An interview with American Women
Anyway Carol’s interview with American women who became Muslim. It is an extract from ‘Daughters from Another Path’, by Anway Carols.
Searching to fill the spiritual void
Many of the respondents (new converts) were searching for something in the spiritual area to fill the void in their lives. It was through this openness that many began to receive the pull toward Islam. This need is reflected in most of the descriptions the women give of their conversion experience. They may have come to the conversion point from a variety of situations, but most were receptive because of the need within themselves and the gentle persuasion of the Muslim person or resource which touched their hearts and souls:
“I married someone who was not a Christian and we both were non-practicing in anything religious. I still thought of myself as a Christian. “What else is there,” I thought. I still held my belief of God and his creation of the earth, but wasn’t sure of the other beliefs I was taught growing up.
The year .after my divorce in I990 I started thinking about what I needed, about what I believed. Early in I99I I started checking books out of the library and reading about Islam, more because I was curious about it than any thing.
I slowly read books on it, but also lived my life as I had been living it. It wasn’t until the fall of I992 that I decided I had to do something about it either get serious about studying it or forget about it. I found several American Muslim sisters in Manhattan, twenty miles from where I lived in a very small town. I studied with them and learned the practical aspects of what I had read for the past year and a half. I took my shahada in December I992.”
“My struggle began many years ago with my search for self-identity. Growing up in America as a black presented meaningful challenges to me during the I960s and I970s. After rallying around certain racial issues and feeling the pressures of early integration in Mississippi and Texas, I began to question my “role” in life as a black woman.
I was a successful professional, but my personal life was a mess. Bad marriage, poor relationship with parents and siblings, discontented with church and God-these all led me to question who I was and why and what I could do to improve relationships with these people and the world in general.
I began to seek out answers by researching black history. I was amazed to find out that most African people came from Islamic states. I later met some Sunni Muslims who shared very impressive information about heaven and hell that touched my heart. I was teaching speech and drama at a Catholic high school in Washington, D.C. at the time.
I became Muslim in I974. I was asked to resign at the end of the year because several students also converted to Islam. Islam cooled me out. It helped me to find God without all of the hang ups and guilt I felt as a Christian. I’ve always loved God, and knowing that I could talk directly to Allah was a welcoming treat.
“I was first introduced to Islam at the age of fourteen, but because of family conflicts I was not able to learn or practice. After leaving home to go to college, I had the freedom to pursue the religion The biggest change I had to make (besides the obvious ones of dress, diet, etc.) was to put some distance between myself and my family and former friends. I did this as a protection for myself that would allow me to grow stronger in my religion without distractions. I had little sense of loss because I filled the void with newfound Muslim friends, and later, my husband.
Sensing the authority of the Quran
Many of the women have expressed their growing respect and love for the Quran, which is considered the final and literal word of God. For some women the Quran was an important part of their conversion experience:
My conversion began as the result of a challenge by a Muslim to read the Quran in order for us to have a debate on the position of. I held the stereo typical view of Muslim women as being oppressed and in a bad position relative to their Christian counterparts. I was nominally Christian, raised in a Catholic environment, but was not practicing the religion and really only bothered to label myself a Christian in order not to appear too rebellious in front of my extended family (my family was also really only Christian in name, not “reality”).
The reading of the Quran and of Hadeeth of the Prophet is what captured me. I went through a very odd experience whereby for the whole week it took me to read the Quran I couldn’t sleep and seemed to toss and turn all night in a feverish sweat. I had strange and vivid dreams about religious topics, and when I would get up all I wanted to do was continue reading the Quran. I didn’t even study for my final exams which were happening at the same time!”
“I began a course in Middle Eastern History, which immersed me further into the study of Islam. When the professor read passages from the Quran to illustrate how powerful a “tool” it was in spreading Islam throughout the world, my heart sang. I knew I had found the TRUTH!
I had been searching for God since the early ’80s. At this point I knew I would someday be a Muslim. After the class was over I continued my investigation into Islam. I bought an English translation of the Quran and read it daily. I was living at home at the time so hid most of this from my family. I got together often with my new friends and my total lifestyle began to change.”
“My conversion was a long process. I left Christianity while in junior high school. I was raised Methodist. My father had been a minister one time and was rather strict when I was a child. My parents left the church mother went the American Indian Lakota way and father just left. I looked into a number of faiths but nothing attracted me. I was raised to look at other cultures from a point of understanding to try to step out of my own culture to view others.
The Iranian revolution sparked many questions for me. I decided to learn more about the people and culture and began reading the history of Iran which led to history of Islam an area not even touched in school. This led to reading Quran. I hit an emotional crisis when a relationship (with an Arab) fell apart, and I found myself turning to the Quran. I realized a need to rely on something other than people. My mother was dead, my family far away. I didn’t know who I could turn to or trust. The Quran touched a chord. I got in touch with a Muslim women’s study group and they were very supportive and informative. I especially liked Islam’s base of logic. It took me a year to finally take shahada.
“One day he said, “I can’t go anymore and I don’t want you to take our daughter either.” We had a big fight and were going to split up until we decided that we would take a look at both religions. If I could explain Christianity satisfactorily, he would become a Christian. At the same time, I would take an other look at Islam. (I had claimed Islam two years after we were married, but he wasn’t active and I lost interest quickly.)
I started asking a lot of questions from ministers, theologians, and seniors in the field to help me prove Christianity to my husband. I wanted it so badly, I cried to several of them to help me and most of them said, “I’m sorry-I don’t know” or “I ‘ll write you,” but I never heard from them. The harder I tried to prove Christianity to convert him, the more I moved toward Islam because of its logic, until I finally yielded to the belief in the oneness of Allah.
One thing led to another until my husband and I became practicing Muslims. Islam for me gives me peace of mind because I don’t have to understand the Trinity and how God is “three in one” or that God died on the cross. For me Islam supplies the answers.”
“I called myself agnostic when I went to college. I thought I believed in God and didn’t want to do any thing about it. After a few years, I was ready to go back to being “religious” again. In the meantime, I met a man from Lebanon who would later become my husband. He and I both started learning more about Islam and about six months later I converted. We were married six months after that. The hardest part was changing my ideas about Jesus. It took a long time to be able to say that Jesus isn’t the Son of God without it feeling like blasphemy. But I realized that the beliefs are really close in some ways. Mary was a virgin and Jesus is a great prophet. The difference is in the divinity of Jesus.”
“I never knew anything about Islam except that ”Muhammad was a killer and Islam was spread by the sword.” I was going out with my husband prior to marriage (he was not a practicing Muslim at that time), but when we got married and he finally told his family, his father’s stipulation was that I was to be Muslim. I told him I could not change my religion for a man because I have always been close with God but never had a direct path to walk. Then I started talking about what I really believed. I promised God that I would look into Islam, and I asked God to guide me.
Over the course of several months I started talking to my husband’s friend who had embraced Islam and was a humble practicing Muslim. I asked him many questions. I kept away from my husband about this topic because I wanted to be as objective as possible. My hardest hurdle was getting over the fiery images of what we would look like burning up in hell from my Sunday school books and training. I had been told so many times that if l did not believe Jesus had died for my sins and was my personal savior I would go to hell forever. But Allah showed me the way. I was reading many books about Islam, and everything I read was exactly how I felt inside me. All the answers were there. I may not have understood everything but what I did made sense.
I embraced Islam and shared my first Ramadan with my husband of six months who was now practicing his beliefs. The idea that Jesus is considered God by Christians was something that hadn’t become a reality to some of the women. Muslims were, therefore, able to refute this belief by affirming that putting anything or anyone on the same level as God is a great sin. This point is probably the most dividing belief between Christians and Muslims. For Christians it would be a great sin to deny Jesus as part of the Trinity; for Muslims the greatest sin would be to place Jesus (whom they consider as a revered and great prophet) on the level of God.”
“I asked my friend to attend Mass with me. He said he didn’t attend church, that he was a Muslim. “What’s a Muslim?” I asked, totally unaware that my life was going to change forever as soon as he began his answer. At first, I listened intently but after he got to the part which denied Jesus being the Son of God, even denied his sacrifice for us on the cross, I excused myself from this friend and kicked myself for wasting so much time that now I had missed Mass and would have to go to confession.
We talked again later about his beliefs. We seemed more and more alike in our belief: heaven and hell, angels, our duty to our fellow man, holy scriptures. It was just the “Jesus thing” that kept us on opposite ends of the spectrum. I also noticed another complication; despite everything, I was falling in love with him.
It wasn’t Islam that was the issue. It was Christianity. I was a “doubting Thomas” in every way and the guilt was overwhelming. I began to seek all kinds of advice to rid me of this demon of doubt. Then, three events took place in the space of a week that caused me to decide to leave Christianity altogether.
First, I went to a nun that I trusted deeply and poured my heart out. She responded with compassion, but she handed me a Quran as I left. I was very confused. Then, I went to my religion teacher, who was a lay person. As we talked, I grew more confused and finally said, ”Look, I just want you to tell me that, undoubtedly and with full conviction, Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” He didn’t look at me when he said, “I can’t tell you that.” Now I was angry too. What was wrong with these people that they refused to give me the answers I was looking for?
Finally, I turned to God. At least I was sure that he was still there for me. And he would help me. I prayed that he would open my mind and my heart and show me the answer I was looking for. I used a method I had used many times before. I would pray everything in my heart, then open the Bible to a random page and find my answer. I opened my Bible to the trial of Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate. Pilate was trying to get Jesus to say something by which he could be convicted, in order to relieve his own guilt for having him sentenced to death to fulfill the wishes of the people. Pilate asked him, “Are you the Son of God?” and Jesus answered, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, “It is you who have said it.” Suddenly, I felt at peace.”
“When I was eighteen I went to a local two-year Christian college. It was there that I first came in contact with Muslims. There were a lot of them there, and I was fascinated with the idea of another group of people I knew nothing about-some people from the “Holy Land.” I took a course called “The World’s Living Religions” and learned a little about Islam. I met my husband-to-be there when I was nineteen years old. I married him after four months.
We moved far away to go to a university. There I met an American Muslim woman who wore hijab. She gave me books and pamphlets about Islam. I read some of them and watched some debates between Muslims and Christians about the divinity of Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible.
It was then that I heard clearly for the first time that the Christians (including the Catholics) thought that Jesus was God and that the Bible had been changed by men and mostly made by men’s words, not God’s. I was shocked. I knew then that I was not one of “them” anymore.
Finding something familiar in Islam
The close identity of Islam with the prophets, with the emphasis on Allah as the same God the Christians and Jews worship, with the acceptance of Jesus as a great prophet and teacher, with the tracing of their roots to Abraham-all these make a familiar setting into which Prophet Muhammad came to bring the final word, to set right with direct revelation God’s word of “the way” to the people.
This familiarity may have been part of the easy transition for some of the American-born women when Muslim beliefs were explained.
“After meeting my husband we shared our religious beliefs, which were similar. I began exploring my religious feeling after he asked me about my beliefs of Jesus being God, and he explained about prophethood and Muhammad. I agreed with these Islamic interpretations. I began studying from interest about Islam. Six months after we had married I began doing the prayers. After another six months, I participated in the fast during Ramadan. I found at this point that Islam defined my belief. I could no longer deny my belief in Islam just to prevent hurting people’s feelings.”
“When I met the man who would become my husband and learned that he was Muslim, I was scared and asked all the questions that caused my fear. I also took a course in college called “Islam and Social Change” and learned even more about Islam. As I learned more and more in the course, the more questions I had and the more afraid I became. This fear, however, was different than the fear of the unknown; this fear was a fear of self discovery. I found that all along I shared ‘the beliefs taught through Islam but never had a name for it. This course, the Quran; and my husband helped me realize that for a number of years I had been living a Muslim life without knowing it.
(It wasn’t until I learned the Five Pillars of Islam that I began completely practicing as a Muslim.)
So when people ask how long I have been a Muslim I can’t tell them, but I can think that it has been eleven years. If they ask me when I converted, I can tell them in I992. As a matter of fact, my husband knew before I did that I was Muslim but let me come to that realization on my own.”
And so began the faith journey for these women that would affect those around them-the families in which they were raised, their friends, their colleagues at work or school. Most of all, it would change the direction and flow of their own lives, not just in a religious sense but in every facet of their existence.
1. Muslims Worship A God That Is Different From The One Worshipped By Christians And Jews.
This might be due to the fact that Muslims often refer to God as “Allah”. This concept is false, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for the One true “God” Who created the universe and all humanity. Let there be no doubt – Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. However, it is certainly true that Jews, Christians and Muslims all have different concepts of Almighty God. For example, Muslims – like Jews – reject the Christian beliefs of the Trinity and the Divine Incarnation.
This, however, does not mean that each of these three religions worships a different God – because, as we have already said, there is only One True God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to be “Abrahamic Faiths”, and all of them are also classified as “monotheistic.” However, Islam teaches that other religions have, in one way or another, distorted and nullified a pure and proper belief in Almighty God by neglecting His true teachings and mixing them with man-made ideas. Islam calls upon people to return to the one true God and to worship and obey Him alone. Islam teaches that God should be approached without intermediaries. That is because the merciful all-knowing God is completely in control of everything that exists and that He can bestow His grace and mercy on His creatures as He pleases; therefore no intercession, atonement or incarnation is necessary.
Arabic speaking people of all religions refer to God as “Allah”. For example, if you pick up an Arabic translation of the Christian Bible you will see the word “Allah” where “God” is used in English. Therefore, Allah is not the god of only the Muslims, but the same God worshipped by all monotheistic faiths. This idea that “Allah” is different from “God” is illogical since it is tantamount to saying that the French worship a different “god” because they use the word “Dieu”, that Spaniards worship a different “god” because they say “Dios” or that the Hebrews worshipped a different “god” because they called Him “Yahweh”!
The Quran, which is the divine scripture of Muslims, was revealed in the Arabic language, so Muslims use the word “Allah” for “God”, even when they are speaking other languages. A more literal translation of “Allah” into English might be “the one- and-only God” or “the one true God”.
It should be clearly understood that what Islam is primarily concerned with is correcting humankind’s concept of Almighty God. What people are ultimately going to be held accountable for at the end of Day of Judgment is not whether they preferred the word “Allah” or the word “God”, but what their concept of Him is. The true concept of God is clarified only within the message revealed by Him. The last message sent by God, or Allah, is the Quran.
2. The Quran Uses The Word ‘We’ When Quoting Allah. Does That Mean That Muslims Believe In More Than One God?
Islam adheres to uncompromising monotheism. It teaches that God is One and indivisible. In the Quran, God often refers to Himself as “We”. But it does not mean that there is more than one God. The reference of God to Himself as “We” in many Quranic verses is necessarily understood in the Arabic language to denote power and grandeur, as opposed to the more intimate singular form, “I”, used in specific instances.
In some languages there are two types of plural form. One is related to quantity and used to refer to two or more persons, places or things. The other kind of plural is one of majesty, power and distinction. For example, in proper English, the Queen of England refers to herself as ‘we’. This is known as the ‘royal plural’. Rajeev Gandhi, the ex-Prime Minister of India used to say in Hindi, “Hum dekhna chahte hain”. “We want to see.” ‘Hum’ means ‘we’, which is again a royal plural in Hindi language. Similarly, when God refers to Himself in the Quran, He sometimes uses the Arabic word ‘nahnu’, meaning ‘We’. It does not indicate a plurality of number but the plurality of power and majesty.
The oneness of God is stressed throughout the Quran. A clear example is in this short chapter “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”
3. The Quran Says That Allah Is Merciful And That He Gives Severe Punishment. So Is He Forgiving Or Is He Vengeful?
The Quran mentions many times that God is the Most Merciful. In fact, all except one of the 114 chapters of the Quran begin with Bismillaahi Aahmaani Arraheem, which means, “I begin with the name of God, the Entirely Merciful and the Especially Merciful”. These two descriptions of God are sometimes translated as “The Compassionate, the Merciful”; however in Arabic grammar, both names are an intensive form of the word “merciful”. Rahmaan means merciful to all creation, and justice is part of this mercy. Raheem means merciful especially to the believers and forgiveness is part of this mercy. A complimentary and comprehensive meaning is intended by the use of both of them together. In addition, Allah speaks of His forgiveness throughout the Quran. In fact, God’s mercy and forgiveness have been mentioned together more than 70 times in the Quran. Allah repeatedly reminds us saying “Tell My servants that I am indeed the Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful; And that My Penalty will be indeed the most grievous Penalty.”
Allah is just, and His justice necessitates that He reward those who obey and serve Him and punish those who disobey and rebel against Him. If Allah did not punish the sinful, wicked and evil people who deserve to be punished, it would not be justice. When punishment for wrongdoing is certain, it serves to deter potential offenders. In contrast, if Allah forgave everyone and punished no one, there would be no reason for legislation, ethics or even morality. Life on earth would be chaotic and nothing short of anarchy. True justice, with its true rewards and just penalties can only be found with Allah, and that is what He has promised in the Quran “We shall set up scales of justice for the Day of Judgment, so that not a soul will be dealt with unjustly in the least, and if there be (no more than) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it (to account): and enough are We to take account.”
Allah forgives all those who repent and correct themselves at any stage in their lives, and He has invited all people to His abundant forgiveness and mercy:
Say: ‘O My slaves who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return (in repentance) to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped. And follow the best of what was revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment comes upon you suddenly, while you do not perceive.
Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. “Turn ye to our Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will), before the Penalty comes on you: after that ye shall not be helped. “And follow the best of (the courses) revealed to you from your Lord, before the Penalty comes on you – of a sudden while ye perceive not!- “Lest the soul should (then) say: ‘Ah! Woe is me!- In that I neglected (my duty) towards Allah, and was but among those who mocked!’- “Or (lest) it should say: ‘If only Allah had guided me, I should certainly have been among the righteous!’
4. Muslims Worship Prophet Muhammad!
Muslims do not worship Muhammad in any way. They believe that he was the last messenger sent by Allah and like all His other prophets and messengers, he was a human being. However, some people mistakenly assume that Muslims worship Muhammad and this is one of the reasons that Muslims were erroneously called “Mohammedans”.
Muhammad, like Jesus, never claimed divine status. He called people to worship Almighty Allah alone, and he continually emphasized his humanity. In order to prevent his deification, Prophet Muhammad always said to refer to him as “Allah’s slave and messenger”. He said – “Do not adulate me as the Christians adulated Jesus son of Mary. I am Allah’s slave and messenger.”
Muhammad was chosen to be Allah’s final messenger and to communicate His message to us, not only in words, but also as a living example of its practical application. Muslims love and respect him because of his impeccable and upright moral character and because he conveyed the truth from Allah – which is the pure monotheism of Islam.
