SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Arnoud Van Doorn, a former member of the extreme right wing, and anti-Islamist Netherlands “Freedom Party,” was converted to Islam.
Geert Wilders is the head of the extreme right wing, and anti-Islamist, “Freedom Party” in Netherlands. Arnoud Van Doorn, a former member of Freedom party was converted to Islam.
It was very hard for the people in Belgium to believe the news that Arnoud Van Doorn, a former member of Freedom party was converted to Islam. But Van Doorn confirmed the authenticity of the news himself.
He announced the news on the social website of Twitter, under the title of “a new beginning” and displayed the Declaration of Faith on the website in Arabic language.
It is noteworthy that Geert Wilders, the leader of the extreme right wing Freedom Party in Netherlands, which Van Doorn was previously a member of, has announced the start of a new campaign against Islam in 2013, and he has said, he will continue his fight until his death.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — An American Muslim mother is struggling to get the name of her son among the first responders, who have sacrificed their lives for saving people in the 9/11 tragedy.
"He was a prime example of what it is to be a human being,” Talat, the mother of Mohammed Hamdani, told CNN.
Hamdani, a 23-year-old Muslim, was a certified Emergency Medical Technician and onetime cadet at the New York Police Department.
Hearing the news that two planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, he rushed to the scene to help save people.
Since then, no one has ever heard about him.
“He went in there to save humanity," his bereaved mother said.
Six months later, the remains of the young Muslim, who is of Pakistani origin, were found nearby the scene.
"They gave us his jeans and his belt, which my husband identified were his clothes,” his mother recalled.
Hamdani was buried after the 9/11 attacks with full honors from the New York Police Department, and proclaimed a hero by the city’s police commissioner.
He is cited by name in the Patriot Act as an example of Muslim-American valor.
However, to the shock of his family, Hamdani’s name was never listed in the 9/11 memorial among the first responders, who lost their lives while trying to save people.
Instead, his name was put in a separate section of the memorial among those considered loosely connected to the World Trade Center.
The bereaved mother believes that her son’s Islamic religion is the reason behind denying him the right to be put on the 9/11 memorial.
"They are discriminating because of his faith and that is not right,” she said.
“He did not stop to wonder are they Christian or Muslims or are they Jews or their ethnicity or their color,” she said of her son’s action on 9/11.
“It's just humanity.”
But the memorial denies discrimination against the young Muslim, saying criteria do not apply to Hamdani to be put among first responders.
“So many of the names on the 9/11 Memorial represent individuals — both in and out of uniform, known and unknown — who displayed extraordinary bravery on that horrible day, and that includes Mohammed Salman Hamdani," a spokesman for the memorial said in a statement.
The memorial argues that Hamdani was not an active cadet when he died and that he had not received a presidential medal for valor, which is among criteria for first responders.
"While this case did not meet the criteria for the ‘First Responders’ section of the Memorial, that in no way diminishes the courage and bravery Mr. Hamdani and hundreds of others showed on 9/11,” said spokesman Michael Frazier.
However, the Muslim mother vows to keep her struggle to get her son’s name enrolled in the list of first responders.
"I want to see it in my lifetime,” she said.
“It's a very - it's so intense pain that is indescribable."
“He's not here to speak for himself,” Talat said “I have to speak for him. And I will till the day I die. "—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Jafaria News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A Saudi woman who has made headlines for fleeing her country after allegedly converting to Christianity has not actually given up her religion, a local daily said.
“She did not convert, but simply had some wrong concepts about Christianity under the influence of two colleagues, a Saudi and a Lebanese,” sources told Al Sharq. “She went through a stage of confusion because of the pressure on her to convert to Christianity. She left Saudi Arabia and went to Lebanon where she stayed for some days before moving out to Turkey. She is now in Sweden,” the sources that the paper did not identify said.
A relative told the daily that the woman, 28, had a strong urge to come home, but was afraid of what might happen.
The Saudi ambassador in Beirut this week said that the woman’s family tried to convince her to return home amid assurances that she would be safe, but she was not persuaded.
A video-taped interview conducted by a pro-Christianity TV allegedly with the woman was posted on a social network, but Al Sharq on Tuesday said that the girl, whose lower part of the face was covered, was not the Saudi woman.
The case was made public after the woman’s father filed a suit against the Saudi and Lebanese colleagues for their alleged influence on her to convert to Christianity and their role in facilitating her departure from Saudi Arabia.
The two men were arrested and released on bail, but the Lebanese was re-arrested after a court in Al Khobar, in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, held a pre-trial session that lasted four hours, Al Sharq said.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Gulf News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - My name is Maria. I converted to Islam one year ago.
I’m from Boulder, Colorado. I was born here. I went to school here my whole life.
Both my parents they are actually from South Africa. They immigrated here. Neither of them is religious. They are both atheists, so they don’t really believe in God.
