Priests and Missionaries who have Embraced Islam
Compiled by The
And thou wilt
find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who
say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and
monks, and because they are not proud.
listen to that which hath been revealed unto the messengers, thou seest their
eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say:
Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses. [Qur'an
Abdullah al-Faruq -
Formerly Kenneth L. Jenkins, minister and elder of the Pentecostal Church
As a former minister and elder of
the Christian church, it has become incumbent upon me to enlighten those that
continue to walk in darkness. After embracing Islam I felt a dire need to help
those who have not yet been blessed to experience the light of Islam.
I thank Almighty God, Allah, for
having mercy upon me, causing me to come to know the beauty of Islam as taught
by Prophet Muhammad and his rightly guided followers. It is only by the mercy of
Allah that we receive true guidance and the ability to follow the straight path,
which leads to success in this life and the Hereafter.
Praise be to Allah for the kindness shown to me
by Shaykh 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz upon my embracing Islam. I cherish
and will pass on the knowledge gained from each meeting with him. There are many
others who have helped me by means of encouragement and knowledge, but for fear
of missing anyone, I will refrain from attempting to list them. Sufficient it is
to say that I thank Almighty God, Allah, for each and every brother and sister
that He has allowed to play a role in my growth and development as a Muslim.
I pray that this short work will be of benefit to
all. I hope that Christians will find that there is yet i hope for the wayward
conditions that prevail over the bulk of Christendom. The answers to Christian
problems are not to be found with the Christians themselves, for they are, in
most instances, the root of their own problems. Rather, Islam is the solution to
the problems plaguing the world of Christianity,as well as the problems facing
the so-called worldof religion as a whole. May Allah guide us all and reward us
according to the very best of our deeds and intentions.
Abdullah Muhammad al-Faruque at-Ta'if, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
As a young boy I was raised with a deep fear of
God. Having been partially raised by a grandmother who was a Pentecostal
fundamentalist, the church became an integral part of my life at a very early
age. By the time I had reached the age of six, I knew all too well the benefits
awaiting me in Heaven for being a good little boy and the punishment awaiting in
Hell for little boys who are naughty. I was taught by my grandmother that all
liars were doomed to go to the Hellfire, where they would burn forever and ever.
My mother worked two full-time jobs and continued
to remind me of the teachings given to me by her mother. My younger brother and
older sister did not seem to take our grandmother's warnings of the Hereafter as
seriously as I did. I recall seeing the full moon when it would take on a deep
reddish hue, and I would begin to weep because I was taught that one of the
signs of the end of the world would be that the moon would become red like
blood. As an eightyear old child I began to develop such a fear at what I
thought were signs in the heavens and on earth of Doomsday that I actually had
nightmares of what the Day of Judgement would be like. Ourhouse was close to a
set of railroad tracks, and trains passed by on a frequent basis. I can remember
being awakened out of sleep by the horrendous sound of the locomotive's horn and
thinking that I had died and was being resurrected after hearing the sound of
the trumpet. These teachings were ingrained in my young mind through a
combination of oral teachings and the reading of a set of children's books known
asthe Bible Stoly.
Every Sunday we would go to church dressed in all
of our finery. My grandfather was our means of transportation. Church would last
for what seemed to me like hours. We would arrive at around eleven in the
morning and not leave until sometimes three in the afternoon. I remember falling
asleep in my grandmother's lap on many occasions. For a time my brother and I
were permitted to leave church in between the conclusion of Sunday school and
morning worship service to sit with our grandfather at the railway yard and
watch the trains pass. He was not a churchgoer, but he saw to it thatmyEamily
made it there every Sunday. Sometime later he suffered a stroke, which left him
partiallyparalyzed, and as a result, we were unable to attend church od a
regular basis. This period of time would be one of the most crucial stages of my
I was relieved, in a sense, at no longer being
able to attend church, but I would feel the urge to go on my own every now and
then. At age sixteen I began attending the church of a friend whose father was
the pastor. It was a small storefrontbuildingwith only my friend's family,
myself, and another schoolmate as members. This went on for only several months
before -the church closed down. After graduating from high school and entering
the university I rediscovered my religious commitment and became fully immersed
in Pentecostal teachings. I was baptized and "filled with the Holy
Ghost," as the experience was then called. As a college student, I quickly
became the pride of the church. Everyone had high hopes for me, and I was happy
to once again be "on the road to salvation. "
I attended church every time its doors would
open. I studied the Bible for days and weeks at a time. I attended lectures
given by the Christian scholars of my day, and I acknowledged my call to the
ministry at the age of 20. I began preaching and became well known very quickly.
I was extremely dogmatic and believed that no one could receive salvation unless
they were of my church group. I categorically condemned everyone who had not
come to know God the way I had cometo knowHim. I was taught that Jesus Christ
(peace be upon him) and God Almighty were one and the samething. I was taught
that our church did not believe in the trinity but that Jesus (peace be upon
him) was indeed the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I tried to make myself
understand it even though I had to admit that I really did not fully understand
it. As far as I was concerned, it was the only doctrine that made sense to me. I
admired the holy dress ofthewomenandthe pious behavior of the men. I enjoyed
practicing a doctrine where women were required to dress in garments covering
themselves completely, not painting their faces with makeup, and carrying
themselves as true ambassadors of Christ. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a
doubt that I had finally found the true path to eternal bliss. Iwould debate
with anyone from a different church with different beliefs and would totally
silence them with my knowledge of the Bible. I memorized hundreds of Biblical
passages, and this became a trademark of my preaching. Yet, even though I felt
assured of being on the right path, a part of me was still searching. I felt
that there was an even higher truth to be attained.
I would meditate while alone and pray to God to
lead me to the correct religion and to forgive me if what I was doing was wrong.
I had neverhad any contact with Muslims. The only people I knew that claimed
Islam as their religion were the followers of Elijah Muhammad, who were referred
to by many as the "Black Muslims" or the "Lost-Found
Nation." It was during this period in the late seventies that Minister
Louis Farrakhan was well into rebuilding what was called "The Nation of
Islam." Iwentto hear Minister Farrakhan speak at the invitation of a
coworker and found it to be an experience that would change my life
dramatically. I had never in my life heard another black man speak the way that
he spoke. I immediately wanted to arrange a meeting with him to try to convert
him to my religion. I enjoyed evangelizing, hoping to find lost souls to save
from the Hellfire - no matter who they were.
After graduating from college I began to work on
a full-time basis. As I was reaching the pinnacle of my ministry, the followers
of Elijah Muhammad became more visible, and I appreciated their efforts in
attempting to rid the black community of the evils that were destroying it from
within. I beganto support them, in a sense, by buying their literature and even
meeting with them for dialogue. I attended their study circles to find out
exactly what they believed. As sincere as I knew many of them were, I could not
buy the idea of God being a black man. I disagreed with their use of the Bible
to support their position on certain issues. Here was a book that I knewvery
well, and I was deeply disturbed at what I deemed was their misinterpretation of
it. I had attended locally supported Bible schools and had become quite
knowledgeable in various fields of Bible study.
After about six years I moved to Texas and became
affiliated with two churches. The first church was led by a young pastor who was
inexperienced and not very learned. My knowledge of the Christian scriptures had
by this time developed into something abnormal. I was obsessed with Biblical
teachings. I began to look deeper into the scriptures and realized that I knew
more than the present leader. As a show of respect, I left and joined another
church in a different city where I felt that I could learn more. The pastor of
this particular church was very scholarly. He was an excellent teacher but had
some ideas that were not the norm in our church organization. He held somewhat
liberal views, but I still enjoyed his indoctrination. I was soon to learn the
most valuable lesson of my Christian life, which was "all that glitters is
not gold." Despite its outward appearance,there were evils taking place
that I never thought were possible in the Church. These evils caused meto
reflect deeply, and I began questioning the teaching to which I was so
Welcome to the Real Church World
I soon discovered that there was a great deal of
jealousy prevalent in the ministerial hierarchy. Things had changed from that to
which I was accustomed. Women wore clothing that I thought was shameful. People
dressed in order to attract attention, usually from the opposite sex. I
discovered just how great a part money and greed play in the operation of church
activities. There were many small churches struggling, and they called upon us
to hold meetings to help raise money for them. I wastoldthatifa church did not
have a certain numberofmembers, then I was not to waste my time preaching there
because I would not receive ample financial compensation. I then explained that
I was not in it for the money and that I would preach even if there was only one
member present... and I'd do it for free! This caused a disturbance. I started
questioning those whom I thought had wisdom, only to find that they had been
putting on a show. I learned that money, power and position were more important
than teaching the truth about the Bible. As a Bible student, I knew full well
that there were mistakes, contradictions and fabrications. I thought that people
should be exposed to the truth about the Bible. The idea of exposing the people
to such aspects of the Bible was a thought supposedly attributable to Satan. But
I began to publicly ask my teachers questions during Bible classes, which none
of them could answer. Not a single one could explainhowiesus was supposedly God,
and how, at the same time, he was supposedly the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
wrapped up into one and yet wasnotapartofthe trinity. Several preachers finally
had to concede that they did not understand it but thatwewere simply required to
Cases of adultery and fornication went
unpunished. Some preachers were hooked on drugs and had destroyed their lives
and the livesoftheir families. Leaders of some churches were found to be
homosexuals. There were pastors even guilty of committing adultery with the
young daughters of other church members. All of this coupledwitha failure to
receive answers to what I thought were valid questions was enough to make me
seek a change. That change came when I accepted a job in the Kingdom of Saudi
A New Beginning
It was not long after arriving in Saudi Arabia
that I saw an immediate difference in thelifestyle o fthe Muslim people. They
were different from the followers of Elijah Muhammad and Minister Louis
Farrakhan in that they were of all nationalities, colors and languages. I
immediately expressed a desireto learn more about this peculiar brand of
religion. I was amazed with the life of Prophet Muhammad and wanted to know
more. I requested books from one of the brothers who was active in calling
people to Islam. I was supplied with all of the books that I could possibly
want. I read each and every one. I was then given the Holy Qur'an and read it
completely several times within four months. I asked question after question and
received satisfactory answers. What appealed to me was that the brothers were
not keen on impressing me with their knowledge. If a brother did not know how to
answer a question, he would tell me that he simply did not know and would have
to check with someone who did. The next day he would always bring the answer. I
noticed how humility played such a great role in the lives of these mysterious
people of the Middle East.
I was amazed to see the women covering themselves
from face to foot. I did not see any religious hierarchy. No one was competing
for any religious position. All of this was wonderful, but how could I entertain
the thought of abandoning a teaching that had followed me since childhood? What
about the Bible? I knew that there is some truth in it even though it had been
changed and revised countless numbers of times. I was then given a video
cassette of a debate between Shaykh Ahmed Deedat and Reverend Jimmy Swaggart.
After seeing the debate I immediately became a Muslim. (To view this debate
click here -
I was taken to the office of Shaykh 'Abdullah bin
'Abdul-'Azeez bin Baz to officially declare my acceptance of Islam. It was there
that I was given sound advice on how to prepare myself for the long journey
ahead. It was truly a birth from darkness into light. I wondered what my peers
fromthe Church would think when they heard that I had embraced Islam. It was not
long before I found out. I went back to the United States for vacation and was
severely criticized for my "lack of faith." I was stamped with many
labels - from renegade to reprobate. People were told by so-called church
leaders not to even remember me in prayer. As strange as it may seem, I was not
bothered in the least. I was so happy that Almighty God, Allah, had chosen to
guide me aright that nothing else mattered.
Now I only wanted to become as dedicated a Muslim
as I was a Christian. This, of course, meant study. I realized that a person
could grow as much as they wanted to in Islam. Thereis no monopoly of knowledge
- it is free to all who wish to avail themselves of the opportunities to learn.