Muslims strive to follow the great example of Prophet Muhammad but do not worship him in any way. Islam teaches Muslims to respect all of Allah’s prophets and messengers. However, respecting and loving them does not mean worshipping them. Muslims know that all worship and prayer must be directed to Allah alone.
In fact, the worship of Muhammad – or anyone else – along with, or instead of, Almighty Allah is considered an unpardonable sin in Islam. Even if a person claims to be Muslim but worships or prays to anything other than God, it invalidates one’s claim to Islam. The Declaration of Faith makes it clear that Muslims must worship Allah alone.
Most Muslims find it rather odd that their religion, which strikes a remarkable balance between faith and deeds, are sometimes accused of being “fatalistic”. Perhaps this misconception came about because Muslims are known to say “All praise is due to Allah” whenever anything good or bad happens. This is because Muslims know that everything comes from God, the Creator of the universe, and occurs by His will. Thus, a Muslim worries less about material matters and views earthly life in a proper perspective. A true Muslim relies completely on Allah and knows that whatever happens is always for the best, whether one recognizes it or not, so one graciously accepts whatever cannot be changed.
This does not mean that Muslims should simply await destiny and take no action in life. On the contrary, Islam demands action and effort to change every undesirable situation. To be more precise, action is a required part of one’s faith. If human beings did not have the ability to act, it would be unjust for Allah to expect them to do and to avoid certain things. Far from being “fatalistic”, Islam teaches that man’s main obligation in life is to act and exert effort in obedience to God.
Islam teaches that human beings should take positive action in this life and supplement it with prayer. Some people are lazy and careless and then blame the negative result on destiny or fate. Some even say that, if Allah had willed, they would not have sinned or committed crimes. All of these arguments are completely erroneous, because Allah has taught us how to live and has ordered us to always do what is right. Allah has not ordered us to do anything that we are unable to do or prohibited anything that we cannot avoid, because His justice is complete and perfect. Each individual is held responsible within the limits of their ability and not beyond it.
5. How Can You Confirm The Existence Of Life After Death?
The Quran teaches that the present life is a trial in preparation for the next realm of our existence. A day will come when the whole universe will be destroyed and recreated, and the dead will be resurrected to stand in judgment before Allah “One day the earth will be changed to a different earth, and so will be the heavens, and (men) will be marshalled forth, before Allah, the One, the Irresistible;”
The Day of Resurrection will be the beginning of another life, one that will be eternal. It is then that every person will be fully compensated by Allah for his or her good and evil deeds.
The explanation that the Quran gives about the necessity of life after death is exactly what the moral consciousness of man demands. If there were no life after death, the very belief in Allah would become meaningless, or even if one believed in Him, it would then be an unjust and indifferent deity, having once created man and no longer being concerned with his fate. Surely, Allah is just. He will punish the tyrants, whose crimes are beyond count – having killed hundreds of innocent people, created great corruption in society, enslaved numerous persons to serve their own whims, and so on. Because one has a short life span in this world and since numerous individuals are affected by one’s actions, adequate punishments and rewards are not possible in this life. The Quran very emphatically states that the Day of Judgment will come and that Allah will decide the fate of each soul.
Each and every human being longs for justice. Even if one does not uphold it for others they want justice for themselves. For example, tyrants and oppressors who are intoxicated by power and influence and inflict pain and suffering on others will object vehemently if any injustice is done to them. The reason such people become insensitive to the suffering of others is that they feel that power and influence prevents others from doing injustice to them.
Any person who has suffered injustice, irrespective of financial or social status, almost certainly wants its perpetrator to be punished. Though a large number of criminals are punished, many of them get off lightly or even scot-free. They may continue to lead pleasant, even luxurious lives and enjoy a peaceful existence. Allah may not punish a criminal in this world but He will surely hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment and punish him.
6. The Wrongdoer May Receive Part Of The Justice That Is Due To Him In This World, But It Will Remain Incomplete.
The same is true of someone who deserves great reward and repayment – who has done much good, helped or taught many people, saved lives, suffered to uphold truth or patiently endured much hardship or injustice. No earthly compensation is adequate for such relentless courage and effort. These types of deeds can only be repaid in full in an eternal life where every individual affected by one’s actions will testify for or against that person, and where one’s innermost thoughts and intentions, known only to Allah, will be exposed and judged precisely and perfectly.
Belief in the Hereafter is completely logical. Allah has made certain things pleasing and desirable to us in this worldly life, such as justice, although it is usually unattainable. Though a person may obtain a good portion of earthly pleasures and many of his objectives, one remains convinced that the world is unjust. Now, why would the Creator implant in us the love for something we may not experience? The answer is that this life is only one portion of our existence and the Hereafter is the necessary conclusion which balances everything out. Whatever is missing here will be found there; and similarly, whatever is gained unlawfully here will result in deprivation there. That is the perfect and absolute justice Allah has promised.
Finally, Allah is able to create and re-create as He wills. He creates whatever He wills, however He wills, whenever He wills. Allah, the Exalted, says “even as We produced the first creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfil it.”
7. Muhammad Copied The Quran From The Bible
In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to note that no other religious scripture claims to be totally the direct word of God as clearly and as often as the Quran “Do they not consider the Quran (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein Much discrepancy.”
At the time the Quran was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Quran was unique and distinctly different from the language spoken by Prophet Muhammad and his people. This, in spite of the fact that the Arabs of that time were known for their skill in poetry and mastery of the Arabic language. Moreover, Muhammad was known to be an unlettered man. The Quran mentions that Muhammad did not read and write, so if this was false, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and exposed him. However, there are no reports of this. Without doubt there were people who rejected Muhammad’s message, just like the message of other prophets were rejected, but none denied it for this reason.
It is also interesting to note that even though the Quran is not poetry, the Arabs were much less inclined to poetry after it was revealed. It can be said that the Quran is the piece of Arabic literature par excellence – and Muhammad’s enemies, realized that as much as they tried, they could not outdo or even equal it.
It is not difficult to prove that Muhammad did not possess the knowledge that is expounded and detailed in the Quran, such as the accurate knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomena. The Quran mentions in several places that Muhammad and his people did not know these things “Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous.”
Suffice it to say that not only is the Quran the most memorized and well preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in its eloquence, spiritual impact, clarity of message and purity of its truth.
Furthermore, the Quran recounts several instances where Prophet Muhammad was criticized and corrected by Allah for his unintentional human errors. Had he been the author of the Quran he would not have included these rebukes in the Quran. For example, the Prophet was once deeply and earnestly engaged in attempting to invite one of the pagan leaders to Islam when he was interrupted by a blind man who had come to him for information and to learn the Quran. The Prophet naturally disliked the interruption because he was hopeful of affecting the influential leader’s heart toward Islam. He frowned and turned away, a gesture that went unnoticed by the blind man. No sooner had the Prophet finished talking to the leader than he received the following revelation which he conveyed to his people without the least bit of hesitation:
“(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, Because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)?- Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him?”
This incident reflects the highest degree of sincerity on the part of the Prophet regarding the revelation that was revealed to him. These verses provide substantial proof that the Prophet was not the author of the Quran, nor was he the founder of Islam.
Some Christian critics often claim that Muhammad was not himself the author of the Quran but that he learned, copied or adapted it from Jewish and Christian scriptures. In reality, however, Prophet Muhammad’s contacts with the Jewish and Christian scholars were extremely limited. Historical records available show that he made only three trips outside Mecca before his prophethood: At the age of nine he accompanied his mother to Madinah. Before the age of twelve, he accompanied his uncle on a business trip to Syria. And before his marriage, at the age of 25, he led Khadijah’s caravan to Syria. The most prominent Christian known to him was an old blind man named Waraqah bin Nawfal, who was a relative of his wife Khadijah. He was a convert to Christianity and well-versed in the Gospels. The Prophet only met him twice; the first time was briefly before his prophetic mission and the second occasion was when the Prophet went to meet Waraqah after receiving the first revelation from God. Waraqah died three years later. The revelation of the Quran, however, continued for 23 years.
Some of Muhammad’s pagan opponents accused him of learning the Quran from a Roman blacksmith, a Christian who was staying on the outskirts of Mecca. A revelation of the Quran was sufficient to refute this charge “We know indeed that they say, “It is a man that teaches him.” The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.”
Muhammad’s enemies kept a close watch on him, with the hope of uncovering a shred of evidence to support their claim that he was a liar. But they could not point to a single instance when the Prophet might have had secret meetings with any particular Jews or Christians.
8. Muhammad Had Religious Discussions With Jews And Christians
The allegation that these Jews and Christians were its source is groundless, especially since the role of Prophet Muhammad was merely that of a teacher; he openly invited them to embrace Islam, pointing out how they had deviated from God’s true teaching of monotheism. Numerous Jews and Christians embraced Islam themselves upon hearing Muhammad’s message.
In addition, it was known that Muhammad was unlettered. In His divine wisdom, Allah chose His final Messenger to be an unlettered man so no one would have the slightest justification to doubt him or accuse him of writing or copying the Quran. Moreover, there was no Arabic version of the Bible in existence at the time of Prophet Muhammad. The earliest Arabic version of the Old Testament is that of R. Saadias Gaon of 900 CE – more than 250 years after the death of Muhammad .
We have mentioned that the Quran contains scientific miracles, and we presented a few facts stated within the book to evidence that it could not possibly have been known at that time by Muhammad or by any other person for that matter. More and more recent scientific discoveries are being found to coincide with what is stated in the Quran, and this is irrefutable evidence that its source was none but the all-knowing God – Allah, the Almighty.
9. There Are Some Similarities Between The Quran And The Bible
But this is not sufficient grounds to accuse Muhammad of compiling or copying from the Bible. The similarities between the two do not indicate that later prophets plagiarized from previous ones, but merely point to a common source, who is the one true God, and to the continuation of the basic message of monotheism.
The coming of the unlettered Prophet was prophesized in the Bible: “And the book is delivered to him that is not learned.”
10. The Quran Does Not Differ From Other Scriptures
It is an article of faith for every Muslim to believe in all the prophets and messengers of Allah and all unadulterated revelations of God. Some of these scriptures are still extant today but not in their pristine form as a result of human alteration. The Quran is the only divine scripture which has stood the test of time because Allah has taken upon Himself the responsibility of preserving it “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).”
Other revealed scriptures before the advent of Prophet Muhammad, such as the Old Testament and the Gospel, were recorded long after the demise of the prophets to whom they had been revealed. In contrast, the entire Quran was written down in its complete form during the lifetime of Muhammad on pieces of palm bark, leather parchment and bone, and arranged in the order designated by the Prophet. In addition, tens of thousands of the Prophet’s companions committed it to memory as it was being revealed. The Quran is still memorized and read in its original Arabic text, and it continues to be taught and learned by millions of people the world over. In fact, with every succeeding generation of Muslims, the number of those who commit the whole Quran to memory has incredibly increased. There is no other book, religious or otherwise, which has been given this unparalleled care in recorded history.
The Quran presents all the prophets of Allah as belonging to one single brotherhood; all had a similar prophetic mission and conveyed the same basic message, namely, the invitation to the worship of Allah alone. The source of their message was one: Allah, or Almighty God. Even if the other Scriptures agree with the Quran in the fundamental aspects of the religion, they address a specific people. Due to this, its rulings and regulations are particular to them. It is attributed to Jesus in the Bible that he himself said: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house (children) of Israel.”
On the other hand, the Quran was revealed to humanity at large and not to any specific nation “We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.”
A Muslim cannot be a Muslim if he or she does not believe in Jesus. Muslims believe in Jesus and in all of Allah’s prophets. It is a basic element of their faith to believe in all of His prophets and messengers. Muslims respect and revere Jesus and await his second coming. According to the Quran, he was not crucified but was raised into Heaven. Muslims consider Jesus among the prominent messengers of Allah – but not God or the son of God. Jesus’ mother, Mary is considered a virtuous and noble woman, and the Quran tells us that Jesus was born miraculously without a father “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was.”
Many non-Muslims are surprised to find out that Islam considers, Jesus, the son of Mary, to be one of the greatest messengers of Allah. Muslims are taught to love Jesus, and a person cannot be a Muslim without believing in the virgin birth and in the miracles of Jesus Christ. Muslims believe these things about Jesus not because of the Bible, but because the Quran says these things about him. However, Muslims always emphasize that the miracles of Jesus, and of all other prophets, were only possible by “Allah’s permission” and His will.
Muslims reject the idea that Allah has a son. The Quran stresses emphatically that God does not have a “son”. Islam teaches that titles such as “Lord” and “Savior” are for Allah alone.
It should be clarified that when Muslims criticize some of the teachings of Christianity, they are not attacking Jesus Christ. Christian doctrines such as the “Trinity” and “Atonement” are criticized by Muslims simply because they did not originate from Jesus. And when they evaluate the Bible they are not referring to “God’s word”, but to writings that are claimed to be God’s word. Muslims believe that the book known today as “The Bible” only contains remnants of God’s original messages, and that it has been tainted by human input and altered through numerous translations. Muslims believe the original Gospel was the words and teachings of Jesus, not those of the ‘disciples’, Paul or other church fathers who strongly influenced Christianity throughout history. Islam actually endorses Jesus when it insists on the pure monotheism that Jesus himself preached and followed.
11. The Quran Says Nothing About Jesus
Jesus was among the prominent messengers who were mentioned in detail in the Quran. In fact, there is a chapter in the Quran named Maryam (Mary) that speaks about Mary and her son Jesus. Jesus is also mentioned in various other places throughout the Quran. Here are some of the Quranic quotations regarding Mary and Jesus:
“Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.” He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son. She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” He said: “So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: It is a matter (so) decreed.” So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!” But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: It will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, ‘I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being'” At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms).
They said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! “O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; “And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is. Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him, therefore, serve ye: this is a Way that is straight.”
12. Islam Opposed To Knowledge And Science
Islam is not opposed to knowledge and science. Knowledge is of two types: religious, which has to do with the understanding of the religious duties one is required to carry out, and temporal, which has to do with all that is needed to know with a view to living a comfortable and beneficial life.
A Muslim is required to acquire both types of knowledge. In fact, Islam advocated attaining knowledge and education at a time when the whole world was engulfed in utter ignorance. The first revelation the Prophet of Islam received from Allah was “Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created – Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful,- He Who taught (the use of) the pen,- Taught man that which he knew not.”
These verses represent the first spark ever to dispel the darkness of ignorance and barbarianism in which the world had long been immersed. And Allah reminded the Muslims of His immeasurable favour to humankind, saying: “It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error”
The early generations of Muslims became, in a matter of years, a learned and refined nation in religious as well as worldly matters, after having remained in the darkness of ignorance for centuries. Islam awakened in man the faculty of intellect and motivated him to serve Allah, the one true God.
Religious knowledge is essential, because, without it, one will not be able to perform his or her obligations in the prescribed manner. The Prophet said,
“To whomever He intends benefit, Allah grants understanding of the religion.”
Allah ordered the Prophet to pray to Him for advancement in knowledge “O my Lord! advance me in knowledge.”
Beneficial worldly knowledge is also necessary, and Muslims are encouraged to acquire it in order to benefit themselves and their fellow men. When the early Muslims understood this fact, they surpassed other nations in development and productivity and carried the torch of knowledge for many centuries.
Islam made great advances in the fields of medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history, to mention but a few. Many important new procedures such as the use of algebra, Arabic numerals, and the concept of the zero –which was vital to the advancement of mathematics-, were transmitted to medieval Europe from Muslim countries. It was the Muslims who developed sophisticated instruments, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery to the New World.
As T.W. Wallbank and A. Schrier put it:
“In medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and physics, Muslim achievements were particularly noteworthy. Well-equipped hospitals, usually associated with medical schools, were located in the principal cities. At a time when superstition still hampered the practice of medicine in western countries, Muslim physicians were diagnosing diseases, prescribing cures and performing advanced surgery… Probably the greatest of all physicians was the 9th century figure, Al-Razi, known in the West as Rhazes. He was the author of scores of scientific works, including a comprehensive medical encyclopaedia and a pioneering handbook on smallpox and measles.
A 10th century physician, Avicenna, (Ibn Sina) compiled a huge Cannon of Medicine which was considered the standard guide in European medical circles until the late 17th century… Important advances were made in algebra, analytical geometry and plane spherical trigonometry.”
The Quran itself is a book of guidance and it contains some amazing scientific facts. They are amazing because although they were revealed to Prophet Muhammad over 14 centuries ago, they were not really understood by man until scientists “discovered” them in very recent times. Although not meant to be a book of scientific facts as such, the Quran mentions certain realities that would only be recognized and appreciated through technological advancements in later centuries – further undeniable evidence and proof that it was not the work of Muhammad or of any person, but divine revelation from God.
13. The Quran Says That Only Allah Knows What Is In The Womb
Does this not contradict medical science? To answer this we should look at the verses that relate to this matter “and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: Nor does any one know in what land he is to die”
“Allah doth know what every female (womb) doth bear, by how much the wombs fall short (of their time or number) or do exceed. Every single thing is before His sight, in (due) proportion.”
If one reads the Arabic text of this verse, they will find that there is no Arabic word that corresponds to the English word ‘sex’ or ‘gender’. The Quran mentions only the knowledge of “what” is in the womb. Many have misunderstood this to mean the sex of the child in the womb, which is incorrect.
Today, science has indeed advanced, and we can easily determine the sex of the child in the womb of a pregnant mother using ultrasound scanning. Therefore, the above verse refers to every aspect of the fetus’ present and future existence. What will be the child’s nature? Will the child be a blessing or a curse to the parents? What will happen to him or her throughout life? Will he or she do good or evil? How long will he or she live? Will he or she end up in Paradise or in Hell? Allah alone knows all of this… no scientist in the world, no matter how advanced the technology, will ever be able to determine these things about a child in the mother’s womb.
14. Human Beings Are Created From Dust And It Also Mentions That They Are Created From Sperm. Isn’t This Contradictory?
“We made from water every living thing.”And He said “O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much)”
“Just ask their opinion: are they the more difficult to create, or the (other) beings We have created? Them have We created out of a sticky clay!”
In the preceding verses, Allah has mentioned various stages of human creation. The creation of man according to the Quran was first from water and dust, which when combined became clay. This refers to the creation of humanity’s first ancestor, Adam. Then Allah decreed that his descendants would reproduce after that according to the same natural law that is applied to many other living beings.
Sometimes the Quran refers to semen as “water”, meaning fluid. So when Allah says in the Quran that He created every living thing from water, it can indicate that everything in creation; humans, animals and plants have all been created from water and depend upon water for their continued existence. But a similar verse: And Allah has created every creature from water.10 can also mean that human beings and animals are created from their fathers’ semen or sperm. This is confirmed by other verses, such as: Did We not create you from a liquid disdained?
