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Yusuf Estes’ Journey to Islam

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.”

Yusuf ESTES 3
The Life of Yusuf Estes

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:

There was a time in my life when I was deeply involved with Christianity, but that changed when I discovered errors in the Bible. These errors made me doubt the Bible and Christianity. So, I expanded my research beyond Christian denominations to explore Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and even Native American beliefs. However, none of these religions resonated with me. Surprisingly, I had never seriously explored Islam during that period. I had not conducted any research on Islam, nor had I met any Muslims, until I met my Egyptian friend.

Allah Had Other Plans for This Encounter

Yusuf Estes Sohbet
Yusuf Estes

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.

This person, whose name I found out was Mohammed, was dressed normally and behaved normally, like anyone else. He did not even have a long beard. On the contrary, he seemed to be a nice man in appearance and personality. Seeing him so calm, polite and quiet, I immediately said, I bet I can turn him into a Christian.

But in this encounter, Allah had other plans.

I Intended to Save Him

Travels of Yusuf Estes

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.

I had grown fond of this man and was determined to save him. I saw the potential in him to be a good Christian. Since the day I dedicated my soul to Jesus, converting a Muslim to Christianity would have been an extraordinary experience for me. I was becoming more and more certain that this could happen. I had no idea about what lay ahead.

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.

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

Yusuf Estes

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.

It seemed to me that this Muslim man was living more like Jesus than Christians were. He never drank alcohol, lied, cheated, or made women uncomfortable. On the contrary, when a woman came near him, he would lower his gaze. As I got to know him, I began to think that if Jesus were here, he would act just like this man, he would be like him. On one hand, I was thinking about how to turn him into a Christian because he could have been a saint; he was such a kind person. But at the same time, I was also thinking about how to be like this man.

Different Versions of the Bible

Incilin Farkli Halleri

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.

After all, he was a trustworthy person, and we could host him with peace of mind. At that time, a friend of mine who was a Catholic priest also needed a place to stay. I asked my father if we could accommodate Muhammed and another guest, and my father agreed.

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.

The discussion on which Bible was accurate lasted longer than their attempts to convert Muhammed. Observing this, Yusuf Estes turned to Muhammed and asked how many different versions of the Quran existed in the 1400 years since it was revealed. Muhammed replied that there was only one Quran in the world, and it remained unchanged in its original form. Not a single word had been lost or altered. He emphasized that it had never been changed and could never be changed.

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:

Örneklerle açıklamaya çalıştık ama hiçbir örnek bizi desteklemiyordu, sonra biz ona sorduk. Bu oldukça basit, diyerek daha sonra öğreneceğim İhlâs suresini okudu ve açıkladı:
Say: Allah is One. Allah is samad and everything is dependent on Him and He is dependent on no one. He is unborn and unbegotten. And nothing is equal to Him.” We were just stunned because his argument was so strong.

I Had Never Thought About It Before

Bugune Kadar Hic Dusunmemistim

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.

One day, he said to me, ‘If your religion is better than mine, I will embrace your religion. If my religion is better than yours, you will embrace mine.

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:

Muhammed told me that, as a priest, I should be able to prove the existence of God. I was shocked because I had never thought about the evidence for anything in my entire life. Who could provide an answer to such a question? He was right; I couldn’t answer. Then Muhammed recited Ayat al-Kursi from the Quran and explained its meaning. Allah, there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence. He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent. We were left speechless because his argument was so strong.

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

Yusuf Estes

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:

This is not between you and me, or between you and your wife, or between your friends and your father. It is a matter between you and Allah, and you need to talk to Him. After this conversation, I walked out and prostrated in the direction my Muslim friend used to pray. I had only one thing to say to Him: ‘O Allah, guide me.’ At that moment, I felt the presence of Allah in my heart. Excited, I went back inside and told my friend Muhammed, ‘I want to be a Muslim.’

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:

Islam has never been spread by sword or force; it has been spread by the heart. And that Egyptian man touched our hearts with his behavior, kindness, generosity, and the beautiful advice he gave us, most importantly, his unwavering commitment to his Lord…

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.

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