Asalaamu Alaikum W/r W/b,
From Calvary to Karbala.
My name is Brother Yahya Hayder Seymour and the following is my conversion story to the path of Islam and eventually the Path of the Ahlul Bayt (as). The Path of the Ahlul Bayt and Islam are not separate far from it, they are the immaculate guides who would serve Islam in History as the preservers of our faith, where many tried to corrupt it. The following is my spiritual wayfaring biography from Birth- till where I am now.
(Note my story is online on other websites, yet this is the most HONEST account of things, before I was embarrassed of my past and so sugar-coated things).
I was born in the Philippines (Sean Andrew Seymour) in 1987 to a Scottish Father and a Filipina Mother, by definition making me a Mixed Race child or “half cast” as I would be called by some of my peers at a later age. My parents separated whilst I was very young and unfortunately it was before I had even turned the age of 1 year.
Therefore my Mother was forced to raise my older brother (3 at the time) and myself (around 9 months) at the time, doing her best to raise us, despite the fact she was in a country alien to her (Scotland), and one that was rather hostile towards people who were different or foreign due to the fact it was not really all that diverse at the time.
Being from the Philippines, I was technically a Roman Catholic and to be honest I did believe in God, but not in any particular set of dogma, I believed that God was one, not in a pantheistic view or anything like that. Although I did have an interest in the different types of religions that history and locations have produced, I was always reading into Religion, Myths and Legends.
Although at the age of 13-14, I started hanging around with the wrong people, and I guess this was due to the fact I wanted to belong to a crew and get attention. So I became one of those kids who is from a respectable Middle-Class background, who acted like they were from a ghetto, and such like. I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 14, and started Binge drinking at 14 also. Unfortunately this reflected on my school grades and I started dropping to the Middle and Bottom Classes in terms of School performance and I went on to receive many a detention after school due to my very immature attitude towards life.
So at this age, my guidance teacher went on to suggest that I do a personal project as a punishment, which would take me 2 months and would look into my Filipino Heritage etc, etc. This project was to prove, very interesting as it would go onto to introduce me to the religion of Islam, perhaps the world’s only major faith I hadn’t come across for some strange reason.
History proves that my ancestors were Muslim before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines who would go on to convert (through violent means) the North of the Country and the majority at that. However this didn’t really persuade me to look into Islam deeply or convert, that would come later.
I started reading into World History and Politics as a Hobby, something I could have never pictured myself doing but well, did anyway and thoroughly enjoyed it. I decided my life had become a nightmare and if I didn’t get a grip, it would be the end of my life soon as I would leave with no basic qualifications and wouldn’t have the ability to get the advanced ones and would therefore fail in life.
So I turned to the religion that my Parents were supposed to adhere to, I decided I should look heavily into Catholicism and start practicing. However the doctrine of the trinity as well as Original Sin, was to hold me back from pursuing anything more than a light interest in the religion, I was also put off the clear fallibility of the Papal Authorities, who were said to be God’s Representatives on Earth and so Subsequently left any ideas of becoming a Good Catholic behind me.
(I would partly thank Christian Apologists for my disillusionment with Roman Catholicism, I did attempt to look into non-Catholic Christianity however this lasted around 3-4 weeks, the trinity and beliefs in parts of the Bible really finished me).
I will avoid every single detail, but whilst in Egypt visiting my Father the previous year, I was given an English Translation of the Qur’an and after deciding to pick it up and actually take time to read it, I realised how amazing this book really was. Especially in that It had all the Prophets I was familiar with, as well as Jesus who had a more logical role in this religion. I also felt the book, placed God in a lot higher position (the position he deserves) compared to the way the Old Testament describes the Nature of God.
(One thing I shall highlight here is that the Old Testament method of viewing God is that through the penetration of Israiliyyat or a Genre of Ahadith falsely attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, generally fabricated by Jewish and Christian Converts to Islam, even a group of Muslims hold such beliefs…. May Allah protect us from such deviation).
So after around a year of researching I converted to the deen of al-Islam at the young age of 15/16 (it was around late 15/early 16) I became a staunch Muslim and began engulfing myself in the study of the religion believing that I would spread the word of Islam throughout my nation, and would try and be the “shining example to those in the darkness” (as described by Malcolm X in his autobiography).
