Viewpoint: My Conversion to Islam

by Mrs Atiyya Lockyer

The Islamic Guardian (UK), July to September 1981 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 10–13)

It will shortly be one year since I sat with Dr Nazir-ul-Islam and professed the Kalimah:

Ash-haduan-la-ilaha illallaho wa ash hadu anna Muhamma-dan abdu-hu wa rasulu hu,

allowing everyone to know that after several years of study and soul searching, I had finally come to realise that Islam was, and is, the only religious precept I can truly accept.

At that time, I knew in my heart that this was the path I must follow, but in spite of having studied Islam for some time, I could not have pinned down the reason other than to say that it gave me the peace I needed. The word Islam means peace and submission to Allah. According to the Holy Quran we have been given a clear guarantee of peace of mind.

“Surely one gets peace of mind with the zikr (remembrance) of Allah.”

Now I believe I have found the reason for this. In Islam there is no change, no contradiction and no abrogation. Islam is one of the three great religions, that is, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Out of these three religions only Islam has kept its original form unaltered, unchanged and unabrogated.

And in this ever-changing world we all need something upon which we can cling; something which can make us live in a manner pleasing to Allah; something which will make us steadfast in our belief. Note the following verses of the Holy Quran:

اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا الذِّکۡرَ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَحٰفِظُوۡنَ ﴿۹﴾

“Surely We (God) have revealed the Reminder (Al-Quran) and surely We are its Guardian” (The Holy Quran, 15:9).

لَا تَبۡدِیۡلَ لِکَلِمٰتِ اللّٰہِ ؕ

“There is no possibility of any change in the words of Allah” (The Holy Quran, 10:64).

وَ لَنۡ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّۃِ اللّٰہِ تَبۡدِیۡلًا ﴿۶۲﴾

“And thou wilt find no change in the way of Allah” (The Holy Quran, 33:62).

وَ لَنۡ تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللّٰہِ تَحۡوِیۡلًا ﴿۴۳﴾

“But thou wilt find no alteration in the course of Allah” (The Holy Quran, 35:43).

مَا نَنۡسَخۡ مِنۡ اٰیَۃٍ اَوۡ نُنۡسِہَا نَاۡتِ بِخَیۡرٍ مِّنۡہَاۤ اَوۡ مِثۡلِہَا ؕ

“Whatever message He abrogate or causes to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or one like it” (The Holy Quran, 2:106).

So, unlike the Bible or other religious books, the Holy Quran is above any change, alteration or abrogation. We are all aware that translations are allowed in order that those of us who have no knowledge of Arabic may still be able to know the wonder and beauty of the Holy Quran, but we can also know that these translations are exact, and so that they may be kept, the Arabic text appears besides the translation.

I have been given a book of Muslim prayers printed in about 1958/1960 which describes the manner of prayers, the time of prayers, the actions of ablutions. Naturally, this was one of many previous printings. A short time ago, I had reason to ask one of my dear sisters in Islam about something which I did not understand. This dear lady sent me a book of prayer meant for her grandson which she felt would more readily answer my question. It was this small book, a book meant for a child, that brought to me the real reason why Islam has given me the peace and steadfastness I searched for so many years. It is unchanging! A book of prayer written many years ago by Maulana Muhammad Ali and the book of prayer to be given to this child are identical. The prayers are not made easier for the mind of the child; they require the child’s mind to reach to the prayers. The prayers are not printed in English so that the child may more easily learn them; they are printed in Arabic so that the child must concentrate to learn them.

In this ever-changing world we all need something to which we can cling, something that we know is safe and unalterable, something that we know if we follow will lead us only to good and finally into the Gardens under which the water flows. In the Holy Quran, which can never be altered, and in our constant prayers which we know that over the world millions of people are saying at the same hour and in the same manner, we have a firm and solid foundation upon which to base our lives. We know that precepts are not apt to be altered at the next meeting of the council; we know that we will remain unchangeable and firm. In this respect we are assured by the Holy Quran:

