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Jeff Benedict: Christian convert's beliefs hold up through violence, threats, imprisonment

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  • Reader Sandy, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    I just read "My Name Used To Be Muhammad", and there is no word to describe it but stunning. It is an incredible story, and he is an incredible man.

  • frugalfly PULLMAN, WA
    Nov. 11, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    Powerful book. It isn't for a younger audience, as it contains chapters which are honest in depicting the immorality of exposure to a oversexual "western' culture. My 11 year old boy powered through it ahead of me and we had to have some frank discussions. The book is very self disclosing and doesn't paint things comfortably. It is very honest and the voice of Tito is frank and honest if not at times naive. A must read for anyone wanting to understand the cultural battle being waged today in the clash between Islam and Christianity.

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 10:18 a.m.

    Brought tears...just reading this story.

  • KSB American Fork, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    Thank you for this insightful and wonderfully written story.

  • mattmo Gallatin, MO
    Nov. 11, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    Sounds like a good book to read. What I have read hear has brought tears of joy as one embraces the Love of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. Thanks for sharing.

  • Pavalova Surfers Paradise, AU
    Nov. 11, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    Wow, so amazing. We "hear" about such experiences but never get to read them first hand like this. Thank you for making this available.

  • DodgerDoug Salem, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    This sounds like a truly inspirational story. So glad to read of something positive and inspirational!.

  • FreeThinker Magna, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 12:56 p.m.

    “The next time I see him will be on the other side. I do believe he’ll be there. At that point he won’t be a Muslim and I won’t be a Christian. We will simply be children of God.”

    I cannot express it any more succinctly. The more that people understand we are ALL children of God, and treat each other accordingly, the better this world will be.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Nov. 11, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    I did not grow up in Utah.

    I was fortunate to be in a neighborhood with a lot of boys my age. (always easy to get enough for a baseball or football game)

    I knew these boys from the 1st grade all the way through high school.

    A couple of the boys went to the same church I did, so I knew what religion they were.

    I never asked or knew what church, if any, the other boys went to. It did not matter one bit.
    They were good kids.

    Isn't that the way it should be?

  • Shaden Lincoln, NE
    Nov. 11, 2013 2:16 p.m.

    I read an abridged version of Tito's memoir in LDS Living a few months ago. The story captivated me and resonated with me and my family profoundly. The level of this man's faith and endurance is very powerful. I've been looking forward to reading this book ever since. Thank you for telling your story, Mr. Momen, and thank you Mr. Benedict for helping capture the words. An important story.

  • windsor City, Ut
    Nov. 11, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    Wow. Thanks for this story.

    Twice this week in the DesNews have been stories of Islam, showing the two faces of those who are Muslim.

    I also loved the other story of Aden Batar, a Muslim refugee in Utah who is the head of the refugee program for Catholic Community Services.

    The biggest impression I come away with from both these stories is that the choice for Muslims is the same choice for everybody else--of any religion, or of no religion:

    To believe in, have and exercise love, kindness and compassion for their fellow humans....Or not.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 2:40 p.m.

    We live in a world that goes out of its way to make excuses for the Muslim faith and the Nation of Islam and the barbaric way they manage their religion. It is time we call it as we see it and stop trying so hard to sugar coat things. From this post we read "one who had been persecuted — beaten and threatened with death — for believing in Jesus Christ." Now I ask does Christianity or the Jewish Faith or the Hindu Faith turn to violence when someone leaves their ranks and joins another faith? Which religion reacts with violence ...documented and predictable? MUSLIM!!! Yes say it people - MUSLIM!!! What does that say about the Muslim faith? Yes yes we know it is only the extremists but the FACTS are the majority of Muslims outside of the US ARE EXTREMISTS. Muslims in the US live in fear ...even in the US ...to speak out for fear of being hunted and targeted for death. This sounds more like the Mafia than a religion. True religion is all about peace. False religion is all about vengeance and hate.

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing this. I too read the abridged story in LDS Living and was touched in ways that words cannot sufficiently describe. I treasue that feeling.

    Thanks, Tito, for your example of courage and faith.

  • Chris from Rose Park Hartford, CT
    Nov. 11, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    This was a touching story. Thanks for writing it.

    @patriot
    Please just calm down. I know wonderful Muslims. I don't believe there is a stat saying that more than one of every two Muslims is an extremist terrorist. I doubt it's even close to that.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    @patriot
    The Muslim fundamentalist he belonged to is no more a reflection of Muslim's then the Mormon fundamentalist are a reflection of the LDS Church or any other Christian religion.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    @patriot

    and yes the mormon fundamentalist do engage in the same types of behaviors, I have worked with some of those brave enough to leave.

  • Dave M Louisville, KY
    Nov. 11, 2013 5:06 p.m.

    Patriot,

    Do other faiths sometimes turn to violence when someone joins another faith? Yes, sometimes some of them do.

    Which religion reacts with violence? Many would have to cop to this (at least the individual adherents thereto).

