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was Salatu was Salam ala Rasulillah. Or praise you to Allah may Allah peace and blessings be on the last messenger of Allah.
Before going into the topic
from darkness into light,
I would like to thank
the organization which, when I first went to Medina, myself, and a couple other American families, who in difficult times
which made it possible for us to continue our studies there. Because of the time when we joined the University, they had no arrangements for married
students, there were only dormitories for single students on campus, that was it 100 Things have changed since then they have all kinds of dormitories for my students now off campus. So Hamdulillah, nobody has to face what we had to face. But at that time, that was a critical point, in my journey, to the understanding of Islam, a critical point which Allah knows best had that support, and I've been there from the army office in Riyadh, understanding our situation,
Allah knows whether I would have managed to continue my studies or not, because I had an obligation to our family, provide for the child.
So that is a service which cannot be forgotten. And it's also evidence of Whammies concern for students all over the world. And most countries that I've been to, and I've seen evidence of their efforts. So I would encourage students here, the students from various backgrounds to visit the office and take benefit from it, and utilize its resources to help in conveying Islam and spreading it its teachings in your individual countries.
Last night, at the lecture in the masjid
a question was raised at the end, which asked about my route to Islam.
And the organizers
had forgotten or didn't realize that that's what I was supposed to talk about tonight.
And I forgot also,
I did tell people that it was possible for them to hear this story. As I told it in Australia, about 12 years ago.
It was recorded, and it's on YouTube, called my way to Islam.
So it wasn't really necessary for me to go into all the details. So I told about some of the basic
stages that I traveled.
The early stage. As I mentioned, I was raised a nominal Christian.
Not that my parents
thought we should just raise him as a nominal Christian. But that was just how young people at my time at my, in my time, were dealing with the church. It was nominally I
moved with my family to Malaysia
when I graduated from high school,
I was here
as a non Muslim.
My family had moved to Sabah
and I went to school there I was already finished high school in Canada.
My parents had me do a levels prepare for a levels through distance learning, which was
really a trial,
something that I just really couldn't handle, I try it, but it just wasn't working. Anyway,
most of my time was spent there enjoying myself.
And this is the period of time when I got
deeply into the music scene.
I had a group
and we were known, or I was known at that time as the Jimi Hendrix of East Malaysia.
Jimi Hendrix being my idol all the time.
I had my bass player and drummer and
we used to do, concerts, etc.
There it is Malaysia.
After a few years, I went back to Canada, my parents got me into Simon Fraser University and East Coast Canada, which accepted students with grade 12.
i The other parts of Canada required with 13. But
new system, the American system was beginning in Canada with only grade 12 and four years of university.
So I went to Simon Fraser University began studying biochemistry. And
while studying there, as a student, still playing music,
I started to realize that there were some serious issues in the world.
Right there in North America, I came to understand the plight of black Americans, as well as
Indian Americans or Native Americans are there for too now, American Indians.
I felt there was a need to
change the situation. I wanted to
make a better place this world a better place.
And what was being presented at the time of the university, by the professors in sociology and psychology departments,
was communism. That was what was being offered.
I started to read about it.
And I accepted it.
during that period of time, I went back to Malaysia during the summer.
And when I got back there, I found that my family actually they told me about it, but I, I found this situation my family had adopted and Indonesian boy,
Indonesia, Indonesian boy who
father was dead.
Being an Indonesian, though born in East, Malaysia,
there was no future for him in higher studies.
felt she wanted to help him.
And the only way that she could do so to take him back to Canada to further his education was to adopt him. And that was already a tradition in her side of the family. She already had like four or five adopted brothers and sisters. I mean, their family was still five or six people. Her mother just used to love to help others. So she adopted him into the family. So when I went back, I met him
stayed there throughout the summer.
And I noticed that sometimes when I would go into his room, he had his own room. I would go into his room, I would find him on the ground with his head on the ground.
And I closed the door went back out, you know, I talked to my brother and sister Sit down. What's he doing?
Sometimes you came in. We found him like that too.
So we were just wondering what's going on what is this? But we didn't ask him.
And he never said anything.
