From the time Al was three, he was taught that Islam was the only religion acceptable to Allah. To deny that carried severe consequences. “I used to get terrified that Allah might punish me just for doubting some of his commands,” Al shares. “I began to realize at a very young age that there is no hope for me as a Muslim to attain any acceptance from my god that I’m worshipping unless I do and accumulate a lot of good deeds that are worthy.”
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Daily prayers, giving to the poor and fasting were thought to increase one’s chances of getting into heaven. But the only sure way to get into heaven was through the ultimate gift to Allah. “I knew that if I were to go die for the cause of this fight to promote Islam and justice for Islam, that’s the only time my sins will be forgiven,” Al says. “I will go straight not just to heaven, but to the highest level of heaven which is paradise. Why not go with what is guaranteed and that is to die?”
Fifteen-year-old Al set out to train for jihad. His hero was a man who had gone to school three blocks away: Osama bin Laden. “I really admired his courage to basically be willing to leave the wealth of his family for the sake of proving that ‘I’m here to fight and die for the god that I worship,’” Al recalls.
Al wanted to join Osama and his ‘fighters for god’ in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion in the 80’s, but his parents forbade him to go. He knew the prophet Mohammed said to seek parental permission to become a jihadist. He also knew disobedience might cost him the reward of heaven. “That was terrifying to me: I go and lose my life for nothing,” Al says. “So I convinced myself that I’ll just stay behind and keep on growing and maturing in Islam, and become more and more knowledgeable about it.”
So Al memorized half the Quran and at 16, he was allowed to lead prayers in the mosque. His parents encouraged him to continue his education at an American graduate school, which would lead him right into ‘enemy territory.’ “So I was kind of really nervous,” Al remembers. “There was this danger that I would be drawn away from the path that I’m taking which is the rigid Islamic path that I wanted.”
So Al came to the U.S. with the mission to convert Americans to Islam.”Islam says that anyone who doesn’t follow Islam is almost like a slave that you are basically freeing from slavery that’s he’s in,” he reveals. “What if I have a mission to go and invite people to accept Islam?
Through an international student welcome program, Al befriended an American family to learn more about American culture and to hone his English language skills. He also believed that just by virtue of their relationship, the family would convert to Islam. But it wasn’t that simple, because this family was Christian.
“That was to me, was very baffling because I am asking myself, ‘Where did they get this moral value from?’” Al shares. “I’m being taught their Bible is corrupt.
I almost felt like a spiritual midget compared to them, that I am lacking something.”
Al Fadi began to doubt his faith. “I already was realizing that Islam really may not be the religion that I grew up thinking that it was,” he says.
Several years later, Al completed his graduate degree and got a job in the United States. He was confounded again by the strong faith of a Christian co-worker and his family. “This might be my oppurtunity now to open the door for Islam to be introduced to them.” Al shares.
The dialogue began with the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”
Al says, “Now I am thinking as a Muslim, ‘He is talking about following a prophet, and this prophet is Jesus. So why is it that by following this prophet Jesus he was transformed this way? Yet I’m following the best of prophets, whos is the prophet of Islam, Mohammad, yet I’m still feeling the same inner ache.’ I began to realize that Jesus was the central person, and character and point in their life; that he was the source of the change.”
Al’s doubts about Islam became overwhelming when he saw the unconscionable crimes committed by Islamic jihadists– and his hero Osama Bin Laden– on September 11, 2001. Al recalls, “To watch people willing to go that far to take with them hundreds of lives… these are innoncent people who have nothing to do with a war.”
For a time, Al stopped practicing the rituals of Islam. “I stopped going to a mosque, I stopped reading the Quran, I stopped praying,” he admits.
Several months later, he began his spiritual quest again. He decided to visit a Christian church to disprove the claims of Christianity. “Knowing full well that it’s a huge sin for a Muslim person to go to a church, I began a comparison process,” Al remembers. “I looked at the Quran, compared it to the Bible. I looked at the person of Christ, and after six months I fell in love with this Jesus. I could not resist the compelling evidence. and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my heart and the Gospel message that I heard over and over again. The God of the Bible loved me and sent His Son to die for me. The god of the Quran never did that for me. The Holy Spirit just gave me the courage to get down on my knees and pray, and ask Him to become my Lord and Savior. What a huge relief becuase never had I felt that freedom inside of me as I felt at that moment, that ‘I love You Lord to follow You, but I don’t feel any pressure on me from You to do things, becuase You obviously have done it already for me.’”
Today, Al Fadi has a new mission: to tell other Muslims about Jesus Christ. His latest book is The Quran Dilemma. “He’s a personal God that will lead you by the hand, that will love you enough to where He is so patient and waiting for you, knocking on your door asking you to consider allowing Him in,” Al shares. “I want my fellow Muslims to just please give the message of Christ a chance. Pray and ask the real God, the true God, to reveal Himself to you. And I assure youthat He will do that if you are seeking Him with all your heart.”