Account of Kaleem Edwards
I had no faith in God before I converted to Islam
My name is Kaleem Edwards. I was born in Hereford and I converted to Islam, Ahmadiyyat on the 6th of January 1990.
By the grace of God I have been blessed to be able to hold many posts in the Jama’at since my conversion and some of them are as follows, General Secretary for Mosque Halqa, MTA newscaster, MTA reporter at Jalsa around 1995 time, Additional Tarbiyyat Secretary for New Ahmadi’s, General Secretary for City of London, Jumma Service, MTA UK presenter 2012, Part of the European Desk and Jalsa Tabligh Tent and tour guide.
I was confirmed as a Christian at school because my mother wanted me to be, but I only ever went to Church on special occasions such as Christmas, etc. I had no faith in God before I converted to Islam. I was always an agnostic and often wanted to be a bit different, so was generally against organised faiths.
Born in the countryside, my father was a rally driving and a property developer who loved playing cricket and the guitar. My dad was a great friend to me and as he had a dim view of Christianity and its hypocrisy so I followed his lead and didn’t follow any faith. We moved house regularly in the local area due to my dad’s work and I learned a lot of practical skills working with my father and his team. My father was an ex-rally driver so was a very quick driver and we both had a passion for motorsport. I have two sisters and we are a very close family but we have a very passionate sense of humour with brutal sarcasm the order of the day. My mother was a district nurse and very good with people and was able to extract information out of them like a Gestapo agent, but in such a nice way. Although she was not very highly educated, she liked to read and walk, and would occasionally go to the church.
All in all, a very warm family life. We were able to travel to Canada and America for a three month family holiday that was amazing and had other holiday breaks in France. My dad smoked cigars and both my parents did drink alcohol, but didn’t formally gamble, though you could argue that my dad wasn’t the best business man and took risks when investing in property!
I completed my ‘A levels’ at Hereford Sixth Form College. There I made some of my lifelong friends as we were all kindred spirits, but from mixed backgrounds and educations. We worked hard and played harder. We would drink and listen to music till all hours and talk about life in general. For my ‘A levels’ I took Geology, Maths and Chemistry which I really enjoyed and thrived in the hard topics when pushed by some of my mates. I had a great time at college.
I loved music and played guitar at school and joined a local punk band, we toured the Midlands and got played on Radio 1 in 1985-1987.
I played cricket for Herefordshire schools minor counties and played regularly for the local town which was Ledbury Cricket Club.
From 1984-1993 I was a vegetarian and through the punk band living in the country we were very much against factory farming and still to this day I am very conscious of any quest for cheap meat. I hate the fact that Halal meat is often the cheapest meat and feel we really should strive to have organic and free range meat where the animals are better respected. I currently have 4 hens at my house, which provide me and my family with eggs.
I completed a degree in Geology/Geophysics. The friends I met were okay, but I missed my band and also missed my really true mates from the Sixth Form College.
In the final year I really worked hard as I wanted to get a job in the city, so I really focused hard in learning about derivatives in the city, my course, and my growing interest in Islam. 1990 was a big year for me as I graduated and got a Job and converted to Islam!
I was a student from 1980-1990 then joined BZW as it gave me a future and gave me options as a broker.
Since 1998, I left the Derivatives trading industry and joined the IT support business, but using my derivatives knowledge to bridge the gap between the traders and the development teams.
Islam was an unknown to me, I didn’t know that Allah was the word for the same one God that the Jews and Christians knew. The Bahai’s had come to my 6th Form college and given a presentation and that seemed more interesting than some of the other faith groups that were presented at college.
At 6th form college and during University the “meaning of life” was discussed at length during many late night sessions (it’s quite common to get deep an meaningful at these times). I lived with a ‘born again’ Christian, so the question of faith came up regularly, hence my interest in arming myself with knowledge. Fortunately, I found some books of the Jama’at at the university library.
At university, I had a friend who was an Ahmadi. Through that relationship I became interested in Islam. I started to further my studies in Islam via going to the library and reading on Islam and I would read books such as the ‘Tadhkira‘ and ‘Gardens of the Righteous’. These I found so different to what I was used to studying and it was a good break.
At work and on my travels, orthodox Muslims have been delighted when they heard that I am a Muslim, but at times shown disappointment when they discovered I am Ahmadi. One of the orthodox Muslims at the shared prayer room at work joked once when I asked him which direction Qibla was and he answered “we pray in this direction, I don’t know about you lot“.
Being a scientist I always validate the Ramadhan calendar and have used this extensively to show the orthodox Muslims why they are wrong to start their fasting early in the UK. Many have agreed that they feel the dates aren’t right and this has been a very powerful way to show the truth of our Jama’at.
As a non-Urdu speaker I focus on the Arabic and the history of Islam where there is much common ground with the orthodox Muslims (we are a Sunni sect after all). I have told the non-Ahmadi’s about the life of Jesus from the Jama’ats view and this is another powerful truth that this is the true path.