What happened was
we entered into as I was still there into Ramadan.
Then, in order this mom was getting up really early in the morning,
and she was preparing food for him.
What's this? Why?
My brother sister in law.
And that's how it is every year around this time. It seems they do this.
we also noticed,
I noticed anyway, my brothers sisters, they noticed it earlier. They pointed out that every time mom and dad when they whenever they had a meal, which was a meal using pork, right?
She would cook fish for him.
Why is that?
He doesn't eat pork.
Pork is the favorite food.
North American food.
North Americans love the big
it was something strange. Couldn't figure it out what was actually going on here. Anyway,
my vacation was over, I went back to university. And
in the Communist Party, we had a student revolt shut down the university, took it over.
Eventually University was reopened back in classes. But I felt I really didn't need to be here anymore.
So I was just finished my third year, I left school went down to the states and linked up with a communist party down in the states in California, spent time there, then
moved back to Canada. But back to Toronto, which is where I was raised.
And as I mentioned yesterday, I eventually became dissatisfied with communism.
It didn't really seem to have the answers. Morally, I could see it was totally out to lunch
angles, were saying that
the family is the place of oppression of women. It's better for people not to have families, just males and females. We get cares to look after the kids.
And so the relationships, families, people who already already had families before they joined the party, etc. Their families just broke up fell apart.
And I saw people who were unscrupulous. I mean, it became clear to me I remember one day after
rally, which you raise money for some political prisoners. And
I needed to get some cigarettes. I didn't have enough money. I taught talk to one of the people that was handling the finances. I said, you know, can you lend me some money to buy some cigarettes? There no problem. They opened up the money which had been gathered and raised, you know, for the political prisoners saying
that that's, you know, that's their money isn't it's for them. It's not a no problem. You know,
we pay for our rent, we, you know, parties problem.
I didn't like that really.
But it was symptomatic.
When I went back to Toronto,
seeing what was happening with communism with regards to capitalism, communism was losing out. Capitalism was winning the battle the economic world that
there was a failure, communism
and reading the history Mark.
they were relatively okay. But when Stalin took over,
Mao Zedong, millions massacred why bourgeoisie, you can't reform them. This these are the enemies, the only way is to eliminate them. very vicious, harsh system.
So, as I mentioned before
that period, I,
a close friend of mine who was in the party with me, who was in fact, actually a Maoist. I was the most strongest of the communist factions
memorize the Red Book outside to
she accepted Islam that just blew me away. Wow, how why?
she explained that it was not what I thought it was, Islam is different. It's not like the other religions, etc, etc. So I started to read and then I told you yesterday, that after reading the book of Muhammad Cotto, I was convinced intellectually that Islam was the way
spiritually, I denied that there was a God for about four years by then
there is no God.
Even before that, I said, growing up, I mean, even as a Christian, he really didn't think too much about God. I mean, it was just been here, God, but usually, it's like, god dammit.
That's where we heard it most. Right.
now, this was an issue. If I was to become a Muslim, I, I had to address this issue. I really didn't know
where to go on this. I talked with some people who already converts around me but
I wasn't convinced
spiritually. What happened was the communist I was living in, you know, as communists, we were living in communes, meaning that it's a communal house. We rented a house together, everybody just has a room in their common kitchen. Everybody uses no males, females, everybody's their individual rooms. And in my room, I used to have a library. I used to read a lot so I collected a lot of books.
because when you live communally, you know, people go in and use other people's stuff, because we looked at it like, even though it was officially mine, it was everybody's, so people used to come into my room and borrow books, they would sit at a table and chair and eat, sorry, and read the books. Then one day
when I'd gone into the room, I'd lay down the bed to go to sleep.
And there are a couple of people had come in, were reading at the desk.
I was slipping into sleep, but still aware of the room, sort of halfway between sleep and waking.
And whilst I was in that state, I could see myself
walking with a bike, because I used to ride a bike walking with my bike to this what looked like a warehouse, the door
and I walked into the warehouse, the warehouse was pitch black, dark.
I kept walking in.
And as I walked in further and further, I would always turn back and check to see is the door still open.
