According to the Estebsar International Foundation
When I was a student in America, doing my research studies about world’s religions, I got acquainted with the Quran. In the beginning, I studied the Quran only out of curiosity and with the aim of scientific work. But gradually the nature and essence of this heavenly book changed in my mind. Reviewing the verses of Quran brought such a peace in my heart that was not created by reading any other book before that.
Achieving this wonderful feeling became an excuse for me to get familiar with the teachings of the Quran and to become interested in Islam. This interest strengthened my motivation to learn the teachings and orders of Islam.
These are part of the words of Benjamin Kiafchen. He was born in a Catholic family and learned the teachings of Christianity only from his parents. He told us that his family didn’t attach much importance to religious principles and they have little information about Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.
Benjamin continues: “in one of my university courses entitled ‘world religions’, I got acquainted with various religions including: Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism. I had a questioning spirit which directed me to further studies about these religions. That is why, I used to go to the library and read many books about different religions.
Benjamin added: ‘I had some Muslim friends in university who were not very religious but they told me stories about the life of Prophet Mohammad (p.b.u.h) which I found very interesting. Although, from childhood, my parents told me stories about the Jesus Christ, Prophet’s stories had special attraction for me. But it was the descriptions of Prophet’s morals, written in the books, which opened the way for me on this path.
Muslims should be aware of their duty towards Imam Mahdi (a.s)
This American student considers the appearance of Jesus at the End of the Time as one of the most important pillars of Christianity and says that it is difficult to have faith in someone whom you have not seen yet. But I believe in Imam Mahdi (a.s). Maybe I don’t know much about him, but I am a Twelver Shia. I am aware of the importance of a Imam Mahdi’s presence in Islamic societies.
He also says: All the world know that the concept of Imam Zaman is very important and a big point in the religion. Sometimes, when I’m alone, I think who is Imam Zaman and what is my duty towards him, since Muslims should be aware of their duty towards the Imam of their Time.
It was Imam Ali’s morals which motivated me to accept Shia religion.
Benjamin’s first prayer description is interesting. This is what he tells us about this incident: “the number of Islamic centers or Mosques in America is limited. I had already made my decision to accept Islam. So, I found an Islamic Center near Los Angeles by searching the internet. I went there and I realized that it is a Shia center. At first, I was a little skeptical because I had not studied much about the differences between Shia and Sunni. I told myself that maybe I am not ready. I wanted to return home, but suddenly I changed my mind and stayed to see the Shia people. What kind of people they are and how is their thoughts different from the Sunnis, no one was there. So, I waited for a while. It was the time of noon prayer. An old Iranian man came and opened the door of the center so that someone could come in for prayer. I greeted him and said that I want to become a Muslim. Fortunately, the pleasant words of the old man penetrated my heart and I accepted all of them. I told him now I am ready to become a Muslim. I went with the old man. He taught me how to perform ablution and pray. The old man, without any sensitivity, gave me a Turbah for prayer and said that Shia Muslims use Turbah when they pray but the Sunnis do not have this. I smiled and accepted it and told myself there must be a blessing in disguise.
I prayed for the first time in that Shia center, feeling satisfaction from my prayer, then the old man invited me to return on Thursday night and participate in their ceremony to recite Du’a Kumayl. On Thursday night, I went to the same Center again. I remember it well. The speech of that night was in English and it was about behavior and true personality of Imam Ali (a.s). After hearing those words, I became more determined to remain a Shia. In that sermon, I heard some details about the morals of Imam Ali, his trustworthy and honesty.
From then on, I found many Muslim friends with different races and nationalities, who answered my questions, gave me religious books and they helped me to find the answers to my questions. I gradually learned to perform Islamic practices. Years passed and now I have many Muslim friends in America who had a good and positive influence on my life.
Benjamin says: “I had a shy and timid personality when I was a child. I didn’t have the courage to go home ,one day, and say okay I became a Muslim. But before accepting Islam officially, I did most of Islamic practices which surprised my family. I didn’t eat pork and avoid alcohol and gambling. One day, one of my sisters who noticed my lifestyle change and guessed that I become inclined to Islam, asked me: “Have you become a Muslim”? and I said yes and after that it was proved for all that I became a Muslim”.
I wish to travel to Karbala
He continued to say that when I became a Muslim, I did not know much about Ahl al-Bait. I only knew that the Shiites believe that Imam Ali (a.s) is the real successor of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) but I didn’t know who the Ahl al-Bait were or why they were so important in Islam. So, after I became a Muslim, I started studying about them, then I realized the high position of Ahl al -Bait, and later on, I found a heart inclination towards the Shiism, and with the insistence of my Sunni friends I was no longer willing to change my religion. In response to them, I said that I don’t want my Islam to be faraway from the Ahl al-Bait (a.s) and the Prophet (p.b.u.h).
Benjamin mentioned that his personal interest in the behavior of Imam Ali (a.s) was the reason for choosing the Shia religion and said that Imam Ali (a.s) is the best example of the Muslim. After the Prophet (p.b.u.h). Imam Ali (a.s) was an honest, truthful and patient person who always respected others. I also, want to put his behavior at the forefront of my life.
He also talks about the Karbala uprising and the character of Imam Hussein (a.s) and adds that Imam Hussein was willing to give up his life and his family for the sake of Allah and sacrificed everything for Islam. He did not fail in this uprising, furthermore, he became the real victor of the battlefield. Imam Hussein was a visionary character who, unlike those thinking about the world, considered the Hereafter and the day of Reckoning. After hearing the story of Karbala, now I am 100% sure that I have a heart inclination towards Ahl al-Bait and Shiism. And one of my biggest wishes is traveling to Karbala and visiting his shrine.