Finding Answers in Islam
- :Carol L. Anway
Some of the women tied to prove Christianity to their Muslim husbands. They sought help from Christian leaders but were frustrated in. their attempts. Some of the women smuggled with letting go of Christianity even though they felt "Muslim." Several religious questions seemed unsettling to them. Whereas Islam tends to "have the!, answers," there is often confusion Christian theology. In Islam there is only one God so how can Jesus also be God, the Muslims ask.
The Bible, viewed by many Christian as being the literal word of God, is also questioned. Muslims emphasize the many changes made over the centuries in the numerous manuscripts that make up the Bible and that it was written by those who only "felt inspired," cam many years after the events occurred. They point out what they led are contradictions in the Bible. Muslims, are well-versed in their beliefs and are often able to fill in the gaps for the confused person longing or God, answers, for what to do to be at peace. Varying degrees of dissatisfaction with Christian theology as they perceive it is apparent in many of these women's stories. Some of the problems center in the concepts of Trinity, original sin, or Jesus as the Son of God or Jesus as God. Their frustration with some of these ideas helped to open the doom for "new" religious expression.
oAfter the birth of our second child, I decided to go back to church. I was so enthusiastic and went around singing, reading the Bible, and telling my husband how much he should get back to God. With some reluctance he went to church with me and my daughter several times.
One day he said, "I can't go, anymore and I don't want you to take our doughty (either." We had a big fight and were going to split up until we decided that we would take a look at both religions. If I could explain Christianity satisfactorily, he would become a Christian. At the same time, I would take another look at Islam. (I had claimed Islam two years after we were married, but he wasn't active and I lost interest quickly.) I started asking a lot, of questions from ministers, theologians, and seniors in the field to help me prove Christianity to my husband. I wanted it se badly, I vied to several of them to help me and most of them said, "I'm sorry-I don't know" or "I'll write you," but I never heard from them. The harder I tried to prove Christianity to convert him, the more I moved toward Islam because of its logic, until I finally yielded to the belief and oneness of Allah. One thing led to another until my husband and I became practicing Muslims Islam for me gives me peace of mind because I don't have in understand the Trinity and how God is "three in one" or that God died on the cross. Fu me Islam supplies the answers. +I called myself agnostic when I' went to college. I thought I believed in God and didn't want to do anything about it. After a few years, was ready to go back to being "religious" again. In the meantime, I met a man from Lebanon who would later become my husband. He and both started learning mor,.7t about Islam and about six months later converted. We were married six months after that. The hardest part was changing my ideas about Jesus, It took A long time to he able to say that Jesus isn't the Son of God without it feeling like blasphemy. But., I realized that the beliefs are really close, in some ways. Mary was a virgin and Jesus is a great prophet. The difference is in the divinity of Jesus.
I never knew anything about Islam except that "Muhammad was a killer and Islam was spread by the sword." I was going out with my husband prior to marriage (he was not a practicing Muslim at that time), but when we got married and he finally told his family, his father's stipulation was that I was to be Muslim. I told him I could not change my religion for a man because I have always been close with God but never had a direct path to walk. Then I started talking about what I really believed. I promised God that I would look into Islam, and I asked God to guide me.
Over the course of several months I started talking to my husband's friend who had embraced Islam and was a humble practicing Muslim. I asked him many questions. I kept away from my husband about this topic because I wanted to be as objective as possible. My hardest hurdle was getting over the fiery images of what we would look like burning up in hell from my Sunday school books and training. I had been told so many times that if I did not believe Jesus had died for my sins and was my personal savior I would go to hell forever. But Allah showed me the way. I was reading many books about Islam, and everything I read was exactly how I felt inside me. All the answers were there. I may not have understood everything but what I did made sense. I embraced Islam and shared my first Ramadan with my husband of six months who was now practicing his beliefs.
The idea that Jesus is considered God by Christians was something that hadn't become a reality to some of the women. Muslims were, therefore, able to refute this belief by affirming that putting anything or anyone on the same, level as God is a eat sin. This point is probably the most dividing belief between Christians and Muslims. For Christians it would be a peat sin to deny Jesus as part of the Trinity; for Muslims the greatest sin would be to place Jews (whom they consider as a revered and great prophet) on the level of God.
I asked my fiend to attend Mass with me. He said he didn't attend church, that he was a Muslim. "What's a Muslim?" I asked, totally unaware that my life was going to change forever as soon as he began his answer. At first, I listened intently but after he got to the part which denied Jesus being the Son of God, even denied his sacrifice for us on the cross, I excused myself from this friend and kicked myself for wasting so much time that now I had missed Mass and would have to go to confession. We talked again later about his beliefs. We seemed more and more alike in our belief: heaven and hell, angels, our duty to our fellow roan, holy scriptures. was just the "Jesus thing" that kept us on opposite ends of the spectrum. I also noticed another complication; despite everything, I was failing in love with him.
It wasn't Islam that was the issue. It was Christianity I was a "doubting Thomas" in every way and the guilt was overwhelming. I began to seek all kinds of advice to rid me of this demon of doubt. Then, three events took place in the space of a week that caused me to decide to 'eave Christianity altogether.
First, I went to a nun that I trusted deeply and poured my heart o-w. She responded with compassion, but she handed me a Qur'an as I left. I was very confused. Then, I went to my religion teacher, who was a lay person. As we talked, I ,siew more confused and finally said, "Look, I just want you to tell me that, undoubtedly and with full conviction, Jesus Christ is the Son of God" He didn't look at me when he said, "I can't tell you that" Now I was angry too. What was wrong with these people that they refused to give me the answers I was looking for? Finally, I turned to God. At least I was sure that he was still there for me. And he would help me. I prayed that he would open my mind and my heart and show me the answer I was looking for. I used a method I had used many times before. I would pray everything in my heart, then open the Bible to a random page and find my answer. I opened my Bible to the trial of Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate. Pilate was trying to get Jesus to say something by which he could be convicted, in order to relieve his own guilt for having him sentenced to death to fulfill the wishes of the people. Pilate asked him, "Are you the Son of God?" and Jesus answered, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, "It is you who have said it." Suddenly, I felt at peace.
When I was eighteen I went to a local two-year Christian college. It was there that I first came in contact with Muslims. There were a lot of them there, and I was fascinated with the idea of another group of people I knew nothing about-some people from the "Holy Land." I took a course called "The World's Living Religions" and learned a little about Islam. I net my husband-to-be there when I was nineteen years old. I married him after four months.
We moved far away to go to a university. There I met an American-Muslim woman who wore hijab. She gave me books and pamphlets about Islam. I read some of them and watched some debates between Muslims and Christians about the divinity of Jesus and the authenticity of the Bible. It was then that I heard clearly for the first time that the Christians (including the Catholics) thought that Jesus was God and that the Bible had been changed by men and mostly made by men's words, not God's. I was shocked. I knew then that I was not one of "them" anymore.
Adapted from: "Daughters Of Another Path (Experience of American Women Choosing Islam)" by: "Carol L. Anway"
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