한국인 이슬람 입교 이야기 (Korean version)

I found hope of mankind in Islam and then I became a Muslim.

In the name of ALLAH, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

As-salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatu Allaho wa’barakatu. My name is Park Dong-Shin and I was born in Busan, Korea and I am currently living in Seoul, Korea. I am writing this to share with you something important about my life, how I have embraced a life full of joy and how I found the true meaning of life in 24 years of life-long enduring pain, darkness, doubts, and confusion which I have been living in up until now.

When my father was young, he was an engineer of a ship who sailed the far sea. I grew up being familiar with other cultures and races because I came into contact with different foreigners who paid visits to our house and my father would always tell me interesting things about them from a very young age.

My father told me that he had been blessed with me at an old age as an answer to a prayer from God, and hence he gave me the name that has the Chinese character ‘Shin (信)’ meaning ‘believing’ in the hope that I would sincerely believe in God. He wanted to leave me ‘faith’ as an inheritance because he was not rich, and I, as a Sabbath believer(Seventh-day Adventist Church), have lived a life with obedience to the Bible and observance of a discipline.

Later in life, my family arranged a place to stay and began the country life with an old and a retired father. For the first time, I began spending more time with my father since he retired as I have always lived with my mother and sister. He often used to talk about what he goes through in the sea and what life is like overseas in the past, and I still vividly remember that now as well.

Having started sailing from his early years, he spent half of his life far out in sea. But to my father who had lived a life without any big accidents, he was mostly and solely depended on God’s words and faith which kept him going. All the foreigners crews used to ask my father to pray for their safety whenever they faced a violent strong storm in the sea. But, it was not all easy. My father endured the lonely and difficult life of a sailor by always relying on the Bible and praying to God on land and sea to protect him and keep him safe from any accidents in the sea.

He managed to live a life at that dangerous sea very well without any fear or accident, but unfortunately he suffered more hardships on land. People often considered him unfriendly and was seen as a scary figure/sailor due to the nature of his job i.e. being a sailor who lived most of his life in the sea. In fact, I often did not understand him and hated him for his job as well. My family and I were cornered as atheist who did not believe in God but we actually kept on the Sabbath, did not even eat pork , and despite saying that we believed in God and the Bible as a heresy and an extremist, we were still cornered as such.

Church life was no difference, but rather the same. Although my father believed in God for a very long time, depended on God’s words, and taught lots of foreign crews the Bible, he was not appointed as a deacon, let alone taking an elder position of a church.

He was more knowledgeable and had a stronger faith than any elders or pastors. Nevertheless, he was not acknowledged by people. In fact, church positions, such as an elder of a church, were given to the newly joined individual believers with higher reputation and/or good position in their daily work.

Despite being relatively young at the time, I was still able to see the difference in how my family were treated by the church because of the poverty we were living in, it was rather unfair. Every month the church would hold an open session where people come in and donates towards the church, however, my father was only making a small contribution in these sessions. A donation does not matter in quantity but rather it’s the persons intention and heart that should’ve been considered, no matter how much my father donated, be it small or a large sum, he participated in those sessions and made a contribution towards the church. This was unfair, and represented the faith rather very poorly to me.

During the IMF crisis which occurred in Korea during the late 90’s (around 1997), my family went through obstacles and suffered a lot, and eventually my parents divorced. With my family breaking up, I ended up living alone in the dormitory of the school I had to attend, the Christian Mission School. Unlike the school’s name, it’s students were not God followers but rather following worldly desires, I felt out of place, it was a place full of greed and materialism and I felt discriminated there. I was sure there was more to life than running after worldly desires. All of these experiences led me to the road of seeking and searching for the meaning of life. I wanted to know what my purpose in life is, why I needed to live, and where is God.