Further I went, the smaller the door got the light,
the light outside.
It was getting smaller and smaller, but somehow I was just given to keep going in.
Until Until as you can imagine I reached the point where I turned back and there was no light.
I was in pitch darkness.
At that point. This fear came over me which I had never experienced in my life before.
It was a fear was just shook me to the root
Have my soul really, I felt death that I was dying. If I didn't get out of this place, I would never get out.
That's what went through my mind.
So I started to scream for help.
Because somehow, in spite of all of this darkness and everything, I could still see those people sitting at the table.
So I was calling out to them to help me.
But in that state, and I've spoken spoken to people, other people different times where they've found themselves in a similar state.
At this point, when I tried to scream, words just wouldn't come out of my mouth, they were just stuck in my throat.
No sounds would come out. I was screaming in my brain, but nothing was coming out of my mouth.
They couldn't hear me.
I did that for a bit. And then I realized that it was all over.
They couldn't help me.
I couldn't get myself out.
I was finished.
So I just gave up. That's it. It's all over.
When I gave up like that, I woke up, sat up in my bed. Wow, that was really a shock.
Really a shock?
You know, I sat there for a bit nervous, just thinking, wow, what was that?
And then it hit me, you know, hey,
the people in the room couldn't help you.
You couldn't help yourself.
So who got me out of this?
Obviously, it was somebody beyond me,
beyond the people in the room along with me.
And this is when I started to feel a sense of God being there.
So that was my, you could say spiritual experience, which opened me up then to say, yeah, let me go ahead with this and become a Muslim. So I told my friends who had become Muslims. Yeah, I want to become Muslim now. So they
did the ceremony of shahada declaring faith declared my faith. Okay, what do I have to do now? You gotta pray.
Okay, so how do we pray?
So they told me you stand up. I have to say these things. They wrote it out on a piece of paper for me.
And then you say Allahu Akbar, you bow and you stand back up again. And then you prostrate on the ground, said, Hey,
Yeah, this is what we do. We Muslims do it. I said, What? That's what my brother is that adopted brother of mine.
He's a Muslim. He's been a Muslim there with us all these years.
I was shocked.
By then, my parents had come back to Canada. And they were in Ottawa Capitol.
And he was out there going to university.
Immediately after I finished learning the Salah, I got on the next train out to Ottawa.
So I went there, and came to the house. And the first person I met my brother had come it opened the door.
He opened the door and said, stepped in. Said, you're a Muslim?
He said, Yeah.
Well, I'm a Muslim today. Oh, that's great. You know, I said, What are you white all these years that you are with us? And you never said anything about this? You never told us about Islam?
How could you do that man? He said, Well, you know,
I didn't feel good to try to explain Islam to the family because your parents had done so much for me. You know, I didn't want to introduce anything which would create confusion or bad feelings or, you know, disruption to the family. As I said, I couldn't say it
anything. I said, No, that's not right.
You have to say something, regardless of what the consequence was going to be. You couldn't have left us all these years and not say anything. I was really upset.
Eventually I calmed down and you know, okay, okay, right.
What to Do you know how the law I found this lab, better late than never. So I informed my parents. And unlike what happens to many converts, my parents were quite happy.
They were quite happy with my acceptance of Islam.
Obviously, my mom knew about Islam, both my mother and father knew about it, because this getting up for her and preparing for her to do that she had to know about Islam, you know, preparing fish instead of pork. And she had an idea. In fact, she had studied something about Islam, she had taken a course in Toronto University of Toronto, she taken a course when she was doing her Master's, to get a course in
the called World Religions, maybe it was called comparative religion, something like this anyway, she told me, and she even had the book still at the books, I took them.
She told me that, you know, she used to attend this class. And the class when she studied the class on Islam, she took the course on Islam, she found that the professor was attacking Islam, in every single issue, every issue he would bring up about Islam, you would attack it, look at these people. And then they said,
so she felt something's not right here. You know?
So she, eventually she stood up in class, and she said, Listen,
if there is nothing good in this religion,
then what are we taking it for? What do we read? What are we studying it for?
