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In the Name of God بسم الله

stefan804

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Everything posted by stefan804

  1. Salaam Alaikum, Sometimes I wish we could all just sit in a room and talk about this. I think that an online forum makes it harder to gauge intent and emotion. I pray that nobody has become too offended or irked by the comments made here. My every intention was to make things better in my community by reaching out to those who want help. People like myself. I will refrain in lumping reverts all into one category, but I want to emphasize that I feel many reverts do want the help. I know the ones I talk to in the community do. I want to welcome those brothers and sisters and I too want to be welcomed. In regards to what Sister Ananda Zahra stated, I really like that concept. The fact that the classes were available in your community to anyone is great. I would like those classes for the Shia community as well. I agree with the concept and the implementation as far as the basics you gave us. The Shia community in Austin, TX is small so I am not sure we have the teachers necessary but maybe for at least one or two. To Sr. Bint Al Hoda I know who Safdar Razi is. He was the aalim here before I arrived. I did have the opportunity to meet with him before he left. I think he is in Tanzania right now. I have had the website bookmarked and will revisit it. Thank you for the suggestion. In summary, so far, I have come to this conclusion. I need to be mindful as to who my audience is. That audience is "new" or "interested" reverts. Those who are asking for and seeking knowledge on an empirical level. How do we welcome, integrate, and educate? How do we continue to involve them in the community? I have heard some wonderful advice and would love to hear more.
  2. Salaam. Yes I too am gleaming a lot of information from the thoughts of others. You think things are black and white and find that it is not always so. I think the ultimate goal is to add organization in your specific community. I, for instance, have two brothers who keep in contact with me at least once a week. What started as a "big brother" effort has really evolved into a mutual friendship. They have given me their knowledge and view points and I in turn give them a different perspective and energy. We are trying to add a "mentor" program for those who want it. It does not have to be a separate institution at all (although I like the idea). It ought to be handled and thought of by the community. Through the email link on the website. I have gotten two people who were interested in Islam, two classes who wanted someone to do a speech about Islam, and a couple people who wanted to be observers. What a great opportunity! But it is front end only right now...meaning we have made the initial step but what next? We need greater organization for the individuals who want to know more and want to have that structure in their lives. If I scroll down the "Reverts" message board here, how many posts will I find from struggling reverts? At least a handful. These reverts struggle with their new life and who is there for them? The answer is....the brothers/sisters in their community. Those are the people that can really make a difference. Dawah is sometimes taken for granted. It is easy to hand out a pamphlet, but the follow thru takes a much greater commitment. The masjid has been the center of Islamic communities for centuries and it needs to be ready for the changes that have come and are coming. Reverts regardless of their wants and intentions are looked upon by many as inspiration. It is proof that Islam is for everyone. It is proof that being Muslim transcends skin tones and ethnicity. Reverts, whether we like it or not, are proof of the power of Islam to those who are fortunate enough to have been muslim their entire lives. I can understand why some of you are tired of the label, though I do not agree. I am going to give you a positive response that I have had as a revert. I have a brother who hugs me every time he sees me at the masjid. He does not say very much but when he sees me he greets me with the warmest smile and the biggest hug. He does this because he wants me to know that I am welcome. To let me know that I am his brother. And in the end he does this because he is happy I have accepted Islam. I have gone to this masjid for a year and still every time he hugs me as if it was the first time he ever saw me there. This brother, regardless of whether he knows it or not, is the definition of what it means to be an ambassador of Allah (SWT). And I will certainly not tell this brother to stop being so enthusiastic in his welcome. We all have different thresholds as people. I for one have a fire that burns in my chest when I talk about Islam. My salat makes me weep because I remember where I was one year ago, and to be in the prescence of Allah (SWT) is overwhelming. I know I can help people. I know I too can be a good ambassador of Islam. What I lack for in knowledge, I will double in my sincerity. If someone wants me to speak on my reversion because it will be of some benefit, it is not place to decline. I am Allah's (SWT) servant. My ego does not get stroked , nor does it break down because someone of good intention said something patronizing. I don't look at my brothers and sisters as being on different planes. We are equals with different experiences and proceed with expectation that I can learns something from each one. Thank you for everyone who is participating in the discussion....my eyes are open :D
