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Mecca to Christ Introduction

Mecca to Christ Introduction

I grew up in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam. Mecca is a city in western Saudi Arabia, an oasis town in the Red Sea region, considered by all Muslims to be the holiest city of Islam. It was the birthplace of Muhammad (c. 570 A.D. – 632 A.D.), the great prophet of the Islamic faith and was the scene of his early teachings before his emigration to Medina in 622. Today, there are about two billion Muslims around the world who bow down five times a day, kissing the ground toward my home city, Mecca.

I come from a very prominent Saudi family. We are descendants of Joktan, son of Shem, son of Noah. When Muhammad brought Islam to my ancestors in 610 A.D., my tribe embraced him as Islam’s first prophet. The people of Joktan eventually became radical extremists, kamikazes of Islam. Through many generations, my family has produced warriors for Allah, the god of Islam. In fact, out of the nineteen hijackers from the 9/11 attacks, fifteen of them were Saudi Arabian. Several of those were from my own tribe, which is one of the largest in Saudi Arabia. My father called these terrorists heroes.

On September 11, 2001, after the last prayer of the day, I witnessed my father rejoicing as he preached in the Meccan mosque on how jihad[1] is an obligation for all Muslims. This is especially true for those from our own Joktan tribe. I can hear my father’s words even now: “Our jihadist heroes lifted up the flag of Islam in the United States and brought down the Great Satan to its knees! How important it is for all of us to follow their examples. We must take down all infidels until the name of Allah is exalted throughout the earth!”

Feast of Death

We slaughtered sheep and camels to eat in celebration of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead of mourning the precious lives lost that day, I am ashamed to say that my family celebrated. They looked upon these attacks as a victory. Throughout Saudi Arabia they feasted as revelers at the most extravagant wedding celebration you could imagine with the wealthiest families serving food on platters ten feet in diameter.

Imagine boiling a whole camel in a pot twice the size of a whirlpool tub. Cooks waited until the camels and sheep were tender and then added an unfathomable serving of rice. The pot was so big, you could swim in it. I still remember the mountains of rice rising from steaming pots, with whole sheep and camels strewn about to eat. So much food had been prepared that day, more than anyone could eat. Much of it was thrown away.

I can still hear the sounds of my family shouting, “Allahu Akbar! What a wonderful day it is! America has fallen!” The roar of AK-47s filled the air, mingling with their voices and creating a deafening cacophony of chaotic jubilation. In Saudi Arabia, it is common for men to shower the sky with bullets on days of great significance, like weddings. Sadly, on 9/11, every member of every family in our tribe felt more joy in the deaths of Americans than they had on their own wedding day. Hour upon hour, the night sky was lit up with tens of thousands of rounds, bursting overhead like shooting stars, exploding with great POPS, BANGS, and RATTLES, heard for miles around. It was the sound of war. And for my family, it was the sound of victory.

My dad saw this great tragedy as Allah’s long-awaited answer to the many prayers and petitions he had offered throughout his life. He constantly prayed that Allah would destroy Christians and Jews, and their great ally, America. It seemed Allah had answered.

I was born and bred in this deep darkness. I look back now in horror and wonder at what darkness had blinded our eyes and filled our hearts that we would rejoice in the deaths of innocent human beings.

From Mecca to Christ

My earliest childhood memories are of meeting people from around the world making their pilgrimage to Mecca. I had little idea why my city was so famous. Every day new foreigners would come. They brought with them strange tongues, trinkets, and traditions unique to their own countries. I remember seeing a pilgrim from Russia holding a matryoshka doll, also known as a nesting doll. The bizarre wooden figure separated in half, top from bottom, to reveal a smaller figure of the same sort inside; that figure separated, and it too held a figure—then again, and again—it seemed there was no end to the figures within figures! My father forbade me from touching it, as such things were considered idols, and Sharia law forbids us to own or have contact with such images.

My home life was far different in Mecca than in the typical American home. Most western homes have a father and a mother, whereas most Saudi Arabian homes have a father and many mothers. My father is no exception to this custom having several wives located across different cities.  Each wife has borne many children, giving me numerous siblings scattered across our country.

My father is a mufti, a high-ranking Sharia law judge.  He holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and Doctor of Philosophy degree in Islamic Sharia law. He is a well-known and deeply beloved scholar in the community.  He is a published author of many books about Islam and the application of Sharia law.  He uses formal classroom settings as well as informal contacts through social mediums like Twitter and YouTube to spread his teachings. 

As a boy, I would go to the mosque five times every day to pray. Starting at age two, I attended mosque school. It was similar to American Sunday school. By age thirteen, I had memorized the entire Quran and could recite it without a single mistake. Knowing the Quran front-to-back, I set my focus on my duty and my heritage to wage war for Allah and his messenger, Muhammad. I craved Paradise and all the splendor it offered and dying in jihad is the most direct way to obtain admittance. Jihad was my wholehearted, all-consuming desire until one night when Jesus Christ appeared to me in a dream.

