Sunday, 14 March 2010
Conversation at the Park Bench
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
There was this person, Leonard, from the Philippines. Back home, he was a Christian evangelist and not the Catholic sort. Understandably, he had rather firm views on God. One day, as he sat at a bench in the park reading the Bible, a man came and sat down next to him. Two strangers sharing a bench at the park is nothing unusual.
The stranger turned to him and asked, “Are you reading the Bible?”
“Yes, I am,” he replied.
“That’s good. Bible studies, huh?”
“Why, yes.” And perhaps it crossed his mind that this was a great opportunity to share his faith.
Before he could say anything, the stranger asked him, “Have you tried reading the Qur’an?”
“Umm … No, haven’t.” Leonard was surprised. Certainly he was not expecting this and it threw him off a bit.
“Maybe you should try it sometime.” And the stranger got up and left.
Leonard thought nothing much about it. But there were times when this was at the back of his mind. Considering his social circles, he did not know any Muslims. Where was he supposed to get a Qur’an? Sometime later, Leonard was posted to Singapore. For the first time, he encountered large numbers of Muslims. Seeing one of the office girls in a hijab in the office, he recalled that conversation with the stranger years before. He approached one of the muslimah and asked, “Do you have a Qur’an?” Of course she did not. At least not in the office anyway. This is not a usual request at the office. But she did manage to direct him to where he could buy a translation of the Qur’an.
Leonard bought the ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali translation of the Qur’an. He went home and read it like a book, from front page to back page. It took most of the day and all of the night. In his words, he said he could not put it down. He felt as if the Qur’an was Speaking to him. Once he was done, he decided that this was it. Islam is the Truth and the Qur’an is Divine in origin. He had to convert. After some enquiry, he was directed to the conversion centre in Singapore. From teaching the Bible as the Word of God to the Qur’an as Kalamullah, this was his journey.