Crescent over Cross
Why I chose Islam over Christianity
by Hussain Wilson, U.K.
(The writer of the article below, Mr Hussain
Dean Wilson, a university student in England, embraced Islam earlier
this year in 2001 at the U.K. Centre of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman
Ishaat Islam Lahore in Wembley, London.)
In my years of searching for an understanding of
what God requires of me and what he requires in “true” worship,
I have encountered many varied beliefs and doctrines. I have spent
many years searching for “the truth” of what is true devotion
to God, and the true religion of God. It is not an easy task,
as many various religious doctrines all purport themselves to
be the “true religion of God”. Many such doctrines produce their
own evidence to back their claims up.
I spent a time as a Buddhist.
This is after I lost faith in the mainstream Christian religious
ideal. I could not understand the doctrine of God’s son and the
fact that salvation was only available through God’s Son. This
did not make much sense to me.
I was attending a local
church called the King’s Church, populated with many “Born Again
Christians”. The religious ideal they followed was one that Jesus,
the Son of God, was the only one who salvation can be attained
through. All prayer must be thus addressed through “Our Lord and
Saviour, Jesus Christ”.
I fell out of favour with
that brand of Christianity and spent a time believing nothing,
which I did not particularly enjoy. It was at this time that I
was reading about Buddhism and a lot of the central doctrines
appealed to me. Right Speech, Right Thought, not harming living
creatures. For a while I followed Buddhism, and even entertained
the notion of going “on retreat” where you join a monastery for
a time. But there was one nagging doubt about Buddhism and me.
I could understand the principles of reincarnation and cessation
of self, but I could not wholly understand the principle of no
supreme creator God. Only a God spirit that was in essence nothingness.
Complete emptiness. I stopped being a Buddhist and picked up the
threads of Christianity I had been living with since birth.
A Christian friend of mine
pointed out to me a passage in the Christian Bible about searching
for God as if you were searching for gold and that if you keep
up your search, all the time, you will find it. I think that has
been the most profound and true statement I have encountered anywhere
on the search for a religious ideal.
I was brought up by my
mothers belief in God, and that He was everywhere and not
necessarily in a church. I grew up in Italy, where God, Jesus,
and Mary (Mother of God) play a very important part in all daily
affairs and consciousness. My father did not have much of an influence
religion wise, so I had the Catholic view and my mothers
view. Two contrasting and sometimes alien to each others,
points on the doctrine of God and the Celestial Holy Family.
I attended a Catholic primary school and religion was introduced
as part of the curriculum as well in infants and junior school.
It was taught, on and off, by various visiting monks and priests,
depending on the government of the day and it’s view of religion
in school. It was taught as well, unofficially by friends, neighbours
and what you hear in the street.
Catholicism appealed to
a certain point and it is from this that I formulated the idea
that perhaps Jesus was not the Son of God, but perhaps
God himself. Perhaps not to frighten the people of the time God
descended from heaven and took on the visage of a man.
This theory, of course, has holes in it!
My mothers doctrine
of God and religion is that God exists, He had a son, and that
you reach God by praying to him. She is a firm believer that you
do not need a church to be close to God, as you can find God in
anything. The woods, a stream, quietly or even in a crowd. God
is everywhere and in every thing.
The Jehovah Witnesses came
to my door, both during the period that I was a Buddhist and also
more recently when I stopped being a Buddhist and was ‘looking
into’ Christianity. They and I engaged in long, and interesting,
conversations about God, the universe and all things religious.
I was still struggling with the notion of God, Son, Mother and
father of both Catholicism and my own mismatched beliefs.
I even contacted the Mormons,
The Church of the Later Day Saints. Their doctrine, based upon
the Prophet John Smith made some sense to me. They have this religious
belief that they are a lost tribe of Israel, who left Israel and
sailed across the oceans with Gods help in the manner of
both an Angelic presence and a compass given them by God himself.
They found America and set up a colony. The Prophet John Smith
was given a divine revelation by the Angel of God to find the
stone tablets relating their journey across the ocean, as well
as the device that acted as a compass. After digging these items
up, he led the converts across America to Salt Lake City in Utah,
where the Mormon Church was founded.
I did not attend any meetings
with the Mormons, but accepted some bible study, learnt about
the church, its beliefs and history but felt that as a branch
of Christianity it was not exactly the branch for me.