I was greatly interested in politics, history, and religion. I met and talked to many individuals who evangelised to me, and made me search for many churches that are divided to different denominations. Nonetheless, I’ve always prayed to God to lead me to the right path.
There were particularly many Protestant churches in Korea and they kept declaring the reform and making denominations. I decided to take a basic doctrine class and study about it, but later found that their interpretations were all different even though they believe in the same God and the same Bible. Although, I was able to find few things in common, I did not understand why there should be too many interpretations if you believe on the same God and the same Bible. There was also another issue which I found contradicting. They state that they believe in the one and only God but focused on dividing God into three entities. I could not understand why the Almighty God should be divided, and whenever I questioned them at the church, they always tried to squeeze out explanation to justify it. Surely, if it was right, an explanation would be easy to give?
Moreover, in Christianity, every individual is born as a sinner! Throughout your life, your labelled as a sinner and it’s engraved within you since birth. How does a newly born child be a sinner? I agree that every human commits many sins, but we are not born sinners if Jesus really died for our sins? Then why are we all still sinners? And does this mean everyone goes to heaven or hell? In addition to that, any individual who does not attend the church would automatically be sent to hell. I found no logic in all of this and did not understand any of their reasoning and explanations. The right religion would be logical. The church tried to take God’s authority to use it on people as well. Just like the Romans in the past, today’s politicians and the Popes of Protestant churches are being worshipped and idolised as well, and they intercept people’s loyalty and obedience that is supposed to be received by God.

Some people say that we must believe in their denomination in order to be saved, and if that is the case, then how many people on Earth can be saved, indeed? Is God that narrow-minded? Another concept, that I could not comprehend is Christians calling God as father. Some people argue that there is ‘mother’ God because there is a ‘father’ God. And, of course there is Jesus as the ‘son’ of God. Does God also exist in a form just like humans and thus engage in sex and bring up offspring? Does God eat? Drink? Defecate? These are all what humans do, and humans are also limited. Thus, does God, too, have a limit? Shouldn’t God be limitless?

I could not find the truth in any religion or any Christian organisation. I even attended many of the ‘Believers meetings’ in search for the truth, but couldn’t gain or find what I was looking for. They often used such gathering as a mean of socialising, they laughed and enjoyed among themselves. As a matter of fact, they were actually greedy hypocrites who trampled on the poor. With all this, I couldn’t help but to think that Christianity might be the most wicked religion, not only in Korea, but also in the world history of mankind. These so-called religious people gather once a week at the church, fuss about repenting and pretend to be ‘Holy’ and at the same time go on sinning knowingly, saying that we are all sinners anyway. That was it, I did not have any more places to go and could not escape from it.

Furthermore, the circumstances and the history of my country, were something which I found myself to be interested in later in my journey. First of all, Korea is the one and only divided nation in the world, which was as a result of the last Cold era that had once greatly affected the Koreans, and perhaps still does to this date, emotionally, mainly. Moreover, in our world of economics, I’ve realised that people viewed capitalism as the right and best economical state because communism failed, but I could not find any hope in capitalism. During the Korean war, the Americans aided South Korea (which currently follow capitalism ideology & economic) and supported them, and consequently brought with them their Christian belief and ideologies (economically, i.e. capitalism). I understood how the Korean war and Americans aid helped in dominating Koreans’ spirits. And this is how Koreas religion-biased issues arose.

My interests grew further and went on to look more into Korea’s traditional culture and history and began to search for my root. I became aware of the fact that our family had been a historically great family in the past, but these were words from my father. One point to add, is that Christians claim that our ancestors had lived in the past without knowing who Jesus is and this we were uncivilized, and called them heathen evil who committed a terrorist act (Independence Movement) against Japan.

I got to know the hidden history behind South and North Korea and the mind of our ancestors who had been in conflict and suffered between communism and capitalism. In our family tree, there was a man named Park Yeol who participated in an anarchism independence movement. I found out that they, too, like me had also tried to find what is the meaning of life, the correct way of living life and battled between capitalism and communism to find the ultimate right way of living. This was exactly what concerned me at the time. This is exactly what we lacked. In our society, people follow capitalism life blindly and run after their desires without questioning whether it is the right way of living life.

