By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
21 years ago today on 1st March 2000, I embraced Islam in the company of a few friends at the back of Malik Chemist, 50-51 New Hampton Road West, Wolverhampton. This was after a period of roughly a couple of years investigating Islam and other religions.
I’m still called a ‘new Muslim’ by some people even today, but I don’t feel so ‘new’ any more… Islam is part and parcel of who I am, and who I’ve been for the best part of my adult life.
Within 6 months of embracing Islam, I was incredibly fortunate to meet murids (students) of Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani and Shaykh Sufi Muhammad Abdullah Khan, and took bayah with Sufi Abdullah in Birmingham. Under the guidance of our shaykhs, both these communities of Naqshbandi murids, from two branches of the tariqat, were critical to me developing the understanding of Islam I have today.
I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Shaykh Robin Keen and Mr Shakoor of Bilal Mosque in Wolverhampton who very patiently took me under their wing and helped me understand Islam better.
Mr Shakoor, a murid of a Moroccan shaykh, lent me a copy of the book, “Islamic Beliefs and Doctrine According to Ahl as-Sunna – A Repudiation of ‘Salafi’ Innovations” (1996) by Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani. I will forever be in debt to Mawlana Shaykh Hisham for writing this book and numerous other publications, sohbets, and presentations clarifying the teachings of Islam, may Allah ﷻ bless him abundantly in this life and the next.
May Allah ﷻ eternally bless the souls of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, his noble family, my shaykhs, Sufi Abdullah and Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, and every one of my teachers over the years. Allahumma salli ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa ala ali sayyidina Muhammadin wa barik wa sallim.