As for scientific evidence, research has confirmed that the body of man, like that of other living beings, is made up predominantly of water, and that the elements of the human body are exactly the same as those found in the earth’s soil in greater or smaller quantities.
15. Islam Oppresses Women
In answering this question, we must differentiate between the teachings of Islam and the practice of some Muslims. Although some Muslim cultures oppress women, it often reflects local customs that are inconsistent, if not contrary to Islamic teachings. Islam expects its adherents to uphold the rights of women, to protect their social status and prevent their degradation in every way. Islam further holds that women are equal to men in their origin, their humanity, their honor and their accountability before God.
Today, Western societies have actually demoted women to sex objects. The United States of America is one of the leading advocates of the so-called “women’s liberation” movement. Ironically, it also has one of the highest rates of sexual assault and rape in the world. According to an FBI report, in the year 1990, an average of 1756 rapes were committed in the US every single day.
The idea that Islam treats women as second class citizens worth half a man is nothing but a myth. Islam elevated the status of women over 1,400 years ago by declaring them the sisters of men, giving them the right to education to the highest level, the right to choose a husband, the right to end an unhappy marriage, the right to inheritance, in general, the rights of a full citizen of the state. Not only material and physical rights, but those of kindness and consideration are equally specified and significant in Islamic law.
Men and women are two equally important component parts of humanity, and the rights and responsibilities of both sexes are equitable and balanced in their totality. Roles of men and women are complementary and collaborative. Although their obligations might differ in certain areas of life in accordance with their basic physical and psychological differences, each is equally accountable for their particular responsibilities. Ignoring these differences is surely unrealistic, but there is no reason to assume from them that one sex is either superior or inferior to the other in any way.
Under Islamic law, when a Muslim woman gets married she does not surrender her maiden name, but keeps her distinct identity.
In a Muslim marriage, the groom gives a dowry to the bride herself, and not to her father. This becomes her own personal property to keep, invest or spend, and is not subject to the dictates of any of her male relatives. The Quran places on men the responsibility of protecting and maintaining all of their female relatives. It means, as well, that a man must provide for his wife and family even if she has money of her own. She is not obligated to spend any of her money towards the maintenance of her family. This relieves a woman of the need to earn a living, but she can work if she chooses to do so or if her circumstances warrant it.
The family, like any other organization, needs order and leadership. The Quran states that the husband has a “degree” of authority over his wife, which means guardianship. It is important to note, however, that guardianship is in no way a license to be a tyrant within the household. Rather, it is a burden of responsibility for the husband to care completely for his wife and children.
16. Muslim Women Are Forced To Wear The Veil
The matter of women’s dress might seem trivial to some, especially in today’s Western societies; however, Islam assigns to it moral, social and legal dimensions. Islam has defined the roles of men and women by allocating certain duties to each and granting certain rights to each. This is in order to maintain a proper balance in society. When men and women observe the proper Islamic dress, they not only protect their own honor and reputation, but they contribute greatly towards peace and order in society.
In general, there are certain guidelines concerning Muslim women’s dress. Their garments should not be tight or translucent as to reveal the shape of what is covered. They must cover their entire bodies except the hands and face. This mode of dress is called “Jilbaab” which refers to a woman’s outer garment, with which she is entirely covered. Muslim women do not dress modestly in obedience to their fathers, brothers or husbands, but only in obedience to God’s commandments.
Both men and women are expected to be chaste and modest and avoid any type of dress and conduct that may invite temptation. Both are instructed to look only at what is lawful for them to see and to guard their chastity. Allah directs men first and then women in the Quran:
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”
The additional requirement for women to conceal their adornment and natural beauty is due to their greater need for privacy and protection. Except in the company of close relatives, a woman is required to cover her entire body with loose fitting garments with the exception of her face and hands.
The Quran states why Allah has prescribed particular dress regulations for women “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
17. Islam Permit Polygamy
Polygamy is a form of marriage wherein a person has more than one spouse. Polygamy can be of two types. The first type is called polygyny, where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, a limited form of polygyny is permitted, whereas polyandry is completely prohibited.
In contrast to Islam, one will not find a limit for the number of wives in the Jewish Talmud or the Christian Bible. According to these scriptures, there is no limit to how many women a man may marry. Therefore, polygyny is not something exclusive to Islam but was practiced by early Christians and Jews as well. According to the Talmud, Abraham had three wives, while King Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued in Judaism until Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (955-1030 CE) issued an edict against it. The Jewish Sephardic communities continued the practice until as late as 1950, when an Act of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel extended the ban on marrying more than one wife, thus prohibiting the practice for all Jews. In the early teachings of Christianity, men were permitted to take as many wives as they wished, since the Bible placed no limit on the number of wives a man could marry. It was only in recent centuries that the Church limited the number of wives to one.
At a time when men were permitted an unlimited number of wives, Islam limited the number to a maximum of four. Before the Quran was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygyny and many men had scores of wives. It gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, on the condition that he deals with all of them equitably, benevolently and justly, as indicated by Allah’s statement “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one”
It is not incumbent upon Muslims to practice polygyny. In Islam, taking an additional wife is neither encouraged nor prohibited. Furthermore, a Muslim who has two, three or four wives may not be a better Muslim as compared to a Muslim who has only one wife.
John Esposito, a professor of religion and international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, writes: “Although it is found in many religious and cultural traditions, polygamy is most often identified with Islam in the minds of Westerners. In fact, the Quran and Islamic Law sought to control and regulate the number of spouses rather than give free license.” He continues: “The Quran allows a man to marry up to four wives, provided he can support and treat them all equally. Muslims regard this Quranic command as strengthening the status of women and the family, for it sought to ensure the welfare of single women and widows in a society whose male population was diminished by warfare, and to curb unrestricted polygamy.”
There are certain circumstances which warrant the taking of another wife. For example, if there is a surplus of unmarried women in society, especially during times of war when widows are in need of shelter and care. Infant mortality rates among males are higher when compared to that of females. During wars, there are usually more men killed than women. Statistically, more men die due to accidents and diseases than women. The average life span of females is also generally longer than that of males. As a result at any given time in practically any given place, there is a shortage of men in comparison to women. Therefore, even if every single man got married to one woman, there would be millions of women who would still not be able to find a husband.
In Western society, it is not uncommon for a man to have girlfriends, or if he is married, to have extramarital affairs. Seldom is this practice scorned, despite the harms that stem from it. At the same time, polygyny is banned in western society although it produces none of these adverse effects; rather it preserves the honor and chastity of women. Within a second, third or fourth marriage the woman is a wife, not a mistress; she has a husband who is obligated by Islamic law to provide for her and her children, not a “boyfriend” who may one day cast her aside or deny knowing her if she becomes pregnant.
There is no doubt that a second wife who is lawfully married and treated with honor is better off than a mistress without any legal rights or social respect. Islam strictly prohibits and penalizes prostitution, fornication, and adultery and permits polygyny under strict conditions.
18. A Man Is Permitted To Have More Than One Wife, Then Why Can’t A Woman Have More Than One Husband?
Islam teaches that Allah has created men and women as equals, but not as identical beings. They are different, physically, biologically and physiologically and each have different capabilities. Their roles and responsibilities are therefore different but they complement one another.
Some may object to a man having the right to more than one wife by insisting that, in fairness, women should also be able to practice polyandry. However, the following few points could be part of the reason behind its prohibition by God:
a) One of the benefits of polygyny is that it solves the problem of women outnumbering men.
b) In general, men are polygamous by nature while women are not.
c) Islam assigns great importance to the recognition of parents, both the mother and father. When a man has more than one wife, the parents of children born in such marriages can easily be identified. But in the case of a woman marrying more than one husband, only the mother of children born within the marriage would be known without resorting to laboratory tests. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, the father in particular, undergo severe mental disturbances and trauma, and often have unhappy childhoods.
19. Islam Impose Harsh Punishments For Sex Outside Marriage
Punishment in Islam has a social purpose, which is to dissuade others from committing the same crime. The nature of the punishment depends on the seriousness of the crime in question. Nowadays, some are opposed to the Islamic punishment for fornication and adultery because they see it as disproportionate or too harsh a punishment. The basic problem here is the different standards by which the severity of the crime is measured.
Islam views adultery as a very serious crime, because it undermines the very foundation of the family system upon which the whole superstructure of the society is built. Illicit relationships destabilize the family and bring about the breakdown of the system. Family breakdown imperils the physical and mental health of future generations, which in turn leads to a vicious circle of decadence, dissipation, and dissolution. Therefore, it is imperative that all measures must be taken to protect the family. That is why Islam emphasizes protection of the family by imposing severe punishments for activities that threaten the family foundation. These punishments are the same for men and women alike.
There is no overstating of the fact that Islamic punishments are only a part of a vastly larger integrated whole. There are essential conditions for the application of prescribed punishments in Islam:
First, Muslims are strongly encouraged to marry whenever possible, providing a lawful means of gratification. Prophet Muhammad said:
“O youths, whoever of you can afford marriage (financially and physically) let him get married; for indeed it lowers the gaze, and keeps one chaste; whoever cannot get married, he should fast, for it safeguards him.”
A man may legally take as many as four wives as long as he treats each of them equitably and justly. In cases of confirmed incompatibility or dissatisfaction, a wife has the right to request the dissolution of the marriage.
Second, Muslims, whether married or unmarried, must adhere to proper dress and behavior guidelines at all times. Privacy is to be respected and compromising situations strictly avoided as a matter of obedience to Allah.
Third, only a legitimate Islamic government has the right to implement these punishments. Such an Islamic government must establish justice as its core value in all affairs so that the social and cultural environment of the country is congenial for the moral life of its citizens. It is only after the above two conditions have been fulfilled that a government is entitled to implement Islamic punishments on its land, and only then does the court gain the authority to judge a case according to its provisions.
And finally, any case that comes before the court for judgment must be investigated thoroughly and proper evidence brought before the court to satisfy all the requirements of Islamic law. Conviction is subject to strict conditions, which are most difficult to fulfill. This means that, in reality, the punishments are seldom carried out without the connivance of the criminal, and serve primarily as deterrents.
20. A Woman’s Share Of Inherited Wealth Half That Of A Man’s, Unfair!
Islam abolished the former practice whereby inheritance went only to the oldest male heir. According to the Quran, a woman automatically inherits from her father, her husband, her son and her childless brother. The Quran contains specific guidance regarding the division of the inherited wealth among the rightful beneficiaries. The three verses that broadly describe the share of close relatives are found in chapter 4, verses 11, 12 and 176. In these verses, Allah establishes the right of children, parents and spouses to inherit a specific share without leaving the matter to human judgment and emotions. In the absence of certain close relatives a share is apportioned to more distant ones. The system of inheritance is a perfectly balanced product of the Creator’s knowledge of human need and takes into account His imposition of greater responsibility upon particular members of the family in varying situations.
In most cases, the female inherits a share that is half that of the male. However, this is not always so. There are certain instances when they inherit equal shares, and in some cases, a female can inherit a share that is more than that of the male. But even when the male is given a larger share there is a perfectly logical reason behind it. In Islam a woman has no financial obligations towards her family, even if she is wealthy or has her own source of income; the economic responsibility always lies upon the man. As long as a woman remains unmarried, it is the legal obligation of her father, brother or other guardian to provide her food, clothing, medication, housing and other financial needs. After she is married, it is the duty of her husband or adult son. Islam holds the man financially responsible for fulfilling all the needs of his family.
So the difference in shares does not mean that one sex is preferred over the other. It represents a just balance between the roles and responsibilities of family members according to their natural, physical and emotional makeup. In general, the woman is in charge of running the household and taking care of the needs of those within it, so she is alleviated from financial obligations. Despite this, she receives a share of inheritance which becomes her own property to save or use as she pleases. No other person has claim to any portion of her share. In contrast, the man’s share becomes a part of his property from which he is obligated to maintain his children and all female members of the household, so it is constantly being consumed.
Suppose someone died leaving a son and a daughter. The son’s share of inheritance will be depleted when he gives a dowry to his wife and supports his family, including his sister until she marries. Any additional income will have to be earned through his work. However, his sister’s share remains untouched, or might even increase if she invests it. When she marries, she will receive a dowry from her husband and will be maintained by him, having no financial responsibilities whatsoever. Thus, a man might conclude that Islam has favored women over men!
In addition, the Muslim may make a bequest at his own discretion, in which he can will up to one third of his property to anyone who would not inherit otherwise. The bequest can be a means of assistance to other relatives and people in need, both men and women. One may also allocate this portion or part of it toward charities and good works of his choice.
21. Islam Is A Militant Religion
In Islam, the use of force is allowed only in special situations, particularly when the Muslim community is threatened by hostile forces. This is indeed natural and logical for any nation. Then again, the use of force in a campaign of jihad is determined by the leader of the Muslim community in a very ordered and ethical way. Islam considers all life forms as sacred, but particularly emphasizes the sanctity of human life “take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.”
“if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”
Such is the value of a single human life, that Allah equates the taking of even one human life unjustly with killing all of humanity. It is important to understand that in Islam, war is only permitted in specific and dire circumstances. It is despised and only permitted as a last resort when all other attempts at peace have been made. It keeps warfare at a level of mercy and respect for the enemy such as none other has been able to reach. The Prophet, sometimes had to fight for the mere survival of his mission, but once security was ensured, he immediately reverted to peace and diplomacy.
Even in a state of war, Islam enjoins that armies deal with the enemy justly in the battlefield. Islam has drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants of an enemy country. The Prophet told his armies, “Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman.” And he said: “Do not kill the monks in monasteries.”
Upon seeing the corpse of a woman on a battlefield, Prophet Muhammad angrily asked his companions why she had been killed, and he strongly condemned the atrocious act. For those enemies active in combat and those taken as prisoners of war, the list of rights is lengthy. There should be no torture; no killing of the wounded or defenseless, no mutilation of enemy bodies and return of corpses to the enemy must be honored. In light of the aforementioned, it becomes crystal clear that Islam does not permit aggression, violence, injustice, or oppression. At the same time, it calls for morality, justice, tolerance, and peace.
Far from being a militant dogma, Islam is a way of life that transcends race and ethnicity. The Quran repeatedly reminds us of our common origin “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.”
It is the universality of its teachings that makes Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. In a world full of conflicts and deep schisms between human beings, a world that is currently plagued with terrorism, perpetrated by individuals and by states, Islam is a beacon of light that offers hope for the future.
It is very unfortunate that nowadays, Islam has become synonymous with “terrorism”. Far from promoting terrorism, Islam is a religion of peace whose fundamentals teach its followers to maintain and promote peace and justice throughout the world. Islam does not condone “terrorism” as defined and understood nowadays: plane hijackings, hostage taking and the torturing and killing of innocents in order to achieve political or even religious goals. This is not how Islam teaches Muslims to solve their problems, achieve their goals, or to spread their religion.
The question that should be posed instead is: Do the teachings of Islam encourage terrorism? Certainly not – Islam totally prohibits all terrorist acts. It should be remembered that all religions have misguided followers. To be evenhanded and just, one must consider the teachings of the religion, as they are the yardstick by which the actions of its adherents can be assessed as being right or wrong.
It is completely unfair to judge Islam by the wrongdoings of some misguided or ignorant Muslims, or by the deteriorating condition of Muslims and the blatant corruption that pervades the Muslim world. In fact, what Islam preaches is one thing and what so many Muslims nowadays practice is something completely different. The only way we can do justice to Islam is to find out about its noble teachings, which are clearly set out in the Quran and prophetic traditions. Former pop singer Cat Stevens, now known as Yousef Islam, observed: “It is wrong to judge Islam in the light of the behavior of some deviant Muslims who are always shown on the media. It is like judging a car to be bad if the driver is drunk and he crashes it into a wall.”
Islam is a religion of peace, which is acquired by submitting one’s will to the will of the supreme Creator, God. Islam promotes peace but at the same time, it exhorts its followers to fight oppression. The fight against oppression may, at times, require the use of force, and sometimes force has to be used to maintain peace.
Certainly, Islamic law allows war under particular circumstances. Any religion or civilization that does not, would never survive. But Islam never condones attacks against innocent people, women or children. Islam also clearly forbids “taking the law into one’s own hands”, which means that individual Muslims cannot go around deciding who they want to kill or punish. Trial and punishment must only be carried out by a lawful authority and a qualified judge.
22. Islam Was Spread By The Sword
It is another common misconception among some non-Muslims that Islam would not have the millions of adherents it has all over the world, had it not been spread by the use of force.
The following proofs will make it clear, that far from being forcefully “spread by the sword”, it was the inherent force of truth, reason and logic that was responsible for the rapid spread of Islam.
Islam has always given respect and freedom of religion to all faiths. Freedom of religion is ordained in the Quran itself “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks.”
The noted historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote: “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.”
Another famous historian, Thomas Carlyle, in his book Heroes and Hero worship, refers to this misconception about the spread of Islam: “The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one; in one man’s head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it, there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and tries to propagate with that will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can.”
If Islam was indeed spread by the sword, it was the sword of intellect and convincing arguments that was used. It is only this type of sword that conquers the hearts and minds of people. The Quran says in this connection “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious”.
The facts speak for themselves:
Indonesia is the country that has the largest number of Muslims in the world, and the majority of people in Malaysia are Muslims. But, no Muslim army ever entered Indonesia or Malaysia. It is an established historical fact that Indonesia entered Islam not due to war, but because of its moral message. Despite the disappearance of Islamic government from many regions once ruled by it, their original inhabitants have remained Muslims.
Moreover, they carried the message of truth, inviting others to it as well, and in so doing endured harm, affliction and oppression. The same can be said for those in the regions of Syria and Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, North Africa, Asia, the Balkans and in Spain. This shows that the effect of Islam on the population was one of moral conviction, in contrast to occupation by western colonialists, finally compelled to leave lands whose peoples held only memories of affliction, sorrow, subjugation and oppression.
– Muslims ruled Spain (Andalusia) for about 800 years. During this period, the Christians and Jews enjoyed freedom to practice their respective religions, and this is a documented historical fact.
– Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and Jewish populations.
– Muslims ruled India for about a thousand years, and therefore had the power to force each and every non-Muslim resident of India to convert to Islam, but they did not, and thus more than 80% of the Indian population remains non-Muslim.
– Similarly, Islam spread rapidly on the East Coast of Africa. And likewise no Muslim army was ever dispatched to the East Coast of Africa.
– An article in Reader’s Digest ‘Almanac’, yearbook 1986, gives the statistics of the increase of the percentage of the major religions of the world in half a century from 1934 to 1984. This article also appeared in The Plain Truth magazine. At the top was Islam, which increased by 235%, while Christianity had increased by 47%. During this fifty- year period, there was no “Islamic conquest” yet Islam spread at such an extraordinary rate.
