People often ask me why I became Muslim, or how, or what brought me this way, and there are many answers I give. Through reading, through listening, through watching. And yet, when I really think about it, it was something more. The final impetus was something deeper. There was a realisation that inside all was not well: the lies I would tell to get myself out of an awkward situation, my thoughts, the nature of my intention. Inside, hidden from view, my life was a mess and I was lost.
A few months before I became Muslim, there was a Saturday morning when I had gone to the library to do some work on the computer, only to find that the network was down. So instead I started out on an aimless walk through the streets of London. After a while, I reached Regent’s Park and I was walking through there when something troubled me. I was disturbed by something inside. Enough was enough, I told myself. So walking through that park in the bright sunlight, I began to speak to God. I made myself a covenant with God, saying that I would stop this and if I should start again, He could desert me. For a while, I was good, I did reform myself and I felt better, but then I slipped again. I broke my promise, but He did not desert me.
There were other things which kicked me; my insincere intention – looking to impress people by any means possible – and my self-pity. Over a few months, there was a realisation that within me there were problems. The final change came quite suddenly, however, over a long weekend when I did a lot of reading, little sleeping and I became convinced that Islam was the true religion of God.
A new beginning is always possible, though I did not really understand this at first. I became distressed after a few months: ‘How can it be that God guided me,’ I asked repeatedly, ‘when I was such a foolish person, while my family are good people, devoted to their religion?’ It took time to recognise that Islam refreshes, brings life anew and grants us a new beginning. Muhammad, like Jesus before him, came for the sake of ‘sinners’, not the righteous, for the religion is one of reform. It is us old fools who need a religion of reform, not the already pious.