Finding the Path – Episode 1

Ashraf Schneider


Channel: Ashraf Schneider

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The speaker discusses their experiences with Islam, including their desire to be a decent person and return to their previous life as an admin. They also talk about their desire to return to their previous life as an admin and their travel plans. They emphasize the importance of having a safe environment to express one's beliefs and stay true to them. The speaker also mentions the importance of seeking God's help in life and thanks the audience for joining the platform. They plan to share their story in a future video.

AI Generated Transcript ©

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It was nothing like that it took away such a lot of trouble. Yeah. And it's only later now that I realized that the things that I wasn't settled with, in my will say, growing up us that were troubling, were actually prohibited in Islam. So the fact that it was then just taken away. Yes, it was, I felt quite liberating, which is strange when people view Islam as oppressive, especially with women, what was acceptable in society and community didn't really sit with what I was thinking. I was like projection of your life, you saw people at different ages. And as I got older, and try to fit in and do what they were doing, it just got worse and worse, I got more unhappier and really

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quite despondent with life. And I do remember thinking at the age of about 21, thinking, there must be something else out there a different way of life, but I don't know what it is. But there's something there that like a safety net, sort of cosmic thing. But yes, I definitely feel protected now than what I did before.

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Salam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh Peace, blessings and mercy be upon you all. Welcome to finding the path. Today we are honored with Sister Johanne. The will be sharing her story and her reversion to Islam with us. Peace and blessings be upon your system. How are you today? Good hamdulillah fantastic, that is really great to hear you 100 Lovato, I can't complain. And I'm very grateful to be able to share this journey with you today and to be able to speak with you regarding your path to Islam. It's a pleasure being here inshallah. So let's start things off. I would like to know, prior to Islam, what is the faith that you were growing up in? And how was your belief prior

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to embracing this? I grew up Church of England, not very involved in the church, up until about being 12 years old, I didn't go to Sunday school, which was what you did in the area at all the kids went to the local church. But since been about 12, you get interested in other things, friends, and then life just carries on. And unfortunately, the church got kind of left behind. I'm from a small town in Yorkshire. And that's just how culture went. Yeah, probably still the same, unfortunately. And your family members, for instance, your father and your mother were very practicing Christians. For some time, but not not not very much. We used to go to you know, like Palm Sunday, mothering

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Sunday, maybe Christmas on a Sunday, but not very much not like every week, we were there. And as I got older, as my brother got older, he tended to be less and less and less. I think as children, they were perhaps more motivated, but then just tapered off then. Yeah, yeah. I'd say after being about 12 years old ish. Yeah. And how do you find, for instance, like the values in your house during the time where they still like, kind of, you know, Christian bound?

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I didn't do very much, you know, like, like, kind of work on finding out like, what is a very Krisztian morals guidance, it was just mainly started. Yeah, I always felt Christianity was moral of story based parables, feeding of the 5000 works of Jesus, which were all nice and fluffy. You know, it was all cool. Nice. But you always felt that there was that's what you did on a Sunday. And then you carried on with your life didn't seem to go together. It was listen to a nice story. Nine o'clock on a Sunday morning, and then carry on with life.

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I didn't carry on with with anything else, unfortunately. I mean, they did teach, you know how to be a good person, a decent person, good manners, character, which was nice. But

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it just seemed there was life and there was church, and I didn't feel that they came together. Unfortunately, it was quite separate, which I suppose as it's gone morning, like a secular way. It's inevitable that that will happen. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And I think it is something that you can see in many people's lives. Oh, yeah. Definitely religious with Christianity, perhaps. So.

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They don't necessarily incorporate their own belief structures and systems into their lives and they daily, you know, rituals and social. So it was conscious along this journey that you went on, right? How did you first encounter Islam? Or were you first introduced to it? Right. It's quite a story, how I learned well, there's a lot of aspects to it. So I'll try and keep it concise. Make sense? So let's have a think. So

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He was growing up

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society community, the things that you did along your life's pattern, when you were eight years old 1012 1518. And what was acceptable in society, I seem to feel very well say uncomfortable about it. So so it was mainly to do around the things of say alcohol and how that impacted a person's life or the family life. Yes.

