the Desk of:
Chaplain Yusuf Estes
TO: Takashi Settai
Staff Writer for Nikkei (Japanese Newspaper)
New York, New York
RE: Your email request for more information on former Christians coming
[email copy below]
Peace be unto all those who
follow right guidance.
Thank you for your kind letter and for your offer of publishing the
story of my "converting" from Christianity to Islam.
Before I begin, I
must mention that I am leaving on a flight from here (Washington, DC)
to Atlanta in 30 minutes to speak at a special event to be held in West
End Community (Imam Jamil Alamin's community) to assist in a fund raising
program for his legal defense. The name of the event is called "Riyadh
2000." As a national prison chaplain, I was allowed to visit Imam Jamil
last week in the high security section of the Fulton County Jail. We
spent many hours together discussing many of the issues confronting
the Muslims in this country and around the world today. To me this is
a far more interesting story than how a Christian priest (a Catholic
priest friend of ours named Peter Jacobs), a preacher (myself) and a
reverend (my father came last) came to Islam.
Now as to your request for further information and permission to publish,
you can feel assured that we are most happy to cooperate with you in
any way possible.
I could perhaps begin by saying, that I have personally witnessed many
"converts" coming into Islam in this country (and Mexico as well). But
many people consider my own personal experience to be rather unique
in that it was not simple one person changing their religion, but rather
an entire household of very religious Christians of three different
denominations [Catholic, "Born Again" and Protestant) all "converting"
[The reason I choose
to put the word "convert" in brackets is because the understanding as
taught by the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is that all children
are born in a state of "Islam" (surrender, submission and obedience
to Almighty God) and it is their parents who raise them up as Jews,
Christians, Fire Worshippers or Muslims. So, Muslims consider it more
like returning or "reverting" to Islam.]
But please do not get the wrong idea, although we entered into Islam
within a close proximity in time we each individually came to the conclusion
that Islam was our own personal choice and it was not an instant decision
as a group coming over to Islam.
While we would all agree that there are always going to be a certain
number of people who, for whatever reason, will change from one religion
to another, we must also quickly agree that it is highly unusual to
find a number of priests, preachers, reverends and holy men (and
women) from various faith groups, simultaneously entering the same faith
around the world.
My own personal story begins on the Texas/Mexican border in December
of 1990. I was born a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant and at that time
I was working very actively toward preaching "Born Again" Christianity
to anyone and everyone that would listen. I was definitely NOT LOOKING
FOR ISLAM. In fact, religious leaders of Christianity and Judaism would
have us believe, that Islam is a cult of some kind with the followers
worshipping a black box in the desert and kissing the ground five times
All my close friends at that time were either
preachers, ministers or very much active in preaching a message of "Saving
Grace by blood sacrifice from the Holy Trinity of Jesus." One preacher
I knew used to carry a huge (12' long) cross on his back and walk alongside
the highway to attract people to "come to Jesus." Another preacher used
to take me into Mexico and we would preach in the square or market to
individuals about the "salvation of Christ." We were even arrested in
the night by Federal Police and investigated (Mexico is predominantly
Catholic and does not encourage other religions).
Ah alas, I feared that I would run out of time before completing this
story for you. I must go immediately to the airport now....
(since then, I did find the time to complete
the story -- in 2 parts)
Part I [click
here] for the background
Part II [click
here] for the story "How
I came to Islam"
Please feel free to write to me and to discuss this subject and other
stories of priests and preachers coming to Islam...
Best Regards and May Allah Guide us all in all that is best, Ameen.
Yours Very Truly
National Muslim Chaplain.
Today Islam Project - USA.
original email sent to me from the Japanese newspaper staff writer
sent to me:
Date: 07/28/2000 02:35:30 Eastern Daylight Time
From: email@example.com (Takashi Settai)
Dear Mr. Yusuf Estes:
My name is Takashi Settai. I am a staff writer of Nikkei, a Japanese
newspaper, based in New York.
I am writing an article about Muslims in America now and I am looking
Caucasian guy who recently converted from Christian to Muslim.
I happened to find your home page on the Internet and became very
interested in your personal story. If you are OK to answer my questions
about your conversion and call or return an e-mail to me ASAP, I very
Nikkei is a Japanese newspaper, considered the Wall Street Journal
Japan, that is published twice daily with a nationwide circulation
about 3 million. In addition, we have an international circulation
Japanese and a weekly edition in English. The number of Nikkei offices
worldwide stands at 37 bureaus on five continents and employs over
Thank you for your help on this matter in advance.
212-261-6327 or 212-888-5741