Part 1 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

islam_christianI was born in Ohio, raised and educated in Texas, and made a living as a successful marketing entrepreneur and preacher of Christianity. My ethnic background is English- Native American, Irish and German. I was what they call a “WASP” (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant). My family moved to Texas in 1949, while I was still in grade school.

I grew up in a very religious home. My parents and their relatives, they were all “good Christians.” Basically, that means they never drank alcohol except on very special occasions; and never gambled except for playing Bingo at the church. Religion was a real part of my life. I thoroughly believed in God, and the Bible as His word. Our church was originally called only “Christian Church.” It wasn’t until I turned ten or twelve years old, when the church “split” into two different groups that we started calling ourselves “Disciples of Christ.”

My father was an ordained minister, and also very active in church work as a Sunday school minister and fundraiser for Christian schools. He was “the expert” on the Bible and its translations. It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible, as well as, the introduction of pagan worship into Christianity about the time of the emperor, Constantine (325 C.E.). He, like many preachers, would answer the question, “Did God actually write the Bible?” by saying, “The Bible is the inspired word of man from God.” Basically, it means humans (inspired humans, but humans just the same) wrote the Bible. That sufficiently explains the errors, mistakes, deletions and additions which have crept in and fallen out over the years. He would add, “But it is still the word of God as inspired to man.”

It was through my father that I came to know about the various versions, translations and editions of the Bible, as well as, the introduction of pagan worship into Christianity about the time of the emperor, Constantine (325 C.E.)

God was always on my mind. I was baptized into the “spirit” at age twelve and even the minister (an ex-Jew who accepted Jesus) was surprised by my seriousness and intent on being a “full, real follower of Christ.”

After growing up, I realized that I did not want to be a preacher. I was too afraid that I might be a hypocrite or call people to something that I myself didn’t truly understand. After all, I had “accepted the Lord” and considered myself a true Christian, but at the same time I could not resolve the idea of God being One and at the same time “Three.” And if He is the Father, how could He also be Son? And then, what about the Holy Ghost? (Later they changed that to the “Spirit.”) But my big question was always the same, “How does three equal one?”

Over the years, I had tried to “find” God in many different ways. I checked out Buddhism, Hinduism, Metaphysics, Taoism, different forms of Christianity and Judaism. The one most attractive to me was a combination of Gnosticism (Christian mysticism), Cabbalism (Jewish mysticism) and Metaphysics. This actually is a form of pantheism (God being throughout His creation) and is similar to the claims of some Sufi mystics of today. But this concept repulsed me because I did not want to imagine myself as being a “part of God.”

God is Pure! God is Perfect! God is All-knowing and aware of all things! So how could I repeat what I was hearing from other preachers, “In a way, we are all gods… Read the Bible: ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.’” (Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34)

The rationalization which comes about in the books attributed to the Apostle Saul (who changed his name to Paul) is full of statements which basically cancel the Torah (or law of the Old Testament). He claims it is a matter of how you “understand” something that makes it permissible or forbidden. As an example, in the English Revised Standard Version it says in Paul’s letter to the Romans: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.” (Romans 14:14)

And again in the same letter: “So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Roman 14:16)

By such statements, Paul destroyed the authority of Old Testament commandments. Yet, in the same English version of the Bible in the first book of the New Testament, We are told that Jesus preached a message contrary to that of St. Paul:

“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth shall pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches them so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

According to Paul’s testimony in his letter to the new Roman Christians, he not only was relaxing the least of these commandments, but basically that if one doesn’t consider something evil, then it’s not!

I just felt that something was wrong in this message and decided to upload the Commandments according to the Old Testament as much as I could. That would mean circumcision, no pork, no sex outside marriage, no adultery, and no worship of creation. This would be in compliance with the verse which says: “You shall have no other gods before (i.e., besides) Me. You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6)

It seemed reasonable to me that there should only be one God. He alone should be in charge, set the rules and give the orders. This life would be a test for those who really loved Him and followed His commandments.