I have one brother, he is studying music at the University of Colorado. He is Catholic, so he is not Muslim either.
Before I converted, I didn’t really believe in God. I didn’t really have a religion. I didn’t really have a faith, I guess you could say. I kind of grew up with what my parents taught me, so I didn’t really believe in God. I didn’t believe in really any religion at all.
If we talked about religion, we kind of talked about it almost negatively I guess. Before, I didn’t really see religion as a good thing. I thought it was something that like caused a lot of problems, like wars in the world and stuff. I viewed it as mostly negatively.
I guess I first learned about Islam about 2 or 3 years ago. I was dating this guy from Pakistan, and so it was the first time I opened up to Islam. I was more open to learning about it and not to think about it negatively. I really didn’t know anything about it at all. So after talking to him and talking to few other people, I started to gather more facts. I bought an English copy of the Quran that I started reading.
When I met my fiancée, we didn’t really talk about religion. I didn’t think about him in a sense of being a Muslim, or being very religious. I guess I just thought of him as being like a really noble and kind-hearted person. He was one of the best people that I had ever known, he had such a good character, he was really like kind to everybody. He was never mean to anybody even if he didn’t like them, you know, he would be nice to them. He would never look at you straight in the face and be mean to you.
I guess when I thought about him I didn’t think about those qualities being because of Islam. I just thought they were because of him. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that maybe these good things about him were because of Islam. Maybe because he was a Muslim, he actually ended up being more kind-hearted and more open, and a better person.
The reason that I really chose Islam when I really decided that it was going to be the right thing for me that guy I was dating from Pakistan, and we were engaged for a long time. He was my fiancée and at the time I was going to school in Arizona and he was coming to visit me. He was driving from Boulder to Arizona to come and visit me, and he was actually killed in a car crash. And that was my first real experience with death, and that was what really inspired me to look more into Islam because I just knew that there had to be more to him than just dying. He just couldn’t die, like there had to be like a reason, not even a reason, there had to be something like a higher power that was like dictating it.
The Impact of the Quran
So I read the Quran and I read a lot of books, and I talked to a lot of people. And eventually I remember one day I was reading the Quran and it was maybe like 2 months after he died. I was reading the Quran and it all came clear to me. I just had this moment where it all made sense, everything that I was reading and everything that I knew and everything about him and everything about this whole situation. I just came to a point where I just knew that it was right.
I guess the first time I said the shahadah I was by myself. You know that point where I realized that everything made sense. That’s when the first time I was by myself, you know really I mean that was when I first felt it. Later I did when I ended up talking about it with some of my Muslim friends, they convinced me to go to Denver because there is a Sheikh from Denver that I went and talked to. I talked with him and he kind of made sure that this is what I really wanted to do. He wanted to make sure that I wasn’t doing it for somebody, that I wasn’t doing it for my fiancée. We talked about this and I told him “Yes, this is for myself.” I said the shahadah with him and with two other of my friends as witnesses.
I hadn’t ever really talked too much about it with my parents because I knew they were not really keen on religion. I think the first time they realized I was really getting serious was in the last Ramadan, and I fasted for the whole Ramadan. It was my first Ramadan and it was really hard, but I did it and that’s when they kind of realized “Oh, she is serious,” you know like “wow, she is really not eating all day” and I think that is when they first realized that it was serious. We never really talked too much about it. But eventually you know they came to accept it.
I suppose that if I hadn’t met my fiancée, I might not have learnt as much about Islam as I did, and I might not have made my decision to convert as soon as I did. I mean now looking back at everything that happened, I think I still would have ended up converting if I learned what I had. I think it was taking me a lot longer and it wouldn’t have been as clear decision because when he died that really made things clear to me like maybe because I never had such an intense experience I guess.
Before I converted I went to some parties and did that kind of things. I would say I was a different person. After I converted I kind of felt I had like a clean slate, you know, like I could start things over in a way. I felt like all the bad things I did in my past before I was a Muslim, I felt it kind not got erased but lost significance.
Parents and Friends
But after I converted I changed a lot of the people that I’m seeing now. Most of my friends now are Muslims. We hang out together, and on Friday nights we would hang out like go to a movie or go balling or something we want, like go to a party. So I think who you hang out with would definitely help. My friends helped me a lot, you know, to make the switch.
I do think about marriage sometimes. I don’t worry about it too much. I feel like I will find the right person. And I do want him to be a Muslim obviously. I’m not interested in dating anybody that’s not a Muslim right now. I feel like right now it’s such a big part of me that I don’t really like to date anybody that’s not a Muslim.
My parents actually like my behavior better after I converted. They didn’t have to worry about me as much. They don’t have to worry like how she is going to get home safe, or that kind of things. They know that I was not going to do anything stupid, so they actually felt better about my behavior after I converted to Islam.
