Through his first meeting with a
Muslim and then numerous chats about religion,
Michael sifts through the beliefs of various
religions until he ends up accepting Islam.
By Michael David Shapiro
I am ethnically
a Russian Jew. My quest began when I was 19 years
old. I was recovering from my stint with Scientology
(yes I was brainwashed into it).
My belief in God
was uncertain. My goals in life were to be a rock
star. I was living in my Pasadena apartment and
working as a secretary. Funny, I know.
One night I was
walking to the kitchen, and encountered a dark
fellow. I remembered asking him: "Can I keep this
vodka in the fridge tonight?" We shook hands and went
to sleep. After that point, my life changed
fellow, a Muslim, was the first Muslim I had ever
met. Extremely curious, I conversed with him about
his faith. What's this stuff I hear about praying 5
times a day? And about Holy War? Who is this
Our talks were
accompanied by our Christian roommate, Wade.
Together, we created "The Jewish, Christian, and
Muslim dialogue sessions". In it, we discovered many
differences, and many commonalities.
My interest had
then shifted from sex, drugs, and parties, to a
massive search for the truth. A search that I had to
complete. A search for God. And a search for how to
In my quest for
the truth, I asked myself: "Ok let's start simple, how
many God's do I think are out there?" I figured only
one; knowing that a divided God is weaker than One
God; figuring that if one God didn't agree with the
other, there might be arguments and feuds. One God
was my choice.
Once I opened up
my mind to the possibility of the existence of God, I
analyzed both atheist and theist beliefs. The thing
that directed me to the latter was the quote "Every
design has a designer". With that in mind, eventually
I woke up with certainty that God exists. I can't
explain why, I just felt it somehow.
excitement was accompanied by a sense of
responsibility to follow the Creator. The world of
religion was my next frontier.
Then I asked
myself, "Where do I start?" There are literally
thousands of them. I need a way to narrow them down
to a just a few. How do I accomplish such a task?
"Find the ones that are monotheistic" entered my
mind. "Hey that makes sense, since I believe in only
Ok, then. This
ruled out Buddhism and Hinduism, both being
polytheistic faiths. The major religions I
encountered that fell under the title of Monotheistic,
where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Well since
I'm a Jew, I started with Judaism. One God, some
prophets, 10 commandments, Torah, Jewish souls…uh,
what: "Jewish souls?"
research this idea was brought to my attention. The
story goes, "if a person is born Jewish, then they
have a Jewish soul, and they must follow Judaism."
Hold on a sec…that's discrimination, isn't it? That's
So God makes
Jewish souls, and Christian souls, and Muslim souls,
and Hindu souls? I thought all men are created equal?
So, because one is born into a religion that means by
the decree of God he must remain in it… even if the
person believes it to be false? Hmm…I don't agree
really bothered me…there is no strict concept of hell
in Judaism…then why be good? Why not sin? If I don't
have fear of strict punishment, then why should I be
Moving on, I
discovered Christianity. Ok, one God, a father, a
son, and a holy ghost…one more time: one God, a
father, a son, and a holy ghost. Uhhh, please
explain. How can all those things be one God? 1 + 1 +
1 = 3 right? So how can you say you believe in only
after explanation, equation after equation, comparison
after comparison, analogy after analogy, I couldn't
grasp this concept. Ok let's keep looking here.
Ok, next major
doctrine: Jesus died for our sins and he did this
because we all are polluted with "Original Sin". So,
Jesus Christ, the "son of God", had to be murdered to
save everyone from Hell and cure us of our sin "given"
to us by Adam.
Ok then, so are
you saying that we are all born as sinners? And to
sin is to do something wrong right? Then you're
telling me that a one-year old baby is guilty of sin
or doing something wrong? Ok that's strange, so based
on the actions of one man, all of mankind must suffer?
What's the moral of that story? Punish the whole
group if one deviates? Why would God create such a
rule? That's just not in agreement with my logic.
So Jesus died
because he "loves mankind". Hold on, it says in the
Bible that Jesus said "father, why have you forsaken
me?" So, apparently, Jesus didn't understand why he
was being brutally murdered. But you just said he
"volunteered" to be sacrificed. Anyway, I couldn't
accept this belief. Ok, what's the next religion?
means submission. The main beliefs are as follows:
One God, worship God five times a day, give 2.5%
annual charity, fast during Ramadan (to be closer to
God and appreciate life…among other reasons) and
finally journey to Mecca for Hajj if you are able
financially. Ok, nothing hard to understand so far.
that conflicts with my logic here. The Quran is a
book with all of these interesting miracles and
timeless wisdom. Many scientific facts only
discovered recently where proclaimed 1400 years ago in
Ok, Islam had
passed my initial religious prerequisites. But I
wanted to ask some deep questions about it. Is this
religion universal? Yes, anyone can understand these
basic beliefs…no analogy or equation are needed. Does
it agree with science? Yes, dozens of verses in the
Quran agree with modern science and technology.
As I sifted
through the countless logical facts that I read
through and researched, one thing took my attention
the most. "Islam". The name of this religion. I
noticed it is written many times in this Quran.
recalling my prior studies, I didn't remember once
seeing the word "Judaism" in the Old Testament or
"Christianity" in the New Testament. This was BIG.
Why couldn't I find the very name of the religions in
those two books? Because, there is no name in these
books! Thinking…I noticed that "Judaism" could be
broken down to "Juda- ism" and "Christianity" could be
So who is Juda?
Or Judah, rather. He was the tribe leader of the
Hebrews when God revealed his message to mankind. So
this religion was named after…a person. Ok let's look
at who Christ is. He was the person who delivered the
message of God to the Jews. So this religion was
named after…a person.
recollection, we can deduct that the names of these
religions are people's proper names attached to "ism"
and "ianity". Regardless of that fact, the very names
of those religions are not mentioned in their
scriptures. I thought that was very odd.
If I went door
to door selling a product, and I said "Would you like
to buy this _______"? Wouldn't the logical question
be: "What is this _____ called?" I would make no
money off of a product without a name.
Naming is the
very basis which humans identify with objects, both
physical and non-physical. If religion is supposed to
be practiced and spread to every person on earth,
shouldn't there be a NAME for it?
shouldn't the name be given to us from God Almighty?
YES, my point exactly. The names "Christianity" and
"Judaism" were not written in the Holy Scriptures.
Humans named them, not God. The notion that God would
ordain a religion for mankind to follow without a name
is impossible for my mind to accept.
At that point,
both Christianity and Judaism lost their credibility
as pure, logical, and complete religions, at least
from my perspective.
Islam is the
ONLY of these religions to include the NAME of the
religion in its scriptures. This is so huge for me.
I realized I
would follow Islam at that point. I then became a
Muslim. I knew the truth. I was out of the
darkness. I came into the light…