Donald Flood’s story of embracing Islam

Posted by CDADawah On April - 23 - 2009

Gathering the Initial Pieces of ‘the Purpose of Life Puzzle’

I once thought my upbringing offered an excellent way of life, especially since I felt satisfied both mentally and physically. As a young man, I lived the life of an average American who had a rather hedonistic lifestyle; I was fond of music, a festive atmosphere, women, sports, travel, ethnic foods and foreign languages. I reached a point, however, where I felt ‘spiritually bankrupt’ and I asked myself, “Now what?” and I thought, “There has to be more to life than this.” This realization was the impetus that led me to search for the truth through diverse avenues. 


I assumed the reason I felt spiritually unfulfilled had to do with my lifestyle in America, which was often tied to instant gratification and impulsive behavior. As a result, I speculated that the answer might lie in finding a better locale. Thus, I began looking for that perfect place. After traveling to numerous destinations, I discovered that it wasn’t so much a perfect location I was looking for, but a particular culture with the most suitable approach to life. When I found what I considered to be the most appealing culture, I recognized that it still had flaws. Thereafter, I surmised that we should learn about the different ways people live and then select the best from these practices. This was perhaps the road to the truth. 


Unable to really implement the life of a global citizen, I chose to read materials on metaphysics because the esoteric things in life always intrigued me. I quickly learned everything functions according to universal laws which can be used for one’s own benefit. After reading many books on this subject, I concluded that more important than these laws is the One Who created them, i.e., God. I also discovered metaphysics can be a precarious path to follow, in which case, I refrained from any further readings in this area. 


On the suggestion of a good friend, we went on a three-month camping trip all over America and Western Canada with the intention of discovering the purpose of life. We witnessed the marvels of nature and realized this world could not have been created by mistake, and that it was clearly a wonderland of signs pointing to its Creator. Hence, this trip reinforced my belief in God. 


After returning home, I felt distressed at the busy life of the city, so I turned to meditation for relief. I was able to find inner peace through meditation techniques. Nevertheless, this tranquil feeling was only temporary; once I stood up, I couldn’t take that feeling with me. Likewise, being consistent with meditation became too much of a formidable task, so I slowly started losing interest. 


Before long, I thought the truth might lie in self-improvement. Therefore, I became a voracious reader of motivational materials and attended related seminars. In addition, I was striving to live up to the US Army’s slogan on TV commercials, ‘Be All You Can Be’, by participating in some breathtaking sporting and recreational activities. Due to my readings and challenging exploits, I gained a keen sense of self-confidence, but in fact, I still hadn’t discovered the truth. 


Soon afterwards, I read numerous books on various philosophies. I found many interesting concepts and practices; yet, there wasn’t any particular philosophy that I could totally agree with. Thus, I chose to consolidate what I thought was the best wisdom from among these doctrines. It became sort of a ‘religion à la carte’ which mainly emphasized good moral behavior. I eventually concluded that good morality is good, but it is not good enough to solve ‘the purpose of life puzzle’. I felt I needed a more spiritual approach to life. 


Shortly thereafter, I obtained a job in a Muslim country where I had enough free time to read and reflect on life. While continuing my search for the truth, I found a recommendation in a book concerning the need for sincere repentance to God. I proceeded to do so and felt remorse for all the people I had wronged and the wrong I did to myself in that process, which resulted in tears rolling down my face. 


A few days later, I had a conversation with some Muslim friends. I mentioned to them that I was used to having a lot more freedom in America than what was present in their country. One person said, “Well, it depends on what you mean by ‘freedom’. In your part of the world, no matter how well parents teach morality to their children inside the home, as soon as they go outside, they generally encounter the society in contradiction to that morality. On the other hand, in most Muslim communities, the morals taught to the children at home are very similar to what they find away from home. So who really has the freedom here?” Like it or not, I was inclined to agree with his interpretation of freedom in which immorality tends to be prevalent in societies that are overly liberal. In this case, too much freedom often becomes a negative aspect of society, not a positive one. From his analogy, I also understood that the Islamic guidelines and restrictions partially sanctioning human behavior in Muslim societies are not meant to curtail human freedom; rather, they serve to define and dignify human freedom. 


