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Journey to Truth
An interview with a young believer from a Muslim background.

Sue Carlisle (SC): What did your Islamic faith mean to you personally?

Fraz Mirza (FM): Because Islam is a way of life, there is little devotion needed to be a Muslim—just a mental assent and the occasional service at the mosque will do. My parents taught me to pray five times a day and expected me to be a Muslim. I embraced the culture and the atmosphere. I spent most of my time with my Muslim friends; we were a community within a community. It was my family, my friends and my future. I felt very secure.

Fraz Mirza is in his third year at Master's College and attends Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Hamilton, Ontario.

SC: What first attracted you to Christianity?

FM: I made some Christian friends in high school who were very vocal about their faith. They were unashamed to share Jesus with those around them. I wasn't the type to hang out with Christians; I honestly did not want to be seen with them, but I was interested in the Bible and its message. After a while, some of them invited me out to their youth group.

I had never heard a speaker before. In the Mosque, the Imam usually recited parts of the Qu'ran and sometimes would offer a little explanation. But this was different. The pastor preached a 35-minute sermon, which I didn't really understand. It wasn't so much the message that compelled me to go, but the social scene. One night my friends weren't able to go to church so I sat by myself near the back. The pastor talked about Christ and how He could set us free from ourselves and the pain and the guilt that we hold in our hearts, and how He wants to give us a hope and a future. This appealed to me so I accepted Christ that night. From then on I began to look at life differently. I began to look at the Bible differently. I didn't want to joke around about this. I told myself that if this was the truth, then I had an obligation to know and understand it, so I read the Bible relentlessly.

SC: What did you think of the Bible's message?

FM: To be completely honest, growing up I didn't care too much for the Bible and its message, but now I was captivated by the fact that I had found the truth and so a firestorm began to stir within me. I had an overwhelming desire, and still do, to share this truth that found me. In my attempts to share my new faith, I was confronted with many honest questions that I could not answer. Thus began my journey: I swore to myself that I would never again be in a position where I did not have an answer to an honest question. I could not let my ignorance cost someone their salvation. To date, I have read the Bible five times. I found credible websites to help answer the questions I had. I met with pastors and borrowed books. I spent late hours many nights trying to wrap my mind around the immensity of God and searched for a simple way of explaining it to others. This was more than an intellectual pursuit; I had found the truth that redefined all of human existence.

SC: How does the Bible's message differ from the message of the Qu'ran?

FM: The Qu'ran speaks of a god who is watching from a distance—one who demands absolute obedience. He weighs your good deeds against your bad deeds and the heavier of the two will decide your eternal destiny. However, despite the outcome of this fateful balancing act, Allah can at any time decide to send you to heaven or hell depending on his mood.

SC: How can we best share the truth of God's message with a Muslim?

FM: Love them and pray for them. Asking how they're doing and having the occasional conversation about God is NOT love. If you're serious about reaching your Muslim neighbour, then learn how to cook their food and invite them over for supper. Learn about their customs and their parables; find the Christian message within them and tie Scripture and Jesus' parables to them.

SC: What is your greatest challenge in sharing your Christian faith with the Muslim community?

FM: My greatest challenge is the difference in the thought process. Here in the West we are taught to critically analyze everything, even our faith. Our entire education system is built upon questioning facts. The underlying character trait of Muslims is submission (I would say blind submission). In the West we question our faith and critically study the Bible; out of that process we grow. In a Muslim's mind, the more he submits his life (including his intellect), the more he grows. This makes evangelism extremely difficult.

SC: How do people who are Christian in name only hinder God's message?

FM: Unfortunately, this can't be helped. In a Muslim's mind, if you are of white descent, you are a Christian. Therefore, every atrocity committed by a white person is committed by a Christian, but nominal Christians in church don't help either. In general, Muslims live holier lives than Christians do: they usually don't drink, smoke or do drugs, and tend to have stronger family ties. It's like trying to convince a dog to give up a piece of steak for a sock; even the dog isn't that stupid. That's the mentality Muslims have of Christianity. They say, "No thanks; we'll keep our steak."

SC: What has your decision to follow Christ cost you?

FM: I kept all of this hidden from my parents because I knew they would freak out. I hid my conversion for a year and a half. Then I felt God's leading to tell my parents about my faith. Because my parents were Muslim, the first thing I did was pack my bags. It was around 11 p.m.; I walked in my parents' bedroom and told them everything. They freaked out. I have only ever seen my dad's eyes tear up twice and this was one of those times. Thankfully, my parents didn't kick me out then. They gave me a 9 p.m. curfew. At 19, I lived with that curfew because it was my way of showing them Christ's love. But when I told them that I was going to be a preacher and that I was going to go to Bible school, then my parents told me I couldn't live at home. God had placed it in my senior pastor's heart to take me in, so I lived with him and his family for a year.

My parents aren't monsters. In their minds, they thought they were helping me. In their heads, I would end up coming back to them because I wouldn't be able to survive on my own. They wanted me to become a Muslim again, go to McMaster University and get a six-figure income. Luckily for me, I served a God who provided tangible assistance. After a year my parents realized that their plan had failed.

I came back home and have been here ever since. Living in a Muslim home definitely makes things more complicated. Life is tough, but God is good and faithful and He definitely makes life worth living. He hasn't brought me this far just to leave me.

Sue Carlisle attends Portico in Mississauga, Ontario, and works in the accounting department at the PAOC International Office. She enjoys hearing people's stories and sharing them with others.

Originally published in testimony, March 2007.




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