I was given a set of Saheeh Muslim as a gift from my Qur'an teacher. It was then
that I realized the need to learn about the life, sayings and practices of
Prophet Muhammad . I read and studied as many of the hadlth collections
available in English as possible. I realized that my knowledge of the Bible was
an asset that is now quite useful in dealing with those of Christian
backgrounds. Life for me has taken on an entirely new meaning. One of the most
profound attitude changes is a result ofknowingthatthislife must actually be
spent in preparation for life in the Hereafter. It was also a new experience to
know that we are rewarded even for our intentions. If you intend to do good,
then you are rewarded. Itwas quite different in the Church. The attitude wasthat
"the path to Hell is paved with good intentions." There was no way to
win. Ifyousinned,thenyou had to confess to the pastor, especially if the sin was
a great sin, such as adultery. You were judged strictly by your actions.
The Present and Future
After an interview by the Al-Madinah newspaper I
was asked about my present-day activities and plans for the future. At present,
my goal is to learn Arabic and continue studying to gain greater knowledge about
Islam. I am presentlyengaged inthefield-of da'wah and am called upon to lecture
to non-Muslims who come from Christian backgrounds. If Allah, Almighty, spares
my life, I hope to write more on the subject of comparative religion.
It is the duty of Muslims throughout the world to
work to spread the knowledge of Islam. As one who has spent such a long time as
a Bible teacher, I feel a special sense of duty in educating people about the
errors, contradictions and fabricated talesofabook believed in by millions of
people. One of the greatest joys is knowing that I do not have to engage in a
great deal of dispute with Christians, because I was a teacher who taught most
of the disputetechniques used by them. I also learned how to argue using the
Bible to defend Christianity. And at the same time I know the counter arguments
for each argument which we, as ministers, were forbidden by our leadersto
discuss or divulge.
It is my prayer that Allah will
forgive us all of our ignorance and guide us to the path leading to Paradise.
All praise is due to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His
last messenger, Prophet Muhammad, his family, companions, and those following
true guidance. (Source: Islam
Online from Europe)
(Back to Top)
Viacheslav Polosin -
Former Archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church
ARCHPRIEST VIACHESLAV POLOSIN CONVERTS TO ISLAM
Nezavisimaia gazeta--religii, 2 June 1999
Polosin, a priest of the Kaluga diocese leave of absence who now heads the
administration of the Committee on Relations with Public Associations and
Religious Organizations of the State Duma of the Russian federation, has
converted to Islam. "I decided to bring my social status into line with my
convictions," Viacheslav Polosin declared, "and to testify publicly
that I consider myself an adherent of the great tradition of the true faith of
the prophets of monotheism, beginning with Abraham. And thus I do not consider
myself a priest nor a member of any Orthodox church."
At the same time Viacheslav Polosin recited the traditional formula testifying
to his acceptance of Islam: "There is no god besides the One God Allah, and
Muhammad is his messenger." Viacheslav Polosin consider that the final
revelation on earth is the Holy Koran send down to the prophet Muhammad and he
categorically disagrees with those who "for some reason consider that the
Arabic text of the Holy Koran is alien to the Russian mentality." In his
interview with the journal Musulmane, Viacheslav Polosin subjected to sharp
criticism the Christian, and especially the Orthodox, tradition. In his opinion,
Christianity contains an "assimilation of the Creator God to his creation,
man," which is anthropomorphism. "For centuries there have existed
mediators, fathers and teachers, who while not prophets have spoken in the name
of God," Viacheslav Polosin said about the Christian cult of
saints, "and this practice has so become the norm in the church that it is
difficult for the laity to escape it, and for one in the position of a priest it
is impossible." According to Viacheslav Polosin, his wife "completely
shares this choice of worldview."
Among Muslims who had influence on this choice
the former Orthodox clergyman identified Geidar Jemal and reported that the
stories about the Holy Kaaba and the Hadj made a great impression on him. (tr.
(posted 3 June 1999)
- FATHER VIACHESLAV: FROM CHURCH TO MOSQUE
by Alexander Soldatov
Moskovskie novosti, 8-14 June 1999
Polosin, a former priest of the Russian Orthodox church and chairman of
the Committee of the Supreme Soviet on Freedom of Conscience, recently
announced his conversion from Orthodoxy to Islam. This unprecedented event
of the adoption of the religion of the Prophet by a prominent Orthodox
clergyman was a surprise for many. The former archpriest is suspected of
psychological illness or of subtle political calculation. But he himself
speaks of his own free, spiritual, philosophical choice.
--As far as I know, this is the second time in your life when you have
officially announced a change in your worldview?
--From childhood I believed in God, in my spirit. Later, when I was in the
university, I came across Orthodox literature and went to the church and
found there something that I had not seen in philosophy classes. I do not
regret that; I learned a lot there. I submitted my documents to the
ecclesiastical seminary in 1979 and have now, after twenty years, given an
interview to the journal "Musulmane;" these are two stages in the
development of my life.
Interview with Musulmane
"Several years of intense work have brought me to the conclusion that
the Koran does not contain an assimilation of the Creator God to his
creation, humanity, which is anthropomorphism, the essence of paganism.
There is no basis for the ritual practice of appeasing God like some kind of
human ruler. . . . I have decided to bring my social status into conformity
with my convictions and to bear public testimony that I consider myself a
follower of the great tradition of the correct belief and of the prophets of
monotheism, beginning with Abraham, and thus I do not consider myself any
longer either a clergyman or a member of any Orthodox church. . . . As
regards possible penalties, we all are mortal and all sooner or later will
depart from this life, so it is better to depart from it abiding in the
Truth and not in spiritual ambivalence or in the delusions of human fantasy.
With regard to the
practical difficulties, including the Arabic language, I must place my hopes
in help and cooperation from my new brethren. My will fully shares this
--How did your clerical path evolve?
--Within the church circles of Moscow I was not "my own person."
There also were family circumstances which forced me to request ministry in
Central Asia. I served briefly in Frunze and somewhat longer in Dushanbe.
There I dealt with Islamic culture and the eastern mentality for the first
time, which made a deep impression on my soul. After half a year I was
ignominiously deprived of my registration for disobedience to secular
authorities, that is, to the commissioner for religious affairs. For three
year I was not accepted anywhere and was in complete disgrace. In 1988, when
perestroika began, I was offered a half-destroyed church near Obninsk. From
there I was elected in 1990 as a member of the soviet of the RSFSR.
The position of the Moscow patriarchate
For the Moscow patriarchate, the announcement by Archpriest Viacheslav
Polosin of his conversion to another faith came as a complete surprise. In
the Department of External Church Relations his move is explained as
instability of character and convictions and a quick "subsequent
change" of religious views is predicted. In the patriarchate there is
an inclination to let the matter drop, relying on the decision of Fr
Viacheslav's ruling bishop, Archbishop Kliment of Kaluga and Borovsk.
--Were you suspected of conversion to protestantism?
--American protestants, who in 1991 arrived in Russia in abundance and whom
I received, proposed that we begin our meeting with prayer. But I
categorically objected, saying that this was a secular institution and that
I protected freedom of conscience and thus there must not be any prayer
here. I was cordial with protestants, but where this rumor that I wanted to
adopt protestantism came from, I don't know.
--For many it is a puzzle what your real position on the new law on freedom
of conscience of 1997 is. Some consider you its author and some recall that
you have frequently criticized the law itself.
--As long as I am a state employee I cannot discuss the whole truth about
this law. I participated in the writing of this law as one of fifteen
members of the working group and I had very little influence. Then the law
was presented to the duma where work on it went forward. I can consider
myself a coauthor of what resulted from this work. But the demonization of
the law was necessary to those circles and forces who figured on being able
to make a name and money for themselves on the basis of the negative events
that arose around the country. Actually the law upheld the principles of a
secular state and maintained the situation.
--Was your religious quest provoked by your displeasure with formal
--While I was working in the state apparatus I began to see more clearly how
various activities within the church or politics affect the life of the
people. Some people try to interpret Christianity so as to justify the
irresponsibility of the government, giving it an image of divine ordination.
--There are similar examples in the history of the Islamic world: khans,
Turkish sultans, palace intrigues of the Sublime Porte.
--In the Koran viewing the government as "God's anointed" is
strictly forbidden. It is said that if someone usurps power and a Muslim
tolerates this, then he is an accessory to this sin. In the Ottoman empire
there was a stagnation of Muslim culture--the cult of the military,
violence, slavery. Islam degenerated there. The Revelation itself is a
--What has been the reaction of your new Muslim brethren to your decision?
--My interview with the journal Musulmane provoked lively interest, so much
so that it was necessary to put out another printing.
--What has been the reaction on the part of your leadership in the duma?
--Some naturally will be unhappy, but I don't care to please everyone. I
think that nothing will change in my work in the duma. I do not intend to
criticize Christianity. When I was within Orthodoxy, I criticized it rather
harshly. Now I don't. Islam, as it is presented in the Koran, is the most
democratic religion because it contains a prohibition of tyranny; vis-a-vis
the Creator is the people, society on earth. There are no mediators of a
priestly caste or anointed monarchs in the Koran.
Viacheslav Polosin's office
In the State Duma he occupies one office along with Murad Zaprishiev, a
former deputy and now an employee of the staff of the duma Committee for
Relations with Public Associations and Religious Organizations. In a
prominent place in the office there is the Koran and the walls are decorated
with Arabic inscriptions. In this office Polosin and his colleague sometimes
perform their prayers, for which they use a special rug. At the same time,
Viacheslav Sergeevich opposes making a demonstrative profession of Islam in
his secular work and especially in governmental service.
--Do you have plans to return to a more political life?
--For the time being, no. I would prefer to use my profession and knowledge
for socially useful activity within the bounds of Islam. I see myself as a
public and academic Islamic leader, but not a politician. But what the
future will bring, only God knows. In 1990 my election as a deputy also was
INFORMATION: Viacheslav Sergeevich Polosin was born in 1956. In 1979 he
graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of MGU and in 1984 from the Moscow
Ecclesiastical Seminary. He was ordained a priest and served in parishes in
the dioceses of Central Asia and Kaluga of RPTs. In 1990 he was elevated to
the rank of archpriest. In the same year he was elected a people's deputy of
RSFSR from Kaluga region and headed the committee of the Supreme Soviet on
freedom of conscience. While working in the Supreme Soviet, he graduated
from the diplomatic academy of the ministry of foreign affairs and defended
his dissertation on the subject: "The Russian Orthodox church and the
state in USSR, 1971-1991." From 1993 he has been an employee of the
staff of the State Duma on relations with public associations and religious
organizations. He was a member of the Russian Christian
Democratic Movement and a member of the Council of Christian Organizations.
In 1991 he went on leave from the Kaluga diocese and since 1995 he has not
officiated in liturgies. In his interview with the Musulmane journal, he
officially called himself a Muslim: "I consider that the Koran is the
final Revelation on earth, sent down to the Prophet Muhammed. There is no
God but the One God, Allah, and Muhammed is his Messenger." Viacheslav
Polosin is the author of many scholarly works on historical,political,
religious, and philosophical subjects. In February of this year he defended
another dissertation on the subject: "The dialectics of myth and
political myth-making." His basic philosophical ideas are presented in
his book "Myth, Religion, and the State" (Moscow, 1999).
From the point of view of Islamic theologians, to convert to the religion of
the Prophet it is sufficient to recite the famous formula containing the
profession of faith in the one God Allah and his prophet Muhammed. In doing
so it is not important which language is used for reciting the formula. It
is important that the recitation be made before two witnesses who are Muslim
and can give written confirmation of the fact of the profession of Islam.
