Account of Selma Mubarika Khan
‘I felt what a pity, what a great pity, that such a nice religious boy hadn’t been introduced to Christianity.’
I was brought up in a Christian Household in Yorkshire, England. I was the eldest of three sisters. My maternal grandfather was a Methodist preacher, my maternal grandmother was involved in many Church activities. My mother ran the Church drama group, my father ran the boys brigade.
I became a Sunday school teacher on reaching my teens and at times attended weekend Christian prayer groups when I was about sixteen or seventeen years old. We were given talks and film shows of missionary work in the Zambezi Valley of Africa. This had a profound effect on me and I wrote the following verse at that time which I called:
The missionary said to all who were there
we are needing helpers, we are burdened with care.
we need many nurses and doctors too,
my heart began pounding- I knew what to do.
So I went to my room and knelt by my bed
and to the Creator I softly said:
‘Oh Lord please Guide me and strengthen me too
whatever thou asketh that I will do’.
Soon did my doubts and fears fly away,
I knew what it was my Lord had to say.
He wants me to go and train as a nurse
then go and help Africans – who are worse off than we,
To show them Christian compassion and love.
to teach them of Jesus our Lord up above.
I know that I am both sinful and weak
not fit to serve God, but strength I shall seek
He in His wisdom will see my great need
and on His spiritual food I shall feed.
I in obedience to this God’s Call!
will go in love and give my all.
I had been informed before this that as I suffered from both Asthma and Eczema I could not take up nursing as a profession. However, on the strength of this new found conviction I applied and soon after my eighteenth birthday became a student nurse. By the grace of God none of the above complaints ever proved grounds of difficulty during my training.
I chose to work on an acute medical ward for my first job as a fully qualified staff nurse. That winter we had severe problems with the elderly contracting a bad bout of influenza producing many deaths. We had often to work hard at resuscitating patients who collapsed and had ceased breathing. We would afterwards, if we’d been successful, congratulate each other on a good job done.
‘I had never understood Trinity,
and had dismissed it as unimportant until then.’
I met in the course of my work, a young doctor. Whilst we were ‘crowing’ about our success, he quietly used to say ‘Alhamdulillah’. I asked him what that meant and when he told me it meant ‘all praise belongs to God’, I felt rather ashamed but agreed he was right. Further conversations followed when we found time and he revealed he was a Muslim. I felt ‘what a pity, what a great pity, that such a nice religious boy hadn’t been introduced to Christianity’. How little I knew! He was far too clever and learned for me! He said to me that if I could convince him of the truth of Christianity and its superiority over Islam, then he was prepared to accept it. He knew full well it was a ‘Mission Impossible’. However I didn’t and with missionary zeal I launched on his conversion. After all, why not practice before going to Africa?
How soon the tables were turned. At first I was cross, then furious that there were so many basic questions I could not answer. I had never understood Trinity, and had dismissed it as unimportant until then. I was a member of the Nurses Christian Association and went from one representative to another looking for answers to these questions. Church of England, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptists and the Salvation Army. One by one I went through spokesmen of all the major Christian Churches. No one was able to answer my questions on Trinity or atonement satisfactorily. They would simply say ‘We will pray for you sister. Have faith and believe.’
I realised now that my faith in Christianity was really reduced and the result was that I was extremely angry. I read books on Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Jewish faith and then reluctantly, Islam, the small booklet called ‘Death on the Cross’ by Maulvi Abdul Atta Sahib, which shattered my last hopes of clinging to Christianity. I began to be honest with myself and I prayed for help and guidance. In my heart I already accepted Islam, the Holy Prophet and the Promised Messiah, peace and blessing be upon them. It was a revelation to learn that Islam was the youngest of the revealed books of God. I realised I had been reading old, out of date stuff, not the latest up to date guidance send by God through a Messenger for our time.
It took a couple of months before I felt strong enough to explain my feelings to my family. They were very upset but refused to discuss my new views. I was told how horrified my beloved grandfather would have been had he still been alive, but a memory that I had until then, quite forgotten, surfaced and was a source of great comfort to me which was that once, when I was about ten years old, I was with my grandfather after he had given the evening sermon in a small country Chapel, when members of the congregation after the Sunday service were discussing aspects of the sermon given which was about the second coming of Jesus. I clearly remember somebody saying that if Jesus came now we would not reject him as the Jews did. Another church member mentioned about a man in India who claimed to be the Promised Messiah and made a derogatory remark. My grandfather quietly said ‘how do we know he is not?’ that memory came back to me just when I most needed reassurance and I felt that had my grandfather been alive he would have supported me.
I did formal Bai’at during the last year of Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih II. A few months afterwards I married the young doctor who had introduced me to the wisdom and beauty of Islam. My anger and desire to prove him wrong now transformed into love and gratitude. We have four lovely children and the Almighty God continues to Bless us in countless ways.
On becoming a Muslim I wrote a continuation of the poem ‘Direction’ that I had written as a Christian and called it ‘Correction’ which best explains my feeling.
I duly trained, but then I found
I wasn’t certain of my ground.
I had grave doubts and awkward fears
Such changes in those few short years.
Conflicting thoughts were in my mind
but Allah is gentle, sweet and kind
He showed me truths which had been hid
I only followed as He bid.
The deaf are made again to hear
and eyes of hope, replace the tear
I only wandered dimly on
towards the full light of the sun.
Praise be to God! He, sight gave me
removed all doubts-hypocrisy
I very simply only asked
He guided and forgave the past.
My heart is full of gratitude
He took such care of one so rude.
So full of holes, so full of sin,
Yet full of love He led me in.
Towards the path that I must climb
If I am to reach those joys sublime.
I have been an Ahmadi Muslim a little less than fifty years. I enjoyed a happy marriage until my dear husband Dr Saeed Ahmad Khan died some sixteen years ago. Before that, God Almighty lovingly allowed us both to go to the Gambia, doing skin clinics as Waqfe Arzi- a month in a year for a few years. So my long ago promise to help in Africa was fulfilled even in this small way. I am forever grateful to my kind Merciful and Loving God.
In the foreword of the book ‘Death on the Cross’ which was a vital tool to help Mrs. Selma Khan convert to Islam, Ataul Mujeeb Rashid, Imam of the London Mosque, August 7th, 2010 wrote:-
“I would like to quote one example of its (the book ‘Death on the Cross’) impact in the life of a Christian lady, Mrs. Selma Saeed Khan. She has related to me that when the late Dr Saeed Khan, who had been preaching to her, finally gave her this pamphlet to read, it shook the basis of her belief to the very core. She said that after having read the pamphlet, she realized that the arguments presented must be taken seriously. In her own words, this pamphlet proved to be a very significant landmark in her spiritual journey towards Islam.
As a result of having studied the pamphlet, she narrates, that she considered the doctrine of the life and death of Jesus very seriously, and once she was convinced by the Grace of Allah, she decided to accept Islam. I am pleased to add that Mrs Selma Khan has been a very dedicated and energetic preacher of Islam in her own right. Through her efforts many English people have been led to the path of Islam. May Allah bless her with a long life and further success in the noble pursuit.”
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IV and Maulana Ataul Mujeeb Rashid, Imam of the London Mosque with some British born Ahmadis at Islamabad on 24th March 1989 on the occasion of the Ahmadiyya Centenary.
From left to right:- Maulana Bashir Orchard and behind him his sons, Huzoor and his grandchildren, Imam Sahib, Muzaffar Clarke, Abdullah King and behind him hidden is Mahmood Threlkeld, Imran and Khalid Khan (Selma’s children), Maulana Tahir Selby, Muzaffar Forest and Karim Khan (Selma’s other son)