I am Natasha, an Arab girl in Saudi Arabia. I was bred here and like many others have come to know Allah as my god.
The mosque was full of people, flocking in and out. I walked out of the mosque, my hands tied firmly to my Qur’an. Just few days ago I had witnessed the horror of turning away from Allah and in no way did I want that to happen to me.
My father is a teacher of the law, a great tribute in any Islamic nation. It put him high on societal ladder but hardly did anything to mine. I am still and would always remain a woman. But do not misconstrue, I am not interested in such recognition. I accept my place and care little about the issues of men.
I walked down the temple door, my hijab, clinging against my moist skin. The sun was blazing hot and the sand, blistering against my bare feet.
In the street, I heard a throng of people yelling. It was nothing unusual. I looked, and in a second, knew the cause of their rage; it was probably some missionary or heretic found preaching Jesus.
Even I, woman I may be, knew the punishment in store for them. If Allah was merciful, they might die a less painful death. Hopefully, Allah would be forgiving.
I looked away from the mob and unto the beauty of creation. It was such an irony when compared to all that happens in it. It looked so peaceful, so serene; it made life feel just alright.
But this time as I looked into the blue skies, and its clouds, stretching beyond our horizon, I was reminded of what a missionary once told me.
“He made it all; the sun; the moon; the stars. He made everything. He made you.”
I shook my head in denial. Allah was my god and there was no other. But my mind raced back to her words, “He loves you with an everlasting love, Natasha, so much, he chose to die in your stead, so you would not have to die.”
My heart grew warm at the thought. It was a love like no other. Not even my soon-to-be husband thought of me that way. To him, I was the mother of his heirs, and nothing more. So how could some god love me so much? Why would the creator of this whole universe, care for me so bad that he would die for me; for someone like me. I sighed. It was all fantasy, a wish upon a star.
But my heart still willed it to be true.
The racket of the mob brought reality back to me. What was I thinking? How could I dare turn my back from Allah and his law?
I should never have stepped my foot there in the first place; should never have allowed some basket weaver persuade me to go. In fact the basket weaver deserved death for trying to lead me from my faith. For if I was caught, not even my father’s position would help me.
But I couldn’t hold myself, for later that night, I found myself there, back in the underground church.
Somehow, I couldn’t get it off my chest. I needed to find the truth.
As I entered I saw them singing and praying and was struck by the joy they held. It was as if everything was indeed rosy, rosy. These people who suffered so much persecution had more joy than the whole Arab community at large.
It was not the strength or the power of their God that drew me, but their perseverance even in the face of severe persecution. It was their faith, and the joy they held that told all I was missing. They gave up their lives to preach the good news of their Lord to others; left the comforts of their home to tell it to people who weren’t interested
And then it hit me. These people didn’t have come; they didn’t have to leave the pleasure of their homes for us. But they chose to. They chose to give it all up for some people who only wished them death
And then it hit me. It was love, the same love that sent him to the cross.
And no, I didn’t need to see their Lord dying for me to be sure his love was true, for in their sacrifice, I was certain it was for real.
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