Slightly edited by MuslimAnswers.net Team
Catholicism in Brazil is a deeply studied academic field. Its roots can be traced back to Portugal in the Iberian Peninsula. The legacy of Catholicism in the Iberian Peninsula is tainted by a rampage thought by its proponents to bring about a single culture by doing away with 800 years of Arabic domination, while at the same time warding off demons and pestilences in a practice reminiscent of past Greek paganism where man would praise all the saints he could.
I was born in a “multicultural” family, as my family preferred to stress. I had the good fortune to have an excellent and traditional education through good schools and teachers in a land where many people are forgotten. From my childhood when I was raised as a Catholic all the atmosphere of penitence used to send shivers up my spine. It was very hard to conceive that “God” was killed by us or to even conceive that “God” let himself die fixed on a cross so that the salvation of the world would be brought about. Every Thursday and especially the holiday preceding the Easter commemoration I would be frightened while journeying in an eerie odyssey. Its peak was in the third hour where it is written that shadows covered all the Earth. It always made me run hastily to the bedroom where I could get myself safe under blankets.
Despite this comical and childish phase, I used to pray to God, always asking if He was one or three, but believing He was there, praying for His protection through saints and angels, but still praying and trying to obey the biblical commandments. Then I went through the two versions of “God’s speech”, (and I mention this in quotes) because if you seriously take Jesus as the same God expressed in the Old Testament you will already be in a state of confusion. While in the Old Testament it says to avoid pork, if we fast-forward a few books and find ourselves in the New Testament books we see that it is allowed. Stunningly a man who did not met Jesus (if he did meet Jesus, why he would differ in the accounts of his trip?) and who was at first not even considered a real apostle by the others apostles (!). A man who craftily took his own kind of “midrash” (rabbinical Jewish interpretation) and put words where words did not come from. If you take into account all the scholarly effort to bulk up their religion, what else could Christianity have left behind?
All this stuff was riveting my mind when I came across a Seerah (biography) of the Rasullullah (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). I passionately started my reading, devouring the pages while trying to conciliate it with my studies in university and trying to satisfy my ravenous intellectual need for religious knowledge. Many religions passed by me and I was still attached to the old book purchased in a flea market. Then, I finished it. Amazingly I was crying! How could I not know about a man like this during all my life? A leader, a father, a grandfather, a husband, a Messenger of God, a warrior against sheer ignorance and a charitable teacher, a charitable lover.
I presented myself in the narrow but cozy prayer room (mussalla) in my city, Rio de Janeiro, where I was scheduled to have an appointment with the local Imam. At first glance everything was as new as it was strange. So I decided to know more, to gain more knowledge, to have my own judgment about Islam and Muslims because by that time I was very afraid of my family’s reaction, of people backbiting, and so on. In the first meeting the Imam explained to me the 5 pillars of faith. I had no problem there, as I could recognize them in detail based on my previous readings. After one or two weeks of classes where I took all my questions and got them all answered I was invited to salatul jummuat (Friday prayers), and invitation which I promptly accepted.
That Friday I thought about my entire life, racing up and down all the facts and happenings, all the shortcomings, celebrations, etc. Although it all seemed happy, past times where dotted and filled with sparse periods of sadness and tears as well. This inner entrance helped me to figure out the meaning of life: To endure. Trying to live it all in the best way I could live my life. I was 24 years old and now I regard my awakening as a dawning for God, the first signal of maturity. Wisdom and maturity steered me to the best. That Friday I chose my way. After the service the imam in a low voice (but in a polite tune) answered me: “Pertaining the knowledge you get, I ask you if you want to become Muslim. Please, I need you to understand that it’s up to you only”. My answer was: Yes! And I am saying it during all the days of my life: Yes! Yes, to the right and righteous path! Islam!
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