Would you please introduce yourself briefly?
Bismillah wal hamdolilah was-salatu was-salam ‘ala rasool Allah.
My name is Yusuf, I am 26, I embraced Islam over 8 years ago, when I was about 18 years old, Alhumdolilah, I thank Allah, for this great blessing. I come from a predominantly Christian background, my family hasn’t always been practicing Christians but I went to a Christian school for my primary education.
Could you tell us your story through the way to Islam?
My journey really began when I was about 16 years old, at the time I was caught up as every teenager is in trying to live life to the full. I would go out to clubs and discos trying to indulge in all the temptations the world could offer. This period of experimentation actually started a little earlier than sixteen as is the case now in England these days, but I was enjoying every minute of it never the less. As time passed I found myself living for the highs and moments of ecstasy every night, but I would always find myself waking up the next morning feeling slightly discontent. I used to wonder why I was feeling a little empty inside, I’m having such a good time? It was at this point I began to question myself; is this it? Is this what’s life is all about? I used to think to myself, does anybody in the world know what the purpose of our life is? In the hot summer nights I would wonder out into my back garden and lay under the canopy of stars above and just ponder, I would feel humbled by the expanse of the sky above.
I believe it was at these times that I was searching for the truth, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala put in my path a guide in the way of a young English convert by the name of Zain-al-abadeen (or Mathew as I used to know him).
At the time I was studying at college for my A-levels, I held down a part time job as a salesperson for a large mobile phone company at the weekends. It was here that I and Zain meet. We didn’t become friends straight away but slowly we got to know each other and he used to invite me to his house for food and drinks (non-alcoholic of course). We would have conversations about, faith, ethics, morality, politics etc, all within the frame work of Islam, but the brother Zain would always bring the conversation back to belief in God. I think this had the greatest impact on me, the Islamic perspective of the Allah. The fact, that Allah is not a man and that he doesn’t resemble His creation in anyway. That he possesses ultimate attributes of knowledge, power, wisdom, and that he knows the finest mysteries of the universe from the workings of the most distance galaxy’s to the movement of the most hidden ant in the depths of the earth. It made sense to me to hear that Allah has no partners, none before Him, none equal to Him and has none after him. That he can forgive sin of the sincere by his will and that He doesn’t have to kill an innocent man in order to forgive mankind. All these points really struck me, it all just made so much sense.
Over a period of about a year these regular meeting started to challenge the way I viewed the world. Although I wasn’t ready to make the bold step of embracing a new faith, it really made me consider some of my fundamental beliefs. At this time I was still only 17 and one day I received a call from Zain, he was inviting me to the mosque for the first time. I felt very unsettled by the invitation and shaytan was doing his best to discourage me from attending, so amidst all the confusion and indecision I decided to make a stand and go. When I arrived at the mosque to my surprise there was a gathering of brother sharing some food, maybe 8 -10 people. The brothers sitting in the gathering were from various different backgrounds, a couple were doctor’s, one was an accountant and the likes.
They invited me to join them, at first I thought they might be angry that I’am eating their food, but obviously years later I knew they probably couldn’t off been more happy for me to share it with them. They began to explain to me some of the fundamental principles of Islam and how it relates to human life and society. They began with belief in Allah and then continued with talking about the line of prophets, family life in Islam, and the likes. As they explained each point I was quietly nodding my head in agreement with each topic. Finally one of the brothers after sometime interrupted the conversation and said; “look, if you believe in what we have discussed and you believe that there is only one God, who is worthy of worship, then repeat after me, ashadu an la ilah illallah wa ashadu anna Muhammad arasoolulah.” Which I did, alhumdolilah and the rest is history. Well not quite, that same night I went to my friends house (Zain) where I had a shower or made ghusl and then I returned to the mosque and spent my first night in Islam sleeping in the mosque with a few of the brothers. One of the brothers insisted that I take his pillow and blankets which I did, mashallah may Allah bless that brother. And that is how I became Muslim.
After embracing Islam were you challenged by family, relations or friends? If so were you able to tell them the message of Islam?
I embraced Islam just a few weeks before 9/11 so at that time in England the general public didn’t really know very much about Islam. However my parents were fine about me becoming Muslim and all praise is due to Allah I haven’t had any problems since.
