I was a very devout Muslim who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. For over 20 years of my life in Saudi I grew up as a very devoted Muslim follower who adhered and applied the teachings of Islam into every aspects of my life. These teaching included the belief that Islam is the final religion on earth; that it is the only acceptable religion to God; that it is the way to Heaven; that those who do not accept Islam as their faith are doomed to go to hell and their work and worship will not save them unless they accept Allah as their God and Muhammad as his messenger; that salvation for the Muslims is by work and it is never guaranteed except for those who are willing to die in the name of Allah; that Muslims are superior to all others; that all non-Muslims are considered infidels, this includes Christians; that Christ is only a human and a prophet sent by Allah; that He is not God or the Son of God; that He was never crucified, never died on the Cross, and never was resurrected from the dead; and that He was lifted up to Heaven to be saved from His persecutors and will come back again at the end of times to restore Islam as the true religion of Allah, to kill the anti-christ, and to convert Christians to Islam. But the most compelling thing I grew up learning was to HATE. Hate all of those who do not worship Allah and believe in Islam, including Christians and Jews.
By age 12, I memorized half of the Qur’an (which is the Muslims’ holy book). My goal was to memorize all of it, as it is taught that memorizing the Qur’an can cover your sins and atone you. When I was 15 I was ready to die in the name of God with a multitude of young people who were leaving to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union along side Osama Bin Laden (who actually was a hero to them at that time). If it was not for my family’s plea to stay behind I would have gone, for I knew that the rewards which await those Muslims who die in the name of Allah are much better and far greater than what other Muslims might receive if, and only if, they make it to heaven, not to mention that it is guaranteed for those who die in the name of God to make it to Paradise with all of their sins forgiven, and to receive rewards that are far better than the rewards others might receive. But as I grew up I began to decipher the language of the Qur’an much better and within in it I saw messages of hate that I could not understand and did not like at all. I could not believe that God can hate His own creation simply because they do not accept Him. I thought God should be bigger than that and above all that. But sharing such thoughts or doubts with others would have caused me lots of trouble and would have jeopardized my safety (for the penalty for doubting & blaspheme Allah and leaving Islam is death).
After graduating from College in Saudi I wanted to pursue my graduate education in a western country, but I had a dilemma. The dilemma is that Islam teaches its followers not to befriend Christians, and the Muslim world truly believes that all western countries are Christian.
Sometimes in the later part of the eighties I arrived in a western country and was filled with fear and discomfort because of the fact that I will be dealing with Christians, yet I knew that in order to receive the best education, it is imperative that I go to a western country and pursue my higher education at one of their universities.
After living in the student dormitory for about a month, I began to feel the need to become more familiar with the culture and way of life in the country I am in. During that time I heard of a program that helps international students by teaming them up with families from this country in order to help the international students learn more about the culture and way of life. Little did I know that it was a Christian Ministry. So I signed up for it; a decision that would change the course of my life forever. Almost two weeks later, a young couple from the program contacted me and indicated that they were the family assigned to work with me. And for the next seven months, this family showed me LOVE that far exceeded my expectations, LOVE I have never experienced before even from my own fellow Muslims. Later on that year, this family invited me over to their house for dinner. It was only then that I realized they were a Christian family, because they asked if they can pray, and I heard their prayer. I have to admit that my heart sank. I never realized that Christians are actually filled with such Love and not hate as my belief made it seem to me. Not to mention, that this family NEVER shared the gospel with me; but rather, they showed the love of Jesus Christ to me through their actions. On that day, I walked out of their house with great doubts about my faith and my teachings. I vowed to research Christianity to learn more about this Jesus that can make such a profound difference in someone’s life, the one that can give them Peace and Joy I have never ever seen before, the one that was the source of the Light that was shining out of them.
Some years later, after graduation from college, I joined a local firm, and in there I met yet another born-again Christian gentleman who truly was a model for what a Christian man living a Christian life is like! I was very impressed by his faith; his walk; his joy; his peace; and the light that was shining out of him. He was without a doubt, different than any one around him. And when he invited me over for Christmas dinner at his house, I noticed that his wife and his kids were just like him. They were similar to the family I met in college. It was then that I could not hold back my curiosity and asked him about why is he that much different than others around him. He then proceeded to share his testimony with me and indicated to me that he was a born again Christian. That is because he accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and so he became who he was with out any efforts on his part. Even though, just like the other family, he never shared the Gospel with me, once again, I fell in love with Christ who changes these people.
From that moment onward, the Lord has allowed me to go through numerous trials and circumstances in my life, through which, I became very interested in knowing more and more about Him. And in 2001, I elected to go to a Christian Church (against everything my faith had taught me, and against all odds since Muslims will never go to a Christian Church). And for 6 months and through the study of the Gospel of John at the Church every Sunday, I learned who Christ truly is.
In that year, and without a shadow of a doubt, I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Going from being an enemy of Christ and Christianity as a whole, to becoming a born again Christian who will do anything to serve the Lord. And for few months, and through trials in my life, I came to know what is it like to have a personal relationship with the Lord; and to fully depend on Him and to experience Him in my life. And during this time, He revealed His awesome Glory to me in ways I can never deny or doubt. Since then, my life has changed forever, and I am no longer the one who used to be.
Please keep in mind that the message of the Gospel was never shared with me throughout my search for Christ, nor that I even heard it in full until after I accepted Him. The turning point in my life happened because of simple acts of LOVE by two separate families that truly were a shining light, just as they were commanded by our Lord in Matt. 5:16 – "You are the light of the world…so let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your father in heaven" - Through these simple acts of love I came to know my beloved Jesus Christ, and though their love, our Father in heaven was glorified, and will continue to be glorified.
Oftentimes we overlook the simplicity of the message, that Love was the greatest commandment given to us by Christ. We forget that the message is CHRIST and not CHRISTIANITY, that we are the message in how we present Him to others, and how this witness and representation can make a huge difference in the lives of those who are watching us, just like it happened with me when I was watching too.
Friends, if you have not made a decision yet in your life to know Christ and accept Him as your Lord and Savior, as the true living God. I pray that you will do so today. Once you do so, you will embark on a journey that will change the course of your life, but the only way to receive it, is by making your reservations with Christ at this moment, for life is very short and we have no control over what might happen to us in the next second.
You are welcome to contact me with questions or comments.
May the Lord of Peace bless you and yours.