A large number of Christians embraced Islam in the medieval period. Anselm Tormeeda, a 14th century Christian scholar and priest, was one such person whose story is worth relating. In this second part of the article Anselm Tormeeda, later known as Abu Muhammad Abdullah bin Abdullah Al-Tarjuman, describes how he embraced Islam.
HE (the priest) was satisfied and content with my promise. I began to prepare for my journey and bid him farewell. He prayed for me and gave me 50 golden dinars. Then I took a ship to my city Majorca where I stayed with my parents for six months. Later I traveled to Sicily and remained there five months, waiting for a ship bound for the land of the Muslims. Finally a ship arrived bound for Tunis. We departed before sunset and reached the port of Tunis at noon on the second day. When I got off the ship, Christian scholars who heard of my arrival came to greet me and I stayed with them for four months in ease and comfort. After that I asked them if there was a translator. The Sultan in those days was Abu Al-Abbas Ahmed. They said there was a virtuous man, the Sultan’s physician, who was one of his closest advisers. His name was Yusuf Al-Tabeeb. I was greatly pleased to hear this, and asked where he lived. They took me there to meet him separately. I told him about my story and the reason of my coming there; which was to embrace Islam. He was immensely pleased. We rode to the Sultan’s Palace. He met the Sultan and told him about my story and asked his permission for me to meet him.
The Sultan accepted, and I presented myself before him. The first question the Sultan asked was about my age. I told him that I was 35 years old. He then asked about my learning and the sciences, which I had studied. After I told him he said.
“Your arrival is the arrival of goodness. Be a Muslim with Allah’s blessings.”
I then said to the doctor, “Tell the honorable Sultan that it always happens that when anyone changes his religion his people defame him and speak evil of him. So, I wish if he kindly sends to bring the Christian priests and merchants of this city to ask them about me and hear what they have to say. Then by Allah’s will, I shall accept Islam.” He said to me through the translator, “You have asked what Abdullah bin Salaam asked from the Prophet when he (Abdullah) came to announce his Islam.”
He then sent for the priests and some Christian merchants and let me sit in an adjoining room unseen by them. “What do you say about this new priest who arrived by ship?” he asked. They said: “He is a great scholar in our religion. Our bishops say he is the most learned and no one is superior to him in our religious knowledge.”
After hearing what the Christian said, the Sultan sent for me, and I presented myself before them. I declared the two testimonies that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger, and when the Christians heard this they crossed themselves and said: “Nothing incited him to do that except his desire to marry, as priests in our religion cannot marry.” Then they left in distress and grief.
The Sultan appointed for me a quarter of a dinar every day from the treasury and let me marry the daughter of Al-Haj Muhammad Al-Saffar. When I decided to consummate the marriage, he gave me 100 golden dinars and an excellent suit of clothes. I then consummated the marriage and Allah blessed me with a child to whom I gave the name Muhammad as a blessing from the name of the Prophet.”