this synthesis by Chinese Muslims was the process by which their names changed. Many Muslims who married Han women simply took on the name of the wife. Others took the Chinese surnames of Mo, Mai, and Mu - names adopted by Muslims who had the names Muhammad, Mustafa, and Masoud. Still others who could find no Chinese surname similar to their own adopted the Chinese character that most closely resembled their name - Ha for Hasan, Hu for Hussein, or Sai for Said, and so on.
In addition to names, Muslim customs of dress and food also underwent a synthesis with Chinese culture. The Islamic mode of dress and dietary restrictions were consistently maintained, however, and not compromised. In time, the Muslims began to speak Han dialects and to read in Chinese. Well into the Ming era, the Muslims could not be distinguished from other Chinese other than by their unique religious customs. For this reason, once again, there was little friction between Muslim and non-Muslim Chinese.
The rise of the Ch'ing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 CE), though, changed this. The Ch'ing were Manchu (not Han) and were a minority in China. They employed tactics of divide-and-conquer to keep the Muslims, Han, Tibetans, and Mongolians in struggles against one another. In particular, they were responsible for inciting anti-Muslim sentiment throughout China, and used Han soldiers to suppress the Muslim regions of the country.
When the Manchu Dynasty fell in 1911, the Republic of China was established by Sun Yat Sen, who immediately proclaimed that the country belonged equally to the Han, Hui (Muslim), Man (Manchu), Meng (Mongol), and the Tsang (Tibetan) peoples. His policies led to some improvement in relations among these groups.
After Mao Zedong's revolution in 1948 and the beginning of communist rule in China, the Muslims, as well as other ethnic minorities found themselves once again oppressed. They actively struggled against communists before and after the revolution. In fact, in 1953, the Muslims revolted twice in an effort to establish an independent Islamic state [in regions where Muslims were an overwhelming majority]. These revolts were brutally suppressed by Chinese military force followed by the liberal use of anti-Muslim propaganda.
Today, the Muslims of China number some 20 million, according to unofficial counts. The government census of 1982, however, put the number much lower, at 15 million. These Muslims represent ten distinct ethnic groups. The largest are the Chinese Hui, who comprise over half of China's Muslim population and are scattered throughout all of China. There is also a high concentration of Hui in the province of Ningsha in the north.
After the Hui, the remainder of the Muslim population belong to Turkic language groups and are racially Turks (except for the Mongol Salars and Aryan Tajiks). The Turkic group is further divided between the Uygurs, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kirgiz, Tatars and Dongshiang. Nearly all of the Turkic Muslims are found in the western provinces of Kansu and Xinjiang. The largest of these Muslim groups are the Uygurs.
The Uygurs are most populous in the province of Xinjiang, where they make up some 60% of the total population. This relatively small percentage is due to the massive influx of non-Muslim Chinese into the province in recent times, a situation that has brought problems of assimilation and raised concerns about the de-Islamization of one of China's predominantly Muslim regions. [Muslims in Central Asia, under the USSR, were subjected to a similar population management, Russification of Central Asia;Muslims, and the Uygur in particular, suffered tremendously under the regime of Mao Zedong and his "Cultural Revolution." During the communist reign of terror, there was a violent campaign to eradicate all traces of Islam and of the ethnic identity of all non-Chinese. The Uygur language, which had for centuries used Arabic script, was forced to adopt the Latin alphabet. The Uygurs, as with most believing Muslims, were subjected to forced labour in the some 30,000 communes set up in the predominantly Muslim provinces. The Imams and akhunds were singled out for humiliating punishments and tortures....[and were forced to] tend to pig farms, which were sometimes kept in government-closed mosques.
Under the pretext of unification of national education, Islamic schools were closed and their students transferred to other schools which taught only Marxism and Maoism. Other outrages included the closing of over 29,000 mosques, the widespread torture of imams, and executions of over 360,000 Muslims.
Since the death of Mao and the end of his hard-line Marxist outlook nearly fifteen years ago, the communist government has greatly liberalized its policies toward Islam and Muslims. And despite the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, Islam has continued to thrive in China.
Today the campaign for assimilation started during the Cultural Revolution has slowed somewhat and the Turkic Muslims have greater freedom to express their cultural identity. The government has, for instance, allowed the reinstatement of the Arabic alphabet for use with the Uygur language. There is, however, continued discrimination against the Turkic Muslims by the immigrant Chinese (favored by the government) who have settled in the far western province of Xinjiang. This immigration has posed a problem as Han Chinese are migrating to Muslim areas at the rate of 200,000 a year. In many places where Muslims once were a majority, they are now a minority.
