In the name of God the Merciful & the most Gracious
How I became a Muslim
My endless gratitude are due to Allah on the most precious gift He endowed upon me, that of Islam. In today's world no one worships God in the proper way that is worthy of His Grace except Muslims, & I have the privilege of being one of them. The journey that ended in me reaching this great destiny was long & weary. I spent 40 years of my life misguided till I was able to set foot on the right path. Here is what happened.
Childhood My father was a preacher in the Alexandria [Egypt] branch of the Society of friends of the Holy Book. He preached in the poor quarters, slums & underprivileged villages in the vicinity of the city trying to attract poor Muslims to Christianity. He insisted on my joining the Church hierarchy & made me attend the Sunday schools since the early age of 6 years. There they are experts in brainwashing kids' minds & implanting in them seeds of prejudice & hatred towards Muslim fellow countrymen. There I learned vicious notions of how Muslims seized Egypt by force & torture from Christians, how they forced them to embrace Islam & those who did not were mistreated to force them to migrate & leave the country. They taught us that Muslims are more atheist than pagans & that their holy book [the Quran] was not revealed by God but rather fabricated by Mohamed.
At home, there was a different story. My father used to tell us stories about deviations of the Church away from the right path & from true Christianity which forbade making & worshiping statues/pictures, & which did not contain any confession ritual or kneeling infront of Patriarchs.
Youth I moved quickly up the Church hierarchy to become a teacher in the Sunday schools at the age of 18. I did my readings to be able to lecture the young students. In the summer we went to convents where we were lectured by expert Christian theologists who never stopped criticizing Islam. They told us that the Quran is full of sexual script & has many contradictory verses. They claimed that prophet Mohamed took the fundamentals of his religion from Christianity at the hands of a monk he met during his early life whom he later killed to cover up his sources!
Many of us Christian young men were puzzled at the core of our faith & its irrationality. We used to ask our senior clergymen skeptical questions. Once someone asked: What do you think of Mohamed? & the preacher replied: a genius. But there are many geniuses (as Appleton or Sucrets) & these have no followers who lasted for centuries & are increasing! & the preacher becomes puzzled. Another asked: How do you see the Quran? The answer would be: a book that narrates the stories of prophets & guides people to do good; still it is written by a person & it is full of mistakes. If so, then why do you forbid us from reading it & blemish anyone who does so as an atheist? Again the preacher has no answer. A 3rd person would say: it is written in the old testament that anyone who claims prophecy when he is not actually sent by God will be wiped out with his clan. Now Mohamed continued preaching for 23 years till he died of natural causes & his clan has propagated through the years to spread to the whole world. How can you explain that? & the given reply is a bland non-convincing statement that God may be testing the faith of Christians by this Muslim challenge.
In 1971 an event took place in my presence that augmented my perplexity. The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt (Patriarch Shenoudah) issued a decree forbidding a senior clergyman of his church (Reverend Raphael, head of the Meena convent) from praying. The reason was that the Rev. did not include the Patriarch's name in his prayers! Another senior clergyman, Rev. Samuel, encouraged him to continue praying, as we pray to God not to a specific person. Raphael abstained obeying the decree saying that he was afraid that the Patriarch would prohibit him from going to Heaven should he hear about his defiance!! Samuel was discontent & said it out loud: This could never happen with Muslims who are directly connected to God needing no Patriarch to intervene & give orders.
One thing that really confused me at the time was the relation between the various sects of Christianity, with each claiming to be righteous while all others cursed atheist non-believers. Once I asked my father of confession Rev. Mathaus Raphael about this matter & he said that this curse holds on earth & in Heaven. I said; "So we are atheists because the Pope of Rome said so & Catholics are atheists because our Patriarch told us they were so. Aren't all Christians cursed in one way or the other according to this belief?" "Regretfully yes." "So how will we fare on judgement day?" "God will be merciful upon us all."
Shifting towards Islam Once I was going into a church when I took notice of a big Jesus Christ's picture suffering on the crucifix & I wondered, "Could this feeble agonizing creature be our Almighty God? Should I worship this fragile person fleeing the tyranny of Jews?" I was astonished when it a came to my knowledge that a verse of the Holy Book cursed the crucifix & the one crucified (DT 21:22-23) & yet we continue to worship them!
