In an interview with Estebsar International Institute, Muhammad Arab, the iranian-american convert has explained how his life changed by reading the holy Quran.
_Sallam a’laykom, brother Mohammad. Welcome to our studio. Introduce yourself for the audience.
_ A’laykomosalam brother. Peace be upon the prophet and his family. I have lived in America for almost 27 years and in process of living in America. Although my family were Muslim but, we were not practicing muslims. So they did not introduce us to Islam at the beginning of our life journey. I was 26 years old when I read the Quran for the first time and all the exciting things that happened in my life, happened after when I was introduced to this book, the Quran. Now I live in Iran mostly I go to America and visit my family.
You see before I become familiar with Quran I thought I had the most exciting lifestyle, because I was going to all concerts, I was spending time in Las Vegas, I thought it’s very exciting, but when I was introduced to Islam and I was getting familiar with Quran, something happened that I can say excitement started in my life.
Let me give an example. When I was working in America I worked with people with disabilities. Some of them were people who get in an accident. Sometimes they had been in coma for some time. Three questions that they all ask when they come out of coma were that: where am I ? How did I came to the hospital or what happened to me? And if their condition, their mental condition, or their physical condition was stable, the nurse would explain to them. And the third question they would ask was : so when can I leave ? By reading the Quran I believe it happened to me. I became conscious about what’s going on around me. Who am I ? what am I doing in this world? Who had brought me to here? Where am I going from here? This sense of consciousness came to me and allowed me to have a mature perspective in life. Quran initiate these thoughts in my mind and so excitement started in my life.
I was in the process of going to a carnival in Brazil, my sister came and she did this traditional thing that they hold the book the Quran and they ask to walk underneath of the Quran to protect you and I thought that this is totally superstitious. As soon as I saw the Quran and I opened it and I saw that it had Farsi translation, I took it. I thought I will take this book, I’m sure there are some silly things in it, written, and muslims have been misled by.
The first night that I arrived, just to go to sleep I picked up the only book that I had with me. I started from the first page. I remember it says like it is a book that surely it’s a guide for those who wanted to be guided and then it continues and explain their characteristics and then it comes to this point it makes a big difference in my perspectives toward the book, because I was looking for silly things, not logical things. The verse that shocked me, was in the Sura Baqhara. The verse 22_23, says if you have doubt in your mind that this book has been written by man and not sent down by your Lord or your creator, then surely you should be able to create one chapter, one Sura, like this if you can, and go on to try to get other people to help you, and if you couldn’t do this, understand that this book has been sent by your creator surely he has prepared a great punishment for those who see the truth but they deny it. I was thinking, okay, wait a minute, I did go to high school in America, I did go to college, I did participate to university, I took many courses, no one during my education has presented this to me that you come from a country that believes in a book called Quran and Quran has this statement in it, that no one can create like it and after 1400 years passed by, no one has been able to come up with one chapter similar to the Quran.
If we have a miracle, a living miracle, among us and we don’t talk about it, if we don’t talk about it, there is only one thing that comes to my mind. Either we are ignorant of it or we purposely don’t talk about it.
You see during the time that I was living in America, I used to go to churches, to visit Hindus, Buddhists you name it, because I like people with different cultures and spend time with these people. Never ever I heard in a church that a priest would say go and research about your religion and then accept it. They always say and still they say : accept Jesus as your guide and then you will be successful. Islam doesn’t say this. Islam says even if you were born in a Muslim family, on the day of judgement, they would ask you : What is your religion? What did you decide as to be your faith ? If you present yourself as Muslim, simply because your parents were Muslim, Allah in the Quran says: this Islam will not be accepted from you.
_ After these 30 years that you were struggling, you were practicing more Quran, what is your perspective now and what was before?
_ I as one individual became familiar with this Quran, after a little while, the same verses that I found a treasure in my life and this treasure is going to save me, started to create doubt in my mind. At that time, I was in Los Angeles. This was 2 years after when I was familiar with the Quran, I was trying to change my culture into something that is reasonable. I stopped going to clubs, going to concerts, having girlfriends, I stopped every thing. And I started concentrating on my work and reading the Quran. One of my friends, who came from Iran, brought me a cassette tape of a speech about religion at Tehran University. I started listening to this man and one thing he mentioned in his speech was that if you want to have a deeper understanding of the Quran, you need to learn about the history of the time the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and you need to get familiar with Sha’ne Nuzool [the context of the revelation]. I became familiar with Tafsir of Quran and then I started getting familiar with verses that talk about the statues of Imamat. For example in the verse of 124, in Sura Baghara, Allah explains to prophet Ibrahim that now that you have done every thing, every challenge that we have present you, and you have done well, we want to choose you as an Imam. I read this 20 times in this 2 years but never thought about Imamat as to be something different from prophethood. But, here this verse explains to me that imamat doesn’t end with prophethood. Yes, we have Prophet Mohammad pbuh as our last prophet, but does Quran say that Imamat ends with Prophet Mohammad? Indeed Quran says the opposite. Chapter 17 verse 71, Allah says that we will call every tribe of people with the Imam of their time. So, I am glad that I got familiar with Tafsir because it allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the Quran.
_ What do you advise to the youth?
_ My advice to the youth is to be brave to learn about all things, to go and find what the Buddhist think, what the Buddhist believe, go and find out what the Hindu’s believe, go and find out what the Christians and the Jewish believe and then also..? Quran says, go out and read every statement and choose the best out of them. Quran initiates this. Who listen to speech and follow the best of it. (Surah 39: 18)
_ What do you think of Hijab.
_ Hijab obviously exists everywhere in the world. If you, for example, want to enter in a court in America, courtroom, if your clothing is not appropriate, they wouldn’t allow you in. They would ask you to go on and dress conservatively and come to the courtroom. If we look at Hijab from this perspective, then we can understand that Allah also has certain standards about our Hijab and what is Allah’s standard about Hijab? Allah says in the Quran, because you don’t know what is in the heart of people you meet, it is better for you to cover what is your beauty.
This teaches couples of things, first of all, it teaches that our gender, woman gender, needs to go out in the society and the society needs this gender. At the same time that you don’t know what’s in the people’s heart, so it’s better for you to have Hijab.
-Thank you so much.