The rite of circumcision, which many consider to be analogous to baptism in
Christianity, is not obligatory for entrance into the Muslim umma. (tr. by
"RUSSIAN ISLAM" RECRUITS ADHERENTS FROM RANKS OF ORTHODOX
by Sergei Chapnin
--Viacheslav Sergeevich, you first announced that you had embraced Islam in
an interview in a small journal, "Musulmane." What's is this
related to? Why did you not first announce that you were demitting the
--I did not want to make a political show or sensation out of my spiritual
choice. In Islam it is required that one profess monotheism in the presence
of witnesses, and the journal for Muslims which is purely for internal use
fully accords with this goal. So I made the announcement in the presence of
witnesses, which were all the readers of the journal. And the print run of
the journal, 7,000 copies, is not so small in our times; for example, its
twice that of the newspaper "NG-religii." And the issue is not the
demitting of the priesthood but a complete break from the jurisdiction of a
particular church: it would be strange to profess Islam and consider one's
self an Orthodox layman.
--The title under which your interview was published is "The straight
path." Does that reflect your personal conviction that your path to
Islam was really straight?
--The words "straight path" frequently are used in the books of
the Old Testament. When the king rode along the stony gorges in the
Palestinian hills, his servants cleared his path of stones and straightened
it out. When the prophet John the Forerunner called for making straight the
way of the Lord, that is, the path for Jesus the Savior, the spiritual Lord
and King, John had in view the spiritual straightening out, freeing the soul
from pagan superstitions and embracing the truth. In the Holy Koran
"straight path" is one of the central terms: it is the path to the
Most High without mediators or priests, without faith in the independent
miracle working of manufactured objects. After all, even in the New
Testament Jesus Christ called for this, saying that his goal was that
all could turn directly to God, to "thou," "Abba,
Father." This was connected with Jesus' unconditional prohibition of
calling anyone one's father on earth (Mt 23.9). The straight path is direct
communion of the soul with God through the only mediator, the Spirit of God,
his action and energy. Islam, monotheism, right belief--this is the exposure
of all departures from the commands of the preceding prophets, including
Jesus, and the affirmation of the social doctrine of monotheism which had
earlier been lost.
--It is obvious that your decision will have enormous response in Russia and
in the whole Christian world: for the first time in history a Christian
cleric consciously and not under the pressure of circumstances embraces
--Twenty years have passed since I declared myself Orthodox. In 1979 it was
not easy to make the decision about entering seminary; such actions were
then condemned by society and I faced many obstacles. Strictly speaking, it
is impossible to "leave" into Islam. "Islam" in
translation means submission to God, entrusting one's whole self to God, or
it can be translated as "resignation to God." From the root "sam"
comes the world "salyam," or "shalom" or 'peace."
To embrace Islam doesn't sound right in Russian. The issue is not an
embracing but rather profession of strict monotheism. My faith in God has
not changed but only grown stronger, and I have changed my social status.
--Isn't your departure from the church connected with the fact that over the
last ten years you have been engaged solely in political activity and you
rejected active participation in church life? What kind of spiritual path
have you traveled in that time?
--Since 1993 I have been involved in politics only episodically. It is
possible to talk about the influence of lawmaking as an element of politics,
but this isn't public or independent politics. Thus there's no politics
here. Through participation in the state structures I came to see the
consequences in practice of decisions that are made. Sometimes they have
very great effects in society. Any mistake or miscalculation of the public
interests leads to difficult and sometimes tragic consequences and brings
about disorder in society. This forced me to think about how religious
concepts can be applied to politics and how people use these concepts for
their goals that are far from religion, for example, for usurpation of
authority. In Islam there are no such concepts that all authority is from
God. On the contrary, the power of the people is affirmed and accommodation
to tyranny and to the one who usurps the power of the people is considered
sin. If we are talking about the decision to profess one's self as a strict
monotheist, let's say, within the confines of the Abrahamic tradition, this
matured gradually and is connected only with my worldview quests.
--What were the milestones along the way? Were there new spiritual
experiences? Were these conversations with people, reading books, or some
--Yes, primarily it was books and people.
--In the interview with the journal Musulmane you mention Geidar Jemal. What
kind of influence did he have on you and what role did he play in your
--His addresses and sermons on the program "Nyne" [Now] produced a
strong impression on me. He often spoke about the tradition of Abrahamic
monotheism. Geidar Jemal is a respected man who participates in political
processes and politics always evokes a multitude of questions. I would wish
to distance myself from political activity in the field of Islam for I have
not participated in it, but his religious sermons often produced an
impression on me. Besides this, my conversations with Murad Zargishiev also
played a great role. I studied the history of Christianity and Islam and the
theological works of various writers, including the French philosopher Rene
Genon who embraced Islam. It was a long process. In the end it was the same
as going to graduate school after undergraduate. Islam is for me not a
negation of the former path nor a negation of Christianity, including
Orthodoxy. It is a transition to some new quality which I view as the next
stage for myself.
--Does that mean that your conversion to Islam personally does not mean
renunciation of Christ the Savior?
--The way he is described in the New Testament is for me only partially
acceptable inasmuch as there are questions about the authenticity of the
texts, but I have not renounced Jesus as he is described in the Most
Glorious Koran. It is said, first, that he is a prophet; second, a righteous
man; third, he was conceived in a miraculous manner. He really saved people
and thus is called Messiah in the Koran. The doctrine of the divine essence
of Christ arose in the fourth century and was made dogma in the fifth. For
several centuries Christians got on well without professing that Messiah was
God and there is no basis for considering that they were profoundly
--The famous Orthodox theologian of the eighth century John of Damascus
spoke of Islam as one of the Christian heresies. Christian consciousness
took Islam in the period of its beginning as one of numerous Christian
--Yes, it was considered that way. And really there were many Christian
sects at the time in the East, so that even patriarchs were considered as
"heretics" as well as whole local churches.
--What is your opinion about this?
--Islam is not an offshoot from Christianity but a second and great reform
of Abrahamic monotheism. Abraham believed in the one God and was the first
to express this publicly. He announced it and confirmed it for his
successors, becoming the "father" of all believers. Subsequently
this tradition suffered deviations. It is known that all of the
prophets--incidentally many of them also are called
"saviors"--criticized the people for their deviation into
heathenism. And the greatest prophet, Jesus, also criticized people for
heathenism. More than that, he himself spoke of himself in parables as sent
by God with a special mission. Before this people said: "Prophets are
sinners like us." But God sent a sinless Angel of God--in the bible
angels are called "sons of God" (Job 38.7)--who really was a pure
prophet but he was not obeyed. They conceived the desire to destroy him. He
criticized the dominating shortcomings of the time and spread the Good News
of the one God beyond the boundaries of a single people, for all people;
this was a great reform of Judaism. Islam is the second reform, cleansing
the Christianity of the sixth and seventh centuries from the pagan
accretions which has been formed in the period of its acquiring official
status and compulsory mass acceptance.
--How do you relate monotheism and the dogma of the Trinity? When you
entered seminary and especially when you gave your clerical vows, it was
required that you profess faith. What has changed in your understanding of
--Throughout the course of life a person develops. I was from a nonbelieving
family and the soviet environment, at a time when there was a system without
religious education. I knew nothing of religion before the age of eighteen.
There was only an internal urge and a faith in an unknown God. Twenty years
ago I came to the Orthodox church. I accepted Orthodox teaching, perceiving
it through a prism of my personal comprehension. In my spirit I always
believed in the one God and the teaching about a plurality of persons and
hypostases I understood approximately as now I understand the teaching about
the plurality of names in the Most Glorious Koran and the Old Testament.
There can be many names because a name does not signify the essence but an
activity of God in this world. If he clearly saves someone from danger, they
say "God is merciful." "Merciful" in this case is his
name, but it is not the substance of God and does not pretend to be so.
Moreover, in Christian dogmatic manuals it is said that we know nothing
about the substance of God. At the same time there is a paradox here: we
know nothing about the substance but we distinguish several persons within
--Aren't you confusing person and action, hypostasis and energy? If there is
a plurality of actions and a plurality of names, this does not mean that
there is a plurality of persons.
--I am talking about this as I understand it. What the Greeks thought in
creating this teaching that was completely new for the church, which, note,
was not even mentioned in the creed of A.D. 381, I do not know.
Incidentally, Jesus is not directly called God in this creed. Several years
ago I specifically began investigating this subject in order to confirm all
of this for myself theoretically. In the Holy Koran it is said: "You
must not give companions to God." It does not speak of
"hypostases," which means that the issue is that believers must
not imagine two or more subjects of activity when discussing the Creator. If
for the Christian a "hypostasis" is not a different subject but a
"name," he is not violating the command of God. In the term
"hypostasis of God" there is Greek influence in which there is
much sophistry. The fruit of such Greek thought were several doctrinal
innovations which appeared many centuries after the New Testament was
already well known. For me this is obvious, but it does not mean that I
criticize Christianity as a confession, but there already are many
conjectures about this. I speak of levels of comprehension. In practice I do
not know how a specific babushka believes who comes to the Orthodox church
or some elderly Baptist woman. Do they have a concept of a companion of God
or is it only an abstraction for her, only a name, or does she not even
think about this? Perhaps she has blessed simplicity and God hears and
receives her prayers. It is not important where she is, in an Orthodox
church, or in a Baptist congregation, or in an Islamic one. Therefore in the
Koran Christians and Jews are called brothers and "people of
Scripture," that is, heirs of Abraham.
--I get the impression that until now you have been talking as an historian
of religion who has come to God not through personal spiritual experience
but more through analysis of the historical development of world religions.
Does this mean that scholarly investigation for you means more than personal
experience? Or are you simply defending yourself?
--No. In all that I have said there is an internal torment. Honestly, even
in clerical activity several things disturbed me. For example, an akathist
is appointed and you open it up and there, for example, in a prayer to Saint
Nicholas it says: "Save us from our sins." Of course, confusion
arose here because this even contradicts the teaching of the Orthodox
church. What is the point of Jesus' mission when some other person can save
people from sin? Of course, without theoretical knowledge, without
historical study, there will not be a full picture.
--As an Orthodox priest, albeit in the past, you know well the Orthodox
liturgical tradition. Do church music, hymnology, and iconography really
confuse you? Is it really easy to renounce all this wealth?
--It is not easy, but this is not a spur of the moment decision and I have
not renounced aesthetics and the spiritual beauty. In the beauty of singing
the human search for God is expressed and this evokes awe. Over several
years I gradually underwent spiritual cleansing. There were both doubts and
internal struggle. In Orthodoxy this is called "spiritual growth,"
and in Islam this inner struggle with thoughts and self-analysis is called
the "great jihad." For about the past four years I have
continually thought about this and approximately a year ago I finally got it
settled. I treat with great care and respect the feelings of other people
who experience awe in the face of what you have mentioned, standing in
church and everything that is connected with prayer. I do not
criticize this in the least and I do not criticize people. I consider that
in any case it is impossible to pull them anywhere, even if I consider that
some form of religion is better. Monotheism lies at the base of Christianity
and thus, when people turn to God, God the all-seeing and all-powerful, he
can hear them just as in Islam. Trying to win them over only brings harm. It
is a different matter if a person is dissatisfied and seeks answers to
questions. It is possible to talk with such a person and to help him in his
movement. I regret that the newspaper "NG-religii" wrote that I
have criticized Christianity. This is not true.
--It is no secret that in recent years your
relations with the Moscow patriarchate have not been harmonious. Did this play
any role in your conversion?
--No. The decision to adopt Islam and to profess monotheism was a deeply
internal decision and my interrelationships with the patriarchate had no place
here. In 1991 I went on leave on my own initiative and I began wearing secular
clothing. If I had continued believing as I had been believing when I entered
seminary, I would have continued to serve in a parish. After the dismissal of
the Supreme Soviet in 1993 the patriarch offered me the rectorship of a wealthy
Moscow church, but I declined. Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk suggested in 1994
that I work in OVTsS, but I declined myself and agreed only to be an external
consultant for it and I received the appropriate official authorization for his
signature. This was a definite move in the direction about which we are now
talking. But at the time my decision still had not been formulated and there was
only some reservations
with regard to concrete liturgical practice. I emphasize that as a priest I
served sincerely and did not deceive anyone when I performed the sacraments,
rites, and rituals. People who partook in these services should not have any
doubts. There were no personal contacts between me and the hierarchy.
