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People think you’ve radicalised when you adopt Islam — convert

Some 46 people converted in Mombasa county in the first two weeks of Ramadhan

In Summary

• Converts say people have demonised Islam due to reports of al Shabaab recruitment

• Muslim officials maintain that Islam is a religion of peace and has no place for terror

A trader sells Muslim hats, robes and praying mats in Mombasa
A trader sells Muslim hats, robes and praying mats in Mombasa
Image: PILI CHIMERAH

A journalist and a former K24 anchor, Alphonce Oladipoh, has found inner peace in Islam.

He recently converted to Islam. It took him 11 years to come to the decision since he had long had interest in the religion.

However, the first impression of those who learn about his change is mostly that he has been radicalised.

 
 
 

Oladipoh just does not understand why this has to be on people’s minds. "People have really demonised Islam, and it is totally not right,” he said.

“When a Christian converts to Islam, many think he has been radicalised. Why is it that when a Muslim converts to Christianity, it is not considered as radicalisation?” he asked.

The journalist said his reason personally is that he has found inner peace in Islam and is ready to learn what he can to ensure he knows all about the religion.

When he converted, this is what he wrote on his Facebook page:

"Good evening, friends. Asalaam Wa-aleikum! I would like to let you know that today is a historic day for me. I have ushered a new chapter in my spiritual journey, one that I believe will give me inner peace and make me a better person, God willing."

Adding, "I today recited the shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam, declaring belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet. In short, I am now a proud Muslim. Thanks Sheikh Jamal, Sheikh Musa from Masjid Qubaa, Mombasa. I will remain a friend to many, religion should never divide us, but only make us stronger. Sincerely, Sudheis Oladipoh."

Oladipoh has so far gotten positive and negative responses from his conversion, with some asking if he is sure of what he has gotten himself into.

 

He knows the journey will be tough but says 11 years is quite a long time to come up with a decision like that, and he is sure and satisfied with his decision.

“It is a very difficult decision to make,” he said.

He, however, said he will not criticise Christianity, a religion he was nurtured from, but will only preach of oneness in all the religions.

Why is it that when a Muslim converts to Christianity, it is not considered as radicalisation?
Journalist Sudheis (formerly Alphonce) Oladipoh

AL SHABAAB LINK

Abubakar Asewe, previously known as David before he converted four years ago, says it was hard for his parents to understand why he was converting.

The first worry they had is that he was converting because he has been radicalised to enter a terrorist group.

This was the time when many youths were being radicalised at the coast.

“At first, they tensed because at that time, there were high cases of al Shabaab recruitment. So they thought I had also joined the group,” he said.

But Asewe proved them wrong, telling them not to be worried because his intentions were good.

They even thought he was in love with a Muslim woman but to him, he just wanted to be a Muslim and had never dated one before. His heart just felt like he wanted to embrace Islam.

After a month, however, his parents gave in and they accepted him for making such a decision.

Before converting, he had some interest in the Islamic religion and always searched on the Internet on what Islam is all about.

“I was hearing people talking about Prophet Muhammad. Christians were saying Muslims were worshipping him, so I said let me start googling him,” Asewe said.

He found out that the speculation was wrong after knowing the history of Prophet Muhammad, and his urge grew bigger.

Eventually, he converted.

Members of the Muslim community pray outside Jamia mosque at the start of fasting.
Members of the Muslim community pray outside Jamia mosque at the start of fasting.
Image: FILE

CHOOSING ISLAMIC NAME

After that, Asewe went to a mosque in Bamburi, Mombasa, and got a Sheikh to teach him more about Islam.

He decided on his new name 'Abubakar' through knowing he was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad and relating to his personality.

“I chose the name Abubakar because I saw he had that character of helping people, and I also had that character. So I saw this was the right name for me,” he said.

He was then registered at the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, where he also got a certificate.

Since that day, he has always been getting more education about Islam.

He had challenges at first from a few of his fellow Muslim friends, who were not that accommodating.

“Some were very welcoming, while others were like, you are the ones who have come to tarnish the Islamic religion,” he said.

For some of his Christian friends, they would ask him if he was sure of what he was getting himself into.

But all in all, four years down the line, he is still going strong. He took all the criticisms that came his way, got past the negativity, and is forever grateful for making such a decision, which required a lot of patience.

Masjid Konzi at the core of Mombasa
Image: PILI CHIMERAH
This is a very bad attitude that many have. How many terrorist attacks have occurred that are not conducted by Muslims?
CIPK organising secretary Mohamed Khalifa

RAMADHAN CONVERSION BOOM

It’s been recorded that during Ramadhan, there are many converts than on normal days all across the globe.

The Imams council has so far recorded 46 converts from Mombasa county in this year's first two weeks of Ramadhan.

CIPK organising secretary Mohamed Khalifa condemned the notion that one has converted because he has been radicalised.

“This is a very bad attitude that many have. How many terrorist attacks have occurred that are not conducted by Muslims?” he said.

He gave an example of the New Zealand attack, where a white supremacist killed 51 people.

“Any human being can be a terrorist, irrespective of his religion,” Khalifa said.

He, however, called for oneness among different religions while exercising their faiths.

Khalifa welcomed all those who want to convert to Islam, insisting that it is a religion of peace.

He cited faith in the shahada as a stepping stone to conversion, saying the rest will just follow slowly.

“The most important thing when you want to convert to Islam is to ensure you say and believe in the shahada, which states that there is no God to be worshipped than Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,” Khalifa said.

He said the council vets prospective converts. “We are hopeful that people are joining the religion because they have faith in it,” Khalifa said. 

He said converting with the intentions of joining a terrorist group is totally out of question, and that Islam does not support killings.

Muslims pray at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi
Muslims pray at Jamia Mosque in Nairobi
Image: FILE