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19 February 2011

Why I love Islam: Lauren Booth explains why she became a Muslim



لماذا أحب الإسلام : لورين بوث ، شقيقة في القانون السابق توني بلير رئيس

 الوزراء البريطاني بتحد يفسر السبب في أنها تصبح مسلم

By LAUREN BOOTH

It is the most peculiar journey of my life. The carriage is warm and my fellow passengers unexpectedly welcoming. We are progressing ­rapidly and without delay. Rain, snow, rail unions, these things make no difference to the forward rush.

Yet I have no idea how I came to be on board nor, stranger still, quite where the train is heading, apart from this: the destination, wherever it might be, is the most important place I can imagine.
I know this all seems gloriously far-fetched, but really it is how I feel about my conversion, announced last week, to Islam.
'My father was an alcoholic so if I'm going to avoid the stuff what could be better?'
'My father was an alcoholic so if I'm going to avoid the stuff what could be better?'
Although the means and ­mechanisms that brought me to this point remain mysterious, the decision will determine every aspect of my life to come as firmly as the twin rails beneath that exhilarating express.
Asked for a simple explanation of how I, an English hack journalist, a ­single working mother, signed up to the Western media’s least-favourite religion, I suppose I would point to an intensely spiritual experience in an Iranian mosque just over a month ago. 
But it makes more sense to go back to January 2005, when I arrived alone in the West Bank to cover the elections there for The Mail on Sunday. It is safe to say that before that visit I had never spent any time with Arabs, or Muslims.

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The whole experience was a shock, but not for the reasons I might have expected. So much of what we know about this part of the world and the people who follow Mohammed the Prophet is based on ­disturbing – some would say biased – news bulletins. 
So, as I flew towards the Middle East, my mind was full of the usual 10pm buzz­words: radical extremists, fanatics, forced marriages, suicide bombers and jihad. Not much of a travel brochure.
My very first experience, though, could hardly have been more positive. I had arrived on the West Bank without a coat, as the Israeli airport authorities had kept my suitcase. 
Walking around the centre of Ramallah, I was shivering, whereupon an old lady grabbed my hand. 
Back in the day: Lauren and her father looking close before she her interest in Islam grew
Back in the day: Lauren and her father looking close before she her interest in Islam grew
Talking rapidly in Arabic, she took me into a house on a side street. Was I being kidnapped by a rather elderly terrorist? For several confusing minutes I watched her going through her daughter’s wardrobe until she pulled out a coat, a hat and a scarf. 
I was then taken back to the street where I had been walking, given a kiss and sent warmly on my way. There had been not a single comprehensible word exchanged between us.
It was an act of generosity I have never forgotten, and one which, in various guises, I have seen repeated a hundred times. Yet this warmth of spirit is so rarely represented in what we read and see in the news.
Over the course of the next three years I made numerous journeys to the occupied lands which were once historic Palestine. At first I went on ­assignments; as time went by, I started travelling in solidarity with charities and pro-Palestinian groups.  
I felt challenged by the hardships ­suffered by Palestinians of all creeds. It is important to remember there have been Christians in the Holy Land for 2,000 years and that they too are suffering under Israel’s illegal occupation.
"ورأى تحديت من المصاعب التي يعاني منها الفلسطينيين من جميع المذاهب. ومن المهم أن نتذكر كانت هناك المسيحيين في الأراضي المقدسة لسنة 2000 ، وأنهم أيضا يعانون تحت الاحتلال الإسرائيلي غير المشروع."
Gradually I found expressions such as ‘Mashallah!’ (a phrase of gratitude meaning ‘God has willed it’) and ‘Al Hamd­illilah!’ (akin to ‘Halle­lujah’) creeping into my everyday speech. These are exclamations of delight derived from the 100 names of God, or Allah. Far from being nervous of Muslim groups, I started looking forward to meeting them. It was an opportunity to be with people of intelligence, wit and, above all else, kindness and generosity.
I’m going to take a break here to pray for ten minutes as it’s 1.30pm. (There are five prayers each day, the times varying throughout the year depending on the rising and setting of the sun.)
I was in no doubt that I had embarked on a change of political understanding, one in which Palestinians became families rather than terror suspects, and Muslim cities communities rather than ‘collateral damage’.
Tony Booth with the only daughter he is said he is proud of, Cherie Blair
Tony Booth with the only daughter he is said he is proud of, Cherie Blair
But a religious journey? This would never have occurred to me. Although I have always liked to pray and, since childhood, have enjoyed the stories of Jesus and the more ancient prophets that I had picked up at school and at the Brownies, I was brought up in a very secular household. 
It was probably an appreciation of Muslim culture, in partic­ular that of Muslim women, that first drew me towards a broader appreciation of Islam.
How strange Muslim women seem to English eyes, all covered up from head to toe, sometimes walking behind their husbands (although this is far from universally the case), with their children around their long skirts. 
By contrast, professional women in Europe are happy to make the most of their appearance. I, for example, have always been proud of my lovely blonde hair and,
yes, my cleavage. 
It was common working practice to have this on display at all times because so much of what we sell these days has to do with our appearance. 
Yet whenever I have been invited to broadcast on television, I have sat watching in wonder as the female presenters spend up to an hour on their hair and make- up, before giving the serious ­topics under discussion less than 15 minutes’ attention. Is this liber­ation? I began to wonder just how much true respect girls and women get in our ‘free’ society.
In 2007 I went to Lebanon. I spent four days with female ­university students, all of whom wore the full hijab: belted shirts over dark trousers or jeans, with no hair on show. They were charming, independent and outspoken company. They were not at all the timid, soon-to-be-forced-into-marriage girls I would have imagined from what we often read in the West. 
At one point they accompanied me to interview a sheikh who was also a commander with the Hezbollah militia. I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude to the girls. As Sheikh Nabil, in turban and brown flowing robes, talked intriguingly of a prisoner swap, they started butting in. They felt free to talk over him, to put a hand up for him to pause while they translated.
Indeed, just yesterday, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia rang me and only half-jokingly introduced himself as ‘my wife’s husband’. In fact, the bossiness of Muslim women is something of a joke that rings true in so many homes in the community. You want to see men under the thumb? Look at many Muslim husbands more than other kinds. 

