"Love One Another!" 18/2011 → Conversions
From a letter sent by a reader: “Love One Another Magazine often runs articles and testimonies about conversions from other religions and atheism.
I have yet to come across a witness story by a converted Muslim. Do Muslims ever convert to Christianity?”
The problem with Muslims converting is that choosing to renounce Islam is a capital offense according to a prescription in the Koran. Unfortunately, this prescription is strictly observed in the Muslim world and hence no Muslim who renounces his or her religion feels safe. Many go into hiding. Most of them try to move to the West, but even there they are terrorized by their former co-religionists. Despite this, it is certain that a significant number of Muslims do renounce Mohammed’s religion and choose salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This has always been so.
For example, since the time of the Arab conquests, the Berbers living in Tunisia have renounced Islam eighteen times. Each time bloody pogroms forced them to return to the bosom of the “religion of peace.” During the terrible massacres of the Christian population in Turkey during WWI, some three million Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks perished, while thousands avowed belief in Mohammed only to save their lives. Today their descendants receive baptism secretly but are forced to leave their native towns and villages and change their names. The modern secular Turkish state has little interest in protecting them from the retribution enjoined by the Koran.
To my knowledge the largest group of Muslims to convert to Jesus are the Egyptians. The traditional Coptic Church, numbering well over ten million adherents, suffers constant attacks by Islamic militants. Churches are burned down or blown up, shops plundered, Christian girls abducted, violated, and forced into harems. Yet their martyrdom is not in vain. Seeing their unwavering faith in the face of such violence, more than one Muslim begins to wonder if Islam is really a religion of peace. Who is this Jesus who gives them the strength to endure and forgive?
In recent years, several thousands of Egyptian Muslims have chosen Jesus at the risk of incurring the wrath of their families, persecution by the Egyptian state (which claims to guarantee freedom of conscience), and even death itself. No doubt there are many more such people, but these several thousand have had the courage to sign an open letter to the Egyptian President demanding the right to practice religion in accordance with their conscience. According to some sources, around ten thousand Egyptian Muslims have joined the Catholic Church in recent years.
I know of the testimony of a former lecturer at the Al-Azhar Academy—Cairo’s largest and most famous Islamic seat of learning. This man, who also worked as an imam at Giza, was unable to reconcile himself with the violence prescribed by the Koran and its militant adherents. He found himself unable to teach about the religion of peace in the way political correctness required. When he raised such questions during a lecture, the authorities called him in and promptly fired him as a blasphemer. That night he was arrested. A dozen armed men burst into his family home, ransacked it from top to bottom, and literally dragged the “apostate” out of bed.
The prisons in Egypt are not like those in the West. There one is starved, tortured, and exposed to the predations of rats or dogs. The state authorities accused the Al-Azhar lecturer of renouncing Islam, even though this was not at all the case. They used torture to force him to confess his apostasy and name the person who had evangelized him (evangelizing a Muslim is also a capital offense). Despite this, he held his ground. “I have not betrayed Islam,” he insisted. “All I did was say what I believed. I am a scholar and a thinker. I have a right to discuss Islam. It is my job—an essential part of scholarly inquiry. I never dreamed of renouncing Islam. Islam is in my blood. It is my culture, my language, my family, and my life. But if, because of what I say, I am accused of betraying Islam, then you may exclude me from it. If this is Islam, I do not care for it.” After suffering the harshest torments, the lecturer was miraculously freed. A year later he discovered Who it was that had freed him from the hands of his torturers. No longer able to live in darkness, he confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Shortly afterwards, two Islamists tried unsuccessfully to stab him to death. When, subsequently, he told his father about his new faith, the latter drew out a revolver and began shooting at him. Mercifully, he missed; but from that time on this new Christian convert could not remain in Egypt.
Alas, the above case is not an isolated one. Often a Muslim will begin noticing contradictions in the Koran; he will sense a conflict between the voice of conscience and the Koranic prescription to wage holy war. The Koran all but obliges a Muslim to engage in jihad: “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks” (Sura 47: 4); “But if they turn renegade, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them” (4: 89); “Fighting is prescribed for you, [though] ye dislike it” (2: 216). The Koran holds that if one’s conscience is at variance with Islam, it must be silenced. Those, however, who heed the voice of their conscience, generally abandon Islam. But God will not leave them helpless. He will send them Christians who are ready to proclaim the Good News of Jesus.
