I converted to Islam at an early enough age that I sometimes forget that I was baptized and raised as a Christian. I had never heard of Muhammad (may blessings and peace be upon him and his family) until I was probably 16 or so, and first dived into the Qur’an the summer before college. Prior to that, it was Sunday School in a coat and tie. My first memory of doing something religious is of me kneeling at my bedside in my pajamas, saying “Now I lay me down to sleep.” I grappled with the history and interpretation of the Bible before I knew anything about ‘ulum al-Qur’an and tafsir. I tried to talk to Jesus so many times before I had ever understood what la ilaha illa Allah means.
The beginning of my life paved the way for Islam to enter into it later on, just as the first half century of Christianity paved the way for Islam. Islam is the culmination of the message and mission of Jesus (may peace be upon him), not a straying from what he taught. I have come closer to Jesus through Islam than I was ever able to do as a Christian. While traveling in Syria with one of my Muslim teachers, we heard the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the original language of Jesus. I asked him if it was permissible for a Muslim to say that prayer, and he replied yes. I memorized this prayer as a child, but struggled to pray it as a teenager as my doubts in Christianity piled up. Now I can say it with full conviction:
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trepasses, as we forgive those who trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever, amen.
This Ramadan, as I have hoped in my Lord to the limits of my human hopes, I read a passage in the Qur’an that I pray is speaking about me: “and when they [the Christians] listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears because they recognize the Truth. They say, ‘Our Lord, we believe, so count us amongst the witnesses. Why should we not believe in God and in the Truth that has come down to us, when we long for our Lord to include us in the company of the righteous?’ For saying this, God has rewarded them with Gardens graced with flowing streams, and there they will stay: that is the reward of those who do good.” (Surah al-Ma’ida, verses 83-85)
Lord of the Christians and the Muslims, Lord of all human beings, Lord of this universe and what lies beyond it, please inscribe me amongst those Christians whom You were mentioning in these sacred revelations, and grant me the reward that You have promised them, amen! I could never have been guided to this if it were not for Your guidance!
Please feel free to share this with your Christian friends and family members. I was once one of them, and no one except God knows what may lie hidden for them of bliss upon bliss. Our job is simply to deliver the message, as it was delivered to us.
May God grant us all good in this world, good in the next, and save us from the punishment of the Fire, amen!