  3. Salaam Sister, Yours is a very interesting perspective and vastly different from my own, albeit we did convert at different times. I can appreciate it. And I don't want you to think that I don't. I have to remember that making shahadah and becoming muslim is not as shared an experience as I thought it was. For some it is breath-taking and the start to another way to live and to others it is not as meaningful and the meaning can be found later. Where it seems like you are ready (very ready lol) to shed the revert tag, I am still coming to embrace it. I don't mean to lump all reverts together. I mean only to say that those of us in the infancy of Islam. I realize the limits to my knowledge (as many reverts do) and bear notice that I can only increase this knowledge with my own willingness and another's service. You are completely right that I have to be the one to initiate change if I want it. This message, in this forum, was a litmus test to see if my feelings were shared or rebuked. If I am the only who feels the way I do then the task is more daunting and I would take a different approach. If a change can be initiated through me, by the grace of Allah (SWT), and then implemented by the ummah I think that this would be the greatest success. As it is, I put my email up on our Centre's web page as the person to talk to if you need help in understanding Islam. It was the first step in becoming the catalyst in my community. I am trying to organize education opportunities for nonmuslims to understand Islam. I run a small blog to help reverts (need to step this up a notch). I have made a few You Tube videos detailing my experiences with commentary. In short, I try to make myself available to the opportunity. At the same time, I need to address my own short comings and deficiencies and that is a true challenge. If I am not alone in my feelings then I was just looking to have a group think as to how we might make it better. How have others instituted change? What are some thoughts? Mashallah I have heard some nice ideas and the video was very inspiring.
  4. Thank you for sharing. I think it would be an incredible story to listen to, as you and your whole family came to Islam. Very inspirational. I think your analysis compares pretty well to my own. I was welcomed with open arms by the community (which is multicultural), however there is that lack of structure and communication with reverts that I need. As a revert I sometimes feel disconnected in my own household. I communicate with brothers and sisters maybe once or twice a week and the rest is spent in somewhat of a solitude. I want the dialogue and the communication but people in general are busy so the isolation becomes pretty intense. I want to learn arabic. Where are the classes? I broke down and bought Rosetta Stone and have tried to learn it myself. I could use a fiqh class. I want to learn some duas. But who will teach me? I can also agree with another thing said...as reverts, we have to want to help ourselves and others and maybe we can build something special. Maybe the weight to do something great is on our shoulders? It is one of the reasons I brought up this topic. I want to be a part of the solution. Nobody should feel isolated and everybody should be encouraged.... Wa'salaam, Br. Stefan
  5. How did you guys personally feel that you were welcomed to Islam by your local community, whether that be this year of ten years ago?
  6. Salaam, Yes. I like a lot of what you are talking about. One of the things our Sheikh tries to do is meet with the revert brothers and sisters in the community and asks them if they have any questions. We eat together and just talk. I myself crave the time I can spend with Sheikh and the elders in teh community. I am constantly in pursuit of the knowledge to be a better servant of Allah (SWT). I am too new to be aggravated when people ask my story. I gladly tell it. I put it out there as much as possible in hopes that it can help someone else. At the very least I find that it boosts spirits and moral of those around me. It serves as an affirmation of the power of Islam. Nobody treats me like a dolt, it's just they are surprised with what I may know already. Nobody wants to be judged on the complexion of their skin, however, the only way that we can show that we do in fact have a level of education is to have the conversation to begin with. Thank you so much for your ideas! Your thoughts and input are much appreciated. .
