‘Spread the message to other Swedes’: My journey from atheism to Islam

Alexander Svensson, Sweden
Mahmud mosken Malmo
Jorchr | Wiki Commons

My name is Alexander Svensson and I am a 26-year-old convert from Sweden. I accepted Islam Ahmadiyyat on Jalsa Salana UK 2023 and I wish to share my story in the hope of inspiring anyone out there who might need it. In order to do so in the best possible way, I will try to break down the main events of the journey itself, my thoughts at the time of these events, as well as my own analysis of what effect they might have had on the development and progress of my beliefs when looking back at the journey today.

Early stages of my search for the truth

I grew up in a family without any belief whatsoever. The only religious connection I can see my parents having is that they were baptised in church as well as celebrating Christmas and Easter, though all of this was done traditionally rather than religiously. Naturally, growing up as a child in an environment of disbelief and being told that religious texts are fairy tales, is going to apply to my own beliefs as well. Do not get me wrong, my parents are incredibly loving and caring. I love them with all my heart and I know that they did the best possible parenting they could with the ways they knew and the experiences they had at the time.

As I was getting into my teenage years, I was starting to question our existence more and more. These are common existential questions that we all ask ourselves, more or less, like “What is the purpose of life?” and “What happens after death?” Even though most people have these thoughts, I think they probably occupied and bothered me more than most people. I have always been a deep thinker in a way that I easily get caught up in over-analysing the smallest details. At this point in my life, I did not appreciate that trait about myself like I do today. Nowadays, this applies on a more objective and philosophical level but at that age and in this society, you easily get caught in the trap of wanting to fit in. This, in combination with the feeling that I was a bit different-minded from an average Swede, had me over-analysing my behaviour in comparison to theirs, leading to more insecurity and feeling even more different. I also had a hard time expressing my thoughts and feelings, and even though I had a lot of friends, all of this made it very difficult for me to connect with people on a deeper level. From the perspective I have today, I believe that this has been key for me to find Allah. While the people around me found their meaning in life in their family and friends, my search had to continue.

Becoming an adult, I was still stuck searching for answers in worldly things. I was of the impression that modern science had proven religions wrong and thereby made them obsolete, and because of that, they were not worth looking into. I think this, unfortunately, is the case with a lot of people in today’s day and age. I do not know who to blame for this other than all the ignorant people of faith we can see today, who spread lies about, for example, Adamas being the first human being rather than the first divinely guided human being and Christians claiming that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat. Beliefs of this kind are so widespread amongst the believers in the world today that non-believers casually dismiss religion without doing any research of their own, thinking these are the true teachings when actually, they are mere wrongful interpretations applied to religions over time by misguided people. It was not until I learned that Islamic science and modern science are completely aligned that I found interest in learning more about the religion, but before I got to that point, there was another stage of my search that I believe to have played a big part.

I moved out of my parents’ home at the age of 18 or 19. When analysing this today, I think moving out at this early age might have been crucial for my progress in finding Allah. I think that this limited the influence my family had on me, enabling me to start thinking more for myself.

At this point, I started to notice more of what was happening around the world, the warmongering of the great powers and the rise of the influence and power of corporations over governments and nations. I started noticing the evil in the world. I also noticed that what we hear and see on the news often does not correspond with what is happening. This made me determined to find out what the people in power are actually doing and what they are trying to hide, and without going into detail on what I learned, I can confidently say, in the hope of not sounding too cynical, that the world today is mostly under the sway of true evil, an evil that I today, without any doubt, can define as “Shaitan”.

I remember a discussion I had with a couple of friends back in 2020 about religion. I do not remember in detail what we discussed, but one of my friends said something that I think I will never forget. Something very simple, yet containing a lot of wisdom. He said, “If there is evil in the world, there is also good.” This may seem like something obvious to many people, but in a world where bitterness and hopelessness are increasing, and to people who personally experience this to some degree, I believe this can be a great eye-opener. 

How I found spirituality through science

Later on, I discovered quantum mechanics, which intensely caught my curiosity and when I find interest in something, I tend to go pretty deep. I will try my best to describe why this has affected my progress towards believing in God. For those who are not acquainted with quantum mechanics, it is the most advanced field in physics. In simple terms, it is the study of the behaviour of subatomic particles, which is not at all in correspondence with the other laws of physics as we know them. Quantum mechanics has proven that particles behave differently while being observed than when they are not being observed. And apparently, how they behave seems to be random to the human mind so through probability calculations, physicists try to predict the behaviour of the particles. So basically, merely looking at an object impacts the behaviour of the particles in that object, implying that the particle itself has an awareness that it is being watched. Albert Einstein is one of the pioneers in the area, although he was somewhat critical of it since even he did not understand it (which says a lot), as no human is properly able to and probably never will be able to do. He famously said: “If quantum theory is correct, it signifies the end of physics as a science,” describing the absurdity of it concerning the established laws of physics we have discovered over the last few centuries. As famous chemist Louis Pasteur once said, though not regarding quantum mechanics, but still highly relevant to the subject, “A little bit of science distances you from God, but a lot of science brings you closer to Him.”

