If you’re a Muslim and you’re curious about Christ and Christianity, I believe that you came to the right place to hear her story. Farzana’s story is not just about converting from Muslim to Christian, but it’s about finding freedom and healing. It’s also about breaking through trauma and different pains from the past. Here’s my interview with Farzana Abraham, who experienced a radical conversion from Islam to Christianity.
Pastor Mike: What was it like being raised in a Muslim family in America?
Farzana: Growing up, my parents always believed in Allah, but they didn’t follow the religion. They worked a few jobs to make ends meet. So, because of that, they didn’t have time to teach us, and they would send us to Sunday school and we would learn from other imams.
My parents would fight and argue a lot, and it would turn into abuse.
My dad’s anger worsened. In the meantime, while that was happening, I was learning from other imams and teachers about the Quran. I felt my parents were forcing their religion on me but weren’t doing their part. So they were like, you need to follow Allah, you need to do this or that, but they weren’t praying or reading the Quran. We didn’t go to mosque. So, that made me think, “Why should I follow the religion if you’re not following yourself, as well?” And I remember telling my mom that I didn’t believe in Allah and that I didn’t care if I went to hell because I was already living in one.
I didn’t want to follow a religion just because someone else was following it or just to look like I was following it. It was kind of like oh, what is this person gonna think? What is the community going to think? You’re breaking my heart as a parent if you don’t follow and stuff like that.
There was one point when I was curious about Christianity, but the way my dad approached it, it was as if I shouldn’t be questioning Quran or Islam. Like, you’ll go to hell if you learn about Christianity. So, it was just like a lot of fear, but I was still curious about it. I just never really pursued it, because I was worried about what he was going to do.
Pastor Mike: I have a question that a lot of people would like to know, especially people that don’t have a window into the Muslim world. Islam is a global religion, but many people might be watching right now that have never been in a Muslim family. You’ve described your experience, your thoughts, and your beliefs growing up, being forced to go to mosque, but not wanting to be there and questioning and challenging all these things. Do you feel like that’s a common thing within Muslim families, especially in the United States?
Farzana: I feel that it’s very common. Like, because you’re born into a Muslim family, you have to follow the religion. You’re not allowed to know about the other religions and then it goes back to, what is the community gonna think? You could lose all of your community and your family. So instead of worrying about your salvation, you’re worried about what everyone else is going to do.
Especially with 9-11 happening, I began to look at Islam differently, because it didn’t make sense to me. Why would they crash into a building in the name of Allah? Islam is all about peace. So, when 9/11 happened, I began questioning if it was peace or if it was covering up something. Pastor Mike: So you’re dealing with that in the world and then, at home, you’re also dealing with personal pain, and then you’re feeling like you’re forced to learn these things and it’s not even adding up. And you’re feeling like you’re never good enough, your efforts are never good enough for your dad and your family, never enough for your religion, and you feel the weight of condemnation, guilt, shame, and works.
Now the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we’ll never be good enough. We can’t pray enough, fast enough, give enough, or earn enough money. because you think about Jesus, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we’ll never be good enough. We can’t pray enough, we can’t fast enough, we can’t give enough, we can’t earn enough money, but we are saved because Jesus was perfect. He died on the cross and three days later, rose again. If we accept him as our savior, we’re saved and so, it’s the opposite of every other religion. Every other religion’s message is that if you do this list of things, maybe you’ll go to heaven, maybe you’ll have the acceptance of God, but Jesus said, “No, I took your place. You should be punished, you should die, and you should go to hell, but you are going to have eternal life because I took your place. I took the punishment upon me and that’s what it means to be saved, to have a savior.”
How did you make that transition, Farzana, from being raised Muslim and then almost being an atheist where you’re not even sure God exists, to then now becoming a Christian? What happened?