And I said, Well, this is a requirement of the university, blah, blah, blah, and
but she wasn't happy. She went back to the the library, and she chose her own books to read. Instead of what he had prescribed. She went and found some other books, the history of Islam by hitty,
Lebanese, Christian, Arab, but he presented Islam in a relatively neutral way presented the facts.
So she came to understand Islam in a different light.
And she would go back into the classroom. And when the teacher was making his negative comments, she would question and raise other issues. She was challenging him in the class.
And it became every class became an argument.
And she didn't get top marks on her assignments.
She was passed, she did pass with a BA, she should have been really a student.
And later, she came to understand the professor was a Jewish professor.
Say he's Jewish professor teaching Islam.
Or, as we say, teaching Miss Lam.
Anyway, the point is that this she had this exposure, she had shared that with my father. So they had this background, this understanding, when they moved to Malaysia, they already had the background of the belief system, people etc, etc.
they were, as I said, then accepting of me
choosing to become a Muslim, because at least now, for in case of my mother, at least now you believe in God and you're worshiping God. So good thing.
And for my father, because he had been a socialist, when in his own youth
realize the weaknesses much earlier. We used to have arguments at the dinner table all the time. So now the arguments were over.
So everything was peaceful. He was fine with it.
I was happy family was happy with me accepting Islam.
After accepting Islam, as I told you yesterday, I had
had gone through this experience when I started to seek knowledge of Islam
and experience which led me to conclude that the only place that I'm going to be able to get correct and accurate knowledge of Islam would be back
to the sources where Islam came from Arabia. Let me go to Medina. I got a scholarship, I went there and began to study.
So I studied, finished off my BA there in Medina.
And during the course of my studies, my family moved to other parts of the world.
My father, mother, they moved to Northern Nigeria. They taught there there both teachers and trainers of teachers, teacher trainers.
They were there for a couple of years, they went to Yemen,
and taught in Yemen, South Yemen.
I had seen an ad in a newspaper for a job of setting up a school, actually, it was an English medium international school in Riyadh. And I passed the add on to my parents and they got the job. But they went up to Riyadh. And they set up an international actually turned up this International Islamic school.
They set up the boys and girls sites.
So when I finished my studies in Medina, I went out to Riyadh,
to do my master's,
I was invited by my father, to come and teach Islamic Studies at the boys side of the school school became was known as manometry at schools.
And that was a new challenge for me the knowledge I had gained, I had to now translate it into the teaching media. I wasn't really a teacher, I got tips from my parents, you know how to organize lessons, these types of things. And I began the process of teaching.
Now, during this period of time, actually, from the time I accepted Islam, I had tried to convince my parents to become Muslims. I tried,
talk to them,
try to do whatever research I could in Christianity, etc.
During this period, my father told me, you know, actually,
from the time I was 14 years old,
I stopped believing that Jesus was God.
His father was a minister, and the church Presbyterian minister, so he was raised in that religious environment. But when he went to school did a little bit of study of logic.
He concluded that Jesus could not possibly have been God.
he, from that point onwards, from the time he was 14, he only prayed to God alone.
Who was known as God the Father.
His brothers and sisters used to call him the atheist.
Because for them, if you didn't believe Jesus was God, then you don't believe in God.
So he had carried that all the way along. And then I understood why he never used to go to church. My mom used to go and take us kids, but Dad never used to go. So that was where that was coming from. Anyway, so he was pretty close. And so I tried to work on him, but
Whatever I tried, discussions, etc. They said, slam is a good religion. You know,
we can appreciate it.
most of our best friends are Muslims.
That's enough for us.
Okay, they're happy.
So that's how things continued.
At one point,
while they were in Saudi Arabia
I had finished off my masters
And I had prepared a book for a booklet really for explaining Islam to non Muslims, it was called
the true religion of God. I'd given that as a lecture in a football field of Filipinos.
And after the lecture, about 20 of them accepted Islam.
