California-based prominent Eastern Christian Priest, Father Hilarion Heagy, has converted to Islam after renouncing Christianity.
Heagy, who has now changed his name to Said Abdul Latif, said his inclination towards Islam took place 20 years ago, but he has only recently converted to the religion.
“One simply can’t be a priest and monk publicly, and a Muslim privately.”
As per news outlet Ummid, Father Hilarion Heagy said his conversion to the Islamic religion is like "homecoming" and is actually a "reversion to Islam."
Heagy wrote in his blog post:
“It truly is like 'coming home.' My primordial faith. For the Qur’an states that we worshipped God alone and submitted to him since before we were even born.”
Further justifying his stance, Hilarion Heagy quoted from the Holy Quran:
“And remember when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants and had them testify regarding themselves. Allah asked, A 'Am I not your Lord?' They replied, 'Yes, You are! We testify.' He cautioned, 'Now you have no right to say on Judgment Day, ‘We were not aware of this.’ ' — Qur’an (7:172)"
Father Hilarion Heagy was previously a Russian Orthodox Monk
Father Heagy, who had gained respect among his followers for being kind, holy, and exceptionally patient, was earlier a Russian Orthodox Monk.
Around 2003, Fr. Heagy converted to the Antiochian Orthodox Church, which he left in 2017 to join the Eastern Catholic Church. He then graduated from St. Nazianz's Holy Resurrection Monastery and became a Byzantine Catholic priest monk. He has since become a Muslim.
As per news outlet Ummid, Heagy added that this is the reason why people who convert to Islam don't speak about 'conversion' but about 'reversion' to Islam, which is a long process of returning.
Heagy said that ever since he announced the news of his conversion to Islam, he has been receiving heartfelt messages from Muslims.
“The warmth and hospitality that I’ve witnessed and received from the Muslim community is simply phenomenal. Never have I experienced such hospitality. The future, for me, is uncertain. A leap into the dark is always wrought with some anxieties."
Twitterati has been buzzing about the former Christian priest's conversion, with several users wishing him well on his journey.
Further in his blog post, he said that after making his decision to convert to Islam, he has been feeling "peace, joy, and relief" that "has finally led me home."
"Now begins the work of entering deeper into the faith. A deeper learning. A love for the Deen. A love for the Ummah. A love for the Prophet.”
Father Hilarion Heagy added that he has been receiving messages and calls from people across the world asking him the reason behind denouncing Christianity and embracing Islam. He also shared a list of resources that were helpful to him to make this decision.