Growing up in the Middle East, I was a strong adherent of Islam. I tried my best to do exactly what the Qur’an and the Muslim Sharia laws teach. However, despite my best efforts, I felt guilty. I thought that I must be the worst person on the face of the Earth because I couldn’t keep the laws.
I believed strongly that Islam and the Qur’an were true, but I struggled with my knowledge of my own sinfulness. Because of this, I thought I was surely going to Hell, and so I feared death greatly. And I always felt empty inside.
Who is Jesus really?
When I was 27 years old, I was introduced to the Bible for the first time. I started just reading it for its stories since I had been taught that the Bible had been corrupted. I was also taught that Jesus was just a prophet who was inferior to Muhammad. I was certain that Muslims embraced Jesus more truly than Christians did.
I considered myself a modern, open-minded, university educated people so I saw no harm in reading the Bible. I never once thought for a second that I’d ever leave Islam and become a Christian!
I never once thought for a second that I’d ever leave Islam and become a Christian!
I had a negative opinion of Christians. I saw Christians as being immoral, a view I got from Hollywood movies and seeing how some of the nominal Christians in my own country lived.
However, during a time of terrible personal struggle in my life, I had been reading the Qur’an and praying eagerly for help. I was in real trouble. A co-worker told me that if you pray in Jesus’ name, that Jesus will help you. I didn’t believe that, but figured it was worth a try in my desperate state.
Cautiously Reading the Bible
After that I started to read the Bible seriously for the first time, and was surprised at how Jesus did not speak like a prophet. He spoke with total authority. Muslims say that the Bible has been corrupted, but everywhere in the Bible Jesus speaks with authority! I thought that Jesus either must be much more than just a prophet, or else he was a complete liar.
Jesus also seemed to accept people regardless of what state their lives were in. People like me! If Jesus was who he said he was, I wanted to believe in him. But I was still skeptical—I needed something more to convince me.
Jesus, is that you?
I was shocked when, the next day, Jesus appeared to me, face to face! I saw him as clearly as you can see your computer screen right now. I saw him for only a few seconds, but he was Arab in appearance with long hair and a white robe. What I saw seemed so powerful to me, it was like experiencing lightning and thunder together! I was filled with joy and miraculously all of the personal struggles I was dealing with quickly disappeared!
And yet even after all that I still could not accept that Jesus was the Son of God! Doing that is very difficult for a person raised as a Muslim. And when I immigrated to Canada, I was again displeased with how many Christians live. I lived my life as an atheist, and religion fell out of my life.
My Need for God Returned
But then I again fell into deep personal difficulties. I decided to try to recapture the faith of my youth: Islam, not Christianity. I decided to study the life of Muhammad, and surprisingly concluded that even atheists live better lives than Muhammad! Every time Muhammad did something wrong, somehow it was justified or conveniently a word was received from God to say it’s okay. As difficult as it was, I decided that I could no longer follow Islam.
I still needed God, and remembered the vision I had many years earlier of Jesus. I started to research Christianity in the same way I researched Islam. Through my research I became convinced that Jesus did die on the cross as payment for our sins and was raised to life again!
I made my final decision one day when I was watching a Christian TV show. The speaker’s words seemed to be speaking directly to me. That day I accepted Christ and was reborn into a new life. I still had trouble understanding some things fully, but realized that trying to fully understand an unlimited God would never be completely successful.
After I made my decision, I became a better husband and father, and began to pray for and love other people in a way I’d never done before. I no longer feared death like I did before and I no longer felt empty inside. I now worship God out of pure joy, not out of obligation!
If you want to make a commitment to Jesus, read this summary of the gift he offers you. If you’re curious to know more about him, read Who is Jesus, Really?