Asgar Ali is the second of the three sons born to Ali Zan in Uttar Pradesh. Asgar was sent to a madrassa like any other Muslim children for education. Asgar completed his tenth standard and began to work in a factory. At this time Asgar had peace-less and sleepless nights. Asgar became weary of the restlessness. There he began a journey to the source of true peace with many thorny and bumpy roads. Asgar, now a Christian apologist on Islam, shares his life transforming story with Jerry Thomas.
Jerry Thomas (JT): Welcome Asgar to Sakshi.
Asgar Ali (AA): It is my pleasure Jerry.
JT: Let us begin with your life transformation itself. How did you accept the Lord our God Jesus Christ as your Savior?
AA: It all began when I was working with a factory in Uttar Pradesh. I was very restless and sleepless. At that time, I had a Christian friend named Joseph. I had shared my weariness with Joseph. He then told to me that the true God can give me peace. I asked him who the true God is. He told to me that He is Jesus. I resented to that. I answered that Jesus is a prophet and not God himself. He did not argue but he prayed for me. On the day he prayed, I had a sound sleep. I felt unburdened. Next day morning, I went and shared my experience with Joseph. I requested him to teach me that prayer so that I can also pray. He gave me a New Testament and taught me which I later came to know as the Lord’s Prayer.
JT: Truly, Jesus is the Prince of peace. Money can buy you bed but only Jesus can give you sleep. But how did you accept the Lord as your Savior?
AA: I started reading the New Testament. When I came to Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” I felt very happy. I was assured that God wants me. Then I continued reading the New Testament for many days until I came to John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” I was stuck. I went and asked my friend who is the Son referred in this verse. He said it is about Jesus. I asked him how God can have a son when he does not have a wife. He said he does not know about these things but he directed me to one scholar named Vital Das in Chennai. I went to Chennai and met Brother Vital. Bro. Vital knew both the Bible and the Qur’an. He compared Surah 21:91 where it says “We breathed into her from Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a Sign for all people” and Luke 1:35 and explained to me that Jesus is not a biological son as it is misconstrued by many Islamic preachers. It clarified me the issue. Also when I was in madrassa, we were taught Isa means savior. So I had no difficulty in accepting Jesus (Isa) as Savior. And I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
JT: It was literally a long journey in fact!!! How did your family respond to this news? Did you tell them all immediately?
AA: I went and told to my family about the life transformation. My brother was very furious. He went and discussed it with a Maulana. Maulana came to our house. Maulana told me to leave the Christian faith and reconvert to Islam. But why will I leave Jesus. He gave me the peace. So, I refused to do so. Maulana abused me a lot with vulgar words. At this time, a voice within me continued to ask me to keep quiet and leave the place. So, I kept quiet. Later my brother asked me to leave our house. So, I left home and went to a Bible college in Lucknow to study.
JT: Indeed you left the family, father, mother and brother just as our Lord commanded in the Bible. Patriarchs and prophets also left everything for the Lord. Surely, Jesus Christ, Lord of patriarchs and prophets, will never leave you or forsake you. Let me ask you a different question. I have encountered Muslim converts who have great difficulty in accepting the Trinity and Incarnation. Was it difficult for you also?
AA: Indeed yes. For almost five years after I accepted Lord Jesus as my savior, I had great difficulty in accepting Trinity. Finally it came to a point when I thought I will leave Christianity and go back to Islam. I thought I will revert to Islam and continue to accept Jesus as a savior within Islam. I fasted and prayed. Then I came to the verse Psalms 110:1 “The LORD said to my Lord”. David was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write it. In Matthew 22: 43-44 Jesus himself interpreted this verse to mean about Himself. Then I understood Deuteronomy .6:4, which proclaims "Sh’ma Yisrael Adenoi Elohainu Adenoi Echud," which is literally translated as "Hear O Israel, Jehovah our God(s) is Jehovah a Unity.” Echud here means unity and more than one. All my doubts vanished when I understood the Sh’ma properly.
