From 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 to Islam

[email copy below]

Peace be unto all those who follow right guidance.
Greetings Takashi:

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" to Islam.

[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 num
ber 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 a day.

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 story BEFORE ISLAM
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

Yusuf Este
Yusuf Estes.

National Muslim Chaplain.
Today Islam Project - USA.


The original email sent to me from the Japanese newspaper staff writer sent to me:

Subj: Convert story
Date: 07/28/2000 02:35:30 Eastern Daylight Time
From: [email protected] (Takashi Settai)
To: [email protected]

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 for a
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 much
appreciate it.

Nikkei is a Japanese newspaper, considered the Wall Street Journal of
Japan, that is published twice daily with a nationwide circulation of
about 3 million. In addition, we have an international circulation in
Japanese and a weekly edition in English. The number of Nikkei offices
worldwide stands at 37 bureaus on five continents and employs over 4,000

Thank you for your help on this matter in advance.

Takashi Settai
212-261-6327 or 212-888-5741