Raul Gonzales who changes his name to Jafar Gonzales after he converts to Islam shares with us his ideas and reflections about Islam and the 500-year influence Islam has had on Spain.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “Life is passing; life is passing, as the water flowing in the river passes when it seeks the sea. And I, heedlessly, sit on the threshold of my house, and stare at the passing of life. My name is Raúl González Bórnez. I am from Madrid.
I was born in 1950 in an active, combatant, communist, and anti-fascist family. I studied in Ramiro Demastero School. I received my diploma, and then went to university to study technical communication engineering, electronic engineering. I studied engineering till 1968, and I was arrested for anti-fascist activities. This was my class when I was seven.
At the age of eight… nine… it has changed a lot. It was like small houses before. It has changed a lot.This is the entrance of Andalusia. This region is called Espania Beroselos. Currently, we are passing Costijia Flat. We are descending to the sea. A new land with a different culture starts from here. A different idea of life! A different soul, a different soul and mind!”
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “After releasing from prison, I start to work in filmmaking. In 1972, I was forced to do my obligatory military service. When I was doing my military service, I was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. I was imprisoned in the military ward of Carabanchel Prison for a year. In 1974, a little after the assassination of Carlo Belanco, who was General Franco’s prime minister, that is, a year before General Franco’s death, I was released from prison.
That is, sentenced to a year in prison, after the court. But I was released a little before the court. This school had an important basketball team, which was called Student. At the age of ten, we started to play basketball. We gathered here to go to the class. And here, we played basketball. Andalusia has a deep soul and spirituality. This soil is so deep. It is a land with a people who has majestic feelings, great regional feelings, great artistic feelings, and great human feelings. It was a mosque before.
They have changed it to a church. Flamenco started from here. This land’s song is… when a farmer is working on his farm, his tear and song flows on his tongue in the form of flamenco. They stole the history of this land up to the point that people do not know who their ancestors were. There was a statue of General Franco here. The first and second-grade students were all in this place. They played music here. We played basketball there, and here we played soccer. Everywhere here was open before, but now, they are closed. Yes, it is closed.”
TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “Only if one of them knows the real history of this land, he will tear. Oh! Injustice! They collected the Qurans with other sacred books in Embley Amla, and burned all of them. And now, after 500 years, they still celebrate the anniversary of Granada’s conquest every year as if they had done a heroic deed. It was city whose governors surrendered in order to prevent bloodshed. They gave the city disarmed to some barbarians who did not have heart and pity.
They did not understand any languages except oppression. They had no god except money. It is a lie that they were Christians. They never believed in Christ. They never believed in Christ’s message. WE are real Christians. A year later, Franco died and democracy reached Spain; and it was the beginning of tears of great disappointment in me because we saw that the new democracy and the former one were the same.
The only difference is that the new democracy is shown better. The new democracy came with a better disguise but with more oppression and dictatorship. I saw most of the people who had fought against fascism and all accepted the new logics. They surprisingly accepted even to join the play they called democracy. This made me so disappointed; and I started to feel a kind of absurdity in myself. BUT they could not make me deal with this system and accept it. This issue caused a kind of isolation and seclusion.
There many Spanish words which have Arabic roots, like alboroque, al-Zakiah, or al-Zeiton. It was the time when I felt that I received a message, inviting me to leave Madrid. And some months later, this message of leaving Madrid took me to Granada Mountains for discovering nature. I got familiar with some persons who came here to live. I came here, too, and lived with them in nature for 4 years. We did not have electricity or gas. We had a primitive life.”
TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “The house which was located here was a ruin. We asked its owner to let us repair it. We wanted to repair it with logs and stalks, like the other houses here, which are built in a traditional way. So here in nature, we watched the stars at night because there was no bulb light. The sky was clear. We could see the passing of the sun and the moon. We saw signs of nature, passing of the seasons, and leaves changing color in the spring. Little by little, I started to think that generally somebody created this process. I started to think about the existence of a creator.
After I made sure that there is a god, I started to read some books about Hinduism, like Behabatita. I was trying to establish a unique and permanent relationship with God, like the time when I asked God for a sign. I saw the Bibles. I read Thawte Ding, Louching, and Indian metaphysics.
I was reading the Bibles, which ended to reading a book by Oscar…, titled “La epistola de profrotiem”. This book speaks about Jesus Christ in a way which I had never heard throughout my life. Having read the Bibles, I found that Christ’s message is undoubtedly a divine speech.
Finally, in early days of 1983, I started a kind of fasting. I was alone. All my friends went for New Year celebrations; they went to see their families. I started to have a kind of fast which I only drank water. I went to the library and read books. We, five persons who lived together, had a very big library which had different books. I found a book about Islam. It was a small book by Seyyed Qutb, titled “What is Islam?” It was after sixteen days of fasting when I started to read the book. I read that saying prayers five times a day is one of the bases of Islam. A kind of light entered my heart and taught me that this is the way which I should follow. So I accepted Islam and returned Granada to communicate with Muslims; it was after living here for four years, far away from city life. I started to learn Islam’s practical precepts, like Wudu, Ghusl, Prayers, and Fasting. And this way, I began to follow Islam.
