"And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah make His Signs clear to you: That you may be guided." (Qur'an, 3:103)
In part 1 I chronicled the first half of my journey. Now read on for the rest.
Arrival in Makkah
After a short interlude to drop our bags off at the hotel and decipher the a/c controls, we hurried along the crowded streets to the holiest site in Islam. When I try to remember it, the whole experience feels like a vivid dream.
Excitement had returned to my party, and brought with it shortness of breath and a slight tightening of the throat. We were all grinning like idiots, and were doing all we could to stop ourselves pushing and running towards our ultimate target.
My friends were due to pick me up from my house at 11am. I'd packed everything the night before (mainly jubbahs and suntan lotion). My passport was in the top draw of my bedside table along with my plane tickets, tucked safely away in a brown envelope. About an hour before my friends were scheduled to arrive, they called me to let me know they were running on time. I calmly went over to open my bedside table draw and... confusion.
There were phone bills, bank statements, some old photos and a passport-sized empty space. Where could my documents be? I had been very careful with them and vividly remembered checking and double-checking the night before. I opened the drawer below: nothing but receipts and warrantee cards. All of a sudden this wasn't looking so good.
Born and raised on the mean streets of New Jersey, Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale was only 3 years old when his Muslim parents were murdered in front of him. Brought up by his grandmother he followed in the footsteps of his cousin and older brother and took to selling drugs out on the streets to earn a living. After getting arrested on his first day out on the block he decided to try and find another hustle, another way to make money, so he turned to writing raps.
After travelling to L.A. he was introduced to Tupac Shakur who asked him to join his rap group Outlawz as â€˜Napoleonâ€™. Alongside the other Outlawz - which included Kadafi, Kastro, EDI and Hussein - Napoleon appeared on over 40 million records sold worldwide.
My journey to Egypt was the first time I had ever set foot in an Islamic country, and because I had recently become a Muslim, I went there with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
Would it live up to my expectations or was I in for a horrible let-down? Arabs are famous for their generosity and hospitality, but Iâ€™d also been told scare-stories of tourists whoâ€™d been duped into being parted with their money. I travelled with two brothers: one Malaysian and one Filipino.
Baba Ali (real name Ali Ardekani) has become an Internet phenomenon. He is the co-founder of Ummah Films, and his series of videos on YouTube, 'The Reminder' and 'Ask Baba Ali', have been watched by hundreds of thousands of people.
Ummah Films seems to use entertainment to reach out to the masses who usually do not attend lectures or services at the mosques to learn about Islam. Baba Ali can now be seen on the Islam Channel and has been a guest at many Islamic conferences around the world.
The Revival caught up with him at a recent event for an exclusive interview...
So how did you get the idea for Ummah Films?
The Story of One Man's Journey from Weed to Islam
By Abdullah bin Islam
Yes, I've smoked weed. I've blazed white widow, purple haze and terrible home-grown. I've had bongs, hot-boxes and I've pulled whiteys. I've bought Ounces, Henry's and a few mint leaves wrapped in a load of tinfoil. I've taken exams while high. I've sat down on the side of the road at the dead of night, trying to get control of my balance so I can get home and sneak upstairs without waking my parents. I've trekked halfway across London to pick up a tens, because all my regular dealers had ran out because it was Notting Hill Carnival weekend. I've boasted about being high-grade and looked down on people who couldn't smoke more than one spliff without their face turning green.
All Muslims know that alcohol is Haram (forbidden). Even if they do actually drink themselves, they know they are committing a sin. But the same is not always true of cannabis. "Man made beer, God made weed. I know who I trust," is what they might say. "It doesn't have any bad side-effects, it helps me relax and when I'm smoking I think really deeply about things." Is there any truth to these statements? Is weed really a harmless drug? Shouldn't the government legalise it? Didn't they already make it legal a couple of years ago? Is cannabis even forbidden in Islam?
By Yaqub Bell & Alveena Salim
The Revival team had exclusive backstage passes at the swanky Excel Centre in London at the Global Peace and Unity Event in November 2007. We met up, collected our passes, went backstage and decided against sampling the tasty strawberryâ€™s dipped in the chocolate fountain in case we smeared chocolate all over our tops and looked like fools when interviewing the performers.
After the short but sweet press conference the organisers arranged some interviews for The Revival. We interviewed a number of performers including the US based Nasheed group Seven8Six. The talented singing group consists of Shahaab Quraishi, Omar Razzacki, Zafar Razzacki, Muhammad Saadullah (Saad), and Muhammad Saeedullah (Saeed).
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) successfully united the warring tribes of Arabia and built a new social system that would go on to form the basis of an Empire, the like of which had never been seen before. This was only within the 23 years since he received his first revelation from Allah (swt), and ten years after he had emigrated from Mecca to Medina with the rest of his followers. Allah (swt) judged that his work had now been done, and so the Prophet (pbuh) began to near his death.
Sa'id ibn 'Abd Allah related from his father that as the Prophet (pbuh) became more ill, the people of Medina gathered around the Mosque. Al-Abbas (ra), al-Fadl (ra) and Ali (ra) entered to tell him that they were outside. He stretched out his hand and said