Channel: Abdullah al Andalusi
In this edition of the show we talk to Abdullah al-Andalusi about his journey to Islam.
He talks about his challenges and changes as a Muslim convert in Britain before and after embracing the world’s fastest-growing religion.
He chose to convert to Islam following a long and thorough research period early in his life. He studied and questioned all sorts of belief systems, until he finally found Islam. Now he feels passionately about breaking down stereotypes of Muslims and Islam and is a prolific writer and experienced in debating.
“This programme was produced by Aparat Ltd for Press TV”
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My name is Abdullah andalusi.
As my name suggests, I'm from a and Lucien background as Spain and Portugal more specifically Portugal. I grew up in London, I was born and raised in London, I went to a normal Primary School growing up in central London, my school was nearby. And it was a predominately Christian school was Anglican. And I celebrated Christmas like everyone else. Easter I participated in all the things that people do in in the kind of a typical British household, religion could have played a nominal role in my family life. My mom was a Catholic, and my father was secular, and how in his outlook and how he and how he behaved. And so my mum had these kind of traditions that she took from from kind
of a Catholic upbringing, I would pray every night before going to sleep, the Christian Lord's Prayer. And I've always, I've always done so since I was
up until I was a teenager.
And there wasn't there was not no consideration for any religious strictures or any religious, you know, viewpoint, it was just
this very vague, be a good person,
no guidance as to what being a good person is now I could follow society, and society would would say a whole number of things which are contradictory. I realized, when I was younger, much younger, that following what society told told me to be good, you know, can lead to Leads Leads to nice frustrations. And just even being sometimes an honest person or an open person doesn't always work out for you. It says, sometimes you have to lie to get ahead. Sometimes you have to manipulate other people. And I really dislike that I really disliked seeing that. And I kind of ask myself is this how human beings were intended to live? You know, this the hysteria, the prejudice.
Sometimes, you know, good people are blamed in society. And I in that sense, being a good person was very ambiguous to myself, because I saw good people doing bad things. And I realized that well, there must be something wrong the hit wrong here. Surely there must be something more to this. And so this kind of in a way, began my journey to try to understand the truth behind the reality.
I was a very strong believer in in Christianity, I used to be obviously worried about going to hell being a bad person, I wanted to get to heaven. I was taught that at my school. But I think one day it, it kind of dawned on me that there are different religions around the world. And if I was born in another country, I'd be a different religion. So does geography dictate my belief in and does geography dictate what is truth? So in that, I started to ask myself, that, how do I know what's the truth? Maybe I'm following the wrong religion. So what I did was, I left Christianity.
And I still kept my belief in God. But I was going to try to find what the correct religion was, or the correct belief or the truth or whatever it might look like wherever you might be. So so I was devout as a normal Christian.
But I never believed that Jesus was God. Now, but no one ever told me that Jesus was God. It seemed to me when I was reciting the hymns in the mass, that Jesus was a special person, and that he had a special title called Son of God.
But he wasn't God because there was always Jesus. And then then there was God is it and you see the Bible that Jesus and He taught and he prays to God, and there's God and Jesus there and to, you know, the two different persons. And so I set up for myself on a very ambitious project for a 11 year old and that was, I would research everything. I could
Find from human knowledge,
everything that was currently known and deduce or decipher some kind of truth out of that to find the truth, the hidden truth, the code, so to speak, out of all, everything that human knowledge knows. So I got into science, I got into researching every kind of religion and cult you can think of. So there's Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Rastafari ism, Mormons moonies, various Christian cults in the American Southwest, you name it, I read it, I researched it. In fact, it was quite odd, is at the time, I didn't think Islam had any kind of truth to it, because it seems so simple. It was so simple for now, the truth must be some deep, profound mystical idea, it can't be so simple like
this, I'll put it to the back. And I'll go through all these in a mystery coats, the more mysterious the better. As I kind of went on in my research, I noticed there was there were certain holes and gaps with all these different beliefs. And I know I was very young, but there was some very, very, kind of very blatant contradictions, which I encountered. So for example, I was researching Buddhism. And the concepts which I encounter with Buddhism was that, you know, the purpose of our life is to escape suffering by reaching enlightenment. And I, okay, what's enlightenment? Or enlightenment is when you know, man's purpose in life. But then, but but if my purpose in life is to
reach enlightenment, denying enlightenment is knowing one's purpose in life, then I know it, but I'm enlightened. Or why am I and these were the kind of problems which I encountered. And I just said, Okay, I discount that. And I went through again, Christianity just in Christianity seemed like a just a bunch of assertions, which weren't backed up by any evidence. And Judaism seem very focused on the history of one particular race throughout time. And I was looking for something that was more universal that apply to all human beings that all human beings would be equally under.
