If I Should Speak, page 13
“Modern day Christians go on to say that those who worship God alone and associate no partners with Him, namely the Muslims, will burn eternally in Hell for the grave ‘sin’ of not worshipping Prophet Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They further claim that the Prophet Jesus, a messenger of God, called people to worship him along with God, although not a single verse or quote from Jesus exists in the Bible to substantiate such a claim (rather, this inference is drawn based on human interpretation of ambiguous texts). They also teach that this is the entire purpose of Prophet Jesus coming to earth, yet no such claims come from Jesus himself.”
As Tamika read, she was dumbfounded, fumbling for an intelligent rebuttal, finding none. What could she say?
“Some substantiate this claim of Jesus’ divinity by referring to the miracles that he performed. However, every messenger of God performed miracles with the permission of God for the purpose of making it undeniably clear that the message with which they were sent was true and that they were not false messengers. The proof of this fact can still be found in the Bible, which quotes Jesus as saying, ‘Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe’ (John, 4:48).
“God confirms in the Qur’an that the miracles are merely signs from God when He quotes Jesus as saying what can be translated to mean, ‘I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by God’s leave; and I declare to you what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a Sign for you if you did believe.’ (Ali’Imraan, 3:49). ”
She held the pamphlet, almost trembling at what was before her. Her heart sank and began to race, pounding uncomfortably in her chest, and she could almost feel it in her throat. She read on, reading passage after passage from the Bible itself, where it was reporting statements from Jesus himself that proved his lack of divinity:
“‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own’ (John, 7:16). ‘I have not come on my own, but he sent me. Why is not my language clear to you?’ (John, 8:42-43) ‘By myself I can do nothing’ (John, 5:30). ”
The section ended, leaving Tamika feeling shamefully bare, stripped of her beliefs—of her self. The words were saying what her heart had cried for years but what her mind had been unable to admit:
“Would it not be an amazing, misleading thing for God to do, Who is High above such misleading, to first tell humans through Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others to worship Him alone as the only path to Heaven, then change His message entirely when He sends His prophet Jesus, by calling people to worship a man along with Him as the only path to Heaven, rendering the earlier message of the prophets the path to Hell? Perhaps those who believe such an enormity, which accuses God of both lying and changing His ‘mind,’ should refer to the Bible, which still contains the following passage: ‘God is not a man, that he should not lie, nor is he the son of man, that he should change his mind’(Numbers, 23:19). ”
The words stung, penetrating Tamika’s heart and mind, and internally, she submitted to the truth. She was too weak to fight it anymore. It was futile to deny or oppose it any longer. She had been wrong. Islam was true after all. Tamika did not need anymore convincing, but she read on anyway:
“In summarizing this section on Christianity, it is best to end it as God has stated in His final revealed book, the Qur’an, the translation of which is as follows, ‘The truth (comes) from your Lord alone, so be not of those who doubt’ (Ali ‘Imran, 3:60). ”
Doubt. No, Tamika no longer had that. She knew. She was certain. It was staring her in the face. And although her heart and mind already submitted, she was not ready to face the truth, not yet. That would mean too many things, far too many things that she did not want to acknowledge. Maybe later, but not then. She only wanted to know, what next for her?
“Why You Should Be a Muslim,” the title of the section stood out, inviting. Should she read it? Could she handle a final blow, one that could possibly drain the very life from her?
It did not matter then, she realized. She had read too much already. What would more do other than confirm what she now already knew?
“Islam, without a doubt, is not in need of people,” she read. “Rather, people are in need of Islam.” She sighed, feeling weak, knowing God was watching her, waiting to see what she would do…
“...By becoming Muslim, each person returns to the religion that God intended for every human being, and the person returns to the religion practiced by Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and all of the other prophets and messengers. Furthermore, by becoming a Muslim, a person enters into the only form of worship that God will accept. A translation of what God says in the Qur’an is as follows, ‘If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who lost [all spiritual good]’ (Ali ‘Imran, 3:85).”
Lost? Tamika did not want to lose everything she had dreamed about and hoped for. She had always felt an eagerness for something more, this life having brought with it too much pain…
“Thus the reason why each person should become a Muslim becomes clear. Islam is the only path through which a person can avoid the ultimate loss in the Hereafter, which is eternal Hell Fire. When one accepts Islam and dies a Muslim, he is guaranteed Heaven. Whereas if a person dies a non-Muslim, he is guaranteed an eternal abode in Hell Fire, if he had heard of Islam while alive...”
...She had certainly heard. There was no chance for her except to submit...
