“Growing up, I didn’t choose my faith. I was born into it,” Sharifeh remembers. Like other children born to Muslim parents, she was expected to follow the prophet Muhammad’s teachings for the rest of her life.
As a Muslim woman, Sharifeh wasn’t allowed to express doubts or ask questions in order to understand the Muslim holy book, the Quran. Instead, she was told to obediently practice the tenets of Islam in hopes that her good deeds would outweigh the bad ones, enabling her to be accepted into Heaven.
“I was a model Muslim girl,” Sharifeh says. “At seven years old, I began fasting and praying, doing good deeds, and studying Islamic teachings in an attempt to please Allah.” But deep down, she was terrified her best efforts would never be good enough.
Her futile religious efforts weren’t a prescription for a happy life. “By the time I was 16, I felt like a caged animal that couldn’t make decisions for itself,” she shares. In her frustration, Sharifeh ran away from home and found shelter with a family willing to take her in.
Little did she know, she had stumbled upon a family of Christians. She immediately recognized there was something different about them. They seemed to always be smiling. It was much different than the atmosphere in her own family.
In addition to welcoming Sharifeh with open arms, this family began to tell her “Jesus loves you” and other things she had never heard before. Even though she didn’t respond to the Gospel right away, the message of God’s love began to resonate in Sharifeh’s heart.
However, she was only 16 and knew she must return to her family. “I was flabbergasted by the reception I received upon returning home,” Sharifeh recalls. “Instead of caring about my well-being, my parents just wanted to know if I was still following the rules of the Quran and was still a virgin.”
Having had a taste of what a loving family could be like, Sharifeh lost respect for her own family and the angry faith they were following. She began visiting churches and made some Christian friends. Although she was open to most of the teachings she heard, one stumbling block was a central tenet of the Christian faith – that Jesus is the Son of God. The Quran portrays Jesus as a reputable prophet, but certainly not as divine. Nor do Muslims believe His death on the cross atoned for the sins of the world. Sharifeh was in a quandary. Who should she believe?
Hearing God Speak
“One morning, I was awakened by a voice saying, ‘Go to church.’ I looked around and couldn’t find anyone in my room,” Sharifeh remembers, still amazed by the experience. Sensing the urgency of this command, she called a friend and together they went to church.
For the first time in her life, she spoke to the Lord that day. “Here I am. What do You have for me?” Not long after that, she had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit and could no longer deny that Jesus was the Son of God.
“All of a sudden, my eyes were opened!” she recalls, fighting back tears as she describes experiencing God’s presence for the first time. Her heart leaped for joy, and she felt as if she had known Jesus her whole life. The following week, she was baptized to celebrate her new life.
What a joy it was to finally know the true and living God. “All I ever wanted was the truth. I cried out to God, saying, ‘Show me who You are,’ and He did! After that, I had an insatiable hunger for God’s Word and was desperate to know Him more.”
Now Sharifeh is on a mission to tell other followers of Islam the Good News of Jesus. “I want to share this joy with my Muslim brothers and sisters across the world! I want to tell them to speak to God for themselves, and let Him show Himself,” she passionately concludes. “Jesus came and took our place when we should have been nailed to the cross instead. Because of His love, He became our sacrifice!”
Who Will Reach Other Muslims?
Like Sharifeh, many Muslims still find themselves exhausted as they try to perfectly please Allah and earn a place in Heaven. Imagine counting every right and wrong decision you’ve ever made, hoping your good deeds will outweigh your sins. Not only is that an impossible endeavor, but you would never find certainty of whether you’re going to Heaven or Hell.
It is noteworthy that the rise of militant secularism and a decline in tolerance and civil discourse has taken place concurrent with the rise and proliferation of social media in America. And for many, visceral hate and name calling have all but replaced civil discourse and debate. America is more divided now than at any time in its history, except perhaps during the period leading up to the Civil War.
For such a time as this, God has raised up Inspiration TV and our special Muslim website muslimjourneytohope.com, to evangelize people in the Islamic world and then strengthen them as followers of Jesus. Thanks to satellite dishes on homes and the availability of the Internet, people can now receive the Good News of Jesus Christ even where it’s illegal to preach through conventional means!
A Muslim Journey to Hope shares numerous videos of Muslims who have turned to Christ. Available in either English or Arabic, this website provides answers to basic questions about Christianity, free downloadable books, links to Bible translations, and many other helpful resources. You can watch A Muslim Journey to Hope television program on Inspiration TV, streaming 24/7. It is also available through Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and the Inspiration TV mobile app.
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