SHAFAQNA –As part of Shafaqna’ series on people’s journey towards Islam we have asked retired Professor in Applied Physics, Nathan Anderson, from New York to share his story.
“It’s my pleasure to share with you today my conversion story, my becoming a Muslim and a servant of God for all intents and purposes.
Actually my own experience with the Quran is what led me to eventually become a Muslim.
So that’s why I get great pleasure to speak in particular to non-Muslims about the Quran, and try to introduce them to the Quran so that maybe they can share some of the same experiences and the same feelings that I had towards the Quran.
So I came from an American, traditional American I guess, Christian background, and so when I started to read and study about Islam that was the background that I was coming from.
There are many aspects of the Quran that affected me in many ways. And one of the first aspects that I think is very important has to do with the preservation of the Quran.
Because if we are going to speak about following, if we are going to say that we believe in God and we agree upon the fact that we believe in God, and even if we accept the fact or the concept of revelation from God, and if we want to follow this revelation, one of the first and most important aspects is that we have to have a strong reason to believe that this revelation has actually been preserved in its original source.
It does not make any sense really to say that I’m going to follow God’s revelation when we realize or when we know that what we are holding in our hands perhaps has not been preserved, or may have good reason to believe that it hasn’t been preserved.
So, one of the first things that stuck out to me with respect to the Quran has to do with preservation of the Quran.
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for a period of 23 years. And so this book was passed on by the Prophet Muhammad to his followers, and it has been preserved minutely since that time to this day. And as a non-Muslim reading about Islam, I was somewhat surprised by how many of the non-Muslims, many of them who were not very polite in their writings to Islam, but even they admitted and accepted the fact that the Quran that we have today is actually the Quran that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, that it was the Quran that Prophet Muhammad taught or passed on to his companions over 14 hundred years ago.
And as I said this was a very significant point for me because I had actually studied the history of the Bible before that time, and obviously I’m not going to get into details of that kind of discussion here, but I can just say that the history of the Quran is completely different from the history of the Bible, and from the earliest days this Quran was known and recognized and preserved. It was not compiled by later counsels some two or three hundred years after the time of Prophet Muhammad.
So this is one thing that stood out to me, and as I said this was of great significance to me in the sense that if we are going to follow something that’s coming from God then we have to make sure that what we have is actually that thing that came from God.
And then with respect to the teachings of the Quran also, and what the Quran contains, one of the aspects of the Quran is the fact that throughout the Quran God is telling human beings to think and to ponder.
And the thing that God is calling mankind to in the Quran is as the Muslim scholars say is actually something that is consistent with their nature. It is something that is understandable to the human being because this is actually the natural way that human beings have been created. And therefore God throughout the Quran tells you to ponder over creation and think about things and this call and this argument and the conclusion of it is that you will recognize that fact that there is actually only one Creator and that this Creator is deserving the worship and so forth.
And so therefore there is no leap of faith in Islam. The definition of faith in Islam from an Islamic perspective, from a Quranic perspective, is not to believe in something that you cannot prove. Many people in the west when they think of faith when you tell them about belief or something that there is a mystery or something that you can’t prove and so forth. This is not the way of the Quran. The Quran is calling people to a truth that they can recognize, a truth that they can understand. And as I said Muslim scholars explained this by the fact that this truth is actually what their own human nature is all about. This is what their soul is seeking.
So the fact the Quran was continually calling people to think and to ponder and giving them arguments in the Quran. Even in the Quran itself, God is giving people arguments showing the proof of the Quran, showing the proof of what God is calling us to. And this was another aspect that struck me quite a bit at that time.
And at the same time also some of the differences between the Quran and the Bible in particular, and this by the way is not supposed to be a critique of the Bible or Christianity or Judaism or whatever, but since they asked me to speak about the Quran and this is my own experience I felt this is the best way to express myself.
At that time when I was a non-Muslim, most of the books that I was reading about Islam were actually by non-Muslims. And some of the things that they were claiming about the Prophet Muhammad is that most of the Quran, what they say that he just stole from the Bible stole from the Christians and the Jews that he knew before and so forth. And actually the differences between the Quran and the Bible is another aspect that influenced me greatly.
And I would just like to highlight for example the issue of the nature of God. All the Quran is about God. And if you think about God and His attributes and so forth as the Quran explains it, you will get a very clear picture of who it is that you are worshiping, and you get a clear picture of the kind of excellence and greatness of this object of worship. And so when you read for example passages in the Old Testament and compare them to what you find in the Quran, you find that if the Prophet Muhammad was really stealing from the Bible, it’s amazing that the Prophet Muhammad was very selective in stealing from the Bible!
For example, in the story of Adam and Eve you find the story also in the Quran. You find that they were told not to eat from a tree, but the Quran doesn’t say it was the tree of knowledge. It did not say that God was afraid that humans if they eat from that tree would compete with God. But just said they were forbidden to eat from a tree and they ate from that tree. And then God came to them and spoke to them and taught them words of repentance like what we find in the Bible.
But you don’t find for example God walking in the Garden of Eden looking for Adam, like you find in the Bible! In Genesis, you find God walking in the garden and looking for Adam “Where are you, what’s happened”. You will not find these kinds of things in the Quran.
The teachings about God in the Quran as I said will teach you about the real attributes of God. You will not find anything similar for example to Jacob wrestling with God and Jacob defeating God in a wrestling match, or similar kinds of things you find especially throughout the Old Testament. Or another important one in the Old Testament is God repenting of the evil that He himself committed, that you find in Exodus 30:2-14…
The Quran for me is the true expression of the divine, whereas the Bible and the Torah bear the marks of Men. They were compiled and re-written to fit leaders desires and interpretations. The Quran is none of that and this is why its message is so very powerful.
Truth requires no demonstration, its inherent quality suffices to melt hearts and opens minds.
I feel blessed to have been allowed to see the light of Islam!