What led to your conversion from Islam to Christianity?
I was raised Muslim and my parents taught me to love Islam. By the age of 5 I had recited the entire Koran in Arabic. At university I ran into someone who gave me good reasons to believe the Bible was reliable. We had great long discussions over the course of years. When I realised that the historical evidence was in favour of Christianity, that’s what got me to bend my knee to God. The search went from an academic one to a heartfelt one.
Through the course of a vision, three dreams and reading the pages of scripture, I encountered God. The majority of former Muslims I’ve met will say it’s through dreams they were convinced of the truth of Christianity.
Often there’s a huge cost for Christians who have left Islam. Have you experienced this?
My first death threat came within two months of being a Christian. At the time I was very zealous and had just read Matthew 10, so I said, ‘Bring it on, I don’t care.’ Since then I’ve got married and had a daughter and that changes things a bit. But the message has always been the same – you can be killed if you’re following Jesus because Jesus was killed and you’re following him!
Your latest book deals with the topic of jihad. Some say that ISIS and al-Qaeda are corrupt versions of the true Islam. How do you respond to that?
That’s exactly what I used to say when I encountered violence in Islam.
For years I argued that [some of] the hadiths were unreliable. But as you continue [reading the hadiths] you find Mohammed beheading multiple hundreds of men, distributing those men’s wives and children into slavery, and all these atrocities. I realised that if I dismissed these violent traditions, I would be dismissing the foundations of Islam.
Over a period of nine to ten years, Mohammed personally participates in or deputises 86 battles. They culminate in intensity until the moment he dies.
Chapter 9 of the Koran is the last major chapter to have been composed and it is the most expansively violent. It’s where we read ‘Slay the infidels wherever you find them’. Chapter 9 is the culmination of the Islamic message. It’s the marching orders that Mohammed leaves Muslims with. This is why, when he dies, Muslims conquer one-third of the known world within 150 years.
This has been the classical understanding of Islam up until the fall of the Ottoman Empire. You didn’t hear the phrase ‘Islam is the religion of peace’ until the 20th century.
According to Islam, Muslims are the best of people. Jews and Christians are the worst of creation. I think Islam is inherently the cause for a lot of the jihad we currently see, but I don’t think we should have innocent Muslims bear the brunt of that burden.
As Christians, our personal response should be to engage Muslims in love. People in the West are getting radicalised. If we embrace them and reach them before they get radicalised and share the gospel with them, we will preclude radicalisation.
Answering Jihad (Zondervan) is available now. Hear this interview in full on Premier Christian Radio, Sat 25 June at 4pm