Since religious freedom was declared in 1978, the Chinese Muslims have not wasted time in expressing their convictions. There are now some 28,000 mosques in the entire People's Republic of China, with 12,000 in the province of Xinjiang. In addition, there is a large number of Imams available to lead the Muslim community (in Xinjiang alone there are over 2,800).
There has been an increased upsurge in Islamic expression in China, and many nationwide Islamic associations have been organized to coordinate inter-ethnic activities among Muslims. Islamic literature can be found quite easily and there are currently some eight different translations of the Qur'an in the Chinese language as well as translations in Uygur and the other Turkic languages. The Muslims of China have also been given almost unrestricted allowance to make the Hajj to Mecca . In 1986 there were some 2,300 Chinese Muslims at Hajj. (Compared to the 30 Soviet Muslims allowed to make the same pilgrimage, this number seems quite generous, considering that the Soviet Muslim population outnumbers China's by nearly four times).
China's Muslims have also been active in the country's internal politics. As always, the Muslims have refused to be silenced. Several large demonstrations have been staged by Muslims to protest intrusions on Muslim life. Last year, for instance, Muslims staged a massive protest rally in Beijing to demand the removal of anti-Islamic literature from China's bookstores. The Turkic [group] Muslims have also held demonstrations for a greater voice in the running of their own affairs and against the continued large-scale immigration of non-Muslims into their provinces. In the news this spring are more reports of demonstrations and struggles by Chinese Muslims to regain their rights. Insha'Allah they will be successful.
Ambassadors of Islam
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Umm Haram bint Milhan, a Sahabiya, (a companion of the Prophet) was married to Ubadah ibn as-Samit Ansari. Along with her husband she undertook several trips to foreign countries. Now her grave is in Cyprus, and is called the grave of the pious woman (Hayat As-Sahaba 1/592). The grave of Khalid ibn al-Walid, who was born in Mecca, is in Hims (Syria).
The same is the case with the majority of the Companions of the Prophet. At the time of the Prophet’s demise, his companions numbered more than one hundred thousand. However it is worth noting that if you go to Mecca and Medina you will find only a small number of graves there. The reason for this is that these companions left Arabia and spread to various countries far and beyond its borders. The majority of them breathed their last in various Asian and African countries, where their graves still exist.
Why did this happen? It was because during his last days the Prophet gathered his companions together in the mosque in Medina and addressed them in these words: God has sent me as his messenger for the entire world. So you do not differ with one another. And spread in the land and communicate my message to people inhabiting other places besides Arabia. (Seerat Ibn Hisham 4/279).
It was this injunction of the Prophet that led to the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) settling in foreign lands. In those countries either did business or earned their living by hard work, all the while communicating to their non-Muslim compatriots the message of monotheism which they had received from the Prophet. Every one of them thus became a virtual ambassador of Islam. This resulted in Islam spreading across the globe. Its evidence can still be seen in the inhabited world of that time.
I feel history is repeating itself in modern times. New circumstances, produced in the wake of industrial revolution, have resulted in Muslims leaving their homelands to spread all over the world. Today, whichever part of the globe you visit, you will find Muslims there. Mosques and Islamic institutions have come up everywhere. Muslims have settled in these countries either for work or for business. However, in respect of their religion, their actual position is that of Islam’s representatives. It is as if each one of them is an ambassador of God. Now the need of the hour is to awaken the missionary spirit in these Muslims settled in foreign lands, so that they may effectively communicate the message of Islam-a task of universal magnitude made incumbent upon them by their new sets of circumstances.
Why Did I Embrace Islam?
By Muhammad Nazeeh Khalid
I was born in the city of Mansoorah in the Arab Republic of Egypt in an ordinary Christian family in which religion had not much significance. We did not go to Church except on festive and ceremonial occasions. As far as we were concerned, religion did not mean anything more than rites which we observed, when necessary, even though we did not understand the language in which these rites were conducted. Despite our not grasping what they meant, the rest of my family was deep in the blind fanaticism of the ignorant, who fear the loss of a thing even though they do not know its value. As for myself I never had such feelings even for a single moment. I found the services so tedious that I never sat through them to their conclusion. I was plagued by boredom and unease. I felt sure that I was not meant to be one of them. I felt a total stranger in this place full of pictures, icons and statues like the temples of the idolaters of yore. Then I turned to reading with inexhaustible greed and enthusiasm, which stimulated my faculties and sharpened my feelings.
