Former Professor of Al Azhar writes about the roots of violence in the Quran.
The author of the forthcoming "Islam and Terrorism" (Charisma House) writes with authority, as a former professor of Islamic history and culture at the most prestigious Muslim institution in the world -- Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. Raised to be a devout follower of Muhammad, Gabriel began reciting the Islamic holy book at age 6 and had memorized the entire writings by the time he was 12. After studying Islam at the University of Cairo, he graduated second in a class of 6,000. But his scrutiny of his faith led him to discover Islam's dark underside. He could not understand why Islamic nations had been so violent toward one another through history, and he wrestled with the many contradictions he found in the Quran. "I became very confused between the teachings of Islam and the Muslim practice of Islam," he recalled. "This was a very big issue to me, but I was not allowed to question anything. No one is." Gabriel's questioning led to his suspension from the school and eventual imprisonment. "I didn't know where to turn," he said. "I had always been told that Christianity is the wrong faith because they believe in three gods. So, for a year I was without a god." While working for his father, Gabriel developed chronic headaches and started visiting a local pharmacy for help. The pharmacist, a Christian, finally asked what was wrong because she feared that he was becoming addicted to the medication. He told her he had been searching for the true God. "She smiled and said, 'I don't think this is something you can deal with by taking tablets,'" he said. "She handed me her Bible and made me promise not to take any more tablets until I had at least read some of it." He took the Bible home and started reading in the book of Luke. "I lost all track of time," he remembered. "It felt like I was sitting on a cloud above a hill, and in front of me was the greatest teacher telling me about the secrets of heaven and the heart of God." Gabriel gave his life to Christ. But when his father learned of the conversion, he tried to shoot his son. Gabriel's sister and mother helped him flee the country. He made his way to South Africa, where he received discipleship training with Youth With a Mission. Because of continued threats on his life, he was forced to move to the United States last year, seeking religious asylum.