I was a Muslim, an imam’s son, married to a Muslim. I converted to Christ
“It doesn’t matter whether I’m French or Algerian; I’m a citizen of Heaven”
Tahar, a truck driver, born in France in 1963, is the son of an imam, married to a practicing Muslim and father of four small children. In 1982 he converted to Christianity. Here is what he told Aleteia.
Why did you become a Christian?
When I was in Algeria for some months during the ‘80s, I began practicing Islam. It was there that I read Surah 9, which invokes the holy war: “Fight [slay] the unbelievers wherever you find them, may they find severity in you”. I understood [then] that Islam doesn’t coincide with the spirit of peace and love, and I also met some Algerians who had converted to Christ. I received the grace to see the truth.
Why me? I don’t know, but I thank the Lord. My father was an imam and never had the chance to understand the Gospel. It’s true, it’s not easy to admit Jesus into your life. When I converted in 1982, I began preaching the Gospel in Algeria; I always sat in the rear seats of the bus for fear of being stabbed in the back. But when you have Jesus in your life, you thank God day and night. Nobody is better than anyone else, but God has given us grace. Today it doesn’t matter whether I’m French or Algerian: I ‘m a citizen of Heaven.
How do you spread the Good News?
This morning I distributed Christian calendars during my break. At work I put a tag on the back of my jacket with “I love Jesus” on it. Some make fun of me… We cannot speak about Jesus to everyone, but we have to show His love in one way or another, even if sometimes we are mocked. One day, an imposing gypsy told me that everyone used to be afraid of him, but after his conversion, no-one was afraid of him any more. People would say: “Antoine has changed”. The faith makes your heart good. But we have no right to force anyone to become a Christian. Each person has to choose for himself.
What do you think of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris?
It is not surprising. We see the true face of Islam in these attacks. Those people are not to blame, the blame lies with those who preach the Koran. Some people say they are mad or fundamentalists, but they are simply applying the Koran to the letter. Everyone knows this, but nobody says anything for fear of offending the sensitivity of Muslims. Most Muslims, are good people, but have a veil over their eyes. They aspire to an Islam of peace and truth, but it doesn’t exist. In Islam, for example, if you offend me and I don’t forgive you, God cannot forgive you either. In other words, a Muslim doesn’t only put himself on the same level as God, but thinks he is superior to God.
How can a climate of peace and hope be restored?
I hope that all Muslims come to know the Gospel, because it’s not through reciting prayers or respecting Ramadan that we are saved, but in knowing that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. Muslims live in uncertainty. “Inshallah” means “if God wills”. And if He doesn’t will? Peace will be possible when Jesus returns in all His glory. This is the only hope. However, I know that God loves Muslims, I’m certain of it! Recently, in Algiers, I met an 80 year old man, who had just completed a pilgrimage to Mecca. Upon arriving there, he saw Jesus, Who said to him: “Go back to where you came from”. He went back to Algeria and converted to Christ – at 80 years of age! There is hope!
[Original article in Portuguese translated into Italian by Roberta Sciamplicotti; translated from Italian to English by Rorate Caeli contributor Francesca Romana.]