And then I bumped into Islam, and the thing I bumped into Islam was the job.
But you see, the the gnarliest would be the unbiased
atheist on the panel, so to speak, because he's like, Yeah, it does. And you know, there is no morality, there is no inherent meaning to anything. Why don't you just admit this? My fellow agents, but why don't you admit it? embrace
the the truth, there is no truth.
Yeah, so a good friend and brother of mine is Paul belong Williams. And for some time, how long has he been in five years? I think.
Yeah, I think we, we met at as Olsen brothers having having a dinner together
in central London, and they they introduced me to him as a as a new revert to Islam. So we go on, and as we always do, well, my name is Ron Ola. I'm a researcher with Muslim debate initiative. And this is an organization which Abdullah and Paul Williams set up to promote Dawa. Islamic Dawa work and apologetics. I didn't know about them until two years ago. And there was a very high profile debate with a Christian evangelical scholar from the United States, who had come to do a debate with Abdullah in a church. And I was really impressed. And I came up to these guys afterwards and asked if I could get involved and took it from there. When I first came across Abdullah, I was very
impressed with how approachable he was, he was tireless for the Dawa. And he was actually I was surprised to find well known around London, because he's, he's always invited to sort of circles. He's invited to universities to participate in interfaith dialogue or debates. And he's, he's just really puts in so much effort and time for his data work. And he makes a lot of time for other people who want to get involved, and to get us up to speed and get us out there and also involved in medalla. So he's a great motivator as well. Like many reverts when we became Muslim. We wanted to share our beliefs and discuss our beliefs with other people, as many people as we can. And part of
that we were involved as going out and we'd go to places in London like speaker's corner on Sundays to debate and with all the people who have the kind of strange kind of wacky people you can find there. And we know we do this quite a lot and the color questions we'd receive from speaker's corner from online from both
We make us go back and research. We research lots about about our faith and belief. And it came to a point where we thought, Well, why don't we organize something? A, why don't we come together and become organized? We have a lot of us have expertise in a number of fields of Islamic learning, and Western philosophy and various other, you know, specialisms as Why can we all come together and use these expertise to engage the wider public,
get intellectuals who are non Muslim, who are atheist, Christian, or secular, whatever, and how to hold a public debate where we can invite people, and they can see us debating, and the people can make their own minds up when both sides are presenting their case like a court, and the people become the jury.
And also, at the same time, we can encourage people to be able to openly discuss their ideas and openly engage, we wanted to do this because people, some people thought that they can't talk about Islam. And other people thought that Muslims don't let you talk about Islam. And both are wrong, you can talk about Islam, and you can discuss and you can criticize Islam. But in a fair platform, you know, you can be able to accept criticism as well. And let's have a open Frank debate about these things, and kind of get rid of these misconceptions that pervade our society. And so because of this, we set up the organization called the Muslim debate initiative. And it was me pouring a number
of other brothers. And we've been hosting debates, or doing lectures at universities and churches and mosques, to kind of help get people thinking, how to get people debating how get people discussing with each other. And we want to make these these kind of events, very popular in all communities, because everyone should enjoy debating debate allows you to hear questions you wouldn't normally ask yourself. So isn't this something that people need? I think, if you desperately need is not answers. They need questions that comes first.
