As a convert of thirty years, every year people have asked me ‘what made me convert to Ahmadiyyat’? I don’t mind of course, and in fact I have asked the same question to many converts, as it is a question of interest. A convert soon learns to give a ‘short answer’ or a ‘more detailed answer’ according to the person asking and time available. We also quickly realise the importance of giving an answer, as it can be very helpful and inspiring to the listener. I was therefore very pleased to have been asked by Zaheer Ahmad Khan, Chairman of the Academic Committee, to oversee and help Kamran Tahir with his thesis on this wonderful topic ‘British Converts to Ahmadiyyat in the UK and the change in their lives after Bai’at’, which Kamran has beautifully renamed ‘Doves of the Messiah‘.
This is a subject which is close to my heart as existing members need to understand the reasons why people convert to Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam and more importantly, their spiritual and temporal journey afterwards. Such understanding, will then hopefully inspire members to guide others to Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam and help the initiates to integrate and become part of the Jama’at.
Normally there are three reasons which could lead someone to convert to Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, and we need to bear in mind that there must be a reason, otherwise, why else would someone be drawn to Ahmadiyyat? There has to be something that makes them take more interest and look deeply into it; otherwise thousands of people read a leaflet, hear some news on the TV or meet Ahmadis, but that in itself will not make them take it further, make them study the teachings of Ahmadiyyat and discover whether this is the true path or not? Normally there are three reasons why people take the next step and dig deeper to find the truth:- a) love of a person b) seeking asylum or c) seeking knowledge of truth. It doesn’t really matter which of these three reasons make them investigate. After all these are ways in which Allah guides them to Ahmadiyyat, but it is the next step which is more important. Once they have been drawn to researching Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, do they continue that search? If they do, they will find logic and reason at each step. Arguments so convincing that they are left with no way out. As they proceed further they become convinced of the truth and finally take the next step, by becoming an Ahmadi, Insha’Allah. In fact they then discover that that is not the ‘final step’ but actually the ‘beginning of a long journey’ towards Allah. Anyone who takes these steps will make sure that it is the truth before they commit themselves. They are seeking truth and by going through this intense study, they have actually become very strong in their faith. This is why we see that some converts have striven to serve the Jama’at and have become Missionaries, Regional Amirs, Presidents, Tabligh Secretaries and many other Jama’at posts, which in turn shows the beauty of Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, that it is for everyone. It doesn’t matter what colour or background you have; it is a message which encourages you to strive to improve yourself and your relationship with Allah. Hence, explaining to someone of your journey to Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, can hopefully inspire others to also make that journey.
I feel that this collection of accounts compiled by Kamran is very important and will be inspiring for the reader. The second reason is the importance of understanding this journey and the cost of making such a journey. A person studying Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam, sometimes is ready to leave their past lifestyle behind them. As that person progresses on his/her journey, then their whole lifestyle changes, which in turn means that they leave their friends and way of life and seek out new friends and a new way of life. We need to understand this. If we do not welcome the convert and help them with their struggles and guide them, they will begin to feel lost and alone. They have left their friends and their old way of life. Some of their old friends perhaps drink alcohol, smoke or go out to discos etc. which is not the things they now want to do; so we have to fill the void that has been created. We have to befriend and help them become part of our community, so that they do not find any void; instead they feel firm on their decision of acceptance of Ahmadiyyat, the true Islam. But if they come to the Mosque and feel ‘left out’, feel that all around them people talk in a different language, doing things which they do not understand etc. then slowly they will start to return to their old lifestyles. Suddenly they will disappear, lost to the Mosque and community and may seek different friendships. This is something that we must understand and ensure that it doesn’t happen, therefore reading such accounts, may help the reader understand the importance of welcoming them into the community and help them on their journey to Allah.
I am very pleased that Kamran Tahir Sahib has been given this topic as I used to teach Kamran at the Leicester Atfal Classes and was very happy when he made his decision to dedicate his life for the sake of Allah and become a Missionary. Kamran has worked very hard to get these accounts, travelling long distances to interview the converts. Sometimes it has been frustrating for him as not everyone wants to give their account, it may be too personal. He has carried on diligently and I must admit I am surprised he has managed to collect so many accounts. Then came the second problem as whether to uniform them or keep the expressive way of the person giving the account? He has tried to keep that expressive way and also keep some form of uniformity of grammar and layout etc.
I have found reading these accounts very interesting and inspiring and I hope that you will too. I pray that these accounts of the converts inspires us to carry out the blessed work of Tabligh by calling people to Allah and making us realise the importance of Tarbiyyat by giving these converts the proper training to make them good, pious Ahmadis and so help us all realise the importance of helping them become and feel part of the community. We should welcome them, train them and ensure that they do not feel ‘isolated’ due to language or custom.
Allah has guided us in the Holy Qur’an:
Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation
and argue with them in a way that is best.
Surely, thy Lord knows best who has strayed from His way;
and He also knows those who are rightly guided.
Holy Qur’an 16:126
Your humble servant
Tahir Selby – Missionary for the North East