I didn’t grow up abused or neglected; my parents loved me more than they loved themselves. I was the result of seven years of failed attempts and desperation that led to in-vitro as a last resort. I was named Malak, Arabic for “angel”, because my dad thought I was a gift from God. My family is devoutly Muslim and proudly adheres the Shia’a School of Thought. Islam was a huge part of my life growing up and I spent almost as much time in Islamic School as I did my regular secular public schools. I started fasting during Ramadan when I was eight, and learned Salat (the five daily Islamic prayers) at age nine.
I came from your average family—my dad worked as a carpenter, my mom was the stay-at-home-and-raise-the-kids wife, and my siblings and I did a great job at being destructive little monsters (as every good child should be). Dad was the authority and disciplinary figure in our home, mom never had the heart to punish us when we did something wrong, she rarely even yelled at us.
For as long as I can remember dad was in and out of hospitals a lot, my siblings and I spent a lot of time at my uncle’s house because mom would stay overnight at the hospital with dad; we were often there for weeks at a time. I never really knew what was wrong with him because I was so young, but one day when I was in the fifth grade my mom told me that he had cancer. I laughed, I didn’t know what that meant and I didn’t know how else to react. I remember going to my friend’s house that day and telling her about it, the news didn’t really register with either of us, we just continued playing outside. Fast forward to sixth grade, late-November 2004, dad was back home for a few days. The night before he went back to the hospital I’d really irked him because I kept refusing to clean my room and he yelled, “I only have so little time left on this earth and you kids are shortening that time!” That was the last time he was home alive. I got to see him at the hospital for the last time on November 29th; he died December 1st of liver cancer that had spread to his lungs.
I wasn’t raised to trust in God or love Him; Islam was more of a guide on how to live a good and moral life. A bunch of rules with no real reason to follow them other than the get out of jail free card they might guarantee you. So when my dad died I didn’t know how to cope and neither did my mom; I remember walking in on her crying one night and in an attempt to comfort her, told her it was okay and that dad was in heaven now, happy and healthy. She got upset with me and insisted that my dad would rather be here with us on earth suffering than happy in heaven. Even as an eleven year old kid I thought that was strange, isn’t heaven supposed to be the greatest place ever? Back then heaven was just a place of worldly pleasures, a place where you got whatever you wanted and lived however you wanted; there was no sadness or death, just a place to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. God wasn’t the focus, the worldly stuff was, the idea of “being with God” was never really taught, He was God, what did He care about being in the presence of humans? Our goal was to be good so that He would let us into Paradise and we could finally be happy and content, with or without Him there. So when mom said that dad would rather be here with us then in heaven I realized that nothing could be more important, nothing could satisfy, other than family—not even heaven or God. Yes, when asked I would always say “God is first”, but only because that’s what you’re supposed to say.
My faith in God got shaky; I didn’t trust Him much. He’d taken my dad away which, according to my mom, was a huge mistake on His part. My dad was supposed to stay here and take care of us, what did God think He was doing when He took him away? Doesn’t He know that my dad would rather be here than in heaven? Shaky faith turned into anger and soon into unbelief. I never called myself an Atheist, it went against my conscious, but I refused to acknowledge Him and wanted nothing to do with such a malevolent deity. This didn’t last long though, once my Islamic School had started up again the fear of hell was beaten back into me with scary stories of eternal torment and Judgment Day; still no love, trust, or even respect for God, just fear for my own soul. (Continue reading . . .)
Friday, July 1, 2011
Malak's Journey from Islam to Christ
I just read the testimony of a young woman who left Islam and became a Christian last year. Her name is Malak. I'll post the beginning here. You can continue reading on her blog.