How Did I Recognized Islam? | Dr. Gerald Derges Life Story 01

Posted By on December 5, 2019


hey my name is dr. Gerald Dirk’s and I’m
from the state of Kansas in the United States as far as my biography goes I’m
the oldest of two children raised and born and raised in the state of Kansas
as far as my education I have a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College
Harvard University a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School Harvard
University a Master of Arts in child clinical psychology from the University
of Denver and a doctorate in psychology in clinical psychology from the
University of Denver I was raised in a small rural town a close knit family my
mother was a registered nurse and my father was a laborer who did assembly
work yeah I was the older of two children I had a younger brother my
younger brother was a college graduate double major and worked office work
until his death it was a positive family life it was a good life I had good
parents a very warm and special memories of my paternal grandfather who lived on
a farm only about ten miles from my hometown and and he was an extremely
warm and loving individual would get out and play baseball with me and this sort
of thing so I was very close to my grandfather well I was actually born in a town about
seven miles from where I was raised the town where I was raised it was a small
rural town about 500 people when I was growing up as a child and it was a
different world than we have today in America this was a world where people
didn’t lock their doors at night people might go on vacation for a week or two
and not lock the door to their house it was that sort of a community was an
indifferent student until I was in the sixth grade and when I was in the sixth
grade I finally realized wait a minute there are some things I can do that
my fellow classmates have difficulty doing and at that point I started
applying myself well after I received my doctor and I
worked in the field of clinical psychology both in terms of research and
the areas of psychosomatic medicine but also in the performance of psychotherapy yes I enjoyed my work well I suppose one would have to say
many many years before I became a Muslim my first introduction to Islam was
during my freshman year at Harvard when I took a course in comparative religion
from the late Wilfred Cantwell Smith whose area of specialty was Islam but I
have to confess at the time how I studied Islam along with many other
religions I really didn’t pay a lot of attention to it it seemed so similar at
that time to what was then my own Christianity that I was much more
interested in studying something that was sort of the exotic and very
different from where I was coming from you know I’ve I take Hinduism or
something like that no and I didn’t know any Muslims at that time so to get back
to answering your question many years later my wife and I were raising Arabian
horses and we needed to get some Arabic lodges translated and these are the
testimonials of purity that came with the horses that were brought here in
1906 and at that point we made contact with an Arab Muslim who was living in
Denver Colorado at that time and he agreed to do some translations he came
out to our farm and saw the horses and then he did something very very
wonderful in hindsight as he was getting ready to leave he glanced at his watch
and he said oh I need to pray would it be okay if I used your restroom to wash
and we said sure and he came out from the restroom and he said well would it
be okay if I just unfolded that newspaper on the floor so that I
couldn’t say my prayers and we said of course not
it’s about the course of that meeting he never said anything to us about
I’m a Muslim you’re not or preached to us about Islam but his behavioral
example spoke volumes so that was our introduction to a Muslim and over the
course of the next year Jamal did numerous translations for us and invited
us over to his house for meals we invited them over to our house he
introduced us to probably another half a dozen Muslim families living in Denver
and we began to socialize with these people on a regular basis and in fact
within six months or so we were spending far more time socializing with our new
Muslim friends than we were with non-muslims and over the course of the
time I I was deeply impressed with how I saw these Muslims living their lives you
know how hamdulillah my first contact with the Ummah were shining examples of
how to live Islam and the more I watched them the more I said you know what what
what’s giving them this and so without saying a word to my Muslim friends I
started pulling off my library shelves all the books on Islam that I had from
that course and comparative religion many many years before and I started
rereading them but this time I wasn’t reading them to pass a course this time
I was reading them to try and figure out what made my Muslim friends tick what
made them live the sort of life that they were living and so I exhausted
those books probably about eight books all written by Western scholars on Islam
and then began reading English translations of the Quran and I read
brother Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation I read Marmaduke Pickthall translation
I read another translation I wasn’t a person who was going to rely on just one
translation and the more I read the more I had to ask myself now how do these
beliefs differ from my own because having come out of Harvard Divinity
School and having been an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church
you know I I have been exposed to what the earliest manuscripts of the Bible
said I had been exposed to early church history and as a result of that I did
not believe in a Trinity I did not believe that Jesus peace be upon him was
the son of God in anything more than perhaps a metaphorical sense and so I
started asking myself now wait a minute how are my beliefs different than Islam
and I finally had technically they really weren’t but nonetheless at that
point in time I was unwilling to give up my identity of being a Christian even
though I considered myself to be an atypical Christian and and this went on
then the struggle for several months in fact I recall one incident and a cafe
and Denver that was a caesarian food cafe where the waitress who was an
American Muslim saw that I was reading an English translation of the Quran as I
was waiting for my meal to come and she very nicely said to me are you a Muslim
and I immediately said no and about that strongly in vehement ly
and I said to myself like goodness what what am i doing you know this young
woman asked me a very innocuous question why did I answer it that forcefully was
a psychologist knew that you know I was unconsciously
accusing myself of being a Muslim but I wasn’t willing to change my identity
and so if someone asked me are you a Muslim I developed a long sort of
song-and-dance answer or I would say well if you’re asking me whether I
believe there was only one God my answer is yes and if you’re asking me whether I
believe that Muhammad peace be upon him was a prophet Messenger of God my answer
was yes but I’m not a Muslim I’m in a typical Christian and I kept building on
that Ramadan came and I said to myself well you know all my Muslim friends are
fasting so I’ll fast to before long I was I was doing the five prayers in
English every day but and I found them spiritually rewarding but I still
maintain I was in a typical question now I was in a typical Christian who in
English and said the Shahada who was fasting during Ramadan was reading the
Quran and English translation and was saying the five prayers daily in English
translation but mind you I was found a Muslim so I thought I had it all worked
out you know I can have my cake and eat it too and then my wife and I took a
trip to the Middle East and we were staying at the home of one of our Arab
friends in Colorado and at the home were their aunts and aunt and uncle neither
of whom spoke any English and of course my Arabic was limited to you know so am
I like cumin nom and fine a few simple words and one day uncle I would motion
for me to come with him and he took me to a Palestinian
Jiji camp in Amman Jordan and we got out of the car we started walking down the
narrow lanes and as we were walking on my an elderly gentleman approached from
the other way and came up to us and said Salam and he also spoke no English
and he turned to me at that point and I knew just enough Arabic to understand
his question his question was are you a Muslim and here I was you know I thought
I had it all planned out but the Quran tells us who was the true planner and I
was put into a position where I couldn’t do my long verbal explanation and end up
saying I’m an atypical Christian I was put into a position where I either was
going to say mom or I was going to say Allah and those were the only two
choices I act and alhamdulillah at that point I said mom and and finally
embraced the identity of Islam

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 11 comments

  1. Allah hu Aalaa kulli shai-innkadeer. May Allah Subhanawatala grant you his Rahma and forgiveness and provide you with the best in the world and hereafter. Aameen

    Reply
  2. When Allah calls you, it doesnt matter how young or old you are. If he wants you to convert, you will convert. MashAllah and Alhamdulilah to this man

    Reply

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