“My acquaintance with the treatises strengthened my faith and helped me a lot to solve the questions that plagued my mind and answered the questions asked around me, and it still continues. It helped me a lot to better understand the Qur'an and Islam.”
Artur Thomas now Yusuf Nurlan who became a Muslim about 20 years ago, answered Yeni Asya's (New Asia) questions.
In this special issue of our Yeni Asya newspaper, our interview guest is brother Yusuf Nurlan, formerly Artur Thomas.
He became a Muslim about 20 years ago and continues his life in this way.
Brother Yusuf Nurlan, can you tell us about the period of conversion to Islam? How did you decide to change your religion?
I made this decision on my own about 20years ago. I am a child from a religious Christian family. There were no topics about other religions in and around our home, until we came to Germany when the Berlin wall fell in the east.
I came to a mixed class of all religions and races. Everything was very new for me and I had to get used to it, because I was starting to meet a different group of people called 'black heads' in our house. I was 18 years old and I had not heard anything about the religion of Islam, which is very widespread in the world. While chatting with friends, the name of the Prophet (phub) was mentioned and I asked them who he was, because it was the first time, I heard his name. Up to that age < we tried to live the religion of Christianity as much as we could, but mostly as an imitation. As I got older, I began to feel more that there was an emptiness inside of me. Around that time, I was on a specific quest. I could no longer get satisfactory answers to certain questions, mostly out of ignorance. The more I chatted with my friends, the more my curiosity grew. Especially when the sentence 'There is another Prophet, the last Prophet' was mentioned, a movement started in me and I said that I want to get to know this religion better, and finally I decided to convert to Islam.”
As a faithful and especially prejudiced Christian, this step was a big step in a religious family. So, especially what was your family’s and close circle's reaction to this decision? What difficulties did you encounter?
“My decision to convert to Islam was very easy, because I was convinced both in my heart and in my mind, and because I was convinced that this was the only thing missing in my life. But this wasn't very easy to make my family accept it at the beginning. There was an authoritarian father figure in the house, and he no longer sees you as 'the old one', he sees you as a different person, whereas only my religion and name had changed. Especially for my family, it was very difficult to break out of the mold they were used to. I was like a criminal in their eyes, like I left my family. I was hearing sentences like ‘How could you do such a thing? They have brainwashed you'.
How has your new religion, Islam, helped you during this difficult period?
“In Islam and what I have learned in general, I knew that this was a test and that I had to be patient with everything and hope everything would be normal soon, soothed my heart. I knew the path I had chosen was the right one, and I continued to be patient.
It has never been an easy time for you. So, have you ever regretted your decision? Have you even thought about changing your religion again?
No, although it was difficult, I have never regretted it. Because no matter how much criticism came, I knew I was on the right track.
Alhamdulillah, this is beautiful. Our Lord gave you the strength to endure at that moment, and also it is an exemplary behavior to set an example for others. After converting to Islam, you met the Risale’s. How and by whom did that meeting happen? Was it during your first conversion to Islam or later?”
Yes, Risale-i Nur works are just like diamonds. Unfortunately, I met Risale’i Nur extremely late. One day with a friend of mine, we went to the madrasa where Risale-i Nur works were read. Even though he doesn't follow the lessons very much, he knows that I converted to Islam and said, "Actually, it's just for you, the questions are answered very well. Don't you want to go?' he asked.
Even though I converted to Islam, I was both immature and lacked a lot of knowledge. When I was in my 30s, when I reached a certain maturity, my acquaintance with the Risales strengthened my faith and helped me to solve the questions that plagued my mind and to answer the questions asked around me, and it continues to do so. It helped me a lot to better understand the Qur'an and Islam.
How well does it fit the sentence that Master Bediuzzaman said, "The treatises are needed like bread and water". You are now married and have 3 children. Your wife is wearing a headscarf. It has a resemblance to Christianity, after all, nuns also wear headscarves. What was the family's reaction to this?"
“Alhamdulillah, I did not have much difficulty in this matter. We can say that I went through the hardest times in my first transition period. On the contrary, they loved my wife very much and it wasn't difficult for them to accept it.
It even had a nice effect. Islam, which was the subject of 'taboo' in the home at the time began to be spoken. Although they have not yet converted to Islam, our periods of mutual respect and love continue. Hope in Allah is not lost, maybe one day they too will take the decision I made.”
Hopefully... As you said, hope in Allah will not be lost. I have one more question. What do you think about communication with non-Muslims? You belonged to both religions and had the opportunity to communicate. Finally, what can you tell us about this topic?
Yes, this is not an easy question at all. With people of faith, this is not so difficult, because we have a lot of similarities. Let me give an example with myself. We used to say 'amen' at the end of prayer in church. We also say 'Amen' in Islam. As if like two brothers. These topics are very difficult with non-believers, but we can talk to them especially about human values and perhaps leave a question mark in their minds.
* God bless you brother. You made time for us and shared interesting things. May Allah protect us and increase our numbers…Amen.”
Translated by Abdullah Kerim Şen
İnterviewed by Mehmet Aynacı
Photographed by Kamuran Yuksel