Converts./Reverts: From Pork to Islam
- From Pork to Islam
By Hamed Al-Moatasem, IOL Correspondent
Tue. Feb. 19, 2008
BEIJING It was around 10:00 a.m. Beijing time,
nearly three hours to the Friday prayer, when the
young man approached the mosque.
Jang stood for sometime outside at the mosque's
doorstep hesitant to step in, especially with a
"Muslims Only" sign in Chinese, English and Arabic
attached to the gate.
He finally defeated a whiff of indecision and walked
into the Muslim place of worship.
"Can we help you?" asked the mosque's leading imam.
"I want to become a Muslim," answered Jang.
The smiling imam welcomed him and accompanied him to
the Islamic Society office, attached to the mosque.
They offered Jang three booklets on Islam to know more
about the faith he wants to embrace.
To their surprise, the young man said he not only read
the booklets but also many other books on the Muslim
Jang engaged the imams in a discussion that proved to
them he knew what he was about to do.
One imam walked him into Islam with the pronouncement
of the Shahadah; testifying that there is no god but
Allah and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon
him) is His Messenger.
Journey to Islam
Jang, who changed his name to Selim, sat down with
IslamOnline.net after the ceremony to talk about his
journey to Islam.
"It all started with pork," he said with a smile.
Islam's dietary habits, including the prohibition of
pork, led a curious Jang to read about the Muslim
"I perused medical journals and devoured books for an
Islam considers pigs unclean because they are
omnivorous, not discerning between meat or vegetation
in their natural dietary habits unlike cows and sheep
for instance, which eat only plants.
Some scientists say eating pork can cause no less than
seventy different types of diseases.
"I found the same conclusion in traditional Chinese
medicine, which does not recommend eating pork and
designated it as the most harmful and least healthy
meat," said Selim.
A jubilant Selim joined an extended family of more
than 30 million Muslims in China, according to
Islam came to China via Muslim businessman during the
era of the Tang Dynasty 1300 years ago.
There have also been reports of companions of the
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
coming to China.
Defender of the Muslim faith
By YONAT SHIMRON
Article Last Updated: 03/22/2008 01:43:03 AM PDT
RALEIGH, N.C. Standing 5-foot-2 and wearing a Muslim
head scarf, Khalilah Sabra doesn't look like a
But the diminutive woman has become the voice for
Muslims in the Raleigh area, and over the past few
years has shown she will not be cowed.
She recently took on a spokesman for the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security who tried to smooth
relations with Muslims. When the official described to
Muslims the new steps his office was taking to ease
their security hassles at airports and to respond to
complaints about detentions, Sabra was the first to
get up and speak.
"It sounds like Habitat for Humanity," Sabra scowled,
conveying that she did not accept the rosy picture he
had painted. "Don't you think the laws are directed at
Middle Easterners and Middle Eastern-looking people?"
Sabra, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, has
emerged as one of the loudest defenders of her faith,
locking arms with those who have been harassed,
intimidated or discriminated against. As the director
of the local Muslim American Society's Freedom
Foundation, she sees her role as ushering in a new era
of Muslim civil rights activism.
If Sept. 11, 2001, woke up Americans to the reality of
Islamic terrorism on their own soil, it woke up Sabra
to what she saw as prejudice against Muslim American
immigrants. Sabra felt uniquely qualified to serve as
an advocate. She is American-born, a convert from
Roman Catholicism. And she has lived abroad in
Pakistan in 1989, and in Lebanon, from 1995 to 1997
with her husband and family.
If anyone understood the complexities of the Muslim
Americans, she did.
So Sabra, 41, threw herself into community action.
"The day of isolationism is over," she said. "It's
time to get involved."
But Sabra is not only critical of U.S. policies that
deprive Muslims of their liberties, she is also
critical of her own faith community.
In the days and months after Sept. 11, Sabra saw her
religion vilified in public and few within the local
community rising to defend it. There were no Muslims
on the local school board, no Muslims on the City
Council, and only one Muslim in the state legislature.
"It was our fault," said Sabra, adding, "We were not
involved in the realm of politics or community
services, and others defined us."
But Muslim Americans had more than an image problem.
Sabra began to hear stories of civil liberties denied.
They included women turned down for jobs because of
their head scarves, and permanent residents whose
citizenship applications were permanently on hold.
