Islam

“I was forced to accept Islam … I knew I had to accept it, because the only alternative was denying truth.”

MDI Comment:

It is sometimes argued that people can be criticised for their religion because it is something they themselves choose (as if the only reason not to criticise a quality, for example someone’s race, was if they did not choose it, as if they “cannot help it”). However, acknowledging the conclusions of your conscience is not a choice. The only choice, as the sister in this story has made, is whether you adopt or deny the truth.


Article originally posted in The Muslim Observer 9th July 2015

I was forced to accept Islam

by Danielle LoDuca

Danielle LoDuca

I never aspired to be a Muslim.

I didn’t even want to be a Christian.

The whole concept of ‘organized religion’ was distasteful. I sought to use my mind, not resort to some ancient book for assistance in living my life.

If you had offered me millions of dollars to join one faith or another, I would have declined.

One of my preferred authors was Bertrand Russell, who maintained that religion is little more than superstition and generally harmful to people, despite any positive effects that it might have. He believed that religion and the religious outlook serve to inhibit knowledge and promote fear and dependency, in addition to being accountable for much of our world’s wars, persecution, and misery.

I remember laughing out loud while reading “Hey, Is That You God?” By Dr. Pasqual Schievella, in which he derided the concept of God through satirical dialogue. It all seemed so logical. Thinkers like us were surely above religious devotees, I thought smugly.

But, for me, it wasn’t enough to just think I was better off without religion. I wanted to systematically prove religions were no more than a hoax. I purposefully set out to do just that.
Yet, here I am. Muslim.

Sure, I made the declaration of faith, but the choice I had was really no choice at all. Essentially, I was compelled – forced to accept Islam.

Interestingly, in my talks with followers of religions, especially those other than Islam, I have often noticed that they clearly desire to believe. As if, no matter how many contradictions or errors are pointed out in their scriptures, they brush them aside and maintain their unquestioning faith.

Rarely do I ever find that the scriptures themselves convinced them, but rather they decided to have faith, and then the studies began after that decision, if at all. They knew what they believed, either by having been raised upon it, or like a friend of mine told me, “Islam seems foreign, so I never looked into it. Christianity is more familiar and convenient, because most of the people around me are Christian. So when I was seeking God, I chose Christianity.”

Personally, I never considered myself to be seeking God, but if I had, the last place I think I would have looked would have been in an old book, or a building, or a person.

Some people, who decide to believe in something at the outset, may then develop selective vision when it comes to learning the faith they’ve chosen. I had also decided to believe something; I chose to believe that religions were simply fabricated delusions of grandeur.

In actuality this notion was not built on hard facts, it was an assumption. I had no evidence. When I undertook reading the religious books, I was not biased towards them, but my intentions were to look for flaws. This approach helped me manage to maintain a fair amount of objectivity.

My paperback translation of the Quran had been acquired for free. I didn’t even stop to chat with the MSA students standing at the table stacked with books. I curtly asked, “Is it free?” When they replied in the affirmative, I grabbed one and continued on my way. I had no interest in them, only the free book to assist me in accomplishing my goal of debasing religions once and for all.

But, as I read that Quran; as its cover became worn and its pages tattered, I became more and more subdued. It was distinct from the other religious books I had also collected. I could understand it easily. It was clear.

A friend of mine once began ranting about how God in Islam is angry and vengeful. I came to its defense without even realizing it, opening it up and easily flipping to one of the many pages that said, “Surely, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

It was if the Quran was speaking to me directly – responding to my life. It was an “old book” but somehow, it was entirely relevant. Something about its cadence and imagery and the way it communicated to me intimately; It was exquisite beauty I hadn’t really felt before, reminiscent only of the moments I had spent out west, staring out over a seemingly endless desert landscape. I found it exhilarating; comparable to the way it felt running barefoot in the sand under the stars with powerful waves crashing at my side.

The Quran was appealing to my intellect. Offering me signs and then telling me to think, to ponder and consider. It rejected the notion of blind faith, but encouraged reason and intelligence. It directed humanity towards goodness, recognition of the Creator, plus moderation, kindness, and humility.