– Today, the fastest growing religion in North America, Europe, and Africa is Islam. The Muslims in most of these lands constitute a minority. The only sword they have in their possession is the sword of truth. It is this sword that is converting thousands to Islam.
– Islamic law protects the privileged status of minorities, and that is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Islamic law also allows non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether they are Muslims or not.
It is clear, therefore, that Islam was not spread by the sword. The often-alleged “sword of Islam” did not convert all the non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries. In India, where Muslims ruled for about a thousand years, they are still a minority. In the U.S.A. and Canada Islam is the fastest growing religion and has over seven million followers.
In his book The World’s Religions, Huston Smith discusses how the Prophet Muhammad granted freedom of religion to the Jews and Christians under Muslim rule:
The Prophet had a document drawn up in which he stipulated that Jews and Christians “shall be protected from all insults and harm; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our assistance and good offices,” and further, “they shall practice their religion as freely as the Muslims.”
Smith points out that Muslims regard that document as the first charter of freedom of conscience in human history and the authoritative model for those of every subsequent Muslim state.
23. The Quran Says That Muslims Should Kill The Non-Believers Wherever They Find Them.
There are a few verses from the Quran that are quite often misquoted or quoted out of context to perpetuate the myth that Islam promotes violence and exhorts its followers to kill those outside the fold of Islam. The words Kill the polytheists wherever you find them are often quoted to portray that Islam promotes violence, bloodshed and brutality.
In order to understand the context, it is necessary to read from the beginning of the chapter. It discloses that there was a peace treaty between the Muslims and the pagans of Mecca. The pagans violated this treaty, so a period of four months was given them to make amends; otherwise war would be declared against them. The complete verse actually says:
“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”
This verse is a command to the Muslims who had entered into an agreement with the pagans, who soon violated the agreement, to fight and kill those who betrayed them wherever they found them. It would seem that any open-minded person would consider the historical context of this verse and agree that it cannot be used as “evidence” that Islam promotes violence, brutality and bloodshed, or that it exhorts its followers to kill anyone outside the fold of Islam.
The very next verse gives the answer to the allegation that Islam promotes violence, brutality and bloodshed “If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge.”
The Quran not only stipulates that a pagan seeking asylum during the battle should be granted refuge, but also that he is escorted to safety. In the present age, what military commander would direct his soldiers not just to spare an enemy during battle, but to escort him to a place of safety? Yet, that is exactly what Almighty Allah instructs in the Quran.
Arun Shourie, one of the most persistent critics of Islam in India, quotes the same verse (9:5) in his book, The World of Fatwas, p. 572. But alter quoting it, he skips the next verse and jumps to the one after it. This is a clear indication that some of the opponents of Islam are biased and prejudiced in their criticism.
This idea can be easily be disproved, as only about 15 to 20 percent of Muslims in the world are Arabs. There are more Indian Muslims than Arab Muslims, and more Indonesian Muslims than Indian Muslims. This assumption is possibly based on the fact that most of the first generation of Muslims were Arabs, that the Quran is in Arabic and that the Prophet Muhammad was an Arab.
However, history testifies that the Prophet, his followers and the early Muslims made every effort to spread the message of Islam to all nations, races and peoples. From the very beginning of the mission of Prophet Muhammad his followers came from a wide spectrum of countries and races. Among them was Bilal, the African slave; Suhaib, the Byzantine Roman; Abdullah bin Salam, the Jewish Rabbi; and Salman, the Persian.
Furthermore, it should be clarified that not all Muslims are Arabs and not all Arabs are Muslims. An Arab might be a Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist or follower of any other religion or ideology. Additionally, some countries – such as Turkey and Iran (Persia) – that uninformed people consider to be “Arab” are not Arab at all. The people who live in those countries speak languages other than Arabic and are of a different ethnic heritage.
Since religious truth is eternal and unchanging, and humanity is considered one universal brotherhood, Islam teaches that God’s revelations to humanity have always been consistent, clear and universal. The truth of Islam is meant for all people regardless of race, nationality, cultural or linguistic background. A brief look at the Muslim World, from Nigeria to Bosnia and from Malaysia to Afghanistan is sufficient proof that Islam offers a universal appeal; a message for all of mankind – not to mention the fact that significant numbers of Europeans and Americans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are finding and coming into Islam. The Quran clearly says, And We have not sent you “We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not.”
A final word
We would now like our readers to ask themselves what they think are the reasons for all the propaganda and misinformation currently being perpetuated about Islam. If Islam was just another false religion that made no sense, would so many feel a need to invent so many falsehoods about it? The reason is merely that the ultimate truth of Islam stands on unshakable ground, and that its basic fundamental belief in the oneness of Allah is above reproach. Thomas Carlyle said:
A false man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he does not know and follow truly the properties of mortar, burnt clay and what else he works in, it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish- heap. It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a hundred and eighty millions; it will fall straightway. A man must conform himself to Nature’s laws, be verily in communion with Nature and the truth of things, or Nature will answer him, No, not at all! Speciosities are specious – ah me! – a Cagliostro, many Cagliostros, prominent world-leaders, do prosper by their quackery, for a day. It is like a forged bank-note; they get it passed out of their worthless hands: others, not they, have to smart for it. Nature bursts up in fire-flames; French Revolutions and such like, proclaiming with terrible veracity that forged notes are forged. But of a Great Man especially, of him, I will venture to assert that it is incredible he should have been other than true. It seems to me the primary foundation of him, and of all that can lie in him, is this.
Finally, we must never rely on second hand information to understand the religion of Islam. Rather, it needs to be studied from its authentic sources and by speaking to sincere, practicing Muslims. By rereading the introductory section of this book, one will surely find a different picture than what is commonly projected by the Western media. A person may even find that Islam provides the answers for all the questions and challenges in life.
The purpose of life
This is, perhaps, the most important question that has ever been asked. Throughout the ages, philosophers have considered it to be the most fundamental question. Scientists, historians, philosophers, writers, psychologists and the common man all wrestle with the question at some point in their lives.
Is reason a sufficient guide?
Why do we eat? Why do we sleep? Why do we work? The answers we would get to these questions would be similar. I eat to live. I sleep to rest. I work to support myself and my family. But when it comes to what the purpose of life is, people are confused. We see their confusion by the type of answers we receive.
Youths may say, I live for booze and bikinis. The middle-aged professional might say, I live to save enough for a comfortable retirement. The old man would probably say, I have been asking why I am here most of my life. If there is a purpose, I do not care anymore. And perhaps the most common answer will be, I really don’t know!
How, then, do you discover the purpose of life? We basically have two options. The first is to let human reason – the celebrated achievement of the Enlightenment – guide us. After all, the Enlightenment gave us modern science based on careful observation of the natural world. But have post-Enlightenment philosophers figured it out? Camus described life as “absurd”; Sartre spoke of “anguish, abandonment, and despair.”
To these Existentialists, life has no meaning. Darwinians thought the meaning of life was to reproduce. Will Durant, capturing the predicament of postmodern man, wrote, “Faith and hope disappear; doubt and despair are the order of the day… it is not our homes and our treasuries that are empty, it is our hearts.”
When it comes to the meaning of life, even the wisest philosophers are just guessing. Will Durant, the most noted philosopher of the last century, and Dr. Hugh Moorhead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University, both wrote separate books titled The Meaning of Life. They wrote to the best-known philosophers, scientists, writers, politicians, and intellectuals of their time in the world, asking them, “What is the meaning of life?” Then they published their responses. Some offered their best guesses, some admitted that they just made up a purpose for life, and others were honest enough to say they were clueless. In fact, a number of famous intellectuals asked the authors to write back and tell them if the purpose of life was discovered!
Let the heavens ‘speak’
If the philosopher has no definitive answer, perhaps the answer can be found within the heart and mind that we ourselves possess. Have you ever looked at the open sky on a clear night? You will see an incalculable number of stars. Look through a telescope and you will see gigantic spiral galaxies, beautiful nebula where new stars are being formed, the remnants of ancient supernova explosion created in a stars final death throes, the magnificent rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.
Is it possible not to be moved by the sight of these countless stars in the night sky shining like diamond dust on a bed of black velvet? Multitudes of stars beyond stars, stretching back; becoming so dense that they appear to merge into delicate wisps of sparkling mist. The grandeur humbles us, thrills us, inspires a craving for investigation, and calls for our contemplation. How did it come into being? How are we related to it, and what is our place in it? Can we hear the heavens “speak” to us?
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding, men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the wonders of creation in the heavens and the earth, With the thought: “Our Lord! not for naught Hast, you created all this! Glory to you! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.”
When we read a book, we accept that an author exists. When we see a house, we accept that a builder exists. Both of these things were made with a purpose by those who made them. The design, order, and complexity of the universe, as well as the world around us, are evidence of the existence of a supreme intelligence, a perfect designer. All the heavenly bodies are controlled by precise laws of physics. Can there be laws without a lawmaker? Rocket scientist Dr. von Braun said:
“The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second. These laws must have been set by somebody.”
Paul Davies, a professor of physics, concludes that mans existence is not a mere quirk of fate. He states: “We are truly meant to be here.” And he says regarding the universe: “Through my scientific work, I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation.”
The universe, the earth, and living things on the earth all give silent testimony to an intelligent, powerful Creator.
If we were made by a Creator, then surely that Creator must have had a reason, a purpose, in creating us. Thus, it is important that seek to know Gods purpose for our existence. After coming to the realization of this purpose, we can choose whether we want to live in harmony with it. But is it possible to know what is expected from us left to our own devices without any communication from the Creator? It is natural that God Himself would inform us of this purpose, especially if we are expected to fulfill it.
The alternative to speculation: Ask God
This brings us to the second option: the alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life is the revelation. The easiest way to discover the purpose of an invention is to ask the inventor. To discover the purpose of your life, ask God.
Can Christianity answer the question?
In Christianity, the meaning of life is rooted in faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, in finding Jesus as Savior. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
However, the proposition is not without serious problems. First, if this is the purpose of creation and the precondition for eternal life, why was it not taught by the prophets to all the nations of the world? Second, had God turned into man close to the time of Adam all mankind would have had an equal chance to eternal life, unless those before the time of Jesus had another purpose for their existence! Third, how can people today who have not heard of Jesus fulfill the Christian purpose of creation? Naturally, such a purpose is too narrow and goes against divine justice.
Islam is the response to humanities search for meaning. The purpose of creation for all men and women for all times has been one: that is to know and worship God the Only One. He teaches us that every human being is born conscious of God:
“When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): ‘Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?’- They said: ‘Yea! We do testify!’ (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: ‘Of this we were never mindful’: Or lest ye should say: ‘Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are (their) descendants after them: wilt Thou then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?’”
The Prophet of Islam teaches us that God created this primordial need in human nature at the time Adam was made. God took a covenant from Adam when He created him. God extracted all of Adams descendants who were yet to be born, generation after generation, spread them out, and took a covenant from them. He addressed their souls directly, making them bear witness that He was their Lord. Since God made all human beings swear to His Lordship when He created Adam, this oath is imprinted on the human soul even before it enters the fetus, and so a child is born with a natural belief in the Oneness of God.
This natural belief is called fitra in Arabic. Consequently, every person carries the seed of belief in the Oneness of God that lies deeply buried under layers of negligence and dampened by social conditioning. If the child were left alone, it would grow up conscious of God – a single Creator – but all children are affected by their environment.
Prophet Muhammad said “Each child is born in a state of fitra, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian. It is like the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any young born mutilated before you mutilate them?”
So, just as the child’s body submits to physical laws, set by God in nature, its soul submits naturally to the fact that God is its Lord and Creator. However, its parents condition it to follow their own way, and the child is not mentally capable of resisting it. The religion which the child follows at this stage is one of custom and upbringing, and God does not hold it to account for this religion. When a child matures into an adult, he or she must now follow the religion of knowledge and reason. As adults, people must now struggle between their natural disposition towards God and their desires in order to find the correct path.
The call of Islam is directed to this primordial nature, the natural disposition, the imprint of God on the soul, the fitra, which caused the souls of every living being to agree that He Who made them was their Lord, even before the heavens and earth were created: “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship Me.”
The basic message which God has revealed through all prophets, from the time of Adam to the last of the prophets, Muhammad was the same one “For We assuredly sent amongst every People a messenger, with the Command, ‘worship Allah, and eschew Evil’: of the People were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom error became inevitably established”.
The original sin
The concept of original sin is completely foreign to Judaism and Eastern Christianity, having achieved acceptance in only the Western Church.
Furthermore, Christian and Islamic concepts of sin are virtual opposites with respect to certain nuances. For example, there is no concept of “sinning in the mind” in Islam; to a Muslim, an evil thought becomes a good deed when a person refuses to act upon it.
Overcoming and dismissing the evil thoughts which forever assail our minds is considered deserving of reward rather than punishment. Islamically speaking, an evil thought only becomes sinful when fulfilled.
Conceiving good deeds is more contrary to the base nature of man. Since our creation, if not bound by societal or religious restrictions, humankind has historically dined on the banquet of life with lust and abandon.
The orgies of self-indulgence that have carpeted the corridors of history envelop not only individuals and small communities but even major world powers which ate their fill of deviancy to the point of self-destruction.
Sodom and Gomorrah may top most lists, but the greatest powers of the ancient world-to include the Greek, Roman and Persian empires, as well as those of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great – certainly, bear dishonorable mention. But while examples of communal decadence are innumerable, cases of individual corruption are exponentially more common.
So, good thoughts are not always the first instinct of humankind. As such, the Islamic understanding is that the very conception of good deeds is worthy of reward, even if not acted upon. When a person actually commits a good deed, Allah multiplies the reward even further.
The concept of original sin simply does not exist in Islam, and never has. For the Christian readers, the question is not whether the concept of original sin exists in the present day, but whether it existed during the period of Christian origins. Specifically, did Jesus teach it?
Apparently not. Whoever dreamt up the concept, it certainly wasn’t Jesus, for he reportedly taught, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”.
We may well wonder how “for of such” could be “the kingdom of heaven” if the unbaptized are hell‑bound. Children are either born with original sin or are bound for the kingdom of heaven. The church can’t have it both ways. Ezekiel 18:20 records, “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son.
The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”
Deuteronomy 24:16 repeats the point. The objection may be raised that this is Old Testament, but it’s not older than Adam! If original sin dated from Adam and Eve, one wouldn’t find it disavowed in any scripture of any age!
Islam teaches that each person is born in a state of spiritual purity, but upbringing and the allure of worldly pleasures may corrupt us. Nonetheless, sins are not inherited and, for that matter, not even Adam and Eve will be punished for their sins, for God has forgiven them. And how can humankind inherit something that no longer exists?
No, Islamically speaking, all of us will be judged according to our deeds, for “man can have nothing but what he strives for” (TQM 53:38–39), and “Who receives guidance, receives it for his own benefit: who goes astray does so to his own loss: no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another…”
Each person will bear responsibility for his or her actions, but no infant goes to hell for being unbaptized and burdened with sin as a birthright – or should we say a birth wrong?
The message of false religions
There are so many sects, cults, religions, philosophies, and movements in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path of God How can one determine which one is correct or whether, in fact, all are correct?
One method by which the answer can be found is to clear away the superficial differences in the teachings of the various claimants to the ultimate truth and identifies the central object of worship upon which they call, directly or indirectly. False religions all have in common one basic concept with regard to God they either claim that all men are gods, or that specific men were God, or that nature is God, or that God is a figment of man’s imagination.
Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of false religion is that God may be worshipped in the form of His creation. False religions invite mankind to the worship of creation by calling the creation or some aspect of it God. For example, prophet Jesus invited his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was God.
Buddha was a reformer who introduced a number of humanistic principles in the religion of India. He did not claim to be God, nor did he suggest to his followers that he be an object of worship. Yet today most Buddhists who are to be found outside of India have taken him to be God and they prostrate themselves to idols made in their perception of his likeness.
By using the principle of identifying the object of worship, we can easily detect false religions and the contrived nature of their origin. As God said in the Quran:
“That which you worship besides Him are only names and you and your forefathers have invented for which Allah has sent down no authority: the command belongs only to Allah He has commanded that you worship Him; that is the right religion, but most men do not understand.”
It may be argued that all religions teach good things, so why should it matter which one we follow? The reply is that all false religions teach the greatest evil the worship of creation. Creation-worship is the greatest sin that man can commit because it contradicts the very purpose of his creation. Man was created to worship God alone as Allah has explicitly stated in the Quran:
“I have only created jinns and men, that they may worship Me”
Consequently, the worship of creation, which is the essence of idolatry is the only unforgivable sin. One who dies in this state of idolatry has sealed his fate in the next life. This is not an opinion, but a revealed fact stated by God in his final revelation to man:
“Verily Allah will not forgive the joining of partners with Him, but He may forgive (sins) less than that for whomsoever He wishes.”
The universality of God’s religion
Since the consequences of following a false religion are so grave, the true religion of God must have been universally understandable and universally attainable in the past and it must continue eternally to be understandable and attainable throughout the entire world. In other words, the true religion of God cannot be confined to any one people, place, or period of time. Nor is it logical that such a religion should impose conditions that have nothing to do with the relationship of men with God, such as baptism, or belief in man as a savior, or an intermediary. Within the central principle of Islam and its definition (the surrender of one’s will to God) lie the roots of Islam’s universality.
Whenever man comes to the realization that God is one and distinct from His creation, and submits himself to God, he becomes a Muslim in body and spirit and is eligible for paradise.
Consequently, anyone at any time in the most remote regions of the world can become Muslim, a follower of God’s religion, Islam, by merely rejecting the worship of creation and turning to God alone. It should be noted, however, that in order to actually submit to God’s will, one must continually choose between right and wrong.
Indeed, man is endowed by God with the power not only to distinguish right from wrong but also to choose between them. These God-given powers carry with them an important responsibility, namely, that man is answerable to God for the choices he makes. It follows, then, that man should try his utmost to do good and avoid evil. These concepts are expressed in the final revelation as follows:
“Verily, those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians (angel-and-star-worshippers) any of those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord. They will not be overcome by fear or grief.”
If, for whatever reason, they fail to accept the final message after it has been clearly explained to them, they will be in grave danger. The last Prophet said:
“Whoever among the Christians and Jews hears of me but does not affirm his belief in what I brought and dies in this state will be among the inhabitants of hell.”
Recognition of God
The question which arises here is: How can all people be expected to believe in the one true God, given their varying backgrounds, societies, and cultures? For people to be held responsible for worshipping the one true God, they all need to have access to knowledge of Him. The final revelation teaches that all humans being have the recognition of the one true God imprinted on their souls as a part of their very nature with which they are created.
