16 August 2007

My Journey to Islam

- finally on the straight path

Written mid August 2007 - (163 lines)

فمن يرد الله ان يهديه يشرح صدره للاسلام
If God intends to guide a man, He opens his bosom to Islam
al-Quran 6:125


My journey to Islam has indeed been long
But my boots are good and my legs are strong
My backpack has known both light and heavy loads
And wandering along all kinds of roads
Few were the places where I did not roam
At last I feel I have found the way home
It took a long time and I regret being late
But the once crooked path now appears to be straight

My starting point naturally can be found
In my fairly normal Scandinavian background
Although born in Copenhagen I grew up on a farm
In a small village and remember the charm
Spending much of my childhood playing in the woods
With my brothers - either Indians or little Robin Hoods

With secular parents and as an ethnic Dane
There was no encouragement to fill my brain
With religious matters, all that was to come
Much later but, looking back, I do see some
Signs of at least a beginning interest
In subjects which could probably best
Be generally labelled as spiritual -

I tried briefly to embrace the usual
Silly things that young people tend to do
But felt not only awkward but out of place too
So was never fully accepted by the group
And instinctively avoided the endless loop
Of parties and alcohol and went against the flow
By failing the drugs test: I always said NO!
That was not as easy as it may sound
But I did say NO and with that I found
A sense of pride and independence of mind
Whilst realising that I was of a different kind


I was drawn to Nature from very early on
When old enough to explore I was gone
And went to the mountains for the first time
Aged around twenty, and from then on to climb
Was a new-found passion which steadily grew
It was all that I really wanted to do
And soon I was a competent mountaineer
Spending all my spare time year after year
Satisfying my urge to travel and my demands
For adventure in the mountains of many different lands

Having laboured and struggled for hours to get
To the top you can finally relax and let
Your soul expand and your spirit fly!
On a windless day feel the silence of the sky!
The curvature of the Earth clearly spread
Out along the blue horizon ahead
And around you as far as the eye can see -
Just sit on the summit and simply BE!
On lucky days hear the beat of your own heart!
All too soon the time comes to depart
Unless you came prepared with sleeping gear
So stay alert and with a bit of healthy fear
Retrace your steps with extra care
For with the goal attained this is where
Most accidents happen - on the way down
Was the end of many a climber of renown


I had retrained to computers and tried to combine
Assignments with travelling and it worked out fine
Spent a few years in Arabia and had the chance
To learn the language but sadly took the stance
It was only for the money and English was my tongue -
Can you believe the things we do when we are young?
Had I only learnt Arabic all those years ago
I could read the Quran today in the flow
And layers of meaning of the original -
I still have not acquired the necessary skill
But one day inshallah I hope I will...


After that I sold my house and bought a boat
And spent the next few years living afloat
Sailing offshore, just yourself the wind and sea
Out of sight of any land, finally free
Of petty interruptions, the king of your own realm
Your little mobile island responding to the helm!
Or peacefully at anchor in some deserted bay
Having finished the chores sit and watch the day
Turn first into evening and then into night
Sleeping outside under stars or moonlight


Feeling generally disillusioned with the West
And the plastic culture that I so detest
Tempting consumers from a very early age
To chase empty shadows, I had to turn the page
And so I looked elsewhere and began to think
And search for answers and for a missing link
Between matter and spirit, between body and soul -
Something that could unite them and make me whole...

Wishing neither to criticise nor to be rude
But after investigating I had to conclude
That Christianity was for me in most respects
Not just found wanting but had major defects -
For more about that I would ask you to read
My poem Jesus Crisis and it should lead
You to understand what I mean when I say
That I always felt this would not be MY way

Neither did Buddhism nor Hinduism appeal
Sufficiently for me to consider them ideal -
The older I get the clearer that I am
And always was pre-programmed for Islam!


Travelling for many months in Muslim lands
I met Islam in action and began to understand
What a sensible and complete way of life it is
And without any resistance I realised that this
Was not only attractive but I had a strong
Feeling that this is where I always did belong
Of coming home or somehow having been here before -
From then on I wanted to learn more and more

I bought an English Quran and would read
And although I did find it interesting indeed
I could not connect in a meaningful way
Until out of the blue, suddenly one day
The book, or a part of it, came alive
When the words of chapter six verse one-two-five
Almost seemed to speak to me, that was the start
And since I began to practise that verse has been a part
Of every single prayer - may it remain so
Regardless where the rest of my journey may go

Once in Morocco at a market stall I heard
A beautiful recital and soon it occurred
To me that the Quran was floating in the air
Transfixed and listening, I simply stood there
Understanding only the occasional word
The player was decrepit, the sound was blurred
And the performer average, yet I did hear
The message itself and it was crystal clear
So direct and sincere, so pure and dignified -
The effect was so wonderful that I confess I cried...


In Istanbul the masjids took my breath away
And was inside at least one of them every day
The time I spent in Turkey I was able to learn
So much about that magic country - I shall return!


Little by little and one step at a time
It all fell into place and began to rhyme
And resonate with how I wanted to live
It all felt so natural and positive
I knew the direction I wanted to go
So made the shahada to let the world know
That there was now one Muslim more
Though I felt exactly the same as before
In truth the change was quite small because
I only became what I already was!

Having never prayed before I was almost afraid
But I need not have worried and before long I made
The wise decision to leave arrogance behind
To concentrate on how to focus my mind
Not yet an expert but it cannot be denied
It is therapeutic, peaceful and dignified
And without boasting I am happy to report
So far my tally is not one prayer short
Of what it should be, five times every day
But to be honest I also have to say
Due to worldly commitments not always on time
But Islam is pragmatic and that is not a crime


I ask myself often: why did it take so long
To heed my intuition which for years was so strong
Prompting and urging me towards Islam?
I simply do not know but hope that no harm
Was done by waiting until absolutely sure
That my reasons were good and sincere and pure

Islam is the way, not just for me but for us all
And some day soon inshallah YOU will hear the call
To prayer loud and clear from a minaret near you
May you not just hear it - but answer it too!


Copyright © 2007 - IBRAHEEM (O.E.H.Johansen) - All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...


I read your poem with utmost interest. Keep up with your noble work. Inshallah, Allah will surely reward you!

Anonymous said...


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