Becoming Muslim

Thomas Irving (Canada)
Social Worker

In approaching an account of my conversion to Islam, it would be as well to relate my personal experience, both before and after coming into contact with its ideals. This is not so much to tell a story in itself as to show how the thought of thousands of other young Canadians and Americans is evolving and the opportunity that awaits an effective Islamic propaganda.

I can remember thrilling, as a very small child, to the Christian interpretation of Jesus's life, but yet I cannot say that I was ever truly Christian of my own conviction. Instead of absorbing the pretty Biblical tales, I began wondering why so many in the world were `heathen', why Jews and Christians differed on the same Bible, why the unbelievers were damned when the fault was not theirs, and also why they could practice goodness as well as the self-called "higher nations".

I remember especially a missionary returned from India stating how the `Mohometans' were so obdurate in adhering to their religion; that was my first encounter with Islam, and it roused an unconscious admiration in me for their steadfastness to their faith and a desire to know more about these "wicked" people.

In my first year course in Oriental literature, I had learned of the progression of human thought in its attempt to perfect its conception of God. Jesus had culminated the teaching of a Loving God. This idea had been lost in a cloud of liturgical doggerel and atavistic paganism; a beneficent, merciful deity had been obscured by an implacable overlord who could only be reached through an intercessor. Someone was needed to lead men back to the fountain of truth with its limpid mainstream of the One God.

Europe was still in the semi-barbarism induced by the folk-wanderings and the extinction of classic culture by a narrow ecclesiasticism. The East was the logical centre of inspiration, and here Muhammad (God's blessings be on him) arose seven centuries after Jesus, when Christo-paganism was firmly entrenched in Europe and rational study, let alone inspiration, still nine centuries distant.

At last I was able to accept Muhammad as an apostle of God; firstly, he was needed; secondly, my own conclusions had been independent and still coincided; and thirdly, apart from both the former, the realization of the divine quality of the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's teachings flooded upon me clearly.

At the same time, I received and bought more and more literature upon Islam. An Indian philanthropist from Bombay, the late Mr. Q. A. Jairazbhoy, had sent me What is Islam! by H. W. Lovegrove (this is perhaps the most practical exposition that I have read, and merits wide distribution). Later he sent me [] annotated edition of the Holy Qur'an, and various other books and tracts. At Montreal, I was able to procure considerable French literature on Islam, both for and against, and this helped broaden my vision.

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