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Myriam Francois Cerrah

Myriam Francois Cerrah

Issue 77 February 2011

Myriam Francois Cerrah, Oxford University DPhil student in Middle East Politics, and regular contributor on current affairs, embraced Islam in 2003 aged 21

 

I embraced Islam after graduating from Cambridge. Prior to that I was a sceptical Catholic; a believer in God but with a mistrust of organised religion.

 The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind. The opening of Al Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way which I both recognised, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realised that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible. In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality. As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation. It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?’

 In the Prophet Muhammad, I recognised a man who was tasked with a momentous mission, like his predecessors, Moses, Jesus and Abraham. I had to pick apart much of the Orientalist libel surrounding him in order to obtain accurate information, since the historical relativism which people apply to some degree when studying other historical figures, is often completely absent, in what is a clear attempt to disparage his person.

 I think many of my close friends thought I was going through another phase and would emerge from the other side unscathed, not realising that the change was much more profound. Some of my closest friends did their best to support me and understand my decisions. I have remained very close to some of my childhood friends and through them I recognise the universality of the Divine message, as God’s values shine through in the good deeds any human does, Muslim or not.

 I have never seen my conversion as a ‘reaction’ against, or an opposition to my culture. In contrast, it was a validation of what I’ve always thought was praiseworthy, whilst being a guidance for areas in need of improvement. I also found many mosques not particularly welcoming and found the rules and protocol confusing and stressful. I did not immediately identify with the Muslim community. I found many things odd and many attitudes perplexing. The attention given to the outward over the inward continues to trouble me deeply.

 There is a need for a confident, articulate British Muslim identity which can contribute to the discussions of our time. Islam is not meant to be an alien religion, we shouldn’t feel like we’ve lost all trace of ourselves. Islam is a validation of the good in us and a means to rectify the bad.

 

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Comments

13 Comments

1

mohamed

13 Jul 11, 11:23

egy1980@hotmail.com
I wish you a good life and beautiful in the light of Islam

In the name of God the Merciful
That the religion with Allah is Islam

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2

farid

30 Jun 11, 16:43

salam sisters, i hope inshallah u take the whole package of
islam, not just what you need and what it suits, and i am
amazed how islam is rum in this country , its twisted, and
the people who twist it are protected, and unfortunately they
are leading muslims in this country, may allah correct
everyone. and expose the ones they play with islam.
i get very happy when i see a women converted to islam,
and i get very sad when they start using only what's good
for them and bend what's not good.

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3

twobecomeone

25 May 11, 16:24

I am curious as to whether you read the Holy Bible and studied it with as much an open mind as you gave to the Qu'ran. This saddens me. I was such a fan of yours for your performance in Sense and Sensibility. You had questions of Catholocism, but did you simply go to the core of your faith, Jesus, and study Him? Did you look to scholars who've studied years based on hundreds of years of scriptures? Did you pray for guidance? Yet you take the word of one man and his Bible over that of those who walked with Christ himself, and those who walked with God, over a Bible written by many, many individuals inspired by God? Why not ask those questions of someone with genuine knowledge? Why trust one man unless he is THE one man? After all, all of the proof shows that Jesus was much more than a prophet. He is either the son of God and Messiah or a liar, and you cannot have a lying prophet.

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4

Bassem

1 May 11, 14:20

Dear Myriam
i am a Muslim from Egypt. I first saw you on a TV show in the UK talking about Islam. i have to say that watching you spread happiness in the heart of every muslim on this planet. God bless you and help you with you work, spreading the good and true knowlege about Islam. This effort you are doing puts you in one of the highest ranks that many people born muslims didn't reach. your article is beautiful but i realy wanted to know more about what you mean by: " The attention given to the outward over the inward continues to trouble me deeply". I know that you have alot of good muslim friends whom you have consulted about this, but who knows, you might find some good answers from the middle east :)
wish you the best

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5

Ziad Hassan

24 Apr 11, 21:08

Subhan Allah , W Al7amduleALLAH . W La Ellah Ela Allah.
I was born as a Muslim & in Egypt which is a Muslim country & El7amduleALLAH for this great bless but these words that you worte about your conversion really passed from heart to heart & you spoke about the core of Islam as no one that I heard before.
About your freinds that are still not compatible with that ,
ALLAH said to Our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH):
"Enaka la tahdi man A7babt , walaken ALLAH yahdi man ysha2".
Meaning that ALLAH is teaching Our Prophet that you can't guide people that you like to eneter the Islam But ALLAH Chooses people that he wants.
If you were chosen this means ALLAH loves you & as Our Prophet Mohammed Said ( The meaning not the Actual Words)
If ALLAH Loves Someone he profounds his/her knowledge about the religion , & from My Humble Point of View You already got a lot of the Core & a typical example for an accepted "Muslim" Insha2ALLAH.
It'll be My Pleasure If I get to know you more.

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6

Ziad Hassan

24 Apr 11, 21:08

Subhan Allah , W Al7amduleALLAH . W La Ellah Ela Allah.
I was born as a Muslim & in Egypt which is a Muslim country & El7amduleALLAH for this great bless but these words that you worte about your conversion really passed from heart to heart & you spoke about the core of Islam as no one that I heard before.
About your freinds that are still not compatible with that ,
ALLAH said to Our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH):
"Enaka la tahdi man A7babt , walaken ALLAH yahdi man ysha2".
Meaning that ALLAH is teaching Our Prophet that you can't guide people that you like to eneter the Islam But ALLAH Chooses people that he wants.
If you were chosen this means ALLAH loves you & as Our Prophet Mohammed Said ( The meaning not the Actual Words)
If ALLAH Loves Someone he profounds his/her knowledge about the religion , & from My Humble Point of View You already got a lot of the Core & a typical example for an accepted "Muslim" Insha2ALLAH.
It'll be My Pleasure If I get to know you more.

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7

Afattag

3 Mar 11, 09:13

Dear Myriam
Wouild you plz Mail me on my e-mail Afattah.galal@gmail.com it's urgent ... thnx

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8

Afattag

3 Mar 11, 09:11

Dear Myriam
Wouild you plz Mail me on my e-mail Afattah.galal@gmail.com it's urgent ... thnx

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9

Deena.H.S

23 Feb 11, 07:42

Ma-Sha-Allah .. am really so amazed for what yourgoing through, i was born a Muslim and i am proud, but now am more proud of being a muslim by reading your story. i'd wish to be your friend one day :)

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10

Eyo

16 Feb 11, 08:43

Dear Myriam,
happy to read about your convert and will be pleased if you drop me email..ayman

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11

Ozair

13 Feb 11, 17:05

Subhan Allah!! May ALLAH make all the Muslims pray for 5 times. Ameen

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12

Ozair

13 Feb 11, 17:05

Subhan Allah!! May ALLAH make all the Muslims pray for 5 times. Ameen

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13

Talha

11 Feb 11, 17:39

Subhan Allah!! When Allah wants to change someone's life, how amazingly does He do it..Its really impressive given the way she started reading it in annoyance and sort of ego, but Allah Blessed her and she read it with open mind and Allah changed her whole world. May Allah make us all true Believers. Ameen

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