As the wife of a Cisco engineer with a comfortable
salary, Sabra began challenging fellow Muslims by
example. She spoke in churches. She encouraged fellow
Muslims to register to vote. She began interfaith
conversations with local Jews. She marched in the
NAACP's rally in downtown Raleigh against racism,
poverty and war.
At one event, state Sen. Larry Shaw of Fayetteville
heard her speak and later walked up to her. "Sister,
who are you?" asked Shaw, the state's only Muslim
legislator. Sabra has since adopted Shaw as a mentor.
"We're trying to educate the Islamic community to come
of age in mainstream America," said Shaw, a Democrat
representing Cumberland County. "If people understand
there's not a dime's worth of difference between us,
they will embrace you."
The work hasn't been easy, least of all in a community
whose members aren't used to speaking out or getting
involved, and in many cases view any kind of activism
as compromising their values and corrupting their
To Muslims who hold that view, Sabra offers a pointed
"If you want things to change, you're going to have to
speak up," she said. "And if you feel things are so
terrible that you can't speak up, maybe you should
choose another country to live in."
For about a year, Sabra lived in Peshawar, Pakistan,
and made regular trips to nearby Afghan refugee camps
delivering food and medicine. In 1989, Azzam was
assassinated and Sabra returned to the United States.
But her days of international travel were far from
In Los Angeles, she married Jihad Sabra, a Lebanese
man and a U.S. citizen, and the couple moved to
Lebanon, where Sabra saw firsthand the consequences of
the Israeli and Syrian occupations of that country. It
was after a funeral for a child killed by Israeli
bombs when it first occurred to Sabra that she might
effect change in the Middle East by lobbying her own
government to change its policies toward Israel.
"As an American my voice might be heard louder than
the Lebanese who suffers," she said.
Sabra, her husband and five children arrived in
Raleigh one week before the events of 9/11 when Jihad
Sabra was reassigned to Cisco's Research Triangle
Her political views, she acknowledges, have evolved.
She used to support armed resistance to aggression,
and now believes in dialogue and peaceful resistance.
"My opinions 15 years ago were very much different
than they are today," she said. "As years go by there
has to be adaptation."
But one mission has always been at the center of her
beliefs: Helping the underprivileged, whoever they may
"She's an amazing, passionate prophetic voice who is
willing to stand up and speak the truth as she sees
it," said Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue
in Raleigh. Solomon sharply disagrees with Sabra about
the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but
has nonetheless been able to work with her as part of
an interfaith coalition to save Darfur, the Sudanese
region where thousands have died.
In the Muslim community, where political activism is
just getting a toehold, Sabra's efforts are
"We need to be a lot more involved and a lot more
engaged in American society," said Nabih Kadri, who
owns a courier service in Raleigh. "When you see
someone like Khalilah taking action, it's a blessing
to the Muslim community."
(c) 2008, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
Muslim chaplains anger at airport discrimination
Mar 22 2008 by Liza Williams, Liverpool Daily Post
A MUSLIM Chaplain from Liverpool claims
discriminatory interrogation is happening on a
regular basis at Manchester Airport.
Adam Kelwick, from Wavertree, says he was stopped and
questioned for two hours on arrival at the airport as
he returned from a Middle Eastern business trip on
Wednesday, the third time this has happened since the
introduction of the Terrorism Act in 2006.
He claims officials searched his lap top, phone, asked
for his bank account pin number and put a string of
questions to him.
The chaplain, who carries out charity work in the city
to aid social cohesion, claims other friends and
colleagues have complained about similar experiences.
He said: Some people I know would rather tolerate the
congestion of the airports in London, rather than put
up with the unreasonable questioning and
discrimination at Manchester.
I was ordered to remove all my items from my baggage
piece by piece and was then taken into a small room
and asked questions like what is your mothers date
of birth? and what school did you go to?.
It has happened a few times before at the airport but
never when travelling from Liverpool or London.
It is ironic, I was travelling in traditional Muslim
dress, but an international terrorist isnt going to
fly around the world with a beard and a gown on.
It is discriminatory and unfair. The first time it
happens you think OK, this is helping to deal with
terrorism so I dont mind, but for it to happen on a
regular basis is unnecessary.
During the interview, Mr Kelwick says he was treated
with courtesy and professionalism, and he blames the
issue on unjust laws, central Governments
misunderstanding of local Muslim communities and poor
training of airport officials.
