Account of Adam Spittles
Christianity never completely satisfied me,
as there was always something in the back of my mind saying,
this is good, but there’s something missing.
My name is Adam Spittles, I am 32 years old with an honour’s degree in Computer Science. I am currently working as a Network Engineer for an International Investment Bank in London.
I grew up in a small village called West Row, near Mildenhall in Suffolk, I’m currently living in Letchworth and am part of the Tarbiyyat Nau Maubaeen (Training New converts) Khuddam team.
The religious side of my life started when I was baptised as a child. My brother and I used to go to church with our mother and regularly attended Sunday school, so I have had religion in my life for as long as I can remember.
The first time I realised I was not completely happy with my childhood religion, Christianity, was when I was 12 years old. We were in church and the Reverend was giving a speech about Jesus. At the end of the sermon, we were all asked to pray to Jesus at which point I thought, ‘why are we praying to Jesus? Why are we not praying to God?‘ That was my first moment I realised the faith I was following wasn’t exactly how I thought it should be. Looking back, Christianity never completely satisfied me, as there was always something in the back of my mind saying, this is good, but there’s something missing. I didn’t think any more of it as I felt if the religion I followed for a number of years didn’t feel right, I doubted any of them would, so I left it at that.
The reason I started to look into Islam and Ahmadiyyat four years ago, was because my closest friend, who I had known for twenty years, had just done Bai’at and joined the community. I have to say at this point, if anyone else I knew or had met had converted to anything else, I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. It is only because I had known him for so long, and knew him so well, that it shattered all my previous preconceptions of what the type of person who converts to another religion was. And it was because of that reason, I decided to research into the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith.
After all, given what’s on the news
and in all papers about Islam, I didn’t think disproving Islam
to myself would be a difficult thing to do!
I have a confession however; I only started to look into Islam and the Ahmadiyya sect for two reasons.
1) To find out more about the religion my best friend of twenty years, had recently converted to.
2) To prove to myself that it wasn’t for me!
After all, given what’s on the news and in all papers about Islam, I didn’t think disproving Islam to myself would be a difficult thing to do!
I started by trying to find out why Muslims don’t eat pork or drink alcohol. I wanted to see if the reasons simply boiled down to something someone hundreds of years ago had said; which may not be relevant in today’s’ society. That way I could instantly say the faith was blindly following something that was said in a different time, in a different world, and I could simply discard it as something not for me.
After searching for a short time on the Internet I found an explanation as to why you should not eat pork, detailing the mental and spiritual benefits of refraining from haram meat. I’m not 100% sure it was from Al-Islam, but I’m pretty sure it was. I basically just Google searched and looked up all the things I could find with regards to pork in Islam. This explanation surprised me, but then I thought, the only way I can determine if this is true is to stop eating pork myself and see if I feel better or any different for it. I did this for just over a month and found that I felt genuinely better for it, which I was not expecting.
This discovery was convincing to me, but I felt I needed more to make me a “true believer” of this tenet. So, I left it to God, and said, if this is my path, then I leave it to you to show me the way. Within 24 hours of this decision, I picked up a paper to read on the train to work, of which the front-page headline read, “Pork has been linked to cancer”, and without even needing to read the article, I realised I had received my sign. I just looked up with a big grin and thought, OK… I get it… having the main article on the front of a national paper stating pork was not good for you was maybe enough of an indication that I should stop eating pork and continue with my investigation into Islam. I haven’t eaten pork since.
I have had many other experiences of signs showing me that I am on the right path, such as the individual I was first put in contact with to help me with my investigations into Islam and the Ahmadiyya sect (Muhammad Badr Sahib), to within four months from doing my Bai’at, becoming heavily involved in what I consider to be an amazing communal structure, that is the local and regional Aamala in the South Region under Nomaan Raja Sahib.
There were a number of signs over the years and although I won’t be able to remember all of them, these are the ones I do remember –
I remember when I was trying to take the first few steps into Islam, one of the issues I had was walking into the Mosque on my own to do my prayers. Every time I went in I would get stared at and was made to feel like I really didn’t belong and I shouldn’t be there (though I know now that that was my perception of what was happening and not what was actually meant). I tried a few times and a couple of days later I was still feeling uncomfortable and was beginning to think I shouldn’t feel like this and this may not be for me, when I had a dream. I dreamt that I walked into the mosque that I was attending in West Croydon, did my prayers and walked out again with no odd or bad feelings; just that I went in, did them and came back out again. I’ve heard of people having life changing dreams where they see the Holy Prophet may peace be upon him or the Promised Messiah may peace be upon him and that they were so inspired that the next day they converted to Islam / Ahmadiyya, but I knew that didn’t have to be the case for me, all I needed, or all I desired, was any sign to encourage me to continue my investigation to find the truth, and this dream was just what I needed to reassure me to continue my search.
Another sign I feel I had was soon after my conversion. I was continuing to go to the mosque and increasing my knowledge and understanding, but I felt alone doing it and was starting to question myself, that if I carried on going, would it make any difference, couldn’t I just do the minimum as I did with Christianity? Then within days, I met a man called Nomaan Raja, who I feel took me under his wing, and he showed me all the different activities that the community was involved in, which I hadn’t seen before. I became active under him and was regular in attending all sorts of general meetings, speaking competitions etc. The funny thing is, he told me a few months later that he prayed for someone to come along to help him with what he was doing in the community e.g. charity events and sports events etc., and he said two days later, I was introduced to him at a Mosque BBQ and our friendship sparked from that same night.
