Description: James fascination with Islam begins with knowing the concept
of Oneness of God, seeing how Muslims pray and the love and loyalty Muslims
have for Prophet Muhammad.
By James Den C. Bedico
Published on 22 Apr 2013 - Last modified on 10 Nov 2013
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> Stories of New Muslims
I was Mr. James Den C. Bedico now I am Mr. Afraz
Saleem C. Bedico, a former of member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church of
Christ in the Republic of the Philippines.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo is one of the most influential and
the second largest Christian group here in the Philippines next to the Roman Catholic.
I was born, raised, and baptized inside the Iglesia Ni Cristo since my parents,
brother and sister, and most of my relatives are dedicated members of the
Iglesia Ni Cristo.
During my early childhood, I was
very active in every religious activity of the Iglesia Ni Cristo and I regularly
went to church every Thursday and Sunday. I never missed a congregational
service except in cases of extreme illness. I was part of the choir and my
parents still hold key positions in the Church, such as deacon and deaconess. I
studied college in a school owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo, all its students
are members of the church. In total, I spent thirty years of my life being an
Iglesia Ni Cristo worshipper. I never had the chance of listening to the
teachings of other religions.
In relation to Islam, I was never interested to learn about
it, this was partly on account of the minority status Muslims hold in the
Philippines. I would usually see them while going home; they seemed to be members
of a tribe, a blood lineage, or a group of natives living in the isolated islands
of the Philippines. I never thought that they had a religion! I never heard
the word “Islam” during my childhood, or it could have been that I never gave
attention to that word. Basically Islam here in the Philippines is a forgotten
religion. The Philippines is a Christian dominated society, especially in the
northern and central parts of the country. In the southernmost part, Muslims
are quite dominant. This is because they are adjacent or near to Malaysia, a Muslim
country in southeast Asia.
As the years passed by, I was drifting away from my
religion, I felt ‘empty’, as though yearning for something. Then in the beginning
of 2012, I had a strange dream about a Muslim child wearing a hijab (veil)
covering all of her body except her eyes. The child would be about 6 years old.
She was looking at me at a distance of about 5 ft from where I was standing and
then she uttered the words: “Assalamu Alaikum!” I woke up, shocked and confused…why
would I have such a dream?
After dreaming about the Muslim
child, I searched about Muslims online. I typed in the word “Islam” and one of
the websites that came up was www.islamreligion.com. I
visited the site and I was amazed because I never thought that Islam was a
religion, and that it preached the ONENESS OF GOD. It was from this moment
that I became very interested in Islam. My interest perked further when I read
an article about God. It stated that He had no partner or son! This doctrine was
similar to my former religion, but there was a significant difference. From the
fundamental beliefs that we were taught is that Christ is the son of GOD. So, I
thought to myself that if my former religion teaches us that there is only one
GOD and that Jesus Christ is the son of GOD, then it would be possible for GOD to
multiply himself by having another son. This process could continue until
there would be numerous gods who would help the ONE GOD on his tasks as a GOD.
It was on account of this that I lost faith in my former religion and I began
to dig deeper into the Islamic faith.
I constantly visited www.islamreligion.com
and read some enlightening articles about Islam. I was so amazed with the
method of the Muslims’ prayers. It was quite evident to me that these prayers
were more holistic, sincere, humble, and submissive to GOD ALMIGHTY, especially
when Muslims perform the ruku or bowing (bowing is a sign of respect to
a MASTER) and then the sajdah or the prostration. There is so much
respect in the prayers performed by Muslims. I wondered why in my former
religion, during prayers why we would just stand and fiddle with our hands, this
causes so much distraction!
In my mind, I began to see the beauty of the Islamic
teachings. I thought if we bow to a person it shows so much respect to that
individual, so why shouldn’t we bow to ALMIGHTY GOD? When a gun is pointed at
us, we prostrate before the person begging for his mercy, so why shouldn’t we
prostrate to ALMIGHTY GOD WHO IS capable of causing our death and capable of
putting our souls in Hell?
I realized that Islam is a religion that calls for worshipping
GOD with great respect through sincere prayers, solid faith, and strong belief.
Another reason why I embraced Islam is the life of Prophet
Muhammad (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him). I was amazed to see
how Muslims took good care of their Prophet (may the mercy and blessings of God
be upon him) right up to his last breath and how the Prophet fought for the ONENESS
OF GOD and the Muslim’s struggle to spread the message of God.
This is the essence of Islam, we firmly believe in the
ONENESS OF GOD and we respect the Messenger of GOD: Prophet Muhammad (may the
mercy and blessings of God be upon him).
Now, as a Muslim, my actions are more refined. I am
more GOD-fearing and GOD-conscious. I always remember GOD by praying regularly,
I remember Him in everything I do through supplications and remember Him by
repenting to Him when I commit sins. These are all the pleasant changes of my
life. I enjoy my religion and I am very happy that I embraced Islam as my new
religion. I am very happy that I am now legally converted into Islam here in
the Philippines and I am now using my Muslim name Afraz Saleem C. Bedico. I thank
the website’s operator Samy for assisting me in pronouncing the shahadah (Testimony
of Faith) and I thank the website’s operator Tariq for answering my questions
during the Live-Chat sessions, and I thank www.Islamreligion.com
for being a guide to those who do not know the right path.
ALHAMDULILLAH (All praise and thanks are due to God) for
guiding me to the right path.