Questions began to strike my mind like a spade striking virgin land to prepare it for the sowing of good seeds to bring forth delicious fruits. It was at this time that doubt arose within me about the religion to which I was born, violently and extensively shattering my frame of mind. My heart rejected emotionally and my mind denied logically the idea that Almighty God could appear in the tangible form of a man and come down to the earth and permit sinners to beat him, to spit on his face, and ultimately to torture and crucify him (according to the Christian claim), even if it was to exonerate them from the fault of their father Adam, as the Christians argue. As for the belief that God has three entities, this too I refused to admit as true, because God is one and only one and He has no compare. As for the doctrine of the trinity, it must ultimately lead to a division of the entity of God Himself, whose glory is far above such a misconception. Such beliefs are the fundamentals of Christianity, viz., the divinity of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion as an atonement for humanity, and the Trinity—the Father, the Son and The Holy Ghost. I banished these beliefs totally from the domain of my thinking; expelled them from my mind; and struck them off the register of my beliefs and conviction. I thus discarded all false and misleading beliefs.
They say that it is not possible to acquire sound belief through wisdom, because it is too sublime to be within the reach of the human mind. I, on my part, am fully convinced that if we use our intellect rightly, refined of the turbidity of passion and pre-conceived, ready-made ideologies, we can surely find a wealth of firm and unshakable Faith in Allah and in His supreme might and ability, before Whose dazzling signs one has no alternative but to surrender in humility and helplessness. Thus did I cross over the mountains of doubt of firm belief: the true religion of Allah which is Islam.
I studied the revealed religions as well as the non-revealed cults, like Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, etc. In some I found traces of high morals and philosophy of the sort to guide man to ideal conduct. But when it comes to formulating a definition of Allah, they go too far either by supposing many gods, each of them entrusted with the management of one specific department of the affairs of the world, or by presenting Allah in tangible form, resembling very closely the forms and shapes of earthly creatures. These gods indulge both in serious activities and in vengeful pranks, express anger, eat and drink, and generally behave as mortals do.
As for Islam, it is the religion of nature. Almighty Allah has purified it of all material and tangible forms, and raised it to the highest degree of spiritualism and purity. Islam confirms that Allah possesses, will, wisdom, discretion, knowledge and authority. According to Islam, Allah beautiful names are attributes which cannot be separated from His Being under any circumstances. It also emphasizes His oneness, which is not shared by anyone, and His existence for all eternity, as mentioned in Surah 112.
Say He is Allah the One and Only.Allah, the Absolute, the Eternal.He begot none, nor was He begotten. And no one is comparable to Him.
Thus did Islam attract me to its sublime and sacred fold—Islam the purest and most sublime of the revealed religions, unsullied by apostasy or the doctrine of incarnation.
ACCEPTANCE OF ISLAM
On the 8th of Ramadan I entered the mosque for the first time with two companions. My soul and conscience became purified in the melting pot of magnificent faith. I underwent that sweet, pleasant experience which opened to me the door of salvation. Every bit of my body pulsated with a pious soaring, high in the high heavens. Neither did I feel disgusted nor perplexed—No, never. It was the radiation of brilliant light which shone outside and inside of me which acquainted me with who I really was. Soft, soothing, melodious inner voices whispered to me that from now onwards, till the end of my life, my path was Islam. In this moment which rose high above the summits of time, I stood before Allah, the One and Only, the Almighty, the Forgiving. His most High Spirit embraced me and asked me to resign myself to His care after the period of my prolonged loss and misfortune. Immediately after concluding the prayer, I took the Holy Book at the gate of the Al-Husain mosque, and came back home imbibing enlightenment from the seas of its sacred verses and its eternal, clear wisdom by which I was thoroughly overwhelmed. This is the Book of God "about which there is no doubt.""Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind it." (41:32)
It shall remain preserved till the end of the world without distortion or change.
"We have without doubt, sent down the message; andWe will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." (15:9)
In plunging into this Divine, copious and flowing bounty, I uttered the two Shahdatain (testimonies) and announced my Islam to Allah. So that the firmness of my faith might flourish and its impact on me might grow strong, I began to read books and works of contemporary Muslim thinkers who command influence in the Arab and other Muslim countries, Aqqad, a famous literary figure in Egypt, being one of them.
I hope in all humbleness that Allah may accept my Islam which I have embraced heart and soul as my last refuge. I have entered the fold of Islam in love of God, and His Prophet whose status is sublime and exalted and whose personality is unique and exceptional. I have always appreciate and honored him in the past and have an unflinching belief that he is the greatest of all personalities to love an indelible mark on the annals of world history.