By researching this, I also learned that through quantum mechanics and string theory (a more recent theory of particle physics that operates within the quantum realm), the concept of higher dimensions above the three dimensions that we all know of (four when time is considered a dimension) has been theoretically proven. Some studies suggest ten or eleven, and others suggest as many as 26 dimensions. I have always been good with logical thinking, and I have, up until this point, always perceived our world as purely logical. So it was when I learned about all of this, which is illogical (at least to the human mind), that my eyes and my mind for the first time, opened up to the possibility of a spiritual realm connected to the world that we live in. After having this worldview-breakthrough, my development of faith became very intensified. I started connecting things happening in my everyday life to my understanding of this spiritual realm. Things like, when you think about something happening and the exact same thing happens right next to you the very next moment, or when you say something to a friend and they say, “I was just thinking about that exact same thing,” or when you call someone on the phone and they say, “I was just about to call you.” These kinds of things happen way too frequently to be mere “coincidences,” and all of this made me understand that everything in this world is connected, one way or another. But I still had not yet gotten to the point where I understood that the “thing” connecting everything is Allah, as I know Him today.

I remember having a conversation with my mother. This was early 2021 and I was 23 years old at the time. I told her for the first time that I had come to believe in something spiritual. I remember using both God in the singular and gods in the plural in my effort to describe it, which is kind of self-explanatory of my confusion at the time. I will not forget the look on her face while I was trying to describe it, probably thinking this was the last thing she thought I would ever say.

A couple of months later, I saw a movie on TV about the life of Jesusas from a Christian perspective. This movie had a profound effect on me and it even brought me to tears. The very next day, I started reading the Bible for the first time in my life. Since then, I started seeing cues around me much more frequently, to the point where I feel certain that “someone” or “something” is trying to tell me something, and I tried to interpret these cues as some form of guidance, which I tried to follow if possible. However, at this point, I am still not able to connect these cues directly to God.

Getting to know Allah through Islam

Time passed and the progress of my belief slowed back down and remained at more or less the same stage until the middle of 2022 or so. I am still connecting things happening around me to some form of spiritual entity but I am not getting any further in finding out what that entity is. At this point, I happened to come into contact with a Muslim friend who had recently started practising Islam after many years of not practising and we started discussing. I asked some questions about his religion as well as shared some of my thoughts and experiences. He was very eager to inform me and he was very helpful as he gave me many satisfying answers to the questions I had. I had encountered Islam many times in my life but I only knew about some of the obligations and prohibitions of the religion and had never gotten a deeper understanding of it. He explained to me how the New Testament is made out of several Gospels, that there are more Gospels written than those we can find in the Bible today, and that men of power in history with personal agendas have decided which Gospels should be included in it and which should not. Also, he explained how verses have been added, removed and altered. Then he informed me about the philosophy behind some of the prohibitions and obligations of a Muslim, which all made very much sense to me. He also explained that the Quran is the only religious scripture that is still in its original state and he strongly recommended that I start reading it. Finally, he sent me a 60-page document containing nothing but extracts from the Quran with facts about every single scientific field that has only been proven by modern science in the past couple of hundred years. This document, which contained verses from the Quran that can not be rationally explained in any other way than being the word of God, is what sparked my interest in Islam. So, I took my friend’s advice and started to read the Quran.

I have come to understand that reading the Quran is crucial to getting to know Allah and His attributes. Learning about the science of the Quran, as well as the prophecies made by Prophet Muhammadsa about the end times, which we can see fulfilled to an amazingly great extent today, are the aspects that convinced me that Islam is the truth. After several months of mainly focusing on my studies but also studying Islam in my spare time, I had gathered a solid amount of knowledge about the religion and I was starting to feel ready to become a Muslim.

