After graduating from University, like most french people I had to do my military service. But with an engineering degree, it is possible to work abroad and do instead civil service. By an extraordinary chance, I was sent to the United States, at the University of Kansas to work in a research department.
Arriving there, I met an Algerian Student: Said Saim. I was lost in a totally new environment, and it was very nice to find somebody with whom I could speak french. He showed me around, and helped me a lot. He explained to me that he was a Muslim and was serious in his belief. I told him that I was a Catholic but not following the teachings of my religion. We had one hobby in common, we both liked football very much. So he invited me to join him and his friends. One afternoon, during a game, we were playing in opposite teams, and he was dribbling me. I tried to tackle him, and made him fall. He was lying on the ground and could not get up. I thought he was pretending, in order to get a penalty. In fact it was very serious, he was brought to a hospital, and there I was told that his ankle was broken. I could not believe it. I barely touched him. After a few hours, I brought him back home. I felt very bad. He was stuck in bed for several weeks, and all because of me. I was feeling very guilty about it. I started to come every other day to offer my services, or simply to talk.
His favourite topic was Islam. I must admit that in the beginning, I was not really interested in this subject but I knew that this was making him feel much better. However, little by little, I became more and more interested, and fascinated by the love with which he was talking about the Holy Prophet, and by the description he was giving me of the Holy Qur’an. It was then that I realised how little I knew about Islam and about religion in general. It also appeared clearly that I would not find answers to my questions through Christianity, which is far too limited and the teachings of which have seriously been deteriorated. Even after his recovery, I kept on visiting him, spending a lot of time talking about the relation between religion and science.
One day, he offered me his Holy Qur’an, and as soon as I started reading it, I was fascinated by the wonders and the wisdom it contains. In particular this verse:
And when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, didst thou say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?'” he will answer, “Holy art thou. I could never say that to which I had no right. If I had said it, Thou wouldst have surely known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou Who art the Knower of hidden things.”
Holy Qur’an 5:117
This gave me a terrible shock. Tears came to my eyes; suddenly 2000 years of Christian teaching were crushed by this wonderful verse.
Even without being able to read Arabic, the simple translation of the Holy Qur’an was so beautiful and clear that I was convinced that no human being could have been able to produce it. I knew that I had to convert and become a Muslim. Despite my being convinced, I was not considering taking the step immediately. In fact I thought it would be too difficult to give up my habits and my way of life. Therefore I decided that I would wait until I am 50 or 60 years old. At this age I would have the strength to face this truth. The main inconvenience was that if I was to die before converting, I was not sure that God would forgive me. But I felt deep inside that Allah would give me enough time to make up my mind. I also started to pray, not five times a day, but once or twice a day, and it was amazing to find out that Allah was listening to my prayers and was answering them.
After 16 months my contract in the U.S. was completed, and I returned to France. By the grace of Allah I got a job with SCHLUMBERGER, an oil service company. After a few months, I realised that this job was not what I was looking for. I took a few days off and went to The Hague to interview with SHELL for a position as an operations engineer. I wanted the job very much. Unfortunately, I was going through a bad period; I was very depressed, and I gave a rather poor performance during my interviews. That evening, back at the hotel, I prayed and implored Allah to give me this job an that if He’d do so, I would not wait until I was 60 to convert but I would do it immediately. Four weeks later I received a telephone call. I was hired.
For a few months, I forgot about my promise. Then one day, I was struck by a verse of the Holy Quran:
“Allah will not call you to account for such of your oaths as are vain, but He will call you to account for the oaths which you take in earnest… And do keep your oaths. Thus does Allah explain to you his Signs that you may be grateful.”
Holy Qur’an, 5:90
I felt immediately that Allah was reminding me that He had fulfilled his part of the deal and He would punish me if I did not keep my word. I picked up a telephone book and looked for addresses of Muslim associations. I closed my eyes, put my finger on the page, and picked one at random. Later on I went there many times, but I stayed outside and could not find the courage to walk in. A few more months went by. I was feeling really miserable. Finally, after a lot of hesitation I walked in. My heart was beating very fast. The first thing I told the people I met there was that I wanted to become Muslim. They were very surprised, and invited me for a cup of coffee. There, Mr Hibbatun-nour Verhagen the president of the association explained to me that his community was different from the others: they were Ahmadi Muslims. They believed that Jesus, in the person of Ahmad of Qadian had come back. That the first time he did not die on the cross but went to India… and so on. I was left speechless, not knowing what to think. It was a nightmare. I thought that, by walking in, all my difficulties would be solved. I could not believe it. Did they think that I was stupid?
If Jesus had really come back, I would certainly know about it. We are living in the 20th century and things like that do not stay unknown. I went home very depressed. How could it be possible? It had been so difficult already, and I had to start all over again. I was so very confused. Suddenly, I thought that Allah must be testing me. He brought me to this Ahmadi mosque with a special purpose, in order to test my faith and my understanding. I needed guidance from God because I could not understand. I knew that in the birth and death of Jesus, Allah had purposely made a trial for mankind. If millions of people had already said so many stupid things about Jesus what the Ahmadis told me might just as well be true! What mattered for me was to accept Islam, and declare my belief in the unity of God and the Prophethood of Mohammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). The choice of one sect or an other was not that important. If by joining Ahmadiyyat I was making a mistake, I implored God that He forgive me, and guide me to the right one.
During the following night, I had a dream in which Mr H.Verhagen came to me and shaking my hand said: “I congratulate you for your conversion”. I also saw in the dream that this would happen in approximately 3 months. This was the first time I experienced such a thing and I was fascinated by God’s bounty towards me. He had accepted my humble prayer, and showed me the right way. I came back to the mosque many times to learn more about this movement and from my readings and discussions, I found out that the concept of Islam that they defended was the one that had been introduced to mankind by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). A few months later, by the grace of Allah I became an Ahmadi Muslim. Exactly like in my dream, the first time I came to attend the Friday prayer, Mr H.Verhagen came to me and told me “I congratulate you for your conversion”!
When I look back at all these events that led to my conversion, I am amazed to realise that breaking the leg of my friend Said is probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life!
Allah knows all things, and you know not.
Holy Qur’an, 2:217