The beginning of doubtful thinking
I was wandering in a sea of suspicions, doubts and refutations fueled by atheistic books and western atheist dialogues regarding the Christian faith in particular after it has declined there with the calls for abandoning religion and glorifying science. Shortly, I began to be impressed with this adorned language and the glaring calls of sanctifying reason and spreading materialism.
In consequence of these atheistic thoughts, I gradually started to isolate myself from the surrounding society, even avoiding family sittings and staying most of the time – if not entirely – alone outside the house. I had no friends except some atheists I got to know from the atheistic forums. I was always in connection with them discussing these doubts fueled by the books we were reading.
Planning to Leave
As time went by, I started to feel the danger surrounding me and felt that I need to make a radical social conversion. Later, I decided to leave for Germany.
I had to keep my intention to travel as a secret from my family and the society as whole. I didn’t trust even my atheist friends to know about that fearing one of them may be undercovering or faking atheism.
I renewed my passport, got a tourist visa and booked my flight – all without my parents having the slightest idea. Even my flight time was late at night – and I used to be late for home – so I parked my car in a close neighborhood, got off and hired a taxi to the airport.
Upon arrival to Germany, I [applied for asylum, was] offered a temporary accommodation near the airport and my personal belongings were confiscated – including my cell phone – temporarily. Thus, my parents didn’t know where I disappeared for nearly 11 days. Later I learnt that my father knew about my travel to Germany after he enquired at many governmental offices.
Life in Germany
I kept moving from one shelter to another and from one city to another. As I reported to the authorities that I had a bank account with some money, they did not believe that I spent the full amount. Therefore, I was not entitled to a monthly salary like other refugees! The early shelters provided free food, so the lack of money was not a big problem for me in these shelters, as other refugees got a monthly amount of about 60 euros. However, there was a change in the refugee status and things changed for me, as other refugees got a salary of 320 euros. In return for this increase, there was no food served in their shelters. For me, I got no payment, because they thought I had enough money that I brought from my country. So, I suffered from hunger, and days passed without having anything to feed on.
In fact, there was an organization for atheists that kept sending me about 100 euros a month, and it was barely enough for my basic needs, besides food. I was frustrated and depressed, especially when I was transferred to a distant area in a forest. There was nothing around us except a German military area. The closest relatively large province was Wittenberg, and there was a bus that could take me there for about an hour and a half, to the best of my memory.
There was a small lake near that shelter, about ten minutes from the forest, so I used to go there and stay alone by myself.
With the intensity of my desire to commit suicide at that time, I had no objection to try the most dangerous drugs in the world, and I actually tried a number of them, some of which were deathly enough if tried once; I tried them many times, and I survived every time!
As I moved to another shelter, the intensity of hunger and depression persisted. Despite being in a large village, I still suffered from hunger, poverty, loneliness, and disease.
My illness worsened, and I was hospitalized more than three times for a week or more each time. Besides, I had nervous breakdowns in addition to the effects of drugs. It was really miserable life.
I might here stop and contemplate on the verse: “And We will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will return [i.e., repent].” [As-Sajdah:21].
At that time, I began to feel no value for my goals or for what I came for, and I couldn’t return home. I was in touch with Richard Dawkins’s assistant and some atheist organizations that showed sympathy and support.
I had no concern but suicide. I read about methods of committing suicide, took drugs with lethal quantities, like taking 30 pills or the like swallowing them all at once. Indeed, I was feeling nausea and other symptoms which indicated that I poisoned myself.
I severed my wrist and forearms, targeting the vital veins, and their traces are still on my hands, and I may photograph them for you.
I stood on the edge of the windows while I was drunk, and even while I was awake, I used to do that, but I hesitated then; what if I fell but did not die? Would I rather become paralyzed or suffer more pain?
An organization promised me a comfortable life in a big city, sponsored a personal lawyer for me, took care of my accommodation after the asylum procedures were over, transfered me to a big cosmopolitan city, the media city in Germany (Cologne), and took care of me. Despite all that, I was telling myself: “What is the benefit of surviving when I know that in any moment I may die? Does this life deserve patience for its suffering for the sake of temporary happiness that is vulnerable to lose at any moment?”
I stop here to contemplate on the verse: “And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed [i.e., difficult] life, and We will gather [i.e., raise] him on the Day of Resurrection blind.” [Taha:124].
I was running away from hearing the Qur’an, even when someone dialogued with me wanted to discuss verses from the Qur’an with me, I used to ask him to tell me the meaning of those verses, not the verses themselves. I did not want to hear or read the Qur’an.
There was something that scared me of suicide! What if there are really heaven and hell? So, I looked back, and contemplated that an atheist becomes atheist only if he does not take death into account.
Here, for the first time in years, I decided to open the Qur’an with a great hesitation.
I opened the beginnings of Surat al-Baqarah, and I couldn’t stop crying. My voice reached one of other refugee at the end of the shelter, and he asked me later: What made you cry?
My voice was very loud; so I decided to use a room that was abandoned for teaching the German language in the shelter. It was not in use due to the few number of refugees. I then started to listen to the Qur’an, and felt as if my heart wanted to come out of my chest with very intense palpitation.
The Quran shook my being, and here I pronounced the Shahada.
Praise to Allah.
Translated by: Ahmad Al-Huthail, Muhannad Walid
Revised by: Dr. Antar Abdellah