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I remember being very young, so not not far enough my son's age, wanting to go to the park. And you can go because such and such as now had too much to drink. Not that too much to drink means now that you are paralytic in my right.

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But you just can't operate a car. So So you felt restrictive, then we moved on to being a bit older. And it seems that you would expected at certain ages to be a certain thing. When you went out with your friends, it was acceptable for you to be drunk. And the things that happen when you get drunk. It was acceptable, and it didn't really matter. Things like Xena, like adultery, I would encounter a lot of

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not personally, but other people's moms, dads, whatever, kind of coming across those, but it seemed accepted. Not necessarily acceptable. I don't think that's the right word. But

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it was just like, No, no, it was a normal if it happens, it happened. If it didn't, it didn't. And nobody seemed to try and fix it or see where there was something coming from. So I'd say growing up.

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I would look them being 1215 1618 21 people older than me, and thank you. Well, that's gonna be my life. When I get to that age, yes, I now don't like it. Yeah.

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Do you get Do you get what I'm meaning. What was acceptable in society and community didn't really sit with what I was thinking. I was like projection of your life. You saw people at different ages. And as I got older and tried to fit in and do what they were doing, it just got worse and worse. I got more unhappier and really quite despondent with life. And I do remember thinking at the age of about 21, thinking, there must be something else out there. A different way of life. But I don't know what it is. Because this this is now in the 90s. In a small town in Yorkshire, its production. Oh, there's not a lot going on. You don't see much of the world. There wasn't the internet, that

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kind of social media. So you just saw what was going on. So I thought there's got to be something else out there. I just don't know what it is. Yeah. So one day in 1996, second of September 1996. I got on a plane. In fact, a month before that job, let's rewind, pumped up job. I was an admin person. So that meant I could slip in and out of work. It was okay. So I was working at a law firm and I just thought I've had enough so I just left giving me notice. And a month later, I boarded a plane and went to Israel. And so I stayed there a few months, went to Egypt and then after being you know, traveling rooms, and joining different people, different religions, different ways of life. I

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didn't find Islam there. But it was a stepping stone because then when I came back, I'd seen different people and how people were what they did different levels of different cultures, ways of life religions. I never really liked this and wanted to keep doing it. So made sure I didn't get a house boyfriend anything I just wanted to go traveling. So that's what I did for the next couple of years. I went traveling so I went to about half of the world will say yeah, and carried on experience in different people which was nice. Went to so Muslim countries but didn't necessarily get us the whole Islamic ethos. Yeah, going on for some reason holier than thou That's lovely. That

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chap singing there sounds cool. But that was about you know, that was that was an eyebrow not knowing anything about Islam. Really just what you saw on media really and what people said there was not much at all I've never really spoken to a Muslim up until being around the age of 20. So yeah, so So really, there was nothing so you're picking up on bass but nothing earth shattering but the thing is, yeah, fundamentally if you think back all the little steps, even just hearing a bong in the back show, yeah, all these things kind of you know, it kind of builds you up.

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According to it was like a foundation because I don't think you can go from

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02 That's true. You can't go from being say a Christian, Hindu Buddhist than next day. Yeah. Muslim, I think you'll have to roll with your personality. And because everybody's unique, exactly. Allah knows what he's doing. He is sorting you out. On dunya. He created you. So he's tweaking your Exactly. To your particular spirit. Yes, yes. He knows what to tweak. So he's busy tweaking. And so you finally get that or not. However it happens. Yeah. But that's how he was I went to many different countries. And then I ended up in Hollywood, over all places.

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Yes. And at this point, I wanted to stay somewhere for about a year. I didn't want to keep like having many holidays, going home coming, you know, to read him for knowing. So I stayed in Los Angeles, and I wanted to get a job. So I was advised that Hollywood was the safest place. I mean, this. You know, though, I don't know how true that was. But now this is now 1998. Yeah, September 98. And I stayed in a hostel on Hollywood Boulevard. And I asked if there were jobs, I was given a job by the manager. And then I was traveling with a friend. After a few weeks, she went home, my aim was to stay there for about another six months, and then to travel around Mexico on the whole carry

