Who am I, you might ask? I tend to see myself as a gentle and caring soul. My name is Marcus and I come from a country known as “Sweden”, located in the northern region of Europe. Some of my muslim friends also tend to refer to me by the name Mo’men (مؤمن – the arabic word for “believer”). I use both, depending on circumstances and who I talk to. As it happens, my family name that I’ve carried since birth, is in fact the literal swedish word for “faithful”… coincidence?
Would you believe it if I said that my journey to Islam started through a video game? Indeed, it’s true…
Make yourself comfortable.
This is the story of how it all began…
The video game that started it all is the one called “Tomb Raider”, a game (franchise) revolving around female archeologist and adventurer Lara Croft. Some may also know of it as a movie. Being generally creative, I started toying with the idea that I should make music based on the musical themes from Tomb Raider, (I was always caught by them.) I was in luck, when I got in touch with one of the larger Tomb Raider websites at the time, and asked if they wanted to publish my music on their site.
They accepted, and it became so popular that I continued releasing more Tomb Raider related songs. Because of this, I got attention. People worldwide that held the same interest in these games visited the site… I attracted listeners from different parts of the globe… among them, from Egypt. I got an invitation to visit. A few of the Tomb Raider games have ancient Egyptian themes… and of course, I’ve always found the history of Egypt very fascinating… I could not refuse such an invitation. Obviously, Egypt did have a big impact on me. I never imagined that I would be on location seeing things I had only read about in history classes – the Sphinx, the famous mask of Thuthan Khamon, riding a camel around the pyramids, obviously, judging by all this, Egypt had an effect, but it was not just the sights, it was the friendly people, the culture itself left a positive mark on me. So, I decided, I want to learn more… a lot more. However, Islam wasn’t so much spoken of during my stay, it’s a tourist focused area, so people go there for the sights rather than the religion anyway, but the exposure to the culture was still enough to leave an impact on me… my journey was an independent journey of self discovery.
So, after coming back from Egypt, I had found a curiosity regarding the culture and the people and their belief. I read from the Quran and I found much wisdom in it, and have since realized that… no matter how many times you read it, there is always something to learn from it.
I remember one of the first times I read the Quran, I was curious about it, open minded… and what I read had a rather profound effect on me… I remember I read these particular lines one day…
سورة المائدة ٨٣-٨٢
لَتَجِدَنَّ أَشَدَّ النَّاسِ عَدَاوَةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الْيَهُودَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا ۖ وَلَتَجِدَنَّ أَقْرَبَهُم مَّوَدَّةً لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّا نَصَارَىٰ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ مِنْهُمْ قِسِّيسِينَ وَرُهْبَانًا وَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ
وَإِذَا سَمِعُوا مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ تَرَىٰ أَعْيُنَهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ مِمَّا عَرَفُوا مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۖ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاكْتُبْنَا مَعَ الشَّاهِدِينَ
Surah Al-Maaida 5:82-83
Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.
And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth: they pray: “Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses.
Was I perhaps in an emotional state? Because, as I had read those very words… I felt the same happening to me… tears running down my cheeks… I felt those words spoke to me… I felt like I was taking the first steps into a larger world. As I had collected myself… I went downstairs, and noticed my mother in the kitchen… she was looking at a plant, and when she saw me coming she suddenly said.. “Look at this plant! It’s blooming… it’s never done that before… it’s not supposed to do that… ” I can’t explain how, but… indeed, it actually happened… I asked my mother about this incident in more recent times. She remembered it clearly. A plant that’s not supposed to bloom. After that… it didn’t bore flowers again. For me, it has remained as a sign…
I am happy and indeed grateful for my experiences and ability to understand. I have always been a bit interested in things, I love to look at the stars at night, astronomy, and wonder about them… I feel my philosophical brain started to develop also because of this leap of faith… Friends tend to call me a personal psychiatrist sometimes, I usually have a good understanding of people. I am a good listener, and I can reach out in kindness. This is an ability I am very grateful for alhamdulillah, which I try to use for a good purpose.
I live and learn from one day to the next. Just as we all do… but in my case there is a new focus that was not there from the beginning.
I have grown up in a Christian society, yet I now believe that there is no God but God, that Muhammad is His messenger, and I recognize all other prophets before him. But while I have just written the Shahada, there is more to believing than just stating a few words…
سورة العنكبوت ٢
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
Surah Al-Ankaboot 29:2
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe”, and that they will not be tested?
Only about 5% of the Swedish population are muslim, so that make things like Eid and Ramadan a bit of a challenge. We also live in a world full of stereotypical ideas and mistrust. At the moment of writing, I have not yet come out that I believe differently from friends and family… something I am planning to change, in proper steps, inshallah. In fact, this very site is the first step in that direction. I’m coming out. (** Edit: As of November 12th 2021, I have officially received my Islamic identity papers). I’ve felt alone in a society that has generally a different understanding of reality. I often picture my situation when I read the following aya…
وَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مُّؤْمِنٌ مِّنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَانَهُ أَتَقْتُلُونَ رَجُلًا أَن يَقُولَ رَبِّيَ اللَّهُ وَقَدْ جَاءَكُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ كَاذِبًا فَعَلَيْهِ كَذِبُهُ ۖ وَإِن يَكُ صَادِقًا يُصِبْكُم بَعْضُ الَّذِي يَعِدُكُمْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ مُسْرِفٌ كَذَّابٌ
Surah Ghafir 40:28
A believer, a man from among the people of Pharaoh, who had concealed his faith, said: “Will ye slay a man because he says, ‘My Lord is Allah’?- when he has indeed come to you with Clear (Signs) from your Lord? and if he be a liar, on him is (the sin of) his lie: but, if he is telling the Truth, then will fall on you something of the (calamity) of which he warns you: Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies!
We learn from life’s experiences. We gain knowledge – understanding – and we try to put that into best possible use. There is a saying… “in this world where you can be anything – be kind”… it is a motto I try to live by.
As I’m driven towards a better future… I strive to increase in knowledge, and hope to some day become a part of the muslim community, inshallah. But even if I have to go through this life alone… I feel very warm in heart for the knowledge and understanding I have received, and indeed – continue to receive…
سورة البقرة ٢٦٩
يُؤتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاء وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيراً وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ الأَلْبَابِ
Surah Al-Baqara 2:269
He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding.
I sometimes find myself asking “what have I done in my life… to deserve such kindness?”
The song displayed here below, “May it Be” by Enya, describes my journey to Islam perfectly…