It seemed reasonable to me that there should only be one God. He alone should be in charge, set the rules and give the orders. This life would be a test for those who really loved Him and followed His commandments.

I tried not to deal with these issues for many years. But I was now approaching the age of fifty and needed to do something for the Lord. After all, He had done everything for me. Sometimes I would join with missionaries to preach in Mexico. We travelled together, praised the Lord, shared in “the spirit,” and went wherever the “the spirit led us.” One of my preacher friends used to carry a huge cross on his shoulder and would drag it down the highway, giving out mini-Bibles to those who cared to stop and visit. I took my Bible everywhere and was very fast to whip it out and preach the message.

There was only one problem: What was the message? For a while, I accepted the answer of the “born-agains” – the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. “He died for your sins! He paid the price of redemption! He is the risen Son of God! Jesus is Lord!” I preached that message myself and thought I understood it well as anyone. But I remember hearing another preacher say one time. “Don’t leave your brain in the parking lot with your car.”

Then it hit me that I should start thinking about the very serious problems and real facts about my religion.

  • The Bible was never written in English, so what was the original language of the Bible and who actually wrote it?
  • The Bible does not exist in its original form anywhere on earth.
  • The Catholic Bible has seven more books than the Protestant Bible, and these two Bibles have different versions of the same books. There are too many mistakes, and the errors are obvious throughout the text.
  • Born-again Christians teach the concepts that are not from the Bible.
  • There is no mention of the word “Trinity” in the Bible in any version of any language.
  • The oldest forms of Christianity do not conform to today’s “born-again” beliefs.
  • Jesus of the English Bible complains to God about the crucifixion: “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me?”

I began to ask many questions, such as:

  • How can Jesus be the “only begotten son” in John 3:16, while in Psalms 2:7, David is also God’s “begotten son?”
  • Would a “just” God, a “fair” God, a “loving” God- punish Jesus for the sins of the people that he called to follow him?
  • How could God create Himself?
  • How can God be a man or a man be God?
  • How can God have a son?
  • Couldn’t God just forgive us and not have to kill Jesus?
  • Isn’t it true that Jesus did not claim to be God or equal to God?

One day, while I was still a Christian, I came to know that Muslims believed in Gospel. I was shocked. How could this be?

I began to pray like this: “God, let Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” I used this particular phrase for a good length of time. During all that, I consciously chose faith in God. It was faith, without really having reason to believe, but choosing to do so anyway. Some preachers would say that often God seems far away or non-existent, so keep faith! Trust God even though you don’t see Him at all. So that is what I did.

One day, while I was still a Christian, I came to know that Muslims believed in Gospel. I was shocked. How could this be? But that’s not all, they believe in Jesus:

  • a true messenger of God.
  • as a prophet of God.
  • and his miraculous birth without human intervention.
  • as the “Christ” or Messiah predicted in the Bible.
  • as being with God now.
  • and his returning to earth in the last days to lead the believers against the Antichrist.

It was too much for me; especially because the evangelists we used to travel with hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam.

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Source: “An Undeniable Fact – Prominent Church People Enter Islam” by Dr. Abdurahim bin Mazher Al- Malki. Excerpt printed by permission of the publisher Dar Abul-Qasim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (           

Quran Stories 2: The Believer of Ya-Sin

Alone in a crowdEver since we were kids, our eyes glazed over at the prospect of being told a story. Even as adults with kids of our own today, we relive our stories and memories. The Quran is nearly 1/3 stories, Allah (swt), our Creator, knows how powerful stories are; in fact all civilizations used  to pass on knowledge in the form of stories from one generation to the next. Stories have a profound impact on our minds – for example, how influential Hollywood is universally! Allah (swt) has related to us the best stories that are true, so why go elsewhere.