After some time, and life-changing experiences my interest intensified. I began reading other books about Islam. I found that the Quran contained prophecies, as did many of the hadiths. I found that the prophet Muhammad was corrected several times in the Quran. This seemed strange if he had in fact, been its author.

I had begun walking down a new path. Led by the amazing Quran, paired with the beautiful paradigm of devotion; the Prophet Muhammad. This man showed no signs of being a liar.
Praying through the nights, asking forgiveness of his oppressors, encouraging kindness. Refusing wealth and power and persevering with the pure message of devotion to God alone, he endured unfathomable hardship.

It was all so uncomplicated, easy to understand. We’ve been created; all this intricacy and diversity could not pop out of nothing. So follow the One who created us – Simple.

I remember the warm artificial lighting in my apartment and the weight of the air on the night I read this verse:

{Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We split them asunder and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?} (Quran 21:30)

My mind was split asunder when I read this. It was the Big Bang – suddenly not just a theory… And every living thing from water… wasn’t that what scientists had just discovered? I was astonished. It was the most exciting and yet frightening time of my life.

I read and studied and double-checked book after book until one night I sat in my library at Pratt Institute, staring wide-eyed at the piles of open books. My mouth must have been dropped open slightly. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I realized I had in front of me, the truth. The truth I had been so sure did not exist.

Now what?

There were only two choices and one was no choice at all. I could not deny what I had discovered, ignoring it and going on with my life as before, though I did consider it briefly. That left only one option.

I knew I had to accept it, because the only alternative was denying truth.Editor’s note: Danielle LoDuca is a third generation American, raised in a homogeneous, white, suburban community. Although raised as a Catholic, she considered herself agnostic and was disdainful of religion in general until she chose Islam in 2002. She is an artist with a BFA from Pratt Institute, as well as a wife and mother of five. Her views are her own.

 

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9 replies »

  1. After reading her entire view, what i liked most is when she said that:

    “The Quran was appealing to my intellect. Offering me signs and then telling me to think, to ponder and consider. It rejected the notion of blind faith, but encouraged reason and intelligence. It directed humanity towards goodness, recognition of the Creator, plus moderation, kindness, and humility.”

    Indeed!!she has spoken the truth!!

    Islam is not a religion of “blind faith” but is a religion that strongly calls on man to use his logic, reasoning and intellect. Allah in the Quran stresses the importance for people to think, to reason and to use their mind and intellect. The word “mind” or “reasoning” is mentioned 49 times in the Quran (in Arabic Ta’qiloon 24 times, Ya’qiloon 22 times, and A’qal, Na’qil and Ya’qil one time each). Also Allah refers to “people of understanding” 16 times in the Quran (in Arabic Ulu Al-AlBab or Uli Al-Albab). Allah also refers to “those of intelligence” two times in Chapter 20 by the Arabic term Uli Al-Nuha. Allah also refers in many chapters in the Quran to the mind by the Arabic word Al-Fuad. Also in many verses in the Quran, Allah uses the term heart (in Arabic Al-Qalb) in place of the word Al-Fuad (mind) to mean the same thing. In one place in Chapter 89 verses 53 & 54, Allah refers to the mind by the Arabic word Al-Hijr. The Quran also, in tens of verses, strongly calls and emphasizes the need to “contemplate” and to “give thought” (in Arabic Fikr or Tafakkor). Also in tens of verses, the Quran draws attention to the importance for man to “remember” and to “recall” (in Arabic Tazakkor). The significance of the two being: to “give thought” is to increase or acquire new knowledge, whereas to “remember” is to recall and remind oneself of relevant knowledge and events that may have been forgotten, but which are important for one’s faith.

    Allah praises people who use their mind:

    “Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of UNDERSTANDING – Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Quran, 3:190-191)

    About the Quran, Allah Says:

    [This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they (i.e. people) might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded. (Quran, 38:29)

    In the Quran, the words that can be formed from the term “know” or “knowledge” (root ‘elm in Arabic) is to be found 865 times. In one verse Allah says: Are those who know equal to those who do not know? Only they will remember [who are] PEOPLE OF UNDERSTANDING. (Quran, 39:9). Also: And so those who were given knowledge may know that It (i.e. the Quran) is the truth from your Lord and [therefore] believe in it, and their hearts humbly submit to it. And indeed is Allah the Guide of those who have believed to a straight path. (Quran, 22:54).