In the seventh chapter of the Quran verses 172-173, God explained that when He created Adam He caused all of Adam’s descendants to come into existence and He took a pledge from them saying “‘Am I not your Lord?’ To which they all replied, ‘Yes, we testify to it’”
Allah then explained why He had all of mankind bear witness that He is their creator and the only true God worthy of worship. He said “That was in case you (mankind) should say on the day of Resurrection, ‘Verily we were unaware of all this’”
That is to say, we cannot claim on that day that we had no idea that Allah, was our God and that no one told us that we were only supposed to worship Allah alone. Allah went on to further explain that: “It was also in case you should say, ‘Certainly it was our ancestors who made partners (with Allah) and we are only their descendants; will you then destroy us for what those liars did?’”
Thus, every child is born with a natural belief in God and an inborn inclination to worship Him alone. This inborn belief and inclination is called in Arabic the “Fitrah“.
The Prophet Muhammad reported that Allah said, “I created my servants in the right religion, but devils made them go astray.” The Prophet also said, “Each child is born in a state of Fitrah. Then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian.” If the child were left alone, he would worship God in his own way, but all children are affected by the environment. So, just as the child submits to the physical laws, which Allah has imposed on nature, in the same way, his soul also submits naturally to the fact that Allah is his Lord and Creator.
But, if his parents try to make him follow a different path, the child is not strong enough in the early stages of his life to resist or oppose the will of his parents. In such cases, the religion, which the child follows, is one of custom and upbringing, and God does not hold him to account or punish him for his religion up to a certain stage of his life.
The signs of God
Throughout people’s lives, from childhood until the time they die, signs of the one and only true God are shown to them in all regions of the earth and in their own souls, until it becomes clear that there is only one true God (Allah). God says in the Quran:
“We will show them our signs In the furthest regions (of the earth) and in their souls until it becomes clear to them that this is the truth.”
The following is an example of God revealing by a sign to one man the error of his idol-worship. In the south-eastern region of the Amazon jungle in Brazil, South America, a primitive tribe erected a new hut to house their man-idol Skwatch, representing the supreme God of all creation. The following day a young man entered the hut to pay homage to the God, and while he was in prostration to what he had been taught was his Creator and Sustainer, a mangy old flea-ridden dog slunk into the hut. The young man looked up in time to see the dog lift his hind leg and pass urine on the idol.
Outraged, the youth chased the dog out of the temple, but when his rage died down he realized that the idol could not be the Lord of the Universe. God must be elsewhere, he concluded. As strange as it may seem, the dog urinated on the idol was a sign from God for that young man. This sign contained the divine message that what he was worshipping was false. It liberated from slavishly following his traditionally learned worship of a false god. As a result, this man was given a choice: either to seek the true god or to continue in the error of his ways.
Allah mentions Prophet Abraham’s quest for God as an example of how those who follow His signs will be rightly guided:
“So also did we show Abraham the power and the Laws of the heavens and the earth that he might (with understanding) have certitude. When the night covered him over, he saw a star. He said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set, he said: ‘I love not those that set’ When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when the moon set, he said: ‘Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.’ When he saw the rising sun in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord this is the greatest (of all).’ But when the sunset, he said; ‘O my people I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah”
As was mentioned earlier, prophets have been sent to every nation and tribe to support man’s natural belief in God and man’s inborn inclination to worship Him, as well as to reinforce the divine truth in the daily signs revealed by God. Although much of these prophets’ teachings became distorted, portions revealing their God-inspired messages have remained untainted and have served to guide mankind in the choice between right and wrong. The influence of God-inspired messages down through the ages can be seen in the “Ten Commandments” of Judaism’s Torah which were later adopted into Christianity’s teachings, as well as in the existence of laws against murder, stealing and adultery in most societies throughout the ancient and modern world.
As a result of God’s signs to mankind through the ages combined with His revelation through His prophets, all mankind has been given a chance to recognize the one only true God.
Consequently, every soul will be held accountable for its belief in God and its acceptance of the true religion of God, namely Islam, which means total submission to the will of Allah.
During my Christian days there were many verses in the Bible that made me question the religion I was following (Christianity). There was one particular verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says; “pray without ceasing,” that lingered heavily in my mind. I often wondered how a person (Christian) was supposed to pray (be in a state of worship) without ceasing? Without any biblical or divine guidance, the only way I thought this to be possible was to always do good deeds and keep the remembrance of God on my tongue and in my heart.
However, I found this to be impossible to do as a human being. But when I was introduced to Islam in 1987, and began to read and learn more about this way of life, I found that Islam provided divine guidance both from God (Allah) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by which a person could pray (be in a state of worship) without ceasing, if it was the Will of God.
Whether waking up, eating, sleeping, putting on clothes, being in the presence of a woman, looking at a woman, going shopping, going to the bathroom, looking in the mirror, traveling, visiting the sick, sitting in a non-religious meeting, taking a bath, having sexual intercourse with one’s wife, yawning, cutting you nails, sneezing, greeting people, talking, hosting guests at home, walking, exercising, entering one’s house, praying and many other acts, Islam and the guidance therein of the Quran, and the acts and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), provided ways in which I could observe 1 Thessalonians 5:17. In addition, it allowed me to be at peace with myself and in submission to the one True God – Allah (SWT).
This divine guidance of Islam taught me greatly about my duties, responsibilities and birthright to my Creator (Allah), and more about the religion of Christianity as a Muslim, I [By the Will of Allah (SWT)] felt it necessary to share with you how the Bible led me to Islam.
Given the fact that there has never been in the history of the Torah (Old Testament) the religion of God to be named after a Prophet (i.e. Adaminity, Abrahamity, Mosanity, etc.), I hope to explain that Jesus did not preach the religion of Christianity, but a religion that gives all Praise and Worship to The One God.
One of the questions I asked myself as I took an objective (second) look at Christianity was; where did the word Christianity come from and was the word ever mentioned to Jesus? Well, I did not find the word Christianity in the Bible, not even in a Bible dictionary. Specifically, I did not find in the Bible where Jesus called himself a Christian.
The word Christian was first mentioned by a pagan to describe those who followed Jesus. It is mentioned one of three times in the New Testament by a pagan and Jew in Antioch about 43 AD, (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:38 and 1 Peter 4:16) long after Jesus left this earth. To accept the words of pagans as having any value or association with divinity, Jesus or God is contrary to the teachings of all Prophets.
Jesus prophesied that people would worship him uselessly and believe in doctrines made by men (Matthew 15:9).
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” This verse, Matthew 15:9, is further supported by these words of the Quran:
“And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men: “Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?” He will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower o fall that is hidden and unseen.
Never did I say to them aught except what You (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were a Witness to all things. (This is a great admonition and warning to the Christians of the whole world).” (Al-Ma’idah 5:116-117)
I found that Biblical verses like John 5:30, John 12:49, John 14:28, Isaiah 42:8 and Acts 2:22 support the above-mentioned verses of the Quran.
Before leaving the subject of Christianity, I should mention one small point of observation. If Christians are Christ-like, why are they not greeting each other with the words; Peace be with you (Salamu Alaikum), as Jesus did in Luke 24:36. As you may be aware, the greeting from one Muslim to another Muslim is Assalamu Alaikum; a Christ-like saying.
Various Holy Bibles
It is worth mentioning that the Bible references cited might not be exactly as the Bible you are using. There are MANY Bibles on the market that are used by different Christian sects and all of these sects say that their book, though different, is the word of God. Such Bibles are The Revised Standard Version 1952 & 1971, New American Standard Bible, The Holy Bible; New International Version, the Living Bible, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures used by Jehovah Witnesses, Roman Catholic Version and the King James Version. A special note: I have not found in any of these Bibles where the “New Testament” calls itself the “New Testament,” and nowhere does the “Old Testament” call itself the “Old? Testament.” Also, the word “Bible” is unknown within the pages of the Bible.
In addition to the many different Christian sects and Bibles, I have learned that there are also different men, not Prophets, who founded these sects and are using various interpretations of the Bible and/or man-made doctrines as their creed.
I would like to share with you some thoughts that you may not have read or known about the Bible being the word of God. Briefly, let me mention that on September 8, 1957, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their “Awake” magazine carried this startling headline – 50,000 Errors in the Bible. If you ask a Jehovah’s witness about this headline, it may be said that today most of those errors have been eliminated. How many have been eliminated, 5,000? Even if 50 remain, would one attribute those errors to God?
Let me pose another question: if a “Holy” book contained conflicting verses would you still consider it to be Holy? Most likely you will say of course not. Let me share with you some conflicting verses both in the Old and New Testaments:
|II Samuel 8:4 (vs)||II Samuel 8:9-10||II Kings 8:26|
|II Samuel 6:23||Genesis 6:3||John 5:37|
|John 5:31||I Chronicles 18:4||I Chronicles 18:9-10|
|II Chronicles 22:2||II Samuel 21:8||Genesis 9:29|
|John 14:9||John 8:14|
Only two contradictions of the New Testament have been mentioned, but others will be referenced when the Trinity, Divinity of Jesus Christ, Divine Sonship of Jesus, Original Sin and Atonement are reviewed.
How could the “inspired words” of God get the genealogy of Jesus incorrect (See Matthew 1:6-16 where it states 26 forefathers up to Prophet David, and Luke 3:23-31 says 41 in number). Or for that matter, give a genealogy to Jesus who had NO father? See II Kings 19:1-37, now read Isaiah 37:1-38. Why is it that the words of these verses are identical? Yet they have been attributed to two different authors, one unknown and the other is Isaiah, who are centuries apart; and yet, the Christians have claimed these books to be inspired by God.
I looked up the word Easter in the Nelson Bible dictionary and learned that the word “Easter” (as mentioned in Acts 12:4) is a mistranslation of “Pascha,” the ordinary Greek word for “Passover.” As you know Passover is a Jewish celebration, not a Christian holiday. I think human hands, all to human, had played havoc with the Bible.
From the brief points mentioned above, and the fact that Biblical scholars themselves have recognized the human nature and human composition of the Bible (Curt Kuhl, The Old Testament: Its Origin and Composition, PP 47, 51, 52), there should exist in the Christian’s mind some acceptance to the fact that maybe every word of the Bible is not God’s word.
As a side note to this subject, let me mention that some Christians believe that the Bible was dictated to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) by a Christian monk, and that is why some of the biblical accounts are in the Quran. After some research, I found that this could not have happened because there were no Arabic Bible in existence in the 6th century of the Christian era when Muhammad (SAW) lived and preached. Therefore, no Arab, not even Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who was absolutely unlettered and unlearned, would have had the opportunity to examine the written text of the Bible in his own language.
If you read Luke 1:2-3, you will learn, as I did, that Luke (who was not one of the 12 disciples and never met Jesus) said that he himself was not an eyewitness, and the knowledge he gathered was from eyewitnesses, and not as words inspired by God. Incidentally, why does every “Gospel” begin with the introduction According to. Why “according to?” the reason for this is because not a single one of the gospels carries its original author’s autograph! Even the internal evidence of Matthew 9:9 proves that Matthew was not the author of the first Gospel which bears his name:
“And as Jesus passed forth thence, He (Jesus) saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He (Jesus) saith unto Him (Matthew), follow me (Jesus). And he (Matthew) arose, and followed Him (Jesus).”
Without any stretch of the imagination, one can see that the He’s and the Him’s of the above narration do not refer to Jesus or Matthew as its author, but a third person writing what he saw or heard – a hearsay account and not words inspired by God.
It is worth noting, and well known throughout the religious world, that the choice of the present four “gospels” of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were imposed in the Council of Nicea 325 CE for political purposes under the auspices of the pagan Emperor Constantine, and not by Jesus. Constantine’s mind had not been enlightened either by study or by inspiration. He was a pagan, a tyrant and criminal who murdered his son, his wife and thousands of innocent individuals because of his lust for political power. Constantine ratified other decisions in the Nicene Creed such as the decision to call Christ “the Son of God, only begotten of the father.”
Literally, hundreds of gospels and religious writings were hidden from the people. Some of those writings were written by Jesus’ disciples, and many of them were eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ actions. The Nicea Council decided to destroy all gospels written in Hebrew, which resulted in the burning of nearly three hundred accounts. If these writings were not more authentic than the four present gospels, they were of equal authenticity. Some of them are still available such as the Gospel of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas which agree with the Quran. The Gospel of Barnabas, until now, is the only eyewitness account of the life and mission of Jesus. Even today, the whole of the Protestant word, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and other sects and denominations condemn the Roman Catholic version of the Bible because it contains seven “extra” books. The Protestant have bravely expunged seven whole books from their word of God. A few of the outcasts are the Books of Judith, Tobias, Baruch, and Esther.
Concerning Jesus’ teachings of the Gospel (Injeel), the Gospel writers frequently mentioned Jesus preaching the Gospel: Matthew 9:35, Mark 8:35, and Luke 20:1. The word “gospel” is recurrently used in the Bible. However, in the New Testament Greek edition, the word Evangeline is used in place of the word gospel, which is translated to mean good news. My question was: what Gospel did Jesus preach? Of the 27 books of the New Testament, only a small fraction can be accepted as the words of Jesus, and only of the 27 books are known to be attributed as the Gospel of Jesus. The remaining 23 were supposedly written by Paul. Muslims do believe that Jesus was given God’s “Good News.” However, they do not recognize the present four Gospels as the utterances of Jesus.
The earliest Gospel is that of Mark’s which was written about 60-75 AD. Mark was the son of Barnabas’s sister. Matthew was a tax collector, a minor official who did not travel around with Jesus. Luke’s Gospel was written much later, and in fact, drawn from the same sources as Mark’s and Matthew’s. Luke was Paul’s physician, and like Paul, never met Jesus. By the way, did you know that the names Marks and Luke were not included in the 12 appointed disciples of Jesus as mentioned in Matthew 10:2-4?
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; the first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
John’s Gospel is from a different source and was written in about 100 AD. He (John) should not be confused with John, the disciple, who was beheaded by Agrippa I in the year 44 CE long before this gospel was written. It should be accepted as a reliable account of the life of Jesus, and whether it should be included in the scriptures.
Christians, as I once did, boast about the Gospels according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke and according to John. However, if we think about it, there is not a single Gospel according to Jesus himself. According to the preface of the KJV (King James Version) new open Bible study edition, the word “Gospel” was added (see below) to the original titles, “According to John, according to Matthew, according to Luke and according to Mark.”
The permission to call “According to” writings the Gospel was not given by Jesus nor by any other divine guidance. These writings; Matthew, Luke, Mark and John, were never originally to be the Gospel. Therefore, Mark 1:1 can not be a true statement that his writing is the gospel of Jesus.
It should be mentioned that Muslims must believe in all Divine scriptures in their original form, their Prophets and making no distinction between them: The Suhuf (Abraham); Torah (Moses); Psalms (David); Gospel – or the Injeel (Jesus); and the Quran (Muhammad). It is clearly stated in the Quran 3:3 that Allah sent down the Torah and the Gospel. However, none of these scriptures remains in its original form now, except the Quran, which was sent for all mankind everywhere and for all times.
In addition to other reasons why the Quran was sent to mankind, as mentioned in 18:4-5 it was sent to warn the Christians of a terrible punishment from God if they cease not in saying: “Allah has begotten a son.”
Muslims sincerely believe that everything Jesus (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) preached was from God; the Gospel (Injeel): The “good news” and the guidance of God for the Children of Israel. There is no place mentioned in the present four Gospels that Jesus wrote a single word of his Gospel, nor is it mentioned that Jesus instructed anyone to do so. What passes off, as the “Gospels” today are the works of third party human hands. The Quran 2:79 says:
“And woe to those who write the book with their own hands and they say: “This is from Allah (God).” To traffic with it for a miserable price! So woe to them for what their hands do write, and woe to them for what they earn thereby!”
Jesus As the Son of God
Is Jesus the Son of God? Matthew 3:17 could be used by some Christians to support the divine Sonship of Jesus. If Matthew 3:17, “And Lo a voice for heaven, saying, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased,” is used to support divine Sonship, then there should be no other verse that contradicts or gives equal divine Sonship to another person or persons in the Old or New Testament. However, many references were found in the Old and New Testaments that mentioned someone other than Jesus as having a divine Sonship to God. See Exodus 4:22:
“Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” II Samuel 7:14 and I Chronicles 22:10: “…and he shall be my son (Solomon).” Jeremiah 31:9: “…and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Also, Psalm 2:7.
The word “Son” must not be accepted literally because God addresses many of his chosen servants as son and sons. The Jews have also claimed Ezra to be the Son of God. The New Testament Greek words used for “son” (pias and paida, which mean servant or son in the sense of servant) are translated as son in reference to Jesus and as servant in reference to others in some translations of the Bible.
Further, the term “Father” as used by Jesus corresponds more closely to the term Rabb, i.e. One who nourishes and sustains, so that in Jesus’ doctrine, God is “Father” – Nourisher and Sustainer – of all men. The New Testament also interprets “son of God” to be mystical: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). This mystical suggestion is further supported with Jesus being called the only begotten Son of God.
In Psalm 2:7, the Lord said to David:
“…Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee.”
Does this mean that God had two sons? Jesus also said that God is not only his Father but also your Father (Matthew 5:45, 48). Luke 3:38 says:
“…Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the Son of God.”
Who is mentioned in Hebrews 7:3 as like unto the Son of God? It is Melchisedec, King of Salem, as mentioned in Hebrews 7:1. He (Melchisedec) is more unique than Jesus or Adam. Why is he not preferred to be the Son of God? Moreover, Adam did not have a mother or father, but was the first human being created by God and in the likeness of God to exist in the Garden of Eden and on earth. Wouldn’t this give more rights to Adam to be called the Son of God in its truest meaning?
I would like to share with you an obvious contradiction between John 3:16, Luke 10:25-28 and Matthew 19:16-17. John 3:16 reads:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten, Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Now let’s read Luke 10:25-28:
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, what is written in the law? How readest Thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and Thou shalt live.
These verses tell us that the inheritance of eternal life is for anyone who believes and worships no other God, but the One True God. Luke 10:25-28 agrees with Matthew 19:16-17 which says;
“And behold, one came and said to him (Jesus), Good teacher, what good things shall I do that I may have eternal life? So he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? – No one is good but One that is, God. But if you want to enter into eternal life, keep the commandments.”
There is no commandment that says to worship Jesus, but there that tells us to worship God alone.
In Luke 4:41, Jesus refused to be called the Son of God by demons. Do you think that Jesus would rebuke the demons, or anyone else for that matter, for telling the truth? Unquestionably, no! Jesus rebuked the demons because they were saying something false by calling him the Son of God. Also, if the demons knew that Jesus was the Christ, for Jesus to shut them up because they called him the Christ is a contradiction to Jesus’ mission.
In Luke 9:20 & 21, Jesus said unto his disciples:
“But who say ye that I am? Peter answered saying, “The Christ of God, and Jesus straightly charged them and commanded them to tell no man that thing.”
