Account of Andrew Hollingsworth
However I found that for myself something was missing
and did not ever commit to baptism
I was born on the Fourth of July 1986 at Kettering General Hospital, Northamptonshire. I converted to Islam on the 13th January 2012 by performing Bai’at.
I am currently holding a couple of posts in my local Jama’at, these are the local Tabligh Secretary and the Taleem Secretary. I am also involved with the National Tabligh Team in assisting with key research projects to improve and review current Tabligh methods.
I was born into a low-key Christian background, however my family is not very spiritual and only on occasion practiced any faith in God; neither I or any of my family were baptised. As my brother and sisters and I got older all faith that my family sought to practice was reduced to nothing, to the point of atheism.
I have quite a large family; I have one brother and two sisters, all of which are younger than I am.
My father had his own business as a Lorry Driver and my mother was a homemaker. This was relatively successful until my father’s business started to struggle and had to sell the lorries that he had. Not long after this time my parents decided to separate. I was approximately ten years of age. We all resided with my father. Due to the long hours that my dad now had to work to support our family, I was forced to look after my little sisters and brother.
As I moved out of the family home and moved to university I again found my intrigue in religion grow. I found that I was dissuaded from the typical Christian churches due to a belief that although their morals were correct, there practices (i.e. interpreting their holy book and worship of Jesus as the Messiah) were not in line with how I felt religion should be.
Eventually I was attracted to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had lots of study with the witnesses and used to spend one day every weekend studying the bible and their study books. I found this of considerable interest and studied for over a year with these people. I generally found the people to be extremely peaceable and to have good hearts. I also found that I believed their interpretation of the scriptures was very impressive and agreeable with my heart. However I found that for myself something was still missing and I did not ever commit to baptism.
I went to a local primary school, followed by a local secondary school. I was never a very astute studier, but managed to get by and achieve the grades required to gain access to college.
At college I studied Psychology, Philosophy and Ethics, Law and English Literature and Ethics. As above, I didn’t put my full efforts into this, but managed to gain good enough grades to gain entry into the University of my Choice – being Lincoln.
At Lincoln University I studied Law. Following this I did my Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, which is required to be undertaken to become a solicitor.
What led to Islam?
Before I knew of Allah I would have said ‘chance’
I generally like to have quite an active lifestyle. During my earlier years this was a lot more prominent with actively joining into school and county sports programmes for cricket and football.
As I have gotten older my interests have been more casual and relaxed and I find that my ideal way to relax is with a good book or watching TV and film. I try to eat relatively healthy but find this is constrained by cost and time. I look forward to getting back into sporting events in the future.
As previously alluded to, I have an ambition to have a career in Law. Currently I have been working for nearly a year in a Law Firm in the Centre of London, near Holborn station. Presently I am Para legal, but Insha’Allah I hope to soon receive a Training Contract from my firm and begin to qualify as a Lawyer.
I had no definite preconceptions of Islam before I started learning. I understood that it was mostly practised by Asians of no particular decent and that they had their own book, the Holy Qur’an, as written by the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
May Allah be praised for His love and opportunity. What led to Islam? Before I knew of Allah I would have said ‘chance’.
It’s a funny thing. Much like a leaf that gets blown around in the wind. I was like this leaf without direction. I had looked into Christianity in a number of forms and was approached by Christians not long before finding Islam. Yet by the Grace and Mercy of Allah I found myself picked up and carried by curiosity about this thing called Islam. Why Ahmadiyyat? I heard about the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, and puzzle piece clicked into place and I found this was something I wanted to discover.
It’s quite a difficult thing to articulate in words, or to explain how or why or when. I believe myself personally that I was always meant to convert to Islam. Like I had a choice but the choices I made led to Islam. I feel my whole life was a series of events that led up to converting to Islam.
Let me see if I can shed some light on this. Allah is all-powerful; His will directs all things and His blessings are many and wondrous. I often use the example of Moses, may peace be upon him, when trying to explain my conversion; I hasten to add not out of arrogance, I am no messiah, but the circumstances that were involved with his miracles.
I have heard accounts from scientist and scholars who believe that the parting of the Red Sea was due to strong winds and high banks under the sea. Now if we take this as a factual account then we must look to Allah’s brilliance for setting into motion the winds when the world was made to be in such a fierceness that when it reached the sea it would blow back the waves and make a land bride, further we must also consider His foresight to have the sea have such a bank in its centre that when the wind blew this would be revealed. Even further, to have the foresight to set these things in motion for an event to happen exactly when it was required is more than the miracle itself, even before considering what task Moses would have and the people he would lead and those who chased him.
Now if we were there when these things were set in motion, to us it would seem completely random and would have no understanding of these thing, however these things were necessary for this miracle to happen.
Now I consider myself, I was blessed into this world with free will and choice. I had the opportunity to go to different universities but opted to go to Lincoln University for no reason in particular, I had no friends or previous classmates joining me there, I was on my own. I see now by the Grace of Allah that I was supposed to join this institution in order to meet with the Jehovah’s witnesses due to a meeting with an employee.
