US survivor of 26/11 embraces Islam

September 28, 2009

An American, who survived the terrorist attack in the Indian city of Mumbai last year, resisted hate in favour of curiosity to discover and learn to embrace Islam, according to a media report.

Dennis O’Brien, a Catholic, sought to understand the root faith the people behind the attacks claimed to practice and discovered it had been twisted by the gunmen, The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, reported. And eventually, he came to embrace it.

On Sunday, standing before a crowd of thousands, following prayers to mark the end of Ramazan, O’Brien embraced Islam, publicly declaring that there is only one God and the Prophet Muhammad is his last messenger. O’Brien, who heads up the education committee of St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Wilmington, said the move was a surprise, even to him. But said he was at peace with it. “Today I feel free of sin,” he remarked.

After several months of studies and asking questions of Muslim friends and associates, “I feel comfort in Islam,” he said. O’Brien said he wanted to express solidarity with Muslims, even though extremists who say they practice the faith “tried to kill me”.

Pastor John McGinley, of St Anthony’s, said Sunday he had not heard of O’Brien’s embrace of Islam. McGinley said he knew O’Brien is inquisitive and has expressed concern about the young men involved in the Mumbai attacks.

He would not say if the declaration of another faith would affect O’Brien’s position at the church, noting he had not spoken to him about Sunday’s events. “I think this is part of his journey of faith and we can work with that,” McGinley said.




  1. Subhanallah! The truth will Always prepare. This reminds me of 911 after which so many people converted to Islam specially women in U.S

    Good post Thanx for posting
    Jazakallah Khair

  2. now where is so called Indian media did thay populate this news instead of false Ajmal Qasab

  3. The point of interest is this (pasted below). Can you imagine what would have happenned if a Muslim had converted to Christianity? I am impressed with the statement of Pastor John McGinley. Now why cant we as Muslims be like that?

    Pastor John McGinley, of St Anthony’s, said Sunday he had not heard of O’Brien’s embrace of Islam. McGinley said he knew O’Brien is inquisitive and has expressed concern about the young men involved in the Mumbai attacks.

    He would not say if the declaration of another faith would affect O’Brien’s position at the church, noting he had not spoken to him about Sunday’s events. “I think this is part of his journey of faith and we can work with that,” McGinley said.

    • @ Amber

      Read carefully – “”He would NOT say if the declaration of another faith would affect O’Brien’s position at the church””

      One more thing the law which you are talking about when a muslim converts to any other religion is in Islam…not made up by any muslim!

  4. @IM What I was specifically referring to was:

    “I think this is part of his journey of faith and we can work with that,” McGinley said.

    Isnt the above a good way of thinking?

    A Muslim child is a Muslim because he/she is born in a Muslim family. When this child grows up, he/she has the right to discover for him/her-self whether he/she wants to be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Antagnostic, etc.

    This child cannot stand before God and say – I am Muslim because my parents said so.
    This child has to say – I am Muslim because I wanted to be.
    And it is possible that in this journey, the child does not go to Islam but to some other religion or no religion at all. That is between God and the person, not for us to judge.

    No offense intended!

    • @Amber
      Allah swt has asked us to read the Holy Quran, understand it and improvise it in our daily life. Follow the foot steps of the Prophets, specifically Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. A person who is only muslim because his parents were and doesn’t follow the Quran will suffer in the end, such people are regarded as kaffirs as well.

      Our problem is we don’t want to spend time understanding Islam but want to jump on understanding other religions.

      We are not judging those people, once again I will repeat that the law has been laid down by Allah swt, it is a LAW. There must be some reason for that, we have been given the right to question some stuff in the Holy Quran to explore Islam but NOT everything which Allah swt says, even the prophets didn’t dare to question laws of Allah swt and we are nowhere close to them we should remember our place and not cross limits!

      If everything was between God and a person than there wouldn’t be punishments for crime, it wouldn’t be compulsory for every muslim to invite people to Islam, or we wouldn’t be asked as muslims to correct a person when we see someone doing something sinful etc!

