I know more how you feel than you might think. Actually, I was trying to convert a Muslim gentleman from Egypt into Christianity over 21 years ago and I got stuck. Really stuck.
You see, I was saying things according to what I had heard from many different preachers and missionaries, while this man was practicing the very way of Jesus, peace be upon him, in front of my eyes.
The man was praying many times a day (every day) and fasting and doing such kind deeds, sharing whatever he had with us and always being the most polite person you could imagine.
I had thought at one time, if we get this man to Christianity, he could qualify as a saint almost immediately. (LOL)
Seriously, his manners were much better than I thought considering he was one of those "MOZLEMS". He exhibited something of good character and intelligence beyond anything I had been prepared for.
Even then, I was still thinking of ways to get him to Christ. After all, I was not prepared to admit anything could be wrong with my beliefs, the bible or Christianity at that time.
Here is something to consider and it was presented to me by my friend from Egypt in a way that really made me think:
"Islam teaches us to go to the thing that is best, no matter what it is"
He even indicated he would go to my religion if it was better than his religion. This really got me going and I thought, "I got him!" After all, think about this; in Christianity you don't have to pray five times a day, you don't have to fast the month of Ramadan (you don't have to fast at all), you don't have to make a pilgrimage to any place, you don't have to worry about your sins, because all of that is dumped on Jesus (peace be upon him) and your free to go on doing whatever you like, more or less.
When I presented this to him, he simply told me again, "I am ready to go to your religion if it is better than my religion - But you will need proof"
"What do you mean 'PROOF'? Religion is not about 'PROOF', it is about 'FAITH'".
He told me, "In Islam we have faith, but we have proof to back it up."
Me - "Do you mean to sit there, as a Muslim, and tell me you can offer solid proof that there really is GOD?"
Him - "Do you mean to sit there, as a preacher for Christianity, and tell me YOU CAN'T?"
"What did he just say? There's no solid testable proof for the existence of God."
Him - "Islam provides us with clear evidence for the existence of Allah and proof that Islam is the correct way."
Of course now I want to ask him for his proof. But that would mean if he has any proof I am the one who would naturally have to move to what he has, right? After all, if his religion teaches you to go to the thing with the most proof, where would I be if I said different?
There is of course, much more to the story. But this is sufficient to give you the essence of my beginnings of reevaluation of the philosophy I had harbored for many years.
The proof for Islam is all around us in everything we do and everything that happens. Once we understand the meanings of the Quranic text into the English language (at least the basics), then we begin to see a whole new picture. Then if we ask for Guidance from Above, there can be no doubt, the Guidance of Almighty God will come.
The Quran is the literal SPEECH OF ALLAH to the unlettered prophet, peace be upon him, who was predicted in the Old Testament. Muhammad, peace be upon him, loved Jesus, peace be upon him, and clarified what his mission had been and what it would be in the future when he returns to the earth in the Last Days. Muhammad, peace be upon him, made many amazing predictions that have now come true in front of our own eyes, even in our own time.
Basically, Islam as a word describes the way Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught his disciples, but as a way of life is not new at all. The verb it comes from is aslaama, and It came with Adam, peace be upon him, and was rekindled by each prophet who came after him. The essence of Islam is very simple: Declare your belief in the One God of the universe, then be steadfast on that belief. Loving God is more than just loose words. It is to commit oneself to the service of the Lord in all we do, from the time we wake up until the time we go to sleep. It is to submit to the Will of God in our daily lives from childhood to the grave. It is to surrender ourselves over to Him on all levels and do our best to be in service to mankind for the sake of our Lord and be in peace with whatever He may cause to befall us, good or bad.
That is ISLAM.
If anyone, anywhere, anytime declares the correct belief in the One God, Creator of the universe, and their commitment to follow His Commandments and His Messengers (prophets), peace be upon them all, then this person has in fact, submitted in peace to the Will of God (ASLAAMA). Simple as that.
So, what is the difficulty? Why is there so much surrounding this phenomenon of conversion to God's Way?
Think about it.
Was it easy for the prophets of old? Did they have it easy? Were their lives full of worldly things? Did they prosper in wealth, high rank and position and fame? Did they snap their fingers and get whatever they wanted?
In fact, some of them suffered way beyond what we could even imagine.
Allah tells us in the Quran, this life we are going through here on earth is but a test. All of us are in the test. Some will choose to submit and will be tested even more while they remain here. But these people will most definitely gain the highest of places in the Next Life. While on the other hand, those who refuse to submit and take a course other than what Allah has ordained or prescribed for them, these people will without doubt be the losers in the Next Life.
And above all, it is always the choice of each individual to choose for themselves which direction they want.
Pastor, I am nobody in front of the Lord. In fact, I have to beg Almighty God everyday to forgive my sins and to grant His Mercy on me, with high hopes of His Grace so I may be absolved and enter into the Paradise. If there was really a shortcut to Heaven, I would be the first to sign up. But fact is - there is nothing like that.
Each and every one of us will be called to account for what we have done with this time He has granted us and none of us has a GOLD CARD for the Gates to Paradise to charge our sins to. This is ridiculous and we both know that. There is Grace. There is Mercy. There is Forgiveness. But this is only for those who did believe and do the deeds of righteousness and tried at least, to live as followers of the prophets, peace be upon them all.
We don't need to look at the lives of people around us to decide which direction to take. Many will claim to be in the right way, and still others will assume to speak on behalf of God Himself. But our own heart tells us clearly what the right way is and if we want to be guided - the Guidance is there.
You can do what I did, and what others have done and some are even doing right now. Just open your heart and mind, clear away all of the previous misgivings, doubts and whispers of the devil. Then ask Almighty God, Lord of the Universe: "God, guide me".
That is the key to open the door of true salvation. Humble yourself to your Creator and sincerely, humbly, ask Him to bestow upon you the Way, the Light and the Truth. And He Will.
Beyond this, I can do nothing more that offer my prayers for both you and I - for this very same guidance.
"May Allah, Almighty God, Lord of all that exits, grant us both His Guidance, His Mercy, His Forgiveness, and save us from the punishment of Hell and grant us Paradise, ameen."
Peace, brother Irving, peace,