FADL-UD-DIN AHMAD OVERING (Holland)
I cannot figure out precisely the time of my first contact with
the oriental civilization. This contact owes primarily to language.
To be more clear, my aspirations to learn the oriental languages
ended in my beginning to study Arabic when I was only in my early
teens. Naturally, with no one to help me, it was rather an onerous
work for me to get over. Primarily with a view to learning Arabic,
I bought some books written by Europeans about the Arabs and about
Islam. I think most of the information they gave about Islam were
far from being correct or unbiased. Nevertheless, the passages
about Muhammad a.s. caused me to develop a strong admiration for
his personality. Yet the information I collected about Islam was
both incorrect and insufficient. Nor was there anyone to guide
In the long last, I came across a perfect work, namely a book
entitled, 'History of Persian Literature in Modern Times', written
by T.G. Browne. I found two elegant poems in the book. One of
them was the Terji'i bend of Hatif Isfahani, and the other one
was the Heftbend of Mohtashim Kashani.
I cannot describe to you the greatness of the excitement that
I felt when I read Hatif's poem. How delicately the poem depicted
a soul that was desperately struggling in a deep gloom of indecision
and depression and seeking for a murshid to guide him to salvation!
As I read it, I felt as if the great poet had written it about
me and as if the poem were describing my struggles to find the
He, alone, exists; there's no others in existence;
He, alone, is worthy of worship by all existence.
To fulfil my mother's wishes and to satisfy my curiosity, I registered
in a high school with a religious curriculum. Despite its religious
system of education, the school did not follow a fanatical policy.
The students could discuss their ideas freely, and their ideas
were held in high regard. The religious lessons consisted of religious
essentials that a person needed to know. However, the answer,
"I feel deep respect for the Islamic religion," which
I gave to a final exam question querying our opinions about other
religions must have consternated the school director. In those
days, the strong feelings of sympathy I had had for the Islamic
religion had not developed into a definite belief yet. I was still
in a state of indecision. Nor had I completely recovered from
the morbid hostility against Islam that the church had engraved
into the depths of my soul.
Firmly resolved to disentangle myself from the influence of those
books with European authors, I embarked on an entirely personal
study of Islam; this time the only criterion would be my personal
evaluation. How thoroughbred the facts that the study yielded
were! It began to dawn on me why so many people abandoned the
religions inculcated into them during their childhood and embraced
Islam. For the first feature of Islam reflected man's own essence,
his personal world, his true belief and trust in Allahu ta'ala,
and its second feature involved his unconditional submission to
Allahu ta'ala, his Owner, and obedience to His commandments. In
the following paragraphs I shall attempt some quotations from
the Qur'an al-karim, which I consider relevant to the subject.
Stripped as they may be of the magnificent harmony inherent in
their Arabic originals, translations of these divine statements
still have very strong attraction.
The twenty-seventh and later ayats of Fajr Sura purport, "O
(thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction!" "Come
back thou to thy Allah, well-pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing
unto Him!" "Enter thou, then, among My devotees!"
"Yea, enter thou My Heaven!" (89-27, 28, 29, 30)
This statement alone would be enough to prove the fact that the
Islamic religion, quite unlike the superstitious Christianity,
or the other religions, which are even worse, is an extremely
pure, true, and genuine religion.
In contrast with the Christian credo which imposes a tenet wherein
mankind is sinful from birth and even a newly born baby has a
share from sins of earlier generations, the hundred and sixty-fourth
ayat of Anam Sura in the Qur'an al-karim purports, "... Every
soul draws the meed of its acts on none but himself: no bearer
of burdens can bear the burden of another. ..." (6-164) In
fact, the forty-second ayat of Araf Sura purports, "... No
burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear, -
..." (7-42) As you read these statements, you feel deep in
your heart that they are divine statements of Allah, and you willingly
have belief in Islam. I did so, too; I chose Islam, the truest
religion of Allahu ta'ala, and I became a Muslim willingly.