Metropolitan Kirill I consider the de facto leader of the church and he also is
a potential candidate for president of Russia. If the "Regeneration"
society nominates him for vice president of Muslims of, say, Tatarstan, his
rating will dramatically increase. I wish him and Fr Chaplin well!
--It is impossible to remove your action from the political context. Whether you
want it or not you are on the edge of very serious problems. On the one hand,
Islam in Russia is divided into several groupings. On the other hand, Russian
Islam has no clear figures who really belong to the political elite. Will not
the Islamic leaders each try to win you over?
--I don't know; nobody has made any suggestions to me.
--Would you agree with the correction "nobody has made any for the time
--No. In 1990 by God's will I became a deputy of the Supreme Soviet. It is an
awesome thing, of course, to speak of the will of God himself, but events were
filled with coincidences. The unclear position of the synod in those years was
like this: Archbishop Platon, with the blessing of the synod, was running for
Supreme Soviet, but lower level bishops were not supposed to permit priests to
run for seats. One exception was made for Fr Aleksei Zlobin. Then some Kalugans
suggested to me that I run. Struggling with doubts, I went to Bishop Ilian and
told him that people wanted me to run. He said: "I wanted to run myself for
this district, but the synod forbade me to and so I give you my blessing and let
them solve the problem." He blessed me. I speak about this in order to show
that this was not a human intention on my part. Everything happened as if by
itself. I met with voters only three times and
the election district was the whole province. Everything worked out.
What the future will be, I do not know. I try to be obedient. The word
"Islam" means "obedience, submission to God." If such is
God's will, I am obliged to submit to it. If not, I myself will not strive for
it. By nature I am a quiet man, peaceful. Scholarship attracts me more and I
would return to it. Reading books, writing, involvement in education activity
among my own people so that everything will be quiet. Now my desire is not to
return to politics, much less to public politics. In today's Russia this would
be unpleasant for a nonbelieving person and for the time being nobody has the
power to change it. I see myself in the public educational field but being a
political pawn in somebody else's hands is not to my liking.
--One more question about your "past" life. In 1991 you became a
priest on leave. What have the recent pages of your spiritual life been like?
Have you officiated since then; were you assigned to some church?
--No. When I was a deputy and arranged with the patriarch for the leave, I
retained the right to officiate in Kaluga diocese. However I did not exercise
that right often and since 1995 I have not conducted the liturgy at all.
--And when was the last time you wore vestments?
--Several years ago.
--What will be the fate of Orthodoxy and Islam in Russia? Will there be real
cooperation between them?
--My civil position has not changed. Today, as in the time of the Supreme
Soviet, I consider that between Christianity and Islam in Russia there should be
a social union. Specifically social, confirmed at the governmental level. Before
the revolution, both Orthodox and Muslims were present at official ceremonies.
Of course, Orthodox ceremonies were governmental, but Muslims were present at
them, though they did not participate directly but stood alongside. Muslims had
special prayers for the tsar as their earthly patron.
Russia always has been a Eurasian country, widespread and essentially imperial.
The empire was integrated, although there were colonial acquisitions and the
union of Christians and Muslims was complementary. Moreover the ideology of the
state, as a secular program, must be based on values of monotheism, because this
is the essence of what is. In the ideology there should be no questions like
whether one must kiss icons or not or what processions to make or what kind of
vestments to wear. The ideology provides only the most general matters which
pertain to every person. This is the moral basis and then the laws are a
reflection of the morality. If someone is punished for something, this is a
moral judgment. This scale of moral values of society must be based on
monotheism, which is common between Christians and Muslims: do not kill, do not
steal, do not wish another ill,
help the needy, do mercy, etc. The future ideology of Russia, if Russia is
destined to survive and again become great, is monotheism and concretely a
social union of Islam and Christianity.
--If one speaks of Islam as an ideology, then it is obvious that there are
various trends: fundamentalism, "euro-islam," and the like.
Which is more attractive to you?
--What is more attractive is simply monotheism in its pure form in order not to
think of God in an unworthy manner. I like it when there are no contradictions
and there is logical consistency. The Glorious Koran says outright that the
truth is not contradictory. There is the doctrine of the transcendental God, the
Creator, the Almighty, the Merciful and all the rest should be in agreement with
this. If something contradicts this, that means it must be eliminated.
--How do you perform the prayers?
--Usually, five times a day is required.
--Daily or only on Friday?
--I made my announcement only recently and before this it was necessary not to
advertise all of this. Now I will do it as required.
--Do you have a prayer rug?
--I do. In state service it is extremely difficult to perform the prayers, but
all rules are constructed flexibly. If by force of circumstances it is necessary
to put it off, it can be done after work. Incidentally, it's the same in
Christianity. (tr. by PDS)
(posted 10 June 1999)
(Back to Top)
Khadijah 'Sue' Watson -
Former pastor, missionary, professor. Master's degree in Divinity
"What happened to you?" This
was usually the first reaction I encountered when my former classmates, friends
and co-pastors saw me after having embraced Islam. I suppose I couldn’t blame
them, I was a highly unlikely the person to change religions. Formerly, I was a
professor, pastor, church planter and missionary. If anyone was a radical
fundamentalist it was I.
I had just graduated with my
Master’s Degree of Divinity from an elite seminary five months before. It was
after that time I met a lady who had worked in Saudi Arabia and had embraced
Islam. Of course I asked her about the treatment of women in Islam. I was
shocked at her answer, it wasn’t what I expected so I proceeded to ask other
questions relating to Allah and Muhammad (pbuh). She informed me that she would
take me to the Islamic Center where they would be better able to answer my
Being prayed up, meaning-asking
Jesus for protection against demon spirits seeing that what we had been taught
about Islam is that it is Demonic and Satanic religion. Having taught Evangelism
I was quite shocked at their approach, it wa s direct and straightforward. No
intimidation, no harassment, no psychological manipulation, no subliminal
influence! None of this, "let’s have a Qur’aanic study in your house",
like a counter part of the Bible study. I couldn’t believe it! They gave me
some books and told me if I had some questions they were available to answer
them in the office. That night I read all of the books they gave. It was the
first time I had ever read a book about Islam written by a Muslim, we had
studied and read books about Islam only written by Christians. The next day I
spent three hours at the office asking questions. This went on everyday for a
week, by which time I had read twelve books and knew why Muslims are the hardest
people in the world to conver t to Christianity. Why? Because there is nothing
to offer them!! (In Islam) There is a relationship with Allah, forgiveness of
sins, salvation and promise of Eternal Life.
Naturally, my first question
centered on the deity of Allah. Who is this Allah that the Muslims worship? We
had been taught as Christians that this is another god, a false god. When in
fact He is the Omniscient-All Know ing, Omnipotent-All Powerful, and
Omnipresent-All Present God. The One and Only without co-partners or co-equal.
It is interesting to note that there were bishops during the first three hundred
years of the Church that were teaching as the Muslim beli eves that Jesus (pbuh)
was a prophet and teacher!! It was only after the conversion of Emperor
Constantine that he was the one to call and introduce the doctrine of the
Trinity. He a convert to Christianity who knew nothing of this religion
introduced a paganistic concept that goes back to Babylonian times. Because the
space does not permit me to go into detail about the subject insha’Allah,
another time. Only I must point out that the word TRINITY is not found in the
Bible in any of its many translation nor is it found in the original Greek or
My other important question
centered on Muhammad (pbuh). Who is this Muhammad? I found out that Muslims do
not pray to him like the Christians pray to Jesus. He is not an intermediary and
in fact it is forbidden to pray to him. We ask blessing upon him at the end of
our prayer but likewise we ask blessings on Abraham. He is a Prophet and a
Messenger, the final and last Prophet. In fact, until now, one thousand four
hundred and eighteen years (1,418) later there has been no prophet after him.
His message is for All Mankind as opposed to the message of Jesus or Moses
(peace be upon them both) which was sent to the Jews. "Hear O Israel" But
the message is the same message of Allah. "The Lord Your God is One God and
you shall have no other gods before Me."(Mark 12:29).
Because prayer was a very
important part of my Christian life I was both interested and curious to know
what the Muslims were praying. As Christians we were as ignorant on this aspect
of Muslim belief as on the other aspects. We thought and were taught, that the
Muslims were bowing down to the Ka’bah (in Mecca), that that was there god and
center point of this false deity. Again, I was shocked to learn that the manner
of prayer is prescribed by God, Himself. The words of the prayer are one of
praise and exaltation. The approach to prayer (ablution or washing) in
cleanliness is under the direction of Allah. He is a Holy God and it is not for
us to approach Him in an arbitrary manner but only reasonable that He should
tell us how we should approach Him.
At the end of that week after
having spent eight (8) years of formal theological studies I knew cognitively
(head knowledge) that Islam was true. But I did not embrace Islam at that time
because I did not believe it in my heart. I continued to pray, to read the
Bible, to attend lectures at the Islamic Center. I was in earnest asking and
seeking God’s direction. It is not easy to change your religion. I did not
want to loose my salvation if there was salvation to loose. I continued to be
shocked and amazed at what I was learning because it was not what I was taught
that Islam believed. In my Master’s level, the professor I had was respected
as an authority on Islam yet his teaching and that of Christianity in general is
full of Misunderstanding. He and many Christians like him are sincere but they
are sincerely wrong.
Two months later after having
once again prayed seeking God’s direction, I felt something drop into my
being! I sat up, and it was the first time I was to use the name of Allah, and I
said, "Allah, I believe you are the One and Only True God." There was peace
that descended upon me and from that day four years ago until now I have never
regretted embracing Islam. This decision did not come without trial. I was fired
from my job as I was teaching in two Bible Colleges at that time , ostracized by
my former classmates, professors and co-pastors, disowned by my husband’s
family, misunderstood by my adult children and made a suspicion by my own
government. Without the faith that enables man to stand up to Satanic forces I
would not ha ve been able to withstand all of this. I am ever so grateful to
Allah that I am a Muslim and may I live and die a Muslim.
"Truly, my prayer, my service of
sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God the Cherisher of the Worlds. No
partner has He, this I am commanded. And I am the first of those who bow to
Allah in Islam."
(Holy Qur’aan 6:162-163)
Sister Khadijah Watson
Sister Khadijah Watson is
presently working as a teacher for women in one of the Da'wah (Invitation)
Centers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
(Back to Top)
Ibrahim Khalil - Former
Egyptian Coptic priest
Al-Haj Ibrahim Khalil Ahmad, formerly Ibrahim
Khalil Philobus, was an Egyptian Coptic priest who studied theology and got a
high degree from Princeton University. He studied Islam to find gaps to attack
it; instead he embraced Islam with his four children, one of whom is now a
brilliant professor in Sorbonne University, Paris France. In an interesting way,
he reveals himself saying: "I was born in Alexandria on the 13th of January
1919 and was sent to the American Mission schools until I got my secondary
education certificate there. In 1942 I got my diploma from Asiut University and
then I specialized in religious studies as a prelude to join the Faculty of
Theology. It was no easy task to join the faculty, as no candidate could join it
unless he got a special recommendation from the church, and also, after he
should pass a number of difficult exams. I got a recommendation from Al-Attareen
Church in Alexandria and another from the Church Assembly of Lower Egypt after
passing many tests to know my qualifications to become a man of religion. Then I
got a third recommendation from Snodus Church Assembly which included priests
from Sudan and Egypt.
