All roads lead to Rome they say … I would add that all roads lead to ShiA Islam if in fact one is to really embrace the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.
I was asked many times by my contemporaries what it is about Shia Islam that I found compelling enough I would walk away from “mainstream” also known as Sunni Islam to become the minority of the minority?
I did not choose! Shia Islam chose me and my only choice in the matter was to follow. Actually let me rephrase that: being a Shia of Ali, being a servant of Ahlulbayt and stand true to the Message God imparted His last prophet: the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was never an issue to be debated. It was really the case of me knowing what was true and feeling compelled to act in accordance to this truth.
As for being the minority of the minority, God did warn that for every truth He would allow us to see, a test would follow. Speaking truth in the face of falsehood has never been an easy task and I long made peace with that.
The Quran does not promise to shield believers from hardship it only offers the strength to carry whatever burden God will chose to make us bear as we walk on His path.
Once upon a time a friend of mine taught me that rather that pray for a trouble free life one should instead call for strength and patience in bearing hardship.
But back to my conversion story … I came to Islam organically. There was no real struggle, no agonising debate over my challenging of my forefathers’ traditions and all the rest of it. I was raised a catholic but never really connected with the Bible and my parents did not exactly push me.
Where the Bible read like a far-fetch fairytale, the Quran appealed to my sense of logic. In all fairness it is difficult to rationalise truth … it just added up for me.
I read the Quran, asked a zillion questions, read many books and naturally came to the conclusion that I was a Shia.
That does not mean that I consider myself a member of the Shia community here in the UK.
If I’m perfectly honest, Muslims have been less than welcoming.
Sure at first I was met with smiles but smiles quickly turned to smirks when I attempted to join in programs and events.
Within six months of my conversion I was met by a barrage of criticism, and allegations of wrongdoings.
I quickly realise that I would forever be an outsider to my fellow brothers and sisters due to my ethnicity. I’m ok with it now. To some extent I can understand why people would link Islam to their own sense of national identity and thus refuse to be diluted into multiculturalism.
At the same I don’t view Islam as a passport or a culture.
Islam transcends all manners of differences.
Islam for me is universal and atemporal … Ahlulbayt sits beyond all to stand a guidance to mankind regardless of their station.
This is what attracted me to Islam – this Freedom to belong no matter what may divide us individually.
I am a Shia despite Shia Muslims lol
I do not mean to be critical, really I don’t, but at the same time you did ask me to tell you my story and so I did.
Maybe it was only my experience and maybe I was unlucky in my interactions with the community but In nevertheless wish I had been treated with a bit more kindness and compassion.
Above all I wish my answers had been met by more than contempt for my ignorance. Unlike my fellow Muslims I was not as lucky as to be raised in Islam and so my mind was a blank canvas waiting for colours to be added.
I wish more people would have given me the time of day …
At the same time those difficulties allowed me to look within for strength and turn to God for answers.