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ قَالُوۡا رَبُّنَا اللّٰہُ ثُمَّ اسۡتَقَامُوۡا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَیۡہِمُ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃُ اَلَّا تَخَافُوۡا وَ لَا تَحۡزَنُوۡا وَ اَبۡشِرُوۡا بِالۡجَنَّۃِ الَّتِیۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُوۡعَدُوۡنَ ﴿۳۰﴾ نَحۡنُ اَوۡلِیٰٓؤُکُمۡ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا وَ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ ۚ وَ لَکُمۡ فِیۡہَا مَا تَشۡتَہِیۡۤ اَنۡفُسُکُمۡ وَ لَکُمۡ فِیۡہَا مَا تَدَّعُوۡنَ ﴿ؕ۳۱﴾ نُزُلًا مِّنۡ غَفُوۡرٍ رَّحِیۡمٍ ﴿٪۳۲﴾

“Those who say, our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them saying, fear not nor be grieved, and receive good news of the Garden which you were promised. We are your friends in this world and in the Hereafter and you have therein what you ask. A welcome gift from the Forgiving, the Merciful” (The Holy Quran, 41:30–32).

Christianity, which is the only other religion I can speak of, has altered to such a degree that there is no longer continuity, and in altering it has defeated its very purpose. To make religion more understandable for the young people of the world so that they too might achieve the ultimate goal of each of us — heaven rather than the fires of hell.

When I was young and being taught my Catechism, we were told the Holy Bible was without error; that the teachings of the ‘Holy Mother Church’ were absolutely the word of God as given to His son, Jesus Christ. There was no room for error nor could there be any error. When my daughter was learning her Catechism, she would talk with me about what she had learned and the differences gave niggling doubts. No longer was Latin to be used, English made it easier. When my sons were learning Catechism, nearly everything I had learned was in question. The Bible said that the Jews had crucified Christ, or caused him to be crucified; suddenly the theoretically infallible Pope said, “Sorry, we were wrong, it was the Romans who did the damage.” It was no longer expedient to say that the Jews had anything to do with the crucifixion. Perhaps the Holy Bible was not as infallible as previously stated. In history lessons, the children read of the Romans crucifying robbers and murderers and of days of thirst and hunger and loss of blood and shock finally killing these criminals, and yet they were expected to believe that Christ died upon the cross after only three hours.

Our children are less naive than we were and they questioned this; by this time so did I. Common sense says that there is no way in which a healthy, mature man could perish in just three hours and yet we were expected to fully believe this, that is, the story of the Bible. For my part it was about this time that I began to have doubts, but the need for a stabilising force and the need for the beautiful life promised in heaven, kept me from admitting to myself that my doubts were well-founded.

Confession, one of the main stays of the Catholic faith, was suddenly no longer necessary unless one had committed a very serious sin, and just as suddenly there were no really serious sins. Prayers were altered from Latin into English, theoretically for better understanding for the young; the services themselves were altered in such a way as to make them a travesty to the older people. They became like one gigantic rock-and-roll session with a few words thrown in about the infallibility of the Church and fewer words still about God. The young people for whom these changes were supposedly made dropped away from the Church in droves because there was no longer anything for them to hold on to. When all the solid rock-like beliefs were suddenly proven to be foolishness, I dropped away.

It was my good fortune that about this time a friend of mine said in passing that Islam believed in everything that Christ taught and a bit more. To me this was unbelievable, but certainly worth looking into if for no other reason than to prove my friend wrong.

I went to the main library in Southampton and borrowed a book on Islam and read and went back and borrowed more books kindly donated by our International Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement and purchased a Penguin Holy Quran. The paperback, in its preface, said that even if we could not believe what was written, the poetry of the Holy Quran was well worth reading. How true! In our library there was a Holy Quran with English, Arabic in Roman script and Arabic along with commentary. I read this and renewed it and renewed it until I was embarrassed to renew it again. There was also a book called The Religion of Islam, by Maulana Muhammad Ali, which I read and wanted to read again, but which was no longer available in the library. I wrote to the International Headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Movement at Lahore asking about the possibility of purchasing my own copy. The letter was passed on to Dr. Nazir-ul-Islam and we began a lengthy correspondence with many books and copies of The Light passing between us. I found in these books and in the Holy Quran the answer to my questions and proof that my friend was right; Islam offered all that Jesus taught but with so much more added to it that I could renew my faith, or could find a faith.

When one sees the solidness, the continuity, the unchanging and undaunted basis of Islam, how can it be doubted that this is the true, timeless religion blessed by Allah?