A further opportunity to learn about Islam arose when I was invited to sit with a group of Muslims over dinner. After mentioning to the group that I had been living in Las Vegas, Nevada before coming to the Middle East, a Muslim from America said, “You must make sure you die as a good Muslim.” I immediately asked him to explain what he meant. He said, “If you die as a non-Muslim, it is like playing the game of roulette in which you put all of your chips(all of your life, including your deeds and your particular belief in God) on only one number, just hoping that perhaps by the Mercy of God, you will enter Paradise on Judgement Day. In contrast, if you die as a good Muslim, it is like spreading your chips all over the roulette board, so that every number is covered. In this way, no matter what number the ball falls on, you’re safe. In other words, living and dying as a good Muslim is the best insurance you will not go to Hell, and at the same time, it is the best investment that you’ll go to Paradise.” As a former resident of Las Vegas, I could directly relate to this poignant example with the game of roulette. 


At this point, I understood I would not find the truth until I established a relationship with God. That being the case, I decided to concentrate on those religions in which God had sent revelation to His prophets and messengers. Hence, I chose to continue my search for the truth through Judeo-Christianity and Islam.


Christianity and Islam in Focus

Even though I grew up as a Christian, I had been bewildered about Christianity. I felt like I inherited a mysterious religion beyond understanding. I believe it was for this reason that I was a Christian by name but not in practice. Furthermore, I realized my confusion about Christian beliefs caused me to be in a state of non-religiousness. Nonetheless, while I was searching for the truth, I had a chance to sincerely re-examine those beliefs I inherited from my parents, yet never bothered to fully scrutinize. 


Through booklets, cassettes and videotapes on Christianity produced by Muslims and non-Muslims, I surprisingly found out about hundreds of verses in the Bible which reveal a lack of harmony in Christian beliefs. According to these materials, God was One prior to Jesus(peace be upon him; pbuh). Likewise, Jesus(pbuh) propagated the belief in One God. However, after Jesus(pbuh), Christianity emphasized the Trinity instead of the Oneness of God. Also, before Jesus(pbuh), God was without sons and equals. Similarly, Jesus(pbuh) said he was God’s messenger, whereas after his time, Christianity stressed that Jesus(pbuh) is God’s son or God Himself. 


Regarding monotheism, the first of the Ten Commandments upholds Jesus’(pbuh) assertion for the belief in One God, “…Here, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29)1 Likewise, there is a plethora of verses in the Bible that refute the divinity of Jesus(pbuh). For example, Jesus(pbuh) admitted he could not do miracles independently, but only by the Will and permission of God.2 Interestingly, it says in the Bible that Jesus(pbuh) prayed.3 I asked myself, “How can Jesus(pbuh) be God and pray to God at the same time?” A praying God is a contradiction. Additionally, Jesus(pbuh) states that his teachings are not his own, but those of the One who sent him.4 Logically, if what he says is not his own, he is just a prophet receiving revelation from God like those before (and after) him. Moreover, Jesus(pbuh) admits that he does what he is taught by God.5 Again, I asked myself, “How can Jesus(pbuh) be taught and be God at the same time?” In my discussions with Muslims, they concurred with what Jesus(pbuh) commanded with respect to the belief in only One God, as in the following Qur’anic verse: Say, “He is God, [Who is] One.” (112:1) 6 


Apparently, there were many modifications made contrary to what Jesus(pbuh) said or did. One of these is the concept of Trinity in which Jesus(pbuh) is one of the three manifestations of the Trinitarian God [the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost].7 In the Bible, this verse was given as the best proof for the Doctrine of Trinity, even though this doctrine was never put forth by Jesus (pbuh), his disciples, or early Christian scholars. In fact, it was formulated by Athanasius, an Egyptian deacon from Alexandria, in the year 325 CE(Christian Era) at the Council of Nicea. Interestingly, this verse has been expunged from the Bibles of the modern age. In addition, the Qur’an warns the Jews and Christians to refrain from disbelieving in the revelation of God and against believing in the Trinity.8 


