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Peace be upon those who follow guidance,

My story, well let's see. I started exploring what faith really meant to me in high-school. I passed through a 'holy ghost' type of church in the process (which I later realized informed my penchanct for scriptural based faith). Along the road to Islam I passed through other faiths as well. Given my ken for all things eastern I looked into Confucianism and Daoism briefly. I also studied American Indian spirituality at a superficial level. I was looking for a common thread or theme. What I think I found was a belief in a Supreme Deity or Ultimate Power. All paths seemed to have this as a commonality, but they expressed its' particulars differently. This was filed away in my heart for some years. Then I read Malcolm X's autobiography and this inspired me to read the Quran. Upon reading just a small portion, not even completing the second chapter, I knew I had found my path and what I perceived as the perfection of that common thread (one supreme deity). I found my peace a couple years later when I reverted to my god-given state of worshipfulness by testifying that nothing deserved to be worshipped or adored except for Allaah (God) and that Muhammad (bin 'Abdullaah) (Allaah's prayers and peace be upon him, and all the prophets) is his slave/worshipper and messenger.
The "Muslim World"; the diversity in this realm comes about mostly through regional variety and cultural variation. In some ways, we are very much alike, no matter where we're from. This comes from our common faith. In others we are very different, this is often due to culture. The one thing which remains true is that Muslims the world over having an overwhelming tendency to show geniune love for their brethen from other parts of the world, no matter the cultural or language barriers. I have experienced this first hand and it still touches me deeply.
Being Muslim to me means living my life, as much as possible, in concert with Allaah's will. Knowing that I may falter, but also knowing that the door is open for my repentance and return into His favor.
What do I find beautiful? The most beautiful thing I've found in Islam is the filling of deep and sincere faith when it touches you. And it doesn't happen often or for very long, at least for me. There is at once both a sense of powerlessness that's very liberating and a sense of being completely sufficed by Allaah's Mercy. Also, I find an expression of this in my love for my youngest son. In him I've found a quality I would have never believed I had. Even as I write these words I grow misty thinking about it. In that love for him that I feel is a reflection, however dim, of Allaah's love for his obedient slaves (us).
My hopes and concerns truthfully revolve around myself; this may seem narcissitic, but let me explain. I believe very firmly that my first duty is to perfect myself. Through each of us working on our own short-comings and tending to our own fences, we will effect a greater change in the world then if we look past ourselves and focus on the outer rather than the inner. I worry about my motivations, my emotions, my reactions; all those things which belie the states of my heart. Mind you, I don't advocate divorcing yourself from the world. Those who know me know that I'm very opinionated about many things, and my opinions are not uninformed. However, my greatest fear (and hope) is my own rectification. By being the best I can be I pray to make to world a better place for my children and for all. Thank you for this opportunity; may Allaah (God) guide us and you, and rectify all of our affairs.