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Deacon Emad Al-Mahdi

Today story is about a friend whom I cherish his friendship.  They wanted him to become a priest, and God wanted him to be a dedicated advocate in the service of Islam. He is Brother Emad Samir Jet, known as Emad al-Mahdi.

Emad has been born in Egypt to an Orthodox religious family. His parents have been keen to make him and his sister «Hiba»permanent featuresof the church. They wanted them to seek refuge within its sanctity under the steamingfog of incense. The (dull confession - communion - hymns and prayers) were conducted in the Coptic language which Emaddid not understand a single word. In any case, he was keen oncoming to the church and attends lessons.He has been driven to attend by the pastor’s small gifts given to him and his peers, which they have enjoyed immensely.Emad trip to Islam began when his mother started watching episodes of Sheikh Mohammed Mutuwalli on television. The talk of the Sheikh grips theheart, and converses with the mind. She used to follow his programs eagerly; these facts lead her to listen to the Qur’an.  She used to comment often about its verse saying that this verse is sweet, and that is convincing, and so on.

In that year,Ramadan has come coinciding to the fasting of the Christian Virgin, which extends fifteen days. Emad’s momabstained from eating foodfor thirty days, and broke her fast only after sunset. However, the Christian breakfast time starts with the first star appearance in the sky; few minutes before sunset. Their abstentionhas been limited; they must refrain from eating anything extracted from the animals.

Emad wondered no more about his mother’s conduct; she confided in him the news of her secret conversion to Islam. Suddenly, she ran away from home, and vanished from sight, later, shepublicly announced embracing Islam. No sooner the news of her conversion has spread; then,waves of insults and vilification were hurled at her.Furthermore, she has been subjected to slander, denigration and stultification for disbelieving in the Messiah. The Church claims she has lost eternal salvation as a result of leavingher home, her children and her husband.

When Emad has heard insults leveled at his mother within the family,he has been deeply hurt. However, the worst has yet to come on Tuesday. Along with his peers, regularly, he used to attendreligious lectures dedicated to the Coptic Church Youth.On that particular day, the pastor has looked atEmadruefully,his voice hiding subtle deception; he mumbled: The mother of our brother Emadhas forsaken Christ. She was involved in a moral case, and languishing in jail now.This is a divine punishment against her for leaving the religion of Christ!

The world has turned gloomy in the eyes of Emadand his heart almoststopped; everyone around was staring at him.The earth hasn’t fulfilled his wish to swallow himalone among his class colleagues.He has imagined telling himself something he has heard before: “Ah! I wish that I had died before this! And I would have been a thing forgotten and out of sight!”This is the verse 23 from Sura Mariam.

Emad left the church his chest seething like a volcano.Various concerns and thoughts were bubbling in his unsettled imagination. Shall he visit the prison to kill that one who made him the laughing stockamong his companions? Or shall he be grateful to her motherhood? His steps on the pavement were heavy and unhurried, telling the tale of his loss and sorrow.

From the depth of desperation, came a tender voice that lifted him from his stupor.  And a word he has always enjoyed hearing: (O governor). It was his cherished mother, in her kindest tone, which used to call him by that name. However, this time a veiled woman has called out his soubriquet. She has beenawaiting his exit from the church, longing to see him. Few momentsonly were needed to extinguish the raging volcano within his heart, and all sorrow has receded. Flood of tears of a mother embracing her son exploded to refute the false claims that Emad had heard from pastor at the church.

Emad’s mother gave her son her new home address;five dayslater, he visited her there. In a poignant scene, she made him listen to verses from Sura Al-Ikhlas. He saw her prayer and witnessed herabsolute submission to her Lord.“That situation was beyond description; it left a great impression on me.I wished to sit on the ground, and kissmy mother’sfeetduring her prayer. I felt something wash my heart.Serenity, love and strange emotion entered my heart,and a new spirithas takenmy body.”

Tuesday came around again. Emad made his way to the churchto listen to the lying priest as he preached young people. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing.At the end of his sermon, he didn’t miss the opportunity  to remind the gullible young students about the fate or Emad’s mother.He told them she betrayed Christ, and further claimed that yesterday visited her in the prison where she sits.

This time, Emadneithercared abouthis peers staring at him, nor was he afraid of facingthe liar who is clothed in religious garb.In a bold move, not used by the people of the church, Emad stood to inform everyone that their pastor is liar and a cheat. He told his listeners that he visited his mother yesterday, and that she is not in jail. Furthermore, he said, his mother has never committed animmoral crime. His mother has embraced Islam as her religion.

Emad fought his loneliness and grief, and decided to read the Bible beginning with Genesis. The longer he leafed through its pages, the more he grew distant from it. He wasstunned to read the story of Adam'shiding from God between the trees of paradise.In addition, the book stated that God walked in Paradise searching for him until hefound him.He asked:«and he said, "Wtold thee that you werenaked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that you shouldn’t consume?», Then He ordered the angels to guard the tree of life so as not to have Adam gain immortality the way he has gained divine knowledge: «and the LORD God said: Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:», the story ismentioned in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis.

