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Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Jim Coates' Testimony

Jim Coates' Testimony

May Allah be pleased with him

I've been many places in my life. I guess since my childhood I have always felt a personal connection with God; in a way that I cant describe but to say it seems special. I have always had the earnest desire to know and learn more about God and please him. That was when I became a Pentecostal Christian since my mother was involved with a Pentecostal Church group (My father was Catholic and mother became Pestecostal). In my desire to grow closer to God I wanted to know if I was following the true religion that He sanctioned.

I had a realization that my lifes experiences were very small in comparison to the vast world of other religions... there was much more out there. The question came to my mind while in prayer concerning other religions, "Who was correct?" "How do I know that I am following the right faith?" "Was I following blindly or do I really know the true path?"

In prayer I had an inspiration to find out the truth. My prayer was something like this: I said to God, "I dont know if I am right or wrong but I believe in you. I believe as a Christian, I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour but if for some reason I am wrong please guide me and don't let me go astray. The only thing among all religions that I can see is that they all point to you so I will only pray to you, God the Father, until you set my mind at ease. I will committ one hour per day in prayer and worship to you on my face and beg for your guidance to either confirm my Christian faith or guide me to the right path."

From that day foreward I committed 6-8 hours per day in study of Christianity to find out first which denomination was true to Jesus' teachings. I could not find any that I felt were true to his teachings. So, I began to question the origins of the Church and the New Testament. Then I came to the realization that Jesus followed more closely Jewish Law and Tradition and his teachings were strikingly similar to Jewish teachings from Rabbis and Scribes in his lifetime. I then began to affiliate with the Messianic Jewish Movement. The more study I did in this movement led me to a lot of Jewish teaching. I focused more on the lifetime of Jesus and then decided that I wanted to learn more about his life's teachings and practice, without any other outside influences, like Paul's teachings and others, or Church theologies since they all differ. I also advanced in my understanding of Bible history, both old and new testament.

I was beginning to write a book on how to convert Jews to Christianity when in prayer a thought came into my mind that I needed to learn more about Judaism, the very religion that Jesus practiced and had many of the same dealings with in his lifetime. I went to an Orthodox Jewish Synagogue and began to learn about Judaism. They taught me many things aobut the concept of Oneness of God. I reviewed my New Testament and found that Jesus, quite possibly was in agreement on such issues. It seemed that much of Christian Doctrine was derived from the Pauline Scriptures which prevailed after the destruction of the original Church in 70ad. Even the original disciples maintained relations with Jewish scholars and remained in their synagogues rather than forming seperate churches, until Pauls missions to the Gentiles. So, I began to believe that the Jews and Jesus were not far apart from their core teachings on the Oneness of God. I learned that Jesus main problem with "some" of the Jewish scholars of his time was not the issue of God being One God (unique and without offspring) but that they were hypocrites, expecting the people to adhere to their ridiculous religious decrees while missing the real reason for the rules and themselves violating Gods rules. Thus, I began to believe as Jesus believed (from what I have learned) that there is no God except God, no partners or persnalities.

Perhaps this is where you might say that I exited Christianity. I felt like a more true believer since I prayed for Guidance and was following in Jesus footsteps, without any outside influences. From here on I began to seek Jewish Conversion into Orthodox Judaism, but still believed in Jesus as the Christ. After almost 2 years of the classes I continued to study the origins of the Bible and now focused on teh origins of the Old Testament. The Jews were very honest about their scriptures and told me (offering proof) that some of it wasnt written down for thousands of years and it was finally edited in and put together in its current form in the second century as it struggled to stave off mass religious conversions to Christianity based off of the lack of a central compilation of their writings. I learned a lot more about the Jewish Scriptures and Torah that lead me to believe that, like the New Testament, I cannot rely on it since man has scripted it over the course of large portions of time, after they were utterly destroyed in wars and through many languages and have no true originals.

From here I decided to take a step back and revisit my studies on other religions. I reviewed hinduism and buddhism and they didnt settle right with my concept of Oneness of God or with their scriptures. Hinduism I began to believe was strikingly similar to Christianity in its core teachings of their trinitarian Godhead.

In prayer for guidance again a thought came to me, "have I put to rest the other Abrahamic Faith?" I thought to myself that Islam was not an abrahamic faith but that I would study it and give it a fair chance. When I studied Islam, I found that I already agreed with much of it since it is what I either learned or saw examples of in the Bible (not just bible stories but other things also). Especially its strict monotheism (Oneness of God). I said in prayer, "if this religion is true then guide me to it and if it is false then keep me far from it." I told myself that if it is true then its book will be held to the same test that I put the Old and New Testaments and it will pass my test. I also told myself that this is the last major religion that I have to study... if this isnt true then I believe in God but not any of the religions on the planet since I can find no convincing evidence that God gave us any of the religions... I told God that beyond that then I guess I'm Gnostic.

I studied the Qur'an and put it through very harsh scrutiny, even beyond that which I put the Bible. I found it to be the most accurate religious text in the world. Meaning that all religions have writings and acclaim them to certain people but none of the have as accurate or original texts as the Qur'an... The four gospels people claim was being circulated as early as 60-100 years after Jesus... Jesus never saw these books. The other NT books were much later. The torah was in its current form that wee see it today from 1275 years after Moses is said to have written it. Many of the books of the Prophets in the OT were edited about 400bc (5th centruy)...neither moses or the Prophets (like isaiah, ezekiel, etc) ever saw the Jewish Scriptures in the form we see today. Neither Old or New Testaments have originals that any of the Prophets, Patriarchs or the Christ ever saw or authorized in their lifetime.

With the Qur'an one of the close followers of the Prophet, Abu Bakr, then became the first Caliph (leader) of the Islamic Republic. Abu Bakr took immediate steps, after the death of the Prophet to insure that the Qur'an was preserved in it's original form and didn't suffer the same fate as the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. He ordered that all of those who memorized the Qur'an from the Prophet be tested for accuracy and they recited the entire Qur'an. He ordered Muhammad's formal secretary, Zaid Ibn Thabet, to collect all the writings. All current writings that did not match the words of the Qur'an exactly were gathered up and destroyed. All of those who recited the Qur'an without flaw worked on putting the Qur'an in compiled written form for the purpose of spreading the faith. The final version was established by Caliph ?Uthman around 650 A.D. Teh whole process from start (the Prophets death) to finish (the final copy) took about 18 years to complete. The original still exists to this day in the London Museum and another copy in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. So, anyone can see of their Qur'an matches the original exactly and can be assued that it was the same one revelaed to the Prophet Muhammad.

So, I know this is long... I apologize for that. So much in my story. I became Muslim for 2 primary reasons... Tawheed (the Oneness of God) and Authenticity of the religion's core book.. can I be assured that what I am following is from God through His Emissary and not altered (subtracted from or added to) by man at a later date, lost and recreated, or added by anonymous sources? The fact that I already believed in much of it from my studies of the Bible were minute contributions to my wanting to become Muslim. Also, during my entire study, I've had Christian and Jewish scholars and believers to ask questions and learn from but I never had a Muslim to ask about Islam... I studied, prayed and trusted in God for His Guidance...thats it.

Jim Coates

Houston, TX

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