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25 September 2008

Freedom of religion cost scholar much

ACU Summit speaker made transition from Muslim to Christian at risk of life

Dr. Sam Solomon, a former Muslim scholar in the Middle East, still easily recites the Quran from memory, the words flowing off his tongue with a practiced ease.

But Solomon is a convert to Christianity.

Speaking to a crowd at Abilene Christian University's Summit, a series of Bible lectures and activities, which ended Wednesday, Solomon said that in the course of his conversion he went from a world in which questioning his faith was unthinkable to embracing a faith he once considered blasphemous.

(Solomon and ACU Summit literature did not go into details of his background because of concerns for his safety. No photographs or recording devices were allowed at his lecture at Moody Coliseum. An ACU police officer was noticeably visible during the lecture.)

Growing up, Solomon was "beyond his peers" in his studies, he said. In his teen years, he began his training in Islamic jurisprudence, memorizing volumes of material and eventually becoming a leader, an Islamic jurist. It was during his discussions with a Christian -- with an eye toward learning why they would not convert -- that he acquired a Bible, focusing specifically on the New Testament narrative.

The man he had been speaking with, out of fear of personal persecution, was at first reluctant to help. But something, which Solomon now believes was God, drove him to acquire -- and eventually, read, study and absorb -- the biblical text.

At first, he found the New Testament vision unfamiliar and at times blasphemous.

"Every verse, every iota of that book, broke my heart, tore me apart," he said. "I was not ready to receive grace. I was not ready to accept that love."

But all he did for about a week was eat, drink, sleep and read "that book," he said.

Eventually, it came time to meet with his Imam to talk about how he was advancing the cause of Islam.

"I was confused," he said. "I was utterly destroyed from within."

It only took a few words exchanged for the Imam to suspect that Solomon had been moving beyond prescribed thought.

In a culture in which people will "tear you apart" with their bare hands for such thoughts, in which "everybody's a policeman," a moment of strange grace manifested, he said.

Solomon prayed to Christ: "If you are who you are, take me out of here."

Instead of lashing out, the Imam dismissed him.

The strange situation led Solomon to question even more strongly: "Who is this Jesus?" He hid his New Testament in his law books to read.

In time, with the help of others, his conversion was complete, although it took months.

"In the midst of all this, I began to meet a few people, and I reread the gospels again and again and again," he said.

What many take for granted in the United States, what is commonly taught in Sunday Schools throughout the land, was at times almost unimaginably difficult for Solomon, he said.

Eventually, word of his conversion reached state security officials. One day, there was a car waiting outside for him with five armed men, leading into more than 17 weeks of interrogation.

"I won't describe what happened," he said.

Eventually, a presidential decree declared him an enemy of the state and an enemy of Islam. Everything from his birth certificate to his voluminous academic credentials was stripped from him.

"I had been sentenced to death," he said. But God, the mountain-maker, can remove "every mountain from your life."

Upon his conviction, Solomon was given 48 hours to leave his former home, choosing to go into exile on the pain of death.

Fleeing to Europe, he has since served as a consultant for London's parliament and the U.S. Congress.

"You have no idea what fortunate people you are that you found freedom, that you live in a land of freedom, that you have every right to read, that you have every right to proclaim," he said. "Some are still in chains for the simple reason that they say Jesus is Lord."

14:23 Posted in Middle East | Permalink | Comments (2) |  Facebook |


good article

Posted by: web hosting | 25 September 2008

Freedom is the higher value.

Posted by: Fred Fee Ads | 25 February 2009

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