      • @IM:
        Then people may stay in the religion based on fear and not on conviction. Is that acceptable then?

        Additionally, one has to be a jurist to comment on what the “LAW” says. The circumstances involved are always relevant. Asking “why” is necessary to apply the law. In my opinion, a society that is happy with obeying while not finding a solution to it’s probelms and then not striving to find answers is a stagnant one.

        I believe as well that religion is a personal journey and must be respected and treated as such.

        Better a secular country where everyone one has the freedom to practice a faith then a religious one where others have to worry about deeply personal matters being judged by others who will never understand their own personal journey.

      • @Al Yaqin

        I’m not asking you to judge anyone even Islam has prohibited that because we don’t know who is more closer to Allah! That is for Allah swt for decide … we are nobody!

        Allah swt doesn’t want anyone to be forced into Islam which is why He asked us to read the Holy Quran, understand it and pray five times a day because than He will guide us, our faith will increase and than we’ll know why Islam and not anything else!And if someone is praying to show others than I’m sure you must be aware that it is not accepted in Islam.

        But you cannot ignore that there is law in Islam which says that if someone converts to any other religion he/she must be given death sentence! What do u have to say about that?

  5. Al Yaqin – Thanks for putting it so succinctly.

    IM – At a personal level, I was born to Muslim parents but when I was 12, I had serious doubts about whether there was a God, and if so, was Islam the right way of getting to Him. I was lucky enough to have parents who understood, and guided, but never commanded. For some time I researched different religions, also atheism. In the end I decided Islam was the true religion. But that journey could have taken me to a different religion, and isnt that everybody’s right? To decide for themselves?

    Also, my uncle married a non-Muslim lady who converted to Islam. In so doing she alienated her entire family. Due to this, she needed my uncle’s support even more. But my uncle, instead of acting like her surrogate family, made things even harder for her by telling her she could not visit her family at Christmas and she could not participate in her parents’funerals – who were both Catholics. He did this by saying Islam required this! Their marriage broke down due to many reasons, but at the end of the day the lady wanted to share her grief – and as my uncle wasnt emotionally available and seemed to use Islam as a shield for his own shortcomings- she did this with her brother who was a Catholic. She gave an ultimatum to my uncle to either divorce or convert to Christianity. They divorced. But I dont blame the lady. I blame my uncle.

    So life is not black and white, their are many shades of grey. And if we believe Allah is all-knowing, all-seeing, the being with the highest IQ, then surely he understands? He definitely understands!

    • @Amber

      I never said you cannot research any other religion or you cannot question some of the things in Islam we all know the companions used to ask Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h lot of questions. But even Islam has limits to the amount of questions one may ask –
      Surah Al Maeda – (5:101)O ye who believe! ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed they will be made plain to you: Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing. (5:102) Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith.

      I haven’t yet found any answer on why a person must be given a death sentence if he converts to other religion and I don’t think about it much but rather focus on the stuff which is clearly mentioned in the Holy Quran for us to follow and why we should follow it!

      Even I used to think and get confused as to why Islam says that when two people commit adultery they cannot marry each other but later on I thought probably because Allah swt didn’t want people to use this so that they can get married against there parents will or probably when two people like each other they don’t go to such an extent because than they won’t be able to marry each other!

      The example you have given about your uncle doesn’t fit here because he is a person who imposed his ‘own version’ of Islam on his wife!

  6. Dear IM
    It seems to me you are intent on proving your version of Islam is the correct one:)

    • Amber
      I don’t have my ‘own version’ of Islam, I only have basic knowledge and have a long way to go! I was just ‘sharing’ stuff which I have read! =)

      May Allah swt guide us all to the right path. Ameen =)

      • “if someone converts to any other religion he/she must be given death sentence! ”

        I would say that muslims jurists would take a decision based upon a multitude of factors. I do not believe that a death sebtence is automatic. Here is what I found on Wikipedia (Please note – I am neither a scholar nor a jurist, **please make up your own mind in matters of religion **. **Allah knows best**):

        “The four major Sunni Madh’hab (schools of Islamic jurisprudence) all agree that apostasy is a sin as long as the individual does not do so in ignorance or under duress[1][2]. They also differentiate between harmful apostasy and harmless apostasy[3] (also known as major and minor apostasy)[1]. According to Wael Hallaq nothing of the apostasy law are derived from the Qur’an,[4].