Story of the anonymous preacher

The story of an unnamed believer in Surah Ya-sin is noteworthy for many reasons, but most importantly because it teaches us how to be a Daee or the one who invites others to Islam. It starts with a conversation that two messengers have with people in a small town. When these people transgress and deny the messengers, Allah (swt) reinforces the two messengers with a third to lend weight to their claim and help them.

This also serves to indicate that the message is crystal clear, three people claiming the same thing. The names of the people or the town are not relevant so Allah (swt) has left them out in His wisdom as it would detract us from the lessons in the story. Also Allah (swt) will leave no place without sending guidance.

The messengers say: “Verily! We have been sent to you as Messengers.”

The people of the town denied that those men could be Messengers, they belied them. Their argument was like the one that the Quraish used on the Prophet (sa) as well: “You are only human being like us, and the Most Beneficent (Allah) has revealed nothing, you are only telling lies.”

The messengers reply: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you, and our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).”

They claimed that they wanted no riches or fame, their only aim was to deliver Allah’s (swt) message. They said Allah (swt) was enough for them, He was their witness that they were telling the truth.

Now, when people are stubborn and do not want to see the truth, they start an illogical argument, they said: “For us, we see an evil omen from you, if you cease not, we will surely stone you, and a painful torment will touch you from us.”

Imagine, in exchange for good, these evil people wanted to hurt the messengers who were trying to save them from doom.This is typical of people who do not have truth on their side; they will always resort to tyranny and oppression. They do not have words to counter the truth with; they just rely on superstitions and omens.

The messengers reply: “Your evil omens be with you! (Do you call it “evil omen”) because you are admonished? Nay, but you are a people Musrifun (transgressing all bounds by committing all kinds of great sins and by disobeying Allah).”

This is such an important lesson for us. Whenever we feel that someone wants to hurt us; we should look within ourselves and evaluate whether we are the ones who are being prejudiced? The messengers’ job is only to deliver Allah’s (swt) message as clearly and accurately as possible; people are free to choose what they want.

Dawah – Our sole and sacred mission!

A man from the furthest part of the city arrived. This statement teaches us two things: First, when the truth is apparent, we should hurry towards it and make an effort to tell others. Sitting at home and tweeting about it does not work. The first thing this man did was to call his people towards Allah (swt). He did not claim to be one of the messengers. His concern was only for his townsfolk – he did Dawah. Even when there are others doing Dawah, our responsibility to enjoin good and forbid evil does not desist; it is still our duty. He said, “My O my people! Obey the Messengers; Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves), and who are rightly guided.”

It is obvious that the man was not an influential person in the town, he was an average resident.

The townsfolk were very upset, and they did not want to hear what this man had to say, “And why should I not worship Him (Allah Alone) Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned. Shall I take besides Him Aliha (gods), if the Most Beneficent (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me? Then verily, I should be in plain error. Verily! I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!”

He was adamant, and knew that if Allah (swt) wanted harm to come to him, no one could stop it. Allah (swt) tells us that He will test our patience. The man realized that false idols could not harm or save him. What was perceived as harm was in reality Allah’s (swt) mercy- as we discover in the next verse.

The story continues and we are informed that Allah (swt) had asked this man to enter Paradise. We read in between the lines, that the people must have murdered this innocent man. The man was in Paradise, yet concerned for his people and said, “Would that my people knew! That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honoured ones!”


He was only an ordinary man and was killed for his belief. His response was not revenge; he only wished that the people could see what he could see after his remorse, so they would believe. He was forgiving and was steadfast in his mission, in spite of messengers sent by Allah (swt). Finally, after Allah (swt) had given the town’s people every chance to redeem themselves, He said, It was but one Saihah (shout, etc.) and lo! They (all) were silent (dead-destroyed).”

Subhan’Allah, we humans are so fragile, and when we disobey Allah (swt), nothing but humiliation is our destiny!

(Adapted with permission for “Hiba” by Tasneem Vali.)