Let’s follow the life of Abdoulaye from birth to adulthood to determine the reasons why it becomes so difficult for Muslims to become Christians. The stumbling blocks in Abdoulaye’s path accumulate until Christianity becomes a distorted religion and the gospel is foolishness to him. Then our Muslim friend will experience the grace of God in his life.
At the moment of Abdoulaye’s birth, someone rushes to whisper in his ear, “La ilaha illallah, wa Muhammad rasul Allah” (There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is His messenger). The umbilical cord has not even been cut. The newborn is not yet physically separated from his mother, yet the Islamic indoctrination has already begun!
Abdoulaye’s earliest memories are hearing the amplified sound of the call to prayer in Arabic from the minaret of the mosque echoing across the rooftops on his village. “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!” (God is great!) The lad doesn’t speak Arabic, but the message is understood as the cry continues, “Come to prayer, come to prayer…” Five times each day, the call beckons the faithful to prostrate before God in humble submission. Before dawn, the first summons includes the exhortation, “Come to prayer, for prayer is better than sleep.” By the time Abdoulaye is 50 years old, he has heard the piercing call to prayer over 90,000 times. He hears it in his sleep when it isn’t even ringing!
The curious youngster watches carefully as older family members unroll their prayer mats, stand facing eastward and recite memorized prayers quietly in Arabic as they bow, kneel, then prostrate themselves completely with their hands and foreheads to the mat. Later his father says, “Son, that is how God is to be worshipped. The word Islam means ‘submission’ and your name means ‘servant’ or ‘slave of God.’ We must humbly prostrate ourselves before Him as a servant would bow before his master. Allahu akbar!”
Soon the lad is sent to madrasa, the Quranic school. By the age of 5 he can quote surah (chapter) after surah of the Qur’an in perfect Arabic, though he doesn’t yet understand what he is saying. “Don’t worry, Abdoulaye,” his teacher says. “This is the Holy Qur’an, God’s last and final revelation. As you recite the Word of God, great power and blessing will come to you and to those who hear His Word. Allahu akbar!”
Our young Muslim friend, continuing through elementary school, accepts at an early age that his rights and concerns are unimportant compared to those of the family and the Muslim community. He learns he can get forgiveness for many childish misdeeds, but even without a formal lecture he understands there is one thing he should never do—bring shame to his family. It would be unforgivable to even think about following any other religion but Islam, thereby dishonoring his father’s name. “Abdoulaye, you were born a Muslim, and you will die a Muslim. Allahu akbar!”
During secondary school, Abdoulaye’s Christian friend begins to tell him of the claims of Christ. A war begins to rage in his mind, and the young Muslim schoolboy is gripped by fear at the very thought of leaving Islam. He fears being beaten and rejected by the family he loves so dearly. When he thinks about becoming a Christian, the teenager is gripped by fear that someone might try to put a curse on him. He is told he will be sent to hell forever for believing in three Gods as Christians do. He fears the loss of his identity and the loss of his family inheritance. Then the chilling thought occurs to Abdoulaye, “If I become a Christian, I couldn’t be buried with my family. Who will bury me when I die?”
Abdoulaye’s university professors, past-oriented as most Muslims are, love to dwell on the so-called “Christian Crusades” that took place during the eleventh through thirteenth centuries to rescue the Holy Land. Sent by the Roman Catholic Pope, these Christian soldiers, with the cross stamped on their helmets, the cross stamped on their shields, and the cross stamped into the leather of their saddles, plundered, raped, and killed in the name of Christ. “Do you want to know what Christianity is?” the instructor loudly proclaims. “That’s Christianity!”
The university geography teacher’s favorite topic is colonialism. “Ninety percent of the Islamic countries of the world were once colonized by the Christian countries of the West,” he declares. “These Christians plundered our resources and exploited our people. Do you want to know what Christianity is? That’s Christianity!”