        Some Islamic jurists, such as Hanafi jurist Sarakhsi,[5] Maliki jurist Abu al-Walid al-Baji, and Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyyah,[6] and some contemporary Islamic jurists, such as Shafi`i Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa[7][8] and Shi’a Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri,[9] argued or issued fatwas that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances[10][11][12][13] Some groups within Islam such as the Shi’a Ismaili reject death for apostasy altogether.”

        I would read papers in journals if Islamic Law or from scholar to be sure. Find a legal mind who knows the particular area well.

  7. The main point of Islam is – Live and Let others Live – in Peace. Islam is easy and Islam is peace. Lets not make it difficult for others and for ourselves.

    Al Quran: 17:53, 54 And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner (unto those who do not share their beliefs). Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; for verily; Satan is mans foe …. Hence, We have not sent you (Unto men O Prophet) with power to determine their Faith.

    (2:256) “There is no compulsion in religion”

    It is repeated in the Holy Quran again and again that the Holy Prophet Peace Be Upon Him was sent as a Preacher, not as a Keeper. When He (Peace Be Upon Him) was not given the task of passing judgement on others, then who are we to take this task upon ourselves? Let us live in peace and harmony, so that Islam can be known as a religion of peace.

    • That’s fair enough. Well said.

      • This is what I was told by someone –

        This is the right opinion as proved by the Shariah. I also subscribe to this view since a Muslim who leaves Islam is a rebel to God. ( please as a side note, note that there is no compulsion of religion for non muslims)

        So even in our modern law any person who leaks national secret to enemy is considered a traitor and rebel and is subject to capital punishment so what do you think about a person who is a rebel to Allah ?

        I will give you few quote proving this instance from the Shariah:

        (1) This is the ruling of Allaah and His Messenger, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 3017).(2) The one who has known the religion which Allaah revealed, entered it and practised it, then rejected it, despised it and left it, is a person who does not deserve to live on the earth of Allaah and eat from the provision of Allaah.(3) By leaving Islaam, the apostate opens the way for everyone who wants to leave the faith, thus spreading apostasy and encouraging it.(4) The apostate is not to be killed without warning. Even though his crime is so great, he is given a last chance, a respite of three days in which to repent. If he repents, he will be left alone; if he does not repent, then he will be killed.(5) If the punishment for murder and espionage (also known as high treason) is death, then what should be the punishment for the one who disbelieves in the Lord of mankind and despises and rejects His religion? Is espionage or shedding blood worse than leaving the religion of the Lord of mankind and rejecting it?(6) None of those who bleat about personal freedom and freedom of belief would put up with a neighbour’s child hitting their child or justify this as “personal freedom,” so how can they justify leaving the true religion and rejecting the sharee’ah which Allaah revealed to teach mankind about His unity and bring justice and fairness to all?

  8. I am sorry but this is getting to be a drawn-out debate n we r not reaching any conclusion – we both believe we are right and the other is wrong so lets just stop:) May Allah guide us.

    • Fine with me!

      Ameen! =)

  9. Bismillah Rahman Raheem – Salam alaykum,
    Amazing! Allahu Akbar! This man, like me, was once against Islam – but then after opening his mind and heart – Allah guided him to the ultimate truth of “None to worship, except Allah” – ISLAM
    Al Hamdulillah Rabbil Alameen!
    May Allah guide the people and grant us all peace, ameen.
    Join us http://www.ShareIslam.com
    Peace – Yusuf Estes

    • Wow mashaAllah, Yusuf Estes on PKKH:)

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