Converts to Islam (Part 1): Getting back their original state of purity and sinlessness
Islam attracts people from all walks of life, and the world is seeing a larger number of converts to Islam in the past two decades. A person embraces Islam for two main reasons: marriage to a Muslim and attraction to Islam for its rationality and magnificence as well as its security and assurance.
Among those who embraced Islam because of its total splendour is Ms Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, a British author and educator. In her book, “What every Christian should know about Islam”, she says: “I became Muslim because I discovered the real teachings of Islam.” (Ruqaiyyah, her birth name being Rosalyn Rushbrook, gained an honours degree in Christian Theology from the University of Hull and taught Christian studies before her conversion.)
Converts to Islam have not only been ordinary people but professionals and even Christian priests and pastors. Of course, upon their conversion, they become Muslims. However, often they are referred as “converts” by the born-Muslims – not in any negative sense but in pride and happiness – in welcoming the new Muslims into their fold.
In recent years, as Muslims become more-informed in Islamic theology, they prefer to use the word “reverts” instead of “converts” because the word “converts” seems to suggest that these non-Muslims have embraced a new religion called Islam, which, in Islamic theology, is actually incorrect as Islam is always there since the time when Adam and Eve were placed on earth (explanation to this information will be given in Part 2).
Pure, sinless and unblemished state
The word “reverts”, on the other hand, suggests going back to their original state when they were born – a state called fitrah. In Islam, all babies born, from parents of any race or religion, are in the state of fitrah (pure, sinless and spiritually unblemished). An adult who becomes a Muslim gets the opportunity to get back to his or her original state of fitrah, and the opportunity to keep it untarnished as best as he or she could.
The explanation for “fitrah” goes back to the first pair of human beings, Adam and Eve, who were together created in Paradise and that human beings were made in the “best mould” (Qur’an, 95:4) by bestowing them with not only fine physiques but also superlative faculties of thought and intellect and the ability to acquire knowledge and make analysis which no other creature has been blessed with.
The Angels had wondered, saying human beings would become arrogant and greedy and create disasters on earth with such “favour” but God said He knew what they knew not. Indeed with such “favour”, a person can choose: to be bad all his life or good all his life or even change either way during the span of his life-time or become little bad and more good or vice versa. The choice is with the person but he needs to base his choice on the Guidance of God and face the consequences of his actions – rewards for good endeavours and retribution for bad actions. Guidance of God has been taught to people by each of the numerous prophets of God at different time and places from the instance when human beings appeared on earth, Prophet Adam being the first Prophet. All prophets taught their people to believe in God and follow His Guidance in doing righteousness to reap rewards from Him. God says: “Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, theirs is a never-ending reward.”(95:6)
Adam and Eve, they stayed in Paradise for a specific preparatory period for subsequent living on earth, a totally different environment. This is like a baby’s life in the womb of its mother, a special place, where it’s being prepared for a stipulated period before being delivered for living in a tough environment. However, while in Paradise, both Adam and Eve, as human beings, committed a disobedience of a certain Command of God but they regretted their action and repented and so were pardoned by God who is Merciful and Compassionate.
Attributes of God
“Merciful” and “Compassionate” are the two most significant nature of God. It is so very significant that every chapter of the Qur’an except one, starts with the Basmallah, a formula which when translated goes: “In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate”. Any Muslim reading the Quran from the start of each or any chapter would begin by reciting this special formula.
With such wonderful attributes, God forgives sins easily but with conditions that the person committing a wrong in ignorance must repent and avoid repeating it. God says: “O My servants who have transgressed against their souls, do not despair of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all personal sins; for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(39:53)
The Qur’an is full of God’s promises of forgiving a person who committed wrongs in ignorance but that person must repent, and stop committing the offence. In general terms, applying to all people then, now and in the future, God says:
- “If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks God’s forgiveness, the person will find God Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(4:110)
- “Verily, if any of you did evil or wrong in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amended your conduct, lo! God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (6:54)
(God’s attributes of forgiveness and mercy ought also to be adopted by human beings on fellow-human beings of any race or religion and on creatures and other living things, such as trees, corals, whales, etc. before they get destroyed or become extinct in the hands of human beings because of arrogance and greed.)
In the case of the world’s first male-female pair, Adam and Eve, after their souls were cleaned of the blemishes of their disobedience, they were delivered into the world in pure and sinless state.
Consequently, babies of their progeny right to this day carry no such thing as original or inherited sin (from Adam and Eve who disobeyed God, regretted their action and so were pardoned by the Merciful God). All babies born since then – from parents of any race, culture or religion – are in the state of fitrah (pure, sinless and spiritually unblemished). A person acquires sin only while he or she is growing up and is able to distinguish between right and wrong.
The rationality of the Adam-Eve story in Islam is one of the factors why the educated non-Muslims are attracted to Islam despite the negative image portrayed by some unruly Muslims as well as some non-Muslims (organised representatives) who devote themselves in giving untruth about Islam via Youtube channels and websites for which rebuttals are difficult unless in proper live debates. Anyway, human beings are apt to err and so black sheep in the communities of all countries and religions do exist, and God sees their disobedience to His Guidance in such areas. But what is praiseworthy, as is being practised by the large majority of people from all communities and religions, is doing good to ensure civility, peace and harmony.
Contacts between non-Muslims and Muslims through business, travels, friendship, new relation (secured though inter-racial, inter-faith marriages) and reading of articles and books on Islam written by Muslims have all contributed to the exposure and understanding of Islam among the fair-minded, educated non-Muslims. Indeed, it is important for the world, both non-Muslims and Muslims themselves, to discover what Islam really is. (Islam should not be equated with those so-called Muslims who give a bad image of Islam through non-compliance with Islamic principles.)
However, seekers of God and truth are more focussed and they look at Islam without bias. It is therefore heartening to see nowadays many embracing Islam, and the well-educated reverts giving talks on various aspects of Islam as dakwah (sharing Islam), including why they converted to Islam.
With more people embracing Islam and with more born-Muslims getting motivated to re-discover Islam, both Muslims and non-Muslims will be able to better understand and appreciate Islam and work together to build a safer and more peaceful and harmonious society and environment for everyone.
(Continuation of this topic will be featured in Part 2 with mention of a number of Caucasian reverts for the readers’ reference.)
By Shaik Kadir
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