During my journey, I came across alternative ideas and began seeking it and that is anarchism and I even joined a political activity in order to find a method for it to work during the research I was holding. However, the more I knew, the more limits I faced, and I knew how stupid humans can be. People only wanted to pursue and seek worldly materials and instant gratification such as wealth, honour, status, respect etc, things that can be seen in front their eyes and did not seek faith, pleasing God or think about what life really is about or even about their afterlife. The society is increasingly getting sick and the world is falling apart and falling into a state of confusion by running after these things. We are not even protecting our individual spirit within it and thus our souls wonders in loneliness, darkness, and fear. Indeed, does God not exist? Do we have to live a life like hell? Such a soulless life.

With all my deep thinking, I lost myself because I lost hope in what I thought was the rope of life, Christianity and the society. I stopped taking care of my family, did not protect my loved ones. I could not stand upright, I was lonely and afraid, and was falling into hell. I felt abandoned. I thought to myself many times, If God had abandoned us or God does not exist, then surely religions would be something that should disappear of the earth?

Meanwhile, I watched some movie and as any other Hollywood movies, it had a story to emphasize their own superiority and belittle Islam. But I found out the truth in it. I clearly saw their hypocrisy and got to know what true faith is. I went to the library and read a book about religions, and I happened to see the introduction about Islam. I thought that Islam is Mohammedanism (Islam does not worship man) or a religion which believes in another God (Allah means Only one God and There is no another god!). I suddenly thought to myself ‘Oh My God!’ Islam is God’s religion that believes in only one God. I visited many churches and studied the Bible thoroughly and looked for other paths, but I did not even think about Islam because I did not know Islam is God’s religion. As I knew more about Islam, I was blaming myself for my ignorance and realised how frightening ignorance can be.

Oh, Islam! This was the truth itself. It clearly showed me utopias that I’ve been thinking of all along and all God’s attributes that I imagined and longed for. Islam was not just religion but it was a whole way of life, it was LIFE! Islam is not just believe and live on, it involved both belief and action and they coincide with each other. I always believed that the true religion should include both, action and belief, because there is no point if you just believe without acting that in action, and I found this in Islam.

Utopia of mankind was unimaginable to me due to man’s greed, but I found the hope here in Islam, we can live together, completely give up power, and greed, and live in Utopia. In Islam, there is no capitalism or communism being superior over another or seen better than the other. Everything is based on community bases called ‘Ummah’ and are seen as one, one God, one nation, one Holy book (Quran) and no racism. All this came from the obedience to God. I found hope in Islam, and I finally found what I sought. Utopia of mankind was right here in Islam.

I started asking myself some serious questions after finding Islam. ‘Why did I not know about Islam? Why has it been covered? I have lost many years of my life away from this blessing. I never dreamed that there was a true God’s religion because every Christian organisation that I joined and experienced with had only criticised us and called us heathens or terrorists. I became aware of how frightening ignorance can be and how huge of a sin a man’s prejudice, jealousy and envy is. It gave me answers to many of questions that I had raised about the past, present and the future and also the history and religious issues of mankind.

I came across a Korean Islam homepage by my eagerness to find out more about Islam and was moved once again by seeing the phrase “God is only one!” I signed up to all of the memberships of Islam related internet community, and among them, a welcoming email was sent to me by Islam believers group advised me on how I can become a Muslim and gave me an insight on where I can obtain a bit of counselling before I decide to enter Islam. Then, I immediately visited Seoul Masjid and got counselling.

I went to Seoul Masjid every Saturday and took Arabic and Islamic classes. I experienced different languages and cultures, but the teachings of Arabic and the Quran was like the language of the heavens and angels. I became certain that Islam is God’s blessing and gift to mankind. There are many religions in the world and those are all man-made, but Islam is the religion revealed directly by God through an angel and hence made directly by God.