I became deeply involved in my local community and at the time was following the Najdi path of Islam (often referred to as the Salafi or Wahabi sect of Islam), which unfortunately is rather intolerant and belittles the status of the Prophet and his Family (PBUTA) and elevate the status of those who had the pleasure of being in the company of the Prophet, whether or not they deserved it, to the level of Infallibility. The Salafis are however extremely organised and understand the needs of communities and how to get the youth active very easily.
(With a lot of backing from rich Oil-filled Gulf Arab nations particularly Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, it is no wonder that the Psuedo-Salafi Wahabis are particularly well funded and hence better organized and more active in the field of activities and Missionary work than the Shi’i Muslims.)
Anyways, the final segment or sequence of my spiritual development came at the age of 17, I would hear words that would change my life, I accidentally stumbled across a lecture of Sayed Mahdi Modaressi for the 1st of Muharram in London…..
A tale of innocent men, women and children put to the sword by extremist Muslims…. Who were these people?
….The Prophet’s Grandson al-Husayn and his family.
I was shocked.
After months of research, I decided that it was fairly evident through our own hadith books (as in those of the Ahlus Sunnah) that the Shia school of thought, was the most accurate and that the status of the Ahlul Bayt (as) and their role in safeguarding the religion and that there had been a constant devoid of love for the Prophet’s family, going all the way back to the Prophet’s Death and the event of Saqifa.
How could I not but feel for the sufferings of the Prophet Muhammad, the greatest man to ever walk the earth? The books of history record the darkest of events in his life, of how those who lived in close proximity would attempt to destroy him and his legacy. As a Sunni, I knew of the virtues extolled about the first two Khalifahs, of the General Khalid ibn al-Walid and of Imam Ali (as), however when it came to Hassan and Husayn we knew nothing.
I could always remember asking why Aisha fought Ali (as) followed by Ali (as) v.s Mu’awiyah? Wondering how could such happen to the “most righteous generation.”
The Truth was, there was little righteousness about them.
All my time as a Sunni, I attempted to clarify to my friends and family who as non-Muslims believed us to be a religion of fanatics and terrorists that the Islam of my friend and the books I was reading was not such. However, I would later on realize they weren’t far from the truth…
…The Islam held by the majority of Muslims did represent a degree of terror and extremism.
However the Prophet Muhammad and his purified household were not the architects nor the exponents of “Muslim” terrorism, they were the greatest victims and martyrs to be taken from us by the terrorists.
Muhammad, Fatima, Ali, Hassan and Husayn (Peace be upon them all) were all victims of this terrorism.
Finally, I could breathe, the veil over my eyes was lifted and I could see clearly the true path of Guidance.
I realised that History is always written by the Tyrants, and yet we have allowed the religion of Islam to be dilluted and corrupted by the filth of society. Bani Umayyah were the enemies of the Prophet during his lifetime and yet shortly after his death, an entire dynasty of Umayyads were left to safeguard and rule over the Ummah, how could this make sense?
Shi’ism was the revolutionary justice and integral heart of Islam, and I had found it. Like in the Qur’an, Shi’ism depicted a harsh and extremely sad reality for me, that whilst the Prophets and those loyal to God are the most pious, most generous and most loving towards their fellow human being; they are always the ones who suffer the most, they suffer due to the ones who oppress themselves and consequently oppress the rest of mankind.
However once the chain of trials and suffering is finished and darkness is purged, the Justice rises and prevails.
In 2004 I accepted Shi’a Islam, and renounced my love for the taghut and the Oppressors of Aale Muhammad. I pledge my Bayyah to Imam al-Mahdi, may Allah hasten his reappearance. Since then, I have left University in Scotland, and joined Hawza Ilmiyyah in London where I have had the benefit of learning from such scholars as Shaykh Mohammed Saeed Bahmanpour, Shaykh Hakimelahi, Dr. Jassim Hussain and Ayatollah Sayyed Fadhil Milani.
All praise is due to Allah, Peace and blessings be upon Muhammad and his family and may the curse of God be upon their murderers.