I was very pleased to write a guest post for Chad Bird’s blog. Previously I published a guest post at Gladys Ganiel’s blog, and I’m glad to follow that up with this one.
Chad asked me about conversion from Islam to Christianity. What did I think was at the core of the movements we are seeing today?
Here is the intro:
The first time I heard the Breeders was during an episode of Beavis and Butthead, that pinnacle of American civilization and culture. It was the video for their song Cannonball. I loved the austere, lo-fi, sparse production. I loved Kim Deal’s raspy but powerful voice. And, especially, the bass line implanted itself deep in my brain. While I don’t remember the insightful sociological analysis presented by Beavis and Butthead anymore, a love for the Breeders has stuck with me, and over the years as they have come out with new albums I have picked them up (or more recently, downloaded them). Cannonball is from their 1993 album, Last Splash. Their next full-length album was Title TK (2002), followed up by the 2008’s Mountain Battles.
The title track of Mountain Battles is about dealing with an aging parent’s decline in vitality and mental health. But the peppiest track on the album is the irresistible It’s the Love.
And as I thought about this blog post and years of researching converts from Islam to Christianity, the name of the song just wouldn’t leave my brain. Why? Because, in a nutshell, what is the principal draw of Christianity to Muslims? It’s the love. But let me tell you how I learned this.
I was running errands in the large Arab city where I was studying Arabic, when I ran into a friend of mine. We had had several spiritual conversations by that time. So there on the sidewalk I asked him if he would like to pray with me. He said he didn’t have time to go to church with me, so I explained that we could pray right there, and he agreed.
Al Fadi, from CIRA International, interviews me more on my research on converts from Islam to Christianity. Here is a second installation for his excellent podcast “Let us Reason.”
The first question is about the main challenge faced by ex-Muslim Christians. Guess what? It’s not persecution. If you want to know what it is, listen along. Also, want to hear about what a baptism looks like at an Iranian church? Listen along. Finally, how do congregations of ex-Muslim Christians form new convert identities for their believers? Listen along.
The interview begins with Al Fadi asking me about my own conversion to Christianity, and then about what motivated me to learn about Islam and then research religious conversion from Islam to Christianity. Here the great story about a church of MBBs that was planted accidentally! (At 14 minutes or so.) Near the end he asks about the main factor that attracts some Muslims to the Christian faith.
The podcast was published on December 31st of 2016. You can find the original at iTunes, or just listen to it right here:
The hadith is strikingly clear: “Whosoever changes his religion, slay him.” Nor is the original Arabic difficult to interpret or understand, as with some hadith and Qur’anic passages. Nor is the doctrine that the will of Allah is that the apostate from Islam be executed extremist or radical. It is simply orthodox, historical Islam. It is about as radical or extremist as hearing a Christian say that baptism and communion are the central rituals of the Christian faith, or that christians should regularly attend church, or that the Christian’s life should be characterized by honesty, generosity, and kindness. Obviously Christians fail at times to live according to these basic truths, but that doesn’t make them any less true.