After reading all of the Jama’at books (took about 7 years) and attending the Q&A sessions with the 4th Khalifa, I feel that I have been able to build on my knowledge so that I am now able to defend our quest for truth.
Ahmadiyyat made me learn more of Islam to
defend myself from the orthodox Muslims
I went to the Jalsa Salanas of 1989 and 1990 before I converted, which were amazing experiences. I used to see people crying to Allah and listen to the fourth Khalifa’s long dialogues on how Ahmadis were being persecuted all around the world, but those people wouldn’t give up their faith. Up until that point, I was interested in Ahmadiyyat, but there was still some doubts about God at the time. I had to make this leap of faith somehow so I decided to make an intense study of Ahmadiyyat for at least two years and then I would clearly be able to say whether it had any impact on me. Within three months of that time it was clear to me that I was on the right path. I felt touched by God and from then on I went from strength to strength. On 6th of January 1990, I took Bai’at at the hand of the fourth Khalifa in his office with Mubarak Saqi Sahib. He was very inspirational to me. It was a blessing from God that I managed to pick the right flavour of Islam first time out!
I didn’t eat pork as I was a vegetarian from 1984, so the lifestyle was simply to cut out alcohol. This was a bit of a challenge, but it took a couple of years of education for me to take the plunge. Also Ahmadiyyat made me understand more of the true teachings of Islam, to defend myself from the orthodox Muslims. Jalsa helped me to know I was part of a large family and the Jama’at has always been very supportive. I focus on keeping my prayers intact and building relationships with my family and my Allah.
My aim is simply to be Allah’s servant pray, make sacrifices and live a simple life. I enjoy working with MTA, our television station which broadcasts Allah’s message to the world.
By the grace of Allah I love Ramadhan and have kept the fasts
and the extra 6 days for the last 20 years
When I converted there was no concept in those days that if you are a Muslim then you’re probably a terrorist; which is the concept in people’s mind nowadays. There was absolutely no thought of that. Being a Muslim wasn’t a problem. My family thought it was strange and make jokes of it, but in essence they were happy, because they knew I believed in God and was removing my bad habits. They took the positives from it rather than taking the negatives. Because my family was not in the situation that they had a faith themselves and that my conversion was clashing with their beliefs.
There have been times in my career when it hindered me. Co-workers didn’t appreciate that prayers and fasting were important to me, but the government protects our rights to pray. However you still have to force the issue to get your rights. There have been times when I couldn’t go to Friday prayers and I would make it a big issue because I work in the Market, US Market and 1:30pm was the time when the market issues numbers but it was also the time of my Friday prayers. There were loads of times when I had to decide between Islam and my job. But there have always been times that I felt that God is by my side and it has certainly protected me from bad things such as drink, drugs and loose women at work. My faith is my shield.
When the 4th Khalifa named me Kaleem, he chose the name as ‘talker to God’. I can safely say that I have always prayed daily. I am very keen to offer Fajr prayer in congregation, when my shift work allows. By the grace of Allah I love Ramadhan and have kept the fasts and the extra 6 days for the last 20 years. I have always tried to pay my chanda and thereby strive to give myself a choice of the gates to paradise (prayer/fasting and charity etc)
I was blessed by living 5mins from Fazl mosque, which enabled me to have an excellent relationship with the Khalifa, and I was very regular in Fajr prayer when I lived there and often got very close to Huzoor. During the Q&A sessions with the 4th Khalifa I learned so much. I would always try to crack jokes with him and create a light mood. I was fortunate to have accompanied him on his walks after the Fajr prayer to Wimbledon common on a couple of occasions.
Since 2008 I have moved to Sutton, which makes it more difficult to get to the Fazl Mosque and pray behind Huzoor. but I remain his loyal servant.
I was also very fortunate that I had a close relationship with the 4th Khalifa through MTA Q&A sessions and some walks. He attended my wedding and I prayed behind him on average 5 times a week for 52 weeks a year from October 1990 until he passed away in 2003 (that works out at 3380 times!)
I have stayed in the Pedrobad mission house in Spain in the 90’s for a family holiday. I am pleased to have good relationships with lots of pious people in the community and they have helped me along the way greatly.
Kaleem served the Jama’at as ‘UK Additional Secretary Waqfe Jadid (New Ahmadis)’ for many years and is presently one of the ‘Trustees’ for Humanity First UK.
May Allah bless Kaleem Sb abundantly for all the sacrifices
he has made for the Jama’at.
1st English Desk Meeting with Imam Sahib, held at Bait ul Futuh Mosque on Saturday 31st March 2007
Sitting left to right:- Ainul Yaqeen Selby; Adam Walker; Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashed (Missionary Incharge of UK); Nuruddin Walker; and Maulana Tahir Selby
Standing left to right:- Hassan Selby; Tahir Paxton; Saeed Jones; Kaleem Edwards; Muzaffar Clarke and Idris Mason;