When I first wore a veil it was definitely very hard. At classes it was very difficult because I felt like everybody was staring at me. There are other girls here that wear the Hijab. But I think right now I’m the only American girl here wearing Hijab... I definitely feel like proud. I feel good. I feel like it’s part of me now. I feel better about myself that I’m wearing it.
I don’t think my parents are embarrassed when we go out and I’m wearing Hijab. I think that my parents actually come to be proud of the fact that I wear it when we go out. I think they think that it shows other people that you can wear the Hijab and still be smart, and you still be like you are your own person and really independent and that you think on our own. Just because you are wearing a Hijab it doesn’t mean something negative about you. I think that they actually respect the fact that I wear Hijab now more.
Video: Courtesy of Algerian TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) - My name is Jasmine Crawford. I converted to Islam a year and half ago. I chose Islam because I believe it was the right thing to do. I was asking God for signs and to guide me. And actually I was a Catholic and I just wanted to be a better Catholic. So I was studying the different religions, and I just was interested in learning. And the more that I learned, the more I liked it.
It was a little difficult in the beginning because it was hard to let go of my past, but alhamdulellah I did the right thing.
Before I converted to Islam, I knew basically what most of the other people know about Islam, which is the terrorists and that women are covered. And unfortunately there are some Muslims that are not practicing so they don’t represent Islam the way that they should. And so when they hang out with non-Muslims, they give the wrong impression of what Islam is about.
So I thought the same thing that most of the people got, that it’s just a way of life and it wasn’t really a religion, it was just what people did.
I have friends who are Muslims, so it opened the door for me to look more into it. Again I knew about Islam, I knew Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So that’s how I knew about it, really because I have friends who were Muslims.
Do what makes you happy
The main thing that attracted me to Islam is la illaha illa allah (There is no God but Allah); the fact that you go directly to God, because I always used to go directly to God anyway. And there is not really one particular thing because there was so many major things that happened in my search that made me feel like it was the right thing for me. The Quran never changing was really important, and the scientific proofs in the Quran, all the little things that are in Islam that just make sense. It makes a lot more sense than any other religion.
In my immediate family I’m the only Muslim. I do have distant family members that have also converted. But as of now I’m the only Muslim in my family. I’m working on my mother!
The relationship with my parents, alhamdulellah, I love my parents. My father was very ill at the time that I was looking into Islam. I had just found out that he had cancer again. And my mother is such a beautiful woman alhamdulellah. She helps me with everything. She helps me get up for Fajr (Dawn prayer), she buys me halal food, and she is a beautiful woman. I’m very close to my mother. My father passed last July but it was a very good relationship.
The only question that my mother asked me was “I thought you were going to think about it?!’ and other than that they are not strict Catholics. So Subhanallah, they said “if it makes you happy, as long as you don’t go out blowing up people!, do it. Do what makes you happy”.
It’s very easy to be an American Muslim in New York. As long as you are confident and secure in yourself. And the Hijab style, people think that this is just my style. They don’t realize that I’m Muslim. Because if you see what people wear outside today they throw on all types of things that some people don’t even realize that I’m Muslim. But a lot of people ask me questions, and I’ve noticed that people are actually very kind to me. It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. In New York, I think it’s fairly easy to find what you are looking most of time. I’m sure in other states and cities it’s probably a lot more difficult, but we have halal stores on every corner basically. So it’s very easy, and I’ve been eating a lot of fish lately! But I think it’s very convenient to be a Muslim convert in New York City.
M.E.C.C.A. is the Muslim Education and Converts Center of America. It’s a non-profit organization. We offer classes. We have a new Muslims program which shows new Muslims how to pray, and all the basics that you need to be a Muslim. When you are a convert, it can be very frightening and overwhelming, and then you take the Shahadah, and then that’s it. You go by yourself and you have no one to help you. So you come here. You take classes with other students who are also looking into Islam with qualified teachers who have studied abroad with scholars.
We also offer courses like Arabic, Aqeedah (creed) and Fiqh (Islamic law). And we have support groups for converts, sisters who are going through the same thing, like they are not sure they want to wear Hijab and we help each other out. We just offer a lot of great classes. It’s not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims as well. So we have converts, we have born Muslims, and we have people who are just interested in learning more about Islam.
We do offer the support for non-Muslims but rather for new Muslims when they convert. We have like a sisters’ circle or a brothers’ circle, where we come in and we eat and we talk about our problems or what we are going through. Some people would have similar situations where their families or their friends are no longer talking to them, and it’s very emotional. It’s very difficult and they feel alone, and we all have a connection here. It’s like a very small family and we all have similar situations. So it’s a great place Alhamdulellah.
Our converts are from everywhere. We have myself. I’m black and white. I’m Irish and African American and Indian. And we have Chinese. We have Spanish. We have white people. We have everything here. So this is New York City, you are going to get everything.