A quest for True Islam

 I decided to reach out to different mosques in my area in order to learn even more and in the hope of establishing a relationship with the Muslim community. One of the mosques I came in contact with was Jamaat’s Mahmood Mosque in Malmö, Sweden, and this is when I first got to know about Islam Ahmadiyyat. I began visiting different mosques and asking different questions. In addition to learning more, I listened to their different answers to try to see who described Islam in the most accordance with what I had already learned from the Quran and sunnah. I also considered where I felt the most “at home” since my intention was to find a mosque where I wanted to keep coming after my conversion. The people I met in Sunni mosques seemed more interested in making me take the shahadah than informing me of the religion, while the imam I met at Mahmood Mosque, was quite the opposite. This made the conversation with him feel more relaxed and informative to me. He advised me to pray to Allah for guidance, not necessarily in prostration, but to start having a conversation with Him. I think this is very important as well for a non-Muslim who is in search of the truth. He explained the Ahmadiyya Muslim view on what happened with Jesusas, which made a lot more sense to me than what the other imams said. He also told me about who Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas is and what role he plays in the Ahmadiyya belief. 

I spent a lot of time and effort researching the possibility of him being the Messiah, I went through a lot of fulfilled prophecies and other facts about him and his claim and even though there was abundant evidence, I was still not convinced. Then, after seeing the imam a couple of more times, both in the mosque and in video meetings, my perspective began to shift. The turning point came as I dedicated myself to studying the signs and prophecies of the Latter Days. This study, which included a myriad of signs, seemed to align with the unfolding events around me and with the spiritual journey I was on. It was this immersion in the prophecies and a series of personal revelations that led to an overwhelming feeling of spiritual awakening. After this point, everything else started to fall into place. I realised that this journey of understanding and the insights gained from it were the signs I needed. Allah, the Turner of Hearts, had at this point turned my heart towards the truth.

At my next meeting with the imam from Mahmood Mosque, he invited me to come with him to Jalsa Salana UK and without making any promises, he said that he would try to get me a meeting with the Caliph while we were there. At the time, I understood that getting a meeting with him was a pretty big deal. But from the perspective I have now, I did not understand how big of a deal it actually was, but still, I was very much looking forward to it.

I had a couple of months from the time of the invitation to the day of the flight to London. Although I did not decide that I was going to accept Islam during Jalsa, I thought that there was a possibility that I might. I had a lot of insecurities going through my mind when I thought about becoming a Muslim. One thought in particular held me back and was really bothering me for a long time and that was, “How will I, who have grown up with western, secular values and behaviours, be able to become a good Muslim?”. Eventually, I had a dream in which a being, which I think might have been an angel but I am not sure, showed me a huge staircase with every step of the stairs being very, very tiny. After seeing this dream, those insecurities almost completely perished and I felt much more confident, Alhamdulillah. During these months before Jalsa, I also started praying by prostration and using a prayer mat that I bought. I did not pray five times a day or even proper prayers, but at least I tried to learn the different steps of the prayer and instead of reading the prayer like you are supposed to, I had a sort of conversation with Allah during the steps and each and every time I did this, I was brought to tears.

My Jalsa Salana UK experience

Now moving on to describe the best days of my life, the days where my life would change forever,  the days of Jalsa Salana UK 2023. I arrived in London on Friday morning, and I was warmly welcomed at the airport by an Ahmadi on duty. He arranged for me to get picked up and get a ride to my hotel, which Jamaat so kindly provided for me. The Ahmadis on duty were always incredibly helpful and whatever I had on my mind, they would always be available and willing to help me. Once I got to the Jalsa area, I met up with the imam that I had been seeing back in Sweden. He guided me through this whole weekend, brought me along with him wherever he went and was always very informative and kind. He introduced me to a lot of different people from all over the world and everyone was very kind and polite. Even though I was very nervous, I enjoyed every second of the experience. The atmosphere was like something from out of this world and I would not be able to describe it in any other way. You could feel Allah’s blessings on the event and I think that is something you have to experience on your own to fully comprehend. I listened to a lot of different interesting speeches, and I had many interesting conversations with people during those days. Visiting Jalsa Salana UK is something that I would recommend everyone do. Whether you are Ahmadi, non-Ahmadi, or non-Muslim, does not matter; in any case, I guarantee you an amazing and unforgettable experience.

On the second day of Jalsa, the imam who accompanied me explained that the next day, there would be a mass-bai‘ah event that would be made by the hand of the Caliph, i.e., the international bai‘at. After explaining it to me, he asked me, “How do you feel about it?” My heart rose, and I thought about it for a couple of seconds before I answered, “I think I might be ready.” He then tried to arrange for me to get entry to the green area, but unfortunately, they told us that it was already full. I, thinking that you needed to be in the green area to participate in the bai‘at, was very disappointed and thought my chance was over, though without expressing my disappointment to anyone. However, later that afternoon, while we were sitting in the office of the imam, who is in charge of the entry cards, he handed me a card on which I could read my name. I will never forget the joy I felt in this moment.

