I’m 35 years old, originally from Latvia. I reverted to Islam in 2010. My generation was raised to a certain extent in the Soviet Union. It was a system with its own ideology, in which religion was marginalized. People were discouraged from taking part in any kind of religious services. We were raised in a very rational environment with emphasis on scientific knowledge and materialistic approach to the world. After school I went to University and studied molecular biology. This science provides great insight in how life works, how amazing and complicated every single cell is. In that time I was an atheist and seen myself as thinking machine which came into being by chance and will turn to dust when the time will come for it.
In 2006, I met a woman who I fell in love with and I proposed to her. She told me that she will marry me with one condition as she was Catholic. She said, “The only way I’m going to marry is in church”. And I said, “I love you, I will do it for you”. It was a bit complicated to become a Catholic, but it gave me a new perspective on the world. I went to catholic school and got baptized to be able to get married in church. In class was introduced to the idea of Creator of the universe as well as idea that our life has meaning beyond what is on earth. For me it was a new perspective, different from the one I had before. However at that time I didn’t give too much thought to it.
We got married and soon moved to work in Kenya. But my wife became quite seriously sick with malaria. This is when I started to pray, not like a Catholic but I started to ask someone, something, to make her live and to make us go on. Thank God, she got well. This was the first time I really prayed.
After she got well we were going on holidays to Latin America and we had to change flights in Istanbul. On the plane, I got a severe eye infection, conjunctivitis. In two hours I couldn’t see anything. In the middle of a flight, it’s a bit scary.
We had to disembark in Istanbul and go to the doctor. I was given eye drops but they didn’t work, so I went to sleep scared if I will ever be able to see again. I woke up in the early morning and heard something nice, which was the call to prayer. My antibiotics had worked, my eyes were clear. That sense of relief and beauty of adhan turned my interest to Islam. I did a bit of research into all the religions, because I had a whole new perspective for seeing things. During this time, Islam was the message which seemed to me without internal conflict.
Soon I was reading the Quran, started praying 5 times a day and said my shahada shortly before Ramadhan in 2011.
You have to conform to certain standards. In Islam, it’s said that the only purpose of humans is to worship God. At first one may think that worshiping God is praying five times a day. But actually, worshiping doesn’t mean only praying – it means being a good custodian of the planet, being good to others, doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. For example recycling, buying local or fair trade food can be a way of worship because you are doing the right thing taking good care of environment which Allah created.
I consider my time since reverting to Islam as time in search for knowledge and a search for the way. It’s Islam that brought me out of Africa and I’m still on the way. I had to give up my job in IVF Clinic in Kenya as it involved doing forbidden things, so we moved to Somalia and later to Ireland. We traveled to Oman in 2014 and met lots of wonderful people there whom we are still in contact with and who gave us advice and guidance to continue the way to light.