From Islam to Messiah

My personal testimony – by Firosa Dukhi (first published in MGN 2nd Quarter 2001)

I remember feeling bone weary and more than a little disillusioned. In all my forty years as a Muslim, I had never felt further away from God. He had always been there when I needed Him. When things went wrong I would fast and pray, and give additional alms to the poor if necessary. Now, I had been fasting two days a week for almost a year, and it had not had the desired effect. Had I so displeased Him, that I had somehow incurred His wrath? My efforts to appease Him seemed futile and nothing could fill the emptiness within.

What truly alarmed me was the day my arthritic father called to voice his despair. His illness was wearing him down, and his faith in a merciful God had worn thin. Neither of us could encourage the other. I called my brother Enver. He had taken to attending church with his wife in an effort to work out their troubled marriage. I found this hard to accept from someone who had never needed God, nor seen the benefit of the five daily prayers. All our lives, I had been the one who prayed, but there was no denying that he was different since his conversion. His peace of mind and faith were not only enviable, it was impossible to understand. I had no faith in my brother’s new beliefs.

Then came Mother’s Day weekend in 1993, the anniversary of a particularly unhappy time in my life. My husband and I attended a colleague’s wedding and, unaccustomed as I was to drinking, we returned from the wedding quite inebriated. Mother’s day found me lying in bed with a major hangover and an even greater fear of God. Now I had definitely invited His anger. The next morning I awoke too late to perform the cleansing ritual before the Morning Prayer. I was desperately afraid. God did not seem to be answering my prayers. As I turned to go back to sleep, I cried out, “Father, it’s up to You now, I’ve done all I know to do, and it’s not working!!”

During the course of that very stressful day, Enver called to invite me to a convention at his church. I saw no possibility of attending anything of the sort with all the demands of the day. As I left the office, I dejectedly prayed that if God wanted me to go to this church then He’d have to get me there.

For the first time in months things went smoothly. By the time Enver called back, everything had been taken care of and I had no reason to refuse his invitation. Martin, my husband, scoffed at the idea of accompanying me. I recalled that I had almost challenged God to get me to this church. I had to go.

By the time we arrived, the “Praise and Worship” was in full swing. I was convinced that I had wound up at a rock concert somehow, but no concert I had ever attended had produced the kind of peace and joy I beheld on the faces of the people around me. That was how I so desperately wanted to feel! I was no longer aware of the thousands of people around me. All I could feel was an unbearable pain and then the dam within me burst! I sobbed uncontrollably throughout Praise and worship. The guest speaker  was the funniest man I had heard in a long time. I could not believe that I was listening to the Gospel and laughing with such gay abandon! The heaviness of the past few months seemed to have lifted. When I arrived home Martin insisted that I was glowing. He demanded an explanation. I had none.

I went back the following night and found myself sobbing throughout the praise and worship again as I became aware of painful memories that I would have preferred remain buried. The following morning I found the words from the rock musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” ringing in my head, “I don’t know how to love Him, what to do, why He moves me.” The same song was playing on the radio when I got to the office. That evening Enver brought me the book “I Dared to call Him Father.” Each time I came across the name of Jesus, I wept.

On the Thursday night the message was entitled “What do you have in your hand, Moses?” It was about how God had empowered men in Scripture for His purposes. When he got to Jesus and asked, “What do you have in your hands, Jesus?” …”Nail prints, Lord… Not just nail prints, but the salvation of mankind!” I found myself sobbing, “Father, forgive me, I didn’t know.” “Didn’t know what?” a voice in my head demanded. “I didn’t know He died for me.” “Died for what?” “For my sins.”

On the Friday night people were called upon to repent of the sins of their ancestors.  I heard a Muslim (ex) repent for the rejection of Jesus. What did that mean? Saturday morning I spent with Enver. He shared the beauty of what he had found in the Scriptures. I remained unconvinced. I felt like a cat on a hot tin roof. I got up at one point to leave the room and passed the hi-fi that had been playing softly in the background. I was arrested by the words, “More than anything, I love you Jesus, more than anything…” I stood transfixed. And then this blanket of pure unadulterated love enveloped me. No rebuke, no accusation, just glorious waves of love, and a whisper, “Hush, child, be still.” I had no desire to move. Where could I go? I had never known such joy and peace.

Sunday morning I convinced Martin and the children that we all needed to go to church. Praise and worship reduced me to sobs once more but now there was no more pain and guilt – only gratitude. At the end of the message, there was the usual invitation “to give your life to Jesus.” I was wondering whether I should say YES now or later, but I knew that I had to keep coming back. Martin mistook my hesitation, and chose to help me by lifting my elbow and so my hand. Immediately, I felt the loving hands of those around me as they prayed for me. What love and freedom flooded my being. Jesus was now my Saviour!

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