From the "Islamic Voice" * DEC '97
The person who covered two continents seeking the truth, found it in a London bookstore and is now trying to make it available for someone else to find it on the shelves of bookstores.
By Khalid Sharani
The young man finally found the answer to the question that bothered him after a year-and-half of continuous search, covering two continents at a bookstore in London.
The star of this story of determination and the non-stop search for truth, is Othman Ajunsun, an American Muslim from New York who converted to Islam 20 years ago.
Othman’s father passed away when the son was a year old and he was brought up as an atheist among people who believe in no God.
He had a small family that consisted of his mother, a sister and himself. He also had relatives whom he used to see every now and then.
“As a kid I used to have a lot of woods and open area around my house where I played. The first thing that God placed in my heart was the certitude that He existed,” Othman explained.
In his first grade he was doing a school report about cavemen and he remembers reading some of the articles he was supposed to report on, “Cavemen did not believe in any supreme being and believed that there was nothing after death,” he recalled, adding that although his family members were atheists and had the same beliefs, the idea of absolute nothingness after death all of a sudden terrified him.
“I was weeping and screaming and my family couldn’t help me because they did not believe in after-death. My grades went down in school in this period,” he said.
Due to the deterioration in Othman’s condition, his family decided to send him to a psychiatrist.
“Well, do not worry. Just because everyone else had died does not mean necessarily that you will die,” Othman recalled mimicking the shrink.
He attended religious education classes just to get out of school early and at one of those classes he asked the teacher a question, “When did Jesus know that he was a God?”
The teacher, who was hammered by the enquiry, replied, “That is a good question and there exist a lot of different opinions about that.”
That hectic stage of childhood with all of its confusion and suffering passed and the little kid grew up and his questions grew with him and it was essential for Othman to find the answers.
He started reading different books but they were misleading. He met some people who mentioned briefly about Islam, but nothing really about Islam itself.
One day he read, “If you seek you will find” in the Bible. It was the spark that started his long trip of search for the truth.
“God, I am going to travel. Please make me find,” he prayed before he started the trip.
Othman travelled around America hitchhiking from one city to another in a confused state of mind. At one point during his trip he was hitch-hiking in Ohio when he was asked by two men in a truck if he wanted to work.
Othman said, “yes.” “I wanted to work on a farm for a few days to see how it is like, so I went with them,” he said.
“What are you looking for, son?” Asked the driver. Othman was shocked to hear that question because he had not told anybody about the purpose of his travelling.
Othman was impressed in the beginning, but replied, “I am searching for God.” The driver immediately looked at the other man and said, “See, I told you so.”
“You are from New York. So what are you doing here in Ohio? If you cannot find God in New York, you are not going to find Him here,” the driver remarked.
He spent five days working on the farm with the old man. The old farmer was an interesting man. Despite his suffering Othman never heard anything but praise of God.
From Ohio he went back home and then to Europe, where he spent a month in London.
During his stay in London, he did not know what to do and went to bookstores and restaurants. All along he asked God for guidance.
“I was afraid of making a misstep or running into the wrong person who might mislead me,” he said.
One day he went into one of the book stores and looked around. He saw a book which had the title Muhammad. He grabbed the book to find out what it was about.
Two men were watching him. They approached him and asked, “So, you are interested in Prophet Muhammad .” Othman did not know what to say for he did not know the contents of the book he had picked.
The two Muslims-one American and the other British-took Othman out to a coffee shop and explained Islam to him.
“I had a strange feeling that I finally found what I have been looking for. They explained the entire theory of Islam in a very polite way and I was fully convinced,” he said.
The two men took Othman to their house and offered him a place in their apartment and there he learned more about Islam.
“It was an impressive experience. They did not force any knowledge into me; they only practised their Islamic obligations before me and that is how I learned,” he said.
Othman converted to Islam after his first week with the two new friends and he was keen to know more during the one month period he spent in their company.
After that he spent three years propagating Islam (Da’wah) in different European countries, “I was told that I do not have to wait until I knew every thing about the religion to go and spread it around. What I have is enough and besides that I am in the company of some well-educated Muslims who can provide necessary guidance when I need it,” Othman said.
In England, he lived with the Pakistani community in the North and then he travelled to Pakistan and lived there for 9 years and that is where his kids were born.
In Pakistan, Othman started writing and his only aim is to provide nice, decent stories that would contribute to entertaining and teaching children and youth good manners and to substitute the useless reading items present in the market.
“In my books, I wanted to set an example for our kids to follow and teach them honesty, faith and more things as well as entertaining them instead of the material available in the market which could only waste their time,” he pointed out.
Othman started writing in Pakistan 12 years ago and released a number of novels and short stories published all over the world.
‘Invincible Abdullah’ is a series of novels highlighting a Muslim kid from England who goes through adventures and tough times and the thing that gets him out of his problems is his faith and Islamic manners.
He also wrote around 36 short stories in 18 books and they have also attracted great attention and gained popularity especially in the US.
Othman who lives in Madinah now, teaches English in Al-Manarat School and is currently working on his fifth novel of the Invincible Abdullah series and his writings are available in local book stores.
At the end it seems that the circle is complete. The person who covered two continents seeking the truth, found it in a London bookstore and is now trying to make it available for someone else to find it on the shelves of bookstores. (The Message)
Converts Around the World