Farzana: So, when I met my husband, he told me that he’s not an Indian Muslim, he’s an Indian Christian. And I didn’t realize South Asians could be Christians. I thought they could only be Muslims and Hindus. And after he told me that, I didn’t give much thought to it. At one point, we went from being friends to the relationship zone. As things progressed, we were trying to figure out if we should start a relationship. One of the things he mentioned is that his parents were looking for a Christian girl, so when he told me, I told him I would never convert to Christianity. Even though I didn’t believe in Islam wholeheartedly, just the idea of converting for a man was not my thing.
One day I saw him reading the Bible and I asked him what he was reading. He told me about the parting of the Red Sea and I was curious. The Quran talks about that, and it intrigued me that the Bible talked about it too. So I told him that I wanted to know more about it. So, he bought me my first Bible.
With him, he wasn’t forcing his religion on me, he was just telling me who Jesus is, and about the Bible. About six months into our relationship, his parents were against our entire thing because they wanted a Christian girl for him. It’s really rare for Muslims to convert to Christianity and more common for Christians to come to Islam.
While that was happening, I told my mom that I was curious about Christianity. I wanted to learn more about it. That’s when I found out about V1 Church. The Holy Spirit was really intriguing to me because I had never heard about the Holy Spirit. When I read about the Holy Spirit, the fact that he is someone who can comfort you, who can bring joy and peace, was something that I was craving. I never really had joy or peace in my life. With Jesus, you don’t have to be perfect. You can be the most imperfect person, but he’s still going to love you anyway.
Pastor Mike: Listening to you talk and explain the love of Jesus; no one will ever convince me that His love isn’t real. The thing about Jesus is He gets to the root. So when you talked about your dad with anger issues, Jesus wouldn’t just say, well you did ten good things and give bad things, so you still go to heaven. Jesus would say, why are you so angry? Why are you doing this? And the Holy Spirit would begin to minister to the person, to your dad, and begin to deal with those issues.
When you came to V1 Church, I watched God deal with the root. You were experiencing so much freedom. I think there’s a lot of people who question what their family would think if they turned to Jesus. But that’s not how you make a decision. You make a decision based on the question, “What does God truly think?” And Jesus is proof that He loves us and He cares for us. So, if you want to receive Jesus, it’s not about switching religions, it’s about switching from religion to a relationship.
As we wrap this up, Farzana, what would you say to people who are in a similar place that you were?
Farzana: Don’t just follow religion just because someone told you to follow a religion. Follow it because it’s something that you want to do. When you look at Jesus, He isn’t just a prophet, based on what other people are saying. Jesus is actually a real person who really did die and was resurrected three days later. He’s not just someone that you read about in the books. He’s a living God.
Jesus said, “Ask and you shall receive.” So, if you earnestly ask Him, “Lord, truly show me who You are,” He will show Himself to you. That’s what happened to me. When I said to Him, “I want to see who You really are,” all of a sudden, I got this wild vision. First, I saw colors, and then a lion popped up, and then the second after that, an eagle popped up. It started turning white, and then it turned green, and then I saw Jesus. His body was there, but his face wasn’t there. Then, I saw a hand reaching out and it changed. Then it disappeared again and a bigger hand came out right afterward.
From that moment, I knew Jesus was real because this was the second time He showed himself to me. If you are truly asking for Him, He will show Himself to you. He’s not just a prophet. He’s a person. He’s the real Messiah. He died and came back to life three days later.
Pastor Mike: You just said He will show Himself to you. Jesus himself said, “Knock and the door will be open. Seek and you will find. Ask and you will receive.” That’s all you have to do right now is just seek, ask, and knock. Say, “God, here I am. I want You. I know that this is true. Jesus, You’ve revealed Yourself to me as the Savior of the world.” The Bible says that when you accept Christ, when Jesus becomes your Savior, you actually receive a new family, as well, and now, there are brothers and sisters that you have in the faith, and you’re going to receive a new family. Welcome to the family. Thanks for speaking with us today, Farzana.
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