Furthermore, verses like John 3:2, John 6:14, John 7:40, Matthew 21:11, Luke 7:16 and 24:19 confirm that Jesus accepted the title of teacher, Prophet and called himself the son of man in Matthew 8:20, 12:40, 17:9 & 12, 26:24, Luke 9:26, 22:48, 22:69, and 24:7. The most conclusive verse that says Jesus is the son (servant) of man is Mark 14:26 where Jesus is mentioning the Day of Reckoning. Jesus specifically said we would see the son of man, not the Son of God, sitting in the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
The act of begetting is a physical act and such act is against God’s nature. The Qur’an 19:35 says:
“It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter He only says to it “Be,” and it is.” (Maryam 19:35)
The teachings of Jesus as the Son of God were not preached by Jesus nor accepted by Jesus, but were taught by Paul as supported in Acts 9:20:
“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”
Did Jesus ever claim to be God or say, “Here am I, your God, worship me”? The answer is no. For there is no single, unequivocal statement in the Bible whereby Jesus himself declares, “I am God, therefore worship me.” Virtually all of the more than two thousand verses of the epistles of Paul are his own fabrications to include Romans 9:5 that says, depending upon which Bible you read:
“…Christ came, who is overall, the eternally blessed God.”
Christians should know that Paul himself mentions his own gospel, not Jesus, in his epistle to the Romans when he says in Romans 2:16:
“In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
In face, the Pauline epistle to the Romans serves as the foundation of today’s Christianity. Thus, it is the Christians whose efforts will be wasted in this life as they think they were acquiring good by their works when they attribute partners to God, as stated in Chapter 18:103-106 of the Qur’an:
“Say: Shall we tell you of those who lost most in respect of their deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?” they are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of judgment, give them any weight. That is their reward, Hell; because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest. (Al-Kahf 18:103-106)
Indeed, it is so strange and ironic, knowing that none of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, more than 430 verses, were ever formulated by Jesus. Paul should have made direct reference to the pristine teachings of Jesus, if only the former claim for apostleship by divine inspiration was indeed true. Instead, large parts of his epistles’ Biblical quotations (notably those in the Epistle to the Romans) were taken from the Old Testament – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Hosea. His epistles were, indeed a product of tedious efforts, but that does not make Paul far better than any of the other men who authored the Bible, nor does it make him a Prophet.
Other practices that were adopted under Paul included the following: the Roman sun-day as the Christian Sabbath; the traditional birthday of the Sun-god as the birthday of Jesus; the emblem of the sun-god (the cross of light) to be the emblem of Christians; and, the incorporation of all the ceremonies which were performed at the Sun-god’s birthday celebrations.
As I come to a close concerning the position of Christ, I would like to ask my Christian reader bow down and pray earnestly to God and ask Him to invoke His curse on you, your wife, your sons, and your daughters if what you believe about Christ (Christ is God, Son of God or part of a trinity of God) is false. Likewise, I have learned that if you asked a Muslim to earnestly pray to God to invoke His curse on him, his wife, his sons, and his daughters if what he is saying about Christ (Prophet, Messenger of God, A Word from God) are false, the Muslims are firm in their faith knowing that Christ is not God, nor the Son of God and nor part of a trinity of God. This exercise of asking God to invoke His curse on you and your family may sound a bit cruel, but it would prove two points: (1) you would know that you are on the wrong path; and, (2) it would put you on the right path.
The Crucifixion and Atonement
A very significant event in the Christian doctrine is the Crucifixion of Jesus. Before talking about the many controversies surrounding the Crucifixion, it should be mentioned that it was a gospel of Paul’s which professed the Crucifixion/Resurrection of Jesus (II Timothy 2:8):
“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.”
In addition, the gospel of the resurrection in Mark 16:9-20 was already removed from the text by gospel writers in the 1952 edition of the Revised Standard Version and then, for some reasons, restored in the 1971 edition. In many Bibles, if not removed, it is printed in small print or between two brackets and with commentary (See the Revised Standard Version, New American Bible and New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures).
The traditional biblical account of Jesus’ Crucifixion is that he was arrested and crucified by the orders and plans of the chief priest and Jewish elders. This account was denied in the 1960’s by the highest Catholic Christian authority, the Pope. He issued a statement in which he said the Jews had nothing to do with Jesus’ Crucifixion.
Did any one of the disciples or the writers of the Gospel see the Crucifixion or the Resurrection? No! In Mark 14:50, it says the disciples forsook Jesus and fled. Even Peter forsook Jesus after the cock crowed three times as Jesus foretold:
(Matthew 26:75) And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out and wept bitterly.
The most likely persons whom may have witnessed this moment in Jesus’ life were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, the mother of Zebedee’s children and other women (Matthew 27:55-56). However, there is no statement or account in the Gospels from those women as to what they saw or heard.
The disciple(s) found the sepulcher where Jesus was laid down, empty, and made the conclusion that he was resurrected because the disciples and other witnesses saw him alive after the alleged Crucifixion. Nobody saw the moment he was resurrected. Jesus himself stated that he did not die on the cross in Luke 24:36-41, as explained in the following paragraphs.
Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the sepulcher, which was empty. She saw somebody standing who looked like a gardener. She recognized him after a conversation to be Jesus and wanted to touch him. Jesus said (John 20:17):
“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father…”
Now read Luke 24:36-41:
“And as they (disciples) thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are you troubled? And why so thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me end see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of boiled fish and of a honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.”
Does a spiritual or dead body have a need to eat food? Jesus eating of food was to prove to the disciples that he was not a spirit, but rather, he was still alive and not dead.
Jesus being alive and not dead is further supported in his own prophecy (Matthew 12:40):
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Did Jesus fulfill this miracle? Christians would say “yes,” because Jesus died and rose three days later according to Luke 24:36 and Matthew 20:19, to name a few verses. However, in line with the miracle of Jonah and according to the Bible, Jesus only spent one day and two nights in the sepulchre, and not three days and three nights as he prophesied.
Jesus was put in the sepulchre just before sunset on Friday (Good Friday) and was found missing before sunrise on Sunday (Easter). If we were to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the time frame a bit, one may say that Jesus spent three days in the earth, but there is no way and I repeat, no way, that Jesus spent three nights in the earth. We must not forget that the Gospels are explicit in telling us that it was “before sunrise” on Sunday morning that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus and found it empty.
Consequently, there are some inconsistencies as to whether Jesus fulfilled his own prophecy. Whether he was actually crucified, or if the day (Good Friday) of his alleged Crucifixion is wrong. Another significant point to mention is that Jonah was alive in the belly of the whale. The Christians says, Jesus was dead in the belly of the earth/tomb, and this contradicts Jesus’ own prophecy. Jesus said (Luke 11:30):
“As Jonah was…so shall the Son of man be.”
If Jonah was alive, so was Jesus.
One critical event that took place before the alleged Crucifixion was the prayer of Jesus to God for help. Luke 22:42:
“Saying Father if thou be willing, remove this cup (of death) from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.”
Jesus’ prayer not to die on the cross was accepted by God according to Luke 22:43 and Hebrews 5:7. Therefore, if all of Jesus’ prayer were accepted by God, including not to die on the cross, how could he have died on the cross?
In Matthew 27:46, it states that while Jesus was on the cross, he said:
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani (My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?).
If Jesus said these words, it represents a blatant declaration of disbelief according to all theological authorities. This is a great insult as such words could only come from an unbeliever in God. Further, it is incredible that such words should come from a Prophet of God, because God never breaks His promise and His Prophets never complained against His promise, especially when the Prophet’s mission is understood. It could be said that whoever relates that this statement was said by a Prophet (Jesus), is a disbeliever.
Muslims believe, as the Qur’an states, Jesus was not crucified. It was the intention of his enemies to put him to death on the cross, but Allah saved him from their plot. Qur’an 4:157:
“That they (Jews) said boasting, “We killed Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah, but they (Jews) killed him not, nor crucified him…” (An Nisa 4:157)
Abdul Malik LeBlanc tells how he discovered Islam within the pages of The Bible. Taken from international edition, Voice of Islam (November 1998).
Cat Stevens – Yusuf Islam
All I have to say is all that you know already, to confirm what you already know, the message of the Prophet (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) as given by God – the Religion of Truth. As human beings, we are given a consciousness and a duty that has placed us at the top of creation… It is important to realize the obligation to rid ourselves of all illusions and to make our lives a preparation for the next life.
Anybody who misses this chance is not likely to be given another, to be brought back again and again, because it says in the Glorious Quran that when a man is brought to account, he will say, “O Lord, send us back and give us another chance. The Lord will say, ‘If I send you back you will do the same.’”
My early religious upbringing
I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature – it is only his parents that turn him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus – he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all.
I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents.
Cat Stevens – Yusuf Islam as a Popstar
Gradually I became alienated from this religious upbringing. I started making music. I wanted to be a big star. All those things I saw in the films and on the media took hold of me, and perhaps I thought this was my God, the goal of making money. I had an uncle who had a beautiful car. “Well, I said, “he has it made. He has a lot of money.” The people around me influenced me to think that this was it; this world was their God.
I decided then that this was the life for me; to make a lot of money, have a ‘great life.’ Now my examples were the pop stars. I started making songs, but deep down I had a feeling for humanity, a feeling that if I became rich I would help the needy. (It says in the Quran, we make a promise, but when we make something, we want to hold onto it and become greedy.)
So what happened was that I became very famous. I was still a teenager, my name and photo were splashed in all the media. They made me larger than life, so I wanted to live larger than life, and the only way to do that was to be intoxicated (with liquor and drugs).
Cat Stevens In the Hospital
After a year of financial success and ‘high’ living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me? Was I just a body and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by God, a chance to open my eyes – “Why am I here? Why am I in bed?” – and I started looking for some of the answers. At that time, there was great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in ‘peace and flower power,’ and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body. This awareness came to me at the hospital.
One day when I was walking, and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized, ‘Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.’ This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will lead you where it wants to go.
Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now, I was fed up with Christianity. I started making music again, and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: “I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?” and I knew I was on the Path.
I also wrote another song, “The Way to Find God Out.” I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society.
I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards, and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand, it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed.
Cat Stevens and The Quran
When he came to London, he brought back a translation of the Quran, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion and thought I might find something in it also.
And when I received the book, a guidance that would explain everything to me – who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from – I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic.
I was not a fanatic; I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don’t have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than the angels. The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim.
I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point, I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was that of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Al-Islam. At this point, I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim.
On reading the Quran, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God’s Word and called Jesus the son of God.
Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Quran; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Quran asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God’s creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times, one seems to overlap the other.
Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space. They become very religious because they have seen the Signs of God.
When I read the Quran further, it talked about prayer, kindness, and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Quran, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Quran also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Quran says, “Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers.” Thus at this point, I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.
Conversion of Cat Stevens
Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what was my name. I told him, “Stevens.” He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam, and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Quran
Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Satan, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after the Friday congregational prayer service, I went to the Imam (Prayer Leader) and declared my faith (the Shahaadah) at this hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune.
But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Quran Now I realize I can get in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, “You don’t understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate.” What she was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the salat (prayer). This is the process of purification.
Finally, I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of God and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Quran first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Prophet we will be successful.
May God give us guidance to follow the path of the nation of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. Ameen!
In The Name of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
It’s interesting for me to look back on my life and see how it all fits together – how Allah planned this for me all along. When I think about it, I can’t help saying “Subhaanallah”, and thank Allah for bringing me to where I am today. At other times, I feel sad that I was not born into Islam and been a Muslim all my life. While I admire those who were, I at times pity them because sometimes they don’t really appreciate this blessing.
Insha’Allah, reading this can help you understand how I, at least, came to be a Muslim. Whether it gives you ideas for da’wah or just gives you some inspiration in your own faith, I hope it is worth your time to read, insha’Allah. It is my story, but I think a lot of others might see themselves in it.
I was born in San Francisco, California, and raised in a Bay Area suburb. My small own (San Anselmo, pop. about 14,000 when I last checked) was a mostly white, upper-middle-class, Christian community. It is a beautiful area – just north of San Francisco (across the Golden Gate Bridge), nestled in a valley near the hillsides (Mount Tamalpais) and the Pacific Ocean. I knew all of my neighbours, played baseball in the street, caught frogs in the creeks, rode horses in the hills, and climbed trees in my front yard.
My father is Presbyterian, and my mother is Catholic. My father was never active in any church, but my mother tried to raise us as Catholics. She took us to church sometimes, but we didn’t know what was going on. People stand up, sit down, kneel, sit again, stand up, and recite things after the priest. Each pew had a booklet – a kind of “direction book” -and we had to follow along in order to know what to do next (if we didn’t fall asleep first!). I was baptized in this church and received my First Communion at about the age of 8 (I have pictures, but I don’t remember it much). After that, we only went about once a year.
I lived on a dead-end street of about 15 houses. My grammar school was at the end of the street (4 houses down), next to a small Presbyterian Church. When I was about 10, the people of this church invited me to participate in their children’s Christmas play. Every Sunday morning from then on, I walked down to church alone (no one else in my family was interested in coming). The whole congregation was only about 30 older people (past their 50’s), but they were nice and never made me feel out of place. There were about three younger couples with children younger than me.
I became a very active member of this church down the street. When I was in 6th grade, I started babysitting the younger kids during the service. By ninth grade, I was helping the minister’s wife teach Sunday school. In high school, I started a church youth group by recruiting 4 of my friends to join me. It was a small group: my friends, myself, and a young couple with kids, but we liked it that way. The big Presbyterian Church in town had about 100 kids in their youth group and took trips to Mexico, etc. Nevertheless, our group was content to get together to study the bible, talk about God, and raise money for charities.
These friends and I would sit together and talk about spiritual issues. We debated questions in our minds: what happens to the people who lived before Jesus came (go to heaven or hell); why do some very righteous people automatically go to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus (we thought about Gandhi); on the other hand, why do some pretty horrible people (like my friend’s abusive father) get rewarded with heaven just because they’re Christian; why does a loving and merciful God require a blood sacrifice (Jesus) to forgive people’s sins; why are we guilty of Adam’s original sin; why does the Word of God (Bible) disagree with scientific facts; how can Jesus be God; how can One God be 3 different things; etc. We debated these things but never came up with good answers. The church couldn’t give us good answers either; they only told us to “have faith”.
The people at church told me about a Presbyterian summer camp in Northern California. I went for the first time when I was 10. For the next 7 years, I went every summer. While I was happy with the little church I went to, this is where I really felt in touch with God, without confusion. It was here that I developed my very deep faith in God. We spent much of our time outdoors, playing games, doing crafts, swimming, etc. It was fun, but every day we would also take time out to pray, study the bible, sing spiritual songs, and have `quiet time.’ It is this quiet time that really meant a lot to me, and of which I have the best memories. The rule was that you had to sit alone – anywhere on the camp’s 200 beautiful acres. I would often go to a meadow, or sit on a bridge overlooking the creek, and just THINK. I looked around me, at the creek, the trees, the clouds, the bugs – listened to the water, the birds’ songs, the crickets’ chirps. This place really let me feel at peace, and I admired and thanked God for His beautiful creation. At the end of each summer, when I returned home, this feeling stayed with me. I loved to spend time outdoors, alone, to just think about God, life, and my place in it. I developed my personal understanding of Jesus’ role as a teacher and example and left all the confusing church teachings behind.
I believed (and still do) in the teaching “Love your neighbor as yourself”, fully giving to others without expecting anything in return, treating others as you would like to be treated. I strived to help everyone I could. When I was fourteen, I got my first job, at an ice cream store. When I got my paycheck each month (it wasn’t much), I sent the first $25 to a program called “Foster Parents Plan” (they’ve changed the name now). This charity hooked up needy children overseas with American sponsors. During my 4 years of high school, I was a sponsor for a young Egyptian boy named Sherif. I sent him part of my paycheck each month, and we exchanged letters. (His letters were in Arabic, and looking at them now, it appears that he believed he was writing to an adult man, not a girl 5 years older than him.) He was 9 years old, his father was dead, and his mother was ill and couldn’t work. He had 2 younger brothers and a sister my age. I remember getting a letter from him when I was 16 – he was excited because his sister had got engaged. I thought, “She’s the same age as me, and she’s getting engaged!” It seemed so foreign to me. These were the first Muslims I had contact with.
Aside from this, I was also involved with other activities in high school. I tutored Central American students at my school in English. In a group called “Students for Social Responsibility,” I helped charities for Nicaraguan school children and Kenyan villagers. We campaigned against nuclear arms (the biggest fear we all had at that time was of a nuclear war).
I invited exchange students from France into my home, and I had penpals from all over the world (France, Germany, Sweden, etc.). My junior year of high school, we hosted a group called `Children of War’ – a group of young people from South Africa, Gaza Strip, Guatemala, and other war-torn lands, who toured the country telling their stories and their wishes for peace. Two of them stayed at my house – the group’s chaperone from Nicaragua and a young black South African man. The summer after my junior year of high school, I took a volunteer job in San Francisco (the Tenderloin district), teaching English to refugee women. In my class were Fatimah and Maysoon, 2 Chinese Muslim widows from Vietnam. These were the next Muslims I met, although we couldn’t talk much (their English was too minimal). All they did was a laugh.
All of these experiences put me in touch with the outside world and led me to value people of all kinds. Throughout my youth and high school, I had developed two very deep interests: faith in God, and interacting with people from other countries. When I left home to attend college in Portland, Oregon, I brought these interests with me.
At Lewis & Clark College, I started out as a Foreign Language (French & Spanish) major, with a thought to one day work with refugee populations, or teach English as a Second Language. When I arrived at school, I moved into a dorm room with two others – a girl from California (who grew up only 10 minutes from where I did), and a 29-year-old Japanese woman (exchange student). I was 17.
I didn’t know anyone else at school, so I tried to get involved in activities to meet people. In line with my interests, I chose to get involved with 2 groups: Campus Crusade for Christ (obviously, a Christian group), and Conversation Groups (where they match Americans up with a group of international students to practice English).
I met with the Campus Crusade students during my first term of school. A few of the people that I met were very nice, pure-hearted people, but the majority were very ostentatious. We got together every week to listen to “personal testimonies”, sing songs, etc. Every week we visited a different church in the Portland area. Most of the churches were unlike anything I’d ever been exposed to before. One final visit to a church in the Southeast area freaked me out so much that I quit going to the Crusade meetings. At this church, there was a rock band with electric guitars, and people were waving their hands in the air (above their heads, with their eyes closed) and singing “Hallelujah.” I had _never_ seen anything like it! I see things like this now on TV, but coming from a very small Presbyterian Church, I was disturbed. Others in Campus Crusade loved this church, and they continued to go. The atmosphere seemed so far removed from the worship of God, and I didn’t feel comfortable returning.