One day, Emad asked his fellow Christians: What do you say about a man got drunk and consorted to his daughters? One said: an infidel!! The other said: He is the son of …! Of course, they were right.There is no sane or honorable or lowly person who will commit such an evil act.

Emad answered them: The Bible is ascribing this horror to one of the prophets. Lips have been pursed, and blank stares have filled the room. The group of students has been torn betweenskepticism, disbelief and doubt.Unfortunately, this is what the Bible in the Book of Genesis (19: 33-35) has been saying about the prophet of Allah Lot peace be upon him.

Emad then asked: Do you know,intellectualswhat our Bible says about Noah, peace be upon him?This 9/20-21time they kept quiet and did not dare to speak. So, quoting from Genesis,Emad began reciting to them what boggled their minds. «And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:And he drank of the wine, and was drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent. »

Days have passed when Emad stood up in class again. This time looking at the pastor he asked him: O Father... Can anyone see God?The pastor replied immediately: our Holy Bible says in (John 1/18): « God has ever seen ».Emad threw a challenging look and said: O Father, the Bible that has said: «God has not been seen by anyone» sayshoweverin the Book of Exodus (33/11): «The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his neighbor».

The pastor’s face turned red then yellow. He was about to thunder and foam, but he bottled his anger and said: «O Emad,stop your nonsense»!!! That was only his reply;he couldn’t find a convincing answer.

Emad astonishment intensifiedwhen he read the book of Psalms. In it, he found the prediction of Christ’sescape from crucifixion.  This was   contrary to what he has read in the Gospels about the nails that pierced the hands and legs of Christ.The Psalms contradict by saying: «Many are the afflictions of the righteous, and the Lord will spare himfrom them all, saves all his bones and none of them is broken. »(Psalm 34 / 19-20)how have all his bones been delivered while they were nails have punctured his hands and feet? This myth that is hard to believe.

Thus, the texts of the Bible led Emad away from Christianity. His faith has started to wither whenever he read the inconceivable news in it: «I came back to the Bible grabbed it, and still holding to it. My depression increased, and my sadness intensified. There were many question marks popping around me. Who is the speaker in all of this? Why thereare multiple conflicting accounts, and at times contradictory? Why this Book is filled with a lot of myths? I felt unusuallybored reading the Bible; and other question marks stated swarming in my mind ».

In the confessional booth in the church, Emadtold the priest: «There are many questions I will need answers for.There are questions in the Bible;I haven’t found an answer to them».

The pastor –like many of the Church’s people of the cloth- does not have an answer. He dallied by saying: «Promise me, O (Emad Effendi) to sit down together, and I will answer all your questions». At the end of this conversation, he gave him a cross of pure gold. He wanted to buy his conscience, so the yellow glitter of gold will dim thelightin his mind.

Emad’saudacity and candor and incandescent mind cost him dearly.The church has ruled that he and his sister will stay - say if you wishto be incarcerated for six months in the deacons’monasteryin the city of Bani Swaif.This harsh punishment subjected brother and sister to a psychological torment.He has been forced to receive Christianteachings, and also ordained deacon. It’s a rank in the church that will entitle its carrier to preach and help the priests in performing religious prayers and providing church services.

The church has moved Emad and sister to Minya. Theyhave stayed there for five months in what has been dubbed the house of grace- rather resentment as Emad calls it. He has tried to escape but was unable. However, every day spent in this prison increased further his desire to get away from Christianity.Such decision will render the dream of his captors to make him a priest into a mirage.

Upon receiving his son’s pleading   messagesEmad’s father took pity.He was begging him to save him and his sister from this distress. He brought them out of the house of grace (or indignation). The suffering of those five months has almost made him forget his mother. However,as soon as he came back to ask about her, and met her several times, he learned more about Islam from her and Sheikh Hussein Ahmed Aamer; the imam of the mosque next to her house.

e deacon invited Emad to exercise his dutyas a preacher to the  church’s flock. The stunt hasn’t lasted long;nine weekslater,he announced his conversion to Islam.A smooth transition took place, and Emad has joinedthe ranks of callers to Allah.Soon after, he started studying Islamic Shari’aavidly. His mentors were two highly respectedEgyptianscholars, namely Sheikh Muhammad Safwat Noureddine, and Sheikh Safwat Ash-Shawadfy (Allah has mercy on their souls). Since then, Emadnever ceased to confront the missionary work of the followers of his former faith. He is relentlessly inviting people to Islam through his tours and programs on the satellite channels.

I send aheartfelt greeting to brother Emad. IaskAllahfervently to make us practical tools in his service, guiding beacons to His divine religion and docile obedient to his commands.

Dr. Munqith Bin Mahmoud Al-Sakkar

Researcher at Muslim World League

Makkah

Translated by Sadok Salehi

Translator at Muslim World League

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