The Snodus sanctioned my entrance into the
Faculty of Theology in 1944 as a boarding student. There I studied at the hands
of American and Egyptian teachers until my graduation in 1948.
I was supposed, he continued, to be appointed
in Jerusalem had it not been for the war that broke out in Palestine that same
year, so I was sent to Asna in Upper Egypt. That same year I registered for a
thesis at the American University in Cairo. It was about the missionary
activities among Muslims. My acquaintance with Islam started in the Faculty of
Theology where I studied Islam and all the methods through which we could shake
the faith of Muslims and raise misconceptions in their understanding of their
In 1952 I got my M.A. from Princeton University
in U.S.A. and was appointed as a teacher in the Faculty of Theology in Asiut. I
used to teach Islam in the faculty as well as the faulty misconceptions spread
by its enemies and the missionaries against it. During that period I decided to
enlarge my study of Islam, so that I should not read the missionaries books on
it only. I had so much faith in myself that I was confirmed to read the other
point of view. Thus I began to read books written by Muslim authors. I also
decided to read the Quran and understand its meanings. This was implied by my
love of knowledge and moved by my desire to add more proofs against Islam. The
result was, however, exactly the reverse. My position began to shake and I
started to feel an internal strong struggle and I discovered the falsehood of
everything I had studied and preached to the people. But I could not face myself
bravely and tried instead to overcome this internal crisis and continue my work.
In 1954, Mr. Khalil added, I was sent to Aswan
as secretary general of the German Swiss Mission. That was only my apparent
position for my real mission was to preach against Islam in Upper Egypt
especially among Muslims. A missionary conference was held at that time at
Cataract Hotel in Aswan and I was given the floor to speak. That day I spoke too
much, reiterating all the repeated misconceptions against Islam; and at the end
of my speech, the internal crisis came to me again and I started to revise my
Continuing his talk about the said crisis, Mr.
Khalil said, <<I began to ask myself: Why should I say and do all these
things which I know for sure I am a liar, as this is not the truth? I took my
leave before the end of the conference and went out alone to my house. I was
completely shaken. As I walked through Firyal public garden, I heard a verse of
the Quran on the radio. It said: <<Say: It has been revealed to me that a
company of Jinns listened (to the Quran). They said: We have really heard a
wonderful recital! It gives guidance to the Right, and we have believed therein:
We shall not join (in worship) any gods with our Lord.>> (Quran S72v1-2)
<<And as for us, since we have listened to the Guidance, we have accepted
it: and any one who believes in His Lord, has no fear of either a short
(account) or of any injustice.>>(Quran S.72 V.13)
I felt a deep comfort that night and when I
returned home I spent the whole night all by myself in my library reading the
Quran. My wife inquired from me about the reason of my sitting up all night and
I pleaded from her to leave me alone. I stopped for a long time thinking and
meditating on the verse; <<Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain,
verily thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of
Allah.>> (S.59 V.21) And the verse: <<Strongest among men in enmity
to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and the Pagans, and nearest among them
in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are
Christians": Because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who
have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the
revelation received by the Messenger, thou wilt see their eyes overflowing with
tears, for they recognize the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe,
write us down among the witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in
Allah and the truth which has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to
admit us to the company of the righteous?>> (Quran S.5 V.82-84)
Mr. Khalil then quoted a third quotation from
the Holy Quran which says: <<Those who follow the Messenger, the
unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures), in the
Taurat and in the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them
what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits
them what is bad (and impure): He releases them from their heavy burdens and
from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him,
help him and follow the light which is sent down with him, it is they who will
prosper." Say: "O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of
Allah, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no
god but He: It is He that giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and
His Messenger. The unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His Words:
follow Him that (so) you may be guided.>> (Quran S.7 V.157- 158)
Now that same night, Mr. Khalil dramatically
concluded: I took my final decision. In the morning I spoke with my wife from
whom I have three sons and one daughter. But no sooner than she felt that I was
inclined to embrace Islam than she cried and asked for help from the head of the
mission. His name was Monsieur Shavits from Switzerland. He was a very cunning
man. When he asked me about my true attitude, I told him frankly what I really
wanted and then he said: Regard yourself out of job until we discover what has
befallen you. Then I said: This is my resignation from my job. He tried to
convince me to postpone it, but I insisted. So he made a rumor among the people
that I became mad. Thus I suffered a very severe test and oppression until I
left Aswan for good and returned to Cairo.
When he was asked about the circumstances to
his conversion he replied: <<In Cairo I was introduced to a respectable
professor who helped me overcome my severe trial and this he did without knowing
anything about my story. He treated me as a Muslim for I introduced myself to
him as such although until then I did not embrace Islam officially. That was Dr.
Muhammad Abdul Moneim Al Jamal the then undersecretary of treasury. He was
highly interested in Islamic studies and wanted to make a translation of the
Holy Quran to be published in America. He asked me to help him because I was
fluent in English since I had got my M.A. from an American University. He
also knew that I was preparing a comparative study of the Quran, the Torah and
the Bible. We cooperated in this comparative study and in the translation of the
When Dr. Jamal knew that I had resigned from my
job in Aswan and that I was then unemployed, he helped me with a job in Standard
Stationery Company in Cairo. So I was well established after a short while. I
did not tell my wife about my intention to embrace Islam thus she thought that I
had forgotten the whole affair and that it was nothing but a transitory crisis
that no more existed. But I knew quite well that my official conversion to Islam
needs long complicated measures and it was in fact a battle which I preferred to
postpone for some time until I became well off and after I completed my
Then Mr. Khalil continued, <<In 1955 I
did complete my study and my material and living affairs became well
established. I resigned from the company and set up a training office for
importing stationery and school articles. It was a successful business from
which I gained much more money than I needed. Thus I decided to declare my
official conversion to Islam. On the 25th of December 1959, I sent a telegram to
Dr. Thompson, head of the American Mission in Egypt informing him that I had
embraced Islam. When I told my true story to Dr. Jamal he was completely
astonished. When I declared my conversion to Islam, new troubles began. Seven of
my former colleagues in the mission had tried their best to persuade me to
cancel my declaration, but I refused. They threatened to separate me from my
wife and I said: She is free to do as she wishes. They threatened to kill me.
But when they found me to be stubborn they left me alone and sent to me an old
friend of mine who was also a colleague of mine in the mission. He wept very
much in front of me. So I recited before him the following verses from the Quran:
<<And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, thou
wilt see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize
the truth: They pray: "Our Lord! We believe, write us down among the
witnesses. What cause can we have not to believe in Allah and the truth which
has come to us, seeing that we long for our Lord to admit us to the company of
the righteous?>>. (Quran S.5 V.84) I said to him, "You should have
wept in humiliation to God on hearing the Quran and believe in the truth which
you know but you refuse. He stood up and left me as he saw no use. My official
conversion to Islam was in January 1960.
Mr. Khalil was then asked about the attitude of
his wife and children and he answered: My wife left me at that time and took
with her all the furniture of our house. But all my children joined me and
embraced Islam. The most enthusiastic among them was my eldest son Isaac who
changed his name to Osman, then my second son Joseph and my son Samuel whose
name is Jamal and daughter Majida who is now called Najwa. Osman is now a doctor
of philosophy working as a professor in Sorbonne University in Paris teaching
oriental studies and psychology. He also writes in <<Le Monde>>
magazine. As in regards to my wife, she left the house for six years and agreed
to come back in 1966 provided that she keeps her religion. I accepted this
because in Islam there is no compulsion in religion. I said to her: I do not
want you to became a Muslim for my sake but only after you are convinced. She
feels now that she believes in Islam but she cannot declare this for fear of her
family but we treat her as a Muslim woman and she fasts in Ramadan because all
my children pray and fast. My daughter Najwa is a student in the Faculty of
Commerce, Joseph is a doctor pharmeologist and Jamal is an engineer.
During this period, that is since 1961 until
the present time I have been able to publish a number of books on Islam and the
methods of the missionaries and the orientalist against it. I am now preparing a
comparative study about women in the three Divine religions with the object of
highlighting the status of women in Islam. In 1973 I performed Hajj (pilgrimage
to Mecca) and I am doing activities preaching Islam. I hold seminars in the
universities and charitable societies. I received an invitation from Sudan in
1974 where I held many seminars. My time is fully used in the service of Islam.
Finally Mr. Khalil was asked about the salient
features of Islam which have attracted his attention most. And he answered: My
faith in Islam has been brought about through reading the Holy Quran and the
biography of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him. I no
longer believed in the misconceptions against Islam and I am especially
attracted by the concept of unity of God, which is the most important feature of
Islam. God is only One. Nothing is like Him. This belief makes me the servant of
God only and of no one else. Oneness of God liberates man from servitude to any
human being and that is true freedom.
I also like very much the rule of forgiveness
in Islam and the direct relationship between God and His servants.
<<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 your Lord
(in repentance) and submit to Him before the Chastisement comes on you: After
that ye shall not be helped.>> (Quran S.39 V.53-54)
Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
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Missionary - Former Catholic missionary
The nuns looked so clean and smart in their
starched white habits. They looked like the saints in the pictures that hung on
the wall of every classroom, that I dreamt of the day I could be like them. I
was among two other girls who get excellent grades at the end of the school year
and we were asked if we would like to study religion. They thought we were pious
for our ages because we liked to spend endless hours inside the church. They
didn’t realize that the inside of the church was dim and cold and a welcome
relief from the hot African sun.
I couldn’t wait to tell my father, who
surprisingly said, ‘absolutely not!’ He would not like that kind of life for
one of his girls; without husband and children. He enrolled me in another
school, which had previously only admitted boys.
Besides myself, there was another girl in the
Roman Catholic Mission school in Burundi. The years I spent at this school made
me quite tough as I competed only against boys. The nuns used excessive force in
disciplinary matters. The fact that we were all adolescents might have had a
good deal to do with it. Still, it didn’t seem a very Christian thing to do.
I was interested in religion and excelled in the
study of languages and accepted a full scholarship to a university in Cameroon
after graduating from high school. Again, as the only female, I enrolled in the
College of Theology. I wasn’t sure where I would go with it, but after a short
while, the administration applied for a scholarship in the same College of
Theology, but in Belgium. There I would learn how to be a Pastor in the Roman
My language ability aided me quite a bit and my
mastery of some of the African dialects attracted them as a good candidate for
As the years went by, I began to see through the
layers of theology and found the superficiality of their teachings. I was not
alone in seeing the many contradictions in the New and Old Testaments. To learn
that the ‘Trinity’ is mentioned only once in the New Testament was a
surprise but when I learned it had been fully established at the Council of
Nicea and that it was not part of what Jesus taught, something in my mind
We were shown certain books called the Gnostic
Books, which we were told were hidden teachings, I understood that the church
was being deceitful and this was disturbing. How could I believe that this was,
as they said, the word of God from A to Z. "The People of the Book know
this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the Truth which they
themselves know. The Truth is from thy Lord, so be not in doubt." (Qur’an
Still I pursued my studies in an effort to be
able to help myself and my people some day. "As for those who divide their
religion and break up into sects, thou has no part in them in the least: their
affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they
did." (Qur’an 6:159)
After graduation from University, I took a
position in Nairobi, Kenya. The Church was very anxious to have an African in a
position such as this. They had many programmes for women and I was a
coordinator for these programmes under the auspices of the World Council of
Churches. I handled different aspects of exhibitions, women’s projects,
donors, workshops and conferences.
I was sent to the regional office in Togo because
they are mainly French-speaking which I spoke fluently and the type of projects
I knew how to handle were being implemented there. I began to search for the
spiritual force that was missing in my life and in Togo I searched through all
the practiced religions. When one looks for truth there are many things thrown
in one’s path.