In 1981, after I graduated as a physician & was practicing medicine, I had a Muslim neighbor. We used to have long debates on our religions. One day he was talking to me about the system of inheritance in Islam & how it covers every possibility & provides justice to all. He asked me, "Do you have in your religion anything like that?" I could not answer. I kept thinking to myself how can any one man (genius as he may be) construct single-handed such a perfect comprehensive system with all its duties towards God & towards fellow humans that has no contradictions/differences/errors? Surely, this is coming from Heaven. How did Jews & Christians with all their money & power failed in proving that Islam is an invention of Mohamed? How did they fail in stopping its spread?
The period 1982-1990 witnessed a change of faith. I was an internist in a Chest hospital of Alexandria & I had a fellow physician who used a lot of Mohamed's sayings in his dealings with colleagues. At first I was jealous, but then I became interested in hearing these eloquent sayings: few in wording & profound in meaning. I began to look upon Mohamed as a true prophet of God.
Was my father a Muslim in cognito? What pushed me further in the path to Islam were some strange discoveries about my father. He refused kissing the hands of more senior clergymen. He did not believe in the rituals of bread & wine representing the body & blood of the incarnated Jesus Christ. He started abandoning churches & preaching. He slept well into Friday morning (instead of attending to Church prayers) & then took a bath & went down at noon (was he attending the Muslim Friday prayers?)
He started using some Islamic phrases at home. When he died in 1988 I found his private Bible with several notes in his handwriting pointing to contradictory verses & mistakes. Later, I came across an old Bible of my grandfather (dated 1930) in which words that were changed in later editions were clearly marked (e.g. instead of calling Jesus "master" or "teacher", these became "Lord" implying that Christ's worshipping started in his life, not as it is known by St Paul's sayings years after Christ's ascent to Heaven).
The mosque - The Quran - The dream There was a mosque close to where I had my private clinic. I used to peep inside only to find a plain space. There were no precious carpets, no chandeliers, no seats, no statues or pictures, no musical instruments with singings & clapping (like the church choir). Praying to God involved standing in straight rows with one Muslim brother next to the other (no differences between rich & poor/young & old), kneeling down all in one synchronous movement & asking God in piety. The comparison was always in favor of Muslim prayers.
I decided to read the Quran. I bought one from a library & remembered that my neighbor used to wash before reading the book. He told me that Quran must not be touched except by the clean ones. I did wash as far as I could remember what I saw him do. I started reading avidly & finished the whole book in only 2 days. I discovered that what we learned in the Sunday schools & convents was all untrue. I was touched by the verses that inform Mohamed that he is going to die. Who could dare say such a thing except the Almighty. I asked God to guide me to the right path.
A little later I had a revealing dream. I slept while reading & had the Quran near me. Towards dawn there was this overwhelming light in the room & someone was pointing at the book. I stretched my arms to shake hands, but he was gone. I got the notion that this was the signal. Yes, the Quran was my guide.
Submitting to Islam I went to an attorney's office to ask how to officially convert. I had to go to the Religious Affairs section of the internal security administration. I couldn't sleep that night. I went down at 6 in the morning & entered a church. There were all these statues & drawings of Jesus & Mary, of the apostles & of the Patriarchs. I started talking to them: I am about to desert the religion of my parents, if you were right please do something now. Show me some miracle of yours or some sign to impede me. Indicate to me that I am doing wrong. Of course there was nothing. I started to weep & repented all the years lost in this phony faith. I felt purified by my tears. Now I am clean of any paganism & I am following the righteous path of God. I went to the administration & had a long & winding road of red tape procedures that lasted 10 months. I met a lot of Muslims who were skeptical of my intentions & doubtful of my true faith. But now I am backed with Allah & I can feel strong enough to face all the challenges. I officially became a Muslim in August 1992.
May God keep me alive as a Muslim & take my life on this faith
May God guide my offspring to submit in piety & obedience to your religion
May our last words be the thanking of You God of the whole universe