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Khalil started memorizing the Qur’an at a very early age and developed what he called a love for the word of God. As he grew older, he started reading books on Islam and the interpretation of the Qur’an. By sorting out Muslims from non-Muslims according to the Qur’an’s teaching, he ended up considering his own parents infidels. Little things such as a woman not wearing a veil would make her a non-Muslim according to the way he understood the Qur’an. If a man didn’t grow a beard he would be considered a non-Muslim. He considered the Christians his worst enemies and started getting involved in attacks against Christians and churches. The Islamic Group, dedicated to the overthrow of the secular government of Egypt and the installation of a strict Muslim government, recruited him into their ranks, appointing him as a local leader. His group became involved in kidnapping a famous moderate Muslim writer who had dared to criticize the Islamic Group.Eventually, the authorities arrested Khalil and most of the group’s members. He spent two years in prison, undergoing torture, and upon his release left Egypt for Yemen in company with other radical Muslims. From this base of operations, they continued in their plans for an armed insurrection in Egypt.
Their plans, however, were discovered by local authorities, many of them were re-arrested, and the military option was all but abandoned. Back in Egypt they had to downplay all of their activities. Upon reading an article in the Cairo newspaper about Christians arrested in Egypt for proselytizing, Khalil and his group decided that it was “past time” to do something for the sake of Islam. Given their small numbers, however, they decided their battle would be an intellectual one, researching and writing a book proving that Mohammed is the True Prophet of God, and that the Bible of the Christians and Jews is a corrupted text. Khalil was chosen by his Emir, the leader of the Islamic Group, to do the research and write the book. He objected strenuously at first, but eventually took on the job, which he described as the “most distasteful thing” he had ever done.
When he had completed reading the Bible and cross-referencing what he had read with numerous Islamic books, Khalil was astonished to discover that the Bible was neither inaccurate nor corrupted. Instead, he was astonished at the Bible’s teachings on forgiveness and unconditional love, as reflected in the life and words of Jesus. He was particularly stunned to read how Jesus had warned his followers about persecution and how, two thousand years later, that persecution was taking place exactly as Jesus had said it would. His reading of the Bible helped him understand why Christians in Egypt never retaliated against the Muslims, and why it was always easy for them to forgive and forget. As much as he hated reading the Bible, he fell in love with its message and teachings.
Nonetheless, he had a job to do, and he continued with dogged determination, electing to prove that Jesus is not God and was never crucified. Studying the Qur’an for this purpose, he put together all of God’s qualities and attributes as the Qur’an talks about them, and then searched the Qur’an for Jesus’ attributes. According to the Qur’an, God is the creator, the healer, the provider, the only one who can raise the dead to life, the only one that performs miracles, the only one who judges perfectly, and the like. To his shock, Khalil discovered that these are the same attributes the Qur’an assigns to Jesus (Isa), proving to Khalil that Jesus and God were, indeed, one.
Growing doubts now made Khalil’s life miserable. He had always loved Islam and had always believed that the only way to God was through Mohammed. But if Jesus and God were one, then who is Mohammed and what is the way to heaven?
One day, the Emir came to visit Khalil in his house and discovered all the research that Khalil had documented (the deity of Jesus, the Qur’an not being the word of God, etc.). He couldn’t believe what he read. He told Khalil that he would kill him if he shared his heretical ideas with any Muslim and that he was now considered an infidel.
Khalil, however, could not turn from the conviction that Christianity was the right way. Wanting to learn more, he decided to join a church. Since he was notorious as a zealous Muslim, no one believed him. Everyone refused to meet with him, even pastors. He was disappointed and thought maybe he was wrong after all; maybe the Christian faith wasn’t the way to heaven. However, a voice inside him told him not to look to people.
One day as he was trying to make a phone call at a café, his attaché was stolen. The bag contained all of his research papers, his Bible and his identity card. He was terrified because everything he had written would be considered blasphemous, and the bag also contained his ID card. He rushed home, troubled and tormented. In his room he started repenting for all that he had done and thought that God was punishing him for daring to think that Mohammed was not sent from God and that the Qur’an was not the word of God. He repented, washed himself, and pulled his rug out to pray, but he couldn’t bend his knees nor open his mouth to say one word of the Qur’an. He sat down and said, “God you know that I love you, and I know that you want me on the right path. God, I can’t resist anymore. All that I did, I did trying to please you. Please pull me out of this darkness.”
That night, Khalil slept in a way he hadn’t slept for years. In a dream, he saw a man, who came to him and told him that he was the one for whom Khalil had been searching. Khalil didn’t know who the man was. The man told him to look in the Book (the Bible). Khalil said the Book and all his papers were lost, to which the man replied, “The book never gets lost. Get up and open your closet and you will find it. The rest of your papers will be returned to you by the end of the week.”
Khalil woke up from the dream and opened his closet. His very own copy of the Bible was inside the closet on a shelf. Knowing that he had seen Jesus, he hurried to his mother’s room, awoke her, and begged her forgiveness for his years of harshness and ill treatment of the family. His search for reconciliation didn’t end with his family either. As the sun rose that same morning, Khalil took to the streets, greeting friends and strangers alike. He sought out the Christian owners of businesses whom he had robbed, or mistreated, and begged their forgiveness too.
Over the ensuing months, Khalil grew in his new faith, gradually winning the confidence and trust of local Christians and finding fellowship at a church. He was baptized and continues to brave physical attacks and threats against his life, because he feels that no price is too great to pay for the One who gave everything for him.
Language: Egyptian Arabic
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