In this article, we will explore the journey to guidance of Yusuf Estes, known for his humorous storytelling in his conversations. We will also seek answers to the question, “What should a Muslim be like?” Indeed, he became a Muslim through the exemplary behavior of an Egyptian Muslim he encountered. Let’s delve into the story of Yusuf Estes, who once said,
“While trying to turn a Muslim into a Christian, I found my own path to Islam.”
Before becoming a Muslim, Yusuf Estes, originally named Joseph, was born in 1944 in the state of Texas, USA, into a Christian family. He was baptized and raised as a Christian. Growing up in a family that earned their living through music, he started working in the entertainment and music industry out of necessity and founded his own music studio in Maryland in 1963. Over the next thirty years, he and his father not only established music stores to have fun and make money but also organized television and radio programs and outdoor entertainment events. Joseph was responsible for entertaining children as a clown.
As a young man, he wanted to learn more about his faith, and he even met with representatives of various churches to acquire knowledge from them. He reflects on those days as follows:
Allah Had Other Plans for This Encounter
In 1991, as the calendar marked the year, Yusuf’s father began doing business with an Egyptian Muslim businessman, and he wanted to introduce his son to this person. According to Yusuf, the idea of even meeting Muslims was terrifying, let alone doing business with them. Despite his attempts to dissuade his father from this idea, he failed. He already had a preconceived bias about Islam and Muslims, despite never having met a Muslim before: Muslims were bad people.
With his father’s insistence, Yusuf Estes, along with his wife and two daughters, went to meet with his Egyptian friend. He had prepared himself spiritually for the meeting and was now ready to encounter a Muslim. When he arrived at the company, he asked his father about the person he had mentioned. He was expecting to meet a burly man wearing a turban and a flowing robe, but he was surprised. Instead, he saw a man dressed like everyone else, with no long beard. On the contrary, this person appeared pleasant, both in appearance and demeanor. He seemed calm, polite, and unassuming.
But in this encounter, Allah had other plans.
I Intended to Save Him
Yusuf and Muhammed, the Egyptian, spent a lot of time together during their business trips and began to talk about various topics. Muhammed listened to everything Yusuf said without interrupting, word for word.
During one of their conversations, when the topic turned to the Prophet Jesus, Yusuf Estes was taken aback. The reason was that his Muslim friend told him that Muslims believed in the Prophet Jesus and his miraculous birth. This was astonishing. While other religions did not accept Jesus as a prophet, the Son of God, or believe in his miracles, Muslims claimed to believe in him as well. He said, “We believe he is the son of Mary.” We knew that too. So, with only a minor difference, we believed almost the same thing as Muslims did.
Muhammed’s Good Character
During their business dealings, Yusuf Estes noticed some remarkable qualities in Muhammed. Muhammed prayed five times a day, every day, at the exact prayer times. He would leave everything on Fridays, saying, “I’ll be back within two hours,” get in his car, go to the mosque, perform his prayers, and return. He also observed fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. One of the surprising things was his honesty in business, even acknowledged by Yusuf’s own father.
Different Versions of the Bible
When Yusuf learned that Muhammed would be moving out of his house and temporarily living in a mosque, he went to his father and asked if they could accommodate Muhammed in their home.
Now, a Muslim and two Christians from different denominations were living together in the same house. After dinner, they would engage in conversations about their faiths. They had gathered to convince Muhammed to convert to Christianity. However, the debate about which version of the Bible was accurate extended the conversation. Muhammed had brought his version of the Bible, Yusuf had the Revised Standard Version, and his wife had yet another edition. The priest had the Catholic version.
Everyone was surprised by this information. The conversation grew intense, and they started discussing the concept of God. Muhammed asked them to explain the concept of the Trinity. Yusuf Estes describes the moment:
I Had Never Thought About It Before
When he later recalled these moments, Yusuf Estes realized how much he had pestered and disturbed his friend, constantly trying to convince him to convert to Christianity.
He challenged me to prove that my religion was better. I had to provide evidence. He told me that Islam had proof for everything in the Quran and the Sunnah, but I had no proof; I was just talking. He described this moment like this:
Yusuf Estes said that he was very impressed by his friend’s recitation of the Qur’an, that he enjoyed listening to him and sometimes even cried:
Sometimes I felt like crying, although I didn’t know why.
Egyptian Mohammed presented Islam to Yusuf Estes in a very acceptable way, explaining in simple terms the essentials of Islam and the basics of what we believe in, causing him to question his religion. All that remained was to set an example for Yusuf by living this religion for the sake of Allah.
Islam Spreads Through the Heart
Important things were happening; the time had come. One night, as he was seriously contemplating Islam, Yusuf Estes learned that his friend, the Catholic priest, had become a Muslim. He shared this news with his wife, who revealed that she had also been contemplating the same idea. He wanted to have one more conversation with Muhammed. He asked him all the questions that came to his mind, and Muhammed answered with a smile every time. He was waiting for Muhammed to ask him, “Why don’t you become a Muslim now?” He even asked Muhammed why he hadn’t asked that question yet. Yusuf narrates Muhammed’s response as follows:
Whoever sincerely seeks guidance from Allah in their heart will be guided. After becoming a Muslim and changing his name from Joseph to Yusuf, Estes adds the following note:
Today, living in Washington D.C., Yusuf Estes travels across the United States, connecting with American Muslims, and organizing events with Muslim student and youth organizations. Known as a leader who invites Americans to Islam, he travels the world, trying to convey the messages of the Quran to people.