The religion teacher challenges the students to peek in the back door of a Sunday morning service to see how corrupted the Christian worship is. They see Bibles disgracefully placed on the floor, something they would never do with the Qur’an. Christians (with shoes on!) are sitting on benches and chairs. “Who do they think they are?” Abdoulaye muses. “Kings? Queens? Don’t they know they should prostrate themselves before the Almighty?”
Electronic instruments amplify the music. Pretty young ladies with skimpy clothes hold microphones leading the bouncing and swaying bodies to the beat of pulsating rhythms. “They call this God’s house?” Abdoulaye thinks. “This is like a disco!”
What shocked Abdoulaye most was seeing men and women praying together and sitting together in God’s house. “How can a man possibly concentrate on God while sitting by a woman?!”
Christianity is made to sound foolish as the professor of religion questions the heart of the gospel message. “God doesn’t need anyone to die for the sins of others,” he lectures. “God would never require an innocent person to die for the sins of the guilty. What kind of God would this be?! He doesn’t need the shedding of blood in order to forgive sins. It would represent a fundamental weakness in the character of God if He couldn’t forgive sins without someone dying. Allahu akbar!”
“Abdoulaye, are the pornographic movies and X-rated videos that are available on our streets produced in Islamic countries?” the professor questions. “No, they are made in the Christian countries of Europe and America. Those tourists who come to our country and sun bathe nearly naked, are they Muslims? No, they are Christians. Abdoulaye, do you want to know what Christianity is? That’s Christianity!”
After university Abdoulaye married and joined the military, soon becoming the most respected pilot in his country. He served his nation with distinction for many years.
When Abdoulaye’s oldest of 2 sons became gravely ill, this loving father and mother tried everything to save his life, but the doctors could not cure him. Death snatched him from their home. Sorrow was multiplied with sorrow as their only remaining child now became ill with the same disease. He appeared to be following the same inevitable path.
In the midst of this threatening storm of grief, the local pastor and Christian worker knocked on Abdoulaye’s door. “We have heard of the great sorrow that has come to your home,” they said. “Could we come in and pray for your son?” This grief-stricken father turned them away because he envisioned a priest sprinkling holy water and pronouncing the last rights just before someone dies. He didn’t want to lose his only son, but rather was hoping against hope that he would somehow live.
Undaunted, the two followers of Jesus returned the next day. “Abdoulaye, we have heard of the great sorrow that has come to your home,” they pleaded. “We believe God wants to do something special for your family. Could we come in and pray for your son?”
Then they began to ask this respected military officer a series of questions they knew would bring a quick and positive response from any Muslim. “Abdoulaye, do you believe in God?” He shouted, “Alhamdulillah!” (“Of course!” literally, “praise be to God!”).
They followed with, “Abdoulaye, do you believe God is all powerful?” “Alhamdulillah!”
“Abdoulaye, do you believe that God is the author and creator of life?” “Alhamdulillah!”
“Abdoulaye, do you believe that God has the power to heal someone?” “Alhamdulillah!”
They encouraged this distressed father to believe that God not only could heal his son, but that God would heal him. “Abdoulaye, do you believe in prayer?” “Alhamdulillah! Of course!”
Finally, with faith barely the size of mustard seed, Abdoulaye invited the two concerned Christians to pray for the healing of his dying son. “We are going to pray in the Name of Jesus,” they stated.
“Look, I’ve tried everything,” he uttered. “I don’t care what name you use.”
The presence of God began to fill the room as these Brothers fervently prayed that God would manifest His love and healing power. God answered their prayer and healed this gravely ill lad! Abdoulaye had never experienced anything like it in his life and committed his life to Christ.
Reflecting back upon that special moment when he witnessed the healing of his son, Abdoulaye stated, “As a pilot, I have been to Mecca more than 50 times. In Mecca, I felt nothing.” Then his eyes filled with tears as he recalled witnessing a special miracle that day: “But when those Brothers prayed, I felt something! All my life I had been taught that no one can know God or sense His presence. However, that day, I sensed the presence of God, and I’ll never be the same.”