From Juan Alvarado to Shafeeq Abdullah Muhammad
Every since childhood I always noticed that I was "spiritual" to say the least. For some reason, I found myself unlike the other children around me and because of it sometimes felt alienated. To begin with, I am of Latin American descent. Typically, like other Latinos, I was born into the Catholic faith. I went through the motions of what it means to be Catholic, I was baptised, did my communion and confirmation. But by the times I was a teen, I was growing impatient with Catholicism and started exploring different forms of spiritualities. Specifically, I was annoyed at the cult of saints but also that there is so much written in the Bible that is not followed by that church. By 16, I can confidently say that I renounced Catholicism, although I still considered myself "Christian." I visited different churches of differing denominations but just could not feel that sense of belonging. Also, one of the things that I did not like was the inter-denominational bickering. Another thing was the complexity of Christianity, or so it seemed to me. Well, like I said earlier, I was also looking into other religions. Specifically, I looked into Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Santeria, and various New Age or Occult movements. As for Judaism, I just could not deal with life without Jesus. Buddhism seemed too esoteric and even too bland. Hinduism's caste system and grandios number of gods/goddesses just repelled me. Santeria's gods also repelled me and its secrecy was annoying. The many New Age movements just seemed too complex. This is not to say that I did not see anything at all that I did not like. I saw some things that I liked but it just did not get a hold of my full interest. By the time I was 19, I renounced Christianity once and for all and continued my search. This search led me to read on a non-stop basis, something that I still do. At 20, a friend of mine gave me a book on Islam or what I thought was Islam. He gave me a book that the Ansar cult published. After reading up on them for about 2 1/2 years, I decided to become "Muslim" at 23. As a matter of fact I do consider that I was Muslim then but that I was astray. Because of my intense reading background, I always noted the many mistakes in the Ansar doctrine but I guess I just put up with it because there was something there that I related to. I always noted too that the leader of this movement always changed his beliefs and doctrines every so often, which I found to be strange. I lasted 2 years in this movement before I took shahaadah at a Sunnite organization in Manhattan [I was 25 then]. This only happened because I never gave up my habit of reading. I always noted that there was some very dramatic differences between what was written on Islam and what these Ansars wrote and did. In the end, like I said, I said the Shahaadatain among the Sunni and so far that is the end of my spiritual story. I am now 28 and I love to read but I no longer am searching, I have found what the truth is. As for the Ansars, their organization has undergone many name changes as well as changes in their belief system. The leader of that cult has by far also gone through many name changes, why I don't know.
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