Something else was changing, too. The more time I spent in the Middle East, the more I asked to be taken into mosques. Just for touristy reasons, I told myself. In fact I found them fascinating.
Free of statues and with rugs instead of pews, I saw them rather like a big sitting room where ­children play, women feed their families pitta bread and milk and grandmothers sit and read the Koran in wheelchairs. They take their lives into their place of worship and bring their worship into their homes.
Then came the night in the Iran­ian city of Qom, beneath the golden dome of the shrine of Fatima Mesumah (the revered ‘Learned Lady’). Like the other women pilgrims, I said Allah’s name several times while holding on to the bars of Fatima’s tomb. 
When I sat down, a pulse of sheer spiritual joy shot through me. Not the joy that lifts you off the ground, but the joy that gives you complete peace and contentment. I sat for a long time. Young women gathered around me talking of the ‘amazing thing happening to you’.
I knew then I was no longer a tourist in Islam but a traveller inside the Ummah, the community of Islam that links all believers.
At first I wanted the feeling to go, and for several reasons. Was I ready to convert? What on earth would friends and family think? Was I ready to moderate my behaviour in many ways? 
And here’s the really strange thing. I needn’t have worried about any of these things, because somehow becoming a Muslim is really easy – although the prac­ticalities are a very different ­matter, of course.
For a start, Islam demands a great deal of study, yet I am mother to two children and work full-time. You are expected to read the Koran from beginning to end, plus the thoughts and findings of imams and all manner of spiritually enlightened people. Most people would spend months, if not years of study before making their declaration. 
People ask me how much of the Koran I’ve read, and my answer is that I’ve only covered 100 pages or so to date, and in translation. But before anyone sneers, the verses of the Koran should be read ten lines at a time, and they should be recited, considered and, if possible, committed to memory. It’s not like OK! magazine.
This is a serious text that I am going to know for life. It would help to learn Arabic and I would like to, but that will also take time.
I have a relationship with a ­couple of mosques in North London, and I am hoping to make a routine of going at least once a week. I would never say, by the way, whether I will take a Sunni or a Shia path. For me, there is one Islam and one Allah. 
Adopting modest dress, however, is rather less troublesome than you might think. Wearing a headscarf means I’m ready to go out more quickly than before. I was blushing the first time I wore it loosely over my hair just a few weeks ago.
Luckily it was cold outside, so few people paid attention. Going out in the sunshine was more of a challenge, but this is a tolerant country and no one has looked askance so far.
A veil, by the way, is not for me, let alone something more substantial like a burka. I’m making no criticism of women who choose that level of modesty. But Islam has no expectation that I will adopt a more severe form of dress.
Predictably, some areas of the Press have had a field day with my conversion, unleashing a torrent of abuse that is not really aimed at me but a false idea of Islam. 
But I have ignored the more negative comments. Some people don’t understand spirituality and any discussion of it makes them frightened. It raises awkward questions about the meaning of their own lives and they lash out.
One of my concerns is professional. It is easy to get pigeonholed, particularly if I continue to wear a headscarf. In fact, based on the experience of other female converts, I’m wondering if I will be treated as though I have lost my mind.
I’ve been political all my life, and that will continue. I’ve been involved in pro-Palestinian activism for a number of years, and don’t expect to stop. Yet Britain is a more tolerant country than, say, France or Germany.

