Journey to Islam & Back
By Kimberly Idrees
In 2002, some very traumatic events happened to me and my family, and suddenly the foundation of my life was completely obliterated. At the time, I was on staff at a Christian school, heavily involved in all aspects of ministry, choir, missions, and youth groups. Then suddenly, everything I thought I knew or believed was brought into question. In the end, I felt I couldn’t trust anyone around me—not my family, not my friends, not even my pastor.
Since I couldn’t deal with anyone face to face, I began to chat online with new people. I found it odd that I kept meeting more and more Muslims who wanted to be friends, even though I told them I was a Christian. We would discuss and debate many things. One day the subject of marriage and women’s rights came up. I quickly exclaimed there was no way I would marry a Muslim man.
My new friends, however, just laughed and encouraged me to go read the Qur’an to see for myself how much women are respected and elevated in Islam.
I consulted an online version of the Qur’an, and what I found sounded pretty good. The women seemed to be very respected, especially mothers, and even the strict guidelines appeared to be for the women’s benefit. I wanted to learn more and began to attend women’s Islamic classes at a local mosque.
While chatting with people in an Islamic chat room, I met a man from Pakistan who lived in Scotland. We became friends, and by the summer of 2003, I was making plans to go to Scotland to marry this man and to convert to Islam. Even though I didn’t have all the answers, I felt sure God wouldn’t have brought me this far for nothing, so I took my Shahada (confession of faith).
A Model Muslim
At first, everything was very exciting. I was living in an Islamic community within Glasgow, studying all about my new religion, learning my Arabic prayers, and meeting new friends who were very excited to welcome me into the group. I wanted to be the very best Muslim ever. I did everything halal (orrectly/permitted):
I said my prayers five times a day, read the Qur’n, and took religious classes.
My new husband told me how impressed his friends and people on the street were with the “holy woman” from America. I appeared even more devout than those who were born into Islam. Some of my husband’s friends would ask him how he got me to behave this way and if I could speak to their wives!
Over time, it seemed that the harder I applied myself, the farther away God seemed to be from me.
I started to feel a deep loneliness inside, and tensions mounted between me and my husband.
We seemed to be battling within ourselves and with each other, trying to find peace. I assumed the answer was in9 Islam, so I became even more stringent in my practice. Yet, there seemed to be no answer, just more darkness.
Each day, at the end of my prayers, I would make my du’ah (supplication), and pour out my heart to God, begging for the truth, searching for the peace Islam promised. Some days I would sit on my prayer rug until I lost track of time, crying and waiting to hear from God. I recalled the days when I considered myself a Christian, how I would truly feel the Lord’s presence— but not anymore; I couldn’t seem to find Him.
I had erected the wall of Islam between me and God, and He wasn’t coming to me on my terms. John 14:6 states, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Since Islam denies the deity of Christ, there is NO bridge to the Father. My prayers remained unanswered.
The Veil Lifted
The unanswered prayers and the now constant fighting with my husband left me mentally exhausted and emotionally drained.
I would have lost all hope had God not intervened in ways to let me know He was still there.
I love to sing, and sometimes the words of old Christian hymns would come to my mind, and they were always about the blood of Jesus.
In my confusion and stress, I decided to partake in a special three-day fast that promised whatever I asked for would be granted at the end of the three days. Unfortunately, at the end of three days, I still had no answers. God was silent. The reality of my present life caused me to cry inconsolably. I could not take it anymore. I had to know, “What is the truth?”
Meanwhile, unknown to me, my son and his friends at Liberty University in Virginia were having very spirit filled prayer meetings, crying out and praying the Lord would lift the cloud of delusion Satan had put over my eyes. Then it happened! The cloud, like a veil I had chosen to wear, lifted. And
I knew there was no way I could call myself a Muslim!
Because conditions had deteriorated between me and my husband, I secretly arranged to return to the U.S., and I was back in my family’s home within a week. I began to use my time to study about evangelizing Muslims. I was truly blessed by the wonderful opportunities the Lord provided me, placing me in the path of some wonderful scholars, missionaries, leaders, and Muslim converts.
On Easter 2006, I re-dedicated my life to Christ, and God really began to show me new things I had not known before. I received pastoral counsel to return to my husband and be the best possible witness and Christian wife.
My husband agreed to make a fresh start.
However, this dream was shattered when my husband’s family arranged for him to take a second wife during a visit to Pakistan that year.
This was the greatest pain I had ever felt. My mind was in a state of total confusion and shock. I started to feel deep spiritual oppression and knew Satan was trying to make me hate Muslims and become bitter and scornful. I prayed for abundant mercy and a forgiving heart. I clung to my desire to tell Muslims the truth of Jesus, and I clung even tighter to my Savior. I cried out to the Lord to send me someone who could help me sort this out. It was during this time that I met Dr. Abraham Sarker, founder of Gospel For Muslims and author of Understand My Muslim People. He and his wife, along with other prayer warriors, helped me to start getting out from under the spiritual attack.
The Magnet of Islam
Dr. Sarker asked me, “What was it Islam offered you that Christianity didn’t?” After a bit of soul searching, I explained that as a Muslim, I could put on the hijab and go into any mosque in the world, and I would be greeted by several women who would give me a hug and kiss and greet me with Asaalamo Alaikum (Peace be with you).
In many American churches I had not found this kind of acceptance.
The western person also seemed to think more self-centeredly, whereas in Islam, there is no individuality. It is always what is good for the group or community.
When I first left the church and began exploring other faiths, no one followed up on me. No one challenged me or counseled me; I was just allowed to slip away. I know now the church needs to wake up and realize Islam is a powerful spiritual force fueled by Satan. But Christians have the ultimate weapon— the greatest power of all—incessant, unified, uplifted prayer. Our Muslim friends are in desperate need of prayer. Christ died for them as He died for us.
And they need to see us living out our testimony every day. We cannot win them by telling them what is wrong with their religion but by showing them how incredible Jesus is and what He has done in our lives.
My Ministry to Muslims
As for my marriage, it had to end. My divorce was final in June of 2006. Despite the terrible pain, I can truly thank the Lord every day for the blessing of brokenness, that I may know the full beauty of Christ and His work on the cross.
Jesus said to Simon Peter, the disciple who swore that he would never deny the Lord, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith shall not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).
As with Peter, Jesus not only brought me back to Himself and forgave me completely, He has also given me a job to do. He has called me out and set me on a journey I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. Today, I am so abundantly blessed with a very loving church family; wonderful, close friends; the love of my family; the teachings of godly leaders; opportunities to minister to Muslims, new converts, and those whose lives are impacted from Islam.
I am also blessed to be a team member of Gospel For Muslims, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Muslims come to Christ. We are passionate about reaching the 1.3 billion Muslims around the world with the love of Jesus, and especially the 10 million Muslims who reside right here in the United States.