This contains testimonies of how my parents became Muslims, from a practicing catholic and Traditional Worshipper respectively to practicing Muslims are stories of unfortunate happenings as well as sympathy; all in their quest for a solution to one problem or another. Search for a solution sometimes leads to complicated problems (as was the case with my parents). Many people defend their actions with as many reasons as possible. The unfortunate part of any action is when it has a negative impact on the person as well as those around him (just as was the case with us). Below are translated testimonies that were narrated in my local Kataf language.
Late Ibrahim Maza (my Father)
I was practicing the religion of my parent known as “DODO” (Traditional Kataf Religion). I used to drink our traditional alcohol known as Burukutu at anytime. I got drunk, I must fight someone. One day I got drunk and fought a man named Mato who died instantly as a result of the beatings I gave him. I thank (God) there was no arrest.
From this faithful day I started looking for every reason to stop drinking alcohol; even if the reason could lead to a change of religion.
At that time Fau people were practicing Christianity and mainly Catholics. I was not satisfied with their religion because even as they were Christians they used to drink too. I felt I needed another religion that could help me stop drinking completely (unknown to me there was another group of Christians that forbade drinking). Fortunately, or unfortunately, one Muslim Scholar named Mallam Sarakatu, a Yoruba man, was on his way to Manchok from Zango. I shared my problem with him and instantly he suggested Islam as my solution.
He converted me and that was how I became a Muslim.
Mrs. Habiba Ibrahim (my Mother)
My mother was a practicing Catholic who married her first husband who was also a practicing Catholic, with whom she had her first Daughter. Just after the birth of that girl she was discovered to have epilepsy which needed to be treated. The disease was believed to have been related to spirits and only a Herbalist could treat it. My mother had this to tell me…
This was what took me to your father (Ibrahim), who demanded to live in his house as he administered the treatment; this I did. After treatment he suggested that, to avoid the return of such spirits on me, I needed to marry and, to remain of such spirits on me, I needed to marry to remain in his house. That was, according to him, the only way I could have permanent healing. There was no option for me but to obtain divorce from my former husband and marry him (Ibrahim) out of my will. Then your father was a Muslim and had another wife whom he got through the same reason.
I thank God that the healing was permanent and till today I am free.
My observations and comments
You can agree with me that both, my father and mother, were not converted by theological or eternal conviction. It was not as a result of any spiritual or eternal benefit that they were convinced of in Islam that led to their conversion. For Mallam Sarakatu, the man behind my father’s conversion, did not preached to my father. Islam’s strict position against alcohol was the sermon. Even though in reality the obedience to this religious injunction was a personal thing in my father, similarly, my mother’s desire for permanent healing which led to her conversion was not based on any theological background.
This is just one of those thousands of testimonies that circumstances led to conversion.
A friend I met in Jos, the capital city of plateau state, (who never wanted his name disclosed) told me that by 1964 in Wukari in Taraba State, the premier of the northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, offered him a job if only he was willing to become a Muslim. He accepted and was converted to Islam. Praise to God that he latter confessed Christ and forsook the job; today he has a Healing and deliverance ministry in Jos.
The fact, I am trying to pull out here is, there are so many Muslims today who are Muslims because their parents gave in to similar challenges or they, on their own, gave up to the same in the entire northern part of Nigeria. The challenges for us is to ask our friends (Muslims) if they have reasons for been Muslims today. Surprisingly, you may come to know that the question of eternal salvation never occurred in their testimonies.
On the contrary there are those who became Muslims because of material promises. One, Igbo Ameba, a Treasurer of the church I became a Christian in, fell in love with a relation to the wife of one time secretary to the Federal Government. The wife of the S.S.G. promised him contracts; if he became a Muslim. He gave into this and became a Muslim. Today he lives in Abuja, the Federal Capital. I am not sure if all he was promised had been given to him or are pending. He brought his younger brother Johnson who, for the same reasons, became a Muslim.
This should turn our minds to “why practice what”; the aim of practicing any religion certainly is to address our lives now and hereafter. But where religious conviction ends with now they may be made to understand that there is Life after now. I am not saying that Islam does not provide any answers to the question of hereafter but how satisfactory and convincing are the answers? Since religion aims at reaching the eternal being then every religion that emphasizes pledges here on earth may have some unanswered questions.
In conclusion since of course you known how my parent eventually became Muslims, you know certainly, that I have no option but to be born a Muslim but how I left Islam I refer you to “My Journey to salvation”, an article published on this web.
Finally, do not practice any faith on administration or any reason less than eternal conviction.