I was also informed about the verses in the Bible which refer to Jesus(pbuh) as a prophet of God.9 Likewise, I learned about the Islamic view of Jesus(pbuh) which is that he is a prophet and messenger of God as in the following Qur’anic verse: [Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of God. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.” (19:30) 10 Another common belief in Christianity is that Jesus(pbuh) is the son of God. According to the Bible, it was customary to call any prophet of God, or righteous man, a son of God.11 Jesus(pbuh) called himself the son of man, not God or God’s literal son.12 Evidently, Paul of Tarsus, who was transformed from a persecutor of Christianity to a preacher for Jesus(pbuh), was most responsible for elevating the status of Jesus(pbuh) to the son of God, thereby distorting his teachings.13 


What’s more, Jesus(pbuh) did not appear to be the ‘begotten’ son of God (as it used to say in John 3:16) since this word has been cancelled from the Revised Standard Version (RSV), as well as many other new versions of the Bible. Furthermore, God emphatically says in the Qur’an that He does not have a son.14 However, God also declared that He created Adam(pbuh) and Jesus(pbuh): “Indeed, the example of Jesus to God is like that of Adam. He created him from dust; then He said to him “Be”, and he was.” (3:59) 15 


A related area of controversy I read about was ‘original sin’ and salvation through ‘the crucifixion’ of Jesus(pbuh). Presumably, before Jesus(pbuh), there was no ‘original sin’. However, after Jesus(pbuh), ‘original sin’ appeared. Moreover, before Jesus(pbuh), salvation was obtained by obedience to God, whereas after Jesus(pbuh), salvation was achieved through his crucifixion-so they said. 


In Christianity, the belief in ‘original sin’ is the justification for having salvation through the crucifixion of Jesus(pbuh).16 Nevertheless, I found out that this concept is strongly negated in the Old Testament.17 It seems this principle may have been designed as a way for its believers to eschew their accountability of sins before God on Judgement Day.18 It was brought to my attention that, according to Jesus(pbuh), man is saved through obedience and submission to God.19 Correspondingly, in the Qur’an, every soul is compensated for what it earns.20 However, it seems that Paul changed this maxim, making salvation through the crucifixion of Jesus(pbuh).21 


Central to this doctrine is Paul’s notion that mankind is a race of wrong-doers, who have inherited Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit. As a result of this ‘original sin’, man cannot serve as his own redeemer since good deeds are of no benefit, says Paul, for even these cannot satisfy the justice of God.22 However, nowhere in the four Gospels did Jesus(pbuh) explicitly state that he would allow himself to be crucified to save mankind from sin. When approached by a man who asked what he could do to gain eternal life, Jesus(pbuh) told him to obey the Commandments,23 i.e., God’s law. When a lawyer asked a similar question, Jesus(pbuh) told him to love God and his fellow man.24 


Furthermore, if this theory were an integral part of God’s ‘Divine Plan’ in which Jesus(pbuh) was supposed to offer himself willingly to be crucified to redeem humanity, why did Jesus(pbuh) request help from God before the soldiers came to arrest him?: “… Father, save me from this hour.” (John 12:27) and “My father, if it be possible, may this cup(death) be taken from me.” (Matthew 26:39) Likewise, why does the Bible say that Jesus(pbuh) cried out in a loud voice beseeching God for help on the cross: “… My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) In addition, how could Jesus(pbuh) have been crucified for the sake of all humans when he was sent only to the Children of Israel?25 The Qur’an says they did not kill or crucify him, but it was someone else who was made to look like him.26 This may explain the appearance of Jesus(pbuh) to his disciples after the crucifixion. If he had really died on the cross, then he would have come to his disciples in a spiritual body.27 As shown in Luke 24:30, 36-43; John 20:17, Jesus(pbuh) met them with his physical body after the event of his alleged crucifixion. Accordingly, I learned it was Paul who taught the resurrection of Jesus(pbuh).28 Paul also admitted the resurrection was his own gospel.29 


I came across many sources indicating that Paul and others were frustrated by the Jewish rejection of the message of Jesus(pbuh), so they extended their call to the Gentiles, thereby disregarding a direct command from Jesus(pbuh) against preaching to other than a Jew.30 They reached into southern Europe, where polytheism and idolatry were spreading. Gradually, the message of Jesus(pbuh) was modified to suit the tastes and traditions of the Romans and Greeks of those days.31 Consequently, Paul clearly shifted the center of worship away from God by saying that Jesus was the divine medium of their salvation.32 In so doing, Paul set aside all of God’s teachings to His prophets, and even the tenet of monotheism itself, since God in Christianity needs Jesus(pbuh) as His divine ‘helper’. 


