Account of Christine Sharif
Mrs Christine Sharif accepted Ahmadiyyat in 2013. She currently works full time as an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) for Bedfordshire Police. Christine supports victims of sexual abuse in accessing appropriate support; help them turn their lives around, act as an advocate on their behalf and try to improve services in victim care on an individual, local and national level. Below is an article written by Christine entitled: ‘My Journey to Ahmadiyyat.’
I accepted the truth of Ahmadiyyat and its teachings in 2000. I took Bai’at officially in 2013. I was in contact with Mr and Mrs Sami, Regional Amir for Hertfordshire, at that time. And over the years, Imam Bajwa, Arooba and Omar Rana.
I would like to share my journey to Ahmadiyya. I started to read about Islam following my marriage to a Muslim, purely out of interest. I had been raised in the UK as a Christian, but like so many today I did not have any understanding or real interest in religion. I believed it was for ‘sheep-like’ people who could not think for themselves and due to my understanding then, I also thought science and religion were incompatible. I have always been scientifically minded with an interest in the sciences.
I visited Pakistan and read various materials, but I got angry and saw the information as male orientated and against women. I decided that on my return to England I would have access to a better range of materials – I could see that there were cultural aspects in what I had read, distorting Islam so I did not give up. In England I read more books, but again what I read did not sit easy with me and I started to feel bad about myself, as according to ‘Islam’ I wasn’t walking properly, eating right, cutting my toe nails correctly etc.etc. It seemed as though the priorities were upside down, where was the humanity, basic morals? So I left it alone for a while.
My thirst for knowledge spurred me on again, so I decided to go straight to the source of Islam, The Qur’an. It wasn’t an easy book to read, but I could see how it could be open to interpretation. One day I was at the library and I came across a book called ‘Revelation, Rationality, Truth and Knowledge’. I read it and it blew my mind! It hit all the right places, satisfying my need for science and religion to come together. I instantly believed in God!
Now, I had to read more books by this man, Hadhrat Tahir Ahmad. I had no idea about different sects in Islam, let alone who or what Ahmadiyya was. In the end I tracked down a mosque in Birmingham, where I met Imam Bajwa, who suggested some books. The more I read, the more I wanted to read and so I did.
Then I came to realise, there were different schools of thought in Islam and different teachings – it was a minefield! Nevertheless, I endeavoured to learn. How would I decide what was the truth and what was not the truth with such a vast array of information to get my head around? Then I decided to pick a subject I was an expert on and look at what they all had to say about it – ‘women’, that was my subject, after all what better area of expertise do I have other than what I am.
I waded through mountains of information from various sects about Women in Islam, some oppressive, others completely liberal. None ever explained in depth like Ahmadiyya teaching. Even so, there were things that I didn’t like about Ahmadiyya teaching and for a while I liked the group who didn’t acknowledge Hadith or Sunnah, but then I began to question the purpose of Prophets and thankfully realised through God’s good grace that they set the example, they teach, they lead and without them we are prone to misinterpretation and dogma.
I naturally became aware of the hatred towards Ahmadiyyat by other groups, so I read their accusations and explored them further, but they only served to increase my knowledge of Ahmadiyya and strengthen my resolve toward it being the true teaching of Islam. No other teaching explained anything in such depth, and with such plausibility. Nothing even came close. That was it, Ahmadiyya teaching was in my heart and mind.
Bai’at took longer, only because I was so terrified that I would be unable to fulfil the conditions and commitment to God. I am now somewhat easier on myself with the thanks to Mr and Mrs Sami and others in the Jama’at, as I know I am far from being a good example of a Muslim, but Insha’Allah I will continue to strive towards being at least a better one!