Written by Shaun King

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Islam – and all of you who may be considering Islam – or are just curious,

I have so much to share with you, but my work obligations do not permit nearly enough time to share it all.

The past month, which spans the length of the Holy Month of Ramadan, has been one of the single most important months of my life.

Hollywood and the American media have told so many lies about the beautiful faith that is Islam that I can say with complete confidence that unless you have practiced it, as I have for this past month, you likely have no real idea what it’s about.

And I say that as a man that has spoken at dozens of Muslim events and gatherings over the past decade. I’ve dined with Muslims, visited the homes of Muslims, and worked alongside Muslims throughout my adult life, but none of that truly prepared me for the beauty of the past month.

Here is the best comparison I could make.

When me and Dr. Rai prepared to have our first baby, all the way back in 2001, we bought book after book on how to be parents. And we read them and talked about them. We even took classes on becoming new parents. But then, our baby girl was born, and we IMMEDIATELY realized that reading books about parenting, and actually caring for a real-life baby in your home are two VERY different things.

Being a Muslim is so beautiful. And all the years I’ve spent as an ally to Muslims didn’t really prepare me for what it would be like to actually practice Islam.

The whole non-Muslim world has Islam SOOOO WRONG. After generations of ridiculous stereotypes in movie after movie – and decades of news stories that have wrongly projected Muslims as terrorists and extremists, I can come on here and tell you with complete confidence that those lies are so preposterous.

The thing is – if you are reading my words – and you aren’t a Muslim – my words cannot accurately give the message that I’m giving the true justice it deserves.

Muslims are the most kind, generous, warm people on the planet.

This month I’ve spent several nights at mosques across North America and have worshipped and prayed to Allah alongside elders, peers, and children – sometimes for 12 hours straight – and listen to me – you get to know people – and feel their heart and energy – when you are prostrate on the ground alongside them – praying to Allah – at 3:45AM.

Each night I stayed at the masjid – not ONCE did I see a single frown, hear a single raised voice, or see a single soul catch an attitude. Quite the opposite – I saw people so loving, so warm, so content, so joyous – that they welcomed me, a complete stranger, as if I was their long lost brother. I was treated not as a guest, but as family – everywhere I went.

People would offer me their last morsel of food, ask me to cut in front of them in line, hug me, shake my hand with love and respect, introduce me to their loved ones, and always do it with a level of warmth and sincerity that was contagious.

The lessons that I have learned this month about the wonderful life of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, and his companions, have changed the entire trajectory of my life.

You may have heard me say this once before, but nothing has changed me more than praying 5 times a day. During Ramadan, on some days, I prayed 7-10 times per day – each time with my hands and knees and face on the ground.

To pray in this way, with my big forehead and nose pressed into the ground, is so humbling. I don’t know how you could pray this way and not be humbled. You pretty much have to orient your entire life around prayer. Your morning starts with it and your night ends with it. Not only that, but you pray 3 times right in the thick of your day each day.

If you were tempted to forget about Allah, and simply walk and work in your own strength, that doesn’t last long, because soon, it will be time to pray, and submit yourself to Allah once more.

I don’t even see Islam so much as a religion, but it’s a complete way of life. Religion seems like a box you check, but Islam is a life that you live. Islam is practices and habits that you demonstrate day in and day out.

I am so honored to be a Muslim. I now fully understand why it’s the fastest growing religion in the world.

If you have read all of these words, and aren’t a Muslim, I invite you to join me.

And if you are already a Muslim, thank you for welcoming me into the family. Several of you said something to me that touched my heart – you said, “Shaun, you might have lost 6 million followers on Instagram, but now you’ve gained nearly 2 billion sisters and brothers all over the world.”

I truly believe that.

Love you all,

Shaun King