The next day, during the bai‘at, I am mainly focused on trying to hear the words that I am supposed to repeat. However, before and after, my thoughts went to my late ancestors and I, at this very moment, am doing what they currently, in their graves, wish that they would have done. I was thinking that if they were able to see me, they would be proud to see me breaking the curse of disbelief in my family, and I am feeling incredibly grateful and blessed to be one of those whom Allah chose to guide. In the evening, when I got back to the hotel and met the Ahmadis on duty there, I told them, with an unfathomable amount of joy flowing through my body, about doing the bai‘at. They were very happy to hear it, and they embraced me and welcomed me to the Community. Then I went to my hotel room and there I experienced something truly extraordinary. As I was lying down on the bed, scrolling through my social media feed, I saw a video of a beautiful Quran recitation with the translation on the screen, and it started with, “And I have chosen thee; so hearken to what is revealed. Verily, I am Allah; there is no God beside Me. So serve Me, and observe Prayer for My remembrance. Surely, the Hour is coming; I am going to manifest it, that every soul may be recompensed for its endeavour. (Surah Taha, Ch.20: V.14-16) In tears, I went to the comment section to see what Surah this is, and the comments said it was from Surah Taha. I then took my Quran, which I have next to me, planning to look for these verses, and I opened it on the page where I have my bookmark, and on that very page I read, “Surah Taha,” and on the very next page, I saw the same verses that were just recited to me. This was to me a clear sign from Allah and I have saved that video and still watch it in times when I need to motivate myself to always keep going.

My first mulaqat

The next morning, I and the imam went to Islamabad, Tilford, and, Alhamdulillah, I was blessed with a personal mulaqat with Huzooraa. Many people told me how lucky I was to get a personal mulaqat on this day when Huzooraa was extremely busy. We waited several hours before it was my turn, and my mulaqat happened to be the last one before the Zuhr prayer. I was nervous to the degree that I was shivering during the mulaqat. Hazrat Khalifatul Masihaa assigned me a duty to spread the message to other Swedes and to show them “the true meaning of love,” as Huzooraa put it. After about three minutes, the mulaqat was over and it was time for Zuhr prayer behind Huzooraa. And during this prayer, something very special happened to me. I will try my best to describe it, but the experience was beyond words to describe and I also do not remember it with even close to the same clarity that I had during the experience.

It felt like I received information and insights that I did not possess before. I got so much insight about myself and my past. Scenes from events from my past, mostly from difficult times, kind of flashed before my eyes. I kind of re-lived these moments for a second and felt, in my soul, the presence of Allah during these moments, even though I did not believe in Him at these times. And instead of feeling sorry for myself and other negative feelings, like I did before, I felt an indescribable gratitude. Because, what I suddenly understood was that all of those things had to happen in order for me to get to where I am today, and Allah was right there by my side the whole time. I also understood that these events of my past made me evolve and acquire traits and attributes that fit very well with the duty I received from Huzooraa. I have never cried that much in my entire life, but those were not tears of sorrow or sadness. Those were the tears of pure gratitude. After the prayer, the clarity quickly receded, and I only remember a small part of it, but I remember enough to know that it was not the work of any man, Alhamdulillah.

When analysing this today and understanding that this was not a common kind of experience, I think that you who are born Muslims have the obligation to follow your parents’ guidance in the religion and Allah will judge how well you are doing that. But regarding us converts, maybe Allah himself steps in to take a larger responsibility in showing us the way. You who are born Muslims should be very grateful for being blessed with a childhood of faith and for not having to go through the kinds of mistakes, hardships and times of hopelessness that many converts have to go through before they manage to find their faith. Remember to never take your faith for granted and to never be settled in your relationship with Allah, because there is no limit to how good that relationship can become and there is never a guarantee in keeping your faith. Look at how many Muslims go astray these days due to arrogance and worldly priorities. 

Six months later

Skipping ahead to the present time. Alhamdulillah, my family has noticed how my motivation and ambition have risen since becoming Muslim. They have also noticed how I have become more helpful and considerate of the people around me. I feel that my faith just keeps increasing over time. Of course, I have my ups and downs, as everyone probably has, but as a whole, I definitely feel like I am marching in the right direction. I try to take every opportunity I get to serve Allah and Jamaat, and I recently got the chance to serve as Secretary Tabligh for my local Majlis. Even though we live in dark times with a lot of awful things happening around the world, I look at the future with great optimism in a way that I would never be able to without Allah in my life, and I try my best to always be grateful for every little thing in my life. 

May Allah bless you all, and may Allah bless Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya. Amin.

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