JT: Yes in fact. Elohim also indicates a plurality. Elohim is the plural form of the singular noun El. So you have the uni-plurality of God mentioned right at Genesis 1:1 and throughout the Old Testament. More than anything else, the infallible interpreter Jesus Christ has clearly interpreted Psalms 110:1 which you again pointed out. We will discuss more when we take up this topic again. I must say I am shocked by the utter ignorance of Christians who were with you for all these five years and could not make a theo-logical case for Trinity. To add insult to injury, these Christians are Bible College students- so-called scholars!!! These days Christians swallow the camel (major doctrines) and chew the gnat (minor doctrines). But I am sure that their ignorance of the loftiest doctrines would not have prevented them from being arrogant and judgmental towards you. How did the Christians, who were with you, treat you?
AA: Yes, that is another story. Since I did not accept Trinity at that time, my friends in the Bible college at Kerala (by this time I had gone to study in a Bible college at Kerala) started accusing that I came to Christianity to marry some women or make some money. They even started making some stories about me with another staff in the Bible College. I was so fed up that I left the Bible College. But then in a dream Jesus appeared to me as crucified. In the cross, I saw Him undergoing all mockery, terror and pain. He said to me, “Asgar, I had undergone all this for you. Will you not suffer for me?” That vision is etched in my heart for ever. I began to cry. This vision will remain with me. Then, I went to another Bible college to study.
JT: I am touched by this. Jesus accepts us with all our infirmities. Amen. He is the Lover of our Souls. In fact, He is the one who should have got offended by your disbelief in Trinity. But see, He loves us in our imperfection, even in our doctrinal imperfection!!! But did you have some difficulty in accepting incarnation?
AA: Yes, I had difficulty in accepting incarnation. One of our brothers, Srinivas, then told me that the best teacher is God himself so ask Him about my doubts. Then I fasted and prayed for three days. And then I read John 17:5, “And now, o Father glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Yes, Son was with Father, together with Him in glory before the world was. I accepted that Jesus was indeed God Himself.
JT: Yes, Son always made distinction with Father to show us about the triune persons within Godhead. Then He also made clear and unambiguous statements to show that He is God Himself, second person in the Trinity. For example, Matthew 18:20 which says “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” without ambiguity shows that He is omnipresent. God bless brother Srinivas who guided you to Jagad Satguru Sree Yesu. As I said, we will take up this topic in our next interview. Let me ask about your ministry. How did Muslims respond when they heard you preaching?
AA: Yes, initially, I was beaten up a few times. And there was almost no response to the gospel call. I thought Muslims will never accept the message and I was disheartened. Then again Jesus appeared to me in a dream and asked me to go to a Muslim dominant village with one of our brothers, Anil. After two weeks, brother Anil suggested that we both should go to that village. Since the dream was in my mind, I went with him. This time there was tremendous response to the Gospel from Muslims. I understood that we must go where our Lord leads then there will be great fruit. Also, I got an opportunity to preach in Urdu programs in radio through Gospel for Asia. There was so much of response to this program. One remarkable difference I always found was whenever I fasted and prayed God gave tremendous results. If not, it was always gloomy. The secret of successful ministry is to go where Christ leads and continue in the battle with fasting and praying.
JT: Yet another question from the family side. How is your family treating you now?
AA: We were not in touch for a long time, two years I think. Then I contacted my home. During this time, my brother had a Christian friend who was trying to evangelize him. My brother’s association with him, softened his stand towards with me also. After my marriage (I married a Muslim convert), I went to my home. They did not come for the marriage. But when I went home, they treated me so lovingly and gave me a lot of respect.
JT: That was so nice of them. Asgar, I would like to end this interview with such happy endings. Thanks so much for joining. Meet you again next week to continue our discussion.
AA: Thanks Jerry.