My name is Mariano Ricardo Calle. I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina, not from the capital but the province. Before I embraced Islam, I was a Catholic Apostolic Roman. I was baptized, entered communion and confirmation.
Since my childhood, I was connected with religion through my mom and my grandmother (her mom).
I read the Bible since seven years old. I began reading the Bible for kids in Spanish. My heroes were David, Nuh and Job.
When I was eleven, I prayed every night. Sometimes, I cried while speaking to God. In my adolescence, I fell into drugs until a crisis at twenty one years of age. I have always been searching for the truth.
At twenty four years I began to pray more, so I was praying twenty four times a day, one for Our Father, Two Ave Maria, One Credo and One Glory; under the water in the shower bowing on my knees under cold water (that was because there was no warm water). This I did for a whole year. But that didn't help me too much, but God knows better.
In the beginning of last year, I was studying the Mayan codices, the Atlantis, the pyramid of Kufu, and at the same time I was studying the Arabic language just to know what the lyrics of the Arabic songs meant.
I began to study the Arabic language on my own, with the help of a book from the internet. In two weeks I could speak something, so when I made a test in college the teacher elevated me to the second level. I saved four months alhamdulillah, then I got into university; but I just took two classes. However, I stayed in contact with my teacher, through e-mails.
In the book fair, my mom took two little books for free about Islam. I read them, and the subjects of science mentioned in the Quran, seemed very interesting to me. And, I read about Muhammad and I felt that person was a model for me.
So, one day I left smoking and drinking. I never was a drunkard, but I left completely whatever was related to alcohol. That was my own decision, and I never thought of being a Muslim until the day I said my Shahadah.
I thought of buying a Quran to read something in Arabic and that way, learn faster. My teacher told me that I could get one for free, in the mosque of Palermo (Buenos Aires).
On the same day, I went to the mosque, just to ask for a Quran and I wondered how such a great place could be so empty. I understood that Argentina is not an Islamic country but that this mosque was the greatest in Latin America.
That day in the mosque a man, who would later become my brother in Islam - Ibrahim, gave me a link to the Quran that I could download from the internet, I later printed it. It was just an hour, and I had the Quran.
I was reading this Quran that I downloaded from the internet, and I printed some pages. The Quran I got was in Arabic and Spanish, that way I could read it in Arabic directly.
Since my childhood I have read the whole Bible twice, and the Gita from India also twice, and now I had the Quran to read, and much better, in Arabic. My first desire was to learn Arabic, but my soul awakened when I began to read the Quran. Maybe it was better because I began to read it in Arabic directly, while I was consulting a dictionary.
Alhamdulillah, I could realise that what the Quran says was the parts that were missing in the Bible. And I remember well, I understood as well when I read it that all that the Quran says could perfectly be the truth I was looking for.
No one spoke to me about Islam, just the searching of the truth that God put in me, led me there. The thankfulness to God I have is very great. The more I read the Quran, the more I realised the book was a revelation from God like the Bible.
Since then, I began to go to the mosque and in two weeks I said the Shahadah, on the 14th of July. Because, I was sure that Muhammad was a messenger of God, like Jesus or Moses.
So, I began to read everything I found about Islam and began to study Arabic in the mosque. I read about aqeedah (creed), tawhid (Oneness of Allah), and I finished the Quran but in Spanish, because I wanted to read everything as fast as I could.
In the two weeks before I said the Shahadah, I was going to the mosque to learn, and I felt that the place was full of peace. I prayed with the Muslims there while I wasn’t a Muslim yet, but I wanted to know how it feels to prostrate in front of God, because I knew that intention was important for God.
So, in two weeks, I learned the whole salah (Prayer). I knew special people there, the people that work there.
I love the Arabic language and I ask God to help me learning it faster. I said the Shahadah with sheikh Nasir from Saudi Arabia; he was there in place of sheikh Hamid.
I continued going to the mosque and then came Ramadan, which was a beautiful experience. I got to know beautiful people and I think that 2007 was my best year. Since I said the Shahadah, I haven't missed a salah.
What was difficult to me was to leave girls, because I had a girlfriend, but I knew that it wouldn't have worked. So, I left her and asked God to grant me a good wife.
I remember that was the first thing I asked God for. And I got to know a woman, the same week I said the Shahadah! She never had any boyfriend, and she was beautiful too. So, I see what God can do. I always have been an obstinate believer, but now, I have no doubts.
I told my mother and father that I now was a Muslim. My mother was a little afraid, but I began to treat my parents better. My brothers didn't say anything, just, a few jokes but I am more of a joker than them, so that was nothing.
I got a job and in my first day I asked my boss for a place to pray, which was not a problem alhamdulillah. So, my life changed to the better, because I began to smile more, and try to act good with everybody.
I continued going to the mosque whenever I could, but since I took college up again, and got a better job, I hardly find time to go. But, I take some books to read like Sahih Muslim.
The reaction of my friends was funny. Alhamdulillah, I always had very good friends, all types of friends; because I always like to learn from everybody. My best friends are Catholic, and practice their religion. They go to mass every Sunday and even more since I became Muslim.
I answered all the questions that they asked. Until this day they have a lot of questions, especially my best friend and his wife, she is from Brazil, and they are Adventist. Also, my other friend who has strong faith; he and his wife are Catholic.
I ask God to help me be an instrument of his religion, to guide my parents and friends but I must not be sad for them, it's fate.
Moreover, my youngest brother (I am the big brother) is agnostic. He thinks that I am very bad. I pray for my family. My mom cooks to me without ham. But I have to say that I oppose some things in my family, but what can I do?
I love God; this love is stronger than the love for my family. I love Prophet Muhammad, and I have to love him more than anybody on this earth to be a true believer. And I love this religion, this din, because the best I can do is to adore God.
Actually, I got everything I could ever dream of: I got the best job that I could have, and I am studying again, and preparing my marriage with that girl that God brought in to my life.
Mariano Ricardo Calle works with Mostafa Mohye, Manager of New Muslims Projects in Spain and Latin America, at conveying Islamic Message Society in Egypt