Dr. Stef Keris is a polyglot(6 languages) with a German and British education, who has made it his aim to educate us about our Islamic Heritage. He has written three books which will be for sale at his lectures and on his website insha Allah. Find out more in the interview!
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu, Dr. Stef Keris welcome and thank you for having this interview with ILM Online.
Wa Alaykum Salaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu, thank you and I’m honored to be here.
Dr. Stef, what inspired you to write your first book?
Well, I would have to say my background and school experience as a Greek. I found out that our teachers were lying to us about the Ottomans in Greece and that pushed me towards Islam and towards finding out more about Ottoman Greece.
Why and when did you become Muslims?
I have a Greek background but was raised in Germany where I had some contact with Muslims from Bosnia, Turkey and other countries. When I was going to Greek primary school in Germany we used to learn a lot of lies about the Ottomans (Turks), as I found out later. I couldn’t believe everything so I started doing my research and found out that they lied to us. After I became close friend with a Lebanese Muslims when I was 15, I experienced daily life of practising Muslims and loved the salah. So, after a real struggle of about 3-4 years I started going to the masjid and started learning how to pray. This led me to saying the Shahadah in 1992, Alhamdulillah.
How did you come up with the titles?
Well, the series is called ‘The hidden Islamic heritage of our world’. I feel that it is hidden, especially in the West, where we don’t know that much about the Islamic heritage in Europe, America, the Caribbean, Australia etc.
Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
The message is we have a great Deen and civilisation with a great past that we need to learn more about to become a proud nation again.
What pushed you to do research and to write about the Islamic Heritage in the world?
Well, as I said I am Greek and became Muslim 20 years ago. My home country’s Ottoman history pushed me to find out more about Greece and the Balkan Peninsula, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey.
Do you recall how your interest in writing started?
As a researcher, you are automatically busy with writing a lot and that has become my second nature.
What books do you read as a historian?
I read books about Muslim minorities in Europe and history about the Ottomans amongst others.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Yes, every book and documentary focuses on a specific country or region. So, I need to visit them myself. It’s hard work but I love it.
What was the hardest part of writing your book(s)?
The research I had to do and finding authentic material.
Did you learn anything from writing your book(s)?
Oh yes indeed, with the research I learn every time something new and I am really surprised that there is always something to learn, Alhamdulillah.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in completing your book(s)?
Well, first of all I have to divide my time between my seven children, my wife, daily routine, research and work. That is quite challenging. Then, the research for authentic sources starts and never ends really and then there is the travelling which is time consuming and sometimes expensive. So, it can be tough just to write one book or to produce one documentary, but Alhamdulillah also very rewarding.
What are your current projects?
I am working on my Islamic Heritage lectures in Birmingham and Manchester and my next books (Islam in the Caribbean, South Africa) and documentaries in those countries.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am starting Islamic Heritage courses this year in Birmingham (every first Saturday of the month) and in Manchester (every last Saturday of the month) focusing on a specific region. The first will be in Manchester on 25th of January at the BMHC and in Birmingham on 1st February at the Amanah Centre. I am planning to finish another two documentaries about Islam in Hungary and Islam in Austria, to attach them to my books about these two countries and have plans to do more documentaries in other countries. I will insha Allah finish some recordings at Unity FM, a radio station in Birmingham, about our Islamic History and we will see what else will follow…
Anyone who wants to find out more about Dr Stef Keris, his courses, documentaries and books can visit his website www.stefkeris.com or write him an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baraka Allahu Feek for your time Dr. Stef Wa Alaykum Salaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu