Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Bernardo Cervellera

8/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Asia News (www.asianews.it/)

Leaving Islam is dangerous. It is done at the risk of one's life. Thus, dear brothers and sisters in the West, welcome and help those who do it

By coming out openly on TV as a Catholic, with the danger of recognition and persecution for 'apostasy,' Mohammed Christophe reasserted the importance of conversion and baptism. In Muslim nations, some refuse to baptise Muslims who want to become Christian. Yet, conversion means a revolution in the relationship with God, the Father, and Jesus, who gave his life, for one gives up everything putting one's life at risk.

Mohammed Christophe Bilek

Mohammed Christophe Bilek

Highlights

By Bernardo Cervellera

Asia News (www.asianews.it/)

8/1/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Muslim, Islam, converts, Catholic converts, Bernardo Cervellera, Mohammed Christophe Bilek


ROME, Italy (AsiaNews) - A few days ago, the website of Notre Dame de Kabylie posted a tape in which a former Muslim, Mohammed Christophe Bilek, talked about his conversion to Christianity. The original broadcast, which focused on the persecution of Christians, first appeared in 'Dieu Merci' (Thank God), a show that deals with religion on Direct 8, a French TV channel.

Mohammed Christophe Bilek was born in Algeria in 1950 and has lived in France since 1961. He is the author of two books: Un algérien pas très catholique (A not very Catholic Algerian), published by Cerf (1999) and Saint Augustin raconté à ma fille (Saint Augustine as told to my daughter), published by Éditions Qabel (2011). In the 1990s, he founded the Notre Dame de Kabylie (in French), a website devoted to evangelisation among Muslims and Muslim-Christian dialogue.

In the video, Bilek highlights the risk Muslim converts face when accused of apostasy, an offence that can be punished by death. Nevertheless, he insists on the importance of baptism, the encounter with Jesus Christ and affiliation with the Church.

His views go against those of priests and bishops in Muslim countries, who prefer to dissuade or even deny baptism to Muslims who want to convert out of fear for the consequences they and Christian communities might face.

Is baptising banned?

A few weeks ago, a bishop in an Arab country in the Middle East told me that police threatened to close one of his communities because members had advertised a Christian-Muslim meeting on dialogue. Police were concerned that this might be the first step towards so-called proselytising and apostasy. "If this is the reaction to a meeting on dialogue, imagine what it would be if we had a conversion," an embittered bishop said.

It is no wonder then that the prelate is against conversions and baptisms for only this seems to be the way to preserve the little freedom of worship that exists in the country in question.

In places like Morocco, and until recently Algeria, the situation is such that dioceses were instructed not to baptise Muslims who want to convert to Catholicism because "local laws ban it."

Fr Samir Khalil remembers that a few years ago, he met a Muslim whose request for baptism was rejected for 13 years. Baptism, he was told, would bring him a lot of trouble, force him to emigrate to avoid being executed for apostasy, and endanger the priest performing the baptism. And yet, for all this time, the would-be convert studied the Gospels and the catechism on his own and led a life of prayers.

In Egypt, the Christian clergy also tends to avoid baptising Muslims; only a few priests have done so in secret. Speaking to AsiaNews, a religious who has been in Egypt for decades, said that baptising at any cost "is against the Second Vatican Council because the Council said that non-Christians can also find salvation outside the Church." Implicitly, this means that baptism is unnecessary and that people find salvation according to their circumstances.

This is not the place to start a theological debate about the faith in Christ and the salvation of non-Christians. Suffice it to say, that both Dominus Iesus and the Doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization reiterate the importance of a 'visible' and socially relevant affiliation to Christ and the Church.

What is more, baptism is a life-changing experience, one that alters the convert's perception of life. Changes occur in the here and now, not in some future 'eternal' life after death. For this reason, offering others the baptism is not a superficial deed but a gift of life and hope in the present. Being baptised or not being baptised are not equivalent.

Christians' 'solar' God vs the Qur'an's 'lunar' God

Faith changes the present in a profound and meaningful way. On Notre Dame de Kabylie, Mohammed Christophe explains his conversion by stressing his new understanding of God.

"If the God of the Qur'an is the same as that of the Christians, why did I, Mohammed, become Christophe," he asked himself. "Having lived in Islam, practiced its precepts among people who are still Muslim (his family still is), I continue to be dazzled by the discovery of the Gospel," he said by way of answer.

"The light that comes from the Gospel suggests a comparison, one based on a certain premise. Anyone who wants to talk about the God of Islam must refer to Qur'an. If we replace the word 'God' with 'light', the light of the Qur'an is lunar, that of the Gospel is solar."

"Whether God is one, i.e. the creator, whatever the name we might have given him, is something I can accept. If we stuck to this premise, it would not be necessary to leave Islam and become Christian."

"Yet, Jesus came to reveal, first to the Jews, then to all men, that 'God is your Father, that God loves you and wants you with Him to give you His life!' Upon such words, I do not hesitate one moment. I accept the offer, not once, but twice. I know that the Qur'an makes an offer in which I may deserve (but that is not certain) a carnal and materialist heaven (Sura 38, 50-52) that reminds me more of ads for vacation spots to idle away the time under the tropical sun than of the certainty of 'knowing' my God and Lord."

What about the images we have of Christ and Mohammed? Two quotes say it all for Mohammed Christophe. In one case, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep," whilst in the other, Mohammed is told "O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses" (Sura 33, 50)."

