Account of Paul Carmicheal
My name is Ali Paul Carmichael I was born in Northern Ireland and trained in Scotland to be a doctor. I currently work as a Consultant Nephrologist in the West Midlands. I am married, my wife is Pakistani and we have 2 daughters.
I come from a dedicated and loving family. My parents brought us up with good ethical and moral values of truthfulness and a strong work ethic. Religion has been a part of my family life from a young age with regular attendance at Sunday school and church services.
I became interested in different religious viewpoints over a number of years. Whilst working in London I used to have some religious discussions with a close work colleague who was a Sunni Muslim. He recommended that I contact the London Mosque for further information. My mistake or good fortune was that I contacted the London Mosque in Wimbledon and not the one in Regent’s Park, which in retrospect was what he was referring too.
At the Fazl Mosque in London, I had a series of religious discussions with Imam Ataul Mujeeb Rashed Sahib of over a period of several months and then decided to accept, believing that this was the correct faith. The topics discussed included the life of Jesus, the concept of the Holy Trinity, the completeness and purity of the Holy Qur’an, the significance of the Messiah and the heavenly signs indicating his truthfulness. I am interested in astronomy, so the sign of the lunar and solar eclipse was of real importance to me about the truthfulness of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). I signed the Bai’at form in 1993. With the grace of Allah I joined the blessed institution of Wassiyyat in 2004.
I did not have any strong positive or negative feelings before. Prior to moving to London I had limited exposure to Muslims.
The benefit is peace of mind. In this day and age, the blessing of peace of mind is to be cherished. There is a certain routine and order to one’s daily life with the need to undertake 5 daily prayers. A radical change was the complete abstinence from alcohol. Being part of Ahmadiyya Jama’at indeed gives one sense of belonging; I think this is a great blessing.
The greatest hurdle was to convince my immediate family. To some extent this was achieved by them appreciating that I had not changed for the worse. If my family had failed to accept my choice this would have been a serious blow. My family was and remains essentially supportive. The lifestyle of a Christian generally involves going to the church once a week; becoming an Ahmadi is a complete change in lifestyle. There are weekly/monthly meetings, classes, Jalsa Salana and Ijtema to attend. I have to admit, I found this a bit overwhelming to start off with. With the passage of time I have learned to appreciate the value and importance of these events.
My family eventually accepted my decision, however with respect to friends and colleagues they have tended to regard my conversion as slightly weird and over the years have drifted away. Whether for this reason or for others remains unclear.
I met Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) from an early stage and found him to be a very inspiring and holy person. The connection with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (may Allah help him with His mighty hand) has continued and contributed to a sense of belonging. The missionary from Southall, arranged for me to attend question answer sessions with Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) where I could candidly ask about a range of topics including music, homeopathy and organ transplantation. Transgenic organs were a hot topic at the time; however Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV, in response to a question stated that this would not happen. With the passage of time he has been proven correct.
I was also supported a lot by the local Missionary Mr. Tahir Selby whom I met when I was working in Leeds and again when I relocated to the West Midlands. I found him a very approachable, friendly and engaging person. He was particularly helpful to make me understand the importance of Wassiyyat.
During my time in Kent I also found the Gillingham Jama’at to be very welcoming. The whole Jama’at had a culture of integrating people while allowing enough personal space. Acceptance by my wife’s family has helped a lot.
The true religion is Ahmadiyyat. If the individual was a Christian I would advise them to read the Ahmadiyyat literature on Jesus and the heavenly signs of the Holy Prophet may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and founder of Ahmadiyyat. If still interested then I would direct them to the local missionary.