Can you imagine giving up your religion? Regardless of whether we are practicing believers or not, the thought of just giving it up seems unimaginable. So what is it that makes people change their faith? Especially convert to Islam? It is the most controversial and misunderstood religion today and over the years Islamophobia has been trying to win over the west.
“They don’t believe in God; they worship a black box in the desert; they kiss the ground 5 times a day, – they are hijackers! – Kidnappers! Terrorists!”
Despite all this hatred and bigotry, an ever increasing number of non-Muslims are embracing Islam. What is their motivation? The answer lies in their stories.
He belonged to a deeply religious Christian (Protestant) family that not only practiced their faith but also actively participated in propagating it. His father was an ordained minister who built churches and had close ties with famous anti-Islam Christian personalities like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson. As a young man he took an active interest in learning about all denominations of Christianity. BUT today he is a well known Muslim preacher who travels all over the globe to spread the message of Islam. This is the story of the transformation of Sheikh Yusuf Estes.
Skip Estes was brought up in the conservative state of Texas, USA. For the first forty years of his life he devoted himself to learning about Christianity and became a music minister in churches. In addition to his religious activities, he also ran a successful music business together with his father. Despite gaining a thorough understanding of Christianity and earning great success and wealth in his business, some fundamental questions about the existence and purpose of life kept bothering him all these years.
Until the age of 47 his views about Muslims and Islam were similar to those help by most Christians, especially the clergy.
“To be honest, I was a ‘dedicated Christian’ and a good ‘ole boy from Texas. I hated anything and everything about those “Mozlems“, just like you are supposed to, here in the West.”
He would have continued on this course but providence had other plans for him.
On His Way to See the Light
In 1991, his father started doing business with an Egyptian Muslim. He asked Skip to meet with him but he was apprehensive about it and told his father that he didn’t want to meet this man. However, he finally agreed to meet with this man, Mohamed Abel Rehman. This could be his first chance to convert a ‘Moslem’, he thought!
His first encounter with a ‘Moslem’ occurred on a Sunday after the church service. He had his bible and the family by his side during the meeting. The first look at the ‘Moslem’ shocked Skip Estes; that man was nothing like he had believed. In front of him was a middle-aged man without a beard and with a pleasant personality and warm gestures. Skip asked him various questions about basic Christian beliefs and was surprised to find that Muslims also believed in the same things. How could this be? Anyway, the conversation continued for hours and convinced Skip that Mohammed is a prime candidate for conversion to Christianity. As a result he agreed with his father that it would be a good idea to do business with Mohammed. He was determined that after spending time with this man, he will surely convince him to convert to Christianity.
Fate kept paving the way for Yusuf to see the light. After sometime, Mohammed moved into Skip’s family house. Around the same time Skip met with a Catholic priest and was again surprised to find that the priest knew a lot about Islam. He invited the priest to also stay at his house. Now regular gatherings of the people of two faiths, Islam and Christianity, started to take place in the Estes house. While living in the house, one day the priest asked Mohammed to take him to the mosque. A few days later the priest again asked Mohammed to accompany him to the mosque. This time they were gone for hours and returned with a surprise. Along with Mohammed came a man in a white robe and a cap. It was the priest… he had embraced Islam!
What a shocker!
The same night Skip’s wife confided that she too was going to embrace Islam. This was too much and too soon!
The Transformation of Skip into Yusuf
That night Skip spoke with Mohammed at great length till the crack of dawn.
Hear in his own words how he asked Allah for guidance.
“I went out back behind my father’s house and found an old piece of plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction that the Muslims pray five times a day.
Now then in that position, with my body stretched out on the plywood and my head on the ground, I asked: “O God. If you are there, guide me, guide me.” And then after a while I raised up my head and I noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights and flashes. What I did notice was a change inside of me. I was aware now more than ever before that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I had to do. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was ‘washing’ away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. And I was now coming into a new, fresh life. A life based on truth and proof.”
The next morning Skip took the ‘shahadah‘ (the Islamic testimony of faith) before Mohammed, and lo and behold, the former priest became Yusuf Estes.
After only a few minutes his wife also took the ‘shahadah‘.
His father didn’t wait too long and after a few months he also submitted to Islam. Their family’s journey for the truth concluded when his step mother also converted later.