One of the first things I saw with Islam
was the woman's job. And it sounds quite odd to say that, but I saw women wearing the hijab and I just asked myself a question, which was, why does Islam want women to wear hijabs? What's the significance of this? What's it? What is pharma trying to achieve? What is the aim that Islam is trying to achieve? And that's a question that I don't think very few people,
you know, ask themselves, suppose it's unfortunate. And so I started to kind of query this, and I looked into this. And I thought about it. And it seemed to me, you know, that there was a particular intention behind this. At the time, I was on, on a TV there was this show called alimak, Bill, strange, strange, wacky show about an erotic working woman. And it showed that in her, he was a lawyer, and she in a place where she worked, there was a lot of sexual tension, a lot of sexual politics. It was every single show was it was about this. And of course, to some degree, obviously, what I could see in my in my life was it is this kind of it was backed up to maybe a more limited
extent, but still, there was this, you know, sexual tension, sexual politics. And so it seems to me that Islam's intention was to try to regulate and prevent sexual tension from society so that people could actually go and cooperate and do work, you know, work to get up professionally, without this silly sexual tension or all these problems. And I thought, well, that's quite, that's actually quite profound. That is, you know, you know, Islam, objective for this. And then I thought about it. You know what, this is the only religion I've encountered,
which seems to have something to say about society.
And since society is part of human life, then surely, if no man has a purpose in life, then that should have relevance to their life, and to society. I miss out this is when it started to sound to me, that this is exactly what I should expect from religion. From my belief in the garden, I always have believed in God. So this is perhaps my first encounter with Islam, and it left a obviously a lasting impression.
we can go to the mosque, Regent Park mosque, London central mosque, as is otherwise known.
We got an event today a big debate. We've been planning it for a couple months.
It was arranged with a Christian speaker Reverend and a colleague of mine an MDI called
Paul Williams, otherwise known as below,
and they're going to do a big, big debate, it's going to be a very amicable one very friendly one, we wanted to kind of use it to open up the Muslim Christian community to in increased dialogue and discussion, and robust and Frank open discussion. And so we depart Moscow is quite an interesting venue, especially because I can't remember nothing anyone else can remember any any time where
it has actually held a debate and they've had many interfaith kind of events down there but never actual a public debate. So this has actually been quite interesting for central mosque. So it's gonna be quite interesting day.
I'm looking forward to kind of seeing
hopefully a mixed audience. We've been trying to call out to the Christian community to come and attend and see a their side speak outside speak and have a mutual discussion between
and yeah, we should be okay. It's gonna be hosted in the library.
And, and also, the great thing about the central mosque is obviously it's, it's in my area, and it's always kind of been my local mosque. From when I was when I first converted to Islam. It's not necessarily that the closest place to pray for me, but because it was quite big. And because it was, had a quite a diversity of Muslims there, especially converts, like all reverts back to go there. So it's actually we actually had that little place in my heart
while for many years, and so I'm actually quite happy that to mix one of my, my interests, which is Darwin debate and, and my kind of local mosque. So that was quite good. And hopefully, we can continue to stay in more mosques. We've done it all the mosque before. But we'd like to hopefully, continue more debates and events with Christians and atheists and others and many other mosques versus quiet, hopefully a very interesting day, and we'll see how it goes.
I just pop up somewhere.
We need to offload a lot of stuff. So
Welcome to everyone for coming. And thank you for coming to an event hosted by Regent Park mosque otherwise known as London central mosque, and the Muslim debate initiative. My name is Abdullah andalusi.