While I took a Islamic lesson from a foreign teacher, I clearly had an idea about the truth and was more greatly moved by it. The greatest message is that God is only one. Islam believes in Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus as well, but do not consider any of the prophets to be equal to God. (Muhammad also God’s messenger and not God). Even the Bible states that Jesus did not want to be considered equal to God and commanded not to be called a good person. Then, why do Christians try to see Jesus as God. Even while Jesus was enduring Satan’s temptation, he commanded us to obey and depend on God only. If Jesus is God, as seen by Christians, is God a being tested by Satan? It can’t be. It is not right. Satan is created by God, and how can Satan tempt His creator?

The next surprising lesson that I was taught was that we have no original sin. Christianity emphasises an original sin and makes every person a sinner and this can be suffocating on the individual. Christianity believes that we were born sinners because Adam and Eve had committed a sin. If so, how does a baby who is God’s newly born creation have a sin? Where can we find a sin from a clear and pure baby? According to the Quran, God forgave Adam and Eve. We are the good creation of God and we will be tested only on our actions that we commit, we have no previous history of sins, unless committed in this life.

Moreover, during my visits to the Masjid, I was able to see in the face of Muslims that they paid attention to everything. Islam teaches that both this life and afterlife are important. And so Muslims invests in both. Without being biased, it teaches the path of moderation. God is not pleased with a person who only prays and puts aside his/her life or a person who takes care of worldly desires without obeying God. Instead, God loves and is mostly pleased with the person who is concerned about his/her families, relatives and neighbours, and mankind than a person who only thinks about himself/herself and only serving their desires. God is like this. He is truly full of wisdom and most gracious.

Today I did a confession of faith(Shahada). After I had witnessed that there is no God except one God(Allah) and that Muhammad is messenger of God, I became a true Muslim.

With regard to the political aspects, communism and capitalism were in confrontation with each other in the past and probably still does even now, but the current situation is that western countries are in constant conflict with Islam. Westerners think that the only thing left to them is Islam, and to abolish it, means everyone abiding to their laws and way of life. However, as far as I am concerned, this is not a religious war. This is a war stemming from man’s greed for money. Western countries want and need oil to drive their country and hence they bomb and invade any oil-based countries.

Islam is the biggest growing religion in the world and the Muslim population that believes in Islam is constantly on the increase not only in Europe, but also in the US and worldwide. But they are often persecuted and suppressed as it was done to the Jews in the past, as if the West are so afraid of what may become. Meanwhile, in Korea, the number of Muslims is very small and Koreans do not know anything about Islam because Christianity is prevalent in Korea. But if the North and South of Korea is unified someday and people’s consciousness is enlightened, people who view Islam with a western thinking will eventually know the real truth about Islam and praise God.

This is truly a war between Satan and God’s people. This is a war between the believer and the non-believer. This is a fight between Muslim and idolaters. They are saying that they believe in God, but they are worshiping man or serving money. However, you don’t have to be afraid of anything because God is truly the Greatest.

Islam, what a beautiful religion! If you are seeking for the path of the truth, you will be surprised once you get to know Islam. How could there be such a perfect and beautiful religion? Man-made religions are full of contradictions and mistakes, but Islam has no mistakes at all because it is a religion sent by God. In Islam, there is no fake feelings nor hypocrisy towards God, but only true feelings toward God. God-given present to humanity is Islam. Islam is the truth and a blessing. How come such truth is being covered up? Ignorance is a sin and people who are covering the truth are big sinners. So I say, whoever who is also searching for the truth, will also easily accept Islam, regardless of what your background is, whichever country you are from, whichever language you speak and whichever faith you believed in. Islam is a gift, that you cannot and will not be able to return once you open it and see with your own eyes and mind.

{They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).}

I enter Islam by my intention and wish and take an oath to fulfil my duty as a Muslim.

I take an oath that I will make Islam my religion, make Allah(God) my Lord, make Muhammad(peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) my messenger, and make the Quran my guide.

I believe in one and only God(Allah), his Angels, prophets and the Scriptures, and the last Judgment day and Predestination, and thereby declare this.

December 30th, 2009

Abdullah Alkory (Dongshin Park)

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