: people came to islam 1 -Thomas J. Abercrombie

10-04-2010, 06:08 PM
was a senior staff writer and photographer, well known for his work on Middle Eastern countries for National Geographic. During his tenure at the Geographic magazine, Abercrombie travelled to all seven continents, becoming the first staff photojournalist to travel to the South Pole in 1956 while providing photographs for Paul Siple's coverage of the first overwinter stay at the South Pole Station. Other notable coverage includes his photographs of Jacques Cousteau and his crew aboard Cousteau's vessel the Calypso and the transit of the first white tiger from India to the United States. Abercrombie was the first Western journalist to cover the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in his article Beyond the Sands of Mecca, published 1966.

Born in Stillwater, Minnesota, Abercrombie started his career at the Fargo Forum and the Milwaukee Journal. His innovative and stunning photographs quickly drew attention and acclaim. By designing an underwater housing (commercially unavailable at the time), Abercrombie pushed the frontiers of photography when he photographed a shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Surreal portraits of wife, Lynn Abercrombie, distorted by reflections in stainless steel cook and house ware were published in Life Magazine. His photograph of a robin straining to extract an earthworm from a dramatically low angle caught the eye of Melville Bell Grosvenor at the National Geographic.

He was invited to work at National Geographic, where his first report was from Lebanon. He had never been abroad before.

As a staff member of National Geographic, Abercrombie was best known for his work in Arab countries, visited all seven continents, and was one of the first two journalists to reach the South Pole in 1957 (the other was Rolla J. "Bud" Crick of the Oregon Journal).[1][2] Abercrombie was the first person to win both the Newspaper Photographer of the year (1954) and the magazine photographer of the year (1959). He dived with Jacques Cousteau who said it "was like swimming with a fish".

After 1965 Abercrombie frequently covered Saudi Arabia and he converted to the Muslim faith, taking the name Omar. He was the magazine's expert on the Middle East, and reported from Mecca. He covered the region from Morocco to Afghanistan for more than three decades, until he retired in 1994. During his forty years at National Geographic, he published forty stories from all around the world.

After retiring from National Geographic in 1993, Abercrombie taught geography at George Washington University. He was fluent in five languages (Arabic, English, German, French, and Spanish), but could swear in many more.

Abercrombie died at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland of complications from open-heart surgery. He was survived by his wife, Lynn, and children Mari, executive director of Windover Art Center, and Bruce, a videographer.

Abercrombie's photojournalism career is documented in the 2004 film, White Tiger: The Adventures of Thomas J. Abercrombie, by filmmaker Patricia A. Leone, Blue Marlin Productions, Progressive IMG and Gabriel Film Group with original music score by Kevin Harkins. The film showed at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

The August 2006 issue of National Geographic included an Abercrombie tribute article, "A Geographic Life" . In addition, the Abercrombie Crests of Antarctica are named in his honor.

Abercrombie is also one of four pioneering photographers to be honored in Odysseys and Photographs book published by the National Geographic Society, along with an exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. and in London

Link to an interview

10-04-2010, 06:09 PM
Dr. Jeffrey Lang is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Kansas, one of the biggest universities in the United States. He started his religious journey on Jan 30, 1954, when he was born in a Roman Catholic family in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The first 18 years of his life were spent in Catholic schools, which left him with many unanswered questions about God and the Christian religion, Lang said, as he narrated his story of Islam. Like most kids back in the late 60s and early 70s, I started questioning all the values that we had at those times, political, social and religious, Lang said. I rebelled against all the institutions that society held sacred including the Catholic Church, he said.

By the time he reached the age of 18, Lang had become a full-fledged atheist. If there is a God, and he is all merciful and all loving, then why is there suffering on this earth? Why does not He just take us to heaven? Why create all these people to suffer?" Such were the questions that came up in his mind in those days.

As a young lecturer in mathematics at San Francisco University, Lang found his religion where God is finally a reality. That was shown to him by a few of the Muslim friends he had met at the university. We talked about religion. I asked them my questions, and I was really surprised by how carefully they had thought out their answers, Lang said.

Dr. Lang met Mahmoud Qandeel, a regal looking Saudi student who attracted the attention of the entire class the moment he walked in. When Lang asked a question about medical research, Qandeel answered the question in perfect English and with great self assurance. Everyone knew Qandeel-the mayor, the police chief and the common people. Together the professor and the student went to all the glittering places where there was no joy or happiness, only laughter. Yet at the end Qandeel surprisingly gave him a copy of the Quran and some books on Islam. Lang read the Quran on his own, found his way to the student-run prayer hall at the university, and basically surrendered without much struggle. He was conquered by the Quran. The first two chapters are an account of that encounter and it is a fascinating one.

Painters can make the eyes of a portrait appear to be following you from one place to another, but which author can write a scripture that anticipates your daily vicissitudes?... Each night I would formulate questions and objections and somehow discover the answer the next day. It seemed that the author was reading my ideas and writing in the appropriate lines in time for my next reading. I have met myself in its pages...

Lang performs the daily five-time prayers regularly and finds much spiritual satisfaction. He finds the Fajr (pre-dawn) prayer as one of the most beautiful and moving rituals in Islam. It is as if you temporarily leave this world and communicate with the angels in singing Gods praises before dawn.

To the question how he finds it so captivating when the recitation of the Quran is in Arabic, which is totally foreign to him, he responds; Why is a baby comforted by his mothers voice? He said reading the Quran gave him a great deal of comfort and strength in difficult times. From there on, faith was a matter of practice for Langs spiritual growth.

On the other hand, Lang pursued a career in mathematics. He received his masters and doctoral degrees from Purdue University. Lang said that he had always been fascinated by mathematics. Maths is logical. It consists of using facts and figures to find concrete answers, Lang said. That is the way my mind works, and it is frustrating when I deal with things that do not have concrete answerers. Having a mind that accepts ideas on their factual merit makes believing in a religion difficult because most religions require acceptance by faith, he said. The Muslim religion appeals to mans reasoning, he said.

As faculty advisor for the Muslim Student Association, Lang said he viewed himself as the liaison between the student and their universities. He gets approval from university authorities to hold Islamic lectures. The object of being their faculty advisor is to help them get their needs met as far as adjusting to the American culture and to procedures of the university. They appreciate the opportunity to have misconceptions corrected, he said.

Lang married a Saudi Muslim woman, Raika. Lang has written several Islamic books which are best sellers among the Muslim community in the US. One of his important books is Even Angels ask; A journey to Islam in America. In this book, Dr. Lang shares with his readers the many insights that have unfolded for him through his self discovery and progress within the religion of Islam.

13-04-2016, 05:23 AM
Lang has written several Islamic books which are best sellers among the Muslim community in the US. One of his important books is Even Angels ask; A journey to Islam in America. In this book, Dr. Lang shares with his readers the many insights that have unfolded for him through his self discovery and progress within the religion of Islam.