My name is Troy Bagnall. I am a 22 year old (soon to be 23 year old) college student from Phoenix, Arizona in the US. I also participate in a film & media study program at ASU.
I adopted Islam last February for a variety of reasons. I had been interested in Islam for a long time because it is a hot topic to watch the media and current events. Antiquity and world history, as well as wars and politics have always interested me a lot.
When I heard about the conflicts in the news that occurred in places like Sudan, Somalia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Lebanon, etc., I simply researched these conflicts to understand what was really happening because the media here are far from reporting fairly and impartially. When I was researching the conflicts, I also became interested in the history of the Muslim world. I spent my time learning about the history and culture of the Muslim world on my own. I also took a course at ASU entitled Islamic Civilization. And when I looked at the history and culture of the Muslim world, this sparked my interest in the religion of Islam itself.
I grew up as a Christian, but I stopped practicing when I was 15. I personally found Christianity rather confusing and not logical. The Trinity and the Confession Doctrine make no sense when you consider that there are verses in the Bible that contradict these doctrines. In the course on Islamic history I met a brother named Mohammad Totah who had a lot of knowledge about the Bible, the Quran and the Abrahamic faith. We had many conversations about comparing religions. I also researched alone. I learned more and more about how Christianity contradicts its own scriptures.
I learned more about how the biblical scriptures actually support Islam. Another thing that amazed me was that the Gospel of Barnabas predicted the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and even mentioned his name. However, this gospel had been removed from the Bible. Now to the Quran, which is more than amazing with its flawlessness. I found the Quran simple and easy to understand. Islam itself is very simple and straightforward, without confusing doctrines. It does not require blind faith like Christianity does.
Islam also conveys a sense of fulfillment that Judaism does not have, because Judaism denies later prophets such as Jesus (peace be upon him) and John the Baptist (peace be upon him).
When I learned more about Islam, I noticed that it made sense with all the uncertainty factors that I had with Christianity. In fact, I know more about the Bible and Christianity now that I converted to Islam than I did when I was a Christian. I also feel so much closer to God as a Muslim. (I am saying this) not to make Christianity bad, but rather the teachings of Paul and the other apostles rather than the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him) that are conveyed there.
I also spent a lot of time learning about the history of religions after they were founded and how they had spread throughout the world. I know that Islam is portrayed here in the West as some exotic Eastern religion, but in reality it is exactly what the prophets have always sent to people, the devotion to the will of God. It is actually frustrating how the media always present Islam in such a negative light.
I understand there is conflict and violence in parts of the Muslim world, but these conflicts are more about politics.
Yes, I admit that practicing Islam is a bit difficult considering that I live in America and the media here and there keep sending negative stereotypes about Islam. It is also a bit difficult because there are not many American college students who give up carefree party life and convert to Islam. But that was not a big problem for me because I am quite a nerd. Non-Muslims ask me about politics and cultural practices in the Middle East and I have to explain the difference between what Islam really is and what political ideology and cultural practices are.
The Middle East is obviously the center of the Muslim world, but it’s just as frustrating how the media stereotypes Muslims as people from the Middle East because there are Muslims all over the world. I think racism is also involved, because the West overlooks the fact that Judaism and Christianity also have their roots in the Middle East, just like Islam.
To sum up, I accepted Islam by simply declaring that it is the true religion of God. It’s simple, straightforward, and not confusing. I also love Islam because it creates a universal connection among its followers. Islam has helped me become a better person.
I feel light when I practice Islam. It helps me to feel better and to cope better with stress and problems in life. I really hope that people here in the West are better informed about the Muslim world and what Islam is for religion, instead of always hearing the negative and not always correct reviews of how the media portray Islam.
I hope my story will inspire those who are interested in Islam and want to learn more about it.