By Sarah Montez —
Shahana’s discharge of Islamic obligations was faultless, even to the point to breaking off friendships with Christians who dared to talk to her about Christ.
But when tough times befell her family, she wondered why the “true god” didn’t truly answer. “I had followed Islam for so many years, but my prayers were not answered,” she says on a StrongTower27 video. “I found that my prayers were never accepted. I always used to think, ‘Why is this so?'”
Raised Sunni Muslim in India, Shahana was taught to eschew Christians and Hindus to stick with the “truth” of Islam. She’d never met a Christian until she enrolled in secondary school, where one friend annoyed her by talking about Christ.
“If you are only going to talk to me about Christ,” she snapped one day, “then it’s better not to speak to me.”
Islam prescribes five prayers scattered throughout the day for its faithful followers, and Shahana never missed.
“But over time as my family went through much suffering and pain, I used to pray,” she says, translated in the video.
But “I found that my prayers were never accepted.”
The lack of response to her prayers was only one unsettling question bothering her brain. She also wondered why Allah seemed unable or unwilling to use any language?
“Why are we told to read Arabic only?” she wondered privately. Muslims must pray in Arabic. Prayers are not accepted in English or Farsi. Muslims must read the Koran in Arabic; the translation is not as good. Allah, it was taught, demands Arabic, the language of the founder of Islam, Muhammad.
Her doubts were growing, but nobody encouraged her to ask. Searching is not permitted in Islam, only submission.
With troubling thoughts brewing in her mind, she relented from the ostracism of her Christian friend. Still, she wouldn’t admit any talk about Christ.
Then, Shahana got the experience that Muslims consider a sublime privilege, a high point in life. For those without many resources, to be able to make pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, is a wild dream.
Shahana visited Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. Her uncle lived there, and she participated in rites of Islam.
She poured out her heart sincerely to Allah: “If you truly exist, show yourself to me,” she prayed.
When she returned to India, she felt a longing to meet her Christian friend to talk. After gabbing about nothing in particular for a while, the Christian friend asked another troubling question about Islam: “Why is it that in Islam a man is allowed to marry up to four wives?”
“This bothered me too,” Shahana dropped her guard. “But we can do nothing about it. It is Allah’s command. Thus, we have to obey.”
“I will say that in the Bible, in my holy book, God gave one Adam only one Eve,” she responded.
Shahana was taken aback. “How can this happen?” she asked.
She began to criticize Christianity, parroting the unfounded accusation universally spread in Islam: “You’re Bible is changed.” It’s not in the original form, she said.
The Christian girl invited her to talk to a former Muslim a week later.
Shahana immediately attacked him for being apostate, abandoning his faith.
But the man didn’t get upset: “Look, Shahana, let’s talk about these things,” he said.
Over the next few weeks, they got together and he taught her from the Bible.
It was all so intriguing. Why did the Bible seem to be the superior account of events? Could it be that the Koran was corrupted and the Bible was true?
Shahana kept attending Bible studies and even began to lie to her parents, saying she was receiving cosmetology classes at a beauty parlor.
This continued for six months. Then her mentor recommended she study the Bible at a nearby Institute. Not everyone at the Institute was Christian. Shahana was reading many books, some favorable to Christianity. Eventually, a Muslim librarian realized Shahana was questioning her faith and set up an intervention.
Without knowing what meeting she was invited to, Shahana went in with this librarian and found herself face-to-face with eight Muslim clerics.
“We hear that you have been coming here to learn about Christian teaching,” one said on behalf of the group. “It would be better for you to learn the teachings of the Koran.”
Shahana was not intimidated by this virtual inquest.
“God gave me courage,” she says. “God protected me from those people in that difficult situation.”
She confronted her interrogators: “I know the Koran very well. Can you teach me something about Christianity?” she asked them, but they refused.
Eventually, Shahana dropped out of the Institute.
Next her mother confronted her when she found Shahana with a Bible. She threw it out and delivered an ultimatum: “I don’t want to see this book in this house again,” Mom warned her.
Shahana had to read it in secret. She woke up at 2:00 a.m. to read it with her cellular phone’s flashlight under her covers.
A third time her mother caught her with the Bible, and her parents decided to arrange her wedding to a 45-year-old Muslim, and thus keep her in the fold. Shahana was 21. She was effectively imprisoned in her own home and deprived of food to break her will.
“At that time, my younger brother helped me,” she says. “God motivated his heart somehow to help me.”
With the help of her brother, Shahana ran away the day before the wedding.
She wrote her parents: “Mother, Father, please forgive me for I have accepted Christianity. Don’t try to look for me because I will marry a Christian man. I am leaving for the sake of Christ.”
She escaped at 5:00 a.m. and went to the house of the ex-Muslim who first taught her the Bible. He took her in. She married an ex-Hindu, and the newlywed couple fled to Northern India because their lives were at risk.
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Sarah Montez studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy just outside Pacific Palisades, CA.