  7. I am thinking of ways to help my brothers and sisters for the good of Allah (SWT)

  8. Salaam Alaikum, you can email me at stefan804@gmail.com. I will help you in any way that I can. What region are you in?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Wa'salaam,

    Br. Stefan

  9. Salaam Alaikum, I very much understand what you are getting at. I am targeting those who would like to know more and want to have that continuity of education like myself. For instance, a brother came to the masjid, he was Caucasian, nobody said anything to him for the most part and when he was asked why he never went back to the masjid, he said, I am paraphrasing here, he did not feel like he would be missed if he did not show up. So basically he was not welcomed. He did not feel like he was made part of or invited to join the community on any level. This needs to change. As a community we are not prepared to invite and educate when we are called upon to do so. (with the understanding that some do not need this). But when we are called upon, we must act and have a plan. I find it unacceptable to not help those who need and request that help. If you have ideas, comments, and thoughts please share.
  10. Salaam Alaikum, Really beautiful. That is what I am talking about. That video describes what it at the heart of the matter. I feel like I need to do more. Inshallah I will have the capacity and the where with all to initiate this movement in Austin. I was talking to one of my revert brothers in Austin and he said he went to Boston to visit family and he could not find one majalis in English. Not one!!! Another said that he could not even recommend an masjid in Chicago to a revert brother. It is imperative that we think introspectively what it means to invite people to Islam. Thank you for showing me this....
  11. Salaam Alaikum, I have joined the outreach committee at my masjid and I am a revert myself as of a year ago and I was curious as to how other reverts, both brothers and sisters, have been received across the globe. When you first went to the masjid did people introduce themselves to you and welcome you? Did you have someone to show you what a majilis was about? Did someone offer to answer your questions? Have you made many connections or friendships since you have come to your masjid? If you are not a revert, how does your center welcome reverts? Do you have a welcoming committee? If someone calls up to the center and is interested in Islam, how does the center handle that interest? Does your center have a website with information? Thank you for your time. I am just trying to catch my bearings. Wa'salaam, Br. Stefan
  12. salaam alaikum, The struggles are indeed mighty at times. As a former Christian I have had to sever ties with some of my family (not my mother or father mind you). They would not eat with me and shun me and that is fine. I am content with that. Every day I try and build myself up and bring myself closer to Allah (swt). If there is a particular time that I draw strength from, it is Muharram. When I think of the example of Imam Hussein (as) I feel very empowered. I feel that much is possible with sacrifice. The closer I bring myself to Allah (swt) the easier things become even in the darkest hour. I wish you the strength from the example of Ahlul Bayt (as). A good character builder would be to read the hadith and stories of Lady Zaynab (as). They are the best examples. Please know that your brothers and sisters are with you. wa'salaam, br. Stefan
  13. Certainly....Al-Kafi Let me know what you think. I think it's fantastic. I did not think something like that existed until I found it a few days ago. If you know of where I can find PDF versions of these books I will be eternally greatful. Al-Khisal Al-Mawaaizh Mishkatul Anwar Nahj Al-Fasahah Oddatal Daee
  14. Salaam Alaikum, I found the incomplete version of Al Mizan at Half Price Books, of all places. It's very interesting but you will certainly find yourself wanting more and unable to get it at this point. Al-Kafi I don't think you can find physical copies of the text. I have looked and I was unable to find anything. What I have done is bought a Kindle E-Reader, downloaded a PDF on my computer, and emailed it to my Kindle. Now I can read many of the books on this device. I can take the Kindle to the park and read there. I can make notes and highlight text. This is an expensive option and I had to save up for that, but if it is viable I would consider it in the future. It will end a lot of frustration I think.. On a side note, does anyone know how many chapters Al Kafi has? The PDF version (English Translation) I have from Muhammad Sarwar is 130 chapters. Accurate?
