By Isa Hodge
You may be asking yourself why I choose the word reversion over conversion in the title. It is because we know we are reverting back to our original intended state, the nature of our creation; that is, as a Muslim (one who submits to the will of Allah). Most of us are taken from this form to an altered state because of society or family. This unnatural state violates the intention of our creation. For some, like myself, we feel this unnatural state and seek something else.
My journey began when I was 15. Things hadn’t gone well for me as a child. I was in trouble with a lot with peers, educators, and family. So I thought I needed some help and began to study the Bible more and go to church every Sunday. The more I read, the more I wanted to practice what I was learning. The first issue I ran into is that the text wasn’t specific on how to live your life. Most of the time, it just commanded to live as Jesus lived. I remember thinking this was a hard thing to do since I was a mere mortal and he was supposed to be God in the flesh! As I progressed with my studies, I began to see discrepancies within the text about this God in the flesh. The biggest came from the famous verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY BEGOTTON SON.”
I questioned this because I had read many other verses of God’s other begotten sons and daughters. After questioning our pastor and hearing he and other church elders say, “God doesn’t intend for us to understand everything; you just have to have faith,” I began to question the Christian doctrine as a whole. It was about this time that I was told to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer sports camp in Colorado. I was excited about getting the chance to go to the mountains. I went and spent the better part of the two weeks having 20-somethings at camp tell me the same responses I had already heard from people I knew back home.
At this point, I knew for certain that God existed, that He was perfect, and God’s word has to be perfect. However, I did not see this perfection in the Christian Bible. So I separated from Christian doctrine while still believing in God. I had no clue that the answer I sought would be found in other religions. Even living in New York, where I had access to all the world’s religions at my fingertips, it never dawned on me. I looked at Hasidic Jews, Muslims, and even Rastafarian as if it was a cultural thing instead of being religious. It wasn’t until my first year of college when I took a world religion course that I got what I was looking for.
Every week I would eagerly wait for that class and devour all the information I could, even reading chapters and sections not assigned to find the perfection of God. I asked a dozen questions every day in class. In private I would go around New York to beg, borrow, and (in one case) steal religious books to further my studies.
Then came the day we covered Islam, and I discovered a revert Muslim named Cory in my class. He quickly became my close friend and brother for life. In 1993 it was hard to get a Qur’an, so Cory gave me one. I remember reading Al Fatiha and thinking that it was the best definition of God. For the next nine months I spent every free moment reading the Qur’an cover to cover. At every turn of the page, I found answers to the long asked questions of my youth. I also found answers to my everyday problems and concerns.
With the guidance from Cory and my studies, I began to learn that aspects of my life were contrary to Islam and this was hard for me to give up. I would ask myself, “What’s so wrong with a beer and a girlfriend?” Because of the culture conflicts, I went back to the Bible. However, this time I was reading it and looking for Islam. I came across verses that discuss the coming of a prophet that isn’t named in the Bible. I went back to Christian scholars and pastors and found they could not tell me who this person was. They projected ideas that it was Jesus or perhaps the Holy Ghost, but none of these ideas really fit. The prophet that was described had to be Muhammad (SAWS).
Even though I determined that the Qur’an was the word of God and confirmed that via the Bible, I still couldn’t bring myself to take the Shahada because it contradicted my own culture. I continued my American lifestyle, but, with the new knowledge I had, it came with guilt. One day I could no longer reconcile my knowledge with the way I was living. I had found God, which was perfect, and His word was perfect; so I could no longer live my life by my own rules.
I walked into the nearest Masjid with shoes on, walked up to a man with a short cropped white beard (where I was promptly asked to remove my shoes) and said to him that I wanted to become Muslim. He took me back to his office and asked me why. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I have studied Islam and other religions for the better part of a year and have found no other religion to be perfect save Islam.” I went on to tell him that “I could no longer live my life without the guidance of the Creator.” This seemed to satisfy his concern.
He then took me in the other room where they were preparing for prayer, and, as I sat behind everyone since I did not know how to pray, I remember feeling the beauty in a religion that has no color or language barriers. I remember how comfortable I was being there and decided to join keeping a watchful eye on the man next to me doing whatever he did. When it was done, I was asked to come to the front where I took my Shahada, stumbling through the Arabic recitation while getting corrected and throwing out random Spanish words, but with patience I was led through. After I did well enough in my pronouncing of the Arabic words, I got to hear the English words of what I had said and felt peace and a reversion to my natural state of creation.
Isa is a Muslim American activist who organize the Million American March Against Fear in D.C. on 9/11/2013. He was also a speaker at the 2015 Engineers and Architects for truth on 9/11. Isa has been featured in numerous media outlets both in the USA and worldwide including Fox News, Free Talk Live and Washington News.