In the bustling streets of western Sydney, amidst the vibrant mix of cultures, lies the tale of Sebastian Guzman, a man whose life has taken an extraordinary turn over the past decade.
Born of Chilean and Mexican descent, Sebastian's life was once marred by brushes with the law.
“From a young age, I would see my parents partying a lot,” he recalled.
“Having been raised in a Latin country (Chile) and then Mexico, I was exposed to a lot of violence….and drugs, music and even borderline nudity seemed to go hand in hand.”
“There was 'fitna' [temptation] everywhere and I grew up thinking that this kind of thing was normal, when of course nothing could have been further from the truth.
“During my teens, my life spiralled out of control for a number of years; when I was 17 I was involved in a near-fatal car accident ... little did I know that my journey to Islam had already begun!”
Sent to prison after one of a number of run-ins with the law, Sebastian’s life could have gone either of two ways.
However, it was within the confines of incarceration that he discovered an irresistible, transformative force—the embrace of Islam.
Sebastian vividly recalls the defining moment that altered the course of his life.
"I accepted Islam in 2014 in Cell 6 on the Second Landing of H-Block in the old Silverwater Prison ... and it changed my life completely," he reminisced.
Islam presented Sebastian with a stark contrast to the friendships he had experienced in his previous life.
"There is no comparison, really," he reflects.
In his former existence, material possessions reigned supreme. Cars, partying, girls, money ... they all blinded him to the real essence of life.
"But after becoming a Muslim," Sebastian points out, "it became easier to make better choices, basing my friendships on the love of and for the sake of Allah."
Fuelled by the love of the religion that has been such an integral part of his life every day of the past nine-plus years, Sebastian recognises the importance of spreading the message of Islam to an even wider audience.
In a world where various agendas are finding their place in schools, he believes that Muslims should have the right to promote their faith respectfully.
He gives a lot of credit to both Brothers In Need and Project Quran, wonderful charitable organisations that have been pillars of support throughout his journey.
"Before I became a Muslim, I was always looking to have a good time and rather than work hard, life was about finding the easy way out.”
“Yes, prison was a huge culture shock but it was discovering Islam that not only changed my life, it saved my life.”
“Islam makes you reassess you purpose in life and helps you to become a better person.”
“My involvement with Brothers In Need and Project Quran was a real eye-opener.”
“Feeding the homeless is especially humbling because these people are human beings just like the rest of us, the main difference being that we have blessed to have a roof over our heads.
“The homeless have names too ... they have stories and for anyone who has never volunteered in this kind of program, I would highly recommend it as it is very uplifting.”
While Sebastian's path toward enlightenment has been filled with blessings, it has also come with its share of heartache.
His sister, regrettably, no longer speaks to him, partly due to his reversion to Islam. However, his relationship with his mother offers more than glimmer of hope. Though she is not a Muslim, Sebastian believes that through his exemplification of true Islamic values, his mum may one day embrace Islam, herself. InshaAllah.
When asked if he ever regrets his decision to become a Muslim, Sebastian's laughter fills the air.
"Never," he affirms, his voice brimming with conviction.
"I was born to be a Muslim!"
Sebastian’s journey serves as a testament to the power of Islam.
From the confines of a prison cell to a life illuminated by our beautiful religion, his story reflects the unwavering strength of the human spirit.
How things changed from the dark days - with a loving and supportive wife, great kids and a job he loves. Through the strength, the love and brotherhood he has discovered in Islam, Sebastian has emerged as a guiding light, embracing his role as a mentor to others seeking the path of righteousness.
With a heart full of gratitude, he looks toward the future, sharing the countless virtues of Islam and touching lives with the same compassion that once touched his own. Sebastian is now a new Muslim.
Are you considering Islam or simply want to learn more about what Islam is all about? Why not order yourself a FREE copy of the Quran in English ... www.freequran.com.au