Yusuf Abdullah [Joseph Zammit]
Since childhood I was gifted with the sincere love for God and I was very sensitive to spiritual/religious things. I used to re-tell the stories about the saints to my mother while she was doing the housework. I spent my time reading the life stories of saints and the prophets in the Old Testament, as well I was highly fascinated with Jesus (Peace be on him). In my late teens, about 17 years old, this childhood fascination took a drastic turn when a priest gave me a copy of the Plain Truth magazine. Immediately curious, I embarked on a correspondence course in Bible study.
Slowly but surely I was becoming aware of something beautiful in the Bible which was missing.
I could not accept the teachings of the church anymore as they did not inspire me at all. I couldn’t understand how and why our society is so anti-Christian in its values. Religion was for inside the church only! On the other hand, I wanted to seek the inner, true teachings of the prophets and of Jesus (Peace on them all) in particular. I started using the Psalms as my daily prayers and for the first time I got satisfaction and power from prayers so much that tears would flow down my cheeks.
As my thirst and hunger increased, I started studying various mystical paths, as well as psychology. I started reading Tibetan Buddhism, as well as the Sufis who made a very good impression on me, but I brushed them aside as being Muslims. I studied the Hindu mystics, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita,
then on to the Theosophists, Buddhism, Zen and Tao yoga. During these years I used to correspond with initiates in these religions in the UK.
Simultaneously, I started studying Gnosticism, and this reverted me back to the Bible studies. I studied a lot of good books by Jewish scholars as well as international Bible scholars about many contradictions in the Bible. Next thing was that I contacted various Rosicrucian Orders and being a member in a couple of them. The Rosicrucians claim to be gnostic and freemasons and they promise the initiate to receive Cosmic Power etc. I was still going back, every now and then, to Sufi philosophy and mysticism and still was impressed and attracted by their simplicity and inner love for Allah. The Sufis touched my heart as nothing else did. In 1986 I decided to cut off my name and membership in the Catholic Church. I did this officially through the legal methods available. This was one of the most challenging things I did, alhamdulillah.
In 1989 I made contact with an Indian Master of high standing and was initiated. This Path is purely mystical and within the folds of the Sikh religion. At last, I said this is it. I was initiated into it for 11 whole years when I started to see similarities in the teachings to Sufi teachings, which I kept interested in. This was very interesting and I started investigating further the issue. I found out, to my amazement and satisfaction, that the Path was influenced, way back in the 16th century, by Sufi teachings and mysticism. Interest again flared up within me regarding the Sufis and so decided to go back to the roots of it, therefore studying more deeply the Sufi Way, which more and more was influencing me. The great obstacle was that real Sufis were Muslims—or worked within the Islamic religion. I found many so called International sufi orders which were neutral to religion but these I wasn’t attracted to. I kept on asking why do I have to be a Muslim in order to be a sufi? To become a Muslim is
considered as a big ‘treason’ in a Catholic country like Malta. At this period in my life, I increased my prayers fervently and the yearning within me exploded. To my amazement and bewilderment, I found myself reading the Quran, the Holy scripture that is obviously so close to what Jesus taught, as well as the Old testament Prophets, that I laughed at myself for having missed it (or bypassed it) in my studies.
Reading the Holy Quran was the pivot in my life. I started exploring the Pillars of Islam and by the help and mercy of Allah I gathered strength enough to embrace Islam on Laylat-u-l-Qadr in year 2000. My studies of Sufis became deeper and I made contact with a couple of Tariqas, employing their daily wasifas and dhikr.
Here I must emphasise the real cause behind my whole life. Since childhood I wanted God and God alone. Whatever Prophet, Guru, Master I met with, it was only for the glory of God. God was and still is my aim, my life, my breath. Since childhood, I always thought about death. Being rich, having a nice family, being healthy, having a beautiful wife etc etc…so what? I have to die, then…? Therefore, I was sincere and took life seriously. I used to pray and pray and cry “Oh Allah! If I succeed in finding You just before I die, my whole life would have been a success!” Going through life, in all its materialistic attractions and deviations, still my heart pointed towards God.
Having arrived at the stage where I was a candidate student in one of the oldest Sufi Schools, I thought now this is really it. But Allah knows best. This year , one week before embarking for the Hajj, casually I met a Muslim couple from UK at the local masjid. I had a very good conversation with them and in the night they gave me some books to read. I realised they were from the shia. I was so fascinated by one of the books they gave
me that I made it a point to contact them at the Hotel next morning, but alas! They had flown back home. I went to the Hajj fully convinced that the shia are the true Muslims. So, I advise anyone to keep himself/herself open and let God do the work. We must have yearning, longing and be sincere in our prayers, then Allah does it all.
Your brother in Islam
Holy Quran 2:97