I always felt closest to God when I was in a quiet setting and/or outdoors. I started taking walks around campus (Lewis & Clark College has a beautiful campus!), sitting on benches, looking at the view of Mount Hood, watching the trees change colors. One day I wandered into the campus chapel – a small, round building nestled in the trees. It was beautifully simple. The pews formed a circle around the center of the room, and a huge pipe organ hung from the ceiling in the middle. No altar, no crosses, no statues – nothing. Just some simple wood benches and a pipe organ. During the rest of the year, I spent a lot of time in this building, listening to the organist practice, or just sitting alone in the quiet to think. I felt more comfortable and closer to God there than at any church I had ever been to.
During this time, I was also meeting with a group of international students as part of the Conversation Group program. We had five people in our group: me, a Japanese man and woman, an Italian man and a Palestinian man. We met twice a week over lunch, to practice English conversation skills. We talked about our families, our studies, our childhood, cultural differences, etc. As I listened to the Palestinian man (Faris) talk about his life, his family, his faith, etc., it struck a nerve in me. I remembered Sherif, Fatima, and Maysoon, the only other Muslims I had ever known. Previously, I had seen their beliefs and way of life as foreign, something that was alien to my culture. I never bothered to learn about their faith because of this cultural barrier. But the more I learned about Islam, the more I became interested in it as a possibility for my own life.
During my second term of school, the conversation group disbanded and the international students transferred to other schools. The discussions we had had, however, stayed at the front of my thoughts. The following term, I registered for a class in the religious studies department: Introduction to Islam. This class brought back all of the concerns that I had about Christianity. As I learned about Islam, all of my questions were answered. None of us are punished for Adam’s original sin. Adam asked God for forgiveness and our Merciful and Loving God forgave him. God doesn’t require a blood sacrifice in payment for sin. We must sincerely ask for forgiveness and amend our ways. Jesus wasn’t God, he was a prophet, like all of the other prophets, who all taught the same message: Believe in the One true God; worship and submit to Him alone; and live a righteous life according to the guidance He has sent. This answered all of my questions about the Trinity and the nature of Jesus (all God, all human, or a combination). God is a Perfect and Fair Judge, who will reward or punish us based on our faith and righteousness. I found a teaching that put everything in its proper perspective and appealed to my heart and my intellect. It seemed natural. It wasn’t confusing. I had been searching, and I had found a place to rest my faith.
That summer, I returned home to the Bay Area and continued my studies of Islam. I checked books out of the library and talked with my friends. They were as deeply spiritual as I was, and had been searching (most of them were looking into eastern religions, Buddhism in particular). They understood my search and were happy I could find something to believe in. They raised questions, though, about how Islam would affect my life: as a woman, as a liberal Californian, with my family, etc. I continued to study, pray and soul-search to see how comfortable I really was with it. I sought out Islamic centers in my area, but the closest one was in San Francisco, and I never got to visit (no car and bus schedules didn’t fit with my work schedule). So I continued to search on my own. When it came up in conversation, I talked to my family about it. I remember one time in particular when we were all watching a public television program about the Eskimos. They said that the Eskimos have over 200 words for “snow”, because snow is such a big part of their life. Later that night, we were talking about how different languages have many words for things that are important to them. My father commented about all the different words Americans use for “money” (money, dough, bread, etc.). I commented, “You know, the Muslims have 99 names for God – I guess that’s what is important to them.”
At the end of the summer, I returned to Lewis & Clark. The first thing I did was to contact the mosque in south-west Portland. I asked for the name of a woman I could talk to, and they gave me the number of a Muslim American sister. That week, I visited her at home. After talking for a while, she realized that I was already a believer. I told her I was just looking for some women who could help guide me in the practicalities of what it meant to be a Muslim. For example, how to pray. I had read it in books, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it just from books. I made attempts and prayed in English, but I knew I wasn’t doing it right. The sister invited me that night to an aqiiqah (dinner after the birth of a new baby). She picked me up that night and we went. I felt so comfortable with the Muslim sisters there, and they were very friendly to me that night. I said my shahaadah, witnessed by a few sisters. They taught me how to pray. They talked to me about their own faith (many of them were also American). I left that night feeling like I had just started a new life.
I was still living in a campus dorm and was pretty isolated from the Muslim community. I had to take two buses to get to the area where the mosque was (and where most of the women lived). I quickly lost touch with the women I met and was left to pursue my faith on my own at school. I made a few attempts to go to the mosque, but was confused by the meeting times. Sometimes I’d show up to borrow some books from the library, and the whole building would be full of men. Another time I decided to go to my first Jumah (Friday) prayer, and I couldn’t go in for the same reason. Later, I was told that women only meet at a certain time (Saturday afternoon), and that I couldn’t go at other times. I was discouraged and confused, but I continued to have faith and learn on my own.
Six months after my shahaadah, I observed my first Ramadan. I had been contemplating the issue of hijaab, but was too scared to take that step. I had already begun to dress more modestly and usually wore a scarf over my shoulders (when I visited the sister, she told me “all you have to do is move that scarf from your shoulders to your head, and you’ll be Islamically dressed.”). At first, I didn’t feel ready to wear hijab, because I didn’t feel strong enough in my faith. I understood the reason for it, agreed with it, and admired the women who did wear it, they looked so pious and noble. But I knew that if I wore it, people would ask me many questions, and I didn’t feel ready or strong enough to deal with that.
This changed as Ramadan approached, and on the first day of Ramadan, I woke up and went to class in hijab. Alhamdu lillaah, I haven’t taken it off since. Something about Ramadan helped me to feel strong, and proud to be a Muslim. I felt ready to answer anybody’s questions.
However, I also felt isolated and lonely during that first Ramadan. No one from the Muslim community even called me. I was on a meal plan at school, so I had to arrange to get special meals (the dining hall wasn’t open during the hours I could eat). The school agreed to give me my meals in bag lunches. So every night as sundown approached, I’d walk across the street to the kitchen, go in the back to the huge refrigerators, and take my 2 bag lunches (one for iftaarr (sunset breakfast meal), one for suhoor (pre-dawn meal)). I’d bring the bags back to my dorm room and eat alone. They always had the same thing: yogurt, a piece of fruit, cookies, and either a tuna or egg salad sandwich. The same thing, for both meals, for the whole month. I was lonely, but at the same time, I had never felt more at peace with myself.
When I embraced Islam, I told my family. They were not surprised. They kind of saw it coming, from my actions and what I said when I was home that summer. They accepted my decision and knew that I was sincere. Even before, my family always accepted my activities and my deep faith, even if they didn’t share it. They were not as open-minded, however, when I started to wear hijab. They worried that I was cutting myself off from society, that I would be discriminated against, that it would discourage me from reaching my goals, and they were embarrassed to be seen with me. They thought it was too radical. They didn’t mind if I had a different faith, but they didn’t like it to affect my life in an outward way.
They were more upset when I decided to get married. During this time, I had been back in touch with Faris, the Muslim Palestinian brother of my conversation group, the one who first prompted my interest in Islam. He was still in the Portland area, attending the community college. We started meeting again, over lunch, in the library, at his brother’s house, etc. We were married the following summer (after my sophomore year, a year after my shahaadah). My family freaked out. They weren’t quite yet over my hijab, and they felt like I had thrown something else at them. They argued that I was too young, and worried that I would abandon my goals, drop out of school, become a young mother, and destroy my life. They liked my husband but didn’t trust him at first (they were thinking “green card scam”). My family and I fought over this for several months, and I feared that our relationship would never be repaired.
That was 3 years ago, and a lot has changed. Faris and I moved to Corvallis, Oregon, home of Oregon State University. We live in a very strong and close-knit Muslim community. I graduated magna cum laude, with a degree in child development. I have had several jobs, from secretary to pre-school teacher, with no problems with my hijab. I’m active in the community and still do volunteer work. My husband, insha’Allah, also finished his Electrical Engineering degree. We visit my family a couple of times a year. I met Faris’ parents for the first time this summer, and we get along great. I’m slowly but surely adding Arabic to the list of languages I speak.
My family has seen all of this and has recognized that I didn’t destroy my life. They see that Islam has brought me happiness, not pain and sorrow. They are proud of my accomplishments and can see that I am truly happy and at peace. Our relationship is back to Alhamdulillah.
Looking back on all of this, I feel truly grateful that Allah has guided me to where I am today. I truly feel blessed. It seems that all of the pieces of my life fit together in a pattern – a path to Islam.
Your sister in faith, C. Huda Dodge “Say: Allah’s guidance is the only guidance, and we have been directed to submit ourselves to the Lord of the Worlds…”
Many people ask me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever go to Islam, especially considering all the negative things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday. Some people are simply curious, while others take a profound exception to my “conversion” to Islam. Some have asked how I could have turned my back on Jesus, or if I truly understood the Holy Ghost and some even questioned whether or not I considered myself as “born again” or had ever really been saved at all. These are good questions to which I will offer answers to at the end of this writing.
I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing. One very nice Christian gentleman asked me in email why and how I left Christianity for Islam. This is more or less a copy of the letter I sent to him.
My name is Yusuf Estes now, but in years past my friends used to call me Skip. I have preached Christianity and worked in the entertainment and music industry since I was a boy in the 1950’s. My father and I have established music stores, TV and radio programs and outdoor entertainment for fun (and profit).
I was a music minister and even used a pony ride and entertained the children as “Skippy the Clown.” Once, I have served as Delegate to the United Nations Peace Conference for Religious Leaders. Now I am a retired former Muslim Chaplain for United States Bureau of Prisons, Washington, DC. and I join alongside many American Muslims, working with Muslim student and youth organizations as well as schools for Muslim children. As such, I travel around the entire world lecturing and sharing the message of the Christ of the Quran in Islam. We hold dialogs and discussion groups with all faiths and enjoy the opportunity to work alongside rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests everywhere. Some of our work is in the institutional area, military, universities and prisons.
Primarily our goal is to educate and communicate the correct message of Islam and who the Muslims really are. Although Islam has grown now to nearly tie Christianity as the largest of religions on earth, we see many of those who claim Islam as Muslims, that do not correctly understand nor properly represent the message of “Peace, Surrender and Obedience to God” (Arabic = ‘Islam’) Dear me, I am afraid that I got a bit ahead of myself. I was trying to give a bit of background of our work perhaps to see if it would in anyway benefit those who may being going through what I experienced while trying to resolve some of the issues of Christianity.
How it happened
This may seem quite strange, while we perhaps may share a few different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus, prophethood, sin and salvation. But you see, at one time I was in the same boat as many folks are today. Really, I was. Let me explain.
Born a strong Christian
I was born into a very strong Christian family in the Midwest. Our family and their ancestors not only built the churches and schools across this land, but actually were the same ones who came here in the first place. While I was still in elementary we relocated to Houston, Texas in 1949 – “I’m old”. We attended church regularly and I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas. As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to learn more of their teachings and beliefs. The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic, Presbyterian and many more. I developed quite a thirst for the “Gospel” or as we say; “Good News.” My research into religion did not stop with Christianity. Not at all. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were all a part of my studies. Just about the only one that I did not look into seriously was “Islam”. Why? Good question.
Anyway, I became very interested in different types of music, especially Gospel and Classical. Because my whole family was religious and musical it followed that I too would begin my studies in both areas. All this set me for the logical position of Music Minister in many of the churches that I became affiliated with over the years. I started teaching keyboard instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios in Laurel, Maryland, called “Estes Music Studios.”
Business projects in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida
Over the next 30 years my father and I worked together in many business projects. We had entertainment programs, shows and attractions. We opened piano and organ stores all the way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida. We had earned millions of dollars during those years, but could not find the peace of mind that can only come through knowing the truth and finding the real plan of salvation. I’m sure you have asked yourself the question; “Why did God create me?” or “What is it that God wants me to do?” or “Exactly who is God, anyway?” “Why do we believe in ‘original sin?” and “Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his ‘sins’ and then as a result be punished forever.” But if you asked anyone these questions, they would probably tell you that you have to believe without asking, or that it is a ‘mystery’ and you shouldn’t ask – “Just have faith, brother.”
Strangely enough, the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. And it has been a concern for religious scholars as early as 200 years after Jesus was raised up by Almighty God. I would ask preachers or ministers to give me some sort of an idea how ‘one’ could figure out to become ‘three’ or how God Himself, Who can do anything He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people’s sins, but rather he had to become a man, come down on earth, be a human, and then take on the sins of all people; keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and outside of the universe as we know it. They never seemed to be able to come up with anything other than opinions or strange analogies.
Father – Ordained non-denominational minister
My father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became an ordained minister in the 1970s. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, OK. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.
Distributing “Praise” Tapes for Jesus
During the early 1980’s my Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals, and homes for the elderly. We were really “winning souls to the Lord – for Jesus” day after day.
Met a man from Egypt
It was early in 1991 when my father began doing business with a man from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea of having an international flavor. You know, the pyramids, sphinx, Nile River and all that.
He was a “Moslem”
Hijackers; Kidnappers; Bombers, Terrorists – and who knows what else? Then my father mentioned that this man was a ‘Moslem.’ First, I hated the idea of meeting an “infidel, hijacker, kidnapper, bomber, terrorist, non-believer.” Any normal person would be repulsed at the idea. I couldn’t believe my ears. A ‘Moslem?’ No way! I reminded my dad of the various different things that we had heard about these people.
Lies against Muslims & Islam
They don’t even believe in God They worship a black box in the desert. And They kiss the ground five times a day. No Way! I Did Not Want to Meet Him! I did not want to meet this ‘Moslem’ man. No way! My father insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was a very nice person. This was too much for me. Especially since the evangelists that we used to travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam. So, why would I want anything to do with these people? Idea – “Change Him To Christian”. Then an idea came to me, “We can change this man to Christian.” So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting. But on my terms. I Met Him With A Bible, Cross and Cap with “Jesus Is Lord!” on it.
I agreed to meet him on a Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and in good standing with the Lord. I would be carrying my Bible under my arm as usual. I would have my big shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which says: “Jesus is Lord” right across the front. My wife and two young daughters came along and we were ready for our first encounter with the ‘Moslems.’
Where is he?
When I came into the shop and asked my father where the ‘Moslem’ was, he pointed and said: “He’s right over there.” I was confused. That couldn’t be the Moslem. No way.
Turban and beard?
I’m looking for a huge man with flowing robes, a big turban on his head, a beard halfway down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead with a sword or a bomb under his coat.
No turban – No beard
This man had no beard. In fact, he didn’t even have any hair on his head at all. He was nearly bald. Best of all, he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. This didn’t make sense. I thought they are terrorists and bombers. What is this all about?
He needs Jesus
Never mind. I’ll get right to work on this guy. He needs to be ‘saved’ in the ‘Name of Jesus’ and me and the Lord are going to do it.
Introduction & interrogation
After a quick introduction, I asked him: “Do you believe in God?”
He said: ”Yes.” – (Good!) Then I said: ”Do you believe in Adam and Eve?”
He said: ”Yes.” – (Very Good!) I said: “What about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice his son for God?”
He said: ”Yes.” – (Even better!) Then I asked: ”What about Moses?” ”Ten Commandments?” ”Parting the Red Sea?”
Again he said: ”Yes.” – (Better still!) Then: ”What about the other prophets, David, Solomon, and John the Baptist?”
He said: ”Yes.” – (Great!) I asked: ”Do you believe in the Bible?”
Again, he said: ”Yes.” – (OK!) So, now it was time for the big question: ”Do you believe in Jesus? That he was the Messiah (Christ) of God?”
Again the said: ”Yes.” – (Fantastic!) Well now – “This was going to be easier than I had thought.” He was just about ready to be baptized only he didn’t know it. And I was just the one to do it, too.
Shocking knowledge – Muslims believe in the Bible?
One day in the Spring of 1991, I came to know that the Muslims believed in the Bible. I was shocked. How could this be? But that’s not all, they believe in Jesus as: * A true messenger of God; * Prophet of God; * Miracle birth without human intervention; * He was the ‘Christ’ or Messiah as predicted in the Bible; * He is with God now and most important; * He will be coming back in the Last Days to lead the believers against the ‘Antichrist.’ After “winning souls to the Lord for Jesus” day after day, this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these ‘Moslems’ and ‘convert’ him to Christianity.
Cup of tea – Discuss beliefs
I asked him if he liked tea and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject: Beliefs. While we sat in that little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of the talking) I came to know that he was very nice, quiet and even a bit shy. He listened attentively to every word that I had to say and did not interrupt even one time. I liked this man’s way and thought that he had definite potential to become a good Christian. Little did I know the course of events about to unravel in front of my eyes.
Agreed to do business
First of all, I agreed with my father that we should do business with this man and even encouraged the idea of him traveling along with me on my business trips across the northern part of Texas. Day after day we would ride together and discuss various issues pertaining to the different beliefs that people have. And along the way, I could, of course, interject some of my favorite radio programs of worship and praise to help bring the message to this poor individual. We talked about the concept of God; the meaning of life; the purpose of creation; the prophets and their mission and how God reveals His Will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas as well.
Moved to our home
One day I came to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with a friend of his and was going to be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and asked him if we could invite Mohamed to come out to our big home in the country and stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and some expenses and he would be right there when we were ready to go to out traveling around. My father agreed and Mohamed moved in.
Continued ministry & preaching
Of course, I still would find time to visit my fellow preachers and evangelists around the state of Texas. One of them lived on the Texas — Mexico border and another lived near lived Oklahoma border. One preacher liked to carry a huge wooden cross that was bigger than a car. He would carry it over his shoulder and drag the bottom on the ground and go down the road or freeway hauling these two beams formed in the shape of a cross. People would stop their cars and come over to him and ask him what was going on and he would give them pamphlets and booklets on Christianity.
The preacher has a heart attack
One day my friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go to the Veterans Hospital where he stayed for quite a long while. I used to visit him in the hospital several times a week and I would take Mohamed with me with the hopes that we could all share together in the subject of beliefs and religions. My friend was not very impressed and it was obvious that he did not want to know anything about Islam. Then one day a man who was sharing the room with my friend came rolling into the room in his wheelchair. I went to him and asked him his name and he said that it didn’t matter and when I asked him where he was from he said he was from the planet Jupiter. I thought about what he said and then began to wonder if I was in the cardiac ward or the mental ward.
Man in a wheelchair – Needed the Lord
I knew the man was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his life. So, I began to ‘witness’ to him about the Lord. I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. I shared the story of the prophet Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people to the correct way. Jonah had left his people and escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to sea. A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the ship. A whale came up to the surface and grabbed Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights. Yet because of God’s Mercy, He caused the whale to rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return back home safely to his city of Nineveh. And the idea was that we can’t really run away from our problems because we always know what we have done. And what is more, God also always knows what we have done.
