Cambridge University hears ex-priest's journey to Islam
A Roman Catholic priest who converted to Islam has been speaking about his reasons for changing faith.
Idris Tawfiq was a guest speaker at the University of Cambridge's annual Experience Islam Week, which aims to raise awareness and foster tolerance.
Mr Tawfiq said: "It's not that I went looking for Islam. Islam came looking for me.
"I loved my former life and my work, but now I've found a peace that I never knew before."
Mr Tawfiq explained that he made the decision to leave the priesthood when he realised how lonely he was.
"I left my job, but not the Catholic religion," he said.
"I had no intention of changing my faith. That wasn't part of the plan at all."
Mr Tawfiq, said he had lived in the UK for 40 years and had a stereotyped view of Muslims.
But while on holiday in Egypt he met and befriended many Muslims, and said that he began to realise his perception of the Islamic faith was flawed.
Mr Tawfiq said his journey towards Islam took him one year, after which he embraced both the religion, culture and changed his name.
"My Christian faith slid away slowly and Islam became more and more important.
"I play down my Catholic priesthood, but all I have is great love in my heart for the people who made me what I am."
"There is no harshness to Islam," he added. "It really is very beautiful, very gentle and sweet.
"Before you make a decision, hold your breath and listen to what Islam has to say. Then make up your mind."
Mr Tawfiq now lives in Egypt, and speculating on the future of the country after the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, said: "One thing Islam teaches is never to be surprised by what is offered in life.
"Who would have imagined three weeks ago that someone who had ruled the country for 30 years would no longer rule it now?
"It gives me great hope that when we think we can do nothing about a situation, by God's grace there is something that we can do."
Experience Islam Week runs until 20 February.