published: Friday, 28 December, 2007, 02:09 AM Doha TimeAN American Christian priest, Severedo Royce, now known as Ali Guatemala, has embraced Islam and was one among the 17,000 American Muslims who performed Haj this year.
Speaking to the Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat, he said that as a divinity student he had in his final year worked as a staunch evangelist. His focus of attention was on the inmates in the prisons of Queen City, Texas.
Explaining the circumstances that led to his conversion to Islam he said: “As a divinity student one had to be well-acquainted with the sacred books of the other revealed religions. I had to read the Holy Qur’an and the very first verse I read was the turning point in my life. It is the opening lines of the chapter entitled “Cow”: ‘This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah’. It was an affirmative statement about the authenticity of this Book that rules out any suspicion or doubt.
“When I began reading further I found many basic points contradicting my Christian faith. So I sought the help of my superiors in the church. They evaded my questions and advised me not to read the Qur’an too much because it is the “work of a Satan!” As time passed by I became increasingly convinced that the Qur’an is truly a divine revelation, inimitable and impossible to be the work of any human being.
“I went through a turbulent period of inner conflict but I was firm in my prayers that the Almighty should guide me to the true religion. Ultimately I decided to become a Muslim.
“I had to face severe opposition and anger from my family members. My sister, who is a Jew by faith, frightened me saying that the Muslims may kill me. I was physically seized with this fear and stayed away from the mosque for some time. But ultimately I discovered that it was an imaginary fear. My sister herself conceded that the Muslims had not deceived me.
“When I arrived here (Makkah) and entered the precincts of the Holy Ka’aba, I began to tremble and weep in an involuntary manner. I could regain my composure only after some time.
“I have for the past five years been using sleeping tablets for getting sleep. But when I arrived in Mina I fell asleep naturally. It is something that I have been missing for so many years.”
Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah.s praises. Such is the guidance of Allah. He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide.
( Az-Zumar, Chapter #39
, Verse #23
And when they (who call themselves Christians) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: "Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.
"And why should we not believe in Allah and in that which has come to us of the truth (Islamic Monotheism)? And we wish that our Lord will admit us (in Paradise on the Day of Resurrection) along with the righteous people (Prophet Muhammad SAW and his Companions)."
So because of what they said, Allah rewarded them Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), they will abide therein forever. Such is the reward of gooddoers.
Al-Maeda Sura #5 83:85
Mohsin Khan transaltion