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Converts./Reverts: From Pork to Islam

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  • Zafar Khan
    From Pork to Islam By Hamed Al-Moatasem, IOL Correspondent Tue. Feb. 19, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 23, 2008
      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
      official data.

      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
      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
      increasingly appreciated.

      "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 chaplain’s 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 mother’s 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 isn’t 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 don’t 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 Government’s
      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
      to society.

      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: Wafa’a 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 Foreigner’s 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
      Islamic religion.

      Dr. Mana Hussin al-Hazmi, the center’s 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 center’s 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 people’s hearts to be together
      in the uplifting of God’s 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
      their followers.

      To continue Huthifa’s 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. Huthifa’s 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 don’t you
      shake hands with women? and Why is alcohol forbidden?’
      I answered them, ‘That’s 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 Yemen’s 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 Foreigner’s 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."
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