This part of Africa has many people who practice
witchcraft and who claim to have knowledge of the unseen and it was obvious they
were just taking people’s money. There is no one with knowledge of the unseen
I had been facing much mediocrity from the Church
and at the same time I had Muslim friends who were very comfortable in their
knowledge of God, who prayed five times daily and who had many virtues. They
believed in what they said, in contrast to the Church where you repeat what you
have been taught without believing in it.
I had never been taught anything about Islam
except a superficial introduction so I did a lot of reading about the religion.
I cannot say that to convert to Islam was easy;
it was very difficult. But when one is searching for the truth there is no way
to deny it.
The decision was also difficult for economic
reasons as I had one of the highest paying professions with many perks.
I resigned from my position citing my conversion
as my reason and immediately lost my job and salary, housing and medical
benefits. I became destitute in one day!
My family does not like my hijab but they admire
the moral aspects of Islam.
helped to raise my brothers and sisters and they
are much younger than I, and now to see how much they hate me is almost
They felt the economic hardship immediately as I
did, and cannot understand why I would do such a thing. But with the grace of
Allah they too will find the truth of Islam, Insha’allah.
I hope and pray that I can use the knowledge that
the education in the Church gave me towards the propagation of Islam. The
spiritual climate of West Africa is ripe for Islam and there are many projects
which need doing. This is what I have been trained to do and so my path is
straight and narrow for me now.
Source: Saudi Gazette
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Martin John Mwaipopo -
Former Lutheran Archbishop
(It was December 23, 1986,
two days away from Christmas, when Arch Bishop Martin John Mwaipopo, announced
to his congregation that he was leaving Christianity for Islam. The congregation
was paralysed with shock on hearing the news, so much so, that his administrator
got up from his seat, closed the door and windows, and declared to the church
members that the Bishop’s mind had become unhinged, that is, he had gone mad.
How could he not think and say so, when only a few minutes earlier, the man had
taken out his music instruments and sang so movingly for the church members?
Little did they know that inside the Bishop’s heart lay a decision that would
blow their minds, and that the entertainment was only a farewell party. But the
congregant’s reaction was equally shocking! They called the police to take the
"mad" man away. He was kept in the cells until midnight when Sheikh
Ahmed Sheik, the man who initiated him into Islam came to bail him out. That
incident was only a mild beginning of shocks in store for him. Al Qalam
reporter, Simphiwe Sesanti, spoke to the Tanzanian born former Lutheran Arch
Bishop Martin John Mwaipopo, who on embracing Islam came to be known as Al Hajj
Abu Bakr John Mwaipopo)
Credit must go to the Zimbabwean
brother, Sufyan Sabelo, for provoking this writer’s curiosity, after listening
to Mwaipopo’s talk at the Wyebank Islamic Centre, Durban. Sufyan is not
sensationalist, but that night he must have heard something - he just could not
stop talking about the man! Who would not be hooked after hearing that an Arch
Bishop, who had not only obtained a BA and Masters degree, but a doctorate as
well, in Divinity, had later turned to Islam? And since foreign qualifications
matter so much to you, a man who had obtained a diploma in Church Administration
in England and the latter degrees in Berlin, Germany! A man, who, before
becoming a Muslim, had been the World Council of Churches’ General Secretary
for Eastern Africa - covering Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and parts of
Ethiopia and Somalia. In the Council of Churches, he rubbed shoulders with the
present chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission . Barney Pityana
and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ‘s chairman, Bishop Desmond Tutu.
It is a story of a man who was
born 61 years ago, on February 22 in Bukabo, an area that shares its borders
with Uganda. Two years, after his birth, his family had him baptised, and five
years later, watched him with pride being an alter boy . Seeing him assisting
the church minister, preparing the "body and blood" of Christ , filled
the Mwaipopos with pride, and filled Mwaipopo Senior with ideas for his son’s
"When I was in a boarding school, later , my father wrote to me, stating he
wanted me to become a priest. In each and every letter he wrote this" ,
recalls Abu Bakr. But he had his own ideas about his life, which was joining the
police force. But at the age of 25, Mwaipopo gave in to his father’s will.
Unlike in Europe where children can do as they will after age 21 , in Africa ,
children are taught to honour their parent’s will above their own.
"My , son , before I close my eyes (die), I would be glad if you could
become a priest", that’s how father told son, and that’s how the son
was moved, a move that saw him going to England in 1964, to do a diploma in
Church Administration, and a year later to Germany to do a B.A degree. On
returning , a year later, he was made acting Bishop.
Later, he went back to do Masters. " All this time, I was just doing
things, without questioning . It was when he began to do his doctorate , that he
started questioning things. "I started wondering ... there is Christianity
, Islam , Judaism , Budhism each different religions claiming to the true
religion. What is the truth? I wanted the truth" , says Mwaipopo. So began
his search , until he reduced it to the "major" four religions. He got
himself a copy of the Qur’an, and guess what?
" When I opened the Qur’an , the first verses I came across were, ‘
Say : He is Allah , The One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He
begeteteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him? (Surah
Ikhlas)’ ", he recalls. That was when the seeds of Islam, unknown to him,
were first sown. It was then that he discovered that the Qur’an was the only
scripture book that had been untampered with, by human beings since its
revelation . "And in concluding my doctoral thesis I said so. I didn’t
care whether they give me my doctorate or not - that was the truth, and I was
looking for the truth."
While in that state of mind he
called his "beloved" Professor Van Burger.
"I closed the door, looked him in the eye and asked him ‘of all religions
in the world, which is true’, I asked.
‘Islam’, he responded.
‘Why then are you not a Muslim?’, I asked again.
He said to me "'One, I hate Arabs, and two, do you see all this luxuries
that I have? Do you think that I would give it all up for Islam?’. When I
thought about his answer, I thought about my own situation, too", recalls
Mwaipopo. His mission, his cars - all these appeared in his imagination. No, he
could not embrace Islam, and for one good year, he put it off his mind. But then
dreams haunted him, the verses of the Quran kept on appearing, people clad in
white kept on coming, "especially on Fridays", until he could take it
So, on December 22, he officially embraced Islam. These dreams that guided him -
were they not due to the "superstitious" nature of the Africans?
"No, I don’t believe that all dreams are bad. There are those that guide
you in the right direction and those which don’t, and these ones, in
particular, guided me in the right direction, to Islam", he tells us.
Consequently, the church stripped
him of his house and his car. His wife could not take it, she packed her
clothes, took her children and left, despite Mwaipopo’s assurances that she
was not obliged to become a Muslim. When he went to his parents, they, too, had
heard the story. "My father told me to denounce Islam and my mother said
she did not "want to hear any nonsense from me", remember Mwaipopo. He
was on his own! Asked how he now feels towards his parents, he says that he has
forgiven them, in fact found time to reconcile with his father before he
departed to the world yonder.
"They were just old people who did not know. They could not even read the
Bible...all they knew was what they had heard the priest reading", he
states. After asking to stay for one night, the following day, he began his
journey to where his family had originally come from, Kyela, near the borders
between Tanzania and Malawi. His parents had settled in Kilosa, Morogoro. During
his journey, he was stranded in Busale, by one family that was selling home
brewed beer. It was there that he met his future wife, a Catholic Nun, by the
name of Sister Gertrude Kibweya, now known as Sister Zainab. It was with her
that he travelled to Kyela, where the old man, who had given him shelter the
previous night had told him that that’s where he would find other Muslims. But
before that, in the morning of that day he had made the call to prayer (azaan),
something which made the villagers come out, asking his host why he was keeping
a "mad" man. "It was the Nun who explained that I was not mad but
a Muslim", he says. It was the same Nun who later helped Mwaipopo pay his
medical fees at the Anglican Mission Hospital, when he had become terribly sick,
thanks to the conversation he had had with her.
The story goes that he had asked
her why she was wearing a rosary, to which she responded that it was because
Christ was hanged on it. "But, say, someone had killed your father with a
gun, would you go around carrying a gun on your chest?" Mmmhhh. That set
the Nun thinking, her mind "challenged", and when the former Bishop
proposed marriage to the Nun later, the answer was "yes". Secretly,
they married, and four weeks later, she wrote a letter to her authorities,
informing them of her leave. When the old man who had given him shelter, (the
Nun’s uncle) heard about the marriage, when they arrived at his house, they
were advised to leave the house, because "the old man was loading his
gun", and the Nun’s father was enraged, "wild like a lion".
From the Bishop’s mansion,
Mwaipopo went to live in a self built mud house. From earning a living as the
World Council of Churches’ General Secretary for Eastern Africa, he began
earning a living as a wood cutter and tilling some people’s lands. When not
doing that he was preaching Islam publicly. This led to a series of short term
imprisonments for preaching blasphemy against Christianity.
While on hajj in 1988, tragedy struck. His house was bombed, and consequently,
his infant triplets were killed. "A bishop, whose mother and my own mother
were children of the same father, was involved in the plot’, recalls Mwaipopo.
He says instead of demoralising him, it did the opposite, as the numbers of
people embracing Islam, increased, this including his father in law.
In 1992, he was arrested for 10 months, along with 70 followers, charged with
treason. This was after some pork shops, against which he had spoken, were
bombed. He did speak against them, he admits, saying that constitutionally,
since 1913, there was a law against bars, clubs and pork shops in Dar es Salaam,
Tanga, Mafia, Lindi and Kigoma. Fortunately for him, he was acquitted, and
immediately thereafter, he fled to Zambia, exile, after he was advised that
there was a plot to kill him.
He says that that very day he was
released, police came to re-arrest him. And guess what? "The women said no
ways! They said that they would resist my arrest physically against the police.
It was also the women who helped me cross the borders unnoticed. They clothed me
in the women’s fashion!", according to Mwaipopo. And that is one of the
reasons that make him admire women.
"Women must be given a high place, they must be given good education in
Islam. Otherwise how would she understand why a man marries more than one
wife...It was my wife, Zainab, who proposed that I should marry my second wife,
Shela, (her friend), when she had to go for Islamic studies abroad", it’s
the bishop who says so. Yah?
To the Muslims, Al Hajj Abu Bakr
Mwaipopo’s message is, "There is war against Islam...Flood the world with
literature. Right now, Muslims are made to feel ashamed to be regarded as
fundamentalists. Muslims must stop their individualistic tendencies, they must
be collective. You have do defend your neighbour if you want to be safe",
he states, also urging Muslims to be courageous, citing the Islamic Propagation
Centre International’s Ahmed Deedat. "That man is not learned, but look
at the way he has propagated Islam".
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George Anthony - Former
Fr. Antony was a Catholic priest in Sri Lanka.
His tale of becoming a true believer and adopting a name Adulrahman for him is
quite interesting. Being a Christian priest he was well versed with the
teachings of the Bible. He quotes the Bible frequently as he sits to narrate his
journey to Islam. While reading the Bible he found many contradictions in it. He
goes on quoting verses from the Bible in Sinhalese language and points out the
"He quotes Esaiah 9:12 which reads like
this." And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read
this, I pray thee: and he saith; I am not learned." This verse is a prophecy
towards prophet Mohammed (pbuh), because Mohammad (pubh) was an unlettered
prophet and when he was an unlettered prophet and when he was asked by Angel
Gabrielto read out the first divine revelation upon him he said, "I am not
learned" Contrary to the Christian belief that Jesus is God, Acts 2:22 of the
Holy Bible considers Jesus as a man. It says, "Ye men of Israel, hear these
words, jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and
wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourself also
Christianity and the other religions, do not
define the prophehood according to him. Nor does Bhudda and is silent about the
other prophets. Contrary to this it is compulsory in Islam to believe in all the
formaer Prophets and to revere them. According to Abdulrahman this belief is
quite convincing and appealing to every body.