Over the years I have had many conversations with my family about Islam. My father believes that there is one ultimate Creator, he doesn’t believe Jesus is the son of God or God Himself. So his belief isn’t very different from that of Islam also he agrees with many of the principles of Islam. He is currently reading a book about Prophet Muhammad (saw). May Allah guide him to the right path, ameen. Also my brother is quite close inshallah to becoming Muslim, but only Allah knows the best. He is three years younger than me. Most of my brother’s friends are Muslim and he said he would like to marry a Muslim woman one day but I don’t think he understands he has to be Muslim himself in order to do that.
What do you think the problems of Muslims in England? I think the question is a good one, it’s difficult to say, I mean England isn’t a Muslim country so its Muslim population is made up of settlers from various different Muslim lands. They come here either fleeing from an oppressive country or come here in search of a better standard of life.
You find nowadays the second generation of Muslims is probably more adherent to Islam in general than their forefathers were. I think education is one of the biggest problems, if a community or society has a good foundation in Islamic education, the society as a whole, can change in one generation and likewise if this area of education is neglected then it can corrupt the society in a single generation. In the midlands and northern England the Muslim communities tend to stay closer together and establish Islamic schools. However elsewhere in the country many Muslims children enter non-Muslim schools and end up confused about their identity as Muslims.
The government can also play a role in influencing the Muslim society by having a say in which syllabus is taught in Islamic schools through governmental funding, but I think this happens in many other places around the world as well.
Do you have a message to those non-Muslims who are seeking for knowledge?
Yes, it’s quite a simple answer, but I promise you its very effective. If you are sincere and you long to come closer to God, then just raise your hands and ask Him the most majestic, the highest to guide you to the straight path. If you are sincere in doing this, I promise you, you will see the signs.
Last but not least, what do you want to say to our readers? Your advice to Muslim brothers and sisters while telling about Islam to the people who are not Muslim?
It is said here in England; you only live once. By this it is meant as a justification to make the most of your life, before you depart this world. I believe the saying is very important, but it can be understood in two very different ways, firstly if we made the assumption that this life is all there is and there is nothing after it, no God, no hereafter. Then It would be only logical for anyone to enjoy to the fullest, whatever time he or she has left. However if we were to take the other possibility that there is a creator and a life after this and a day of accounting, then it would make perfect sense to seek the truth and follow the divine guidance as best you possibly can.
I recall a sheikh once asking the question; how much is an hour of your life worth? I mean really if you could sell a year of your life what would it be worth? Time is really important and I would advise people to consider how short this life really is, for example how quickly has the last 5yrs of your life passed, sometimes it just feels like a click of a finger.
Allah the Exalted describes the life of this world as such;
“that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children.”
We are to spend a short while in this transitory abode and then pass onto our next phase of life in our onward journey towards Allah Ta’ala. It is thus imperative that the heart of man does not cling to this world even though he physically is constrained to participate in worldly activities.
So I would suggest if you are a person of faith, then return back to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s book and the sunnah of Muhammad (saw) and see what He has asked of us in this life. If you however, haven’t yet discovered Islam then I would say that it is upon you to at least dedicate a portion of time to reading the Qur’an or hadith of Muhammad (saw) to decide for yourself whether or not it is the truth. May Allah guide us all to the best of ways, ameen.
Could you tell us about the website of 3 Men 1 Mission briefly in your own words please?
Well, the idea for the advert came from a leaflet called 3men 1mission, one of our team members had the idea of advertising on the double-decker buses in London. We advertised a clear and simple message saying; Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, 3men 1mission and then had a verse from the Quran accompanying the ads. The messages all contained a website address (www.3men1mission.com). The intention of the campaign was to raise awareness about Islam and give the public a chance to discover the truth about Islam and not just what the media coveys. Alhumdolilah, from only advertising on six buses for three months in London we received over half a million hits on our website, with lots of people requesting Quran’s and Islamic literature. The project was a great success.
How many people did get involved in the project?
We have a team of about eight at the moment working on this project, our organization is called Muslim Outreach we have been giving da’wah in London now for over a decade, we arrange school visits to the mosque for non-Muslims, and we have a table set up in two town centres on weekends in London, where we talk to people about Islam, offering them free literature and Qur’ans. We have youth projects that we are providing for the youngsters in our local mosque. Alhumdolilah we are trying to busy ourselves.
Do you have any other projects like this?
Yes, we are looking to launch a new bus advertising project this coming summer in 2010, we have set a target of £100,000 we want to raise and we plan to advertise in all 33 districts in London with this. We are currently working on new images for the campaign, inshallah more details will be available on our website in the coming months. I pray that Allah helps us to make this a success, ameen.