Mr Kelwick claims the interview ended when he was told
he could leave, without any charge or further
A convert to Islam, Mr Kelwick is well know in
Liverpool for his charitable work involving community
cohesion, multi-faith programmes and supporting
disadvantaged people to make a positive contribution
He claims that interrogation of this type is part of
the reason young Muslims become radicalised.
He added: I am working hard in Liverpool to involve
people more in community life, increase opportunities
and break down barriers between people of different
More government support is needed to combat
extremists, rather than having airport officials
picking on Muslims just for show.
Greater Manchester Police were unavailable for
Muslims increasing: continuing service to our Prophet
Written By: Wafaa Waif
Article Date: Mar 22, 2008 - 3:58:39 AM
Huthifa is his new name since becoming a Muslim. He
has an interesting story of which he is very proud
about how he embraced Islam. One day, his teacher
ordered him and his classmates to write a report about
any religion they chose. Everyone wrote about other
religions, whereas Huthifa noticed a site about Islam
that attracted him. So, it is from here that his story
Since the Cultural Center for Foreigners Call was
established in May of 2001, it has been calling
non-Muslims to embrace Islam. It attracts foreigners
by sending callers to the places foreigners work and
giving them information about Islam. When the new
initiates gain enough information they are requested
to visit the center to get an idea of its activities
and programs. Since the establishment of the center
until the present, 247 people of all different
nationalities including Africans, Asians, Europeans,
Americans, Ethiopians, Philippinos, Indians,
Canadians, Russians, French, Germans, Spanish,
British, and South Africans have embraced Islam. The
center gives courses in universalism, low and
comparative religions, memorization drill and Arabic
language to create a better understanding of the
Dr. Mana Hussin al-Hazmi, the centers manager, said
that the center is not-for-profit and that they do not
have a donor, but they do market their projects and
extend invitations to people who might like to
participate in calling and helping the center realize
its goals. He clarified that there is also limited
financial support that the center offers for new
Muslims: for example, the center may help them go to
hajj in order to make their faith stronger.
Dr. Al-Hazmi declared that there was a big difference
in the centers activities since the events of
September 11th. As a result of these events, the
numbers of new Muslims are increasing yearly;
statistics from the center show that 10 people came
there to embrace Islam in 2002, while the next year 31
people came. The rate increased in 2005 to reach 33
and to 47 at the end of 2007. Ethiopian people are the
most common to embrace Islam at the center, maybe
because they live in Yemen!
Aaron Hernandez is from the United States of America.
He tells his story of how he had no previous
information about Islam and how he became a Muslim. He
says that it seems to be a very general word in the
United States where he is from. He recollects the
times when a hint of Islam came his way when his
teacher told him that the Holy Quran and Islamic
religion were the New Testament, whereas Jesus Mission
and evangel were the Old Testament. What made him
embrace Islam is that the Prophet Muhammad is similar
to Jesus and their mission came from one source. This
is what attracted his attention to the New Testament.
He also had a friend who suggested he become a Muslim
and who gave him a translation of the first volume of
Sahih hadith collections, sayings of the Prophet, by
al-Bukhari. On reading an article on the concept of
God in Islam and the falsehood of the divinity of
Jesus, Aaron was convinced to become a Muslim. Aaron
added that he has accepted Islam as a considerable
religion, and he has even started praying with Muslims
in their congregation. He is striving to learn the
Quran and the way of the Prophet to gain further
understanding. He would like to become a caller to
Islam in his country, so that people can turn back to
the way of God for all peoples hearts to be together
in the uplifting of Gods good law and word. He asked
God to give His Messenger Muhammad peace and mercy as
well as all of those sent by God, His Prophets and
To continue Huthifas story, he says that after he
finished his school report and received his marks, he
bought some books from an Islamic library. He started
to understand that Islam was not like Christianity. He
found that there was something which fascinated him;
that was tawhid. The simple idea that there is only
one God and all worship is for Him only. When a
devotee needs something, they can ask that one God
directly. There is no need to ask any other person
between the worshipper and the one who created him.
Then, Huthifa searched for Arabic lessons. His teacher
was a German Muslim and at that time was the second
leader of the mosque in his city. Huthifas teacher
took him to the mosque where he met a lot of other
students from Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Turkey,
Pakistan and Yemen. One of the Yemeni students gave
him a video of Innaho al-Haqq (it is right) from
Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani. Before Huthifa saw the
video, there was something in his heart asking him if
Islam was really the truth. After he saw the video he
was 100 percent certain that Islam was the right way.
