Thursday, August 07, 2003
Coming Back to Islam: A German Diplomat's Journey
On September 8, 1980, I drove up to Venusberg Hill in Bonn, site of the diplomatic training school of the German Foreign Office, to participate in a seminar on Islam. At that time, I had no idea that only two years later I would find myself as a pilgrim to Makkah. The Magnitude of the turning point I was about to face in my life did not begin to drawn upon me until I had a chance to reflect on the astute lecture by my Muslim colleague, Muhammad Ahmad Hobohm, and got into a conversation with another speaker, Imam Muhammad Ahmad Rassoul, the German-Egyptian head of the Islamic publishing house in Cologne.
I showed him a 12-page manuscript I had been fine tuning for quite some time. In view of my cousin's upcoming 18th birthday, I had drafted it to record for him the few things I considered unquestionably true - from a philosophical point of view.
Rassoul's reaction was astonishing: If I really was convinced of what I had written down, then I was a Muslim! At first, I hesitated to believe him, but he subsequently convinced me when he asked for the rights to publish my paper as 'Philosophical Approach to Islam'.
A few days later, on September 25, 1980, I professed my faith: I bear witness that there is no divinity besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's messenger.
Trying to give an account of one's spiritual growth - leading up to such a crucial step - is a rather questionable enterprise...
Besides, many a greater mind has failed in this attempt. Tempestuous Omar, later to be the 2nd Caliph, had been violently persecuting the Muslims up until his sudden conversion. It is impossible to fathom why, in the midst of a family feud, he was won over by Islam upon reading the 20th Surah, Taha...
The same is true for the fascinating book about Muhammad Asad's (a Jew) Road to Makkah, where the experience of conversion is mentioned in but a few scant lines which also ae not very illuminating to the skeptical reader. In one passage, he even claims to have soaked up Islam as if it were by osmosis. A similar thing obviously happened to Christian (Abdul-Hadi) Hoffman during his instant conversion, which 'struck out of the blue'.
I, too, had felt Islam�s magnetic attraction for many years, if not decades, because I felt intellectually and emotionally so much at home with Islam as I had been there before.
The following passage was extracted from Murad Hofmann's Journey to Makkah, pp. 27-28