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on my life. But I started spending a lot of time with the manager there who was Muslim. Now because there wasn't any of my family, with me, family, friends, I could kind of it felt like I could like be not influenced by my previous life, my English nurse, and my culture was like it was if a door was opening. Now, after a period of almost a year of being with this manager, I'd have to leave

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America for various reasons, immigration reasons. So then he said he would come back with me. And then when we got back to the UK, we got married. We were in the UK, in my town of Yorkshire for about a year. Then we went to London for four years. And then we came here. We've been here for 16 years under the law. But I think what it was is because, because it's called the smile, by the way, the lightworker Call Manager So I think some

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it was no at the time. I don't know if he's gonna thank me for saying this vote, but he was reading Juma and doing Ramadan. That's what I learned there. And that's what I observed. So he wasn't doing a great deal of Islam practicing. But I think it was the difference will say more the character of say, well, we took away the drinking from a stamp. So it felt like you were extremely liberated, because then you could go anyway, because alcohol wasn't dictating. Oh, I'm sorry. I can't go there because I can't drive. Yeah, oh, sorry. No, no, now I've spent all the rent money on going out with me friends. So sorry, there's no money left. There was nothing like that it took away such a lot of

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trouble. Yeah. And it's only later now that I realized that the things that I wasn't settled with, in my will say, growing up years that were troubling, were actually prohibited in Islam. So the fact that it was then just taken away. Yes, it was I felt quite liberating, which is strange when people view Islam as oppressive especially with women, I felt it quite liberated just through his character. And he wasn't even doing as as as like the will say the fundamentals or the five times a day be urge Coulter or whatever, you know, the things that a man should be will say doing, but it was just enough that character was enough. And there was no influence of someone saying from my

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side, don't do that. You don't know what you're doing. You don't want to be with a Muslim. You don't know anything about them. You'll be soaked in and oppressed, terrorists all this kind of thing. There was no close he wasn't with any of his family or friends. So there was no me influencing him on that side of Oh, no, who wants to be anybody like her? She might be dodgy. And so we just carried on our and I picked up on Islam so that when we went to England, he said would you become Muslim? I based on without learning any kind of education at all. The knowledge was quite bizarre, quite silly, if you look at it, but it was based on that character. And I thought we find something

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spent time with someone with that character. And if my children have that character, then

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I think I'm onto a winner. That's just what I based it on. And then after taking the shahada I still didn't do anything we'll say Islamic. I didn't first I didn't wear a scarf. I just did all I did was and I remember when Herbie said you must learn about Islam you know, you must learn something. Yeah, I said, Well, I don't drink anymore and I don't mean bacon sandwiches

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Do you won't you know I thought that was it you know? That was the extent of it so I didn't do very much I just carried on back in England now in London. Just kind of little we carry on but not drink you know go no, you didn't bog thought I was Muslim. But then we moved here. And someone recommended that I go to discover Islam in Lansdowne and so that's why my education started Islamic education and it went it was strange it was went from doing nothing for six years yeah to like turbo we were in a Bugatti we were we were on our way, you know that Islamic identity was like, Supercharged. Yes. And it just created the more the more I sat in the class, the more I learned, and Alhamdulillah

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Allah Allah sent me some wonderful sisters to to teach me Yes. And they weren't very kind of have a full on like you must be doing this. You can't do this. Haram police and all that. They were just very kind, comfortable, easygoing, nurturing, loving, kind of sisters, and are spent time in a knowledge situation. And in a social setting in many different settings with their family, friends, and now just built up, yes, subconsciously, over a year things probably something like 2008 Yeah, where if you look at me, at the beginning of the year, and the end of the year, it had just crept upon me. And as a seller with alary tweets so much exists small sensitive time, that it was like, I

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felt so comfortable, and safe and secure. That growing up in comparison, when you looked back and read Owino and I felt wishy washy, and, um, with the like, church and the life aspect, this felt so encompassing, that such a safety net, yeah, was holding you and and protecting you that you felt that, like society, even if society messes, oh, it doesn't matter anymore, because there's some higher being some cosmic thing out there. This looking after you. So you actually don't need to rely on people. And ammonia may have been a person who relied on people too much to provide that safety, where people fell down, Allah was always there. So I always think, you know, there's that safety

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net, and he will sort out his plan is the best. And that's just how we've got here today. So I would say it's not through

