My dear Sorority sister who just visited me is a great Christian. I love many Christians. In fact, my dear friend used to take me to her local church, by the Harvard campus, when we were in college. I have great memories of the church. I remember the Reverend was young and eloquent, an admirable family man, with a beautiful young wife and children.
During my college years, I would sit with my Sorority sisters and discuss religion at length. I love those women so much. I remember that they sincerely wanted me to be "saved", for my own benefit and I appreciate that to this day. But, I would ask: "How can I be saved from the hell-fire, simply by saying that I take Jesus Christ as my Savior? What if I say that and later commit terrible sins? Won't I merit the hell-fire by my actions, regardless of my testament?".
I simply didn't believe that you could attain salvation without goods deeds. There was always the issue of the trinity, large and looming above my reason - "How can God say He is One and man say He is One + One + One and this equals ONE?" This was illogical idolatry to me. Although I do not believe in everything that the Christians believe in, I believe many things that they believe in too. In fact, I believe in the love and sincerity that I have received from them to be an honorable testament of Christ's (alayhi salaam) example, one that muslims should follow too.
As Allah (the Arabic word for The One and Only God of the Muslims, Christians and Jews, not a separate "God") is Perfect and the Best of All Planners, I was blessed to have been invited to accompany my Sorority sister to Deminent with a Marrakchi friend of hers. I am absolutely blessed to have had the honor of going along. While we were driving there, the host said, you are going to see an amazing library when we arrive. I had no idea of how absolutely wonderful it would be.
Once in the house, our amazing hostess toured us around. The first room that she took us to, had a framed copy of the original letter that the Prophet Muhammed had written to the Christian King of Ethiopia. This was history coming alive for me! Here I was before an archive of great significance, unexpectedly. My Sorority sister wasn't familiar with the letter, nor of it's great significance. I was stumbling around with my clumbsy Arabic, straining with all of my might to read it word for word and translate it to her, for her to grasp it's weight. I had to get help to translate it. The letter read:
“In the Name of Allâh,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad the Messenger of Allâh to Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Salutations, I entertain Allâh’s praise, there is no god but He, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Source of peace, the Giver of peace, the Guardian of faith, the Preserver of safety. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Mary, is the spirit of Allâh and His Word which He cast into Mary, the virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. Allâh created him from His spirit and His breathing as He created Adam by His Hand. I call you to Allâh Alone with no associate and to His obedience and to follow me and to believe in that which came to me, for I am the Messenger of Allâh. I invite you and your men to Allâh, the Glorious, the All-Mighty. I hereby bear witness that I have communicated my message and advice. I invite you to listen and accept my advice. Peace be upon him who follows true guidance.”
When ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damari communicated the Apostolic letter to Negus, the latter took the parchment and placed it on his eye, descended to the floor, confessed his faith in Islam and wrote the following reply to the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
“In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. From Negus Ashama to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allâh. Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allâh! and mercy and blessing from Allâh beside Whom there is no god. I have received your letter in which you have mentioned about Jesus and by the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus is not more than what you say. We fully acknowledge that with which you have been sent to us and we have entertained your cousin and his companions. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allâh, true and confirming (those who have gone before you), I pledge to you through your cousin and surrender myself through him to the Lord of the worlds.”
This Christian King, before accepting Islam, gave shelter to the muslims at a time when they were suffering great persecution at the hands of the Quraish. His goodness and piety, as a Christan and later as a muslim, were reknowned through-out the land during his lifetime.
Having been blessed to unexpectedly read this document with my dear guest, gave us the opportunity to discuss the phrases above where the Prophet Muhammed states that Jesus was born of a virgin, which led us into discussing the many Christian tenets that Muslims believe in too. It was truly an amazing trip, with Allah's magnificient prescence strongly felt in our every move. I left the home with tears welling up in my eyes. I felt that I had been priveledged to see the beauty and wealth of Islamic heritage that is well hidden in Morocco, as a pearl is hidden in it's shell.
There is so much more to tell. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I will never forget the hospitality and generousity that we were shown that day. The kindness of our hosts was truly remarkable and is an absolutely outstanding characteristic of the Moroccan people. For as long as I possess my mind, I will always remember this visit as one of the best experiences of my life. I feel so absoluetly proud to be a muslim, in the company of a Christian, when surrounded by muslims of such a high degree of Islamic knowledge and piety. Jazak Allah khair El Fatoui family, wa barak Allah ufeekum.