Thomas Hamill, the Haliburton truck driver who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2004 and escaped 3 weeks later, probably doesn't even know that his story was instrumental in the conversion of a Muslim from Morocco named Sayf to Christianity.
Sayf told his story on the Arabic Christian television channel Al-Hayat on a program entitled "Daring Question". When asked about his name, which means "Sword", Sayf commented that Islam is the only religion in the world that has the word sword as a common first name. Even Col. Gadhaffi has a son named Sayf al-Islam, "the Sword of Islam".
Sayf was a very religious Muslim until the age of 54. He wore a robe and beard, prayed 5 times a day, and in addition to the month-long fast of Ramadan fasted every Monday and Thursday. He allowed no music in his house, no movies, no TV serials. He would not greet nor shake the hand of a woman, and even gatherings in his house did not contain both men and women.
All that changed in 2004. Here's how Sayf tells the story:
RASHID: So you were 54 years old, and very religious. What attracted you to the Gospel? A lot of people won't be able to understand how a person of your age and experience could make such a change.
SAYF: It will be hard for some people to understand. I hadn't been searching for Christianity or reading the Bible. Some times I picked up a Bible but I always had this feeling that I was touching the corrupted book of the infidels. But what drew me to the Gospel was Jesus Christ himself.
SAYF: In April, 2004, I was in America. In early April I was watching the news and saw a news item watched by millions of people around the world. It was about an American truck driver named Thomas Hamill who was kidnapped in Iraq. There was nothing unusual about my watching the story, but what happened some days later was arranged by Jesus. I saw another news story about his wife and children and relatives in a church. The church was filled with people who were praying to Jesus to release Thomas. You can imagine what I thought as a Muslim of people asking this of Jesus. I laughed at their prayer; I mocked and scorned them. I thought, "How can these people ask Jesus who is only...."
RASHID: A prophet...
SAYF: God married Mary and had a son named Jesus...that is what we think Christians believe and it is a big problem for us. It made no sense for them to ask Jesus to release Thomas. I laughed at them. But several days later I was watching the TV again and there was Thomas free and standing with American soldiers.
RASHID: So you were laughing at the Christians' prayer, and in the end it came true.
SAYF: I was listening to the TV announcer, and all of a sudden I heard the voice of Jesus. He said, "Sayf, you were mocking the Christian prayer. But I set him free." It was as if someone turned a switch in my heart from off to on. And from that moment I began to search.
RASHID: To search for the truth.
SAYF: I took a Quran in one hand and a Bible in the other and began to compare them. I did this for 40 days. The Quran was in one hand, the Bible in the other, and the computer in front of me. I would perform my ablutions for the Muslim prayer, and then I would pray as Christians do. After 40 days, Jesus spoke to me again...
RASHID: How did he speak to you? Many of the viewers can't understand this. Was it a voice or an impression?
SAYF: It was a beautiful voice. I literally heard it. He spoke to me first in Arabic and then in French. He said, "I am your Lord, and I know all languages...."
RASHID: Because Allah of the Muslims only knows Arabic...
SAYF: That was on June 11, 2004, and I have been following Jesus ever since.