In the Name of Allah Most Beneficent Most Merciful.
Although I am from a Sunni back ground and my family follow the Shafi madhab, my parents have always had an open mind in looking for the truth. They had engendered in their children, the spirit of questioning status quo and looking beyond what belief systems we were born into. As a family we followed Islam with great devotion and pursued religious studies: we were involved with teaching others, praying, reading the Holy Quran and seriously followed other tenets of the religion. Even as young children growing up we freely asked our parents questions on religion and discussed Islam as a family at every opportunity on a daily basis.
Influence of the Islamic Revolution of Iran
I was in high school at the time of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. I had never heard of Shias until then. I found myself wondering who these people were. At a time when Muslims around the world appeared to be ashamed at being identified as Muslims, the nation of Iran now called themselves the Islamic Republic of Iran. Just who were these people? Where did they draw their strength from?
I was told they were Shi’a and they were followers of Imam Ali (AS). I asked: Aren’t the Shia included amongst the Muslim schools of thought? I learnt that it was because the Shi’a believe that Imam Ali should be the successor of the Holy Prophet (SAW). That was strange to my ears since I had learnt at school that in Islam the head of government is not succeeded by inheritance. I was told that Islam supported democracy by election. But this answer was not compatible to what the Muslim countries followed with regard to their government. There were still immensely wealthy kings whose power was passed down from father to son. Neither was there democracy in any of those countries.
Hadith which degrade the Prophet SAW)
While learning hadith, a subject in my Islamic Studies at high school, I found myself reading the numerous volumes of Sahih Bukhari’s collections of hadith. I found some of the sahih hadith downright crass and unpalatable. It did not sit comfortably with my innate understanding of the Holy Prophet’s character. Surely such words would never been identified with the Representative of Allah the Greatest Prophet of them all, I thought.
Traditions related by Ahlul Bayt
It seemed strange that amongst my numerous Islamic books I could not find any hadith that were reported by the Holy Prophet’s (SAW) own family. Why did the life of the Prophet not get reported by his dear daughter for example? I was told that it was because his daughter Fatima died soon after the Prophet. Didn’t the Prophet have other family? I had never heard of the incident of Kerbala even though I had undertaken a full syllabus on Islamic studies in higher secondary school.
Disenchantment with Islam
As I grew up I started to be on the lookout for hadith related by the Prophet’s family. I thought it would be so refreshing to get a clear picture of the Prophet’s impeccable character. The Prophet’s role appeared so wishy-washy. It made me feel depressed that the Blessed Prophet did not appear to have a rock solid character that I could defend against allegations. Surely he was not an ordinary person who was sometimes a Prophet when the divine revelation came down and at other times, was simply a person like you and I given to making common mistakes. I so wanted to believe that the Prophet was the wonderfully pure and extraordinary person I wanted him to be. In fact I felt vague even about Allah’s Attributes. It appeared to be confusing as it seemed the Prophet and Allah Himself was so ordinary (may Allah forgive me).
I was becoming disenchanted with Islam itself. I knew deep down that Islam was the right way of life. But why did it seem to have been passed down through the ages so sloppily? Why were there so many versions now? There were the four recognised madhabs. Indeed there were many sub-versions as well and the variations seemed to be increasing as time went by. Further there were other groups who claimed to be Muslims but were actually disowned by the majority of the other Muslims.
Where should I start my search?
I believed that Islam had been completed and preserved for us in the initial form as Allah Himself had undertaken. Where then, was the original version that had initially been revealed by Allah and as taught by the Holy Prophet? How on earth was I to know whether the version I had been born into was the correct one? What guarantee did I have if I went searching, that I would know when I had found the truth it? Where should I start? It seemed such a monumentous task given I did not have access to much literature to go by in the early1980s when I was at university.
In 1989 I remember standing one evening under the bougainvillea flowers in my parents’ front garden and asking Allah to guide me to His Original Truth, the real Message that He had wanted us to follow.
