An Austrian Scientist Discovers Islam

By Amina Islam 
October 26, 2005
Born 1953 in the town Linz in Austria, I spent my
childhood in Munich (Germany) until we moved to
Salzburg (Austria) when I was 16 years old. I grew up
in a conservative Christian way. My parents are strict
Protestant Christians, which believe in the Bible and
pray to Jesus as son of God. They educated me to keep
a high standard of morals and ethics.

After I had finished high school, I started to study
biology and in parallel, to work in a half-day job,
both at the university of Salzburg.

Since I did not participate in any Christian
activities of the Protestant church, my parents
arranged for me to get in touch with an evangelic free
church, the Baptist community (a very big and powerful
Christian church in the USA). I became an active
member and even a leader of a student group. I studied
the Bible several times and believed in the dogmas of
Jesus being son and part of God, and of the salvation
of all people and the reconciliation with God only by
his death on cross. At this time, I didn’t scrutinize
the Bible carefully enough to recognize that this was
not taught by Jesus in his gospel. But some years
later, still in the same community, I was beginning to
have my doubts and I could no longer accept this
foundation of Christian faith and religion, which
contradicted my reasoning. Although I was repeatedly
told that this is God’s mystery and a matter of faith
and not of intellect, I insisted that I could only
believe that Jesus is a human being and a prophet with
a special relation to God, who demonstrated the right
way to God by his life and teachings.

I got married with a man from the Baptist church and I
finished my studies achieving the doctorate. Two
children and a divorce later I left the Baptist
church, also due to my doubts concerning the
foundation of Christianity.

I had to search for a full time job, since I was alone
responsible for my children, but al-hamdu lillah I got
a very good employment in research and student
teaching in my field at the university of Salzburg. I
was content to earn my own money to ensure financial
independency from all other people.

I got married a second time and I started to deal with
esoteric philosophies. I was still in search of truth.
The second marriage was again turning into a disaster
and I was divorced a second time. Similar as in the
first case, the reason for divorce was that my husband
took advantage of my position, money and my desire for
harmony. He didn’t support me with any financial,
practical or even psychological help or care for the
children. But at this time, I was already independent
with a sound basis in my life: I had a position as
university professor and great responsibility for my

Since I had not found happiness in my private life,
but was constantly overloaded with double work, job,
children and household, I suffered form exhaustion
depressions for some years. I only kept going in life
due to my children and my work.

After the second divorce I lived together with a much
younger man for 9 years without being married, as it
is usual in the western world. When he left me for a
younger woman, I started to re-arrange my life as
single, without expecting to find a man again. I had a
good job, grown-up children, a nice apartment, a car,
and hobbies like mountain climbing or skiing and did
not miss anything in practical life. I could stand on
my own two feet. But I was not giving up the search of

My knowledge about Islam at this time was only a bad
prejudice generated by Christians and the media. I
never got in contact with the religion and I didn’t
want to get in touch with people from this—how it
seemed to me—“frightening and rigid” religion.

This was the situation in September 2002, when I was
persuaded by a friend to spend a week of holidays in
an all-inclusive hotel. We had to book a last-minute
flight and found a very cheap offer for Egypt. My
intention was to relax, to return to my inner balance
and maybe came closer to the truth. The only affair I
was not at all interested in, was to meet a man.

It was on the first evening in the very beautiful
hotel and I went to the buffet for dinner, when I saw
Walid for the first time, a cook in the hotel and my
later husband. When our eyes met, I fell in love.
Walid told me later that the same happened to him. We
didn’t communicate for two more days until Walid
started writing letters. One of the first suggestions
he proposed to me was that we should marry. The rest
of the week I couldn’t make up my mind for my
prejudices and many doubts in my head or for the deep
affection in my heart. Then I returned home to Austria
with not more than the handy number of one of his
friends. I realized soon that the apparent barriers
due to the differences between us (age, culture,
religion, education and language) existed only in my
head. This was the opinion of the society but not my
own experience. I planned to return to Egypt two
months later to give our love a chance. The only real
problem was the poor communication.