The Bible warns against adding or removing information from its teachings, which is evidently what happened.33 God addresses this point in the Qur’an as well, “So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from God,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.” (2:79) 34 


Some of the Christian scholars of recent times even admit that the original Christianity brought by Jesus(pbuh) [Judeo-Christianity] was gradually replaced by Pauline-Christianity. 


1. The Encyclopedia Britannica gives an assessment of Paul which states: 


“One group amongst the writers, represented for example by W. Wrede, who were by no means opposed to Paul, opine that Paul changed Christianity to such an extent that he has become its second founder. In reality he is the founder of that ‘church Christianity’ which is totally different from the Christianity brought by Jesus. They say that ‘follow Jesus or follow Paul, but both cannot be followed simultaneously’.” 35 


2. Even though Von Loewinch is an avid supporter of Paul, he endorses the following statement of W. Wrede: 


“Paul separated Christianity from Judaism and gave it a distinct form. Hence he is the creator of those churches which were built in the name of Jesus.” 36 


3. Von Loewinch continues by saying: 


“If there were no Paul, then Christianity would have been a sect of Judaism, and would not have been a universal religion.” 37 


4. Foakes Jackson, a supporter and biographer of Paul, says: 


“If there were no Paul, Christianity would have been different. And if there were no Jesus, Christianity would not have been possible.” 38 


It became apparent that the mission of Jesus was not, therefore, to set up a new method of achieving salvation, much less the founding of a new system of belief; as even the Bible points out, Jesus(pbuh) sought only to reinforce the belief in One God39 while taking the Jews from their emphasis on ritual back to that of righteousness.40 


I finally determined that the Christian perception of God is very illogical indeed: God becomes man, which He created, and then allows himself to suffer and die as a sacrifice at the hands of his very own creation to cleanse mankind of sin inherited from Adam(pbuh) and his descendants. Belief in this concept became the source of salvation according to the Church. However, if this creed is the prerequisite for everlasting life, why didn’t all the prophets teach it? Why didn’t God become man in the time of Adam(pbuh) and his offspring so that all mankind would have an equal chance to attain everlasting life in Heaven? Likewise, what about those people who never heard of Jesus(pbuh)? 


Correspondingly, the Muslim position is that the Christian view of God and Jesus(pbuh) is repudiated as blasphemy, as in the following Qur’anic verse: “O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion{such as attributing divine qualities to certain creations of God or revering them excessively} or say about God except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of God and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul[created at a command] from Him. So believe in God and His messengers. And do not say ”Three”; desist- it is better for you. Indeed, God is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is God as Disposer of Affairs.” (4:171) 41 


The Muslims believe that Jesus did not die since he was raised up to Heaven by God, body and soul.42 They also believe he will return to earth prior to Judgement Day43 to destroy the false doctrines that pass under his name and pave the way for the universal acceptance of Islam before his death. Furthermore, on Judgement Day Jesus(pbuh) will proclaim there is no deity but God as shown in the following Qur’anic verses: “And [beware the Day] when God will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides God?’ ” He will say, “ Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You Who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me- to worship God, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them; but when you took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.” (5:116-117) Moreover, God says in the Qur’an that if any people of the Scriptures do not believe that Jesus(pbuh) was a Messenger of God and a human being before their death, Jesus(pbuh) will be a witness against them on the Day of Resurrection.44 


Acquiring more knowledge of Christianity and Islam gave me a direct insight into some of the correct and incorrect pieces of ‘the purpose of puzzle’. Therefore, in trying to solve this puzzle, I continued my search for the truth by exploring Islam more thoroughly. This investigation involved reading the Qur’an, learning about the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and studying some Islamic materials produced by Muslim scholars. All of this commenced however, with a last look at the Bible.

1 Response so far
  1. fatima Said,

    JazakAllah may Allah guide and keep you on path of Truth Ameen very touching and with enightning

    Posted on August 16th, 2010 at 2:41 am

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