I’m well aware that there are plenty of Muslim women who have great success on television and in the Press, and wear modest but decidedly Western dress.
This is hardly a choice for me, though. I am a newcomer, still getting to grips with the basic tenets. My relationship with Islam is different. I am in no position to say that some bits of my new-found faith suit me and that some bits I’ll ignore.
There is a more profound uncertainty about the future, too. I feel changes going on in me every day – that I’m becoming a different person. I wonder where that will end up. Who will I be? 
I am fortunate in that my most important relationships remain strong. The reaction from my non-Muslim friends has been more curious than hostile. ‘Will it change you?’ they ask. ‘Can we still be your friend? Can we go out drinking?’ 
The answer to the first two of those questions is yes. The last is a big happy no.
As for my mother, I think she is happy if I’m happy. And if, coming from a background of my father’s alcoholism, I’m going to avoid the stuff, then what could be better?
Growing up in an alcoholic household with a dad who was violent, has left a great gap in my life. It is a wound that will never heal and his remarks about me are very hurtful. 
We haven’t seen each other for years, so how can he know anything about me or have any valid views about my conversion? I just feel sorry for him. The rest of my family is very supportive. 
My mum and I had a difficult relationship when I was growing up, but we have built bridges and she’s a great support to me and the girls. 
When I told her I had converted, she did say: ‘Not to those nutters. I thought you said Buddhism!’ But she understand now and accepts it. 
And, as it happens, giving up alcohol was a breeze. In fact I can’t imagine tasting alcohol ever again. I simply don’t want to.
This is not the time for me to be thinking about relationships with men, either. I’m recovering from the breakdown of my marriage and am now going through a divorce. 
So I’m not looking and am under no pressure to look. 
If, when the time came, I did consider remarrying, then, in accordance with my adopted faith, the husband would need to be Muslim.
I’m asked: ‘Will my daughters be Muslim?’ I don’t know, that is up to them. You can’t change someone’s heart. But they’re certainly not hostile and their reaction to my surprising conversion was perhaps the most telling of all. 
I sat in the kitchen and called them in. ‘Girls, I have some news for you,’ I began. ‘I am now a Muslim.’ They went into a ­huddle, with the eldest, Alex, saying: ‘We have some questions, we’ll be right back.’
They made a list and returned. Alex cleared her throat. ‘Will you drink alcohol any more?’
Answer: No. The response – a rather worrying ‘Yay!’
‘Will you smoke cigarettes any more?’ Smoking isn’t haram (for­bidden) but it is harmful, so I answered: ‘No.’ 
Again, this was met with puritanical approval. Their final question, though, took me aback.  ‘Will you have your breasts out in public now you are a Muslim?’
What??
It seems they’d both been embarrassed by my plunging shirts and tops and had cringed on the school run at my pallid cleavage. Perhaps in hindsight I should have cringed as well.
‘Now that I’m Muslim,’ I said, ‘I will never have my breasts out in public again.’ 
‘We love Islam!’ they cheered and went off to play. And I love Islam too.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1325231/Why-I-love-Islam-Lauren-Booth-defiantly-explains-Muslim.html

BBC coverage of Palestine by Lauren Booth 

Blair's relative 'stuck in Gaza' [old reports]

