A Life Sentence

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(This is an excerpt from My Name Used to be Muhammad by Tito Momen and Jeff Benedict.)

I was in the middle of a silent prayer when I heard my case called over the loud speaker. I stood up and pushed my way through the crowed toward the front of the courtroom. The judge pronounced a guilty verdict and ordered me to serve a life sentence.

His words just hung in the air.

Life?

At first it didn’t sink in. I wanted to bury my face in my hands. But I couldn’t even do that. My hands were cuffed behind my back. Instead, I just let the tears flow down my cheeks. I didn’t care who saw me. I told myself: The Lord knows best.

But at that moment I wasn’t sure I believed that anymore. I was trying to cling to my faith. But I felt like a man hanging by his fingertips from the edge of a high rock cliff. I lacked the strength to pull myself up. And there was no one around to lend me a hand.

By the time I was led out of the courtroom and loaded into a vehicle to transport me to prison, all I could see was gloom and darkness. I had been a Christian for less than two years. I was thirty-one years old. And I was going off to spend the rest of my life in prison.

The Israelites spent forty years in the desert of Sinai before reaching the promised land, but it looked as if I was never leaving.

It would have been so much easier if I had just remained a Muslim and pretended to believe.

(Tito Momen, My Name Used to be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian [Salt Lake City: Ensign Peak, 2013], 216–17).

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