That was the challenge levelled at historian Tom Holland on The...
From Muslim to persecuted Christian
Asylum seeker Javaid Khan, 36, tells of his conversion from Islam to Christianity, and the consequences of following Jesus Christ.
I had a happy childhood as one of six children. I never wanted to leave Pakistan; I love my country and am very patriotic. I was brought up a Muslim, but for me it was more of a cultural thing than a belief. My older brother, on the other hand, can recite the Koran by heart.
Soon after setting up my own business as a mortgage advisor, I was introduced online to the woman who was to become my wife. Her parents were Pakistani and she worked as an IT consultant in Scotland.
In 2007, she travelled to Pakistan and we married two days later. She decided we should live in Scotland as she needed to look after her mother. Eight days after the wedding, she left Pakistan.
MY MOVE TO SCOTLAND
I applied for a passport and visa, which took 18 months. I learnt basic English, but the only jobs I could find in Loch Lomond were in Asian restaurants or cleaning. My wife said these jobs were too lowly and kept me at home. She became very controlling and I was not even allowed to answer the phone.
We started arguing and she became violent towards me. I never hit her and was scared to defend myself. One day she hit me around the head so hard that I bled. She threatened to call the police and say I had hit her first. I told her to go ahead.
The officers took me to Clydebank police station. I told them what had happened, and they said they believed me and that I could leave. I realised I couldn’t live with her any more and ended up staying with a Pakistani friend in Slough.
I received a letter from the Home Office saying my wife was no longer willing to be my sponsor. If I could prove the separation wasn’t my fault it would help my case to stay in the UK, but the solicitor I had appointed turned out to be bogus and told me they had no record of the police report.
THE SHAME OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
I then received a letter from my wife saying she wanted a divorce. I didn’t contest it, but I tried to keep the news from my family. Pakistani society is male-dominated, and a wife attacking a husband is shameful and embarrassing.
I was working in various restaurants when the Home Office came and said it was illegal for me to work. I was taken to a detention centre in Glasgow for two-and-a-half weeks. One Friday night I desperately prayed to God to help me.
Beyond all explanation, I was released in the morning. I know now that this was God intervening. I appealed to the Home Office and they said that I could stay but couldn’t work. I had run out of money, but the Refugee Council housed me in a studio flat in Glasgow.
I was asked in court why I didn’t have the police report. The judge ruled I was to leave the country. I submitted another appeal. I phoned my family and told them what had happened. They were upset and told me to come home, but I wanted to prove I could make a life for myself here. I later learnt God was keeping me in the UK for a purpose.
DID JESUS REALLY DIE?
I was reading the Islamic book of Hadith and finding lots of things I didn’t understand. I wanted to find a priest to answer my questions about Jesus, but was afraid to go to church in case they thought I was a troublemaker.
A while later, a Pakistani friend called me from East Anglia and offered me a job. I moved down and contacted a local church. They gave me a Bible and offered me a one-to-one Bible study.
IT’S LIKE GOD IS IN THE PROCESS OF POLISHING A DIAMOND TAKEN FROM THE DIRT
I asked them how Jesus died and they said he was crucified. The Koran says God took him to heaven and he didn’t die, so I began researching online. All the historical evidence – Christian, Jewish and Roman history – said he was crucified. While the Koran is self-referencing, the Bible is proved by other scholars. So I started studying the Bible.
However, the Muslims I was with found my Bible. I was sacked and told to leave the house. The church helped me with rent and I found another job, but by then I knew I was no longer a Muslim.
John 14:6 [‘Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”’] proved to be a life-changing verse for me. Jesus also said: ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last’ (Revelation 22:13, KJV). So how could Muhammad be the last prophet? Muslims believe Jesus will come back and save them, but don’t believe he’s the Son of God. The Koran is full of confusion.
I was baptised on 21st April 2013, and am trying to be an ambassador for Jesus in Muslim communities. My older brother found out I had become a Christian and said if he heard me say the words he would come to Cambridge and kill me. I can’t bear the thought of losing contact with my family, especially my mum, but I know I need to stand up for my faith.
My brother persecutes me because I chose my religion myself. Islam doesn’t allow choice. He has never killed anyone in his life, but this would be like an honour killing. It’s hard to explain to non-Muslims.
If God didn’t care about me he would have left me in Pakistan as a Muslim. He brought me through the difficulties to teach me lessons. I was not very good at speaking and was shy, but now I can express myself well, particularly about the Bible and faith. It’s like God is in the process of polishing a diamond taken from the dirt.
I know I am richer for knowing Christ, despite the fact this may mean not seeing or speaking to my family again. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I believe that if I am faithful, then God will be faithful to me.
Name and image altered for security reasons
JAVAID KHAN was talking to freelance journalist Charlotte Walker