Story of a former Islamophobic Christian’s conversion to Islam!
Not very long ago, I was preparing myself to be a Christian soldier against Islam, fighting with my words, not by force. Having been raised in a Southern Baptist home, with church-going protestant parents and an obsessive love of expressing myself through writing, I had all the assurance I needed that God had lined my life up in such a way to fulfill this plan. My mission had three parts: investigate Islam, devote my life to writing and circulating every bad and corrupt thing I found in Islam, and ultimately destroy Islam. I plotted and planned and my confidence in the quest for Christ grew tremendously. All the while God was plotting as well, preparing to send into my path a very important person to help save me from the mess I was creating.
I read every book I could find about Christian persecution around the world, all of them written by Christians and Jews, naturally. I cringed as I read the stories of babies being slaughtered and churches being burned to the ground. The stories moved me, but surprisingly, not closer to my “lord” Christ. As I ended each book, I no longer stopped and prayed to Jesus to get rid of the Muslims. Instead, I wondered what the other side of the story could be. The question kept me awake at night, and raided my thoughts during the day. I began talking to God when I prayed, addressing God as a sole entity, no longer praying to Jesus. When I would write my Christian-based column for the newspaper I worked for, I no longer gave Jesus credit for praise I knew in my heart only God deserved. But how could this be? Jesus was my savior – my ticket to heaven and the reason I could be called a child of God, just like him and the rest of my Christian brothers and sisters.
As a practicing Christian I should have felt guilt, but I didn’t. My hunger for knowledge of Islam grew exceedingly. I prayed one night, begging God to send help to me. Living in the region of America known as the “bible belt” with more churches than people, I knew this would be nearly impossible. I could not tell my fellow church members about my feelings without being judged nor could my family, my friends, or my community know. But this is part of the marvel of God’s beautiful plans. If we have good intentions, and we seek help, he will send it! In no time, an Arab named Youssef fell into my path. I was terrified of him. In my mind, foreign Muslim-born people were all terrorists, determined to hurt me or at best, disgrace people like me. I watched him from afar for a weeks. He was a writer like me, and his words were surprisingly always kind. Still, I feared him. Every day my curiosity grew. How could this person be the opposite of everything I’d ever been taught? God’s presence in my life grew as well. My heart was constantly conflicted, at war with itself. It was as if God was whispering to me, “I gave you what you asked for, now do something!”
One morning I finally chose to listen to God and did the only thing I knew to do. I emailed Youssef to tell him I was a Christian and I would pray for him, and then I breathed the biggest sigh of relief I had ever experienced.
It didn’t take long before I realized Youssef is one of the kindest and most respectable person I have the privilege of knowing. God’s law requires this! Each day I would send my questions about Islam to him, sometimes adding in insults with my ignorance of the religion. Youssef always reacted, but never in a bad way. When I would challenge him with stories of abuse and crimes in the Muslim world, he would kindly remind me that this is found in every community, even my own Christian community. “There are bad people everywhere,” he reminded me. “Read the Quran for yourself and you will see Islam doesn’t allow this.”
Until that point in my life, the Quran had been known to me as a dangerous book. The members of the Southern Baptist church I was raised in greatly discouraged opening the Quran, much less reading it! There was not a single Quran for sale in the town I lived in, and no Masjids to stop by and visit. Eventually I found a Quran in another city, and when I read the opening, I could not stop the tears. I learned there was much peace that comes from reading this book of God. I compared it to the bible, my questions ever increasing. Why did I worship Jesus all this time when, even in the bible, Jesus clearly instructs the crowds to worship the one true Lord, and to serve him only (Luke 4:8). Why did I think there would be true satisfaction in a religion that teaches one time forgiveness? I had watched my Christian community suffering because of this for my entire life. There were so many who believed “accepting” Jesus as God and professing this once was all the worship that God requires. They stopped praying. They stopped seeking God. They ignored the commandments of the Old Testament and increasingly turned the church into a social club and not a house of worship. My eyes were opened to the mess the Christian world had become! Islam, as I learned, was pure and perfect. I’d spent my entire life in a vicious cycle of questioning Christianity, then accepting, then questioning again – only to be told by every Christian elder in my life, “Just have faith.” But what good is faith in something you can’t even defend?
My education continued, with Youssef as my guide. I craved the moral lifestyle of the true Muslim community. I learned the difference between political Islam, and Islam of the Quran. I learned that the most violently victimized people of the East are in fact Muslim, not Christian. I learned that the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was a loving, wise man who encouraged fairness and peace and servitude. I learned that there is much more satisfaction in living to be a servant of God then there is pointlessly striving to be his “child”. My mission revised and Alhamdulillah, I became Muslim.
God did a beautiful thing in my life when he opened my heart to seeking truth, but the most beautiful part of this story is the role Youssef played. Muslims have every right to coil up and ignore every slur and hateful thing a Christian or Jew or citizen of the Western world throws at them, but is this really what God wants? God created us with brains to make a choice and the responsibility to speak the truth. Instead of ignoring my questions or reacting harshly to my offensive remarks about Islam, Youssef spoke to me with kindness and patience. This is the way God intends for believers to behave. My plea to you, Muslim brothers and sisters, is to remember this next time you find yourself in Youssef’s position. Remember God’s realm of mercy and wisdom is greater than our own. So when a Christian approaches you, reach out to them with peace. Show the world that the power of God’s love and the courage of a Muslim heart is what saves a life, not the blood of Jesus.
Posted on September 16, 2014, in ARTICLES and tagged Allah, america, beautiful, believers, book, brothers, christian, conversion, convert, former islamophobic, God, guidance, heart, heaven, islam, knowledge, life, muslimah, patience, purpose of life, quran, reason, sisters, soul, story. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.