Part 2 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

lightMy father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became an ordained minister in the 1970’. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were also strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggy and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson. Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly.

In 1991, he began doing business with a man in Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. Then my father mentioned that this man was a “Moslem.” I couldn’t believe my ears. A Moslem, no way! I reminded dad of the various things we had heard about these people, how they are terrorists, hijackers, kidnappers, bombers and who knows what else! Not only that, but they don’t believe in God, kiss the ground five times a day, and worship a black box in the desert. My father insisted that I meet him, however, and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So I gave in and agreed to the meeting.

I was looking for a huge man with flowing robes and a big turban on his head, a beard halfway down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead. But this man had no beard. In fact, he didn’t have hair on his head at all; close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. It didn’t make sense. I thought Muslims were terrorists and bombers; what was this guy all about?

I decided to get the right to work on him. He needed to be “saved”, and the Lord and I were going to do it! I was winning souls to the Lord day after day, and this would be a big achievement for me – to catch one of these “Moslems” and convert him to Christianity.

I asked him, if he liked tea, and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject – beliefs. We talked about the concept of God, the meaning of life, the purpose of creation, the prophets and their mission, and how God reveals His will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas. Constantly on business trips, we became good friends.

One day, I came to know that my friend, Muhammad, was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with someone and would be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and suggested that we could invite Muhammad to our big home in the country and he could stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and expenses, and he would be there whenever we were ready to travel. My father agreed, and Muhammad moved in.

I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed.

One day, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I met a Catholic priest in a wheelchair, who seemed extremely depressed. The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for over twelve years in South and Central America, in Mexico and even in New York’s “Hell Kitchen.” When he was released from the hospital, he needed a place to recover. Rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I suggested my dad that we invite him to come and live with us in the country, along with our families and Muhammad. It was agreed to by all.

After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe Jimmy Swaggart’s Good News for Modern Man). The priest, of course, had the Catholic Bible (which has seven more books it than Protestant Bible). We spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct, than we did trying to convince Muhammad about becoming a Christian.

In the meantime, I had finally read the Quran in translation. I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed. He also let me know that the Quran had been memorized in its entirety by hundreds of thousands of people in many different countries. Over the centuries, millions have memorized it completely and taught it to others, letter perfect without mistakes.

This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original language of the Bible had been a dead language for centuries, and the original documents had long been lost.

One day, the priest asked Muhammad, if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about the experience, and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what types of ceremonies they had performed. He said they just prayed and left. I said, “They left without any speeches or singing?” He said that was right.

A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Muhammad, if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque. But this time, they did not come back for a very long while. It became dark and we got worried that something might have happened to them. When they finally came in the door, I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

So I went upstairs to think about things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the subject. She then told me that she too, was thinking to enter Islam, because she knew it was the truth. I was really shocked then. I went downstairs and woke up Muhammad and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through. By the time he was ready to pray the morning prayer, I knew that the truth had become clear at last and then it was up to me to do my part. Behind my father’s house, I found an old piece of plywood and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction, in which Muslims pray five times a day.

In that position, with my head on the ground, I prayed, “O God, if You are there, guide me, guide me.” After a while, I raised my head and noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights or flashes. What I noticed was a change inside me. I was aware then that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really worked at being honest and upright man. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was “washing” away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. I was now coming into a new, fresh life – a life based on truth and proof.

Around 11:00 a.m. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest (formerly known as Father Peter Jacobs) and the other Muhammad Abdul Rahman, and announced my Shahadah (testimony to the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa)). A few minutes later, my wife followed suit and gave the same testimony.

My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months, before he made his commitment. But he did finally accept Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local mosque. My father’s wife was the last to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God, but that he was a mighty prophet of God.

Our children were taken out of Christian school and placed in Islamic schools. And now, ten years later, they were memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.

If I were to stop here, I’m sure you would have to admit that this is an amazing story. But it is not all. The same year I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee who came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while being in Baptist Seminary College! There were others as well. I recall the case of Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was compelled to ask him why he didn’t enter Islam. He replied, “What? And lose my job?” His name was Father John, and there is hope for him yet.

The very next year, I met a former Catholic priest, who had been a missionary for eight years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and embraced it. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas, Texas. Two years later while in San Antonio, Texas, I was introduced to a former Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia, who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it, from amongst Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians, non- denominational churches and even scientists who had once been atheists. Why? Because they all became aware of the truth. I suggest to any seeker of truth the following:

  • Open your mind, heart and soul.
  • Clear away all prejudices and biases.
  • Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the language you understand the best.
  • Take time.
  • Read and reflect.
  • Think and pray.
  • Continue asking the One who created you to guide you to the truth.
  • Keep this up for a few months and be regular in it.
  • Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while you are in this state of “rebirth of the soul.”

The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the universe. If you truly love Him, then He already knows it, and He will deal with each of us according to what is in our hearts.

May Allah (swt) guide you on your journey to truth. And may He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life. And peace to you and guidance from Allah (swt), the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer, of all that exists.

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 (www.abulqasimbooks.com).           

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 (www.abulqasimbooks.com).