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The Conversion of Dr. Murad Hofmann

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    How Dr. Murad Hofmann - German Diplomat and NATO Officer - Became Muslim islamweb.net Dr. Murad Hofmann, who accepted Islam in 1980, was born as a Catholic in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
      How Dr. Murad Hofmann - German Diplomat and NATO Officer -
      Became Muslim


      Dr. Murad Hofmann, who accepted Islam in 1980, was born as a Catholic
      in Germany in 1931. He graduated from Union College in New York and
      completed his legal studies at Munich University where he received a
      doctorate in jurisprudence in 1957. He became a research assistant for
      the reform of federal civil procedure, and in 1960 received an LL.M.
      degree from Harvard Law School. He was Director of Information for
      NATO in Brussels from 1983 to 1987. He was posted as German ambassador
      to Algeria in 1987 and then to Morocco in 1990 where he served for
      four years. He performed umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage) in 1982 and Hajj
      (Pilgrimage) in 1992.

      Several key experiences led Dr. Hofmann to Islam. The first of these
      began in 1961 when he was posted to Algeria as Attaché in the German
      Embassy and found himself in the middle of the bloody guerilla warfare
      between French troops and Algerian National Front which was fighting
      for Algerian independence for the past eight years. There he witnessed
      the cruelty and massacre that the Algerian population endured. Every
      day, nearly a dozen people were killed - "close range, execution
      style" - only for being an Arab or for speaking for the independence.
      "I witnessed the patience and resilience of the Algerian people in the
      face of extreme suffering, their overwhelming discipline during
      Ramadan, their confidence of victory, as well as their humanity amidst
      misery." He felt it was their religion that made them so, and
      therefore, he started studying their religious book - the Qur'an. "I
      have never stopped reading it, to this very day."

      Islamic art was the second experience for Dr. Hofmann in his journey
      to Islam. From his early life he has been fond of art and beauty and
      ballet dancing. All of these were overshadowed when he came to know
      Islamic art which made an intimate appeal to him. Referring to Islamic
      art, he says: "Its secret seems to lie in the intimate and universal
      presence of Islam as a religion in all of its artistic manifestations,
      calligraphy, space filling arabesque ornaments, carpet patterns,
      mosque and housing architecture, as well as urban planning. I am
      thinking of the brightness of the mosques which banishes any
      mysticism, of the democratic spirit of their architectural layout."

      "I am also thinking of the introspective quality of the Muslim
      palaces, their anticipation of paradise in gardens full of shade,
      fountains, and rivulet; of the intricate socially functional structure
      of old Islamic urban centers (madinahs), which fosters community
      spirits and transparency of the market, tempers heat and wind, and
      assures the integration of the mosque and adjacent welfare center for
      the poor, schools and hostels into the market and living quarters.
      What I experienced is so blissfully Islamic in so many places … is the
      tangible effect which Islamic harmony, the Islamic way of life, and
      the Islamic treatment of space leave on both heart and mind."

      Perhaps more than all of these what made a significant impact on his
      quest for the truth was his thorough knowledge of Christian history
      and doctrines. He realized that there was a significant difference
      between what a faithful Christian believes and what a professor of
      history teaches at the university. He was particularly troubled by the
      Church's adoption of the doctrines established by St. Paul in
      preference to that of historical Jesus. "He, who never met Jesus, with
      his extreme Christology replaced the original and correct
      Judeo-Christian view of Jesus."

      He found it difficult for him to accept that the mankind is burdened
      with the "original sin" and that God had to have his own son tortured
      and murdered on the cross in order to save his own creations. "I began
      to realize how monstrous, even blasphemous it is to imagine that God
      could have been fallen short in his creation; that he could have been
      unable to do anything about the disaster supposedly caused by Adam and
      Eve without begetting a son, only to have him sacrificed in such a
      bloody fashion; that God might suffer for mankind, His creation."