    On the other hand, the Quran strongly rejects certain mentalities that are driven by myths, illusions, absurdities, ignorance, blind imitation of others, assumption (conjecture), prejudice, whims and desires. In fact, Allah in the Quran confirms that most people on earth have gone astray because they follow assumption, conjecture and ignorance. Allah says:

    “And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying (out of ignorance, conjecture and assumption).” (Quran, 6:116)

  2. Something does not become the truth because Danielle LoDuca believes it. It does not matter how resolutely she asserts that it is the truth.

    Unfortunately she does not explain how she finds the Quran easy to understand when so many people find that it is difficult.

    She clearly does not understand the works of Bertrand Russell and the nature of the Big Bang.

    The Quran is a work of fiction partly based on an earlier work of fiction called The Bible.

    The mystery is why anyone should think it worth publishing her nonsense.

    Roy Saich

    • Hi There Roy.🙂 Thanks for reading my article.
      It is true, my claiming something to be true doesn’t make it true – but in actuality, truth is truth, whether or not you Roy, recognize it. The Quran clearly explains this. Take for example, Moses. He was given signs – actual supernatural feats- to prove to his people he was truly sent by God. In fact, the ruler, pharaoh demanded proof that Moses had been sent. He said: “If you have come with a sign, then produce it, if you are one of the truthful” (7.106).

      The miracles were demonstrated publicly for all to see. In one instance, there were magicians who were chosen to challenge Moses’ display with their illusions, but when they witnessed the miracle Moses had been given, they immediately recognized it as truth and literally gave their lives (they were tortured and killed as a result) for what they recognized of the truth. (Quran 7.120-126).
      Yet, pharaoh and most of his people still did not believe, despite having witnessed miracles and other signs right in front of their eyes. This isn’t only the case for Moses. It happened with every prophet and messenger of God. Sometimes people would say, we will believe if you do such and such, then, when exactly what they had asked for was delivered, they still rejected it.
      So truth is truth, whether or not you or I choose to acknowledge it, or reject it.

      Your claim that the Quran is a work of fiction is without proof. At least my article is written subjectively, while you are making a claim for which you will find no evidence.

      The Quran has already challenged you:

      “And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah (Chapter) the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than God, if you should be truthful. …. – and you will never be able to -” (Quran 2:23-24)

      But my humble advice is that, rather than making assumptions and sweeping claims, read the Quran for yourself. It may require some patience. It wasn’t easy for me at first, I spent a year reading it initially. There are tons of texts which provide historical context and the bigger picture. Put the effort in, and suspend judgement until you’ve studied sufficiently with an open mind.

      I wish you all the best.

      Take care. Sincerely,

      Danielle LoDuca – The Muslim Next Door

      http://youramericanmuslimneighbor.com/

    • Who told u it is difficult to understand or u r just assuming like the others read the quran plz n judge instead of reading the bad comments abt quran. Coz most of those comments r based on hatred n not d truth.

  3. Dear Roy, Danielle is not telling us to believe or not to believe in anything (truth or otherwise). Danielle just shares her experience with us the Quranic verses and their Messenger’s characters that inspired her. They don’t inspire you and me wouldn’t mean that the story is not worth being published. May be this story inspires many others with somewhat similar critical minds? The bloggers have to do a service to them also.

  4. definitely Something does not become a fiction because Roy Saich does not believes it. It does not matter how resolutely he asserts that it is not the truth.

    Unfortunately he does not explain how he finds the Quran difficult to understand when so many people find that it is so easy to understand.

    The mystery is why Roy Saich should think it worth commenting here with his nonsense.

    The Philosopher (in a reply to Roy Saich)

  5. We Muslims believe that no one has found any mistake in the Qur’an; All are alleged taking advantage of ignorance of many people regarding Islam and Arabic . There are many sites on the Internet that claim to show Muslims the “truth” about our religion –that Islam is a false religion; though they do not see the truth even as it sits on their noses– in their effort to lure uninformed and unthinking Muslims into apostatizing from Islam.They use verses of the Qur’an out of context, and seemingly, without knowledge as to the background to which they were revealed and that verses of the Qur’an are either literal or allegorical in meaning.

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