“...A Muslim who dies a sinner may enter Hell Fire for purification if God chooses to place him there, but he will not remain there forever, on account of having fulfilled the minimal requirement that God has mandated for the human being to enter Heaven, which is dying a Muslim. On the contrary, no matter how much good a non-Muslim does, no matter how much a non-Muslim claims to love God, he will never enter Heaven, because a mere acceptance of God’s existence and a claimed love of Him is not enough to earn God’s mercy. God says in the Qur’an, ‘Say, (O Muhammad, to the people), ‘If you love God, follow me. God will love you and forgive you your sins. For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful’(Ali ‘Imraan, 3:31), and ‘As for those who disbelieve and die as disbelievers, never will be accepted from any (of them) such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is (in store) a penalty grievous, and they will have no helpers’ (Ali ‘Imraan, 3:91). God also says, ‘Those who disbelieve, hinder men from the path of God, and resist the Messenger after guidance has been clearly shown to them will not injure God in the least, but He will make their deeds of no effect’ (Al-Shoora, 42:32)...”
O Lord! Tamika’s heart cried, terrified. She did not want to be of those people!
“...Obedience to God’s Messenger is the only form of love that God accepts from His creatures, and this is fulfilled only through becoming Muslim, a person who not only claims to believe in and love God but who illustrates that love by submitting completely to and worshipping Him as God wishes, not as the person chooses for himself.”
Tamika began to ponder how she had come to learn all of this. How was it that she had come to live with Dee and Aminah? Luck? Coincidence? She doubted it. She had always believed that everything happened for a reason, a predefined purpose, planned by none other than God. Then why was she handed this pamphlet? After being kicked out of her room, she had thought matters could get no worse. But they had. She was now at risk of losing her soul…to Hell. Eternally.
“How To Become a Muslim,” the next section was titled. She wanted to put down the pamphlet, but she could not. God would not accept this, she knew. It was too late, the answer now literally in her hands:
“A person becomes Muslim by testifying, Laa ilaaha illa
“…This testimony of faith does not need to be done in public; nor does it need to be done in Arabic, although this is preferable. One may say it in his or her own native language whenever he or she can, but it should be done at the person’s first opportunity (although it will still be valid later), even if it is said aloud in the privacy of one’s own room...”
Tamika glanced up, looking around the room. Aminah was now in the bedroom, and Tamika could hear her moving about. Should she go ahead and say it? Her hands trembled. She was scared, uncertain, but she knew she should. She opened her mouth to start to say it, but she stopped herself. I can’t, she weakened. I’m not ready.
There were so many questions she still had, about covering, singing, women and men’s relationship, marriage, and many other things. She was not ready to give up everything. She did not doubt it was right and worth it—for what were those things compared to one’s soul? But not just yet, she told herself, not now. Besides, she reasoned, she knew nothing of how to pray or anything.
“…Furthermore, a person does not have to know how to pray...”
What was she reading!
“ ...or how to perform any other required act of the Muslim before making the testimony, and a person should not wait to become Muslim in order to learn these requirements. The only requirement for reciting these words is that a person knows, accepts, and sincerely believes that God alone deserves to be worshipped and that His last Messenger is Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, meanwhile understanding and accepting that he or she must obey God and His Messenger after the testimony, which is an agreement between a person and his or her Lord. However, after the testimony, the person is required to do his or her best to learn what is required so that the person may fulfill the requirements to the best of his or her ability...”
Tamika fit those requirements, did she not? Something egged her on, pushing her to say it, but something else pulled at her telling her no, she was not ready. After wrestling with herself for a few minutes, she submitted to the latter. What would she say to her mother, her family? To Makisha? They would think she had gone nuts. They would never understand. No, she was not ready. She would have to wait until she had enough courage to tell them…
“...For no one knows when he or she will die...,” the words warned her... “and delaying the testimony can be detrimental to one’s very soul…” Tamika did not want that.
“…because if someone dies after hearing of Islam but never accepting it, he or she will never enter Paradise (Heaven) and rather, the person will abide in Hell Fire forever for neglecting the most basic requirement of human existence on this earth, which is the complete submission to the will of God, which is only achieved through Islam.”
“It makes sense and all,” Tamika admitted to Aminah that night during an interview session for her paper, sparked mostly by what she had read earlier. “I just don’t know about some things.”
Aminah, who had inquired about Tamika’s opinion on what she had read, nodded, listening, as Tamika’s concerns were common for those studying about Islam. “Like what things?”
Tamika contorted her face and replied, “Like dressing up in all those clothes and wearing a sheet on my head.”
Aminah smiled complacently, unstirred by the comment, having grown accustomed to non-Muslims’ displeasure with Muslim dress. “In Islam,” she explained, “the Muslim woman’s body is private, her personal business, a beauty enjoyed by her husband.”