I will cite just two examples. Walid, an Israeli Arab born in Bethlehem, recalls how while taking Islamic studies at high school, his fellow students asked their teacher the following question: Will Muslims be allowed to rape Jewish women when the Jews have been defeated? The teacher’s reply was as follows: “Women taken as prisoners of war have no say in the matter. They are captives and must obey their masters. Sex with a woman taken in war is not a matter about which the captive has any choice.” And, indeed, this is in full accordance with the Koran, which states: “Prohibited to you (for marriage) are [...] women already married, except those whom your right hands possess [i.e. women taken captive in war]” (Sura 4: 23-24). Elsewhere, the Koran states: “O Prophet! We [i.e. Allah] have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom God has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated (from Makka) with thee; and any believing woman who dedicates her soul to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her;—this only for thee, and not for the Believers (at large); We know what We have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess;—in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (33: 50).
Mohammed was accorded this privilege. He had fourteen wives as well as a number of concubines—captives taken during his victorious battles. No one knows exactly how many concubines the Prophet had, and this was always the subject of a heated debate among Walid and his fellow students. It is known that one of these women was taken from Zeid, Mohammed’s adopted son. Allah declared that she was intended for the Prophet. Others were Jewish women taken into captivity after Mohammed had put their husbands and families to the sword.
Walid was constantly fed the idea that Mohammed’s prophecy would one day come to pass; that there would be a great battle as a result of which the Muslims would reclaim the Holy Land and exterminate the Jews in a massive slaughter. The Hadith Books speak of this prophecy: “The Day of Judgment shall not come to pass until a tribe of Muslims defeats the tribe of Jews” (narrated by Abu Hurairah, Sahih Muslim, Hadith #6985; Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 4, #177). When Mohammed was asked where this would take place, he replied, “In Jerusalem and the surrounding lands.” Thus Walid took an active part in the jihad in the sure belief that it would end either in victory or in a martyr’s death. Islam holds that martyrdom is the only sure way of winning salvation and paradise. Allah and his prophet Mohammed stated this in the Koran (3: 169). Walid’s idol was Adolf Hitler, the perpetrator of the greatest single act of extermination of the Jews in history. Terrified by the Koran’s vision of hell and its terrible punishments, Walid became a terrorist. Only by waging holy war, could he avoid these punishments.
Providentially, he came into possession of a book that persuaded him to read the Bible. God guided him in this reading, pointing out to him the all the prophecies that had been fulfilled to the letter. In time, Walid came to understand that the source of man’s problems was sin and that his worst enemy was not the Jewish race, but Satan. Yet millions of Muslims continue to be fed the same perverse idea: that one day they will do to the Jews in the Holy Land what Mohammed once did to the Jews in Arabia. Indeed, the idea of murdering Jews and Christians and taking their wives for concubines is deeply rooted in the Muslim Koran itself. It is the main source feeding Muslim hatred of the Jews in the world today. When Walid learned the truth about Jesus, he saw Islam in its true light and could no longer avow the religion of Mohammed. Only later did he learn that his mother had been secretly baptized and was praying for him. This she had had to conceal for fear of her life.
The other case is that of Abdul from Saudi Arabia. It is well known that this country forbids the wearing and public display of Christian symbols. Owning a Bible and meeting for the purpose of common prayer (other than that directed to Allah) are also strictly forbidden. Even conveying Christmas wishes on the telephone can land someone in jail; and speaking to a Muslim about Jesus is a capital offense. Under these conditions, Abdul, who was sincerely seeking God, had no opportunity to speak to anyone about Jesus. But Jesus appeared to him at night in a vision, saying: “My Son, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Devote your life to me, follow me, and I shall deliver you from hell.” God subsequently put Abdul in touch with a Christian Copt living in Saudi Arabia. On befriending this man, the Saudi received the gift of a Bible; and on reading the word of God, Abdul decided to avow and serve Jesus. In no time the police learned of this (probably one of his relatives denounced him), and he found himself in prison, where they tortured him and demanded that he return to Islam. He refused. The hour and day of his execution was set. But instead of being beheaded, he was freed.
According to various sources of more or less reliability, the number of Muslims renouncing the religion of the Koran and choosing Jesus is in the tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands yearly. Most conversions occur in Europe and America, where Muslims are less hampered by tradition, culture, and family ties, and where the State does not resort to Koranic repression of apostates. Yet even here they do not feel safe, since militant jihadists are also present in the West, where they can terrorize and even murder new converts with relative impunity. Western societies and governments are still new to the experience of seeing their citizens killed for their personal convictions and religious beliefs. That is why thousands of our co-religionists who have received baptism in England, France, and Germany, remain in hiding and live in constant fear of being murdered for their choice of religion.
Let us pray for them, but above all for those who from religious zeal and fear of the death penalty wrestle with their conscience, with Christianity, and with God Himself, who accepted death on the cross out of love for all His children.
The article was published with the permission from "Love One Another!" in August 2016.
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