All I have to say is all what you alreadyknow, to confirm what you already know about the message of the prophet () as given by God – the religion of Truth. As humanbeings we are given a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top ofcreation. Man is created to be God’s deputy on earth and it is important torealise the obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives apreparation for the next life, anybody who misses this chance is not likely tobe given another, to be brought back again and again, because it says in QuranMajeed that when man is brought to account, he will say, ‘O lord, send us backand give us another chance. The Lord will say, if I send you back you will dothe same.
My early religiousupbringing:
I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxuryand the high light of show business. I was born in a Christian home but we knewthat every child is born in his nature, it is only his parents that turn him tothis or that religion I was given this religion (CHRISTIANITY) and thought thisway. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, sowe had to make contact with him through Jesus, he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all.
Ilooked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life” Andwhen they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. Imore or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of myparents.
Gradually Ibecame alienated from this religion upbringing , I started making music. Iwanted to be a big star. All those I saw in the films and on the media took holdof me, and perhaps I thought this was my God, the goal of making money I had anuncle who had a beautiful car :Well:, I said , “ he has it made,” he had a lotof money. The people around me influenced me to think that this world was theirGod.
I decided then that this was the life for me , to make a lot ofmoney, have a “ great life “. Now my example were the pop stars, I startedmaking songs, but deep down I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if Ibecame rich I will help the needy (it says in the Quran, we make a promise, butwhen we make something we want to hold on to it and become greedy).
Sowhat happened was that I became very famous, I was still a teenager, my name andphoto were splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wantedto live larger than the life and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated(with liquoranddrugs).
After a year of financial success and ‘high’ living, Ibecame very ill, contracted T.B and had to be hospitalized. It was then that Istarted to think; what was to happen to me? Was I just a body and my goal inlife was merely to satisfy this body?
I realised now that this calamitywas a blessing given to me by Allah a chance to open my eyes, ‘why am I here why am I in bed’, and I started looking for some of the answers. At that timethere was great interest in the Eastern mysticism I began reading and the firstthing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on, it doesnot stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment Istarted meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in ‘peace andflower power’, and this was the general trend. But what I did believe inparticular was that I was not just a body, this awareness came to me at thehospital.
One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain. Ibegan running to the shelter and then I realized, ‘wait a minute, my body isgetting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet’. This made me think ofa’saying that the body is like a donkey and it has to be trained where it has togo otherwise the donkey will lead you where it wants to go.
Then Irealized I had a will, a God given gift; follow the will of God I was fascinatedby the new terminology I was learning in the eastern religion. By now I was fedup with Christianity. I started making music again and this time I startedreflecting my own thought. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes likethis :’ I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the heaven, what makes the hell Do I get to know you in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the bighotel?’ and I knew I was on the Path.’
I also wrote another song ‘The wayto find God out.’ I became even more famous in the world of music. I really hada difficult time because I was getting rich and famous and at the same timesincerely searching for the truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided thatBuddhism is alright and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world, I was tooattached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk to isolate myselffrom society.
I tried Zen and ching, numerology, treat cards andastrology, I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. Atthis time I did not know anything about Islam and then, what I regarded asmiracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque inJerusalemand was greatlyimpressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churchesand synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace andtranquility prevailed.
When he came toLondonhe brought back a translation of theQuran, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something inthis religion, and thought I might find something in it also. And when Ireceived the book, (a guidance that would explain everything to me:
What was the purpose of life?
What was the reality and what wouldbe the reality, and where I came from?
I realised that this was the truereligion-religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type foronly your old age. In the west whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make ithis only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at firstconfused between the body and the soul. Then I realised that the body and thesoul are not apart and you don’t have to go to the mountain to be religious; wemust follow the will of God, then we can rise even higher than the angels. Thefirst thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.
I realised thateverything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He createdeverything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I hadthought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realisedthat I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was tosubmit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know asAl-Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith, I felt that I was aMuslim, on reading the Quran. I now realised that all the Prophets sent by Godbrought the same message.
Why then were the Jews and Christiansdifferent? I knew now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as a Messiah and thatthey had changed his word. Even the Christians misunderstand God’s word andcalled Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much of sense. This is thebeauty of the Quran; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship thesun or moon but the One who has created everything. The Quran asks man toreflect upon the sun and moon and God’s creation in general. Do you realise howdifferent the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from theearth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap theother.
Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see theinsignificant size of the earth and vastness of space, they become veryreligious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah.
When I read theQuran further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslimyet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Quran, and God had sent itto me and, I kept it a secret. But the Quran also speaks on different levels. Ibegan to understand it on another level, where the Quran syas “ Those whobelieve don’t take disbelieves for friends and the believer are brothers”. Thusat this oint I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.
Then I decided to journey toJerusalem ( as my brotherhad done). AtJerusalem I went to the mosque and sat down. Aman asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what was my name ; I told him ‘ Stevens’. He was confused. I then joined the prayer though not sosuccessfully. Back inLondon I met a sister called Nafisa. I toldher I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the new Regent Mosque. Thiswas in 1977, about 1 ½ years after I received the Quran. Now I realised that Imust get rid of my pride, get rid of lblis and face one direction.
So ona Friday, after Jummah I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) athis hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. Butguidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried until I wasshown the Quran. Now I realise I can get in direct contact with God, unlikeChristianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, ‘you don’tunderstand the Hindus, we believe in God, we use these objects (idols)to merelyconcentrate’. What she was saying was that in order to reach God one has tocreate associates, that are idols for the purpose.
But Islam removes allthese barriers, the only thing that moves the believers from the disbelieves isSalat. This is the process of purification. Finally I wish to say thateverything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain someinspirations from my experiences. Furthermore I would like to stress that I didnot come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Quranfirst and realised that no person is perfect, Islam is perfect, and if weimitate the conduct of the Holy prophet ( ) we willbe successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the Ummah ofMuhammad. ( ) Ammen.