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Egypt: The Christian and the Imams


One day, an Egyptian Christian visited two imams from a large mosque. An imam is a Muslim religious leader, and a mosque is a Muslim place of worship. (The photo to the left shows the inside of a mosque.)

The Christian told the imams, “I have some questions about Islam and would like to know more.” (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) The imams were delighted. Maybe they mistakenly thought the Christian wanted to become a Muslim.

Egyptian Muslims who become Christians are often persecuted by their families and the authorities, and are often treated unfairly. But Christians who convert to Islam are welcomed by Muslims. Some Christians in Egypt are tempted to become Muslims so they will have more privileges and fairer treatment from Muslim neighbors and officials.

The imams told the Christian to come to the mosque the following day. The next day when the Christian arrived at the mosque, he was surprised to see not only the imams, but also 10 of their students, or disciples.

The Christian didn’t expect to see so many Muslims! He was outnumbered. “Dear God,” he prayed. “What do I do now?”

He sat down on the carpet with the Muslims and spoke to one of the imams in a loving way, calling him a kind name in Arabic. “You cannot call me that!” said the irritated imam.

The Christian replied, “But my holy book, the Bible, commands me to love you. Jesus said we should love even our enemies.”

“I cannot do that,” said the imam. “The Koran instructs me to hate you and to oppose the infidels.” (An infidel is an unbeliever. Some Muslims call Christians “infidels” because Christians don’t believe the teachings of Islam.)

The imam’s disciples were watching the conversation with great interest. One of the disciples asked the imam, “What is wrong with loving him?” Another asked, “Why is it wrong for us to love our fellow man?”

The imam rose in anger. He tried to speak, but choked up and stopped. He whirled around and left the room. The disciples gathered around the Christian and asked many questions. They wanted to know more about this power that enables people to love their enemies.

In the Book of Numbers, Chapters 13 and 14 tell the story of 12 men who went to explore the land God had promised to give the people of Israel. Ten of the men returned with reasons why the Israelites should not try to take possession of the land. They said the task was much too difficult. Only two men, Caleb and Joshua, trusted the Lord’s promises.

The Egyptian Christian probably could have given many reasons why it would be a bad idea to talk to Muslims. The imam might have insulted or persecuted him. A mosque might not be a safe place for a Christian to visit. It could be scary for one Christian to face 12 Muslims.

The Christian, like Caleb and Joshua, trusted that God would be with him. (See Deuteronomy 31:8 and Joshua 1:8.) As a result, 12 Muslims learned more about the teachings of the Bible.

Read Numbers 13 and 14. What or who are some of the “giants” Christians face today?