And I transcribed the lecture and wrote it up as a booklet. And it was printed 10s of 1000s translated to different languages, and became one of the most popular books in Saudi Arabia, for Tao. Anyway, after few years, couple of years, I
felt that the book needed to be rewritten because it was transcribed from a lecture. And the way you speak is really different from the way that you write. Right? So although I'd done some editing, I wanted to rewrite it. So I began and rewrote the whole book as a booklet.
after I'd finished, I took it to my parents.
And I said to them, Listen, you know, I'm going to publish this republish this book booklet.
Could you go over it for me, please? You know, edit it.
My dad was
an English specialist Master's in English.
And Mama, and is very good. So I said, Could you please go over it for me? And anything you find in it, which is not correct, of course, grammar, catch my grammar, whatever.
But even the ideas, the concepts, if it's not clear, you know, I'm making illogical conclusions, whatever, let me know. So I gave it to them. They went through it. I came back,
asked them, they said, Okay, this, you need to change this, this, this, this, guess it fine. I went changed it.
Brought it back again. They went through it again. Yeah, that's good. Now.
I say okay, it's there's nothing wrong in it. Everything is clear and said, Yeah, that's fine.
So I said, so why don't you accept this lamp
they smiled. I
said, Okay, give us a Quran.
So I gave them a Quran to read.
Another year passed.
And they went back to Canada.
And at that point, I
went to the UAE.
I went to Canada, from UAE to visit them.
And about the day after I got there,
my mother came to me and said, I want to accept Islam.
She said, Listen, don't tell your father.
I want him to make his own decision. Right? To decide for himself.
The next morning, he came to me and said, I want to accept this.
that was the high point in my life. Because having given our I told you about it yesterday, we were in the Eastern Province, you know, 3000 troops accept Islam, people accept Islam all around us, and then my own parents.
Anyway, I asked my mom afterwards said, What caused you to make this decision after all this time? And why did you decide she said, you know,
you remember when you came to visit me in Judah, that move down to Judah?
And I told you
that there was something in the house. I had gone and visited her agenda. And she felt there was something in the house she said she would look there would be some move, something would move and what is this?
What's going on here? You know, so what she did was she knitted across, she knitted across, right, and she put it over a doorway
but it was still there.
So when I came down to visit
She told me about it. You know, she said, You know this. So I said, Okay, give me the Quran that I
And I read Surah Al Baqarah second chapter of the Quran, the whole Surah there, okay? And this is what the Prophet SAW Solomon said that it will dry out the evil forces, the jinn
what the West called ghosts and things like this.
So, I recited it, I read it,
and then I left.
And actually, it just went from my mind after that.
But she said, You know, when you left,
There wasn't there anymore.
She admitted the cross, it didn't work. You read the Quran, and it worked.
That quarter, you know, as giving some additional support to Islam being the right choice.
as I mentioned to you was the high point in my
life at that time, parents accepting Islam.
In, in the UAE, I began to teach finished off my PhD in Wales began to teach in the American University in Dubai,
in the UAE.
And I taught there basically for 10 years and set up a data center called Islamic Information Center in the way
and Hamdulillah. Quite a few 100 People accepted Islam from that center over the years.
And in the beginning of 2000, I set up a department of Islamic Studies at a university in Edge man.
I left the American University because I wasn't getting the opportunity to set up a department so I set up this department in Islamic studies of Islamic studies in Preston University aged man.
My hard stuff and began teaching Islamic studies there I prepared a curriculum based on what I'd studied in Medina, looked at what was there and as her in undermining some university looked at the universities that were around and tried to put together the most comprehensive syllabus for the BA studies there.
After a couple of years, teaching in that program, I moved to Qatar.
And there I tried to set up something similar wasn't able.
In 2007, I set up a program of BI studies connected as distance studies with undermine Islamic University. So the degree was issued for those students from
on demand Islamic University in the Sudan.
And at the same time that I did that, I started a diploma program online.
I set up this university program, Islamic online university as training preparing to actually launch a full scale ba ma PhD program online, so it was sort of like a training period.
So we started with short courses, something like the alcohol for mother courses.
1015 lectures long, and
I offered it free.
And that was something I didn't realize how much people wanted access to this knowledge
that within the first year, we had 1500 students. By the second year we had 4,503rd year we hit 10,000 plus students. By the fourth year we had hit 35,000 students, the numbers were just you know exploding.