  15. Salaam, Thank you very much. This will be very helpful. I will let you know what I find. Thank you very much. Br. Stefan
  16. Salaam Alaikum everyone! It has been a while since I visited here and I hope everyone is well. I was wondering if anybody can refer me to the website(s) that have the most shia books to download. I have an ereader that will support PDF and Epub files and want to fill it up with books that actually will mean something to me (ie religious texts). Reading online is ok but chapters are organized in links which makes the process not very fluid if that makes sense. Do you have any suggestions? Oh one more thing....I need english. My arabic is coming along but not up to that point. I am all eyes and ears.... Wa'salaam, Stefan
  17. Salaam Alaikum, I just realized that I had never put my story up here for others to see. It is available on your tube and here is the link: Revert Youtube Story The following is an article I wrote for Islamic Insights (great website by the way) I was Roman Catholic. I was an altar boy in high school. I sang in the choir. I participated in church-related plays. My mother was the choir master, and my father played the guitar. We spent hours at the church either for religious education purposes or to practice our ministry. I attended and led a variety of Catholic youth events, and eventually I was confirmed in the faith in 1993 (my high school graduation). I knew the faith and the Catholic religion. I was content, or so I thought. I was content because I didn't know any other way. It was just familiar, and I was merely complacent. Catholicism was just the natural course of things. It was the same way for my parents as it was for their parents. As a youth, my world was very small and simple. I did as my parents did, and life moved accordingly. In my senior year of high school, I began to look at varying colleges to see what would be the best fit for me. I had numerous choices, but I opted for the college that appeared to be the most different from the current hometown experience. I elected to attend George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Fairfax is a very diverse county in Northern Virginia. It was close to Washington, DC, and appeared to me that I would have an opportunity to absorb more culture than I had ever encountered before. In the first semester of my freshman year, I decided to take a Middle Eastern studies class. That was really my first exposure to Islam. I was studying a part of the world all together unfamiliar to me and learning about civilizations and individuals that I had no reference for. It was really at this point where I started hearing the terms Islam and Muslim. I also was introduced to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) for the first time. The class was filled with interesting discussion and my interest was piqued. I started to engage my peers in the classroom and ask questions. What did it mean to be Muslim? Who is Allah? How is your faith different from mine? What I got in return from these questions was a perspective that I never knew existed. I saw how Muslims embraced God into their everyday lives. God wasn't just on Sundays. God was a central part of life. In watching my brothers at George Mason University, I received the answers to these same questions every day. Every day, five times a day, each time they offered prayers, my friends were showing me a dedication that I never knew. Each time a friend put off playing basketball to make wudhu and pray, I saw his devotion. I had taken my faith for granted. It was given to me. I inherited it. I was shocked and appalled. I was shocked and appalled, because I did not have this level of commitment to my faith. What I was hearing and witnessing was unparalleled at the time. My Muslim friends were not just going to church on Sunday. They were committed to Allah every day. I felt like I was missing out on something special. Why was I not privy to this relationship with God? At the end of my freshman year, I came home to find out that my mother and father were getting a divorce. It is impossible for me to relay my feelings at the time. It was inconceivable. The family I had known for so long was breaking apart at the seams. It was earth shattering and rocked my belief in the Almighty and the Catholic Church. I felt let down and demoralized. I stopped attending church services and cut myself off from all religious affiliation or activity. I no longer prayed. I simply ceased my relationship with God. In 1998, I worked at First Virginia Bank in Centreville, Virginia. I went to school during the day and worked the drive-through at the bank in the early evenings. At this particular branch, there were two Muslim sisters from Afghanistan. It was the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and these sisters were fasting from sun up to sun down. I was once again in awe of their dedication to their faith. As a Catholic, you give up ice cream or soda for a month, but nobody I knew was willing to give up food and water from sunrise to sunset! It was an incredible testimony to their love of Allah. They would often times bring me food because I had nothing at the time. I was fasting because I had little money and hardly any food. One of the sisters saw I was interested in Islam and gave me the name of the resident scholar at Manassas Mosque, Shaikh Abu Nahidyan. I contacted Sheikh Nahidyan by phone, and we set up a time when we could meet face-to-face. We spent a lot of time discussing the fundamentals. We discussed what was going on in the news. We also drank a lot of tea! He nurtured my faith without pressuring me. He let me sit in on meetings and prayer. I found him to be inspirational by his knowledge and his kind demeanor. I met him once a week, and my time with him was a reprieve from my otherwise hectic world. Sheikh Nahidyan was going to be the catalyst to my reversion. He was no more than himself, but his generosity with his time and knowledge meant the world to me. However, at the time, I was living in squalor. I was staying in a house that was used by migrant workers who moved up and