I must say this a very interesting event for myself on salvation in Christianity in Islam. I was also I was a Christian and ankling Christian many years ago, and now Muslim, so I've had a foot in both faiths, you could say, I would just like to say that it's very good that these this event can these events can happen. debates between Muslims and Christians can can occur. I like to remind everyone of the first debate in the mosque ever to occur, which was 1500 years ago, when the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam invited Christians from Nigerian into the Prophet's mosque the first mosque ever built, where they debated the Christians. So the Christians disagreed with the Prophet
Mohammed Salah, some on some of his points, and they left amicably amicably And not only that, but the problem amateurs sort of invite them to pray and use it is multiple for their for their prayers for Christian prayers in the mosque and some of the some of one of the Muslims that was shocked by this, but this is the Prophet Mohammed's you know, some analysis his his his way. So continuing the Prophet Mohammed's tradition and sadhana is very good to see that these events are happening and happening very amicably and inshallah they'll continue today amicably. I embraced Islam at 14 years old. And it was it was strange because it It seemed like a personal experience. What I mean by that
is, there was no one else in my area that I knew who was Muslim, and there's no mosques in my in my area. And it was just a it really did feel like in the in the app almost absolute sense of the word, a personal and individual decision. I was alone in this. I was interested in Islam. I was very interested in Islam because of my first encounter with with the idea and the concept of the of the hijab, but that
on to me looking at our Islam that is a holistic system. It seems to answer every aspect of human life,
human organizations or societies human psychology.
It answered the phenomenon of the universe overall, I would say, you know, the human existence and our encounter with universal human, you know, being born or finite life, a mixture of pleasure and suffering,
reproducing all these these these phenomena, Islam provided this meaningful narrative. And I was a skeptic at heart. I'm a natural skeptic. So the way I kind of interact with something I try to disprove it. That's how I do it. I try to find holes in Islams
beliefs, I try to find inconsistencies or irrationalities. I try to find maybe some aspects of reality which Islam couldn't explain. So it's the equivalent of a person
who you know, believes that the earth obviously is flat. And then you say, well, I've this The earth is round. So you'll know your belief it can't be right. And I was trying to find some evidence from reality that disproves Islam. I was, I was really struggling so hard, the more I tried to disprove Islam, more Islam gave me answers. And the more these answers were more profound, and then the more they made even more sense, and it just, in a way, it was a process of elimination, or the belief systems from, you know, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, and atheism, all these other belief systems that are based on blind faith
just weren't consistent. They were many holes and gaps and problems within their, within their worldview. On the button, have a worldview. But Islam had a very consistent worldview. And it made rational sense. And I think I like many other converts, that I've encountered. We embrace Islam, because it quite literally nothing else makes sense. Except Islam. And it answers everything beautifully. And not in it's not out of an emotional, I'm not an emotional person when it comes to choosing my belief, because emotions can lie to you, they can deceive you, but rather, it made very strong with dare I say perfect, intellectual sense. And this is why I felt that I, I have to call
myself most I have to be a Muslim. And I didn't, I had no one. I didn't know any Muslims. And at this point, I was in secondary school. So I didn't know any Muslims to actually tell me what to do about with Islam. I was reading a lot about what Islamic Islam says in its geology, not so much about ritual practice, or things I wanted to know the concepts of Islam, what Islam actually believes, rather than just the details of the practices. So when at the time, I wanted to become a Muslim, and I thought, I'm going to I'm going to be a Muslim, I didn't know actually how to I didn't actually know that you had to say Shahada to be a Muslim. And my equivalent of my Shahada is me
coming into my house, and meeting my mom and saying to my mom, you know, you know, Mom, you know what, I think I'll be a Muslim.
And maybe my mom thought it was a fad. Maybe my mom just fought that, you know, kids in their phases, and she goes, Okay, son, whatever you want. And that was it. That was my Shahada, and no pomp or circumstance, it was just as as casual was that, only, I think, later on. I learned obviously, as I started to get into Islam and learning about the kind of the practices of Islam, the highlight about the Shahada that you have to say it, it wasn't sufficient. It wasn't just, oh, so as long as I believe this sentence, then I'm a Muslim. It was you have to testify it because that affirms that affirms your belief. And so that was my Shahada