By JAWED ANWAR
CARL Ross found the straight path to meet his God 15 years ago in Toronto. “Islam has changed my life and gives Sakinah (peace and comfort) to my heart,” he said.
Carl Ross, new name Abdul Kareem,, a Caucasian man, migrated to Canada from Austria in 1960. He is 60 now and embraced Islam 15 years ago in Toronto. His wife and 17-year-old daughter, living together, are also Muslimah. He recites and reads Quran with understanding daily in the morning with his family.
The most moving Ayah of Quran that changed his life is Surah Al-Hujrat (No. 49), Ayah 13:
“O mankind, we created you from one man and one woman, and then divided you into nations and tribes so that you may recognize one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most pious of you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise. (49:13).
Then he started reading the Quran where Allah invites thinking and scientific inquiry with the objective mind. “If anyone, particularly a learned person, intellectual, a person with wisdom, will read the Quran without prejudice, without presumption, without any biased notion, will definitely achieve the truth,” he said confidently.
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are many signs for the people of intellect, who, standing and sitting and lying down, remember Allah and reflect upon the (wonders) of the structure of the earth and the heavens.” (Al-Quran 3: 191-192)
“During the reading of Qur’an, I was continuously asking for guidance from God. And God has guided me on the Sirat-al-Mustaqeem (The Straight Path).” “As a matter of fact, the first chapter (Surah) of Quran starts (Al Fatiha) with the same words that I asked.
“In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise is only for Allah, the Lord of the Universe, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful, and Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee alone we worship, and to Thee alone we pray for help. Show us the straightway, the way of those whom Thou hast blessed, who have not incurred Thy wrath, nor gone astray.” ( Surah Al-Fatiha)
Abdul Kareem recites several Surahs and Ayahs of Quran in Arabic.
His first encounter with Islam was a Canadian Islamic weekly TV Show, “Reflection of Islam,” that appears every Sunday at 11 am on Vision TV, Channel 60. “I was watching the show regularly that starts with the recitation of Quran, and phoned the studio several times.”
However, the day of the embracement of Islam, and surrender to the truth came a day when his Muslim friend, Muhammad Arif, Pakistani Canadian, of Tableeghi Jamaat invited him to watch the Jumuah prayer in the Masjid. “Muhammad Arif had invited me to watch the prayer in the Masjid at the time in my life when I was completely lost and confused about purpose of my life,” he said.
“I was watching the prayer, sitting in the back of all the lines of performers of the prayers (Musallees). A voice murmured in my ear. You have no choice. You must prostrate. And I could not control and stop myself to go to sajdah (prostrate on the ground with the forehead, the knees, the nose and palm of both hands touching the ground),” Abdul Kareem explained his first day of Islam.
He said, “It was the most natural way of prayer. Surprisingly, I was always praying at the direction of Qiblah (northeast from here). Some of the old churches, even today have the direction of prayer towards Qiblah (east). I got the natural religion (Deen), Islam, the deen of all prophets and messengers of Allah, including Jesus, son of Mary, a messenger and spirit of Allah.”
Born and raised in a Catholic Christian family, Abdul Kareem admits that “this deen (Islam) and its requirements was taught by our Muslim brothers, but mostly it was taught by Allah (S.W.T.). No one has power to give the guidance. It is Allah’s mercy to the people that He provides the guidance. Before going to the Masjid the first time, I was drinking alcohol and indulged in several sins. However, two weeks after the Sajdah in Masjid, I was reading Surah Fatiha of Al-Quran. And I was convinced, and I strengthened the relationship of Allah.”
“It was amazing to note that people of many different languages, cultures, nationality, and ethnicity join together in Islam. Diversity of the people gets a positive way in Islam,” he said.
“I learned how to pray, do wudu, and several other requirements and essentials in Islam by going to Jammah with Tableeghi people. I learned a lot from ICNA brothers and Halqas (weekly gatherings prevalent in Arab and African Muslim neighborhood Masajid). All these Jamaah and groups are doing wonderful work. Every organization is doing some right thing for Islam. We should help each other for Islam. We should work as Ummah. We should stop complaining, backbiting, negatively criticizing without knowing each other,” he said.
“I read about Seerah of Muhammad, s.a.w., directly from Quran, and I know him as Quran explained about him; how he was soft, kind, and merciful, and actively involved to replace bad thing with Hasnah (good deeds),” Abdul Kareem said.
“One continuous learning process includes how to defeat Shaytan who comes in different ways to distract from the right and straight path.”
“Quran taught me that don’t be grieved; don’t have fear; you will prevail if you are a Momin (practicing Muslim with strong attachment with Allah).”
“I will say that Islam is my life saving. It saved my life, the body and soul both. If the body will be destroyed, the soul will be protected from hellfire, and the soul will get a new body in the heaven.” Abdil Kareem showed his passion of Eiman (faith).
He has good time and memories with Muslim brothers. His best friend Zafar Shamsi from Lahore, Pakistan, is now not alive. “He touched me deep. He shook hand, prolonged hug; this was his style, a way to show his passion and love. He is no more among us and not alive, but his soul is connected with me. I was planning to go to Lahore with him.”
Abdul Kareem has no affection with Duniya (this world) and his target is Jannah. “It is just like a movie for me. Duniya is a deceptive,” he said.
However, he admits that Shaytan will try his best to block your direction that led to Allah and paradise. “From the day one of life of Islam, every day Shaytan comes with waswasa (deceptive plans), and every day I do Jihad (struggle) with my Nafs (self esteem).”
Abdul Kareem now looks forward to be actively involved in the community affairs and Dawah works. He is a technical/skilled worker and has a technical diploma in Quality Control.