Lauren Booth in Gaza
Lauren Booth is the sister-in-law of Middle East envoy Tony Blair
Lauren Booth, human rights activist and sister-in-law of the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has said she is being prevented from leaving Gaza.
Ms Booth arrived in the Gaza Strip on a "peace boat" to publicise Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory.
But she said the Egyptian and Israeli authorities had prevented her from leaving Gaza three times.
Mr Blair, now an international envoy to the Middle East, is currently in the region meeting senior Israeli leaders.
'Non-violent resistance project'
Israel tightened an economic blockade on Gaza after Hamas forces violently seized control from Fatah in June 2007.
The borders between Gaza and Egypt and Israel are closed to people most of the time.
About 45 people - including Americans, Palestinians and Israelis - took part in the "peace boat" mission last week.
Two vessels - named Liberty and Free Gaza - arrived in Gaza on Saturday 23 August carrying 200 hearing aids for children and 5,000 balloons.
The president of the Free Gaza Movement, Greta Berlin, said it was "a non-violent resistance project to challenge Israel's siege of Gaza".
When the boats returned to Cyprus, Ms Booth and a few other activists remained in Gaza.
 Under international law I've done nothing wrong, but for some reason I am effectively being imprisoned here 
Lauren Booth
Now the sister of Mr Blair's wife Cherie has said she wants to go home but has been prevented - along with three other foreign nationals - from leaving Gaza three times, once by the Israeli authorities through the Erez crossing and twice by the Egyptians via Rafah.
Ms Booth told the BBC: "I'd actually like to say 'Thank you very much' to the Israeli authorities at Erez for giving me this fantastic chance to feel just exactly what it is like to be inside what is effectively the world's largest internment camp, where individuals who should have the right to travel under international law are withheld in a 40km by 10km camp."
She said she was missing her two children who kept asking her, "Mummy, why can't you come home? Have you done anything wrong?"
"No, under international law I've done nothing wrong, but for some reason I am effectively being imprisoned here by authorities who wish to punish human rights activists who have come to view the situation in Gaza," she said.
'Terrible poverty'
In the past, Ms Booth has publicly criticised some of Mr Blair's government's foreign policy decisions.
Mr Blair now acts as the International Quartet's special envoy to the region. There is no word yet from his office about any official efforts to get Ms Booth out of Gaza.
She said she did not want to appeal to him "on such a small matter as my own liberty" and instead wanted him to focus on the Palestinians themselves and the "terrible poverty entirely created by the siege" in Gaza.
In July, Mr Blair cancelled a planned visit to Gaza after being informed by Israeli authorities of a specific security threat.
But Ms Booth said she had been treated "marvellously" by the authorities in Gaza, and added about her brother-in-law: "It is his duty as Middle East envoy to make sure he makes the effort to come here."
The British Consulate in Jerusalem said it was in close contact with British nationals in Gaza.
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Face to Face: Lauren Booth Vs Anjem Choudary 1-3




Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Islam is going to dominate many Places in USA and Europe in the next few years, and is now a fiery revival sweeping much of the planet from Africa to Asia to Latin America to Europe to USA.

This phenomenal growth of Islam shows that islam is the Truth, and every one who can use his mind and search through the true Sources, must find the real Beauty of islam.

The number of Europeans, Americans, Latinos and Africans converting to Islam is growing rapidly

This is Islam: Islam means "submission to God". Islam is the belief that there is only One God, whose proper name is Allah, which means " the God". Islam is the same message given to all the prophets, from Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and finally to the Prophet Muhammad, the last messenger (peace and blessings be upon them). They all brought the same message: worship only God, and stop worshipping human beings and their ideas.

Today the fastest growing religion in the World is Islam..spreading through the Sword of intellect and Wisdom .

http://www.islamicweb.com/begin/resul...

in islam before we believe we have to get the Evidence of the religion to be committed without any doubt and to live contently.

Muslims don`t look islam as a normal religion, but as a whole system of Life, which gives all answers about this life and hereafter.

many people don`t think how they came to this life and what is waiting them after death. they just do not want to think about their death although they must meet it.......

The followers of other religions have no decisive proof for their belief, therefore they believe in their religions emotionally or through imitation. Some of them think that you just have to have faith without clear proof. However when it comes to normal things in life people apply a lot of thought such as buying a car, house, choosing a University course or which bank to join, so how can it be that when it comes to the most important questions about life; which define the purpose of our lives that we should just have 'faith' without being convinced absolutely.

It is therefore vital for a Muslim to believe in the existence of Allah (swt) without any doubt whatsoever and to believe in the Prophethood of Muhammad (saw) and that the Qur'an is the final revelation sent by Allah (swt) to humanity. Islam is unlike all the other religions as it has a decisive proof that convinces the mind.
Read and Listen Holy Quran online:
http://www.ediscoverislam.com/quran-o...
Become a Muslim Now: If you believe there is only One God who should be worshiped, and no one/nothing else has that right but Him, and you believe Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a messenger who brought the same message as all the prophets before him, then you are basically a Muslim.
Questions and Answers about Islam for non-Muslims:
http://bilalphilips.com/printer_frien...


4. NBC WHY 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually


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Know more about Islam.....
Handbooks for Every One

“The Message of the Qur’an Translation & Commentary By Muhammad Asad [Leopold Weiss] Free Download as PDF book
 Handbook for Every One- Urdu and English "تعريف عام بدين الإسلام"
This Handbook is meant for Muslims and Non Muslims, extracted from translation of famous Arabic book; “Tarif-e-Am-be-din-Islam” "تعريف عام بدين الإسلام" by world renowned Arab scholar “Sheikh Ali Tantawi”.Millions of people have benefited the world over during last four decades.
1.       Unique Handbook-Islam-English-pdf  "تعريف عام بدين الإسلام"
2.        Handbook of Islam-htmhttp://endeavour-peace.page.tl/Islam-eAZ.htm