MUHAMMAD JOHN WEBSTER (G.B.)
I was raised with sheer Christian education in London. In 1930,
being a young student, I encountered some events like other youngsters,
and tried to understand them. One of them was to establish some
relation between the religion and the world, or, in other words,
to think over how I could utilize the religion for the accomplishment
of a more peaceful and more comfortable life. Then, for the first
time in my life, I came to the realization that my religion, Christianity,
was too insufficient and too short for that purpose. For Christianity
defined the world as a place of torture whose mere contents are
evils and vices, and men as creatures sinful from birth. Let alone
showing people how to lead a peaceful life in the world, it imposed
on them a concept of life like an area mined with sins, left them
on the horns of dilemma by saying that there was nothing they
could do on their own to get out of this state of sinfulness,
and then degenerated them by saying that on behalf of them priests
could invoke Allahu ta'ala. Christianity left people entirely
to themselves, and confined their worships to unsatisfactory Sunday
masses, which they perform in the perfunctory air of the church
service. In those years Britain was in a great economic depression
and poverty. People were very unhappy and therefore totally displeased
with the government. Christianity gave them no help in those days
of destitution, nor did they find any sort of heartening quality
in it to help them endure. This shortcoming had a considerably
ruinous impact on me. Indulging in the rationalizing relaxation
of my emotions instead of judging things with the impersonal justice
of reason, I reached the conclusion that religion was something
meaningless. Rejecting Christianity, I, like many other young
people, took to atheism and communism.
From a certain distance, Communism appealed to the young people.
Depressed under economic straits and totally hopeless of their
future life, the younger generation looked on Communism as a saviour
because it was being propagated with the promise that it would
extirpate differences of wealth and rank. It did not take me long
to realize, however, that the communist claims consisted of sheer
propaganda and hollow words. Communism was the very abode of segregation,
both of rank and of wealth. Everything was the same in every country.
Upon this I gave up Communism and dived into philosophy. Thus
I began to specialize as a pantheist in the creed of Wahdat-i
It is very difficult to get in touch with Muslims in Western countries.
For in those countries there is a deep-seated rancor against Islam,
which dates back to the crusading expeditions. Europeans reject
Islam with hatred, though they know nothing of it. They raise
their children with an education dressed with a strong feeling
of animus towards Islam. So much so that talking about Islam means
a violation of the established rules of decorum in their society.
If someone should bring up this subject in a social gathering,
the others will protest with a mute frown. In the meantime, I
was sent on an official mission to Australia. Despite the 'hatred
towards Islam' which had been engraved on my subconscious in the
name of education, one day I somehow succumbed to my curiosity
and got a translation of the Qur'an al-karim. Yet, I had hardly
finished the introduction of the book, when I immediately closed
the book. For the translator of the book used such an abusive
and defamatory language about the Qur'an al-karim right in the
introduction that it meant there was no sense in reading a book
of that sort. Afterwards, I pondered on the matter. Since Christians
hated Muslims and the translator was a Christian, it was very
well possible that he could have misunderstood some of its parts
under the influence of his predisposition and made that blasphemous
translation. And there was my curiosity. I took the matter more
seriously, and when I went to the city of Perth in western Australia
a couple of weeks later, I visited the grand library of the city
and queried whether there was a translation of the Qur'an al-karim
rendered by Muslims. They found a translation of that sort and
gave it to me. No words could define the emotions that began to
stir in the depths of my soul when I opened it and read the first
chapter in it, the chapter (sura) called Fatiha-i-Sharifa, which
began with the phrase, "Hamd (thanks and praise) be to the
Rabb (Lord, Creator, Allah) of alams (classes of beings)."
The first chapter ended with the invocations that purported, "Guide
us to the right path." How beautiful it was! I read the Fatiha-i-Sharifa
a number of times. The creator mentioned here was "Rahman
and Rahim," which meant "Very Merciful and Compassionate."
Contrary to the Christian dogma, He had not created men sinful.
I began to read the Qur'an al-karim, and the more I read the more
ecstatic did I become. Whatsoever I had desired and imagined I
found in this holy book. Hours elapsed, and I was completely oblivious
of where I was, of the time, and of everything. In addition to
that translation of the Qur'an al-karim, they had brought me some
books about the life of Muhammad s.a.s.. I was reading them in
utter rapture, when at last the librarian came to me and said,
"It's time we closed the library, sir." I came back
to myself, and left the library. On my way home I was soliloquizing
and repeating: "I have now attained my goal. I am a Muslim
now." With the guidance of Allahu ta'ala, I had eventually
attained the Hidaya (the right way).
As I was going back home, I looked for a convenient place to have
some coffee. As I walked down the street I had only the Qur'an
al-karim, Islam, and Allahu ta'ala in my mind. I was quite unaware
of where I was going. All of a sudden my legs stopped on their
own. When I raised my head I found myself in front of an entrance
built with red bricks. My legs had brought me here on their own.
I read the sign hanging on the wall. It was a mosque in Australia.
I said to myself: "Allahu ta'ala has blessed you with the
right way and taught you what you should do. You know Islam now.
Allahu ta'ala has brought you up to the entrance of the mosque.
Go inside right away and embrace this religion." I walked
in, and became a Muslim.
Until that time I had not known one single Muslim. I found Islam
by myself and accepted it by myself. No one guided me in this
respect. My only guide was my common sense.