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Journey as a Muslim - By Al-Gharib

Journey as a Muslim - By Al-Gharib

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Published by Gilbert Hanz
I realized that God is not only a being who hears and answers and does miracles but He is also a God who seeks to develop a very personal and intimate relationship with us. He wants to treat us as close friends, not as slaves.
I realized that God is not only a being who hears and answers and does miracles but He is also a God who seeks to develop a very personal and intimate relationship with us. He wants to treat us as close friends, not as slaves.

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Published by: Gilbert Hanz on Jul 02, 2014
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11/30/2014

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Journey as a Muslim
By Al-Gharib
General Background:
I was born and raised in an Arab-Muslim country. My parents and their forefathers were
 
Muslims for generations. When I was born, my father named me after his ancestor, the prophet Muhammad. I grew up in an Islamic environment from all sides, surrounded by Muslims. I attended national schools, which are pro-Islamic, from elementary to high school and even to college. During my growing and educational  journey, I received a balanced Islamic education at every level. When I reached adulthood, I was a very typical Muslim, who has tremendous zeal for his religion and culture. I was very proud of my identity to the point of looking down on all non-Muslims. I was anti-Western (Christians) and I hated the Jews. My encounters with Christians had some tremendous impacts on my life, both positive and negative. However, I was determined to  be a Muslim.
First Failure:
 After graduating from college and working as employee for a little while, I started my own  private business by using my father's money, which I inherited. Running my own business was neither easy nor  pleasant. My lack of experience in trade made success difficult. My business went bankrupt and I accumulated debts that I couldn't pay back. I realized that I would soon end up in jail and no one would rescue me. To avoid this disaster and also get revenge for my failure, I decide to sell everything that I was able to and then vanish from sight. My plan was to disappear until I could recover, otherwise never to return back home. Through my experiences at work and my first business I was able to learn what no school or university can teach. I learned about the reality of society and life. The failure of my first experience in business caused me a lot of damage and grief. It also impacted me positively at least in one area. It pushed me to move to a new experience and to explore the world from a wider view.
Success:
 Leaving at home a big mess and debts (thousands of US dollars), I fled to a very far land where none of my debtors or even our justice system could reach me. I settled there, opened a company and started anew. This time business smiled at my face and I succeeded. My achievements caused my pride and greed to greatly multiply. I became blind and very selfish. Meanwhile, I learned from some relatives that if I would return to my country I would be immediately arrested at the borders or at the airport. That wasn't something unexpected, but it made me feel sad to be considered an outlaw. I became the first person in our entire extended family to hold a criminal record.
Defeat:
 All those things mixed together pushed me to adventure in some 'risky' business. I wanted to get rich very fast so that I could get rid of all my debts and try to regain respect in the midst of my relatives, friends and neighbors. I gambled with all that I had and took some dangerous risks by creating enemies for myself. My foolishness caused me to end up defeated and pursued by one of my enemies. I fled again to another new country and left everything behind. I lost my company and even many of my personal belongings.
Stagnation:
 This time all circumstances changed and got tough. I tried several possibilities but none of them
 
worked. I was becoming like a fish struggling inside a tiny jar of water. All doors were closed at my face and I
 
