LAGOS – In a Christian region that once seemed impregnable to the Islamic monotheism, a growing number of Christians are embracing Islam, saying they found it “real, genuine and uncompromising regarding oneness of God.”
“A lot has been said and are still being said about our conversion," Uchenna Ukah, now Ibrahim Ukah, told OnIslam.net in a telephone interview from his Abuja base.
“Some claim we did so because we hope to be given money.”
Uchenna is one of eighteen Igbo men from Nigeria's mainly Christian southeast region who embraced Islam at the National mosque Abuja, in Nigeria's capital, last November.
Aged between 25 and 35 years, the men reflected a notable increase in the number of people reverting to Islam from the country's mainly Christian region that once seemed impregnable to the Islamic monotheism.
A Christian monarch and then a daughter of a pastor had earlier this year dumped their Christian faith for Islam, the latter drawing widespread controversy over claims that she was hypnotized by a Muslim monarch in the country's north central city Bida, Niger state.
The Pastor’s daughter, Aisha, denied being hypnotized, insisting her choice of Islam was strictly a personal decision driven by conducts of Muslims around her.
For Uchenna, reasons behind finding Islam were due to the grace of Allah.
“I owe no one any explanation except my creator. If you insist on knowing my reasons, they are not farfetched,” he said.
“I have studied Islam since the bombing of the world trade centre in New York in a bid to know about an ideology that purportedly inspires young men full of life to bomb themselves. I have a university degree so I was prepared for an intellectual journey.
“That led me to read up on Islam, rather than feed on what may amount to sheer stereotype,” the new Muslim convert added.
Uchenna is the younger brother of Tobechi Ukah, who also converted to Islam on the same day.
"I found Islam to be real, genuine and uncompromising on issues it holds so dear," Tobechi told OnIslam.net.
“You cannot manipulate the message of the Qur'an, forget what anyone might say about some people drawing inspiration from the Qur'an to bomb the innocents.”
Uchenna’s way towards finding Islam started when he read about the years that preceded the Prophet Muhammad's migration to Makkah and the incidents that led to the first military confrontation between the Muslims and the Meccan tribe.
"I found out to my surprise that the war wasn't at the behest of Muhammad. Unbiased history shows the battle of Badr was a battle of survival for the Muslim," he said.
“They had no options than to defend themselves or surrender to the Meccans in which case they might be killed or be made to revert to idol-worshipping.”
After reading, Uchenna found that the Prophet's rule of engagement in war time was "about the most striking thing I ever read which erased every doubt that Islam is the true religion but which suffers widespread disinformation from some people for God knows why."
His brother, Tobechi, turned down questions about whether they were drawn to Islam because new convert always get celebrated by wealthy Muslims especially at the national mosque.
"People can say anything. It is a free world. I have found the truth and failing to stick with it will taunt me forever," he told OnIslam.net.
He said he was inspired by the findings of his younger Ibrahim.
“But beyond that, I went in search of Qur'anic verses that incite people to hatred and terrorism but I found none,” Tobechi added.
“I was shocked, during my own journey to Islam, to see such verses that say killing a fellow man for no just reason amounts to killing the entire human race. I was inspired by the fact that Islam preached no hatred towards anyone and in fact said Muslims should uphold justice even if it be against themselves or their kinsmen.
“That was astonishing. Isn't it? Maybe I felt that way because I was looking for something with which to further nail Islam and Muslims.”
Both men thanked the Justice Mamman Nasir Islamic Centre for Peace and Research in Nigeria and the national mosque for the role it played in their journey to Islam.
Abubakar Sideeq, an assistant Imam at the national mosque, confirmed to OnIslam.net that the converts told the same stories about their journey to Islam.
"What I learnt from their stories, eighteen of them, is that the only day to find out the truth of Islam is to set out to research it with unbiased mind. I therefore congratulate our brothers," Ustadh Sideeq said.
He said some of the converts found their way to Islam through adversities.
"Many of them had bitter stories to tell but God works in a wonderful way. Many of them found Islam in their bid for freedom from organized religions," Sideeq said.
"They found Islam to be a genuine choice and they embraced it. We than Allah for them and for making us too Muslims."
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