There are many who believe that an understanding of history is necessary in order to understand the world around us, why society is the way it is, and, perhaps most importantly, it is necessary to understand our sense of self. Joshua Dunning, a young man in his early thirties is with us today. At first glance, you would not notice him, an unassuming man with shy eyes, a small smile, and tousled brown hair; if you sat next to him on the train or a bus you might simply overlook his presence, but it is his story that serves to make him powerful.
We have heard many different stories of Islam conversion throughout the years, but Joshua’s story is a unique one. He sits languidly back in his chair, “I’m a doctoral candidate in the field of mathematics. I’ve never been particularly religious up until now, but due to recent events I started feeling the need for something more. After a review of the many different faiths in this world, I determined that the Islamic faith was the one that resonated for me. I converted over and have been a believer ever since.”
Dunning continues, discussing his past, starting with the fact that his family did not follow a religious doctrine growing up, “My father was a lapsed Catholic and my mother was a straight agnostic; I would occasionally go to church with friends after sleepovers and things like that, but it was not a large part of my life, and I can’t say as though I ever paid much attention. I didn’t think much about it one way or another, and my knowledge of the different religions was based on that which we learned in school in world history.”
Dunning’s spiritual ambivalence lasted until quite recently, and it was then that he determined a need for faith and started seeking spiritually for answers. He sits back in his chair, frowning slightly as he discusses the reason for his newfound desire to seek a spiritual path, “Within the span of the past year, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and my best friend was killed in a hit and run accident; I started questioning the senselessness of it all. I could not see a scientific pattern behind it all, in spite of looking into chaos theory heavily, and as such; I started searching for other mathematical and statistical possibilities. While I did not find a mathematical answer, I did find out that the majority of mathematicians have been heavily religious, which led me to seek answers on a more spiritual path.”
He pauses, looking inward and thinking back on the place where his journey first began, “I started out with the various branches of Christianity, as a result of the religious paths chosen by my mathematical predecessors, however they did not ring true for me. This led me to look outside of the traditional for my field and brought me to Islam.” He pauses, “I am highly satisfied with my choice of faith; I believe that Allah has sent down the ultimate truth, and I strive to live my life to all of his principles. It was through Islam that I found spiritual understanding for the events that had transpired.”
Joshua blows his hair off of his forehead, leaning back and smiling slightly, “The text of the Quran showed me that there was a simple truth, and that I merely had to accept that truth in order for my life to make sense; there is a logic and a mathematical preciseness to be found within the text, and it was soothing to me on many levels; in addition, the principles by which one should live are logical and practical, characteristics that appeal to me as a mathematician. It afforded me a great sense of peace and allowed me to understand why Allah had placed these obstacles in my path.”
Dunning believes that Islam is the one true religion and has sense converted as a result of the answers he was able to find in the Quran and the sense of peace it has afforded him in a senseless world. Through a careful review of all major world religions, Dunning was able to find the Islamic faith and, from a mathematical perspective was able to determine that this was the religion that made the most sense, appealing not only to his spirituality, but to the deeply ingrained sense of logic he feels, one he is able to find within the Quran as well. In this country, where Islam has often been viewed with negativity, especially within the last several decades, Dunning has not only found Islam, but has converted, serving as an inspiration to us all and working to strengthen our faith in a wavering world.
While one does not often look to mathematics as a determining factor for the spiritual, Joshua’s story of conversion is able to teach us that Allah works through all forms and methods, even those that may at first seem to have no connection to religion or spirituality. It is these stories that serve to provide us with strength, indicating that, as always, Allah is alive and well in the world today.