In 1968 I decided at last, after about a year contemplating it, to become a Muslim. I thought it was a rational thing to do. It was, in fact, an emotional thing. I found what I thought I was missing – companionship: people who seemed interested in me and what I had to say. Instead of being rejected by my peers as being rather weird and old-fashioned I was treated as a person with views and opinions which carried weight. I was flattered and felt worth-while. I felt I had a place where I belonged.
When I looked at the Qur’ān the first time I thought that this was really very detailed and told us almost everything we had to do and to avoid. What an incredible restriction of freedom. And then I rationalised it. If the basic details of life – the everyday decisions were taken care of then this could allow us paradoxically even greater freedom. A train can travel faster than road transport because it doesn’t have to negotiate traffic.
I should, of course, have listened to my first instincts. I am a human being, not a train and negotiating the traffic is what life is all about. I’d rather find my own slow, sure path than hurtle towards lunacy, no matter how amenable the fellow passengers.