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Ilyias Nassif (Roseau, Comm. of Dominica)

My Path to Islam

I was raised as a catholic on a small island in the Caribbean called Dominica. As I reached my teenage years I began questioning the purpose of my existence. I believed in a Creator, but I knew that what I had grown up with was not the truth. I began reading books, becoming an introvert and constantly reflecting on what I understood from my proliferous readings.  This phase continued for years until I moved from books of philosophy to books about the world religions. This change of direction occurred because I found that most of these "religions" all professed some doctrines that I naturally resisted from deep inside. Whether it was the obvious racism of Judaism or Hinduism, the absence of God as in Buddhism, the superficiality of rastafarism, my inner self could not submit to these obvious doctrinal flaws.

One day I found a book that really changed things for me  This book talked about the oneness of God, and a universal message, as well as deep yet practical guidelines for achieving good character. I felt like I had discovered a great and precious treasure. After so many years of trying to discover my purpose, I felt like I had finally found the truth, I had discovered Islam.

Of course I did not understand many things at this stage neither did I find anyone that I could turn to in order to answer the many questions that I still had . Of course there were still doubts, but I was slowly approaching the time in which I would take the plunge that would take me into the universal brotherhood of Islam.
         
While a student in the United States, I had an opportunity to visit a large mosque. I also travelled to Egypt, the outcome of a long dream. While in Egypt I found myself immersed not in the legacy of the pharaohs but in the monuments and living beauty of present day muslims going about their lives in that ancient country.

After my return from my trip in Egypt, I expressed my admiration of Islam through my artwork. I felt within myself that I was a Muslim but I realized that there were aspects of the faith which my ignorance of made me feel outside of the fold despite the empathy that I felt.

While in this state I encountered a muslim who was a student at a university on the island. When he greeted me he thought that I was already a muslim. After explaining to him that I was not, he invited me to become muslim by uttering the statement of faith. I did so and my life was changed completely from that moment onwards.

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