Allah started now visibly guiding my life. Some days
after my return to Austria, a woman from Egypt started
working as guest scientist in my institute for the
duration of one year. Two weeks later I began to visit
an Arabic language course at the university offered by
a professor from Egypt. Being good Muslims they taught
me both a lot about Islam, their culture and the
Arabic language, which I intended to learn for better
communication with Walid.

Interested to know more about Islam, I bought many
books and a good Qur'an translation (from Murad
Hofmann, a German ambassador, who converted to Islam
earlier). I was amazed how good my idea of God and the
world was reflected by the holy Qur'an. I found
extensive conformity with the “old testament” and in
the “new testament” with the gospel of Jesus, but
without the church-made dogma that Jesus is regarded
as son of God.

At my second visit in Egypt, I found out that Walid is
a very serious man from a large family of farmers,
which we visited together. On the first evening, we
married with a local but not international contract
(Orfi), which protected us at least against the police
and fulfilled the Islamic law that no common activity
should be carried out between man and woman outside
marriage. After this trip I traveled three more times
to Egypt, until we could officially marry in Cairo,
and again two more times until we had the visa for
Walid. Now he could come with me to Austria, more than
one year after we met the first time.

During this year I gradually learned things about
Islam by reading books and by the help of my Muslim
friends in Austria. Surprisingly I was also contacted
by the Cairo University as a referee of a thesis work.
Under the several Egyptian scientists, whom I met from
now on each time when I visited Egypt, I won one good
Muslimah as a close friend. I was impressed that many
Muslims including young people—even those who are not
very strict in their religion—speak openly and
respectfully about Allah and Islam.

As soon as my husband came to Austria, we contacted
the mosque in Salzburg and I received and bought more
books. Two of them, the book of Maurice Bucaille
“Bible, Qur'an and Natural Sciences”, which proves
that all scientific statements in the holy Qur'an are
in consents with the latest research, and the “Gospel
of Barnabas”, where Jesus announces the prophet
Muhammad and refuses to be revered as God, opened my

The holy Qur'an confirmed not only my idea about God
and the world, but all his statements, e.g. about
natural sciences, did obviously not contradict the
reality. I was allowed and even encouraged to use my
logic! I discovered that Islam is not a new religion,
but a “re-animation” of the roots and the essential of
the old religions of the Jews and Christians, with the
first Muslim Abraham as the father of all monotheistic
religions and with the same prophets, including Jesus.
The last prophet Muhammad—not accepted by the other
religions—was used by Allah to repeat the old truth
again and to announce new regulations. The holy Qur'an
must be God’s revelation and Muhammad his messenger!
If this is the truth and I believe this, I have to
accept the holy Qur'an as a whole including the law. I
hesitated to make the step of conversion to Islam
only, because I knew that this implies to keep the
rules, accept restrictions for my life (e.g. no
alcohol, no pork) and behave in a way not
contradicting the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah [editor's
note: Sunnah means the collection of the Prophet's

At the beginning of the past Ramadan 2004, Walid asked
me, whether I wanted to do the last step and convert.
I accepted to make this in my house. We invited
several brothers and sisters and I spoke the shahadah
[editor's note: shahadah means Testimony of Faith]. I
had already learned how to pray and started praying as
regular as possible. Of course, I was fasting in

I am very happy to belong to the Ummah of Muslims
[editor's note: Ummah means nation]. I try to grow in
faith for Allah and knowledge about Islam and to
fulfill the law as good as possible.

Still two major problems are left. Although my parents
know my opinion about Islam, I cannot tell them that I
am converted. They are old and sick and the truth
could do harm to them. The other problem: I cannot yet
wear a veil in work and in areas, where I am known.
Although in Austria Islam is an accepted religion, the
society has problems to accept Muslims and especially
the veil as symbol. Due to my public duties I would
get many disadvantages and problems in work, affecting
especially my working group in the university.

On the other side, I use each opportunity to talk
about Islam. I try to live as a good Muslimah, to
practice Islam and give a good example.

Allah finally helped me to find the right way in my
search of the truth, al-hamdu lillah. 


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