Jeffrey Land is an associate professor of Mathematics at the
University of Kansas, one of the biggest university in the
United States. He started his religious journey on Jan 30,
1954, when he was born in a Roman Catholic family in Bridgeport,
Connecticut. The first 18 years of his life were spent in
Catholic schools, which left him with many unanswered questions
about God and the Christian religion, Lang said, as he narrated
his story of Islam. “Like most kids back in the late 60s
and early 70s, I started questioning all the values that we
had at those times, political, social and religious,” Lang
said. “I rebelled against all the institutions that society
held sacred including the Catholic Church,” he said.
the time he reached the age of 18, Lang had become a full-fledged
atheist. “If there is a God, and he is all merciful and
all loving, then why is there suffering on this earth? Why
does not He just take us to heaven? Why create all these people
to suffer?" Such were the questions that came up in his
mind in those days.
a young lecturer in mathematics at San Francisco University,
Lang found his religion where God is finally a reality. That
was shown to him by a few of the Muslim friends he had met
at the university. “We talked about religion. I asked them
my questions, and I was really surprised by how carefully
they had thought out their answers,” Lang said.
Lang met Mahmoud Qandeel, a regal looking Saudi student who
attracted the attention of the entire class the moment he
walked in. When Lang asked a question about medical research,
Qandeel answered the question in perfect English and with
great self assurance. Everyone knew Qandeel-the mayor, the
police chief and the common people. Together the professor
and the student went to all the glittering places where “there
was no joy or happiness, only laughter.” Yet at the end
Qandeel surprisingly gave him a copy of the Qur’an and some
books on Islam. Lang read the Qur’an on his own, found his
way to the student-run prayer hall at the university, and
basically surrendered without much struggle. He was conquered
by the Qur’an. The first two chapters are an account of that
encounter and it is a fascinating one.
can make the eyes of a portrait appear to be following you
from one place to another, but which author can write a scripture
that anticipates your daily vicissitudes?... Each night I
would formulate questions and objections and somehow discover
the answer the next day. It seemed that the author was reading
my ideas and writing in the appropriate lines in time for
my next reading. I have met myself in its pages...”
performs the daily five-time prayers regularly and finds much
spiritual satisfaction. He finds the Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer
as one of the most beautiful and moving rituals in Islam.
“It is as if you temporarily leave this world and communicate
with the angels in singing God’s praises before dawn.”
the question how he finds it so captivating when the recitation
of the Qur’an is in Arabic, which is totally foreign to him,
he responds; “Why is a baby comforted by his mother’s voice?”
He said reading the Qur’an gave him a great deal of comfort
and strength in difficult times. From there on, faith was
a matter of practice for Lang’s spiritual growth.
the other hand, Lang pursued a career in mathematics. He received
his master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University.
Lang said that he had always been fascinated by mathematics.
“Maths is logical. It consists of using facts and figures
to find concrete answers,” Lang said. “That is the
way my mind works, and it is frustrating when I deal with
things that do not have concrete answerers.” Having a
mind that accepts ideas on their factual merit makes believing
in a religion difficult because most religions require acceptance
by faith, he said. The Muslim religion appeals to man’s reasoning,
faculty advisor for the Muslim Student Association, Lang said
he viewed himself as the liaison between the student and their
universities. He gets approval from university authorities
to hold Islamic lectures. “The object of being their faculty
advisor is to help them get their needs met as far as adjusting
to the American culture and to procedures of the university.
They appreciate the opportunity to have misconceptions corrected,”
married a Saudi Muslim woman, Raika, 12 years ago. Lang has
written several Islamic books which are best sellers among
the Muslim community in the US. One of his important books
is “Even Angels ask; A journey to Islam in America”.
In this book, Dr. Lang shares with his readers the many insights
that have unfolded for him through his self discovery and
progress within the religion of Islam. (Arab