down the East Coast. The house did not have proper plumbing, heating, or cooling. It was dangerous, and I had to leave. I left Virginia for Texas in December of 1999. I felt Islam was the right path, but I failed to follow through. I felt unworthy of the title "Muslim". In 2001, I married Marsela. We were the best of friends, and we relied on each other immensely. We found strength and resolve in each other. We loved each other completely and expected to spend the rest of our lives together. Yet shortly after our marriage, my wife was in a lot of pain. We went to the doctor, and after a battery of tests, they said she had uterine cancer. It was devastating news. We attempted a multitude of treatment options, but in the end, those treatments failed. We ran the risk of having the cancer metastasize if she did not opt for surgery to remove her uterus. It was a difficult decision but one that had to be made. In 2003, shortly after surgery, Marsela died of a pulmonary embolism that traveled from her legs to her lungs. It was devastating and heartbreaking. The grief was overbearing. I felt that Allah brought us together only to tear us apart. It was at this point that I had a one-way relationship with Allah. He was watching over me, but I wanted nothing to do with Him. I felt betrayed, and the depression of the event was taking its toll. I kept my smile bright upon outward appearance, but inwardly I felt like I was fading away. A year of depression subdued me. I struggled to get up in the mornings and go to work, but my routine was the only thing holding me together. Then life took another turn. I came in contact with a most wonderful person. That person was to eventually be my present wife. I feel like I met Stacie out of divine intervention. I felt as though Allah was reaching out to me. She knew what it was like to hurt, and she knew I was hurting. She gave me rekindled spirit and a renewed vigor for life. Now, that didn't just happen at the snap of her fingers. It was a gradual process. Allah saved me because He willed it and he brought somebody in my life to show me that He cared. He did not abandon me. Even though I recognized Allah's intervention, I still did not feel spiritually fulfilled. Stacie was a converted Roman Catholic. We tried going to church, and it was such an empty feeling. I did not leave feeling inspired or that the Holy Spirit had touched me. I simply did not believe in what the Church was saying anymore. There was a lack of spirituality there. How can you profess something you simply don't believe? It cannot be done. So we didn't venture to church anymore. We remained devoid of that spiritual fulfillment. Then one day in the middle of February 2009, we began to talk about that empty feeling again, and my wife (who is Catholic) turned to me and said, "You should go to the mosque." I was in shock. I felt like she was reading my mind and for her to have said that at that very moment was just another sign from Allah. I contacted the mosque that evening in earnest. I wanted to start the process as soon as possible. I wanted to let the world know in seconds what it took me seemingly forever to figure out. I would have to wait. It was late in the evening and I could not call. No one would be there. I went to the 'Ask the Aalim' link on the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Association's (Austin) website, and a few days later I got the reply that the scholar was not in the area and would not be available for a couple of weeks. I was deflated. I felt I needed to push harder. I needed to talk to somebody. I needed to make my Shahadah, or I was going to burst at the seams. I needed to speak to someone. I needed to talk to a brother about Islam. I needed to feel something spiritual. I was tired of feeling nothing at all. I emailed again. A day passed, and the Shaikh gave me the name of a brother from the center, and we started corresponding via email. Eventually the emails lead to phone calls, and from there we decided to meet. There was excitement and apprehension. I was finally putting myself out there and taking the necessary steps to find a working relationship with Allah. I was ending a period of my life that was a spiritual null and hoping to find my relationship with God. I met with two brothers from the mosque at a restaurant, and we talked about where I had come from and my story. They were trying to gauge what my interest level was in relation to Islam. I did have questions, but they were moot. I just wanted to tell them. I had made the Shahadah in my head countless times in the days preceding our meeting, but I wanted someone else to hear it. I wanted to make it well known that I was Muslim, a servant to Allah. I told them that day I was Muslim and asked for their help. That day we created a plan. I would learn in stages. The object, one of the brothers said, was not to take too much on at once. He felt I should learn in stages and steps. This was hard, and at times I did push too hard and felt like it was too much. But for each step I went back, I took another two forward. We would continue to meet every week for a couple of months so that I could ask questions and they could gauge progress. Today, I am very proud to call these individuals my brothers and my friends. They have been instrumental to my development as a Muslim, and I met them only through the grace of Allah. It has been seven months now since I made my Shahadah. I feel the connection between myself and my Creator growing each day. Each day my faith increases. The things that happened in my past have led me to appreciate my present. I am indeed blessed. I am in the perfect position to praise Allah for all that He has done for me. At each stage of my journey, a brother or a sister reached out to me. They gave me a glimpse into their lives. They gave me their time and attention. They performed the ultimate Da'wah by simply being good Muslims in practicing their faith openly and honestly. It was through these interactions and the guidance of Allah that I am able to write this article today, as a servant, as a friend, and as a Muslim. Assalam Alaikum!