How could the child of a powerful judge and leader in Mecca come to reject the false god Allah and embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior? What would it take for a member of the main tribe that engineered the 9/11 terrorist attack to renounce his loyalty to his heritage and kneel before the one true and living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? In this brief book I will testify—alongside many other witnesses—as to just how my blind eyes came to see the love of God in Jesus.

Before we begin, however, let me also say that some of the events in this book may seem truly incredible, almost unbelievable; but every event described herein, from my conversion forward, has been verified by numerous credible witnesses and trustworthy sources. Stacks of affidavits, sworn under penalty of perjury, were submitted to the United States government to assist in my protection when I sought asylum. While some of the details of my story (mostly names) have been omitted to protect my persecuted brothers and sisters in the Gulf States, I have preserved the specific facts and context of my life’s story, making it a truthful representation. The publisher of this book has received the testimony of a multitude of witnesses, notarized affidavits, as well as many interviews to corroborate the authenticity of this account: my very own testimony.

My Goals for This Book

My primary goal for this book is to first exalt the name of Jesus and to “give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (Psa 105:1).

Every day that passes since I have known Jesus, I have felt the weight that the Apostle Paul felt when he considered the souls of his own people. “My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people” (Rom 9:1-3). My prayer to the living God and Father of Jesus is that he would open the eyes of Muslims everywhere; that he would grant them repentance and faith so that they may no longer be blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4); and that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).

Fleeing persecution, as I journeyed around the world, I came into contact with a wide range of opinions. I have heard what heads of state, university professors, and mass media in the West are saying about Islam, generally taking the position that Islam is a peaceful religion. I have talked to people who have confessed to being genuinely confused about the disconnect between the official narrative and the horrific news about atrocities perpetrated by the likes of ISIS or Boko Haram.

I am also fully aware that, thankfully, the radical Islam in which I grew up is not taught by the majority of imams (Islamic preachers) and not practiced by most Muslims. I am not ignorant of the fact that some countries around the world with a Muslim majority population have been and continue to be tolerant to some degree toward minorities of other faiths. Even the Arabian Peninsula was relatively moderate before the advent of Islamic Wahhabism[2] in the 17th Century. It is no wonder, therefore, that the question “What is the real Islam?” is one of the most burning uncertainties of our generation. Maybe out of a lack of knowledge or out of fear, it is a grand investigation that few are willing to tackle.

As understandable as the reluctance to tackle this topic might be, my personal background compels me to provide clarity on this topic to you, the reader. To accomplish this, I will need to take you back to the inception of Islam and to the life of the prophet Muhammad.[3] In doing so, we will come to the surprising conclusion that both moderate Muslims and Jihadists can claim to find support for their views in the Quran and in the life of its author, and we will see that it all depends on the part of the Quran to which they refer. We will also see that the Quran mirrors the life of Muhammad, whose personal journey went through two distinct periods shaped by different influences.

As much as the facts presented in this book are disturbing to some and unbearable to others, I feel they must be tackled head-on that many might to turn to the truth that is in Christ alone.

My deepest desire is for all to find the peace and unconditional love that I found in Jesus Christ. Not sharing my testimony, although clearly safer for me in this life, would be selfish. God has given me so much, and I feel compelled to share with others the treasures he has gifted. In particular, I feel a special calling to reach out to Muslims, especially those who have tried to kill me. They are my people after all, and I am convinced that they have been deceived, and that not one is beyond redemption. If this book could only lead them to cry out to Jesus, he would reveal himself to them. If this book would only encourage them to investigate the claims Jesus makes about himself in the Christian Bible, he would open their understanding!

I also hope this book will mobilize Christians around the world to evangelize Muslims and all people who are without Christ and without hope. I pray true Christians will listen to God’s command to “Go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19).

In writing this book, I have relived much of my suffering, but I did so to expand Christ’s Kingdom. I pray that my story is not just words for you, but that you will mobilize yourself to proclaim the love of God.

My final goal for this book is to encourage those who are suffering persecution around the world, especially other professing Christians, to persevere and stay strong. Islam would be dealt a fatal blow if Christians would open their homes and arms to those fleeing from the oppression, control, and darkness of Muhammad’s religion. Light always overcomes the darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (Jn 1:5). If you are reading this as a persecuted Christian, consider my story and understand that there is hope in Christ. “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37, ESV).

When we suffer for Christ, our comfort is to identify with his cross and rejection. As Paul said, “If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering” (Rom 8:17). Our precious Lord said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (Jn 15:18).

I know that, through Christ, all things are possible. He alone can bring these goals to pass. My deepest desire is for Christ to build his church. We know that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

Dr. Ahmed Joktan, The United States of America

January 20, 2020

[1] killing non-Muslims in the name of Allah

[2] Wahhabism is the most strict and radical form of current Islam.

[3] See appendices 1 and 2.