After three years of investigating the origins of Christianity, I concluded that the case for Christianity was strong—that the Bible could be trusted and that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and claimed to be God.
Then David challenged me to study Islam as critically as I had studied Christianity. I had learned about Muhammad from imams and my parents, not from the historical sources themselves. When I finally read the sources, I found that Muhammad was not the man I had thought. Violence and sensuality dripped from the pages of his earliest biographies, the life stories of the man I revered as the holiest in history.
Shocked by what I learned, I began to lean on the Qur'an as my defense. But when I turned an eye there, that foundation crumbled just as quickly. I relied on its miraculous knowledge and perfect preservation as a sign that it was inspired by God, but both beliefs faltered.
Overwhelmed and confused by the evidence for Christianity and the weakness of the Islamic case, I began seeking Allah for help. Or was he Jesus? I didn't know any longer. I needed to hear from God himself who he was. Thankfully, growing up in a Muslim community, I had seen others implore Allah for guidance. The way that Muslims expect to hear from God is through dreams and visions.
1 Vision, 3 Dreams
In the summer after graduating from Old Dominion, I began imploring God daily. "Tell me who you are! If you are Allah, show me how to believe in you. If you are Jesus, tell me! Whoever you are, I will follow you, no matter the cost."
By the end of my first year in medical school, God had given me a vision and three dreams, the second of which was the most powerful. In it I was standing at the threshold of a strikingly narrow door, watching people take their seats at a wedding feast. I desperately wanted to get in, but I was not able to enter, because I had yet to accept my friend David's invitation to the wedding. When I awoke, I knew what God was telling me, but I sought further verification. It was then that I found the parable of the narrow door, in Luke 13:22–30. God was showing me where I stood.
But I still couldn't walk through the door. How could I betray my family after all they had done for me? By becoming a Christian, not only would I lose all connection with the Muslim community around me, my family would lose their honor as well. My decision would not only destroy me, it would also destroy my family, the ones who loved me most and sacrificed so much for me.
I began mourning the impact of the decision I knew I had to make. On the first day of my second year of medical school, it became too much to bear. Yearning for comfort, I decided to skip school. Returning to my apartment, I placed the Qur'an and the Bible in front of me. I turned to the Qur'an, but there was no comfort there. For the first time, the book seemed utterly irrelevant to my suffering. Irrelevant to my life. It felt like a dead book.
With nowhere left to go, I opened up the New Testament and started reading. Very quickly, I came to the passage that said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."