I now continue writing about my pre-Shahadah experiences with religion. Including this post, there are three more entries before I finally get back to writing about my early experiences in Islam.
For a brief short period of my life, I spent some time in the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. My first experience with the Mormons was first when I visited a friend in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City is the capital of the Mormon Church so I was a bit taken back when I visited this city as a teenager. When I returned home, several weeks later some Mormon missionaries visited my parents house. They were interesting and quite polite so I spoke to them (One good quality of Mormons are their politeness and it is probably big factor in the large conversions around the world to the religion). The community is also very well educated. This was my last year in high school so I did not get to meet them.
I joined the US Marine Corps Reserves fresh out of high school in July, 1990, nearly a week before Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. I attended boot camp in November of that year and met some Mormons in my platoon. We bonded and next thing I know I was attending the Mormon services. Next thing I know I was baptized and a Mormon. Upon reflections, I felt this was a bit fast because I never got to really focus on learning the theology of the religion. Still, at the time I enjoyed the freedom of services on Sundays. After boot camp I finally attended a the LDS church in Tennessee. I had made several friends who were Mormons but while I was training in Tennessee, another fellow Marine gave me some reading materials about the Mormons. It opened my eyes, I realized I never really understood the theology of the religion, I joined because of the community.
I made it back to Seattle and started to attend the University of Washington. There was a local Mormon church right next to campus so I attended but the Bishop noticed I was questioning the religion. I had many theological issues but I will not discuss them here. By mid-1991, I stopped attending services and no longer considered myself a Mormon.
The LDS never gives up hope though. Once a month I would get a visit by some members of the LDS which is normal when a “member” becomes inactive. This went on until about 1995 at which point they knew they could not answer my questions.
I could talk about what I disliked about Mormons but I do not think it is necessary. They are a great community. It was just their theology that I did not agree with. If it had not been for Mormons, I probably would not be a Muslim today. It was during my study of Mormonism that I finally studied Christianity. Eastern Orthodoxy really interested me and the next thing I know I was visiting the Russian Orthodox Church in Seattle. It was the experience that eventually led me to Islam.
I will save that for the next post.