found myself in a deep pit. Several times, I had to sleep in the street and even to starve. I was greatly humiliated and I lost all hope. I went to the mosque and I tried to make peace with Allah, but he apparently rejected me. My fellow Muslim brothers turned their backs toward me and some of them even mocked me to my face. Out of
shame, sorrow and depression I thought about committing suicide, but I didn’t even have the courage to kill
myself.
New Idea:
 While I was totally hopeless and all my plans were screwed up, a bright idea appeared. An acquaintance advised me to associate with Christians. Perhaps they would help me. He assured me that unlike the Muslim brothers, Christians would help me and even provide me a job. Regardless of my sentiments against Christianity and Christians (Westerners), I decided to follow the friend's advice, to go to Church and to take a chance.
New Plan:
 I had no proper idea about Churches and the difference between them. Anyway, my motive wasn't to look for a new religion or God but finding a way to exit from my turmoil. One Sunday morning, I found a church in the newspaper. I went and I attended their service, it was very different from what I expected but I enjoyed it. During that first visit I didn't make any friends, but within a few weeks I made several. Most of the Christians there were friendly and they nice to everyone. They welcomed me at their Church services and at their home gatherings, even though I told them that I was a Muslim. Out of curiosity, I joined several of their activities. My bad attitude toward Christians began to change and I began to appreciate them. The job didn't remain as the highest reason for me going to that Church but mostly the friendship with the people. I also began to think about converting them to Islam.
False Conversion:
 After exploring the church for awhile, for several wrong motives, I decided to convert to Christianity and call myself a Christian. It was an outward conversion, but in the inside I was still a Muslim and the same old person. When I got baptized and immediately after my coming out of the water, I secretly confessed in my heart the Muslim's Shahadah (There is no God but Allah Muhammad prophet of Allah). However, only God and I knew what was really in my heart at that time.
Job:
 Meanwhile, our Church opened a new branch on the other side of the city. Since I was looking for a job and the Church needed somebody to serve there as a janitor, the pastor asked me to fill that position. It was not the kind of job I wished to have, but I had no other option. I accepted and felt lucky for having it. What touched me profoundly was the pastor's trust of me. He put the building into my disposition without any further questions or checking. He also proposed that I could move and live in the Church to reduce my expenses. My work duties were so simple and easy to accomplish, which allowed me to have a lot of free time. Therefore, I dedicated myself to the study of the Bible. I thought that if I could handle the Bible well, it would be easier for me to lead my Christian friends to Islam. During that time the pastor also volunteered to mentor me. I founded that interesting and a good way to lay the ground for my plan.
 
LIFE STYLE AS A MUSLIM
 
Behavior:
 I was always irresponsible, selfish and self-centered. I rarely admitted to making any mistakes. I always had excuses to justify my actions and to easily blame any misconduct on others. When the time came where I had serious problems, I would just run away and leave the problem for others to take care of. Out of my immature behavior in tough times, I caused trouble and harm to several people.
Morality:
 Regardless of my countless sins, I often felt proud of my self-righteousness. Whenever I compared
 
my short-comings with those of others' around me, especially the religious ones, I always thought I was better than most or at least not worst than the majority. As a Muslim and according to Islam and tradition, I used to  believe that each good work I perform has the power to cancel ten of my sins. My religiousness never bothered me or caused me to feel that I owed God anything. Instead it led me to be proud of myself and of my deeds.
Religiousness:
 My faith and belief in Islam looked quiet strong and firm. Islam wasn't just a religion for me, it
 
was a part of my culture, identity, pride and being. As with most Muslims, I enjoyed discussing and to arguing
about spiritual matters but was also skeptical, and didn’t just believe things naively. There w
ere times where I leaned toward fundamentalism and there were also times where I leaned toward atheism. When I settled overseas, I had a chance to interact with people from different religions and backgrounds. I often thought that I was a person who seeks to know the truth. But actually, I was just trying to prove myself as being right. Whenever, I noticed that truth wasn't on my side, I would quickly run to the other direction and hide behind an excuse. I was also driven by fear in my heart: I was afraid of Allah's curse and wrath if I tried to search beyond what Islam allows. I was also afraid to give up my pride.
EARLY CHRISTIAN IMPACTS
 
The Wise Nun:
 When I was a baby I got a dangerous sickness and my mother had to leave me in a hospital for three days in the intensive care unit. The nurse who was in charge of me was a Catholic nun. When I became a  boy my father told me several times: "That nun saved your life." I never understood what he said and why until years later. When I became a Christian, the story came back to my memory and I understood what my father's message was. When I was struggling between life and death in that nun's hands, she prayed for me and the Lord answered her. I owe that nun my life and I am so thankful for her gift of prayer and love.
The Foolish Nun:
 When I was a teenager, my mother got very sick and had to stay in the hospital (another one) which was under the supervision of a Catholic nun. Technically, she was a hard working nun but had what seemed to be little compassion or respect toward anyone. Everybody hated her because of her meanness. Regardless of her many good works, I believe that her lack of love toward people destroyed her true ministry and she misrepresented Christ. I still have a bad memory of her and I find it hard to forgive her still.
Muslim Christian's Debate:
 Once, a friend invited me to watch a videotape with him, it was a debate between the famous Muslim scholar Ahmed Deedat and a Christian apologist. The topic, I still remember, was about which one is God's genuine Word: Is it the Bible or the Koran? The debate was an entertainment for me just like any of the WWC matches, as opposed to a debate to find the Truth. At the end of the debate, I noticed that none

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