    The majority of Muslims outside of the US are extremists? That seems highly unlikely. You will have to provide some statistics and a proper context. From all the news I get and interviews I hear, I take it that many (probably most) most devout Muslims want nothing to do but live their lives and have the extremists leave them alone.

    I understand that there appear to be more extremists among Muslims. But I recall the "troubles" of Northern Ireland. There is also the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    Nov. 11, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    And the Muslims call US "crusaders"?

  • fani wj, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 8:00 p.m.

    Great story, thanks for sharing

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 10:27 p.m.

    Religion makes us hate one another like nothing else can.

  • BrentBot Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 11, 2013 11:14 p.m.

    Patriot: A false religion is one which forces obedience on its adherents through threats of violence and outright violence, and doesn't permit Free Agency. A false political movement is one which forces citizens to adopt the "party line" and squashes freedom, eventually devolving into violence totalitarianism. Both become totalitarian, and such political ideologies in the past century were responsible for the deaths of 100 million people. Could we have identified the "great and abominable church?"

  • county mom Monroe, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 7:55 a.m.

    It is wonderful to read of this mans faith.
    Hutterite; Actually politics and political agendas make more people kill and persecute others. Those who are seeking control over the souls of other people use religion as a way to force people to their political agenda.

    I am always amazed at the number of people, including atheists, who get a holier or smarter then thou attitude toward others and then feel they know what is best for everyone. Not ever, not even once, has true followers of Jesus Christ Killed or plundered in the name of Christ. There has been those seeking political and monetary gain that have used religion to further their personal agenda.
    True followers of Jesus Christ are not easy to spot, they are those who serve others without an agenda, without gain or praise of the world. You could meet them and never know it.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    @Hutterite,

    "Religion makes us hate one another like nothing else can."

    I concede that's true, but how many times have you seen or heard of a Christian threatening or targeting another Christian for death if they choose to leave their denomination for another? Or leave the Christian faith for Islam or another religion for that matter? I say never, and that's the difference! The fact that religion has made us hate each other like nothing else as you stated is a true conviction of our failure to heed the Master's admonition when he said "Be one, for if ye are not one, ye are not mine." To me, it's one more solid proof that the Bible alone was not and is not sufficient in and of itself to bring us all to Christ. If it was, there would be no divisions whatsoever among Christians as to which church is truly the Church of Jesus Christ. That I believe is at the core of all the hate!

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    Hutterite,

    Not really. I think it is rather when religion is hijacked by political interests (as in Northern Ireland or in the Muslim countries dealing with extremism) that the problem presents.

    Religion can be a useful tool to "brand" the conflict such that folks see their interests aligned with those who are driving the conflict for very non-religious reasons.

    Also, religion sometimes is a marker for ethnic, tribal, or other differences that divide the populace.

    Note that it will be religious groups (without political interests) that will provide the relief efforts in the wake of conflict or natural disaster.

  • Jared NotInMiami, FL
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:57 a.m.

    "Religion makes us hate one another like nothing else can."

    If that is true than the inverse is also true - religion makes us love one another like nothing else can (actually, this is true regardless of the veracity of Hutterite's statement). People who use their religious beliefs to foster hatred of others do not understand their religion. We have to be careful to not get cultural and political aspects of some religions mixed up with the core religious beliefs.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    Nov. 12, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    And how often we think out lives are difficult when the biggest decision of the day is deciding what shoes to wear. Many in the West know nothing of the pain and suffering so many endure just to be allowed to exercise the tiniest bit of free agency.

    Thank you for sharing Tito's story.

  • John Locke Ivins, , UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 11:33 a.m.

    My wife and I were privileged to live in the mid-east for several years, among most of our friends, who were Muslim. We had many friends among that religion. Most knew we were Mormons, and indicated their respect for our religion because we did not drink alcohol.

    When you became friends with them, if they invited you as a Westerner into their home to eat, that was considered an honor. This even though you were considered

    We do not communicate with them as time and tide has separated us. I believe there are "good" Mormons and "not-so-good," Mormons. The same applies to Muslims. There are the "Wahabis," primarily from Saudi Arabia; the Sunni's and Shia, each with different views of their religion, but zealots among them are those who would take Brother Momen's life because of his conversion.

    We must always remember that we are all children of our Father in Heaven and understand them in that context. Brother Momen is an excellent example of one who is willing to place his life in danger, to religious zealots, for his beliefs, as did his Savior, and for this I applaud him.

  • cj2018 KUTZTOWN, PA
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    @ patriot - please do some research before making broad brush statements about Islam being the violent faith and Muslims being the great persecutors. It was Jews and Muslims who were persecuted for hundreds of years by Christians. Despite their relatively recent history, given that both religions are thousands of years old, they have more often been aligned in their beliefs than not. During the Crusades, when the established Christian church sent mercenaries to the Holy Land to "convert" the "infidels," there was no distinction between Jew and Muslim. The only distinction was between Jew and Gentile. Sadly, that kind of oppression and persecution continued in Europe through Pogroms that included wholesale slaughter of Jews and Muslims alike. And then, we arrive in the 20th century, where Christian nations refused aid to Jewish refugees and turned a blind eye to Jewish genocide. Yes, I am a Christian, but for much of its history, it has not been a legacy to be proud of. If you want to brand one group of people as evil because of the actions of a segment of the group, then you cannot leave Christians out, for our history is far more bloody than that of Muslims.

