6721Convert/Revert: A Muslim Employee Led Me to Islam
- Jun 4, 2006A Muslim Employee Led Me to Islam
A South African's Journey to Islam
By Ashraf Williams
Wed, May. 31, 2006
My name is Ashraf. I live in Johannesburg, South
Africa. I used to belong to the privileged White
minority. I used to have only three brothers, but now
I have more than a billion brothers and sisters!
When describing my Islam, I always call myself a new
Muslim and will till the day I die! I am very
uncomfortable and feel insulted when described as a
revert or a convert I am not a car!
My journey started many years ago, at the age of 23,
when I realized that I would not live long if I
carried on with drinking wine, womanizing, and leading
a bad lifestyle. I stopped my bad habits and when I
was totally sober, I wondered what for what was the
point of being so good?
I worked in an environment that dictated that if you
were not pretty, you did not work for me. At the end
of the day, I would stand at the exit and say goodbye
to the "girls" who worked in my business. There was
one woman, who, at the end of the day, always smelled
and looked fresh. I could not help but ask her why
why did all the other women look so worn out at the
end of the day and she so fresh? She replied that it
was due to her religion.
"What? Your religion tells you to be fresh?" I asked.
"No, my religion tells me how to be clean," she
"Your religion tells you when to wash?" I wondered.
"Your religion tells you how to wash?"
"Your religion tells you what to wash?"
"What religion is this?"
I then decided I should find out more about Islam. The
first literature I got a hold of was booklets about
comparative religion by Ahmed Deedat. May Allah reward
him for his good works.
After reading a booklet about the Trinity (God, Jesus,
and the Holy Spirit), I meditated on it for a few
days. I had been a good Catholic boy and had studied
Catholicism until I was 18 years old, so I had a lot
of conceptions and misconceptions I to overcome.
After a few days, I reread the booklet and found
myself comfortable with the idea of there being one
God. I was then able to move on and read all the
Islamic literature I could find. I started learning
the Shahadah, and after about a year, I decided it was
I took a shower, put my topi (head cover) in my
pocket, went to my car, and headed for the nearest
mosque. After circling the mosque for about 30
minutes, I realized that I would never become a Muslim
if I kept riding round the block! I walked into the
mosque and found a group of brothers sitting together.
One of them asked if he could help and I told him I
wanted to become a Muslim. He gave me an address and
said I must go there and study.
I said "No, I want to become a Muslim now!" He asked
me if I knew the Shahadah. I said, "Yes." I then sat
with the brothers in the mosque. I read my testimony
of faith and was then asked what name I had chosen. I
said "Muhammed Ashraf. "Al-hamdu lillah, I became a
Muslim on that day.
I then started associating with Muslims, carried on
studying, and after two years, I felt the need to get
married. I married a sister of a friend of mine.
My marriage meant I was breaking three of our
1. Group Areas Act I should have been staying in a
2. Mixed Marriages Act I was supposed to marry a
3. Immorality Act I was only supposed to have sex
with White women.
My wife's family and mine were very concerned about
our situation. Yet I believed that as long as my
marriage was good in the eyes of Allah, all others
could do what they wanted to Allah was my protector.
One day in 1994, I happened to be alone at home during
the week. There was a knock on the door and I opened
it. According to my habit in those days, I checked out
the shoes first. Yes, they were police issue (I sure
knew because my father was a policeman and I had spent
many hours polishing his shoes), but was this a White
or Colored person? I panicked should I push him over
the balcony? Deny everything? Slam the door on him?
I tried to be steadfast. He said it had been reported
that there was a Colored lady staying at this address.
"No," I said, "There was no Colored lady staying here,
please come in." He walked into our apartment, saw the
Islamic calligraphy on the wall, sat on the couch, and
put the folder to the side.
As he was speaking, I was still wondering what race he
was. Then he told me that he was once a Muslim. I was
shocked and asked why he said was a Muslim? His father
and mother were Muslims, but then they got divorced
and his mother married a White man and he and his
mother became Christians.
The biggest joke was that his ID said he was White and
he would regularly send his ID to Home Affairs and
tell them he was Colored, but they always insisted he
was White. We drank tea together, and before he left,
he told me that I must not leave the country, as
things would be changing.
I continued my relationship with my family after I
became Muslim. I am conservative at heart and it was
nice to tell my mother when she said to me "You are so
old- fashioned" that "I am a Muslim!" When my mother
saw my first-born child, a beautiful little girl, she
said I must make sure she marries a good White boy!
I told her that she must marry a good Muslim boy! My
daughter went on to marry a dark-skinned Indian boy
and I am now the proud grandfather of my "golden boy"
Islam fits me like a glove. My wife and I started a
family and I knew that I had to raise my children as
Muslims. My children grew up as Muslims and were
dedicated to their faith.
At school, when teachers used to record the ethnic
make-up of my children's class, my children would be
left sitting. When they were asked what race they
were, they would always answer "Muslim." Much to their
teachers' frustration, they never said they were
White, and if their teachers insisted, they told the
teachers to put down what they wanted to.
Yes, I do have one regret in my life. As I mentioned
before, my father was a policeman and he had been very
frustrated at the lack of discipline in the Catholic
Church. He went searching in other churches, yet he
did not find the peace he was looking for and passed
away before I had the knowledge and courage to speak
to him about Islam. I am sure he would have found
peace in Islam, as Muslims are perceived to be
"militant" in our prayers. The ritual ablutions before
prayer and standing shoulder to shoulder in straight
lines would have appealed to the "soldier" in him.
What I do know is that when he died, he was at peace
with my chosen religion as well as my wife.
My family had the privilege of nursing my mother until
she died of cancer. During her last moments, she
expressed herself as a being a Muslim and was very
proud of that. She asked to be buried in one of the
beautiful long Islamic dresses that belonged to my
My other brothers are not Muslims, but they are still
very proud of me, their big brother. One of them
stayed at my place for a few months and adopted
certain Islamic behaviors.
In conclusion, I am a "new" Muslim who embraced Islam
25 years ago through the actions of a Muslim woman,
but I have never been comfortable with the divisions
of Muslims in South Africa. At gatherings, I normally
search out my African brothers, and other Muslim
"brothers" lose interest in me when I tell them I live
in a ghetto and do not own a business.
Islam is not the property of the Indians, Arabs,
Blacks, or anyone else! Those who perpetuate these
divisions are impeding the progress of Islam on a
continent and in a world that needs it.
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