Pope Francis is seeking to turn a page in Christian-Muslim relations...
During Ramadan the pressure on secret Christians in Islamic societies can be more intense than usual. Convert Aziah who, as a Muslim living in the Middle-East, risked everything to become a Christian, shares her story
“If you are a woman born into a Muslim family and you become a follower of Jesus, then you bring shame on your father, your brother and the whole family. They will tell you that you’re an infidel, you bring us shame,” says Aizah.
When Aizah was a teenager, she met a Christian: “As a Muslim I liked this woman very much. I saw that she was good, so I didn’t understand why she wasn’t a Muslim. I tried to evangelise her, to turn her into a Muslim.” But Aizah instead ended up falling in love with the Bible.
When Aizah told her father of her conversion from Islam he said: “You are going to lose everything. You will lose your mother, your brother and sister, and nobody will talk to you.”
The next day Aizah’s father confiscated her car. He told her younger brother to beat Aizah twice a day. In her father’s eyes she was brainwashed. “He ordered me to stay at home for ten days and have no contact with Christians. He expected me to return to Islam,” Aizah says.
Aizah was not allowed to eat with her family. Nobody talked to her. But despite her father’s efforts she did not give up her faith so her family disowned her.
“I went to church. When I came back home my mother said that my father might kill me,” Aizah says - and she didn't mean it figuratively. “I walked away with only the things that I could fit into my backpack.”
Aizah found refuge with another Christian and she now partners with the Christian charity Open Doors offering support to women who, like her, face persecution because of their faith and gender.
Aizah explains: “When women are expelled from home they lose their honour. They have no protecting shield for them, no father or brother to defend them. In our culture, people think a woman like that deserves to be attacked. It is a big thing. It makes a lot of difference when people know that someone is protecting you as a woman.
“I had never heard of any other organisation that has said that they’re going to work for women. This is very bold. We’re living in a male culture. But Open Doors are saying we will come also alongside the women.”
During the Muslim prayer month of Ramadan, Christian converts in Islamic nations who are no longer living out their Muslim faith are easier to spot. There is increased pressure for secret believers and greater risk that their new found faith will be discovered. For women, if that happens then, like Aizah, their family may attempt to kill them.
Erin James is a writer at Open Doors and is passionate about shining a light on the incredible faith and courage of our persecuted family.
To find out about the Open Doors’ campaign that supports women like Aizah visit opendoorsuk.org
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