I have looked at Baptists
and understand the basic tenets of their beliefs in baptism as
a way to redeem and to be accepted as one of Gods flock,
but have a lack of total faith in that idea. It is the same with
Methodism. I understand the why of not accepting drink, and also
how they could have interpreted it from the Bible. There are so
many Christian sects, doctrines and variations all based upon
the same set of scriptures, finding a ‘True Christian Doctrine’
is increasingly difficult. I could accept this part of this faith,
but not the whole thing. I could accept this from Methodism, this
from Baptism. I could accept the dissatisfaction with church structure
as expounded by the Presbyterian, Reform and Calvinist (Anabaptist)
and Jehovah Witnesses churches, whereby they advocate a return
to the simpler methods of ‘church’ organisation and worship and
an elected council and body of elders from within the congregation
having no official clerics, monks, clergy, priests or hierarchy.
I could understand Lutheranism and why it evolved, also orthodox
(both Eastern, Russian and Greek). I could understand Evangelism
and the need to go forth and spread the word of God, especially
as Jesus (peace be upon him) said to go forth and make disciples
and to preach the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven.
What I could never accept
is that there must be about a thousand different Christian groups
all under the banner of ‘Protestant’, as well as several churches
under the heading ‘Orthodox’ and just one under ‘Catholic’.
Catholicism is viewed as
the closest church to what Jesus (peace be upon him) was actually
trying to communicate to us mortals. Unfortunately that may have
been true at the beginning, but so much has been added and altered
within the Christian New Testament that the original message has
been lost. Added to that is the churches fascination with making
money and rules. I discounted Catholicism as the ‘True Church’
and continued to search.
The message as God intended
it was given to Moses (PBOH), then later it was given to Jesus
(PBOH). Jesus’ message was to a limited amount of people, the
sick, the inform, the needy and was at a time that a strengthening
of the message and commandments from God was needed. Therefore,
it stands to reason there must be another messenger after Jesus.
In Judaism the Messiah is still anxiously awaited, in fact, most
Jews have given up with the notion of a Divine messiah and put
their faith and trust into the Nation of Israel as the only hope
for Salvation and redemption of their people. In Christianity
the return of Jesus, the ‘Second Coming’ is eagerly anticipated.
What does this leave? A hope for the return of the Martyred son
of God, or the eagerly anticipated arrival of another saviour?
But what about the Prophet Muhammad (PBOH)?
Whilst I was entertaining
the various Christian factions and trying to work out what one
was the right one I returned to looking at Islam. I had looked
at Islam before, but never in a serious manner. I was always fascinated
with the history of Muhammad (PBOH), the call to Prophethood as
well as the beautiful revelation in the Holy Qur’an. I had read
the Qur’an before and liked the way that the passages have the
ability to sing and to touch ones heart as one is reading
an ability I am sad to say the Christian Bible lacked with
When I started to study
Islam seriously I discovered that the message of the Qur’an, unlike
the Bible, had never been altered. In all of its years, translations
and copies, the same message appeared, with nothing added, altered
or removed. This is one indication that the message in the Qur’an
was an important one. Another indicator is that despite many attempts
to stamp out the Qur’an, it has survived. The same can be said
for the Christian Bible, but that has been, fundamentally, altered
over the passage of 2,000 years. Not so for the Qur’an.
Is the Qur’an a message
from God? Undoubtedly it must surely be. I strongly believed for
a while, and still strongly believe, that God in all his wisdom
sent a message to every nation and tribe upon the earth, in their
own language, to fit within their own cultures. Unfortunately
the message may have got corrupted over time. Some may even have
been forgotten, others have died out along with the race or tribe.
Other messages have survived in some form or another, perhaps
not the original form, but the message is there. The Annalects
of Confucius, the Dharmaphada, Rig Veda, Pali Cannon, and of course
the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah. Each religion of the world
has a fundamental thread running through them, this thread must
surely be God inspired!
I thought I was alone in
this belief in many prophets for many nations. I thought I was
alone in the understanding for the need for a message to the individual
nations at the appropriate times. I was amazed to discover that
Islam also has these beliefs! Beliefs I thought I was unique in
believing! I was also rather amazed to discover that Islam only
used the Qur’an. There are no necessary additional and supplementary
writings. Just the plain message of the Qur’an. I was also amazed
to further learn that the Qur’an of the Algerians is identical
to the Qur’an of the Ethiopians and all of them are identical
to that of the Saudi Arabians and Iraqis! I was further amazed
to find that, despite politics, there is no difference between
a Sunni and a Shia Muslim and that in Islam there is no fractions
of the ‘Church’. Islam is Islam, the same, world over! Here is
a religion that has perfected what Jesus had said. The message
of God shall be preached in the Four Corners of the world. A World
religion, as often fantasised about, and a world wide message
of peace, do not have to be waited for, or anticipated or even
a mere fantasy. It is here and has always been here, it is a message
revealed in Medina and collected together into one volume: The
Islam is not a difficult
thing. There are no difficult rules or laws to obey. The rules
and laws are the same basic rules that run through every religion
of the world and are mostly common sense. There are no priests
or bishops giving their own interpretation to the holy Qur’an,
there is a plain message for all to read and all to understand.