“But why can’t she wear what she wants?”
“She wears what God wants,” Aminah replied simply. “Like the owner of any entity decides what its workers wear, God decides what His creatures wear.” She paused. “You actually can wear what you want,” she clarified so as to not be misunderstood, “so long as it fits God’s conditions.” She compared, “Just like any institution, like school, stipulates conditions for dress, and so long as your choice does not violate the basic code, you’re fine.”
Tamika understood, but she did not want to, frantically searching her mind for any excuse for it to be wrong.
Aminah continued, “Anyway, the Muslim woman views her body somewhat like you may view your money. If you had lots of money, would you pin it all over your clothes or put it in a transparent bag and walk down the street?”
“No,” Tamika replied, chuckling.
“Why? Because it’s valuable to you,” Aminah answered her own question. “And it’s not that you think that everyone is a criminal that makes you tuck your money away,” she pointed out. “It’s just in case someone is, it’s protected. Or,” she added, “it may be in case the sight of the money may tempt a person to take it, even if he is not a criminal. Similarly,” she compared, “our body is valuable to us, and we don’t flaunt our body, just like you don’t flaunt your money. Like your money, our body is ours, used and enjoyed only by those who are supposed to enjoy it. We don’t desire to flaunt our body any more than you desire to flaunt your wealth.” She paused then added, “Because we,” she said, distinguishing the Muslim women from others, “value our body.”
Tamika nodded, understanding. “But can’t you just dress modestly then?”
“Who defines what’s modest?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Whatever society you live in or your culture.”
“And if I live in a nudist colony?”
Tamika laughed. “That’s extreme.”
“Not for those who live there,” Aminah pointed out. “It’s the custom there to be nude.” she argued, “So does that make putting on a string bikini modest?”
“No,” Tamika replied emphatically, chuckling at the ridiculousness of the example.
“But says who?”
She shrugged again. “It’s obvious.”
She gave up, not knowing what to say.
“The point is that there has to be a line drawn somewhere,” Aminah stated finally. “And who has a better right to draw that line than the One who created us?”
Tamika was silent.
“Anyway,” Aminah continued, “The dress of Muslim women should not be strange to people, especially Christians.” She explained, “This has always been the dress of religious women,” she pointed out. “Even during Prophet Moses’ and Jesus’ time and before that.”
“How do we know that though?” Tamika asked with skepticism.
“Well,” Aminah replied calmly, smiling, “we know because Islam has been the religion of humans since the time of Adam. But even Christians acknowledge that women covered similar to how Muslims do.”
“Christians don’t believe that,” Tamika contended.
“Well, look at the nuns.”
“They’re not Christians. They’re Catholic.”
“Still,” Aminah insisted, “why do they dress like that?”
Tamika shrugged, not caring. “I don’t know.”
“First of all,” Aminah stated, “the Bible says women should cover their head.” She paused, and upon noticing Tamika’s disagreeable expression, suggested, “Look in II Corinthians. But anyway,” she continued, “the nuns dress like that because they know that the religion commands women to cover themselves, except what’s generally acceptable to uncover, like face and hands.” She went on, “And it was only recently that even in America women dress like they do. There was a time, not too long ago, that a woman was considered ‘fast’ if she even showed her ankles.”
Yeah, Tamika had read about that.
“It’s the recent so called Sexual Revolution that called for the indecency of women and their sexual exploitation,” Aminah explained. “And one of the things these people called for was the undressing of women.” Aminah breathed, “But anyway, even w
“But still,” Tamika contended, unsure what her argument would be. “I don’t agree with all of that stuff. I mean,” she admitted, “there are a lot things about Islam I understand and can deal with. But,” she wrinkled her nose and shook her head with displeasure, “some of it, I just can’t get with.”
“Well,” Aminah interjected calmly from her place near Tamika on the couch. “The way I look at it is like this,” she began, eyes intent, serious. “I don’t search for a religion that I agree with, or one that fits my lifestyle.” She paused, letting the words sink in. “I search for what God’s religion is, and then,” she raised her voice slightly, underscoring her point, “I change my opinions and lifestyle to fit that.”
Tamika was silent, speechless.
“‘Cause we’re all going to come across things in life that we don’t like or agree with, but even as young as we are, we know that many of those things turned out to be true after we learned a few things about life. And what did we do? Did we stick to what we thought? Or did we just change our thinking to fit reality?”
She did not respond, unable to, incapable of arguing with Aminah. “But I don’t know,” Tamika insisted stubbornly, not wanting to give up what she loved. “Why can’t women sing?”
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