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Quran and reading, necessarily Quran sunnah, although that came with it. Yeah. It was more comparing and contrasting, but living

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a compared lifestyle from this to this. And this seems to resonate a lot more. Definitely. Yeah. So after having done a bit of studies with regards to Yes. And with regards to the fundamentals of belief, yes. How was the concept of God and indifferent to what you used to believe in what you were taught as a child at the age of 12? Yes, that's true how you believe now. So I would say that I did believe in God. I don't remember consciously thinking there was a God. But I didn't know in what context, I didn't really think of it as a Krisztian. label of God. I thought he was there, but not. It was a wishy washy, kind of just a figurehead somewhere in the distance that didn't really apply

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to your life. Didn't make it make any difference whether you believed him or not. It didn't make any difference. If I was going to get that job if I was going to get something to eat at lunchtime if I was going to catch the bus or not whether I believed in God or not. It wasn't important, I would say, whereas now, it seems that God is with you all the time. And he's helping you all the time. So it is better for you to think of God now.

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because he almost seems like a self therapy. Yes. Because if you don't think of him, there's nothing to hang on to. And you just go through life with what you think and feel based on your upbringing, your situation, how life impacts you, and how you deal with it, which can go one way or the other. But now you've got something actually to hold on to. And you can hang on to Gordon, the DVD, the whole thing, the whole package that he comes with. One thing I found really beautiful about Islam is that you're constantly reminded of God throughout your day, following the footsteps of the Prophet. True. Whenever you enter a home, you're conscious of God and you seeking His protection in his home,

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before you would drink a glass of water. You know, you would invoke God and His names and attributes. And whatever you do in life, you're constantly reminded that reminder becomes, as you said, that comfort show that that safe space, that acknowledgement that the Creator is with me, he's right here right now. He's like looking after you. Exactly. It's like you're wrapped in a fluffy blanket. Yes, yes. He's Capetown, on a cold July morning, and you're wrapped in your letter blanket. That is how I will describe him is is helping you so that you can move through your day, your week, month, year, and there's something they're holding on to holding you, as in an embrace kind of thing

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in his hand, whatever concept that is. But there's something there that like a safety net, sort of cosmic thing. But yes, I definitely feel protected now than what I did before. Before you were like some blinded headless chicken moving from one day to the next. Now you're kind of, you can move gracefully kind of calmly, Allah knows best and that's the end of it. Or you just leave it you don't panic as much like, don't worry as much. Well, if we mess up, Allah knows best. There will be a lesson somewhere, hit me with the lesson. But you know, Allah knows best if you would like to leave one more word of advice you've given so much already. But to somebody that is, you know, seeking the

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path of Islam, somebody that is maybe interested in Islam, what would you tell them? I would say to spend time with Muslims.

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Read about the Prophet SAW asylums life what he did, sometimes it's to have a bit of both some, some reading some background, some knowledge of very simple, simple things. And you'll learn about his way of life and what he did. You know, just spend time with the certain aspects, perhaps a Ramadan, try fasting, just being with people. And I think you'll get the feel because I think you have to feel Islam in yourself, rather than saying, rather someone saying to you, do this deal with that, that's not going to get you to Islam. You're feeling it. And having that fluffiness inside is what's going to bring you to Islam, rather than the do's and the don'ts and read this and you read what you

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want to do, do what you want to do. And Allah will guide you, and guide you there. Yes, now hamdulillah in the end, this is Johan, I just want to thank you so much for joining us on this platform today. And also for opening up and for sharing your story. I think that the way in which you're related, you know, from where you came from, and being so driven with the secular society, not really ingrained within religion, and then you know, going upon this journey all over the world, to find Islam in Hollywood or Hamdulillah. It's, it's amazing, you know, we need to praise the creator for you know, the way in which he holds us up and to whom He wants us to be so shook on so

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much, once again, you know, for joining us and may the Almighty Creator, bless you and evermore guide all of us upon a journey. I mean, it's been a pleasure. Sure. Thank you. To the viewers. I just want to say thank you so much for tuning in today. May the Almighty Creator bless you may guide you and then but ever more guidance upon the path that is most pleasing to Him. So it's like an affair.