As Mohammad was pointing put earlier, you are praised to no end when you convert to Islam. If you make any effort, that is studying it, you are like a God almost; you are so praised, so celebrated all the times. Obviously that felt good, that felt great and that, to be honest, lasted the whole time I was a Muslim, and that felt pretty amazing and I could see people wanting that more and more, that feels good, I want some more. That was one of the things that were so great; the sense of community was phenomenal and lasted also until I de-converted. This was huge, a huge attraction and I think it goes a long way to keep people in the Islamic faith for such a long time. Again, you always have friends, you always have people around you, and people never leave you alone. They always make sure… they never leave you alone. If you are alone, you might leave. They never leave you alone, they talk to you, they call you every day, you make amazing friends, you see them every day, the sense of community was really really great. And it was, after I de-converted it wasn’t easy to find again. So, again I can see why would that be such a draw for people. Another thing was, it gave me, myself a false sense of peace. At first, I felt, everything is mapped out for me. If I follow this, I will never have mental health issues, I will never be unhappy, I will never be stressed, I will never be lonely, I will never be… basically anything, everything will be beautiful, life will be basically perfect. So for a long time this false sense of peace stays, not quite as long as the sense of community, that goes quicker, eventually you actually study the religion. And then the sense of peace goes away. You get really confused and a little bit stressed out and upset. So again the praise, the praise of the people I can’t get back. That was so great, what was unexpected to me, completely unexpected.
Again as Mohammad was saying, it takes two sentences to convert – la illah illallah wah mohammad rasullallah, I am also not a Muslim. Again, that’s never going to happen. It takes that much. In my experience, and for me, it took only that much. I read two introductory books given to me by an Islamic centre somewhere, and that seemed great, everything seemed beautiful, I converted. I knew nothing, nothing about the religion other than the five pillars. And there is only one god and not three, you only worship the one God and there is no intermediary between you and God, there is no priest, there is no minister, there is no reverend, there is only you and God. It somehow seemed somewhat appealing and then I realised that God only speaks Arabic, he is omnipotent, omniscient but he only speaks Arabic and only understands Arabic. Thus I have to learn enough Arabic and enough suras in the Quran, the chapters of the Quran so that I can pray and perform prayers in Arabic. And I thought that was unexpected, that was a universal religion, but he speaks only one language? I am not sure I get it.
Another thing was, as you start to study, then so many things come up. As Mohammad again was pointing out earlier, the state of fitra, the natural belonging to Islam. There are many odd things about this. There was Hadith, where the Prophet Mohammad, whenever he evacuated it would just disappear. Things like this, so you read this and as you go along, okay! That makes no sense whatsoever. So there are lot of unexpected bits like this because you convert, you have no knowledge, you start to get knowledge after you convert. Most of it is odd and off and unexplainable and as you study more and more you find more and more of these details and it is just… I could not deal with it in the long term.
One thing that, to me was unexpected that I learned after converting but before my mother passed away is that while you are… ok I am Muslim and people around me were not, my family wasn’t. They were all atheists, agnostics or Catholics. When these people are alive, you can pray for the salvation of their souls, so that… not salvation of soul, you can pray that they will convert to Islam and thus have a chance for salvation. Once they passed, once they are dead you can no longer pray to God for the salvation of their soul. They had to convert while they were alive, once they are dead it is done. My mother passed away, and I was like – no, she was a good person, she was a great human being, I cannot believe that I am not allowed, it is a sin to actually pray for the salvation of her soul. So many details like this were unexpected. Islam, before I started reading about those, felt so universal. Then I am like – no, not at all, it is really not, it is very selected, it’s a select club of small people that’s going to go to heaven and then everybody else is burning in hell. So, a lot of unexpected things through the years of study.