I was working at Morrison’s Supermarket, and one day by pure chance I decided to sit with this Jehovah’s Witness who worked there rather than my usual acquaintances as I felt it was unfair for her to be singled out due to her beliefs and her passions. I had previously tried to get her involved with our peers, but due to their closet nature they would not accept her friendship.
On this occasion I wished to stand up and show that she should not be neglected or feared for what she believed and sat down and encouraged her to tell me about what she believed and what she was doing. (If I remember, she was reviewing the weekly watchtower with her bible in order to be able to participate in the weekly meeting.)
On learning what she believed I decided that I would take a further interest and started participating in bible studies with her dad on a weekly basis.
I enjoyed the learning opportunity and it felt good to be finally realising my faith in God and act upon it.
As previously mentioned, although I found my studies hugely interesting and found the people immensely spiritual and encouraging to be around, for some reason I did not feel this particular means of worship was right for me.
I decided to move to Guildford being nearly 200 miles away to further my education, even though there were other education facilities better located and closer to where I was currently located. I chose this in the hope that I would be able to continue my studies with the Witnesses as I understood that there was a Kingdom Hall located there.
As I started my studies I also tried to get back in touch with the Witnesses, but after trying to contact them via phone, which rang out and multiple attempts at finding their Hall, which I could not locate, I gave up to concentrate on my studies, with the hope that maybe I could continue my development spiritually with the Witnesses after I had concluded my studies.
On the Legal Practice Course it is mandatory to undertake a core set of subjects including Business Law and Property Law. I found that I did not enjoy Property Law and later discovered that I had actually failed my exam in this subject first time around. However for some reason as part of my elective subjects I decided to pick Advanced Property Law.
On my first class of this, a random group of six of us were assigned a table. In the first class I was sat on the corner and I felt alienated from the group. So for the next class I decide to get to the class early and sit in a different seat to enable me to get more involved with my studies.
Later I was leaving the college to go home, I happened upon the girl I sit next to in Advanced Property Law, seated on a bench watching some people watching tennis. I decided to go up to her and enquire how she was and how she was finding the Advanced Property Law work. We talked about it for a little while and she commented that she did not know how to play tennis and I volunteered to show her and also to arrange a study session.
Later at the study session she disclosed that she was a Muslim and believed in the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him) and told me a little bit about Islam. Upon learning I might be interested in Islam she introduced me to her father and I was given some books to read so as to develop my knowledge of Islam.
On learning about the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, it was if I suddenly knew this religion was right and that this is something that I believed. I found that the studies with the Jehovah’s Witnesses actually encouraged this belief in me. This is due to the nature in which they look at the scriptures to interpret the meaning of Allah and what is to come. Their scriptures do speak about the second coming of Jesus, and they believed that this occurrence must have been around the First World War. The understanding is that basically the devil who was thrown down to earth following his deceit, and was given the time to show God that obedience to Him was not necessary. On this event it is to show that the devil’s time was up and that Jesus was to come down to earth to fight Satan. This event was demonstrated by the First World War and Satan showing his anger at this decision. I forget the exact nature of this interpretation, but it was along these lines.
It is true when they say that if you extend your hand towards Allah He extends an arm towards you and that if
you walk towards Allah He will run towards you
When I learned the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, was the Second Coming of Jesus and during the same period of history, I knew that although not everything added up, it seemed highly unlikely that this foretelling and the nature of the Promised Messiah’s coming must somehow be linked.
This then furthered my belief that Ahmadiyyat Islam was the correct and most current religion, due to the fact that that a prophet had indeed come as prophesied to show us the correct way. Following this and learning the correct method to pray, I consulted my heart and mind for what I felt was morally correct. Upon meditating on these things and prayer to Allah, I converted to Ahmadiyyat Islam.
Generally speaking my conversion has been quite easy as I never set out to disprove and once I had learned about the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, a piece of the puzzle slid into place and I knew I should be worshipping Allah as an Ahmadi Muslim.
By the Grace of Allah, becoming an Ahmadi has changed my life in such a positive way. Since I have become an Ahmadi, Allah has blessed me so much, He has assisted in me finding a good job in a good location, when I was struggling financially. He has provided miracles in helping me find a home within a week so that I could work and He has gifted me with a beautiful wife whose family have been so supportive for me.
My life has been so blessed since I converted to Islam. This has led to me having a high level of spirituality. It is true when they say that if you extend your hand towards Allah, He extends an arm towards you and that if you walk towards Allah, He will run towards you. I am so pleased to be an Ahmadi and to know the love of Allah.
My family has been very apathetic towards my conversion. The general consensus is that I am old enough to make my own choices and “mistakes”. I feel this has made the conversion a little strained, but overall, compared to the trails and torments my brothers go through, I feel this has been blessed.
I feel I have a good relationship with God. I am very grateful to have received His blessings, and very honoured. I hope to continue to work on my faith in Allah and to continue to show my gratitude for the blessings He has given to me.
I love our Huzoor, may Allah be his Helper. We are so blessed to have a leader we can look up to and to guide us. All praise to Allah for this fine blessing, which only we Ahmadi’s purely enjoy. Unfortunately I have yet to arrange a meeting with our Khalifa. Insha’Allah this will happen soon which will enhance my love for Allah and for our Khalifa.