I was walking down the enclosed sidewalk and following the brick wall when I was drawn to this man. I pulled out a dollar because that is all the cash I had left and gave it to him. This is Yousef Ali. He is a homeless man living at the Salvation Army and a former Christian who converted to Islam about 15 years ago. I made a recording of it but it is difficult to listen to with the airplanes pulling advertising banners circling overhead and hundreds of people passing so I transcribed our conversation.
This was the first Muslim I have ever witnessed to and it was a fascinating conversation although at times he was a bit philosophical and couldn't really articulate why he believed that Islam met the need in his life as opposed to Christianity. (Notice he has the 'Why Christianity?' tract and had already started reading it- Yay!). Here is the transcript of our conversation:
After he introduced himself I said, "It's really interesting but it's my understanding that with Islam you never really know for sure that you're going to heaven. Doesn't that concern you?"
Yousef: "Yes, yes that is absolutely true."
Me: "To me that would really concern me, wouldn't you want to know if you were going to heaven or not? What if there was a way you could know, wouldn't that be more reassuring?"
Yousef: "Uh, with the knowledge that I have now, the answer would be no because it would make me more lackadaisical."
Me: "What made you stop being a Christian?"
Yousef: "Islam spoke to my humanity and spoke to my connection with the universe."
Me: "So you kinda feel like you have to work off the bad."
Yousef: "Exactly! It kind of, well the bottom line is, it made sense to me because the issue I had with Christianity or the reason I'm not so sure of Christianity is because, well it's hard for me to explain, but it was somewhat the role of Christ in relation to the other prophets. If God has all knowledge and all wisdom did God, some 6000-7000 years after the first man was ever brought on the face of the earth subsequently send a bunch of other prophets? Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Jonah, Moses..."
Me: (I interrupted and asked) "It's sounds like you're very familiar with the Bible so what was your question about Christianity?"
Yousef: "If God sent all these prophets and said that I need a Savior and you need a Savior, why did God use all these prophets and say that you need to believe in Jesus Christ to be righteous when He sent countless prophets ahead of Jesus Christ? So it implies He is not the author of all knowledge and leaves room as if there was an error made...uh, I am told that the only reason that I am created to serve God, the one God and He is a very jealous God and I am not to share...(unintelligible)...There is nothing in the universe that assists God. He creates all things and controls all things. But the likeness of Jesus is the likeness of Adam and Eve in the garden and when you understand that (unintelligible)...It is kind of a test for humanity and most of us are failing it."
I was trying to pull him back to the law and get him to the law instead of this cosmic universe mumbo jumbo he was talking about and his reliance on works.
Me: "Well, if you look at it from the very beginning from Adam all the way down to Christ there was a plan that was being slowly revealed that a Savior was coming. Even when God used Moses, He instituted the Levitical Law they ended up having sacrifices and all the things they ended up doing was a foreshadowing of Christ. This wasn't an afterthought. This was something that God promised. It was Moses that ended up giving the law from God, right? This is God's standard of moral perfection. Do you know why he did that? It was to show that through these thousands of years, man just cannot be good enough because what happened is that they had to offer sacrifices and did it ever fully take it away?"
Yousef: "Yeah, that's right."
Me: "It just covered over the sin didn't it?"
Yousef: "Yes, but it's that same way today. You still have to offer sacrifices. You have to sacrifice yourself."
Me: "Well, as far as Christ, He was sacrificed once and for all. There is nothing else. There is nothing else that needs to be done. Have you ever told a lie? (He answered: Yes.) Ever stolen anything? (Yes.) Ever looked with lust which is adultery in your heart (Yes.) Have you ever taken God's name in vain by saying OMG?" (Yes.) Of course, we all have. But you see that's the thing, by God's standard, you know His moral standard of perfection is what He is going to use to judge us on Judgment Day. You know, here, we have our civil law and we have laws we agree upon like that we are not going to drive 100 m.p.h. through a residential zone, right? If we did, the law would arrest us and say, 'We clocked you doing 100 m.p.h. and let's say you were in a city that you didn't know, and the judge says in this city we don't tolerate that. You're going to have to pay a million dollar fine or go to jail the rest of your life.' I know it seems extreme, since you only broke the law once, but that's not the way it works. So this is the thing, if you're standing before the judge and he asks you how you plead you look at him and say, 'Well, you've got me on radar and you've got a video of it, I'm guilty.' If he hands down the sentence is he sentencing you justly? Yes, because you're a lawbreaker and so am I. If you can apply that same example to God, we will stand before Him on Judgment Day but the good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the grave. Haven't you read Matthew? It said he appeared again, there has never been anyone else not even Mohammad came back...
Yousef: "Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,"
Me: "Yes but..."
Yousef: "You don't worship Lazarus. He wasn't the only one that was raised from the dead. He only did that by God's permission. You have to understand Jesus was a man just like everyone else...He ate food..."
Me: "Actually, He was fully God, fully man. Let me tell you one thing as far as believing you have got to know that Jesus is who He says He was."
Yousef: "He was the Messiah."
Me: "Out of all the prophecies, if there was just one man to fulfill just 8 of them, that number would be so large..."
Yousef: (Interrupted) "I would invite you to buy a Koran. Have you ever read the Koran?"
Yousef: "Get one and read it in its entirety. But when you read it don't just read it like...put away your Christianity...put away your European-ness...put away your job, your mother, put away all the things that attach you to this world if that makes sense."
Me: "But I already have put away the world because I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I can't be good enough. There is nothing I can do to save myself. I can NOT be good enough..."
Yousef: "You're absolutely right. I'm not disputing that, but what I'm saying is that Jesus can't save you either. Only by the grace of Allah."
Me: "Well, that is where we'll have to agree to disagree."
Yousef: "Elohim, most gracious and merciful...He promises to keep His promise to the people. The Koran teaches you how to (unintelligible) belief."
Me: "I don't know. The things I have read in the Koran and the things that I have had ex-Muslims tell me in the Koran is that it is a religion that is works based..."
Yousef: "That is correct."
Me: "And see, that is why Christianity is so different. Christianity is the only one... and it doesn't make lax, do you know what it does? It makes me respond out of gratitude for what was done..."
Yousef: "I agree."
Me: "Out of gratitude for what I could not do for myself..."
Yousef: "And I'll share this with you. God tells us in the Koran that the ones closest to you are the ones who can call themselves Christians when men humbly to love God study to learn... There will Christians in heaven also. Unfortunately, I'm not so sure if that is in error but it does warn those against saying that Jesus is God. It is the greatest sin in the sight of God. The only way you can get to heaven is to stop saying that.
Me: "I just...I can't because I'm compelled because I know that it is true."
Yousef: "God is the greatest."
Me: "He is. And, I will, I will pray for you and I will be thinking of you. If you would like, I do have this it's called, 'Why Christianity?' and it talks about all the major religions, Buddhism, Islam,..."
Yousef: "I'll share this with you, Muslims are in error too. God is the greatest."
Me: "I will think of you and I will use this picture to remember you and I will pray. I really will. Think about it. Read the brochure and see."
Yousef: "I will."
With that, I headed up the sidewalk to see who else I could talk to. It was a great learning experience. What I learned is that he had a fair command of the Old Testament and New Testament but is so deceived into beliving that Jesus can not be fully God and fully man because God is one and not in three persons. I don't know if I made a difference in his thinking or not that is something only God knows. Please pray for Yousef. He is so deceived by his works based religion and he basically just believes that if he accepts the grace of God that he will become lax. Pray that God will save him.