Hello. Assalamu Aleykum.
A little late to be doing this, sorry. I've been bogged down with a few things. My name is Fahim Ferdous Promi, I'm a student at Rutgers University studying Philosophy, Religion and Middle Eastern Studies. I've finished college-level education in Bangladesh on Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. I'm also a student at SeekersGuidance studying fiqh, tasawwuf and aqeedah. My main branches of interest in academia are the fields of theoretical physics, metaphysics and cosmology focusing on issues of space and time.
I grew up a traditional Sunni Muslim with a touch of Sufism added since my grandmother was big on spirituality and used to tell us stories of the Sufi saints of yore. She was obviously born in a time before Islamism took over the nation. Nonetheless by around the year 2005 or 2006, I think, I started to get slowly detached from faith, spirituality and God. I wasn't really an atheist or anti-theist, I just didn't care about religion much at all.
Soon after I started to have doubts and kinda stopped believing, sometimes even acting obnoxious to people with faith, e.g. I would ask people who prayed if they really thought prayer works. Later, after a talk with my biology teacher who sorta managed to prove a deity was necessary to control and calibrate the events of nature, I was like, "Okay, God exists, but which one?" and I looked into every faith available. I won't lie, I started with Zakir Naik but soon after felt something was lacking in his understanding of religion.
In late 2009 I decided to become Catholic but less than a year later, after reading the Quran (even though it was a Wahhabi translation manufactured by the King Fahd Complex of Medina) and the historical biography (seerah) of Prophet Muhammad from the Sealed Nectar (my aunt had brought me both from her time at Hajj) I decided to follow Islam as my way of life. However, during this time, I had reignited my interest in Zakir Naik and Peace TV, and that stayed with me for quite a very long time.
I was not aware of what Wahhabi Islam was. On paper, whatever the preachers on Peace TV were preaching sounded simple enough: just follow the Quran and Ahadith, how hard could that be? I listened to hours of lectures by the folks there and spent a lot of time on www.IslamReligion.com, another Wahhabi site operated from Riyadh. Regardless, I wasn't unhappy at all. In Islam, I found solace and peace, and even though I was basically following Wahhabi Islam, I wasn't immersed into it and only tread the surface for most of the time. The only two negatives from my stint then would be my contempt for Sufi and Shiite Islam, and Judaism which took quite a while to get over.
After coming to the United States in 2012, I went through another crisis of faith. My first month here I continued to listen to lectures on Peace TV, specially those by Yusuf Estes, but by the second month I had started breaking the rules of Sharia and deliberately ate pork and drank alcohol. I believe it was as punishment for that that soon after I became homeless and struggled to grasp hold of my life again. My depression resurfaced and mutated, I turned to self-harm and became increasingly suicidal by the day. In order to prevent my life from spiraling all the way down south, I started listening to more lectures on Peace TV over spring and summer 2013, participated heavily at events organized by the Rutgers University Muslim Student Association (RUMSA) and became almost a hardcore Salafi.
Finally, in the month of September that year I met a Naqshbandi in our MSA (who usually stayed low profile for the most part) and he asked me to look into Sufism. At first I paid no heed to his advice. I was taken in by a Shiite brother to stay at his place where I learned about Shiite Islam first hand. It was beautiful but there was one strong reason I could not follow the faith, my depression. Listening to the stories of martyrdom of the Imams made me sadder by the day and I was soon driven towards suicide again. I could not take it. The environment in the Majalis was too grim for comfort. Then, finally, on the first day of the new year, the first of January 2014, I took bayah under Sheikh Muhammad Nazim Adil al-Haqqani through his online site and got initiated as a Naqshbandi-Nazimi.