Nour was forced into marriage at 15 and made a prisoner in the home. Later attending a food program, she was given a Bible. When her husband found her reading it, he tore it apart and beat her. Yet she met with Jesus, and when her husband left her, taking the children, the love of Christ compelled her to forgive him.
Nour’s story is featured on Women Of God, a TV program produced and funded by Horizons International. Women of God features interviews with Muslim women who share their experiences of persecution and suffering under Islam, and their stories and testimonies of how they have found freedom in Christ. This 13-episode show is aired in Muslim-majority countries through satellite TV, so that these women can share their stories with millions of people who also need Jesus.
Nour: I feel that the Islamic religion is all about punishment. They say that even young kids should be beaten if they don’t pray. I used to be beaten up a lot by my mother. She used to hit me a lot on my feet. She would repeatedly strike my feet with a rod.
Host: Because you wouldn’t pray?
Nour: Because I wouldn’t pray and do these things. They did not approach to help me understand. No.
Host: Then you told me that you were forced to get married.
Host: You didn’t get to choose your life partner.
Nour: No. At the age of 12, they forced me to wear the Hijab. I had to quit school at the age of 15. My dad pulled me out of school. At the age of 18, they married me off. Honestly, they forced to get married. Prior to my marriage, I was on the verge. But then I felt that I plunged into the dark. That edge, that hole became a bottomless pit.
Host: This means that your duties increased? Your husband turned out to be more fanatic than your parents?
Nour: Yes. He turned out to be a fiercer extremist than my family. When we first got engaged, I begged him to take me away from my family. I couldn’t endure them any more. Everything happened against my will. He said, “Ok, fine.”
Two months later we got married. We found a house. I went with him. He came and took me to Lebanon. He believed he’d have full control over me here, and neither his nor my family would interfere. He locked me in the house for a year and didn’t allow me to get out at all. He would leave me at home and wouldn’t bring anything home until he’d get home each day.
I used to ask if we could change apartments. But whatever I’d say, he’d hit me, telling me to check what my religion teaches, to pray and obey his word first, and then he’d decide whether to give it to me or not. I’d remain silent and not say anything. I’d only do what he desired: cooking, laundry and such things. I would get everything done at home.
Host: What happened next? You stayed for a year like that…
Nour: I stayed a year there at home. I had a neighbor who spoke to him. She talked to him and said “Let me take me her out and about,” “poor thing, she’s not doing anything” and things like that. Since she was an old woman, he accepted her request after some convincing. So she started taking me out for walks until one day she took me to a place where food portions were being distributed. I registered my name and they started giving me portions.
At that time, they gave me a Bible. He saw it with me. He said: “Don’t read this! These are corrupted words.” I asked, “How are they corrupted?” He replied: “This book is written according to the whims and desires of the Christians. Don’t read it at all.”
So I asked: “And the Quran?”
He replied that the Quran was sent down from God. “How did it descend from God?” “Yes, every word written in it is the word of Muhamad.”
“And who is this Muhamad who’d ask us to do these things?” That lets you beat me,” – and no one has the right – in Islam, the man is allowed to beat his wife, and no one at all is allowed to intervene at all.
I asked: “What kind of Islam is this, that lets you act like that?” Then he hit me and yelled at me. But I did not respond. I remained silent. But before I had started reading in the Bible, I had obeyed him and didn’t read it. The Book started showing me itself.
Though I would put it far away, I’d feel it saying: “What’s in me? Take me, read me.” So I took this book and sat down and started reading it. In Matthew, the first Book of the New Testament, it talks about how we can be like salt in this life. I read this passage more than five or six times.
While reading, I heard a voice inside the house saying: “My daughter, you are mine.” During this period, I was digging deeper in the Gospel and at the same time, I was being beaten up because my husband saw me with the Bible once, and saw the bookmarks and notes. So he took my Bible, ripped it apart and beat me, and beat me, and beat me, and broke me in front of my kids.
The Lord allowed that we wouldn’t move away from that house. During my time in that house, all the persecution I faced came through my husband. Some people knew me and they’d ask me, “How were you able to accept that in your life? Look how much you’ve changed.” I’d reply that I’d seen a huge difference, a great difference between Muhammad’s book and the Gospel. Muhammad ordained destruction, authority over women, and allowed men to dominate them. A woman would have no say, no respect or existence at all.
But Christ? Christ set me free. Christ listened to me just like He did with the Samaritan woman. Christ gave me worth and freedom in everything. He freed me from all of the chains within me.
Our Lord never desires that we’d remain enchained. So I felt as if I was living in a prison. I was truly living in a prison. But the Lord really came and set me free from this prison I was in. He gave that light to me and my life. And I sowed this into my children.
My husband and I separated and he took the kids from me because I believed in the God of Love, and the God of peace, who gave me peace in my life, the God who set me free from the bondages that people had thrown on me.
Host: Do you forgive your husband? Is it possible to forgive him?
Nour: I forgave him, and I told him so face to face because the God who lives in me has given me everything. Freedom in everything, and He has forgiven all my sins. If the God who is sitting on the throne came down to live among us and forgave us, who am I to not forgive those who hurt me?