  18. Salaam Alaikum Sister, I reverted to Islam in February. I find the journey to be at times wonderful and beautiful. At other times I feel it to be strenuous and hard. It is the ebs and flows of our imperfections. At times I want to be self-righteous and other times I hope that I am left alone. I am coming to the grips that I am an imperfect subject to Allah (swt) who is indeed perfect. It is my condition to be imperfect but to strive for what I can not attain. I am assured in Allah's mercy as should you be. You should never just "accept" anything and everything as the truth. You should study the words of the Imams, Hadith, and ultimately the Qu'ran. You should leave your studies knowing that Allah (swt) commends those who seek knowledge and truth. It is not a sin to question or to doubt in the name of seeking the truth. When it becomes a problem is when you know it is the truth and you refute it. Take your time. Gradually bring yourself back. Open you heart, keep your eyes wide open, and in the mean time, if you need anything, I am your brother in Islam, and here for you if you need me as our most people here. Wa'salaam, Stefan
  19. It was earlier in this same thread....around page 6 to 8 I think but I can not be for sure of the page. Salaam.
  20. I just finished reading The Polarization Of Imam Ali by Martyr Murtada Mutahhari. As a revert I feel so very enlightened after reading it. It gave me such a perspective. For my next read I have two choices... Dave Egger's What Is The What, which is biographical discussing the details of a journey of a child who is force to fight in Sudan's war. SPLA I believe.... or I too can read The Shia Revival, which someone on here already gave terrible reviews for, but I can formulate my own opinion... Any votes?
  21. Salaam Alaikum, Ever since my reversion to Islam I wake up knowing that each day I have the opportunity of serving Allah (swt). I have another chance to make a difference in the name of Islam. I have a chance to show someone else what I now know. I am very thankful for each day I am given to prove myself worthy of being called a 'muslim'.
  22. Of course. Ask me here, email, or on diigo. I am not an expert but what I like about it is that it keeps all the information together in one place. You need to have the Diigo toolbar installed and logged in in order to see other Diigo user's highlights and notes. If you joined the group (haven't checked yet today) you can see ayats I have highlighted in the Qu'ran that had special meaning or questions I may have. I have also included my notes on the Polarization of Imam Ali . Let me know of any questions as they arise. Wa'salaam, Stefan
  23. Salaam Alaikum, He was really hard to understand and not very articulate. I would not be terribly concerned over his rants. We know a lot of people who feel this way but I like the comment above about us keeping our 'dignity'. We should not lower our standards because he has decided to take the low road. Responding with spam and obscenity only adds fuel to the fire. Maybe we should refer him to one of our scholars and try to bring light to the dark? Wa'salaam, Stefan
  24. Wa'salaam, I got both of your invitations and have accepted them both. I will look for you on Diigo. Right now I am reading The Polarization of Imam Ali (as). I will look for you. Please be sure to send links my way as you discover them and I will do likewise. Also, pass this thread around and lets see who else we can link up with. Wa'salaam, Stefan
  25. Salaam Alaikum, I am more than willing to have you contact me. stefan804@gmail.com And we can just go from there. Wa'salaam, Stefan
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