"My journey towards Islam has been a long one, and it is not yet by any means complete, but rather it remains a long and fascinating path still to be explored.
My long-standing interest in European history brought me, thirty years ago at least, to focus on an area for which I was finding little information, the conquest of most of the Mediterranean and beyond by the Muslims. I soon became interested in the how and why of all this, and slowly discovered a world which, in spite of all the violence and cruelty and betrayals perpretated by every side, seemed to have a certain basis of a moral standing that to my mind was missing in my world.
Being Italian, I was struck by the consistently "good" stories that seemed to emerge out of the long Muslim occupation of Sicily and its surroundings. I admired the open and thriving cultural environment of both Sicily and the Al-Andalus. I discovered that the birth of the Renaissance was much indebted to Islamic culture. I purchased my first Qur’an in 1992, but understood little. And then I started meeting Muslims. I came across people who had an entirely opposite outlook towards life from the one I had been taught to believe was the one to follow. The discovery was very important for me because this new set of principles were the same ones that I had nurtured within myself all my life without allowing them to emerge.
In the fundamental tenets of Islam I have found a total correspondence with my own personal principles and sensibility. Later, digging deeper into the world of Islam I was beginning to find stumbling blocks represented by the inevitable baggage which accumulates on all fine and wonderful principles over the centuries, not very dissimilar to the ones which I had rejected when I abandoned the Christian religion at a young age. I consider the underlying, universal principles at the core of Islam to be the strongest and most valid approach to a practical life-system that could and should inform and be at the forefront of societies around the world."
Brandino Rangoni Machiavelli was born and raised in Florence, Italy, and came to live in the UK in 1973. He worked in feature filmmaking during the golden years of Italian cinema, in Rome, in the ‘60s, making low-cost, alternative off-beat films as an assistant director, then moved on to documentaries which brought him to the discovery of some of the most fascinating and varied peoples and life-styles all around the world. Although he embarked on a different occupation in the early 90’s, working as an international business development consultant, his interest remained in the humanities, and now in his retirement he dedicates his time to writing volunteer to assist displaced people from impoverished countries. His interactions with the Muslim world have grown and his ambition is to continue devoting his energies to facilitating contact and understanding between Western societies and Muslim communities.