After giving me a piercing look, it was as if his unwilling approval was already given. It re-established my trust in my father whom I always thought to be a reasonable man. That day was the turning point in my life. Torn between what I was always made to believe and the search for truth was something that consumed me all the time. My uneasiness grew by the day and I always thought that there had to be something else more acceptable to my soul and intellect.
Ultimately my inner commotion came to rest when I embraced Islam in 1990 while working in Saudi Arabia. The sudden electrifying transformation that I felt within me at the very moment I was taking shahada (declaration of faith) can never be fully explained. Best described, it was as if there was something that was being pulled out of me with extreme difficulty, bit by bit, and simultaneously there was something being forcefully thrust inside me. My entire being felt and witnessed the enormous change, that will redefine my perception of life and its purpose. The religious values with which I grew up were so heavily ingrained within me that the transition to a completely new way of life was not all that simple. But I suppose that having searched for truth for so long all this time and finally coming face to face with it kept me going. Since that moment I have come a long way in my personal and spiritual journey.
As time passed and I was learning, more intense became this ever-growing sense of urgency within me to present my new-found religion in a manner that will appeal to those who have never even heard the word ‘Islam’. Some have at least heard of it but know very little about it or what it represents. And others know only a distorted and violent image of Islam. In today’s challenging times, when religious intolerance is on the rise everywhere, communal violence, hatred and antipathy are the norm, and the need to reach out to people of other faiths culminated in the book that you now hold in your hands. This book is also an effort to bridge the ever-increasing gap between religions, particularly the ones that are monotheistic by definition and in spirit. Since the early days of my Islamic life, I have fervently pursued the ambition of sharing with others the light that continues to shine on me. In other words, talking about Islam has become my only passion and obsession.
Being involved intensely in propagation activities and after interacting with people from various intellectual and spiritual backgrounds all the way to the man on the street, I have understood to a great degree the numerous ‘specifics’ a non-Muslim needs to know about Islam. As a result I have very meticulously researched and compiled these specifics from various sources of information. So inexhaustible is the knowledge on Islam that it was virtually impossible for me to know as to what I must ignore and what to choose for this book. However, I have tried to be both brief as well as comprehensive on the subjects that I believe will be of immediate interest to the reader. Anything less may have failed to accomplish the fullness of the message that I intended to convey. I trust this aim was achieved, especially when someone is reading about Islam for the very first time.
I would also like to extend my deep gratitude to all those who so willingly agreed to give their time in going through the text and giving numerous valuable suggestions for improvements. May Allah reward them amply for the assistance they provided me. Lastly, I only hope that Allah in His infinite mercy, accept my humble efforts in conveying His word to those who remain unknowledgeable of it and that I have succeeded in portraying the true image of Islam.
– Suhail Kapoor