"Let us be serious. It is one thing to say 'there is but one God for all;' it is another to say that He is interested in me, insignificant worm, to the extent that he 'deifies' me in Jesus. [. . .] Such revelation was my calling."

Jesus, man's freedom without submission

Mohammed Christophe also speaks about apostasy and the possibility of death that comes from following him.

Christ says, "Are you ready to follow me and leave everything for me? When one realises what Jesus asks, out of love, we can see how difficult it is to follow him. It is also one thing to say 'yes' with one's lips; it is another to leave everything behind for Him.

"For those of us who come from Islam, this means breaking with one's past, family and community as well as one's moral or spiritual certainties."

"I say it is much easier to remain a Muslim, not take a stance (since we have the same God). There are many easy excuses not to make the break, not to accept this transformation, not to die in oneself and not to follow Christ. Conversion is demanding and cannot be done without his help."

"This is what the rich youth in the Gospel could not do, because, at least at the start, one must freely agree. Jesus does not impose on me any "submission" but only the freedom to love him."

"This is an important difference. Does God create us as free men or slaves? Depending on our answer, God is not the same. In one case, I risk the punishment reserved for apostates or unbelievers; in the other, I am the prodigal son expected by his father, who calls all his servants as soon he sees him on the horizon."

"Leaving Islam is dangerous. It is done at the risk of one's life. Thus, dear brothers and sisters in the West, welcome and help those who do it."

"I insist. I am not talking about the God of the Muslims but of the God of the Qur'an. Muslims are my brothers; perhaps one day, they may be my brothers and sisters in Christ."

"Since the 1990s, this has not only been a hope but it has also been a reality that has made me rejoice and praise the Lord. Alleluia! Jesus has come to save all men, Muslims included."



Comments


More Europe

Pontifical Council Statement on the Violence in Iraq Watch

Image of Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis:

By Vatican Radio

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious ... continue reading


British rapper makes 14-year-old girl post sex video online Watch

Image of The girl, who can't be named for legal reasons, accepted a friend request from rapper Logik, whose real name is Kyle Burns.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a sick incident that highlights what's going on around the eyes and ears of semi-attentive parents. A British rapper who goes under the stage name of "Logik" asked a 14-year-old girl to pose an indecent 60-second video of herself to which he promised ... continue reading


A new tomb may be the burial place of Alexander the Great Watch

Image of This road leads up to a newly discovered tomb which could hold the remains of one of Alexander the Great's generals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered an immense tomb that they believe may be connected with Alexander the Great, whose conquests stretched from Greece to India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This tomb, which dates to around 300 BC, may have held the body ... continue reading


WRITTEN OFF: Debt used by Vatican to finance religious films wiped clean Watch

Image of The Vatican's at-the-time Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone ordered the investment in Lux Vide SpA. He said the company shared the Holy See's

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has tried to loosen ties between the Catholic Church and Italy's business and political world. The pontiff considers this longstanding network of relations improper and antithetical to the Church's religious mission. To this end, the Vatican has ... continue reading


Spanish priest stricken with Ebola returned to Europe for treatment; Victims left rotting in streets Watch

Image of Seventy-five-year-old Missionary Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest has become the first person carrying the deadly Ebola virus to be brought back to Europe for treatment.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Seventy-five-year-old Missionary Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest has become the first person carrying the deadly Ebola virus to be brought back to Europe for treatment. In the meantime, shocking new photographs have emerged showing more victims being dumped in ... continue reading


Pope Francis Teaches on the Beatitudes: Portrait of Jesus and the Path to Happiness Watch

Image of Let us try to recall them and to imprint them, in our hearts. Let's do this: I will say them one after the other and you will repeat them. Agreed? - Pope Francis

By Catholic Online

As Moses stipulated regarding the Covenant with God in accordance with the law received on Sinai, so Jesus, from a hill on the shore of Lake Galilee, gives to his disciples and to the crowd a new teaching that begins with the Beatitudes. Moses gave the Law on ... continue reading


WHAT HAVE WE BECOME: British mom jailed for having sex with 12-year-old son following instructions from boyfriend Watch

Image of The son in question, along with his brother, have been placed in foster care.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an especially revolting example of bad parenting, a 39-year-old British mom has been jailed for having sex with her 12-year-old son . while her partner watched on webcam, telling the mother what to do over headphones. The mother described the act as a "sex ... continue reading


GRUESOME WEAPON: Made from four human pelvises, tool was used to desecrate corpses Watch

Image of Four pelvic bones on a stick were found at the Dutch site, along with bundles of bones, bones bearing marks of cutting and scraping, and crushed skulls.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists have made a gruesome discovery. The bones of ancient Iron Age warriors around the time of Christ were impaled on wooden stakes in a gruesome religious ritual. Four pelvic bones on a stick were discovered in an archaeological dig in Denmark. ... continue reading


Spiritual Ecumenism: Pope Francis Visits Evangelical/Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy Watch

Image of Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church. This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the ... continue reading


France grants asylum to Iraqi Christians as U.S. rebuked for 'silence' Watch

Image of Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said on the House floor,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the genocide of Iraqi Christians continues, the French government now says it is willing to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians. "We are assisting displaced persons who are fleeing the Islamic State's threats and seeking refuge in Kurdistan," Foreign Minister ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 34:1-11
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 20th, 2014 Image

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
August 20: St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church St. Bernard was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter