Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

“Among Muslims throughout the world, there are many sincere pious men and women; there are also criminals and hypocrites.”

~ Ingrid Mattson

Ingrid Mattson, the sixth of seven children, grew up as a good, middle-class Roman Catholic school girl in Kitchener, Canada, a suburban community about 60 miles southwest of Toronto. She attended a Catholic girls high school and took piano lessons at the convent. Ingrid stopped attending Mass at the age of 16 after inquiring about Catholicism and spirituality to which she was given unsatisfactory answers.

Then as a determined agnostic, Ingrid Mattson went to study philosophy and the fine arts at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. Her first encounter with Muslims was in 1986, while studying in Paris. The warmth, dignity and generosity of the Muslims she met must have produced an influence in her life. “What I recognized was that, among their other wonderful qualities, they were the most naturally generous people I had ever known.” She said about the Muslims she met. She then plunged into reading of books about Islam and took classes in Arabic. In her personal study of Islam she came across Fazlur Rahman’s Islam in a bookstore. “It was his book and his encouragement that inspired me to start on the path to scholarship that I have found so rewarding,” She recalls. When she read the Qur’an, Ingrid found herself wallowed in amazement. And in 1987, as a college senior, she embraced Islam. “This religious community was giving me the framework for my spiritual experience, and so I entered into it,” she said in an interview.

After she graduated from college, she volunteered to teach Afghan women in a refugee camp of about 100,000 people in Peshawar, Pakistan. It was there where she met and married Amer Aatek, an Egyptian engineer working to install a water system in the camp. In 1989, she enrolled in the University of Chicago as a Ph.D. student and in 1999, she received her doctorate in Islamic Studies from the University. Presently, she is a professor of Islamic studies and director of Islamic chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She is the head of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), one of the largest Muslim organizations in America.

In 1995, she was an adviser to the Afghan delegation to the United Nations Commission on the status of women. In 2001, she was elected Vice-President of ISNA and in 2006 she was elected President of the organization. Dr. Mattson is the first revert to Islam and the first female to lead the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Professor Mattson is a contributor to The Muslim World Journal. She is the author of The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life [Paperback: 272 pages]. Dr. Mattson lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Some articles, lectures, and reviews by Ingrid Matson include:

►Respecting the Qur’an

►A call for moral leadership: Imagining a new heroism

►Comments on cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad

►Stopping oppression: an Islamic Obligation

►Faith in the Face of Terror – Multi-Faith Reflections on Meaning

►Faith, Justice and Terrorism

Among the lectures she has delivered are:

►Gender Equity-The Islamic Perspective

►Sharia in the Modern World

►Changes Within Us

►Extremism And Moderation

►Impact of Sept.11th

►What is Islamic Law (Sharia)?

►Building The Faith

Contact Information:

Duncan Black Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian/Muslim Relations,

77 Sherman Street, Hartford, CT 06105 USA.

Telephone: 860/509-9531,

Fax: 860/509-9539,




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{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9.  Just click here to buy the book}

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Buy Ebook Smart

[References:  Grossman, Cathy Lynn. “The Face of Islam in America.” USA Today 21 Aug. 2007; Macfarquhar, Neil. “Putting a Different Face on Islam in America.” New York Times 20 Sept.  2006; Mattson, Ingrid. “Finding the Prophet in his People.” 31 Dec. 2004.] <;; “Faculty Profiles-Ingrid Mattson.” <;; “Ingrid Mattson: What is Islam?” 18 Oct. 2001 <; Mattson, Ingrid. “Finding the Prophet in his People.” <;; “A Conversation with Ingrid Mattson.” Penn State Public Broadcasting Lobby Talks Series. Produced by Pennsylvania State University 12 June 2006. <>%5D


“I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins.”

~ Aminah Assilmi


Assilmi was raised in a white American family of Southern Baptists in Oklahoma. She was a radical feminist and a broadcast journalist.

Her fascinating conversion story started when the university computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, where she would meet Muslim students.  She found herself with a mission to accomplish. Trying to proselytize the Arab classmates, she preached to them that they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal savior.” Determined to win converts Assilmi said: “I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts.” When all the preaching didn’t work, she decided to study the Qur’an to gain insight into Islam for the purposes of converting Muslims to Christianity. “It was a huge surprise for me,” Assilmi said, referring to her experience with the Qur’an. Her mission to convert others led to her own conversion.

Assilmi did an intense study on Islam as she says: “For two years I studied in order to convert Muslims to Christianity”. During this time she studied the Qur’an fully, Sahih Muslim and fifteen other books on Islam. In fact she re-read the Qur’an. While studying Islam, Assilmi encountered questions and objections which were untied by her college mate Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik. Realizing the truth in Islam, Assilmi had no choice but to utter in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions: “I bear witness that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Messenger.” It was May 21, 1977. She chose the name Amina Assilmi. However, she had vowed not to cover her hair and if her husband takes another wife, she would castrate him. Nonetheless, after a deeper plunge into Islamic knowledge she found herself wearing Hijab. “. . . I even came to be a proponent of polygamy”, she added, “I knew that if Allah had allowed it, there had to be something good in it.”

Upon her conversion, Amina lost most of her friends, for she was ‘no fun anymore’. Her ‘mental health expert’ sister thought that she lost her mind so she attempted to put her in a mental health institution. On hearing that she converted to Islam, her father loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her. “It is better that she be dead . . . .” he said. The day she started wearing hijab, the award-winning broadcaster in the Denver market, was denied her job. After she openly accepted Islam, she was divorced by her husband. Just because she became a Muslim, she was denied the custody of her two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully been given to her. In fact, the judge offered her a harsh choice, before giving the formal verdict: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications. However, she decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband. The suffering shifted beyond mental to physical as she says, “I’ve been forced off the road before — beaten up — and I’ve never lifted a hand against anyone.” The defining moment came when she tried to cash a cheque at her bank wearing the face veil when a bank security guard drew his gun preparing to shoot if she made any questionable moves.

Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility. Her life had changed to a better her so that so her family started appreciating her. The invisible force of the beauty of Islam exhibited by Assilmi attracted her family towards Islam. The first to become Muslim was her grandmother who was over 100 years old. Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Years later, her mother accepted Islam. Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. Her oldest son, Whittney, upon becoming adult at the age of 21, accepted Islam. Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. “Relatives of mine are still becoming Muslim right and left,” she said.

Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that she could never conceive another child, God blessed her with a beautiful boy. She lost her job because of wearing Hijab, but now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand.

Amina is proud to be Muslim. She says:

I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive.

…………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..

{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9. Just click here to buy the book}

…………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..
Buy Ebook Smart


[References: “The Introduction and Decision (Testimony of Aminah Assilmi).” 22 Nov. 2003. <;.]