Huthifa added that when he told people that he had
become Muslim, they were shocked, and contact with his
family became very strained. They were asking me,
why must you pray five times a day, Why dont you
shake hands with women? and Why is alcohol forbidden?
I answered them, Thats because God has ordered us to
do this or not to do this. After this discussion my
parents told me that we could live with each other
only under one condition: if I stopped speaking about
religion. Huthifa explained to them that he loved
them and gave them an example, asking them what they
would do if there was a bomb in the house. He asked
them if they would do everything to make people leave
the house. They replied that they would, and he said
that he knew there would come a day bigger than any
bomb, where they would meet their Creator and he would
ask why they did not follow His Messenger. But they
became angry at this, so he decided to come to Yemen
because he knew that this was the right choice for
Ator Rkasah is from Ethiopia. She converted to Islam
just a month ago and she wants to learn everything
about Islam, especially the prayers. I have a little
knowledge about Islam, and I want to spread it to
everyone who does not know about it, especially in my
country, to change what they believe in order that
they can embrace Islam. But my financial circumstance
is difficult; it makes me stay here to earn money and
work in Yemens houses. But that will help me to learn
more about Islam and let my faith be stronger, Rkasah
said. She added that when she finishes her work here
and goes back to Ethiopia, she will be more confident
to call others to Islam. From her speech, one can see
how much she loves Islam.
Akintona Alalekan Hassan is from Nigeria. How did he
become a Muslim? Maybe by chance. One day, two of his
friends argued in front of him. One of them was
Muslim, and the other was Christian. They hit each
other because of their religions. Akintona started to
think about Islam, and the days passed. A debate took
hold in his small village between the two men of
differing religions. Akintona attended this debate and
what impressed him was that the Muslim man came
without any books and with the ability to discuss
everything without looking at any references, whereas
the Christian came with books and had to consult them
when he had any objections to give his reasons. This
is what made Akintona embrace Islam and ask for a
place where he could make his faith stronger, which
turned out to be Yemen.
As a result of immigration, many Yemenis have married
people from other countries in which they have
traveled and lived. Tena is a Christian Russian woman
who married a Yemeni Muslim who tried to convert her
to Islam, but she refused. Her husband returned to
Yemen with her, and after 8 years of marriage, she
became a Muslim of her own free will. Now she wants to
learn everything about Islam, especially fiqh (law),
and she is thinking of being a caller to Islam. The
events of September 11th are not obstacles for Islam
and Muslims. In contrast, they give Islam a chance to
be known and to let non-Muslims embrace Islam. The new
Muslims facing all the things that have happened to
them have made their own decisions to choose this way.
Those people believe in the decision that they have
made with all their will, and this means they feel the
sweat of Islam and the cooperation of places like the
Cultural Center for Foreigners Call which helps them
find their way.
Judge quashes restrictions on Muslim convert
Sam Jones The Guardian, Saturday February 23 2008
A control order on a British convert to Islam was
quashed yesterday when a high court judge ruled there
was no "reasonable suspicion" that he intended to take
part in terrorism abroad.
MI5 had alleged that the restriction of movement
measures were necessary because Cerie Bullivant, 25,
of Dagenham, Essex, could be planning to travel to
Iraq or Afghanistan to join up with terrorists.
Mr Justice Collins quashed the order, which was made
last year to replace an order made in June 2006.
The first order was triggered when Bullivant was
stopped at Heathrow as he was about to fly to Syria.
He had been travelling with Ibrahim Adam, the brother
of fertiliser bomb plotter Anthony Garcia, and said he
intended to study Arabic.
The Security Service judged that he and Adam intended
"to carry out extremist Islamic activity" - possibly
intending to travel on to Iraq or Afghanistan to fight
against western forces, or to conduct a "martyrdom
Mr Justice Collins said it may have been reasonable to
assume that individuals with whom Bullivant associated
might have been involved in terrorism, but that did
not make it reasonable to suspect he had the same
inclinations. "The dangers of guilt by association are
Bullivant said outside court in a statement: "Although
I am very happy that this order has now been lifted,
this draconian legislation is still continuing to ruin
the lives of others and their families."