Abdulrahman says that there is no reason for the
restriction that a Roman Catholic priest cannot marry, when the priests of many
other sects of Christianity can marry. Abdulrahman was pondering over the
confusions of Christian belief. Meanwhile he got an Audio Cassette of a
converted Christian priest Sri Lanka Shareef D Alwis. Cassettes of Ahmad Deedat
also attracted him. His continuous efforts to find the truth finally resulted in
reversion to Islam. Fr. George Antony
Abdulrahman, hails from the Rathnapura village of
Sri Lanka. He was rendering his services as a priest in Katumayaka church. He
has ten years of training of the priesthood to his credit.
He wrote letters to his mother introducing Islam.
After months of studies she followed the path of her son and embraced Islam.
Abdurahman’s only sister is working in Greece. His father and sister still
Abdurahman gave up his highly respected career as
a priest for the sake of truth. He happily sacrificed all material gains for the
spiritual triumph. He is now working as a trainee in Islam Presentation
Committee of Kuwait.
Source and photographs: http://www.islam.com.kw/3.htm#MY
JOURNEY TO ISLAM
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Raphael - Former
Jehovah's Witness minister
Latino, Raphael, is a Los Angeles-based comic and lecturer. He was born in Texas
where he attended his first Jehovah's Witness meeting at age six. He gave his
first Bible sermon at eight, tended his own congregation at twenty, and was
headed for a position of leadership among the 904,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the
United States. But he traded in his Bible for a Qur'an after having braved a
visit to a local mosque.
On November 1, 1991, he embraced
Islam, bringing to the Muslim community the organizational and speaking skills
he developed among Jehovah's Witnesses. He speaks with the urgency of a new
convert, but one who can make immigrant Muslims laugh at themselves.
He told his story mimicking a cast
I remember vividly being in a
discussion where we were all sitting in my parents' living room and there were
some other Jehovah's Witnesses there. They were talking about: "It's
Armageddon! The time of the end! And Christ is coming! And you know the
hailstones are going to be out here as big as cars! God is going to use all
kinds of things to destroy this wicked system and remove the governments! And
the Bible talks about the earth opening up! It's going to swallow whole city
I'm scared to death! And then my
mother turned around: "See what's going to happen to you if you don't get
baptized, and if you don't do God's will? The earth is going to swallow you up,
or one of these huge hailstones is going to hit you on the head [klonk], knock
you out, and you will not exist ever again. I'll have to make another
I wasn't going to take a chance of
being hit by one of those big hailstones. So I got baptized. And of course
Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the sprinkling of the water. They submerge
you completely, hold you there for a second, and then bring you back up.
I did that at the age of thirteen,
September 7, 1963, in Pasadena, California, at the Rose Bowl. It was a big
international assembly. We had 100,000 people. We drove all the way from
Eventually I started giving bigger
talks - ten minutes in front of the congregation. And a circuit servant
recommended me to give the hour lectures that are done on Sunday when they
invite the general public. They usually reserved those [sermons] for the elders
of the congregation.
[In an authoritarian voice:]
"Sure he's young. But he can handle it. He's a good Christian boy. He has
no vices, and he's obedient to his parents and seems to have pretty good Bible
So at the age of sixteen I started
giving hour lectures in front of whole congregations. I was assigned first to a
group in Sweetwater, Texas, and then, eventually, in Brownfield, Texas, I got my
first congregation. At age twenty, I had become what they call a pioneer
Jehovah's Witnesses have a very
sophisticated training program, and they also have kind of a quota system. You
have to devote ten to twelve hours a month to door-to-door preaching. It's like
sales management. IBM has nothing on these guys.
So when I became a pioneer
minister, I devoted most of my full time to doing the door-to-door ministry. I
had to do like 100 hours a month, and I had to have seven Bible studies. I
started lecturing other congregations. I began to get a lot of responsibility,
and I was accepted at a school in Brooklyn, New York, a very elite school that
Jehovah's Witnesses have for the crčme de la crčme, the top one percent. But I
A few things no longer made sense
to me. For example, the quota system. It seemed like every time I wanted to turn
a corner and get into another position of responsibility, I had to do these
secular material things to prove my godliness. It's like if you meet your quotas
this month, God loves you. If you don't meet your quotas next month, God doesn't
love you. That didn't make very much sense. One month God loves me and one month
The other thing I started noticing
is tunnel vision. Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who are going to be
saved in God's new order, nobody else, because all of them are practicing false
religions. Well, I thought, Mother Teresa's a Catholic. That's our dire enemy.
So I said, Wait a minute, Mother Teresa has spent her entire life doing things
that Jesus said: take care of the poor, the sick, the orphans. But she's not
going to have God's favor because she's a Catholic?
We criticized the Catholic Church
because they had a man, a priest, to whom they had to confess. And we'd say,
"You shouldn't have to go to a man to confess your sins! Your sin is
against God!" And yet we went to a Body of Elders. You confessed your sins
to them, and they put you on hold, and said [Elder as telephone operator:]
"Hold on just a minute . . . What do you think, Lord? No? . . . Okay, I'm
sorry, we tried our best but you're not repentant enough. Your sin is too big,
so you either lose your fellowship in the church or you're going to be on
If the sin is against God,
shouldn't I directly go to God and beg for mercy?
Probably the nail that hit the
coffin was that I noticed that they started reading their Bible less. Jehovah's
Witnesses have books for everything that are put out by the Watchtower Bible and
Tract Society. The only people on the entire planet who know how to interpret
Bible Scripture correctly are that group of men, that committee in Brooklyn, who
tell Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide how to dress, how to talk, what to say, what
not to say, how to apply Scripture and what the future is going to be like. God
told them, so they can tell us. I appreciated the books. But if the Bible is the
book of knowledge and if it's God's instructions, well, shouldn't we get our
answers out of the Bible? Paul himself said find out for yourself what is a true
and acceptable word of God. Don't let men tickle your ears.
I started saying, "Don't
worry so much about what the Watchtower says - read the Bible for
yourself." Ears started to prick up.
[Old Southerner's drawl:] "I
think we got us an apostate here, Judge. Yup. I think this old boy's one taco
short of something."
Even my father said, "You
better watch it, young man, that's the demons talking right there. That's the
demons trying to get in and cause division."
I said, "Dad, it's not the
demons. People don't need to read so much of these other publications. They can
find their answers with prayer and in the Bible."
Spiritually I no longer felt at
ease. So in 1979, knowing that I could not make headway, I left, disgruntled and
with a bad taste in my mouth, because all my life I had put my soul, my heart,
my mind into the church. That was the problem. I didn't put it in God. I put it
in a man-made organization.
I can't go to other religions. As
a Jehovah's Witness, I had been trained, through the Scriptures, to show that
they are all wrong. That idolatry is bad. Trinity doesn't exist.
I'm like a man without a religion.
I was not a man without a God. But where could I go?
In 1985, I decided to come to Los
Angeles and get on the Johnny Carson show and make my mark as a great comedian
and actor. I have always felt like I was born for something. I didn't know
whether it was going to be finding the cure to cancer or becoming an actor. I
kept praying and it got frustrating after a while.
So I just went to the Catholic
church close to my house, and I tried it. I remember on Ash Wednesday I had that
ash cross on my forehead. I was trying anything I could. I went for about two or
three months, and I just couldn't do it anymore, man. It was:
Stand up. Sit down.
Stand up. Sit down.
Okay, stick your tongue out.
You got a lot of exercise. I think I lost about five pounds. But that's about
it. So now I'm more lost than ever.
But it never passed through my mind that there is not a Creator. I have His
phone number, but the line's always busy. I'm doing my little movie shots. A
film called Deadly Intent. A telephone commercial in Chicago. An Exxon
commercial. A couple of bank commercials. In the meantime I'm doing construction
work on the side.
We're working on this mall. It's
the holiday season, and they put these extra booths in the hallways. There was a
gal at one, and we had to pass right in front of her. I'd say, "Good
morning, how are you?" If she said anything, it was "Hi." And
that was it.
Finally, I said, "Miss, you
never say anything. I just wanted to apologize if there was something I said
She said, "No, you see, I'm a
"I'm a Muslim, and Muslim
women, we don't talk to men unless we have something specific to talk about;
otherwise we don't have anything to do with men."
She said, "Yes, we practice
the religion of Islam."
"Islam - how do you spell
At the time, I knew that Muslims
were all terrorists. She doesn't even have a beard. How could she possibly be
"How did this religion get
"Well, there was a
I started some research. But I
just came from one religion. I had no intention of becoming Muslim.
The holidays are over. The booth
moves. She's gone.
I continued to pray, and asked why
my prayers weren't being answered. In November of 1991, I was going to bring my
uncle Rockie home from the hospital. I started to empty his drawers to pack his
stuff and there was a Gideon Bible. I said, God has answered my prayers. This
Gideon Bible. (Of course, they put it in every hotel room.) This is a sign from
God that He's ready to teach me. So I stole the Bible.
I went home and I started praying:
O God, teach me to be a Christian. Don't teach me the Jehovah's Witness way.
Don't teach me the Catholic way. Teach me Your way! You would not have made this
Bible so hard that ordinary people sincere in prayer could not understand it.
I got all the way through the New
Testament. I started the Old Testament. Well, eventually there's a part in the
Bible about the prophets.
I said, Wait a minute, that Muslim
lady said they had a prophet. How come he's not in here?
I started thinking, Muslims - one
billion in the world. Man, one out of every five people on the street
theoretically could be a Muslim. And I thought: One billion people! C'mon now,
Satan is good. But he's not that good.
So then I said, I'll read their
book, the Qur'an, and I'll see what kind of pack of lies this thing is. It
probably has an illustration on how to dissemble an AK-47. So I went to an
They asked, "What can I help
"I'm looking for a
"Okay, we have some over
They had some very nice ones -
thirty dollars, forty dollars."
"Look, I just want to read
it, I don't want to become one, okay?"
"Okay, we have this little
five-dollar paperback edition."
I went home, and started reading
my Qur'an from the beginning, with Al-Fatihah. And I could not get my eyes off
Hey, look at this. It talks about
a Noah in here. We have Noah in our Bible too. Hey, it talks about Lot and
Abraham. I can't believe it. I never knew Satan's name was Iblis. Hey, how about
When you get that picture on your
TV set and it's got a little bit of static and you push that button [klop] -
fine tune. That's exactly what happened with the Qur'an.
I went through the whole thing. So
I said, Okay, I've done this, now what's the next thing you got to do? Well, you
gotta go to their meeting place. I looked in the yellow pages, and I finally
found it: Islamic Center of Southern California, on Vermont. I called and they
said, "Come on Friday."
Now I really start getting
nervous, `cause now I know I'm going to have to confront Habib and his AK-47.
I want people to understand what
it's like for an American Christian coming into Islam. I'm kidding about the
AK-47, but I don't know if these guys have daggers under their coats, you know.
So I come up to the front, and sure enough, there's this six-foot-three,
240-pound brother, beard and everything, and I'm just in awe.
I walked up and said, "Excuse
[Arabic accent:] "Go to the
He thought I was already a
I said, "Yessir, yessir"
I didn't know what I was going
back for, but I went back anyway. They had the tent and the rugs were out. I'm
standing there, kind of shy, and people are sitting down listening to the
lecture. And people are saying, Go ahead, brother, sit down. And I'm going, No,
thanks, no, thanks, I'm just visiting.
So finally the lecture's over.
They're all lined up for prayer and they go into sajdah. I was really taken
It started making sense
intellectually, in my muscles, in my bones, in my heart and my soul.
So prayers are over. I say, hey,
who's going to recognize me? So I start to mingle like I'm one of the brothers,
and I'm walking into the mosque and a brother says, "Assalaamu
alaikum." And I thought, Did he say "salt and bacon"?
There's another guy who said
"salt and bacon" to me.
I didn't know what in the world
they were saying, but they all smiled.
