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 Why ex-Islamophobe embraced Islam .. ‘I am sorry, O Prophet …’

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PostSubject: Why ex-Islamophobe embraced Islam .. ‘I am sorry, O Prophet …’   Thu Apr 25, 2013 5:34 pm


In the early days of Islam, Omar, who would later become a caliph, was in a frenzied rage and set out to assassinate Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As he passed the house of his sister, he heard her recite passages from the glorious Qur'an.

After rebuking her, something made him pause and contemplate the meaning of the verses. He had previously dismissed this new religion and listened to the hate-filled propaganda doing the rounds in the streets and valleys of Makkah. Convinced by the truth and beauty of the message, he immediately resolved to embrace Islam. The rest is glorious history.

History repeats itself in the most remarkable of ways. The city remains Makkah, but over 1,400 years later, and in the midst of all the new development, a man arrived who had a similar experience to that of the second caliph of Islam.

Just a few years ago, Arnoud van Doorn, a prominent Dutch politician from an educated and privileged family, was the vice president of the far right Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom) in the Netherlands, an unashamedly anti-immigration and anti-Islamic party led by the infamous Geert Wilders. The party had produced hate-filled rhetoric not seen in Europe since World War II. Van Doorn’s former party was responsible for producing the film Fitna, which defamed Islam, resulting in widespread protests throughout the world.

And then came his change. “My story of how I came to Islam is not remarkable,” he says very humbly. When he saw the outrage caused by the film, he made a concerted effort to study the Qur’an, Hadith collections and the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him). After some time, he realized that Islam was the total opposite of what he had thought it was, and it then became easy to embrace the faith.

Van Doorn acknowledges that his views on Islam were formed 10 to 15 years ago based solely on negative stereotypes and prejudices spread by the media.

“For me, Islam was a violent religion that oppressed women and was no good for society,” he says.
After embracing Islam and assisted by the Toronto-based Canadian Da’wah Association, Van Doorn visited the Kingdom this week to perform Umrah. He also visited the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah.
Van Doorn met Sheikh Abdul-Rahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque and head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques. Al-Sudais said he was delighted that Allah had selected Van Doorn to become a Muslim. Van Doorn expressed his sorrow and regret for helping to distribute Fitna, although he had no part in its production, to which Al-Sudais quoted the Qur’anic verse stating that good deeds wipe out bad ones. Van Doorn intends to do good by making a film about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), to present a true picture of Islam.

Van Doorn’s impression of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also been transformed. “Before I came here, people asked me why on earth I was coming here!” He has been surprised by the wonderful culture and friendly, hospitable people.

He thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for all the developments taking place in Makkah and the holy sites.

Van Doorn remains a member of the Dutch Parliament and a member of the Hague City Council. In his view, the rise and success of the far right in Europe is due to the continent's economic problems. This will only get worse, in his view, because Europe has a history of turning on its minorities when things get tough.

His advice to Muslims living in Europe is to be patient, steadfast and adhere to the standards of good conduct and fine character required by Islam. “Like it or not, we all represent Islam,” he says. “Any mistake we make could be attributed to our religion.”
Van Doorn came to the Kingdom courtesy of the Canadian Da’wah Association's celebrity relations program, which is inspired by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who sent out invitations to regional leaders inviting them to embrace Islam, according to its president, Shazaad Mohammed, who is an Ambassador for Peace with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), which operates under the United Nations. He is also an adviser to many celebrities.

Former guests of the celebrity program include comedian David Chappelle, former rap stars Napoleon, Philadelphia Freeway, LOON and Jack Frost, and former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. The CDA plans many such high-profile trips in future.

http://www.arabnews.com/news/449363

‘I am sorry, O Prophet …’

By: Majed Al-Sugairi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

MADINAH – Former Dutch Islamophobe and a former leading member of far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ party Arnoud Van Doorn visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah to pray and say sorry for becoming part of a blasphemous film.

Doorn was among the Freedom Party leaders who produced the blasphemous film, Fitna. Last month he reverted to Islam after an extensive study about the religion and the Prophet (peace be upon him).

He said that the worldwide outrage against the film made him study about the Prophet (pbuh) and that eventually led to his conversion.

He headed for Makkah to perform Umrah after meeting the two imams of the Prophet’s Mosque, Sheikh Ali Al-Hudaifi and Sheikh Salah Al-Badar, who enlightened him on how to lead the life of a good Muslim and confront challenges facing Islam in the West.

A member of the Dutch parliament and The Hague City Council, Doorn announced his decision to accept Islam on his Twitter profile. He also posted a tweet in Arabic declaring that “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.”

At first, other users took the news as a joke. After all, an active supporter of a notorious Dutch hater of Islam, Wilders, he repeatedly approved Islamophobic statements and public actions, and personally participated in them.

But Doorn, who now serves as a regional adviser at the City Hall in The Hague, personally confirmed his decision to practice Islam in an official letter to the city mayor.

Most recently, the politician filed a formal application to the mayor of the city to allow him to perform prayers obligatory for Muslims during his working hours.

“I can understand people are skeptic, especially that it is unexpected for many of them,” Doorn told Al-Jazeera English satellite channel.

“This is a very big decision, which I have not taken lightly.”

“In my own close circle people have known that I have been actively researching the Qur’an, Hadith, Sunnah and other writings for almost a year now,” he said.

“In addition, I have had numerous conversations with Muslims about the religion.”

Driven by his party’s anti-Islam discourse, Doorn decided to dig in for the truth about the religion himself.

“I have heard so many negative stories about Islam, but I am not a person who follows opinions of others without doing my own research,” he said. “Therefore, I have actually started to deepen my knowledge of Islam out of curiosity.”

The 46-year-old has continued on The Hague Council as an independent candidate since splitting from Wilders’s party. Doorn’s decision to embrace Islam has won mixed reactions in the Netherlands.

“According to some people I am a traitor, but according to most others I have actually made a very good decision,” he told Al-Jazeera.

“The reactions are generally positive and I also received quite some support via twitter.

“It feels good that people who do not know me personally have understanding of my situation and support me in my choice.”

Asked if he now regretted joining the Freedom Party, he replied: “I have learned that every experience in life has a purpose. However, with the knowledge I have today, I would have undoubtedly made a different choice.”

For the Dutch politician, finding Islam was finally guiding him to the true path in his life. “I have made mistakes in life as many others. From these mistakes I have learned a lot,” Doorn said.

“And by my conversion to Islam I have the feeling that I finally found my path. I realize that this is a new start and that I still have much to learn as well.”

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20130422162428



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