The Islamist Who Studied God’s Word

01 June 2024

Mohammed never fully understood the Koran as a boy. Even later in life, after studying the book and becoming a religious leader at his local mosque in Uganda, he struggled to understand the text.

“I must admit that even as an imam, I didn’t always understand what it was that I was teaching the people in the mosque,” Mohammed said.

In 2020, when he was about 60 years old, local Islamic leaders sent Mohammed to join a Muslim movement known as Dawah that defends and advances Islam, sometimes by force. While Uganda is a majority-Christian nation, Islam is growing in border regions where militant Islamic groups often operate.

Mohammed’s selection to Dawah was seen as a great honour in his community. Many Muslims in Uganda believe Dawah upholds the purest form of Islam, and one can only join the group after being invited.

Dawah’s primary focus is training students in jihad, or holy war. According to Mohammed, participants are taught how to bomb churches and how to attack and kill Christians. They are also forced to study the Koran and the Bible so they can contrast the teachings of the two books and persuade others that Islam is the only true religion.

Mohammed’s teachers taught him how to interpret certain Bible verses in different ways so they could be used to persuade Christians that the Bible isn’t true. But he wondered why they would need to twist the meaning of the texts to argue with Christians. If the Bible was false, he thought, it would already be obviously corrupt.

Confused, Mohammed continued studying the Bible. In his reading, he came across a passage that explicitly ordered people not to kill others. This astonished him because he had been taught, especially within Dawah, that killing Christians would help him get to heaven.

“In my heart, I had always felt it was wrong to kill other people,” he said, “and now here is a God who tells his people this very thing. At that time, I knew I wanted to follow the God of the Bible.”

Mohammed knew that becoming a Christian would be difficult. He had previously taught others that according to sharia, or Islamic law, an Islamic leader who becomes a Christian must be executed.

“I knew that at any time I could be beheaded,” Mohammed said. “I was scared of that, but I was also trusting in the Lord and that the Lord would protect me.”

Mohammed tried to leave his position at the mosque quietly, but many people still learned of his conversion. One day, a group of 10 men confronted him and asked why he had decided to leave Islam to follow Jesus Christ. After hearing how Mohammed arrived at his decision, the men also came to faith in Christ. Soon, word began to spread that Mohammed was converting Muslims to Christianity.

Days later, as Mohammed walked into town to buy groceries, an old friend approached him from behind and put his hand on Mohammed’s shoulder. “Today, we are going to cut off your head,” the man said.

“Do whatever it is that you will,” Mohammed replied. Six other men then arrived and began to beat Mohammed. “It felt like 10 minutes went by as I was rolling around in the dirt while they punched and kicked me,” Mohammed recalled. “They all began shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and I knew it was my time to die. But before one of them could unsheathe a machete to cut off my head, a group of Christians who were passing by on the street began fighting with them, pulling them away from me.”

When police arrived, they took Mohammed and the other Christian men to a local hospital, where Mohammed recovered for seven days before returning home.

Preferring to show his attackers the love and peace of Christ, Mohammed dropped all charges against the men who beat him. Christian leaders at his church then sent him to a discipleship training school for six months while tensions subsided in his home town.

“I have learned many things,” Mohammed said, “but for me, the biggest thing I took away from that time was how I needed to forgive my enemies.”

After completing the discipleship course and returning home in 2021, Mohammed was surprised by the gift of a simple, new house that church members had built on a plot of land for him and his family. The land has allowed him to raise animals and grow crops for his family to sell at the market.

Today, Mohammed manages his family’s small farm and now raises his three children by himself since his wife’s death several years ago. He still winces when he touches his right hip, a painful reminder of the beating he endured at the hands of his former Muslim friends. His passion for Christ is evident to those around him, as he shares the gospel with as many people as possible.

Mohammed recently started serving as a part-time preacher at his church. He also occasionally visits other churches to preach and share his testimony of how God’s Word led him out of a violent Islamist organisation and into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In addition, he teaches believers how to study the Bible and how to help Muslims understand the eternal truth of God’s Word.

“I know a lot of tricks [the Muslims use], but now I can defend the gospel even better,” Mohammed said. “I am aware that they might still try to hunt me down, but I am already an old man. I will share the truth with all I can meet so that [if I am killed], at least some would have accepted the Lord.”

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    2 responses to “The Islamist Who Studied God’s Word”

    1. Chris says:

      Praise the Lord! May he keep growing his kingdom in and through you and those around you.

    2. Trudy says:

      Remember that suffering for the Lord will end in triumph!

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