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Face to Faith- Cutting to the point

Face to Faith- Cutting to the point

Issue 4 Mar / Apr 2004

29 year old Abdul Malik (right) and 31 year old Abdul Hakiim are joint owners of the prestigious and five times award winning Diligence barbers in West Ealing. They talk to Samira Said about their journey to Islam and how it became a part of their daily lives.

Abdul Hakiim: I have been barbering for the past 13 years. I met Abdul Malik when he was young because I was best friends with his older brother Jalaal who has been a huge influence upon both of us. Abdul Malik and I never got along in those days as he was a young and impetuous youth. However, when I started working at the same barber as him in Ealing we got to know each other and now have formed a strong bond, both as Muslim brothers and as friends.

Before I became a Muslim, I researched the religion carefully and read about it for years before taking that initial step towards faith. I also observed how Jalaal and Abdul Malik changed their lifestyles for the better and seemed much happier since embracing Islam. I knew that Islam made a great deal of sense to me but I was reluctant to take it any further. I was terrified of leaving behind the life that I knew and had lived all my life. To start from the beginning in order to achieve the obligations that are expected of Muslims seemed too high a mountain to climb at that time. Yet I was also afraid of dying with the knowledge that Islam is the true religion and I was doing nothing about it.

One night, I called up Jalaal and another friend called Mohammed Ali. I informed them that I was ready to take my shahadah (declaration of faith) in front of them. I was both nervous and excited and I felt overwhelmed for the first day. However, the next day, the feeling of uncertainty left as quickly as it came and from that moment on I knew that I had made the right decision in accepting Islam. As time has passed I have become stronger in my faith.

I feel blessed to have found the company of good Muslims. I also know that I have to work hard to not stray from the unique path I have chosen to follow and be guided by in order to reach my goal. My parents are from the Caribbean and have supported me tremendously. My father gave his blessing and said, ‘If this means you do not drink or steal and you don’t go around sleeping with different women and bringing shame to our family, then I don’t have any problem with your decision to choose Islam.’ My mother also was very accepting saying, ‘If this is what you have to do, then you have to make sure you do it.’ The great thing is that all of my family reacted in this way including my brothers; it did not bother them at all and that has made life much easier for me.

One year before I became a Muslim, I started eating halal meat and was making other small changes to my lifestyle in accordance with Islam. To me, I was a Muslim before I become a Muslim and after taking the shahadah it was as if I had become the person I was always destined to be. The welcome that I received from Muslim brothers and sisters has been amazing and makes me even more certain that Islam is the right way.

Abdul Maalik: I became a Muslim six years ago. My older brother Jalaal reverted ten years ago and I saw how much more serene, peaceful and content he became. I didn’t rush into anything at that time but after a while as I found out more about the religion, I began my journey to finding the path of Islam. Over a period of time, I questioned myself, wondering whether I had the determination and the will power to finish what I had started and taking my shahadah.

I was 23 when I started thinking seriously about embracing Islam. Since taking my shahadah a year or so later, my life has changed dramatically  and I view everything in a different way. For instance, I have become a much more patient and humble person as is provided by the example of the Prophet Muhammad; my previous desire to chase material things has disappeared and I feel far happier and content. Life to me is more beautiful than I ever imagined now that I am not hung up on maintaining an image.

Looking back, I remember how nervous I was in taking that initial step and was afraid that I would be changing my life forever. But something was pulling me to make the decision and I knew that leaving the life that I led before behind was the way forward for me. When I heard the call to prayer for the first time I was mesmerised and had chills all over my body. It felt like the call to prayer was telling me that I have finally come home and after I took my shahadah and started taking further steps into Islam it has become easier and the more I learn the more I feel reassured that this is right for me.

When I became Muslim I was advised that an absolute must was to perform the five daily prayers. This seemed such a virtually impossible task to me at first, but I soon learned that if you have the sincere intention to do something then you can make time for it. Now that Abdul Hakim and I run our own business we make sure we pray each prayer. The greatest thing about owning our business means that we can go to the West Ealing Masjid for Friday prayers.

Two years ago I got married. My wife and I have a son and in that sense life has changed for the better, and I am grateful every day for what God has blessed me with – a loving and secure family life. I could not be happier and looking back I know that I was destined to take my rightful place in Islam among my brothers and sisters in faith. I feel so fortunate God has chosen to guide me to this path.

My parents were unhappy when my brother became a Muslim and they did not take it too well when I also embraced Islam. Our younger brother has also recently reverted so you can imagine their reaction. For them it is like they have lost their children to a religion they have no understanding of. My dad has accepted it to some extent as he is from Nigeria and 70% of the population there are Muslims. However, my mother is from Finland, a country where Islam has not really made much impact. She blames my older brother, believing that he has influenced us to become Muslims. It has been difficult for my parents to come to terms with our decision and the close bond that we once shared as a family has been affected. Islam teaches us to respect our parents so I try to help them to understand that my brother has not pushed me into anything as this was truly my decision and I am happier as a result.

My social life did not change in a dramatic way after I became a Muslim. To some people I have become a boring old man, but I am very happy and content with myself and to me life has become fulfilling. When I was young I was outgoing and lively, and made my mark on the social scene doing everything there was to do. By the time I started to discover Islam I had become bored of it all and in fact I used to feel quite empty and restless and felt that there was more to life than this.

What matters to me now is to be a good Muslim husband, father and son, to go on Hajj inshallah and to provide for my family. To strive for these goals is what brings me happiness in life.

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