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12:02 PM | 2024-01-06 1635
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Interview with an American Orientalist

One of the members of the Karbala Center for Research and Studies has interviewed one of the foreign orientalists, the scientific researcher and student in the field of Islamic philosophy, and a teacher at the School of Islamic Sciences and Fundamentals of Religion in Orlando, Florida, Mr. Chandler Cooper. In our meeting with him, he expressed his happiness and gratitude for entering the Islamic religion. He became acquainted with Islam and Shiism four years ago when he was a student in The Department of Philosophy at the University of Florida, where he met with several students from Shiite Muslims, who told him about their religion and sect and invited him to visit a mosque and Husseiniya in Orlando, which he said: "fortunately it was near to my house", which invited him to visit the mosque on a daily basis to learn about the customs and conditions of the Islamic religion. 

Mr. Cooper was then commissioned to write a paper on Islamic philosophy during the quarantine period and the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, which was a golden opportunity, as Mr. Cooper described it, to self-isolation and self-review. He read as many books as possible by Muslim philosophers, led by Ibn Khaldun, Al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, as well as the most prominent Shiite philosophers such as Al-Fayd Al-Kashani, Allamah Tabatabai and others. Islamic philosophy had a great influence on him, who invited him to Islam and Shi'a, and he spent 5 years of his life learning the provisions of Sharia, Islamic jurisprudence, fundamentals of religion, Islamic philosophy and the Arabic language until he became a teacher in one of the schools of Islamic sciences for young Muslims. To preserve their Islamic identity in Western countries.

Mr. Cooper, who currently works in the field of health in one of the well-known hospitals in Florida, as well as a teacher of Islamic sciences at the aforementioned school and a researcher in the history of Islam and the globalization of religion, said that the state of Florida enjoys a prosperous and compact Islamic society where Muslims from all countries practice Islamic traditions continuously and as they should, such as religious holidays and the births of infallible imams.As well as the anniversary of their martyrdom. Also commemorating Ashura event , the months of Muharram and Safar. He added that the neighborhood in which he lives includes five mosques, husseiniya, shops and Islamic restaurants that provide halal food to Muslims and their needs throughout the year.  

When we asked him about the most beloved Islamic character to his heart, he replied that he loves and appreciates all Islamic personalities and all Ahl al-Bayt (pbuh), "But still the character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) my favorite. As Allah Almighty said, "You had a good example in the Messenger of Allah" Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 21 is certainly my ideal." 

We asked him how his Islam affected his private life, and he replied that his life has changed for the better since he entered Islam, although his family is still a puritanical Christian Protestant family, and many of my family members and old friends have abandoned me and they thought that it was just a temporary obsession and it will disappear, especially since I was a committed Christian before, but God guides whoever He wants. despite the hatred I was subjected by some racist people, God blessed me with the best of Muslim friends. 

When we asked him about the change he felt mentally and spiritually after his conversion, he mentioned to us that since he began to practice worship such as fasting the month of Ramadan, reading the Qur'an, and reviving the rituals of the holy month of Muharram and Ashura. "My personality changed completely for the better, I learned patience, I became more familiar and socialized, and my self-confidence increased. I began to think carefully about my actions before every action or word for fear of falling into the haram."

Mr. Chandler stated his desire to visit the holy shrines in Iraq, Syria and Mecca, especially Karbala, where is the pure soul he longs to visit. 

We asked him to give an advise to the Muslim youth in our Arab and Muslim societies and Mr. Cooper said: "I think Muslim youth are very conscious and educated, so I am not in a position to give advices, lets say just a reminder. I hope they always remember that they are very lucky to have been born on the right path. Islam is the greatest blessing in human history. I know that we live in a time when it is really difficult for a person to abide by his principles, especially young people, but our religion is very valuable and deserves our steadfastness and sacrifice."

At the end of the interview, Mr. Cooper addressed a message to the Imam Mahdi, whom he considers the spiritual leader of the Islamic nation: "I am one of your followers, sir, and I am honored to do so. I know that God chose me to be one of those who believe in you and wait for you. What I ask of Imam Mahdi (AJ) is to allow me to see him and get to know him even once before I leave this life."

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