Shia Followers conducted an exclusive interview with Damir Nazarov, a Shia convert, to discuss his faith and political beliefs.

“Studying Jafari madhhab, the ways of Imams (AS) and the epic Islamic Revolution in Iran, I found the true path,” he said. “Shia madhhab, unlike other madhhabs, has dynamics, revolution, ideology and mission.”

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

Mr. Nazarov, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Damir Nazarov: Yes. My name is Damir Nazarov. I’m 26 old years old. I’m from the Russian town of Tyumen. My ethnicity – I’m half Tatar, half Bashkir. I used to be in the Army. And I started practicing Islam when I was 19 years old.

What was your religious affiliations before you converted to Shia Islam?

Nazarov: Well, I’m ethnically Muslim, but my parents did not respect the religion and they were somehow nominal followers of Islam. However, I remember that my mother always said: “We are Muslims and we pray for Allah.” I used to be a follower of Hanafi madhhab – the traditional madhhab for the Turks (Tatars, Bashkirs, etc.) in Russia. Around 2013 through a policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I converted to Jafari madhhab (Shia Islam).

Why did you convert to Jafari madhhab? And how did this impact your life?

Nazarov: First, I read books of Shahid Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari. Thanks to Russian Shia websites, I read many articles about Imamat which gave me the proof I needed to convert to Shia Islam. Second, politics played a major role in my conversion. Of all madhhabs I read about, I found that Jafari madhhab has been a political-revolutionary madhhab, and it has strong connections with the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), while other madhhabs do not have a deep connection with the family of the prophet (PBUH).

When I was a follower of Hanafi madhhab, as time went by, I felt that I needed a new religion, a new political analysis and a new mindset. Before studying Jafari madhhab, I read a lot about political processes. Then I started reading books of Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamenei, and converted to Shia Islam.

Ever since Islam arrived in my life, I feel responsibility every minute for the life and the future of the ummah. Thanks to Islam, I now have goals, discipline, self-development and guidance in my life.

What’s the real purpose of Islam as you see it?

Nazarov: We know that the real purpose of Islam has been the arrival of Imam Mahdi (AS). Unfortunately many Sunni scholars say very little about this. However, Jafari madhhab poses specific challenges and regular political directions.

What role has politics played in your life?

Nazarov: I started studying politics in high school and continued my studies when I was in university. I read about the situation of the Ummah in regular news websites in order to better understand what was going on. I always supported the Axis of Resistance, even when I was a Sunni Muslim.

I read about Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and others. I read in details about the situation of the Ummah – this was before I started studying Jafari madhhab. The Axis of Resistance provided a positive impact for me. Before that, I got carried away studying about the Muslim Brotherhood (Jam‘iyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), but I realized that it wasn’t enough.

Studying Jafari madhhab, the ways of Imams (AS) and the epic Islamic Revolution in Iran, I found the true path. Shia madhhab, unlike other madhhabs, has dynamics, revolution, ideology and mission.

You mentioned the Axis of Resistance. Tell us about how the Palestinian struggle affected you.

Nazarov: The Zionist genocide of Palestinians in 2008-2009 has played a special role in my life.

Nine years ago, in February, the illegal Zionist entity of Israel was forced to halt its 22-day holocaust on the besieged Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip, thus failing to overthrow the elected Hamas-led government. Over 1,400 Palestinian men, women, and children, were martyred and almost 5,500 others sustained injuries in this holocaust, which inflicted a damage of at least 2 billion dollars on the infrastructure.