Heinz was brought up in the south of London. He was
first introduced to Islam at the tender age of seven
when his mother embraced Islam.
Years later he
traveled and lived in Egypt for a few years and
further developed his knowledge and understanding of
Islam as well as his skills in Arabic language.
He was just a
young boy when his mother converted, and it was then
that he and his brother and sister changed from going
to church to practicing Islam. This was quite a shock
for him at first because his comfort zone had been in
the Christian concepts that he had previously been
was presented to him as a set of strict rules that had
to be followed. He admits that at first he found it
all a bit tough to deal with. At seven he was
expected to pray and fast.
He also had to
learn how to read in Arabic and he found himself
praying and reading Quran but without understanding
what he was saying and why he had to do all this.
years passed and after some time, it all started to
settle in and Islam became his way of life. As he
looks back, he notes that as a teenager, it was
natural that he would start to question what life is
As he passed
through the turbulence of his teenage years, the
meaning of the message of Islam started to touch his
heart and became more and more acceptable to him. He
also began to understand what Islam meant in his life
and as he learned more, he perceived Islam as the
"In my early teens, it was something to be ashamed of
to be a Muslim. At school I was taught Islamic
studies but I was also taught that it was just like
Hinduism and Sikhism."
It affected him
that Islam and those who followed it were considered
"different" from others. When he started secondary
school, he did not want to be associated with Islam,
but he kept it in his heart.
He explains his
reaction, "It was because of the pressure from
outside, but at the same time, I hadn't gone into
Islam enough to justify my faith as I could have." The
public perception of Islam at that time affected how
he presented himself as a Muslim. He wanted to be
among the common crowd, which is a natural part of
human nature. This perception did not change until he
was about fourteen years old.
At this age, he
changed in the way he practiced Islam and how he
presented his religion to others. This happened after
he traveled to Holland and Spain. His journey to
Spain was especially significant as there he had the
chance to interact more with practicing Muslims.
"There was a minority Muslim community where I was in
Spain but they were respected and some of the youth of
my age group were very interested in religion. This
made me no longer feel ashamed. Young people were
embracing Islam and this made me feel proud."
When he returned
to the UK from Spain, he was about fifteen. He went
back to school, but the difference this time was that
he was a Muslim from the inside! He was much more
confident and so he started to talk about Islam more.
Heinz says happily, "I could actually say 'I am
towards Islam started to change among his peers at
school. He relates, "At that time, being a Muslim was
considered jazzy, snappy, and cool! This helped me
become even more confident. One of the things that
helped me through all these changes was my
independence to know Almighty Allah."
reading when he was by himself and memorizing Quran.
He also says that when he was a teenager, as a
household his family members were Muslims, but Islam
was not always being practiced properly.
this, there was something in his heart that was always
drawn toward Almighty Allah and Islam. If he found
life difficult or had problems, he would pray two
units of Prayer and pour his heart out to Almighty
Allah. He states, "I learned to submit myself to
that Muslims have to be sincere to Almighty Allah and
recite Quran everyday. This is what helped him to
pass through the difficult teenage years.
He noticed that
as he became stronger, people changed their
perceptions about him and started to respect him.
He says that if
a person acts shyly, feels embarrassed and behaves
apologetically, people will put him to one side. But
if he does not really care about what people think,
because he knows that he is on the truth, people will
respect him because of the confidence he has.
Heinz says with
surety, "People respect that kind of character.
People respect you if you are yourself."
He believes that
we do not owe anything to our friends or the group we
are with, and that we should just be ourselves. He
advises new Muslims not to try to be like anyone else.
He is now
twenty-three years old and believes that generally, in
the West, people his age are struggling in terms of
responsibility and knowing what is expected of them as
adults. He finds that they are not sure because they
do not belong to a certain culture, or their culture
drives them to succumb to this world that is filled
with commotion and strife.
He says that
when he was seventeen years old and decided to
practice Islam properly, that helped him to grow
because Islam gave him a strict code of conduct. He
followed what it says and tried to understand his role
as a human being.
Slowly he came
to know that he has responsibilities and will
ultimately become a proper adult and a better person,
more considerate and mindful of others. He says that
without Islam he would have been lost.
He is grateful
to Almighty Allah that He has brought him so far.
With Islam, a person can stand out among their peers
because Islam makes a person mature.
"Gaining Islamic knowledge in today's world is
important and we cannot escape Satan as he wants to
keep us away from where we should be.
want to get on the right path and it is important to
keep good company because a person becomes what his
group is. If the person around you will bring you
down, you might have to cut relations with him."
Heinz sees that
his time in Egypt helped him to see how Muslims live
and that it is great to feel that you belong to such a
universal community. Apart from the knowledge of
Arabic and Islam he obtained, Egypt also helped him to
learn more about how to be a Muslim in everyday life.
He says that we
learn from the people we mix with and that we should
read Quran regularly and ask Almighty Allah to help us
understand it properly. Everyone should find out what
classes are happening in their area and attend them
and spend time in the mosque. People can also go onto
Islamic websites and be involved in the community
He observes that
in London there are a lot of places where a person can
obtain knowledge and there are prominent speakers. He
advises new Muslims to seek out such classes and
lectures because not only will you gain knowledge, but
you will also meet good people.
Looking to the
future, Heinz says that he just asks Allah for the
best and hopes. He says, "I am more patient now
because of the experiences I've had. I gained a lot
of stability by having learned about the Companions
and the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be
He sees that the
best way to be a man and the best way to be a woman
are by living according to the standards of Almighty
is based on an interview with Abdul Hakeem Heinz, from