One of the things that made me decide Ahmadiyya specifically rather than others sects is the system of Khilafat
An odd sign I felt I had was when I went to do my conversion, I met with the regional leader and said, “I’ve looked into Islam and Ahmadiyyat for over 18 months now and I no longer want to tell people I’m looking into the faith, I want to say I’m part of it“. I went along with a couple of the guys I’d come to know from the community, at that point they were shouting my praises and saying I was a good guy etc. but surprisingly, the regional leader said no to me. He told me to go away, think about what I was about to do and come back alone, as he felt I was being coerced rather than coming of my own accord. As I walked away I thought that that was an odd thing to have happened, and laughed to myself that God didn’t want me, so they said no. But the more I thought about it, the happier I felt it had happened, as although I was ready, in the room I felt a little bit pushed into it. I gave it a few more days, thought more about it and then went back on my own and asked to sign the form to formally be part of the community.
There are lots of things I like about Islam
that aren’t so much signs, but that I love and keep me strong.
Things like the sayings, Alhamdulillah (all praise belongs to Allah) and Insha’Allah (God willing).
Although we can say the English version of them, yet it feels like your mouth is saying it, but when you say it
in Arabic, it feels like you mean it from your soul.
Another sign (they’re starting to come back to me now) was one of the first proper / official contacts I had with the community who I could sit down with and ask my questions to, was actually a convert himself, who converted to Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, about 8 years previously. The sign for me was that he (Mr Muhammad Badr) was British born and educated in this country (though his family came from Jamaica originally) and was a qualified Architect and previously a Christian; but what was amazing for me was that he was quite scholarly with regards to the Bible and other prophets such as Socrates.
The first “sign” I had, i.e. had this not happened I wouldn’t have even started looking into Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, was the fact that my best friend whom I’d known for 15 years at this point, had converted to Islam without me really knowing (we were in different universities at this point). As I said, I only started to enquire about Islam because I wanted to find out more about what my friend had converted to.
There are lots of things I like about Islam that aren’t so much signs, but that I love and keep me strong. Things like the sayings, ‘Alhamdulillah‘ (all praise belongs to Allah) and ‘Insha’Allah‘ (God willing). Although we can say the English version of them, yet it feels like your mouth is saying it, but when you say it in Arabic, it feels like you mean it from your soul.
One of the things that made me decide Ahmadiyyat specifically rather than others sects, is the system of Khilafat, i.e. leadership, similar to the Pope in Catholicism. I feel for a movement to go forward, you need to have someone at the top to guide, without that, the movement goes in different directions, even though not necessarily massively different at the beginning, but towards the end, they are going in very different directions and the movement becomes weaker because of it.
Also, the Promised Messiah’s view on what happened to Jesus (as), is actually identical to what I’ve always believed, which is different to that of Christianity and as I understand it, any other faith including other Islamic sects. The view that Jesus did not die on the cross (as he was up there for less than a day in the prime of his life and it’s been recorded that it usually took days, sometimes over a week for the person being crucified to die etc.), which was similar to my own beliefs, was a big step forward for me.
It got to a point where I said to God, if this is the right path,
show me the way… and I believe He did.
The first time I went to Baitul Futuh, I went to convince myself Islam wasn’t for me as I expected to be preached to, be told how Christianity was wrong, how Islam was right and that I’d burn in hell if I didn’t convert! But I was shown round by a very pleasant mid-twenties man who showed me round the mosque, explained some things about Islam and Ahmadiyyat and I was treated in such a way that I felt like I was being welcomed into the place and being educated rather than preached to.
I guess what I’m saying is that what I accept as signs are signposts guiding me along the path and may not necessarily sound like “major signs” that some people may have like, having dreams and seeing people I didn’t know, then seeing their face in a book or being in a car crash and being the only one to survive etc. Instead for me it was like expecting one thing and then being shown something completely different and if each one of these hadn’t been completely different and a much better experience than what I had expected, I wouldn’t have gone onto the next step and the next step, to take me to where I am now.
It got to a point where I said to God, if this is the right path, show me the way… and I believe He did.
The funny thing is, when I started to learn the prayer, one of the lines is “…Guide me on the right path…” and that is exactly what I said.
We all know that the Lord moves in mysterious ways, but I believe them to be in such a way that allow you to recognise He exists and only wants what’s right for you, even if you don’t understand it at the time. This may be in the form of a dream or a circumstance or a sign, but the Almighty is always looking out for you.
I started to look into Ahmadiyyat because of my friend, and found that every step of the way, when I wanted to find one thing for me to be able to categorically say, this is not for me because of this, then I would have stopped; but everything I found took me instead a step forward. Whenever I asked the question that if this is the way for me, then show me the way, and if it is not, show me the right path, I feel if I was meant to take another path, another one would have been presented to me, but all the reasoning I was given and all the examples I was provided helped to develop me.
After investigating the religion and the sect for over 18 months, I decided in mid 2009 that I no longer wanted to say I was simply looking into the faith, I wanted to say proudly that I am part of it, and as such, I took Bai’at at the hand of Hazrat Khilafat Masih V at Jalsa Salana in July 2009.
The community itself has astounded me. The organisation of the Khuddam, the deliberate structure of the Aamala at national, regional and local levels, all the charity work done by the Jama’at, the creation of Humanity First and all that it stands for, everything I have seen has been nothing but the advancement of the community and of society and the world.
I am now part of a core group of Khuddam Aamala in the South Region organising national hikes, helping to organise Regional Ijtemas and giving speeches at local Ta’leem sessions, so as hard as it was to start off with, getting involved in my local and regional Aamala has integrated me more in the community that I could ever have imagined!
I am most certainly better off for being part of this community and believe it will go from strength to strength and look forward to contributing as much as I can to it in the very near future and the long term.