Dr. Ali Selman
Doctor of Medicine
As a Doctor of Medicine, and a descendant of a French Catholic family,
the very choice of my profession has given me a solid scientific culture
which had prepared me very little for a mystic life. Not that I did not
believe in God, but that the dogmas and rites of Christianity in general and
of Catholicism in particular never permitted me to feel His presence. Thus
my unitary sentiment for God forbade my accepting the dogma of the Trinity,
and consequently of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.
Without yet knowing Islam, I was already believing in the first part of
the Kalima, La ilah illa 'Allah (There is no deity but Allah), and
in these verses of the Qur'an:
"Say: He, the God, is One; God is an absolute unity;
He never begot, nor was He begotten; and there is
none equal to Him." (Al-Qur'an 112:1-4)
So, it was first of all for metaphysical reasons that I adhered to Islam.
Other reasons, too, prompted me to do that. For instance, my refusal to
accept Catholic priests, who, more or less, claim to possess on behalf of
God the power of forgiving the sins of men. Further, I could never admit the
Catholic rite of Communion, by means of the host (or holy bread),
representing the body of Jesus Christ, a rite which seems to me to belong to
totemistic practices of primitive peoples, where the body of the ancestral
totem, the taboo of the living ones, had to be consumed after his death, in
order better to assimilate his personality. Another point which moved me
away from Christianity was the absolute silence which it maintains regarding
bodily cleanliness, particularly before prayers, which has always seemed to
me to be an outrage against God. For if He has given us a soul, He has also
given us a body, which we have no right to neglect. The same silence could
be observed, and this time mixed with hostility with regard to the
physiological life of the human being, whereas on this point Islam seemed to
me to be the only religion in accord with human nature.
The essential and definite element of my conversion to Islam was the
Qur'an. I began to study it, before my conversion, with the critical spirit
of a Western intellectual, and I owe much to the magnificent work of Mr.
Malek Bennabi, entitled Le Phenomene Coranique, which convinced me
of its being divinely revealed. There are certain verses of this book, the
Qur'an, revealed more than thirteen centuries ago, which teach exactly the
same notions as the most modern scientific researchers do. This definitely
convinced me, and converted me to the second part of the Kalima,
'Muhammad Rasul 'Allah' (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah).
This was my reason for presenting myself on 20th February 1953 at the
mosque in Paris, where I declared my faith in Islam and was registered there
as a Muslim by the Mufti of the Paris Mosque, and was given the Islamic name
of 'Ali Selman'.
I am very happy in my new faith, and proclaim once again:
"I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah, and I bear witness
that Muhammad is Allah's servant and Messenger."