This letter just came in from new Muslim in Italy.
How he came to Islam. Please read and share
I know, maybe I am a bit too "arrogant", writing to you like that, I am no journalist, nor I am someone who can invite you to a conference, I am just a 26-years-old young man from Italy who wanted to thank you, because, even if not directly, you helped me in my struggle to find the Light. You showed me that research, study, and difficult choices can ultimately be rewarded with the Light of Allah.
I was born in a catholic family (I am, as said before, from Italy, the "stronghold" of Roman Catholics), but I have always find it hard to just stop myself from asking, comparing, doubting etc. I went over reading the Bible a lot, and, in the humble spirit of someone who never ever attended studies in theology, I spoke to many catholic priests, asking them the true meaning of christian faith, and how it is possible that it has been somehow "adjusted" troughtout its history to fit the needs of men. I hardly ever recieved an aswer that was anywhere far from "It is the Word of God", and when I raised questions about the role of Jesus (may peace be upon Him) in the Christian religion, or questions about the contraddiction of the Bible itself, evident to me since then, since the first time I red it with real counsciousness, when I was 17, the answers went from "you do not have Faith, my child, I will pray for you" to less polite answers, like "out of here, you unbeliver dog!" (I REALLY got that one, I am not joking...).
Anyway, my first contact with Islam dates back to 2003, when I went to Turkey with my mother, I visited the Blue Mosque (it's called "Moschea Blu" in italian, I am translating that litterally to Blue Mosque, I do not know if is the correct name in English too). There I saw people kneeling in prayer. Looking up at the mosque ceiling, I nearly felt my heart missing a beat. I was overwhelmed by a strange, powerful feeling, I felt a sense of "belonging". I do not, however, searched further in my heart at that time, I was too young. Years later, in 2008, those feelings of "belonging" came back, because of a friend of mine, a girl of Sudanese and Lebanese parents (but my return to Islam is not one of those "western man who meets a beautiful girl from Middle East" stories), I "saved" (sorry, I am not able to find a more suitable word, even if this one seems too much "macho" to me) her from a bunch of racist guys who were about to beat her, then we started talking, we went over talking in a little bar till the barkeeper approached us telling us that was closing time. I really did not feel the time passing, I was trapped, completely, by her words about Islam, kept in a state of grace, of profound and sincere desire to know more. The next day I started my own research, and that was the time I found some of your videos on Youtube. Your words where useful to me, especially during the first months, I had, and still have, to face constant disbelief, when, hanging out with friends, I politely refuse a beer, with the words I am proud to say "no thanks, I do not drink alchool, I am a muslim", and then, immediately, I have to justify my own faith, the faith that before, as a christian, I have never had the need to justify.
My family accepted this, at least in the final period.
During the first moments, the first time I spoke to my mother, when I talked about Islam, and of my own personal research for Faith, Light, and Guidance, my mother was not ready to understand, was not ready at all, even if she is much more open minded that anyone over fifthy I know, she was worried about me, not because she feared I was doing something wrong, she did not understand my choice, but accepted it, she was worried about what I would have to face, as a "new converted", in this islamophobia-ridden society whe have in Italy. She supported me, especially with some of our neighbbors, one of them was very fast to judge my interest and my research, saying that I was doing that because I am not grateful to our Savior, and I have never ever felt the love of God, and I was a poor soul, damned to the flames of hell because I joined the ranks of "bearded sexist and terrorist scum" those were her exact words, translated from Italian. I kindly answered her that I was doing that in order to be closer to, not farther from, Allah, wand that she should not take for true whatever went on the news, especially in the Western society, especially about Islam.
In the end my mother and my grandmother, my brother and my uncle were present when at my shahada in the Roman Mosque. That really made me cry tears of joy.
Ok, now I said everything I had to say,
Hoping to hearing from you soon, and hoping that this email did not annoy you,
Marco (or, as I choose to name myself after my return to Islam, Muhammad)
P.S. Sorry for my bad english, I probably mispelled a lot of words in the text