My deadline for writing this column came shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11. A dozen different potential columns passed through my mind. In the end, I decided to devote this space to excerpts from a letter faxed to me on September 12, one day after the tragedy. It gives personal, individual focus to a conflict normally discussed in global terms—and poses an important challenge to the church. For me, everything going on in the world took on a different slant because of this letter.
Dear Mr. Yancey,
Considering the terrible tragedy that happened yesterday in this nation, I don't know whether this is the appropriate time to write about something personal. But perhaps because of what happened, I think I should write this letter, because I am convinced now that evil does exist in this world.
Growing up in Pakistan, I was a moderately religious Muslim. During the past few months, some of the events in my life caused me to think about God. A friend of mine had a brain tumor, and that caused me an immense amount of pain and sent me searching for the answer for "Why?" I read some books about the prophet Muhammad and the Islamic faith by Western scholars. I was shocked to learn a lot of things about my religion that I never knew. I felt—and still feel—betrayed and hurt. In a closed society like Pakistan, any sort of criticism of Islam is punishable by death, so one cannot have an unbiased view of the faith.
As I found out all these not so agreeable things about Islam, I found myself drawn toward the Christian faith. So I just called [a local pastor in the United States]. Over the past few months, I met with him regularly, and every time I asked him a lot of questions. Each time he would give me books to read.
For a Muslim ...1