Before one of these guys noticed
that I was not supposed to be there and took me to the torture chamber, or
beheaded me, I wanted to see as much as I could. So eventually I went to the
library, and there was a young Egyptian brother; his name was Omar. God sent him
Omar comes up to me, and he says,
"Excuse me. This is your first time here?" He has a real strong
And I said, Yeah, it is.
"Oh, very good. You are
"No, I'm just reading a
"Oh, you are studying? This
is your first visit to a mosque?"
"Come, let me show you
around." And he grabs me by the hand, and I'm walking with another man -
holding hands. I said, These Muslims are friendly.
So he shows me around.
"First of all, this is our
prayer hall, and you take your shoes off right here."
"What are these things?"
"These are little cubicles.
That's where you put your shoes."
"Well, because you're
approaching the prayer area, and it's very holy. You don't go in there with your
shoes on; it's kept real clean."
So he takes me to the men's room.
"And right here, this is
where we do wudu."
"Voodoo! I didn't read
anything about voodoo!"
"No, not voodoo. Wudu!"
"Okay, because I saw that
stuff with the dolls and the pins, and I'm just not ready for that kind of
He says, "No, wudu, that's
when we clean ourselves."
"Why do you do that?"
"Well, when you pray to God,
you have to be clean, so we wash our hands and feet."
So I learned all these things. He
let me go, and said, Come back again.
I went back and asked the
librarian for a booklet on prayer, and I went home and practiced. I felt that if
I was trying to do it right, God would accept it. I just continued to read and
read and visit the mosque.
I had a commitment to go on a tour
of the Midwest on a comedy circuit. Well, I took a prayer rug with me. I knew
that I was supposed to pray at certain times, but there are certain places where
you are not supposed to pray, one of which is in the bathroom. I went into a
men's room on a tourist stop and I laid out my carpet and I started doing my
I came back, and when Ramadan was
over, I started getting calls from different parts of the country to go and
lecture as a Jehovah's Witness minister who embraced Islam. People find me a
[Two immigrants converse:]
"This guy like apple pie and
he drives a Chevy truck. He is a red-blooded American boy. He was a Jehovah's
"Those people that come in
"That never let us sleep on
"Yeah, this guy was one of
them. Now he's one of us."
Eventually somebody would come up
to me and say [Pakistani accent], "Oh, brother, your talk was so good. But
you know, in the Shafi'i school of thought.."
The only thing I could do was turn
to them and say, "Gee, brother, I'm so sorry, I wish I knew about that, but
I don't know anything about Islam except what's in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Some of them are taken aback and
say, "Ha-ha! Poor brother. He doesn't know anything. He only knows the
Well, that's what I'm supposed to
know. And it's been a very loving protection. I think it's all in Allah's
The Islamic Bulletin,
San Francisco, CA 94141-0186
(Back to Top)
Anselm Tormeeda - 14th
Century Christian scholar and priest
of the Divine Origin of the Qur'an by Abdur-Raheem Greene
Great numbers of Christians embraced Islam during
and soon after the Islamic conquests after the prophets death. They were never
compelled, rather it was a recognition of what they were already expecting.
Anselm Tormeeda, a priest and Christian scholar was one such person who's
history is worth relating. He wrote a famous book The Gift to the
Intelligent for Refuting the Arguments of the Christians. In the
introduction to this work he relates his history:
"Let it be known to all of you that my
origin is from the city of Majorca, which is a great city on the sea, between
two mountains and divided by a small valley. It is a commercial city, with two
wonderful harbours. Big merchant ships come and anchor in the harbour with
different goods. The city is on the island which has the same name - Majorca,
and most of its land is populated with fig and olive trees. My father was a well
respected man in the city. I was his only son.
When I was six, he sent me to a priest who taught
me to read the Gospel and logic, which I finished in six years. After that I
left Majorca and traveled to the city of Larda, in the region of Castillion,
which was the centre of learning for Christians in that region. A thousand to a
thousand and a half Christian students gathered there. All were under the
administration of the priest who taught them. I studied the Gospel and its
language for another four years. After that I left for Bologne in the region of
Anbardia. Bologne is a very large city, it being the centre of learning for all
the people of that region. Every year, more than two thousand students gather
together from different places. They cover themselves with rough cloth which
they call the "Hue of God". All of them, whether the son of a
workman or the son of a ruler wear this wrap, in order to make the students
distinct from others.
Only the priest teaches controls and directs
them. I lived in the church with an aged priest. He was greatly respected by the
people because of his knowledge and religiousness and asceticism, which
distinguished him from the other Christian priests. Questions and requests for
advice came from everywhere, from Kings and rulers, along with presents and
gifts. They hoped that he would accept their presents and grant them his
blessings. This priest taught me the principles of Christianity and its rulings.
I became very close to him by serving and assisting him with his duties until I
became one of his most trusted assistants, so that he trusted me with the keys
of his domicile in the church and of the food and the drink stores. He kept for
himself only the key of a small room were he used to sleep. I think, and Allah
knows best, that he kept his treasure chest in there. I was a student and
servant for a period of ten years, then he fell ill and failed to attend the
meetings of his fellow priests.
During his absence the priests discussed some
religious matters, until they came to what was said by the Almighty Allah
through his prophet Jesus in the Gospel: "After him will come a Prophet
called Paraclete". They argued a great deal about this Prophet and as
to who he was among the Prophets. Everyone gave his opinion according to his
knowledge and understanding; and they ended without achieving any benefit in
that issue. I went to my priest, and as usual he asked about what was discussed
in the meeting that day. I mentioned to him the different opinions of priests
about the name Paraclete, and how they finished the meeting without
clarifying its meaning. He asked me: "What was your answer?" I
gave my opinion which was taken from interpretation of a well known exegesis. He
said that I was nearly correct like some priests, and the other priests were
wrong. "But the truth is different from all of that. This is because the
interpretation of that noble name is known only to a small number of well versed
scholars. And we posses only a little knowledge." I fell down and
kissed his feet, saying: "Sir, you know that I traveled and came to you
from a far distant country, I have served you now for more than ten years; and
have attained knowledge beyond estimation, so please favour me and tell me the
truth about this name." The priest then wept and said: "My son,
by God, you are very much dear to me for serving me and devoting yourself to my
care. Know the truth about this name, and there is a great benefit, but there is
also a great danger. And I fear that when you know this truth, and the
Christians discover that, you will be killed immediately." I said: "By
God, by the Gospel and He who was sent with it, I shall never speak any word
about what you will tell me, I shall keep it in my heart." He said: "My
son, when you came here from your country, I asked you if it is near to the
Muslims, and whether they made raids against you and if you made raids against
them. This was to test your hatred for Islam. Know, my son, that Paraclete is
the name of their Prophet Muhammad, to whom was revealed the fourth book as
mentioned by Daniel. His way is the clear way which is mentioned in the
Gospel." I said: "Then sir, what do you say about the religion
of these Christians?" He said: "My son, if these Christians
remained on the original religion of Jesus, then they would have been on God's
religion, because the religion of Jesus and all the other Prophets is the true
religion of God. But they changed it and became unbelievers." I asked
him: "Then, sir, what is the salvation from this?" He said "Oh
my son, embracing Islam." I asked him: "Will the one who
embraces Islam be saved?" He answered: "Yes, in this world and
the next." I said: "The prudent chooses for himself; if you
know, sir the merit of Islam, then what keeps you from it?" He
answered: "My son, the Almighty Allah did not expose me to the truth of
Islam and the Prophet of Islam until after I have become old and my body
weakened. Yes, there is no excuse for us in this, on the contrary, the proof of
Allah has been established against us. If God had guided me to this when I was
your age I would have left everything and adopted the religion of truth. Love of
this world is the essence of every sin, and look how I am esteemed, glorified
and honoured by the Christians, and how I am living in affluence and comfort! In
my case, if I show a slight inclination towards Islam they would kill me
immediately. Suppose that I was saved from them and succeeded in escaping to the
Muslims, they would say, do not count your Islam as a favour upon us, rather you
have benefited yourself only by entering the religion of truth, the religion
that will save you from the punishment of Allah! So I would live among them as a
poor old man of more than ninety years, without knowing their language, and
would die among them starving. I am, and all praise is due to Allah, on the
religion of Christ and on that which he came with, and Allah knows that from
me." So I asked him: "Do you advise me to go to the country of
the Muslims and adopt their religion?" He said to me: "If you
are wise and hope to save yourself, then race to that which will achieve this
life and the hereafter. But my son, none is present with us concerning this
matter , it is between you and me only. Exert yourself and keep it a secret. If
it is disclosed and the people know about it they will kill you immediately. I
will be of no benefit to you against them. Neither will it be of any use to you
if you tell them what you heard from me concerning Islam, or that I encouraged
you to be a Muslim, for I shall deny it. They trust my testimony against yours.
So do not tell a word, whatever happens." I promised him not to do so.
He was satisfied and content with my promise. I
began to prepare for my journey and bid him farewell. He prayed for me and gave
me fifty golden dinars. Then I took a ship to my city Majorca where I stayed
with my parents for six months. Then I traveled to Sicily and remained there
five months, waiting for a ship bound for the land of the Muslims. Finally a
ship arrived bound for Tunis. We departed before sunset and reached the port of
Tunis at noon on the second day. When I got off the ship, Christian scholars who
heard of my arrival came to greet me and I stayed with them for four months in
ease and comfort. After that I asked them if there was a translator. The Sultan
in those days was Abu al-Abbas Ahmed. They said there was a virtuous man, the
Sultan's physician, who was one of his closest advisors. His name was Yusuf
al-Tabeeb. I was greatly pleased to here this, and asked where he lived. They
took me there to meet him separately. I told him about my story and the reason
of my coming there; which was to embrace Islam. He was immensely pleased because
this matter would be completed by his help. We rode to the Sultan's Palace. He
met the Sultan and told him about my story and asked his permission for me to
The Sultan accepted, and I presented myself
before him. The first question the Sultan asked was about my age. I told him
that I was thirty-five years old. He then asked about my learning and the
sciences which I had studied. After I told him he said. "Your arrival is
the arrival of goodness . Be a Muslim with Allah's blessings." I then
said to the doctor, "Tell the honourable Sultan that it always happens
that when anyone changes his religion his people defame him and speak evil of
him. So, I wish if he kindly sends to bring the Christian priests and merchants
of this city to ask them about me and hear what they have to say. Then by
Allah's will, I shall accept Islam." He said to me through the
translator, "You have asked what Abdullah bin Salaam asked from the
Prophet when he-Abdullah came to announce his Islam." He then sent for
the priests and some Christian merchants and let me sit in an adjoining room
unseen by them. "What do you say about this new priest who arrived by
ship?", he asked. They said: "He is a great scholar in our
religion. Our bishops say he is the most learned and no one is superior to him
in our religious knowledge." After hearing what the Christian said, the
Sultan sent for me, and I presented myself before them. I declared the two
testimonies that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and that
Muhammad is His Messenger, and when the Christians heard this they crossed
themselves and said: "Nothing incited him to do that except his desire
to marry, as priests in our religion can not marry". Then they left in
distress and grief.
The Sultan appointed for me a quarter of a dinar
every day from the treasury and let me marry the daughter of Al-Hajj Muhammed
al-Saffar. When I decided to consummate the marriage, he gave me a hundred
golden dinars and an excellent suit of clothes. I then consummated the marriage
and Allah blessed me with a child to whom I gave the name Muhammed as a blessing
from the name of the Prophet."
[Note: The full name of Anselm Tormeeda is Abu
Muhammad Abdullah Bin Abdullah Al-Tarjuman. The title of his book, in Arabic, is
Tuhfat al-arib fi al-radd 'ala Ahl al-Salib. Some background details
about this scholar and his work are available here]
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