The only ‘difficulty’ is the obligatory prayers and even that
is not difficult. It may be used as an excuse by many (even a
friend of mine said that he would simply not have the time to
pray 5 times a day). Everything in Islam is designed not to bring
hardship upon the believer and all it asks for is the total submission
to Gods will. It has many characteristics of both Catholicism
(originally, Catholicism was the submission to the divine will
and plan) same with Judaism (what God wills, shall be) and Christianity.
It is a religion of peace and mercy, compassion and love and one
of the few that actually practise the principles it preaches.
One could say, if it is
so wonderful, why are we not all Muslims? One could also reason,
that if Islam is so peaceable, why is the Middle East so violent?
Unfortunately the answer there does not lie in Islam as the cause,
but politics like most quarrels and squabbles. As to answer why
are we not all Muslims? Perhaps that is because the message is
not reaching the people fast enough. For when it does reach the
people and they know in their hearts that it is a good and true
message, then they instantly become Muslims. Islam is an emerging
and fast growing religion in the West. It is the fastest growing
religion in America and the second fastest in Europe. People are
flocking to Islam and its clear message.
I always had a difficult
time accepting Christianity’s message. I always had doubts and
questions. It preaches a nice message, but that message is buried
under the incomprehensibleness of the dogma, tradition and practise
of each church. There were always things I needed clarification
upon and if I got clarification, it would not be upheld by others
view. Islam I found to be clear, concise and without the attached
clutter. Not involving politics, it is an easy message to accept
and to understand and since converting and accepting Islam I have
found I have had no head aches or doctrinal quandaries and queries
as to what, how, when and who to believe.
It was with suddenness
that I realised I was a Muslim. I had been searching for a long
time for a clear, understandable and true religious practise to
follow as I was dissatisfied with the melting pot of beliefs and
ideas that I had accrued searching. I wanted a label to attach
to my religious beliefs, so that I could ‘fit in’. I made arrangements
through the Muslim Book Depot to study Islam, as at the same time
it was, coincidentally, part of my Open University course. It
was whilst attending the Mosque at 16 Stanley Avenue (Wembley)
that I suddenly realised, talking with Mahmud Shaukat, that the
principle beliefs of Islam were the same basic beliefs I also
believed in. I remember he said to me that it was ‘not his, or
anyone else’s opinion that mattered, no one could rightly say
that you, or him, are a Muslim’. I remember questioning him further
on what a Muslim was, what made a Muslim. After being told I said
quite clearly, “so! I’m a Muslim!” I left Stanley Avenue after
making arrangements to spend a week there in May. I thought long
and hard about what a Muslim is, Islam and the message of Allah
in the Holy Qur’an. I also thought long and hard about my position
in the world and about religion and God in general.
I have been an Evangelical
Baptist; a Buddhist; Atheist; Communist (Marxism is now an accepted
religious belief in “alternative religion”), primal religions
(mainly North American Indian). I have even tried Haitian/Creole
Voodoo (Santoria as it is now being called). Mennonite and Calvinist
Anabaptist (briefly), non-denominational Christian, and finally
a practising Jehovah’s Witness. I have tried most things and there
are several I know just where not me. For instance, Judaism, Catholicism
(although some aspects of it really attracted me), Hindu and any
Islam I did not see as
an end-of-the-road religion, as there are still aplenty more to
choose from if that is the case. What I thought long and hard
about was the fact I had finally found a religion that I was 98%
comfortable with! I was always a 60% Buddhist, 50% non-denominational
Christian and about 80% Jehovah’s Witness. I made a lousy Communist
and an even lousier Voodoo practitioner. Islam rests easy with
me and I am incredibly comfortable with it. As I travelled home
I realised that the extremely long search for a religion was over
I had come home.
What amazed me the most
was, that in all the time of searching I was already believing,
just not practising, what I am now: a Muslim. I have always been
a Muslim! I just did not realise it! It has always been the Crescent
over the Cross. I always found excuses and holes with the Cross,
so far and with Allah’s help, I shall never find fault with the