      He went back to the very basic question of the existence of God. After
      analyzing works done by philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, Pascal,
      Swinburn, and Kant, he came to an intellectual conviction of the
      existence of God. The next logical question he faced was how God
      communicates to human beings so that they can be guided. This led him
      to acknowledge the need for revelations. But what contains the truth -
      Judeo-Christian scriptures or Islam?

      He found the answer to this question in his third crucial experience
      when he came across the following verse of the Qur'an: "… no bearer of
      burdens shall bear the burdens of another." (Qur'an 53:38). This verse
      opened up his eyes and provided the answer to his dilemma. Clearly and
      unambiguously for him, it rejected the ideas of the burden of
      "original sin" and the expectation of "intercession" by the saints. "A
      Muslim lives in a world without clergy and without religious
      hierarchy; when he prays he does not pray via Jesus, Mary, or other
      interceding saints, but directly to God - as a fully emancipated
      believer - and this is a religion free of mysteries." According to
      Hofmann, "A Muslim is the emancipated believer par excellence".

      "I began to see Islam with its own eyes, as the unadulterated,
      pristine belief in the one and only, the true God, Who does not beget,
      and was not begotten, Whom nothing and nobody resembles … In place of
      the qualified deism of a tribal God and the constructions of a divine
      Trinity, the Qur'an showed me the most lucid, most straightforward,
      the most abstract - thus historically most advanced - and least
      anthropomorphic concept of God."

      "The Qur'an's ontological statements, as well as its ethical
      teachings, impressed me as profoundly plausible, "as good as gold," so
      there was no room for even the slightest doubt about the authenticity
      of Muhammad's prophetic mission. People who understand human nature
      cannot fail to appreciate the infinite wisdom of the "Dos and Don'ts"
      handed down from God to man in the form of the Qur'an."

      For his son's upcoming 18th birthday in 1980, he prepared a 12-page
      manuscript containing the things that he considered unquestionably
      true from a philosophical perspective. He asked a Muslim Imam of
      Cologne named Muhammad Ahmad Rassoul to take a look at the work. After
      reading it Rassoul remarked that if Dr. Hofmann believed in what he
      had written, then he was a Muslim. That indeed became the case a few
      days later when he declared "I bear witness that there is no divinity
      besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's messenger."
      That was September 25, 1980.

      Dr. Hofmann continued his professional career as a German diplomat and
      NATO officer for fifteen years after he became Muslim. "I did not
      experience any discrimination in my professional life", he said. In
      1984, three and half years after his conversion, then German President
      Dr. Carl Carstens awarded him the Order of Merit of the Federal
      Republic of Germany. The German government distributed his book "Diary
      of a German Muslim" to all German foreign missions in the Muslim
      countries as an analytical tool. Professional duties did not prevent
      him from practicing his religion.

      Once very artistic about red wine, he would now politely refuse offers
      of alcohol. As a Foreign Service officer, he occasionally had to
      arrange working lunch for foreign guests. He would be participating in
      those luncheons with an empty plate in front of him during Ramadan. In
      1995, he voluntarily resigned from the Foreign Service to dedicate
      himself to Islamic causes.

      While discussing the evils caused by alcohol in individual and social
      life, Dr. Hofmann mentioned an incident about his own life caused by
      alcohol. During his college years in New York in 1951, he was once
      traveling from Atlanta to Mississippi. When he was in Holy Spring,
      Mississippi all on a sudden a vehicle, apparently driven by a drunken
      driver, appeared in front of his car. A serious accident followed,
      taking away nineteen of his teeth and disfiguring his mouth.

      After doing surgery on his chin and lower hip, the hospital surgeon
      comforted him saying: "Under normal circumstances, no one survives an
      accident like that. God has something special in mind for you, my
      friend." As he limped in Holy Spring after release from the hospital
      with his "arm in a sling, a bandaged knee, an iodine-discolored,
      stitched-up lower face", he wondered what could be the meaning of the
      surgeon's remark.

      He came to know it one day, but much later. "Finally, thirty years
      later, on the very day I professed my faith in Islam, the true meaning
      of my survival became clear to me."

      Murad Hofmann has authored several books including "Islam: The



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