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Our Journey to Islam
Book Review
Muhammad Adeel Zaffar

Compiled and Edited by: Dr. Abdul Ghani Farooq

Pages: 511

Publishers: Maktabah Ta‘mīr-i-Insāniyyat, Urdu Bazar, Lahore, Pakistan


Independent and objective inquiry into the religious sciences leads to a high level of understanding of one’s beliefs. This level of faith is quite different from that achieved by an individual who ‘inherits’ a set of concepts and beliefs but fails to subsequently ‘substantiate’ them through a conscious effort of reasoning and use of intellect. People who truly convert to a belief system do so after undergoing an essential process of resolving the conflicting ideas they come across with the aim of grasping the truth. The duration of this process can vary depending on the circumstances in which a person lives; he comes across conflicting concepts and decides not to ignore them but face them boldly and resolve them intellectually. It is but natural to expect that those who inherit a particular set of beliefs have a weaker faith in the veracity of their beliefs as compared to those who were alien to them initially and over time, after deliberation, made a conscious decision to embrace them.

Since its formal inception in the domain of human knowledge, Islam, as a belief system has spread in all corners of the world. Allah is One and there is no other entity worthy of worship except Allah and that we will eventually be held accountable by Him for our deeds in this world. Despite various phases that we as followers of this religion have gone through, the message of Islam has continued to spread in all times. However, unfortunately, parallel to this growth there has been a steady decay in the values exhibited by the followers of Islam. It has perhaps only been due to the inherent strength of this message that an ever-growing number of people have been attracted towards Islam despite the fact that those who have inherited the faith have distanced themselves from it. Now more than ever, we see a startling divide between the teachings of Islam and the practices on display by the so-called followers of Islam.

Under the present circumstances, the story of a convert presents before its audience, both Muslims as well as non-Muslims, a fresh overview of Islam. It emphasizes the vitality of the message despite the growing unfavorable ambiance. On the one hand it allows a neutral reader to find out some noteworthy aspects of a faith directly through the eyes of an individual who has spent time and effort in understanding the religion—a sincere struggle which culminated in embracing Islam. On the other hand, it also provides a Muslim reader with an entirely novel approach of looking at certain principles of Islam that may further broaden his own understanding.

In this respect, Dr. Abdul Ghani Farooq’s book Our Journey to Islam is a commendable effort. It is a healthy compilation of stories of 100 prominent people (70 males and 30 females) from all over the world who converted to Islam. The book is essentially a step-forward in the author’s efforts of putting together the stories of new converts for the benefit of diverse audiences. His previous work, which has been translated into various other languages, focused on 60 female converts to Islam. This book signifies his first endeavor to bring out the stories of converts in the English language.

The book under review contains the biographical and autobiographical accounts of various people in alphabetical order. What is most significant is that the chosen 100 hail from different countries and belong to an even more diverse range of fields. There are acclaimed doctors and sportsmen like Dr. Maurice Bucaille and Muhammad Ali, religious scholars and preachers like Bishop John Mypopol and Vyacheslav Polosin, scientists like Dr. Greneih, professors like Dr. Erica Winkel and Dr. Abdul Karim Saitoh, engineers like Wilfredo Malencia and Dr. Abdullah Alison, journalists like Muhammad Assad and Didier Ali Bourg and artists like Cat Stevens including other people belonging to various walks of life. This variety adds depth to the different views that the reader comes across.

There is the story of Dr. Bucaille, who was attracted towards Islam after studying passages in the Qur’ān, which shed light on issues that fall within the domain of embryology. Dr. Greneih was struck by the fact that the Qur’ān contained descriptions that could only be experienced in a sea voyage yet it was known that Prophet Muhammad (sws) had never been on a boat not to mention experienced such a journey. Mrs. H. Buchanan-Hamilton seemed more impressed by the institution of Prophethood. Professor Haroon Mustafa Leon elaborates: ‘one of the glories of Islam is that it is founded on reason, and that it never demands from its followers an abnegation of that important mental faculty.’1 Dr. Durrani states: ‘I venture to say there is not a single convert who does not owe his gratitude to Hazrat Muhammad (sws) for his love for him, his help, guidance, inspiration, and as the example of a noble person whom God in His great love sent to us to follow.’2

Yet there are others like Greg Noakes who quite emphatically states that one reason alone cannot be singled out for his conversion to Islam: ‘to reduce the beauty of Islam to a series of talking points’ he says, ‘is clearly absurd: there are a thousand reasons, small and large, why I became a Muslim.’3 There is yet another category of people who raised questions about their own faiths and found lucid answers presented by the Qur’ān.

The narratives presented in the book have been gathered from various journals and books written by Muslims from all over the world. While this information helps in giving some credibility to the correctness of these accounts, for some sceptics, it creates a slightly mixed impression. There is this feeling, not entirely unfounded, amongst Muslim readers in particular, that some of the contemporary Muslim writers, at times, exaggerate accounts in an attempt to brighten the image of Islam. However, despite the nature of the sources used in this book, it is almost devoid of that peculiar tinge of exaggeration in relating the different accounts.

From a literary perspective, there are a few places where the tone of the language and expression make it difficult to understand the content. This appears to be due to the vague nature of the sources instead of being a sign of weakness of the adaptation. However, even at these few places, the context clarifies the content.

In the end, I would like to say that the book is most certainly worth reading. I recommend it particularly because I believe that given the current state of the Muslims, the book relates the stories of people who were impressed by the simple principles of Islam that they found to be practical – principles that we seem to have ‘lost’ sight of somehow. It will benefit both an ordinary Muslim and a scholar on the basis of its simplicity as well as wide range of information. In short, the book presents an excellent mix of ideas and backgrounds that could benefit new converts, Muslims, and non-Muslims as well.





1. Farooq, Dr. Abdul Ghani, Journey to Islam, (Lahore: Maktabah Ta‘mīr-i-Insāniyyat, 2002), p 220

2. Ibid, pp. 347-48

3. Ibid, p. 210

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