I was raised in
a religious Christian family. At that time, Americans were more
religious than they are now - most families went to church every
Sunday, for example. My parents were involved in the Church
community. We often had ministers (protestant "priests") in the
house. My mother taught in Sunday school, and I helped her.
I must have been
more religious than other children, although I don't remember being
so, For one birthday, my aunt gave me a Bible, and my sister a doll.
Another time, I asked my parents for a prayer book, and I read it
daily for many years,
When I was in
junior high school, (middle school), I attended a Bible study
programme for two years. Up to this point, I had read some parts of
the Bible, but had not understood them every well. Now was my chance
we studied many passages in the Old and New Testaments that I found
in- explicable, even bizarre. For example, the Bible teaches an idea
called Original Sin, which means that humans are all born sinful. I
had a baby brother, and I knew that babies were not sinful.
The Bible has
very strange and disturbing stories about Prophet Abraham and
Prophet David, for example. I couldn't understand how Prophets could
behave the way the Bible says they did.
There were many,
many other things that puzzled me about the Bible, but I didn't ask
questions. I was afraid to ask -1 wanted to be known as a
Al -Hamdu Lilian
(Thanks to Lord), there was a boy who asked, and kept asking.
critical matter was the notion of Trinity. I couldn't get it. How
could God have three parts, one of which was human? Having studied
Greek and Roman mythology at school, I thought the idea of the
Trinity and powerful human saints very similar to the Greek and
Roman ideas of having different so-called "gods" that were in charge
of different aspects of life. (Astaghfiru Ullah!)
The boy who
asked, asked many questions about Trinity, received many answers,
and was never satisfied. Neither was I. Finally, our teacher, a
University of Michigan Professor of
him to pray for faith. I prayed.
When I was in
high school, I secretly wanted to be a nun. I was drawn to the
pattern of offering devotions at set times of day, of a life devoted
entirely to God, and of dressing in a way that declared my religious
An obstacle to
this ambition, though, was that I was not Catholic. I lived in a
mid-western town where Catholics were a distinct and un-popular
minority! Furthermore, my protestant upbringing had instilled in me
distaste for religious statuary, and a healthy disbelief that dead
saints had the ability to help me.
In College, I
continued to think and pray. Students often talk and argue about
religion, and I heard many different ideas. Like Yusuf Islam, I
studied the Eastern so-called religions; Buddhism, Confucianism, and
Hinduism. No help there.
I met a Muslim
from Libya, who told me a little about Islam and the Holy Qur’an. He
told me that Islam is the modern, most up-to-date form of revealed
religion. Because I thought of Africa and the Middle East as
backward places, I couldn't see Islam as modern.
My family took
this Libyan brother to a Christmas Church service. The service was
breathtakingly beautiful, but at the end, he asked. "Who made up
this procedure? Who taught you when to stand and bow and kneel? Who
taught you how to pray?"
I told him about
early Church history, but his question made me angry at first, and
later made me think. Had the people who designed the worship service
really been qualified to do so? How had they known the form that
worship should take? Had they had divine instruction?
I knew that I
did not believe in many of the teachings of Christianity, but
continued to attend church. When the congregation recited pieces I
believed to be blasphemous, such as the Nicene Creed, I was silent
-I didn’t recite them. I felt almost alien in church, almost a
very close to me, having dire marital problems, went to a curate of
our church for advice. Taking advantage other pain and
self-loathing, he took her to a motel and seduced her,
Up to this
point, I had not considered carefully the role of the clergy in
Christian life. Now I had to. Most Christians believe that
forgiveness comes through the "Holy Communion" service, and that the
service must be conducted by an ordained priest or minister. No
minister, no absolution.
I went to Church
again, and sat and looked at the ministers in front. They were no
better than the congregation - some of them were worse. How could it
be true that the agency of a man, of any human being, was necessary
for communion with God? Why couldn't I deal with God directly, and
receive His absolution directly?
Soon after this,
I found translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur’an in a
bookstore, bought it, and started to read it. I read it, off and on,
for eight years. During this time, I continued to investigate other
increasingly aware of and afraid of my sins. How could I know
whether God would forgive me? I no longer believed that the
Christian model and the Christians were forgiven, would work.
My sins weighed
heavily on me, and I didn't know how to escape the burden of them.
I longed for
I read in the
Holy Qur'an, "... nearest among them in love to the Believers,
you will find those who say, 'We are Christians": Because amongst
them are men devoted to learning, and men who have renounced the
world and are not arrogant. "
they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you -will
see their eyes over flowing with fears, for they recognise the
truth. They pray, "Our Lord! We believe. Write down among the
can we have not to believe in Allah and the Truth which has come to
us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of
the righteous?" (The Holy Qur’an Surah: 5, 82-84)
I saw Muslims
praying on the TV news, and wanted to learn how. I found a book (by
a non-Muslim) that described it, and I tried to do it myself. (I
knew nothing of Taharah - ritual purity -and did not pray
correctly). I prayed in my own strange, desperate way, secretly and
alone, for several years. I memorised some parts of the Holy Qur’an
in English, not knowing that Muslims memorise the Holy Qur’an in
eight years of reading the Holy Quran, I found this verse: "This
day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour for
you, and chosen Islam as your religion." (Surah5:3)
I wept for joy,
because I knew that, way back in time, before the creation of the
Earth. Allah had written this Qur’an for me. Allah had known that
Anne Collins, in Cheektowaga, N.Y. USA, would read this verse of the
Holy Quran in May 1986, and be saved.