I was wonderfully blessed when I married my husband who was also from a Sunni background. Right from childhood my husband possessed an utter and unqualified love for Imam Ali (as), as a result of stories of the Ahlul Bayt that were read to him by his dear mother.
Although as a child my husband could not refute some of the allegations made against Imam Ali by his madrassa teachers, but he simply knew that he was deeply attracted to the character of Imam Ali. That was enough to anchor him to the Holy Prophet himself. My husband held on tightly to this rope convinced that there was more to Islam that he had been taught. By never letting go of this Rope, my husband ultimately dragged me out of the troubled waters in which I had been gasping for breath in, to safety. Praise is to Allah Most Gracious.
As we started to have access to the translated works of scholars in Qum and Najaf, information on Shia websites, attend lectures at the local Shia centres the full picture started to emerge and the truth for us eventually crystallised over a couple of years.
The hidden truth
I was aghast at how much of the true events that took place in Islamic history were hidden. The systematic propaganda to wipe out the real Message and suppression of the truth at the direct orders of the so-called rightly guided Muslim Caliphs. This happened immediately after the Prophet’s death. His holy body was still warm and he was yet to be buried, but there they were, the self proclaimed close companions of the Prophet huddling together to usurp the divine right of his successor, Imam Ali (as). Barely three months earlier, they had been there at Ghadeer e Khum after the Final Pilgrimage of the Prophet. It was there in front of thousands of pilgrims that the Prophet had declared Ali (as) as the First Imam, Amir ul Moimineen and his successor and stated “Of whomsoever I am Master, this Ali is his Master”. Then the very last verse of the Holy Quran (Sura Maida: 5) was revealed and Allah declared that He had perfected the religion and completed His Favour onto mankind. Two of these very close Companions were the first to congratulate Ali. How could this happen? Could Companions who had lived with and claimed to have loved the Prophet turn so treacherous?
The crime against humanity
How could the events at Kerbala have been allowed to happen? I realised by usurping the rights of Imam Ali and Sayyeda Fatima Zahra (AS) and suppressing the truth by the rulers and other double-crossing companions, the events of Kerbala down the track had just been waiting to happen. By opening the door to oppression and exposing the Holy Family to harm and ridicule, the rulers had committed the most grievous crime. It was not just the Ahlul Bayt who had been harmed. A crime against the whole humanity had been committed and to date they had not been called to account for it. The efforts of 124,000 prophets had been risked and the message of Allah had been threatened. Even if hundreds of years had passed why hadn’t the culprits been charged and brought before World Court?
I realised that it was a fool’s paradise that most Muslims live in. They are so convinced that the rightly guided rulers and traditionists were beyond reproach that they are blind to the real truth. I no longer believed that these companions were so innocent and pure as they were depicted in history. It appeared the people of the day during the Prophet’s time are just like people of the world that we live in today. How fickle are the loyalties of people when the glint of power and money dance in front of them? It was the same then as it is now and will remain the same till time eternal.
Peace at last
By researching about each one of the Ahlul Bayt (AS) I finally found peace in my heart when I realised their pristine characters. In knowing the Prophet better I found out that I could better appreciate some of the attributes of our Creator Allah Himself. By understanding Allah better my worship became more directed and focussed.
To be guided purely a mercy from Allah
I wondered why other reverts into Islam do not ultimately look beyond what they are introduced to and search until they find the truth. Over time I have realised how immensely lucky that Allah has honoured some above others to recognize the truth. It is only by His Mercy that we are granted this privilege. May we be grateful for His Grace by proactively promoting the teachings of the Ahlul Bayt and the true message of Islam. I thank Allah for His Mercy in leading me to this well-guarded niche which holds the treasures of the heavens and the earth. I pray that I can only live up to the great responsibility that Allah has given me, and that my family will be among the first to be in support of the Imam of our Time -Al Mahdi (as) when he returns. (May Allah hasten His return).