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    I've just returned from a stateside mission, where there are many different ethnic groups. The church is very aware of persecution muslim converts may receive and is careful in the conversion process so the convert or his/her family is not subjected to death or persecution. If the investigator comes from a country that does not allow religious freedom, the process stops.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Nov. 12, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    These are among the key findings from a survey of 11 Muslim publics conducted by the Pew Research Center from March 3 to April 7, 2013. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 8,989 Muslims in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey.

    In many of the countries surveyed, clear majorities of Muslims oppose violence in the name of Islam. Indeed, about three-quarters or more in Pakistan (89%), Indonesia (81%), Nigeria (78%) and Tunisia (77%), say suicide bombings or other acts of violence that target civilians are never justified. And although substantial percentages in some countries do think suicide bombing is often or sometimes justified – including a 62%-majority of Palestinian Muslims, overall support for violence in the name of Islam has declined among Muslim publics during the past decade.

    Overall, views of extremist groups are negative across the Muslim publics surveyed. A median of about a third or fewer have a positive view of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, or Hezbollah. And in no country polled do any of these organizations receive majority Muslim support."
    (Pew) via truthseeker

  • Mimifran Gymea, NSW
    Nov. 12, 2013 3:11 p.m.

    Inspiring. Thank you.

  • Stay the Course Salt Lake City, utah
    Nov. 12, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    Hutterite
    to make a comment like that showa while you comment a lot on these boards you dont know what religion teaches.
    Look up the first great commandment and the second one like unto the first and tell me if it teaches hate

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Nov. 13, 2013 8:25 a.m.

    As with everything, the small group of extreamists yell louder that the average Muslim. They get the most press. The sad thing is that the majority of the Muslims let them get away with it. They don't stand up to them.

    Maybe the father grooming his son to be the "Chosen One" may be more prophetic than he ever knew. His son will bring many to Christ thereby becoming the Chosen One.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 13, 2013 6:12 p.m.

    This is a very moving story. Tito's family is not the norm of Islam, their interpretation of it is only one of many.

    It is not the dominant form of Islam in any culture. It is a good story to share, but it needs to be shared without judging and using it to ask how we can all love each other more.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 13, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    The cultural fight is much more complex than "Islam" and "Christianity". "Islam" is no more unified and monolithic than is "the west". Cairo is not Kabul, anymore than New York City is Provo, and in fact, NYC and Provo have a lot more in common in many ways.

    There are many Muslims in both the United States and in other countries that value religious freedom. There are even some who have signed documents stating they unilaterally oppose any criminal penalty for conversion. There are Amadiyya Muslims who are rejected as Muslim just as much as Mormons are rejected by some Christians, except actually it is more like Amadiya are now treated how Mormons were in the 1890s when many Christians thought they were doing God a service killing Mormons in Florida and such places.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 13, 2013 6:20 p.m.

    There are many ways religion is used to justify violence. In Burma some Buddhists use it to attack and persecute Muslims.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Nov. 13, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    To claim that Muslims were persecuted for many years by Christians really misses the reality of history. The reality of history is that for 500 years the Ottoman Empire ruled over south-east Europe, which had a largely Christian population. Christians were second class citizens in the empire.

    On the other hand, even when Iraq and Egypt were under British control, local Christian populations were not given special treatment. India was a Hindu majority land largely under Muslim rule for 500 years.

    Jews might have been more persecuted in Europe, but they were not part of the ruling class in Muslim lands either. History is complex, and a narrative of persecuted Muslims and persecuted Christians is just too simple and does not work with the actual events of the past. Christian Ukrainians and Muslims Kazaks were both subjected to Russian imperialism.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    Dec. 6, 2013 6:23 p.m.

    Let's be candid here. There are allot of former Mormons who share how mistreated they were for choosing to leave the faith. We can cast stones at Islam if we like, but there is a reason that the Brethren stood up in conference and told us not to mistreat those who leave. Some members of the faith can be just as awful to those who choose to leave.

  • desert Potsdam, 00
    Dec. 6, 2013 6:35 p.m.

    Thanks so much for this story, and those comms.

    It is a little hard for me to believe all of this happening to him, but if that is true,
    I must concure.

    Let us keep in mind, it is not religion that makes people hate, it is the good or bad spirit that enters those who reign others.
    And then again we forgot what we got.
    The wars and persecutions rose from groups that did split away from truth, Islam and Christianity and who knows how many others are a split away from the original truth. We do not know now how true Mohammed was, or Budda, all we know is what people have transfigured into our minds.

    I know there is Truth in Islam, in Christian and Jewis Believes.
    Mormons seem to forget that the BM is the most original source you can get.
    As long as LDS is LDS it will never ever preach to persecute other people !