Read the story of Ehsan Nguyen on his Journey to Islam
How did you become Ahmadi? Every time I am asked this question, I get butterflies in my stomach. It's as if someone just asked me how did you two meet? But in this case, the question was pertaining to my relationship with God, which started later in life in my early twenties. Let me first start with who I am and my background. I was born and raised here in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I am the second oldest of five kids, and four of us are first generation Vietnamese-American. Growing up here in the south in the so-called Bible Belt of America, I was heavily exposed to Christianity.
I was told that Jesus's was the son of God, that he died for our sins, and that Christmas was a holiday to celebrate his birth. I sorta just went along with it. But after some time, I started to question who Jesus's really was, how he lived, and exactly how he died. Hearing stories of the miracles he performed in his time were pretty amazing, but that's how it all sounded like to me—stories. Actually, if I was a small child listening to these awesome stories about Jesus's miracles, I would have thought that he was a Marvel/DC super hero. He would be well deserving of his own official Netflix original series.
Ok, so he died for our sins, he was brought back to life, raised to heaven and he is currently hanging-out up there with God. Then there was this Holy Trinity subject, which I personally could not completely wrap my mind around. Why would there be one God since the beginning of time and then all of a sudden become three? Were they equals?
Why would God, for the longest time be on top of all things, then all of a sudden decided that He needed backup? Like a wingman, a sidekick, a partner? And the only way for God to listen to you is through his son Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). Hmmm... I was not convinced. I was then doomed to suffer for eternity in the pits of hell, or so I was told by a classmate back in middle school because I was not accepting Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) as my savior. It seemed like I was being groomed to believe, that Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) died for our sins and if that didn't work, the fear tactic came into play. So, I moved on.
In high school I had a friend that was Muslim. This being my first encounter with a Muslim person, I had some questions about the religion of Islam. Mostly silly questions like, why Muslims don't eat pork? What's up with women covering their head? And most importantly, what's the difference between Christianity and Islam? The simple answer I got was, Muslims believe in one God, and Muslims believe Jesus's to be a prophet of God and not His son. I simply raised an eyebrow and said, "Oh, okay cool". Well, that little curiosity alone was enough for my friend to offer me my very first Holy Quran. I didn't know what to do with it. I remember skimming through it once or twice but couldn't get interested in its writings. So, I put it away and forgot all about it.
After high school, I pretty much did whatever I wanted without a care in the world as long as I didn't hurt anyone or myself. Actually, those were the words 1 lived by. Not as catchy as "YOLO" but this was pre-Drake. After a while, the going out at night partying and drinking, got old pretty fast. This image I was portraying wasn't me. There was no purpose in how I was living my life. I would feel empty, alone and sometimes scared that
I was wasting away. I began to question my very existence. Is there a heaven? If so, there must be a hell.
Will I see my loved ones again after I die? Why can't we all live in peace?
Where is the guidance? Who is the one true God, and does He listen to our prayers?
I made the decision to start praying, only at night right before bed. I would start my prayer with "Dear God...". I wasn't sure how to pray, so I kept it short. "Please watch over my family and I and guide me to the right path". After some time, my prayers got longer and more personal. I would ask for God's forgiveness for my sins, guide me to the right path, give me strength to overcome any obstacles that may come my way. Oddly enough, I felt He was listening to my prayers even though I can't explain how I knew. I would pray every night for years and would feel guilty if didn't talk to Him before I went to sleep at night. It brought me some level of peace.
Fast forward into my early thirties, I connected with my Muslim friend from High School through Facebook. I was asked if I still had my Holy Quran and if I was still reading it.
Of course, I lied, and said, "Sure of course, here and there." I started to feel bad about lying so I decided to go back, search for this book and start reading it again. I was surprised by what I was reading. In the first chapter of Surah Fatihah verse 5-6 it says,
"You alone do we worship, and you alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the right path..."
Those few verses as I read them, placed me back in zone. In my comfort my room, before bed while praying to God. I felt instant peace. I began to read more of the Holy Quran and was surprised about how much it embodied most of what I already believed in and what I stand for. Things like freedom of religion, equality for both men and women and more importantly, that there is only one God and He alone do we worship.
I went back and asked my friend where do I go from here? How does one become Muslim? I was then told before I could go any further with my conversion, I needed to accept one last thing. The Promise Messiah (peace be upon him) of the latter days. It seems my friend was an Ahmadi Muslim. I was told to read more about Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) from alislam.org. I was told that everything I needed to know would be found there. So, I read about Promised Messiah (peace be upon him). I read about the signs of his coming, his claims, and his message. I was intrigued. So, I continued to read more. The website had a library of books from Promised Messiah (peace be upon him), and I happened to come across, The Essence of Islam Volume 1.
I was in total awe at what I read. I could tell in his writings that his love for God and his Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon) were undeniable. It was then when I came across these words that he wrote on page 47 which reads,
"Let him who has ears hear what it is that God desires of you. It is that you should become wholly His and should not associate anyone with Him in heaven or in earth. Our God is the One Who is living today as He was living before, and Who speaks today as He spoke before, and hears today as He heard before. It is a false notion that in this age He hears but does not speak."
This alone tells me that to be more near to God, to be rewarded with His Grace, Mercy, and Love, and to have Him listen to us and speak to us, we must do all that is capable of us to please Him and follow in His true teachings. A living God makes Islam a living religion. I accepted Ahmadiyyat on July 4th, 2014. As it was a national holiday of our country's independence, I was honored by the Grace of Allah to gain my own new independence of the soul. A soul free from the chains and shackles of my previous life and was given a new one. Now my new life motto has changed completely. Although still not as catchy as "YOLO" but it sure is more meaningful, and that is
"Love for All, Hatred for None."
And a year later on July 25th, 2015, I got married to my Muslim friend from high school who introduced me to Ahmadiyyat. It is because of her that I became the man I am today. More wise, more compassionate, and more loving of God. I still have plenty of room to grow, and with the support of my family, the Jamaat, and continued guidance from our Hudhur (may Allah be his helper), I believe in my heart that we will leave this world a much better place than it is. Insha'Allah [God Willing].