A Muslim’s journey to Christ
When my mother saw me, her broken voice asked, “How could you do that?” Through tear-filled eyes she added, “You are no longer my son.” Then she began yelling at me and hitting her head with her hands, before collapsing in uncontrollable weeping.
Somehow I got out of the house. I knew I couldn’t stay. The tears and grief of my mother broke my heart. As I made my way down the sidewalk, I heard the voice of Ali calling after me, “As long as you’ve found your own God, find your own place!” My bitterest dream had now come true: I was disowned by my own family.1
I was born into an Asian family that had immigrated to Uganda in the 1880s, in response to a British colonial invitation to build railroads and other economic infrastructure. Like many Asians, my family was Muslim. My uncle had at one time predicted that I would grow up to become an Imam—a Muslim cleric. Spurred by this, I nurtured a hunger to learn the Qu’ran and sought to lead a life of Muslim piety from my earliest childhood.
In the early 1970s, things changed dramatically for Uganda and subsequently for my family. Within a year of taking power, Idi Amin announced that he had received a message from Allah that he should “Africanize” Uganda and make it the first genuinely black African state. According to Amin, this meant that all non-Ugandans would have to leave. Reluctantly and with heavy hearts, we prepared to leave the country that we had grown to love.
My new life
Immediately following my arrival in Minneapolis, Minn., I began attending Minneapolis Vocational High School. On Human Relations Day later that year, I explained my Islamic faith and was invited by one student in the audience to attend a Bible study and prayer group that met on Tuesdays before school.
I was convinced that Islam was the true faith—that the Qur’an was the final revelation and that Allah was the one and only God. I loved Islam, and I longed to see my friends embrace it as their faith as well. Despite my growing friendship with Christians, their not-so-sensitive attempts to convert me grew increasingly aggravating. On one occasion, a Christian family from school invited me to their home for dinner and, as the discussion wore on, it became clear that they had arranged all of it in order to convince me of their faith.
But I was drawn in some inexplicable way to three of my Christian friends, and to one girl, Karen, in particular. For some reason, despite the fact that these kids were involved in more Christian activities than any of the others, none of them ever talked to me about Jesus.
One day, when I was alone with Karen, I asked her what made her different from all the others. After a moment of not knowing how to answer, she replied, “Ahmad, since knowing you, I’ve had the chance to see what Islam is all about. What you and your family have is beautiful. One thing you need to know is that Jesus loves you just the way you are. But one thing I have that you don’t is the assurance that Jesus died for me and that my sins are forgiven.” And then Karen showed me how I could turn my life over to Jesus in prayer.
With this simple yet profoundly caring response to my question, I found myself suddenly stuck. On the one hand, what my friend Karen had said was beautiful; and perhaps something inside me wanted it to be true. But on the other hand, I was a Muslim and I knew that there was only one God, Allah. I knew that according to Islam, Jesus was only a prophet.
As I reflected on these things, a foreboding question slowly took shape in my mind: If for the Muslims there is one God, and for the Christians there is one God, which one is the true God? Haunted by the implications, I recoiled and began calling out to God in passionate, yet silent prayer, imploring, begging Him—whether Christian or Muslim—to show Himself.
Suddenly, in the stillness of the room, a man appeared and said in a resonant, reassuring voice, “Come, I will show you the way.”
Somehow, without the need for any explanation, I knew this to be the voice of Jesus. His invitation to “come” seemed to penetrate all the way to the core of my being.
Despite all my reasons against the Christian faith, something bigger and more powerful and more compelling had broken through. When I read the accounts of Jesus’ life, when I saw Him heal the sick, when I heard Him talk about love and justice and forgiveness, I was drawn to Him.
Then there was the friendship of my Christian friends. Some of them really took time to care for me and my problems. They showed respect for who I was and where I had come from. That touched me deeply.
In the years since I began to follow Jesus, God has helped me to rebuild my relationship with my family. It has not always been easy—for them or for me. Little by little we began to talk to each other, and later to spend time together. What was important was for them to see that though I had decided to follow Jesus and become a Christian, I had not abandoned my culture or my morals. They needed to hear and see that I still loved them—that I wanted them to be in my life, and I wanted to be in their lives.
Though we no longer share a common faith, only God knows what He has prepared for them. Perhaps they, like me, will encounter Jesus in a dream or vision that will somehow sweep away all their objections.
Throughout history, stories of Muslims from various walks of life and cultural contexts tell of conversions to Christianity prompted by dreams or visions. Are they reliable sources of spiritual information? What does the Bible have to say about dreams and visions? Read “Divine Communication” to learn more.