A Jew journey to Islam: With his first meeting with Muslims, and then with numerous chats about religion, Michael David Shapiro sifted the beliefs of various religions until he converted to Islam. Here is his story.
I am an ethnically Russian Jew. My search began when I was 19 years old.
My faith in God was uncertain. My goals in life were to be a rock star. I lived in my apartment in Pasadena and worked as a secretary.
One night I went to the kitchen and met a dark man. I remembered that I asked him:
“Can I keep this vodka in the fridge tonight?” We shook hands and went to bed. After this point, my life changed dramatically …
This dark man, a Muslim, was the first Muslim I ever met. Extremely curious, I talked with him about his faith. What do I hear about prayer 5 times a day? And about the holy war?
Our talks were followed by our Christian roommate, Wade. Together we created the “Jewish, Christian and Muslim dialogues”. In it, we found many differences and a lot in common.
Then my interest shifted from sex, drugs and parties to a massive search for truth. Search for God.
In my pursuit of truth, I asked myself: “Well, let’s just start, how many Gods, I think, are there?” I thought only about one thing; knowing that a divided God is weaker than the One God; believing that if one God disagrees with the other, there may be arguments and disagreements.
As soon as I opened my mind to the possibility of the existence of God, I analyzed both atheistic and theistic beliefs. What directed me to the latter was the quote “Every Design Has a Designer”. With this in mind, I finally woke up with the certainty that God exists. I can not explain why, I somehow felt it.
This newfound excitement was accompanied by a sense of responsibility to follow the Creator. The world of religion was my next frontier.
Then I asked myself: “Where to start?” There are literally thousands of them. I need a way to narrow them down to a few. How can I accomplish such a task? “Those who are monotheistic are found.” “Hey, that makes sense because I only believe in the One God.”
Well, since I am a Jew, I started with Judaism. One God, some prophets, the 10 commandments, the Torah, Jewish souls … uh, what: “Jewish souls?”
During the study, this idea was brought to my attention. The story says: “If a person is born a Jew, then he has a Jewish soul, and they must follow Judaism.” Hang on for a second … it’s discrimination, isn’t it? It is not universal.
I thought all men are created equal? So, because a person was born in a religion that means by the decree of God, he must remain in it … even if a person considers it false? Hmm … I do not agree with this.
Another thing really bothered me … there is no strict concept of hell in Judaism … then why be good? Why not sin? If I am not afraid of strict punishment, then why should I be moral?
Moving on, I discovered Christianity. Well, one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost … So, how can you say that you only believe in one God?
The next important teaching is: Jesus died for our sins, and he did it because we are all polluted by “Original Sin.”
So, so you say that we are all born as sinners? And sin means doing something wrong? Then you tell me that a one-year-old child is guilty of sin or something is wrong? OK, this is strange, therefore, based on the actions of one person, the whole of humanity must suffer? What is the moral of this story? Punish the whole group if you deviate? Why did God create such a rule? This is simply not consistent with my logic.
Well, what is the next religion?
Islam. Islam means submission. The basic beliefs are as follows: God alone, worship God five times a day, give 2.5% annual charity, quickly during Ramadan, and finally go to Mecca for Hajj, if you are financially able. Well, still difficult to understand.
There is nothing contrary to my logic. The Koran is a book with all these interesting wonders and eternal wisdom. Many scientific facts have been discovered only recently, proclaimed 1,400 years ago in this book.
Well, Islam went through my initial religious background. But I wanted to ask some deep questions. Is this religion universal? Yes, anyone can understand these basic beliefs … no analogy or equation is required. Does he agree with science? Yes, dozens of verses in the Quran are consistent with modern science and technology.
When I sifted countless logical facts that I read and researched, I paid the most attention. “Islam” – the name of this religion is written many times in this Quran.
However, recalling my previous studies, I do not remember how I once saw the word “Judaism” in the Old Testament or “Christianity” in the New Testament. Why could I not find the very name of religion in these two books? Because in these books there is no name!
So who is Judas? Or Judah, rather. He was the leader of a Jewish tribe when God revealed his message to humanity. So this religion was named after … man. All right, let’s see what Christ is. He was the man who conveyed the message of God to the Jews. So this religion was named after … man.
Also, shouldn’t a name be given to us from Almighty God? Yes exactly. The names “Christianity” and “Judaism” were not written in the Holy Scriptures.
At that moment, both Christianity and Judaism lost confidence in pure, logical and full of religion, at least from my point of view. Islam is the only one of these religions that includes the name of religion in its writings. For me it is so huge.
I realized that after that I would follow Islam. Then I became a Muslim. I knew the truth. I was in the dark. I came to the light world …