Abdurrahman Hegedus was born in 1982 in Hungary and became Muslim 4 years ago. He has been married to Afra Adel for 3 years. He earned a Master and a PhD degree in biological physics at Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest. Since then he has been working as a postdoctoral scientist. While in Budapest, he started to work actively in the HANIF Islam Cultural Foundation, which is devoted to maintaining a Hungarian Islamic community and to inform non-Muslim people about Islam.
If you maintain a good intention, ALLAH will make it easy for you to find the Truth.
Why did you and your wife decide to convert to Islam? Can you explain what motivated you to investigate other religions?
The way from complete heedlessness towards the Light of Islam, by the Mercy of Allah Almighty, is unique for all who embark on this journey. For a Westerner who was born and who had grown up within what was essentially an atheist and materialist atmosphere, however, the process of embracing Islam is usually quite long, and can even take years. In our case, the course towards the acceptance and witnessing of Islam took place like this. The stories of our conversion would probably fill several pages, but certainly there were incidents and decisive turning-points which laid down the traces to be followed along the path.
My wife had grown up as a Christian and attended a high school of the Reformed Church. While she believed in God and was actively seeking contact with Him, she felt a great distraction because of some obscure theological questions, for which she was unable to find a satisfying answer during her studies. At the same time, she was not really certain whether she was able to sincerely worship God in the way she had been taught. The turning point was a trip to Egypt, which, initially, she intended for tourism purposes, but it ended up creating an enthusiasm towards Islamic architecture and calligraphy, in which she had already had an interest when studying art history. These experiences led her to seek more knowledge from books about Islamic Art as well as about Islam itself as religious path; before much time had passed she had gotten in touch with some Muslim sisters in Hungary. She not only discovered the beauty of Islamic Art, which still influences her today, but also the beauty of Islamic behavior, as a reflection of the perfect example of our Beloved Prophet (pbuh). In this way she finally embraced Islam among the sisters in our community (the HANIF Foundation).
As for my personal story, I was an atheist and had not had a religious upbringing. Instead, I had put my entire faith into modern science and having completed my high-school studies I was preparing to dwell deeper into the study of modern physics at university. I had sincerely expected that I would receive answers to the most important questions about human life; but I soon realized that neither the origin nor the purpose of existence, in the sense of a concrete truth, can be really grasped through the theories or ideas presented by science. Subsequently, I came across some books about religions and some of them completely fascinated me; these were directly or indirectly related to Sufism (Tasawwuf), and contained passages and quotes from great sheikhs like Rumi or Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi. Their influence was so overwhelming that I wanted to know more and more about Islam, the Qur’ân and Tasawwuf. The living spirituality of our religion and its crystal clear, undistorted Message led me to surrender to Allah via Islam.
What were your families’ reactions to your conversions?
Right at the outset, after embracing Islam, our families’ reaction was outright objection. This is quite understandable, as what people know about Islam today, which is misrepresented, is that it is widely considered to be a religion associated with violence or terrorism. Naturally, our parents were fearful that we might have entered some obscure sect and would be deviated from the course of a normal life and appropriate morals. They were also afraid that we might be stigmatized because of our religion in society, in our workplace or studies and that other people might treat us with hostility. These objections may have been totally baseless, but from their viewpoint this was quite a natural reaction, as Islam was something truly foreign to them, particularly as far as its outward appearance in religious rites and associated customs were concerned. True, we experienced some hard times with them at the beginning, but Allah Almighty showed us that by keeping to appropriate behavior, as prescribed by the example of Our Prophet (pbuh), by keeping to the Straight Path and showing mercy and patience towards our parents, we would be able to attain the fruits of such actions, sooner or later. Today our relationship is harmonic and peaceful again.
What changes has Islam made in your perceptions of this life and the Hereafter?
First of all, Islam brings to life the perception of the very existence of the Akhirah, something that seems little more than a fairy tale to many people today, even for some with religious backgrounds. Of course, there is a huge difference between merely accepting the belief that we will witness the Day of Judgment and the Next Life and the perception of these in our heart. Embracing Islam is surrendering to this belief; however, we need a transition from this first phase towards sensing it as something that is real, ultimately close, something that is almost here and now. Naturally, it is difficult for us to reach this high level of consciousness, as this is something that pertains to the level of the Awliya, and they are far above us, just as the stars are above the Earth. But certainly we can take some steps towards this perception, especially by reading the Qur’ân and regularly remembering death. At the same time our perception about this life is beginning to change. We gain more certainty about our ephemeral existence and things in this world appear with different values than what appeared before. For example, many worldly things that were pleasant for us have now begun to seem repellent, as we perceive that they turn us away from the Remembrance of the Straight Path and thus they threaten the peace of our heart. Also, we have begun to realize that the world is not solely governed by materialistic effects or causes; Allah is the First Cause, and nothing happens without His Permission.
We used to say that we ‘converted’ to Islam. But the word ‘conversion’, in its true sense entails the conversion of everything in our perception, tracing it back to the root of the Absolute Truth, thus revealing their real worth. And as some wise men would say: there is only one conversion: Conversion to Reality. May Allah allow us to achieve this profound change in our lives.
How is Islam perceived in Hungary?
Hungary is a country of 10 million inhabitants, while there are only about 30,000 Muslim people. The number of native Muslims is even less; there are approximately 5,000 Hungarian brothers and sisters. These numbers already suggest that Islam is not a widely circulated topic in Hungarian daily life. In fact, most Hungarian people are not familiar with Islam at all and the little they know usually originates from the media and the press. But, in spite of such misrepresentations of our religion in the press, the people are usually not hostile towards Muslims. When they understand that you are following Islam, they are interested and ask you to describe your religion, sometimes even asking to clarify certain questions which might have caused misunderstandings for them beforehand. Of course, there are certain Islamic customs that can prove quite difficult to accept. The history of Hungary proves that we have had quite a few connections with Islam; when our state was founded (1,000 years ago), there were some Muslim tribes in the area and centuries later a part of our country became a region of the Ottoman caliphate. Today few things remain from these as a living memory for our people, and thus they identify Islam as a foreign culture. It is of course not easy to make Islam familiar to them, and it is only possible - this in fact is our duty - if we are able to show them the true face of Islam with a particular stress on the fact that peace and mercy are inherent in it.
Do you have any messages for those who are looking for the Truth?
First and foremost, the most important thing is sincere intention when seeking the Truth. Allah Almighty, the Infinitely Merciful, will never abandon anyone who is sincerely seeking connection with Him. He will show the seeker clear signs of how to approach Him. At first, these might appear unfamiliar to our initial ideas, but if we maintain a good intention, Allah will make it easy for us to accept and find the Way and our peace. At the same time, what causes us to reach the certainty of belief is finding people around us who demonstrate the beauty of the right behavior that should pertain to a believer. Of course, the greatest blessing is to meet living examples of spiritual perfection, who are the rays of light of our Prophet (pbuh): the Sufis, spiritual masters, are called in this way not by a mere name; this is their actual state. They are capable of showing the true and deep reality of Islam and can attract the hearts to the Truth. We pray that May Allah grant every seeker of truth Closeness with Him.