After sharing this story with the man in the wheel chair, he looked up and me and apologized. He told me he was sorry for his rude behavior and that he had experienced some real serious problems recently. Then he said that he wanted to confess something to me. And I said that I was not a Catholic priest and I don’t handle confessions. He replied back to me that he knew that. In fact, he said: “I am a Catholic priest.” I was shocked. Here I had been trying to preach Christianity to a priest. What in the world was happening here?
Priest in Latin America
The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for the church for over 12 years to the south and Central America and Mexico and even in New York’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen.’ When he was released from the hospital he needed a place to go to recover and rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I told my dad that we should invite him to come out and live with us in the country along with our families and Mohamed. It was agreed by all that he would so, he moved out right away.
Priests must study Islam? – yes!
During the trip out to our home, I talked with the priest about some of the concepts of beliefs in Islam and to my surprise he agreed and then shared even more about this with me. I was shocked when he told me that Catholic priests actually study Islam and some even carry doctors degrees in this subject. This was all very enlightening to me. But there was still a lot more to come.
Different versions of the Bible
After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe something like Jimmy Swaggart’s ‘Good News For Modern Man.” The priest, of course, had the Catholic Bible which has 7 more books in it that the Protestant Bible. So we spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct one than we did try to convince Mohamed about becoming a Christian.
Quran has only one version – In Arabic – and still exists
At one point I recall asking him about the Quran and how many versions of it there were in the last 1,400 years. He told me that there was only ONE QURAN. And that it had never been changed. Yet he let me know that the Quran had been memorized by hundreds of thousands of people, in its entirety and were scattered about the earth in many different countries. Over the centuries since the Quran was revealed millions have memorized it completely and have taught it to others who have memorized it completely, from cover to cover, letter perfect without mistakes. Today, over 9 million Muslims have memorized the entire Quran from cover to cover.
How could this be?
This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original languages of the Bible have all been dead languages for centuries and the documents themselves have been lost in their originals for hundreds and thousands of years. So, how could it be that something like this could be so easy to preserve and to recite from cover to cover.
Priest Goes to the Mosque Anyway, one day the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about their experience there and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what all types of ceremonies they performed. He said they didn’t really ‘do’ anything. They just came and prayed and left. I said: “They left? Without any speeches or singing?” He said that was right.
A priest enters Islam!
A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Mohamed if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque which they did. But this time it was different. They did not come back for a very long time. It became dark and we worried that something might have happened to them. Finally they arrived and when they came in the door I immediately recognized Mohamed, but who was this alongside of him? Someone wearing a white robe and a white cap. Hold on a minute! It was the priest. I said to him: “Pete? — Did you become a ‘Moslem?’ He said that he had entered into Islam that very day. THE PRIEST BECAME A Muslim!! What next? (You’ll see).
My wife announces her Islam!
So, I went upstairs to think things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the whole subject. She then told me that she too was going to enter into Islam, because she knew it was the truth.
I was really shocked now. I went downstairs and woke up Mohamed and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through.
Truth had come!
By the time he was ready to pray Fajr (the morning prayer of the Muslims), I knew that the truth had come at last and now it was up to me to do my part. I went out back behind my father’s house and found an old piece of plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction that the Muslims pray five times a day.
Guide me! O God! guide me!
Now then in that position, with my body stretched out on the plywood and my head on the ground, I asked: “O God. If you are there, guide me, guide me.”
A sign inside of me
And then after a while I raised up my head and I noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights and flashes. What I did notice was a change inside of me. I was aware now more than ever before that it was time for me to stop any lying and doing anything sneaky. It was time that I really work at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I had to do.
Wash away the “OLD”
So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was ‘washing’ away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. And I was now coming into a new, fresh life. A life based on truth and proof. - And Become New! Around 11:00 A.M. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest, formerly known as Father Peter Jacobs, and the other Mohamed Abel Rehman and announced my ‘shahadah’ (open testimony to the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him). ”I bear witness, there is no deity to worship, except Almighty Allah, alone and He has no partners and I bear witness that Mohammad is His messenger and servant.”
My wife was next
A few minutes later, my wife followed along and gave the same testimony. But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me being the third). Then my father. My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months before he made his shahadah (public testimony). But he did finally commit to Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local masjid (mosque).
Children too! The children were taken out of the Christian school and placed in Muslim schools. And now ten years later, they are memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.
Father’s wife (Stepmother) next
My father’s wife finally acknowledged, before she died, that Jesus could not be a son of God and that he must have been a mighty prophet of God, but not God. She passed away within a few months of this statement at age 86. May Allah accept her statement of faith, ameen.
A houseful of new Muslims – What’s next?
Now stop and think. A whole entire household of people from varying backgrounds and ethnic groups coming together in truth to learn how to know and worship the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Think. A Catholic priest; a minister of music and preacher of the Gospel; an ordained minister and builder of Christian schools; and the children, even a great-grandmother – they all come into Islam!
His mercy and guidance
Only by His Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of Islam, by removing the coverings over our ears and the blinders on our eyes, no longer having seals over our hearts – He was Guiding us now.
Family and friends entering Islam from one man. If I were to stop right here, I’m sure that you would have to admit that at least this is an amazing story, right? After all, three religious leaders of three separate denominations all going into one very opposite belief at the same time and then soon after the rest of the household.
But that is not all. There is more! The same year, while I was in Grand Prairie, Texas (near Dallas) I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee named Joe, who also came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while in Baptist Seminary College!
More? Yes. Catholic priest loves Islam – but Needs his job! There are others as well. I recall the case of the Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was forced to ask him why he didn’t enter Islam. He replied: “What? And lose my job?” – His name is Father John and we still pray for Allah to Guide Him.
Another Catholic Priest Makes Shahadah The very next year I met a former Catholic priest who had been a missionary for 8 years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and entered into Islam. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas Texas.
Any more? Again – Yes! Two years later, while in San Antonio, Texas I was introduced to a former Arch Bishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.
Daughter of Hindu Pundit (Religious Leader) – Accepts Islam – helping thousands to Islam I met a woman in New York who wanted to make our CDs about “What Is Islam?”. After giving her permission several years ago, I have learned she has produced and distributed over 600 thousand of these to the non-Muslims in America. May Allah reward her and keep her strong in her efforts, ameen. Hundreds – Thousands – Still Coming And since my own entrance into Islam and becoming a chaplain to the Muslims throughout the country and around the world, I have encountered many more individuals who were leaders, teachers and scholars in other religions who learned about Islam and entered into it. They came from Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians from Egypt, non-denominational churches and even scientists who had been atheists.
Why? Good question
The combination always seems to be the same; people are sincerely seeking the truth and are willing to put their different prejudices and biases out of their minds and begin to ask God for His Guidance in their lives. So, now you have the introduction to the story of my coming into Islam and becoming Muslim. There is more on the Internet about this story and there are more pictures there as well. Please take the time to visit it and then please take the time to email me and let us come together to share in all truths based on proofs for understanding our origins and our purpose and goals in this life and the Next Life.
9 Steps to purify the heart
May I suggest to the seeker of truth do the following nine steps to purification of the heart:
- Clean your mind, your heart and soul. Remove all prejudices & biases.
- Thank God for what you have – every moment of every day.
- Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in a language that they can understand best.
- Reflect on the meanings & consider the bounties of your Lord.
- Seek forgiveness from God and learn to forgive others.
- Ask in your heart for guidance from above.
- Open your heart and mind.
- Continue to do this up for a few months and be regular in it.
- Avoid the poison of evil while your heart is opening for the “rebirth of your soul.”
Ask, and it shall be given to you. Knock, and it shall be opened. The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the Universe. If you truly love Him, then He already Knows it and He will deal with each of us according to our hearts.
Answers to questions
Now as I promised here are the answers to the questions many have asked me connected with my choice of Islam:
Q1. How could you have turned your back on the perfect plan of salvation of Jesus Christ on the cross for you sins?
Answer: Your question implies you have not considered the similarities and teachings of the Bible and the Quran. ”Islam” means – “Surrender, submit and obey your Lord in sincerity and peace.” Whoever is trying to do this, is a “Muslim.” If someone believes in Almighty God as One God and One Lord and wants to commit their life to serving Him and obeying His Commandments, then that person will be in the right way and they will be “saved” according to God’s Mercy. No one can take the sins of another and the guilty must stand accused for what they have done. It will be up to Almighty God to Forgive or Punish according to His Judgment on that Day.
According to the remains of the translations of Jesus, he did not preach a message of salvation by worshipping him. This was something added later by Saul (who later became Paul). We find clear statements indicating salvation would come only through acknowledging Almighty God as One God and worshipping Him with all the heart, mind and strength. Jesus, peace be upon him, taught his followers to worship “My God and your God, My Lord and your Lord.”
Again, according to the remains of the English translation of the Bible, we see the one on the cross crying out a very blasphemous statement, “Eli! Eli! Lama sabachthani?” (Which being translated means, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”) This statement on the cross clearly indicates the one on the cross is not pleased with the situation nor does he consider it right or just.
Therefore, one would have to conclude this was not something Jesus approved of nor did he accept, or else someone else was on the cross in his place. Either way you look at it, the one on the cross did not accept this as a plan of salvation. The Quran is absolutely in agreement with these teachings and Muslims do worship the same God and Lord of Jesus, Moses, Abraham and Adam, peace be upon them all. The Quran states in many places, no one will be taken to task for the sins of another, nor can anyone carry the burden of another. We will all be on our own on that Day. And I ask Allah to have Mercy and Forgiveness for all those who believe in Him, ameen.
I consider that I have not left the teachings of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. On the contrary, I feel much closer to Jesus, and I look forward to His return on earth more than ever before. Now I am worshipping the same God he worships and I serve the same Lord he serves, in the very same way he does. Jesus prayed to Almighty God and taught his followers to do the same. I am simply doing what he commanded to the best of my ability and ask Almighty God to accept it.
Q2. Do you consider you were really “saved” and that you had in fact, been “born again?
Answer: The Baptists have a statement, “Once saved, always saved.” I asked one of them about this and he agreed it was true. Then I mentioned at one time I had become a Baptist (in my teen years) but now I was a Muslim. I had also been “saved” and baptized at the age of 12. I had accepted the very statement of Jesus being the way, the light and the truth and no man coming on to the Father except by him. I understood these statements to mean I must follow Jesus and his teachings. Therefore, I read the Bible for myself and did not let others tell me what to think about what I was reading.
The Bible states that Jesus prayed for salvation for himself in the garden of Gethsemane in this way, “Let this cup pass from me, even so, Thy Will be done.” This prayer was repeated by Jesus, peace be upon him, a number of times and it is mentioned in more than one Gospel. Yet, according to Biblical accounts, the cup did not pass from him and his prayers were NOT ANSWERED.
Islam teaches us his prayers were answered and he did not have to endure the cruel treatment and death on the cross, but rather he was taken up while still alive and is with Almighty God even now and ready to return in the Last Days to bring victory to the believers. Additionally, we find Jesus, peace be upon him, teaching his disciples to pray like this, “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and Glory, forever and ever, ameen.”
Every Muslim I have met accepts every single word of this pray with the exception of calling “Allah” our “Father.” Muslims consider it better to call on Almighty God by His Names, which we do consider to be “Hallowed.”
Q3. How did your family respond to your conversion?
Answer: This is always difficult for families to adjust to and it usually takes time. My family was no exception. Although my wife, children entered into Islam and eventually my father came to declare Islam to be the way of salvation for himself, still my own mother and many others in my family resented our going to Islam at first. Eventually, things became more normalized and we do stay in touch, although they are all still very much involved in Christianity. Allah promises to test those who declare their faith in Him with many types of difficulties and family is one of those mentioned as a test in the Quran. I do pray for them and ask Allah to guide them to the very best in this life and the very best in the Next Life. But it is up to Allah if He wants them to be in Submission to Him (Islam means, submission to Allah) or not.
Q4. How about your congregation? What did they say?
Answer: I never had my own church. I was a music minister in the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana branch) in Texas and did my preaching to businessmen and informal gatherings. Those who knew me for the most part did not object and some even came to Islam, but there were a few who felt very upset and accused me of “Turing my back on Jesus, peace be upon him.” No matter what I tried to say or do, these particular individuals would not listen nor did they want to learn anything about Islam.
Q5. Did you experience a lot of difficulties in changing religions?
Answer: Certainly anyone who wants to consider Islam in these times, just as in times gone by, will have to recognize there will be certain difficulties and tests along the way. The followers of Jesus, peace be upon him, were highly criticized and persecuted even until death (read what Paul said he used to do to them in the Bible; Book of Acts of the Apostles). Those who followed Muhammad, peace be upon him, suffered at the hands of their very own tribes, yet they were determined to continue to worship Almighty God Alone, without partners and submit to His Will.
The biggest problem with non-Muslims is their lack of understanding and lack of knowledge as to what Islam is really all about and who the Muslims are supposed to be. I pray for them all and ask Allah to forgive the Muslims for not showing a better picture to everyone.
Q6. Who was responsible for converting you?
Answer: As Muslims we believe that it is only Allah who guides the people and whoever He guides will not be misguided and whomever He lets go astray none will be able to guide them. As such, it means we don’t believe anyone really can “convert” someone else. Also, we accept that all children are born in the natural state of submission to Almighty God and as such that means they are Muslims. Should a child die he or she would go to Heaven as they are not responsible for what they do not understand.
Q7. Don’t you ever think about coming back to being a Christian?
Answer: “Christian” indicates a follower of Christ. When Jesus, peace be upon him, returns to earth in the Last Days, all the Muslims will be obliged to follow him. But we would not call ourselves “Christians” anymore than he would. He never called himself or his companions “Christians.” The Bible tells us they were never even called “Christians” until Paul was preaching his message in Antioch.
Q8. Doesn’t it bother you to have left the way of peace, justice and love for a religion of hatred, violence and oppression toward women and others?
Answer: All the prophets, peace be upon them all, called the people to worship Almighty God as One God and One Lord. As such, those who did not want to submit to Almighty God would combat them and treat them with hostilities, even unto death, as Paul had done while still being a Pharisee. The prophets, peace be upon them all, did encourage their followers to live in peace and deal with people in justice and certainly love is the highest form of emotion a human can have for another human being.
Yet at the same time, believers have to defend themselves, their families and the religion itself, lest those who are not believers should remove belief from the very face of the earth. Islam, like Christianity preaches a message of peace and tolerance – to a point. But when this is no longer possible without totally compromising and loosing one’s way of life and belief system, then there is no alternative except to engage in open combat against those who are combating against the believers.
Jesus called upon his followers to sell their coats and buy swords. He explained that he did not come with peace, but rather a sword. He and his companions were engaged in mortal combat with their enemies, the Pharisees when one of the priests slaves had his ear cut by the sword. Jesus then told them to put down their swords. This is mentioned in the Bible.
The word “sword” appears over 200 times in the Bible – but even though the Arabic language has more than a dozen words for sword, there is not a single occurrence of any of these words anywhere in the Quran. Combat is ordered in the Quran, only under very specific and limited conditions and it is nothing more than what we would today call “The War on Terrorism.” Fighting against all acts of organized aggression, oppression, persecution and terrorism is an obligation on all believers. But it certainly has limits and women, children, elderly and any innocents are not to killed or injured during such occasions. Treatment of prisoners is not to be humiliating or use torture of any kind. Even the dead of the enemy are to be buried with dignity and respect.
Now since writing my story and publishing here on the internet many other websites have picked up this story and it had become a famous example of how “Priest and Preachers Are Coming to Islam.” Again, I thank you for visiting. And I thank our Christian friend for his email. If he hadn’t sent it, I probably would still not have completed this task of putting down the story once and for all of how my family, friends and myself all came to Islam.
I would like to take the opportunity to share with you my journey to Islam and I feel that by sharing this experience with you I can help you on your journey through life. We are all born into different cultures, countries, and religions in what often seems a confusing and troubled world. Actually, when we examine the world around us, we can easily see what a troubled state it is in:
War, poverty, and crime. Need I go on? Yet when we look at our own upbringing and our education, how can we be sure that all the things that we have been told, are in reality the truth?
Unfortunately, most people in the world decide to try to hide and escape from the world’s problems rather than stand up and deal with the truth. Dealing with the truth is often the harder avenue to follow. The question is: Are you willing to stand up for the truth? Are you strong enough? Or, are you going to escape and hide like the rest?
I started my search for the truth a number of years ago. I wanted to find out the truth about the reality of our existence. Surely, to understand life correctly is the key to solving all the worldly problems that we are faced with today. I was born into a Christian family and this is where my journey began.
I started to read the Bible and to ask questions. I quickly became unsatisfied. The priest told me, “You just have to have faith.” From reading the bible I found contradictions and things that were clearly wrong.
Does God contradict himself? Does God lie? Of course not! I moved on from Christianity, thinking the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians are corrupted so there is no way that I can find the truth from the false. I started finding out about Eastern Religions and Philosophies, particularly Buddhism. I spent a long time meditating in Buddhist temples and talking to the Buddhist monks. Actually, the meditating gave me a good clean feeling. The trouble was that it didn’t answer any of my questions about the reality of existence. Instead, it carefully avoided them in a way that makes it seem stupid to even talk about it.
I traveled to many parts of the world during my quest for the truth. I became very interested in tribal religions and the spiritualist way of thinking. I found that a lot of what these religions were saying had truth in them, but I could never accept the whole religion as the truth. This was the same as where I started with Christianity!
I began to think that there was truth in everything and it didn’t really matter what you believed in or what you followed. Surely though this is a form of escaping. I mean, does it make sense: one truth for one person and another truth for someone else? There can only be one truth! I felt confused, I fell to the floor and prayed, “Oh, please God, I am so confused, please guide me to the truth.” This is when I discovered Islam.
Of course, I always knew something about Islam, but only what we naively hear in the West. I was surprised though by what I found. The more that I read the Quran and asked questions about what Islam taught, the more truths I received. The striking difference between Islam and every other religion is that Islam is the only religion that makes a strict distinction between the creator and the creation. In Islam, we worship the creator. Simple.
You will find, however, that in every other religion there is some form of worship involving creation. For example, worshipping men as incarnations of God or stones sounds familiar. Surely though, if you are going to worship anything, you should worship the one that created all. The one that gave you your life and the one who will take it away again. In fact, in Islam, the only sin that God will not forgive is the worship of creation.
However, the truth of Islam can be found in the Quran. The Quran is like a text book guide to life. In it you will find answers to all the questions. For me, everything I had learnt about all the different religions, everything that I knew to be true, fitted together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
I had all the pieces all along but I just did not know how to fix them together. I would therefore like to ask you to consider Islam now. The true Islam as described in the Quran. Not the Islam that we get taught about in the West. You may at least be able to cut down your journey in search of the truth about life. I pray for your success, regardless.