Here is Pedro’s home. He is an intimate friend of mine who became Muslim several years ago. This is all of his life, what you see here. This is a mystic’s life from Granada. Well, I visit him whenever I come to Granada because he is man with a great heart.
Finding God and converting to Islam was a critical moment in my life. Before becoming a Muslim, I can say, I was following my survival. But after I converted to Islam, a substantial change happened. All events in my life were in front of my eyes. And the outlook of my life started to appear bright.”
TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “I remember the first Ayah (verse) of the Quran I memorized. It was “verily, in the remembrance of God [men's] hearts do find their rest.” Actually, I should explain how I reached Islam. This Quranic verse indicated this stage of my life, because all happened to me was a journey to find tranquility in my heart. I passed a very ordinary stage. Actually, I started to observe some Islamic precepts, like prayer and fasting. As a result, I understood the meaning of Islam and place it inside my heart. Then, I started to build my surrounding according to God.
Hello! Hello! We are getting Saint Martin. Yes! Yes! It is his cell phone number? OK!
We are going to Arenas Desa Saint Peter, which is a small village. It is 120 kilometers south of Madrid. Maria Tavajo and Augustine Novis live there. These husband and wife are translators and writers. They have translated most of Henry Korman’s books. They have a very deep and mystic view about life. Augustine has some works, one of which is a criticism of development. In my opinion, it is an amazing book.
When I found God and believed in Him, the conditions changed, too; especially when I became Muslim, a series of new role-models appeared to me, who had obvious behavior and conducts, like Mohammad the Prophet, and after a while, characters like Ali ibn Abi Talib (PBUH), Fatima Zahra (PBUH), Imam Hassan (PBUH), Imam Hussein (PBUH), and other Imams, who were from Prophet Mohammad’s family. And even contemporary characters that are our role-models, seriously, with their deeds and conducts, like Imam Khomeini. Firstly, it is not for his role as the leader of an effective revolution in the contemporary era, but substantially for his personal deeds, lifestyle, reactions, and thoughts.”
TIME CODE: 25:00_33:00
SOUNDBITE [Spanish], Jafar Gonzales: “After I knew Islam and accepted it as an ideology, little by little, I discovered some new aspects believed by Islamic thoughts. One of these aspects is the socio-political aspect, which is supported by Islamic thoughts.
Islam gave me the opportunity to restore this aspect of life. This was the obsession I had about the social and political issues. This was part of a deeper attitude towards realities themselves. For example, it was part of this realization that relationship with God affects the person himself and helps reforming his personality. This helped me communicate with people. Converting to Islam gradually restored all periods of time when I lost for bad events. Those times, my major concern was social and political struggles as well as trying to change the society into an ideal social justice and freedom. Moreover, I had lost my interest in politics because there was no democracy in the country. Studying the current democracy showed that it was not a step forward to social justice and freedom.
Reaching Islam did not just require restoring what you had lost, that is, trying to be happy or enhancing human knowledge. Additionally, it has another important aspect, which requires believing in one single God and creator for everything. He is the creator who requires us to have social commitment. This is for defending the religion, justice, and social equity for humans.
Actually, this verse of the Quran which says “how many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah”, is a source of inspiration for contemporary humans. Attentions are attracted towards this idea that quantity is not the only important thing. Quantity, which is the main pillar of this civilization, is not of importance. Personal quality is important. The verse says that individual is the center of attention. It allows the person to review himself, restore his self-assurance, and know his value. There are some verses in the Quran, in which God says, for example, when a person saves another, he saves the whole humanity; and when a person kills a soul, he kills the whole humanity. These verses give one the permission to react. They show the significance of an individual alone, in this society which ruins the humanity of humans.
For example, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon is so promising. It has a message which is so promising for humanity, both for believers and non-believers although its audience is the oppressed. The reason is that the main cause of change is not the quantity of humans. The number of people in a revolution is not important, but their self-esteem. It is not necessary that a large number of people be in a movement to change a society in a positive way, but fundamentally, what we need is their high quality of character.
Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah is good example of Islamic leadership. Although he is an international leader, he is at the fore front of defending his people. His values are more than defending his people, that is, defending the values which save people from deadlock, by his life and his family’s life. He is not a leader who manages his forces sitting at a desk. He leads this movement by his life and also his family’s life, to the extent that his son was martyred.
Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah became an international character, especially after Israel’s imposed war in summer 2006. He is a valuable example of a person who is referred by people for opposing oppression. On one hand, he is so strong against homicide, oppression, state terrorism, and illegal occupation of lands. On the other hand, he is very flexible and lenient, who embraces all people; no one is not excluded. No one of those who can take part in this battle, or at least, those who are ready to talk about their ideology!
Life is passing; life is passing. And beautiful dreams and your wishes are forgotten; fame disappears. You will see none of your ambitions will not remain, even not a memory.”