(part 1 of 2)
In 1988, I began to work on a project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with my father, who was a physician working in Saudi. He was in Kingdom and I was in the United States. That same year I came on a trip to the Kingdom and stayed in the city of Dhahran and visited the city of Al-Khobar to further that project. What I saw there captured me immediately in so many ways, but when I heard those first prayer calls, something deep within me stirred. I saw shopkeepers just close, but not lock their doors, “how can that be?” I asked. I saw Muslims going to prayer and returning looking so fresh and renewed. I saw that and wondered. I asked my Saudi hosts many questions and was allowed to come to a large city mosque and I sat at the back. I was nervous but my eyes and my heart were open. No one else, including my father, was invited. I guess Mohammed, our personal host, saw something in me that I did not even see back then. I was given a copy of the Holy Quran in Arabic and English. Among all the items, I took home to the States from that trip the Quran was at the top of the most valuable. I didn’t read it back then, I treated it as a possession, sad to say.
Something to look good on my bookcase, what a mistake! I was left with vivid memories of a place fully and completely unknown to me before. The mold was cast deep within me as a result.
Years later, I returned on my own, with my then young family, wife, and two sons. Everyone fit into life in Saudi Arabia swiftly. My world revolved around work, family, and exercise. Any and all prayer that I did was personal and done only once a day at most. Don’t get me wrong, I was Christian, and not much is asked as a follower. I did more than most. I began to watch my employees as they went about their work before and after prayers. Inwardly I now know Allah was calling me, but I did not listen even though I was right there in Riyadh working in a hospital with a Mosque next door, surrounded by caring Muslims. I kept everyone at bay, holding tight to my understanding of Christianity, almost defiantly! The years rolled by and honestly, I even lost interest in prayer and doing anything but maintaining an occasional link to God directly. Eventually my family’s stay in the Kingdom ended in 2001 at which point we all returned to Florida in the USA.
While in the States we all as a family returned to church, but I knew I was not the same person. As hard as I could try to follow the Trinity concept I could not embrace it enough to “witness” it all to someone else. Something was wrong, but I did not quite know what was wrong. So I talked to God alone. Made sense to me, He created everything so why did I need others to pass on my prayers to Him? Same time in my life back then sin came heavily into my life, either by me directly or brought into my life by my now ex-wife. I sank into a most disappointing time of my life. The road to hell is wide and easy, which I was taking, while the path to heaven is narrow and difficult to traverse. Frankly I was not just going to Hell, I was living in hell on Earth. All the time I tried to balance “things” with prayer and occasional church attendance for one hour which I did not want to do. For years this continued until I accepted the role I now maintain with the hospital here in Al-Khobar.
This last year was filled with tears and sadness in that a twenty-three year marriage failed due in part to those bad years just previous to my arrival to Al-Khobar. I didn’t think I could get so low but you know it, He took it all away, took me to the bottom, where all there is, is up. Really, I use to say I had to jump up to touch bottom. Those around me knew I hurt all the time and that my life was empty, yet each day sometimes second by second I continued onward. My daily morning prayers were rarely missed and I read the Bible often, entire books at a time. Life at work and with me personally was improving even during the divorce for which I had to attend to back in the USA. Shortly after my return one of the senior managers in my division gave me information on Islam, which I welcomed but did not read nor look at. Into the drawer they went! Yet this man and others around me saw something in me that I had not yet realized, but they did, how I do not know but they did. One member of my staff gave me prayer beads. I carried them in my right pocket every day and counted them over and over with my right hand in my right pocket all day long. I was able to remain so calm in most difficult meetings while rolling those beads with my fingers. Life continued to be one good day then three bad, but my life and work continued. Then in November of last year I went back to the USA for a divorce trial and to visit my family. Sad times and good times but never did I ever feel at home there, never. I did not go to church either.
When I returned to the Kingdom in early December I was restless inside. Decisions were difficult to make, so I did not make them. So I just eased up and eased up some more and just listened with my heart and my mind. For days many people must have wondered what was on my mind, for I must have looked preoccupied, but I was not, I was cutting layer upon layer away, listening thinking sending out questions and messages, not knowing what would return. At the hospital I began to come over to the Mosque, near but not too near, and hear the call to prayer watching the men enter or exit. They would be standing there talking with each other oblivious of the world around them, you could see they were different than before they entered. I was drawn; I knew it, but denied it at the same time. The ditch between the two roads seemed to be too wide to cross and I did not have an idea how. Yet I wondered, and wondered some more.
(part 2 of 2)
In early January I had one of the most powerful urges ever, I had to have a Quran! This was one of the first things that I put on my “to do” list It stayed on my mind and never left. Two days after this I came home from work on a Thursday afternoon and took a nap, I didn’t set the alarm, but I agreed with myself that after prayer when the shops reopened I would go out and buy a translation of the meanings of the Quran. That afternoon’s prayer call jolted me up, but being tired I said to myself “I’ll just go back to sleep and get the Quran later, what do I need one for anyways?” When I heard this in my mind I jumped out of bed and got dressed. My hair was a mess from sleeping so I wore a baseball cap. I flagged down a taxi driver and explained to him that I wanted,to become a Muslim.