And we had a greater and greater region. So this is the program which was introduced you the diploma program where all of the courses are absolutely free.
And there are no requirements to get in no age requirements, no certificate requirement.
It's nothing you,
you register, get your code and go ahead and study what you want to study when you want to study how you want to study. It's all there.
And last year,
we began the BA program and the slogan of Islamic University is basically changing the nation through education.
Because the issue of Dawa calling people to Islam is something that has always been dear to me. You know, despite teaching in university, etc, I was always involved on the ground.
Explaining Islam, whether it's in university settings, Institute, etc.
Clarifying mainly misconceptions that people have about it, you know, presenting the message of Islam, clearly, especially to Westerners, people from
Western influenced cultures.
VA program was begun last year. However, the BA program because of the fact now that we had to have times, you can't run it, like the way we were doing the diploma program, we had to have requirements, people had to be at least High School. And we had to have a register, I was full time etc. So because we have to hire people. Now, the diploma program has basically about 25 volunteers from around the world. There, wherever they are, they work online, so the whole everything is functioning completely online.
For the BA program, of course, now, we had to make hard copies of documents and create files, and all these other kinds of things. So some costs had to come up. So we introduced a registration and examination fee. But the course fees, no course fees, people can study as many courses as you want. It's the same each semester would be, depending on where you are, according to the UNESCO breakdown of nations, under developed, developed, highly developed, etc, we gave scales from $20 to $60 $60, if you're in the US, $20, if you're in Africa,
India, this is the scale that we developed, and Hamdulillah, that a lot of people have responded to it, and are signing up and studying. And this we wanted to share with you this evening that you pass this information on to others, those of you that are studying in other fields, you can take individual courses, you don't necessarily have to take the whole ba course you can take part of the subject, some subjects that you're interested in. But
I just wanted to stress to you the importance of Islamic knowledge that you must access it,
regardless of the field that you're in.
Whether you're in engineering, or medicine, or
mathematics, teaching, whatever, as Muslims, we should have sufficient knowledge
of Islam to guide us.
This much knowledge is simple.
If you're happy,
then you need to know
the knowledge that Islam has, which deals with being a cab driver.
Can you pick somebody up? Who's got a case of beer in his hand?
Can you transport this person?
Islamically Is it permissible? You should know.
I mean, being a cab driver doesn't mean you're exempt.
There should be a difference between a Muslim cab driver and a non Muslim cab driver.
As a Muslim cab driver, there are guidelines that you have to follow as a non Muslim then just whatever the law says you must do this. You can't do that whatever. But beyond the overall governmental laws for Muslim we have the Sharia,
the Sharia, which touches every aspect of our lives.
So whatever we have to do, regardless of our professions, our circumstances
it is an obligation
Each and every one of us a religious obligation to have sufficient knowledge to do whatever is required of us
in a way which is pleasing to God. That's the bottom line.
What I need to know you don't necessarily need to know
what you need to know, I don't necessarily need to know.
But each and every one of us has a certain amount of knowledge that we must know when there's some basic knowledge that we all share. The five pillars of Islam, six pillars of Eman, this, that's basic basics. But beyond that,
in terms of how we live our lives, then there are various
areas of knowledge which we must access in order to live our lives correctly, according to the instruction of Allah subhanaw taala in the Quran, when he said, pull in a celebrity, or no Suki, mahiya Amati, Linda Europe, Bella Alameen, say, Indeed my prayers,
my fasting, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds
for our lives, to be truly for Allah.
follow the Sharia
whether the country follows it properly, or whatever or not, we as individuals are required to follow it. to whatever degree it is possible. We can't say, Well, no, the government doesn't do it. They don't it says it's their fault. If they're not applying it. No, that's not acceptable.
As much as you are able to do without breaking what is considered to be the law,
then you as an individual will have to answer before God whether you obeyed him in this life or not.
that was my journey.
And this is my mission. And I hope Inshallah, that many of you would share in this weather by joining the university programs, the free ones are the big ones, or at least passing that information on to others who may benefit if you can't