After marrying her husband, Amani was unable to reconcile her relaxed Muslim upbringing with her husband’s strict Islamic family culture. She sought answers in prayer, fasting, and reading the Qu’ran, but she still felt empty and unable to find answers.
However, when God led her to a Christian ministry center in search of education for her children, she found a peace that surpassed understanding, a community that cared, and the ability to forgive.
Amani’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.
Amani: I was comfortable at my parents’ house, a spoiled girl. I had everything and would get all that I wanted. In our home, we followed some traditions and customs that the girl must not go out alone.
When I moved to my husband’s house it was a huge change, as if I changed cities or even countries. Everything was different there. The woman must not express herself, must have no opinion in anything. Whatever the man says is considered true. Whether wrong or right, the woman must obey him anyway.
The woman shouldn’t wear sportswear or short clothes. She must wear long dresses, should fast and pray and read the Quran. They’d say that women must do these as imposed obligations.
Host: But you were not convinced, right?
Amani: No, I was not convinced. I would pray, fast, and read the Quran, but I wouldn’t find enough peace. No matter how much I read in the Quran! I was searching for something to give me rest but I couldn’t find it.
Host: What happened afterward? After getting married, having children and living with your parents in law?
Amani: I did not live with them. I couldn’t adapt although I tried. We would always fight. Everyone opposed me for not wearing the Hijab. My husband said, “I cannot force it on her”.
So his father replied, “Then I do not consider you my son anymore because of this. If you cannot make your wife do what you want, then we must not live together”. So we moved.
We lived together. Our life was very beautiful without his parents. I mean without their involvement. Despite all of this I could not find peace. There was always something empty in me. I was searching but couldn’t find anything.
When I came here, I met a neighbor. She would go to church. It used to annoy me that she went to church. “How could you, being a Muslim, go to church?”
That annoyed me a lot. She came to me one day and said, “If you’re searching for a school for your children, some people are coming from the UN, to the Center of the church. They are registering the children who don’t go to school, to open a new school.
I was hesitant. How could I, the Muslim woman, with my traditions and culture, go to church? So my husband said, “Go try. You won’t lose anything. Just this once, go to church”.
As soon as I entered through the Center’s door, it was a Thursday evening I can still remember, they were singing hymns and praising God. I came in and said, “These people are crazy. What are they doing?”
When I went to register the kids, they were playing the hymn, “Reign Jesus in my life”. I went home and that hymn would not leave my mind. I kept hearing it on repeat. This hymn made me go back to the Center.
When I went, I found comfort. As soon as I entered I felt an indescribable sense of rest. I kept going back without telling my husband because he was against it.
I went many times without him knowing, but in the end, I decided to tell him, because sooner or later he would know. It was better that I would tell him and not someone else.
I told him, “We are going regularly to church, the children and I. We don’t know anyone here but there we’re finding rest. We’re comfortable there”. (He replied), “If that makes you happy”. He was understanding.
When we came here we didn’t know anyone. We moved from place to place and our circumstances were very tough. My daughter was very hard to deal with. But after finding refuge in the Center and the church, we started praying for her, the sisters and I. And she changed a lot.
Host: What difference did you find between your previous religion, Islam, and Christianity? What was different, aside from the traditions and culture?
Amani: I saw that everything in Islam was imposed. It didn’t matter if you liked it or not. If someone got upset with another, he would wish him bad things instead of wishing him peace and showing him forgiveness. No.
But here, after meeting Christ, everything changed. I’m forgiving my worst enemies, although it was impossible for me to forgive anyone.
Host: Did you forgive your parents in law?
Amani: Yes, I forgave them.
Host: How big is the impact of the church’s brethren on your life?
Amani: When I first went to church, I was refusing to hear about Christ. And I might have, probably, I don’t really remember, maybe hurt some brethren there too. Yet, they accepted me.
They received me and explained to me again about Christ. When I used to go, they would notice that I was avoiding them so that they wouldn’t talk to me again about Christ. But they never gave up. They kept on trying and visited me endless times. I thank the sisters so much.
Host: And now you’re ready to do the same with others?
Amani: Of course.