He welcomed the venture, so off to Jarir Bookstore we went! There was lots of traffic on the way but we finally arrived and to my dismay, there was half of the population of the city of Al-Khobar waiting to enter. I rushed up the steps to the book section and I begin looking frantically! There were so many books and people. I did not know where to start, so I finally was able to get the attention of a salesman and he showed me the section where the Quran were. He told me they were out of stock, I was upset and exclaimed, “How could that be? This is Saudi Arabia, the heart of Islam and you are out of an Arabic/English Quran?” I was dejected and returned to my excited taxi driver empty handed. We were both upset and continued on and drove looking for other bookstores until I recalled that Jarir had another shop near the hospital, so we went there right away. I made it there in time for the evening prayer. He went to pray while I waited outside the shop like all the other non-Muslims. Eventually they opened and I approached the first staff member before anyone else. I bought my copy of the Quran and he even gave me a discount over the sale price. Maybe he saw something in me too. That taxi driver was pleased that we did not give up and that I obtained what I wanted.
I began to read my copy of the Quran while no one else knew. The more I read, the more questions I had, yet I did not want to approach anyone for answers for it would disclose what I was doing, slowly embracing Islam! There were days when work only got in the way of my search for the truth. I would spend days reading through the Quran, and I also began looking at the Bible to look for answers. My research revolved around Jesus, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. Who was he really? Was he really God or a part of the Trinithy? I wrestled with this question for I already believed there was only one God, but as a Christian I wondered was that God Allah?,Was I wrong? The fact that there was only One God was evident to me for all my Muslim friends and employees all attested to this fact and that the One God was none other than Allah. I began to seriously question my past beliefs?
At this stage I was not ready to become a Muslim. One day shortly thereafter I walked into the office of my boss who was a Muslim and I was holding my prayer beads in my hand not in my pocket and he said “You look like a Muslim Michael! Are you considering to embrace Islam?” he said in a half joking, yet serious manner. I sat down in front of his desk and said “Yes!” I don’t think either of us will forget that morning. It was powerful. He came around from his side of his desk and shook my hand and said he would do anything to help me find my way forward. I acknowledged this and accepted his help and requested his personal guidance, which he agreed to do. Wow! I was joyous and delved even deeper into my quest for the truth. I began reading the Quran and the Bible. One late evening I decided to look at the last few pages in my copy of the Quran. I found a section titled, “Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them, in the Bible and the Quran: Biblical Evidence of Jesus being a Servant of God and Having No Share in Divinity”. I read those ten pages slowly and carefully several times. How can that be, “Jesus not a God”! I read the Gospels of St. Matthew, John, and Mark. I looked at that Bible and searched for the one who wrote it and whether Jesus actually wrote all those red lettered words in the New Testament? All I could determine was that a number of religious scholars had revised the Bible twice in the 1970s and 1980s but nowhere did I see that Jesus had in fact wrote a single word in the Bible. All that was written was by others long after his great life here on Earth. I returned to the Quran and continued with my reading and it clearly said that Allah indeed created Jesus and that Mary was a virgin. God only said “Be”, and he was! He was a Muslim sent by Allah to show his people the straight way. It also said that he never died and is now in heaven and that he will return again to rule the world as Allah has intended. Through my research, I found that Allah sent His message to Prophet Muhammad, which was written by scribes and verified by Muhammad as the words of Allah Himself, which is the Quran. Wow! My mind’s eye was fully opened as was my heart.
The one God concept was just that, no one has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, that is a fact with no doubt! How could the Christians get it so wrong, it is not three in one it is Only One, and He is Allah. No wonder why I had trouble coming to terms with the belief that Jesus was God! He was not, it that simple! Yes, he was an important messenger of God, but not God Himself.
When I realized this in my heart, I accept Islam directly. I became subservient to Him at that moment. Now I outwardly asked who I had to see to move forward in order to become a Muslim. I was directed to a religious individual. At this point, I was moving along in strides, I had never ever experienced this feeling before. I met the religious man who was held in high esteem by others and I said the Testimony of Faith before him after a lengthy discussion. He embraced me and said I had embraced Islam and was a Muslim.
We embraced each other and I almost cried! I did my first prayer that night at the compound Mosque. I was embraced by so many. The next day I met the Imam and said the Testimony of Faith again in his office. He asked that I come to the noon prayer, which I did. Afterwards he introduced me to all in attendance and asked that I come up with him He asked if I had anything to say. You bet, I said the Testimony of Faith again in front of them all and explained who I was and briefly how I got to where I was. When I finished every man in the Mosque came and shook my hand and hugged me. Never before have I ever been greeted in such a loving and caring way. It made me cry. After I became a Muslim, a special teacher taught me how to perform the prayers properly.Now I perform all my prayers on time and I have read about 30 books and pamphlets and have over 2000 pages of electric materials on Islam.
I called my father, mother, son, and brother providing them with the details of my faith and I was warmly received by them all.
I am in the process of changing my name from Michael Allen Wilson to Khalil Ibrahim Abdulmajid.
I cannot stop talking about the truth I now know to anyone who will listen.
I have been asked by Muslims and Christians why I became a Muslim; all I can say is that since I found out that Allah sent His Message to Prophet Muhammad to worship Allah alone and that we should live our lives as Allah has intended and that it is the only path to success in this life and in the next, I have firmly adhered to it so that I would be awarded a blissful life in Paradise.That is why I am so complete and happy now.
Praise Be To Allah.