Friday, February 5, 2016

"My Name Used to Be Muhammad"

My mom and I recently finished reading a great book together called My Name Used to Be Muhammad: The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian. It's the true story of Tito Momen (whose birth name was Muhammad Momen). He was born in Nigeria, and raised to observe the strict teachings of Islam. His father woke him up before 5 AM each morning so that he could go to the mosque with the other men in the village for morning prayers.

At age 5, Tito started his training to memorize the Qur'an, and had to copy it word for word. His father had the dream for him to be an imam in their village, so groomed him for the role and was very hard on him. He was extremely strict and physically abusive, and wouldn't let Tito do activities that he enjoyed, like play soccer or do artwork.

When Tito went away to college, he started doing things that were not in line the Muslim religion, like smoking, drinking, going to clubs and womanizing. His father wasn't too happy when he found out. Things got worse when Tito began learning more about, and ultimately converted to, Christianity. (He was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) Tito's father disowned him after finding out about his conversion to Christianity. Tito was arrested for his decision to convert, as well. (The officials lied and made a false report that Tito was trafficking drugs.) Tito was sentenced to life in prison, and spent the next 15 years in an uncivilized Egyptian prison.

Tito petitioned Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, for clemency several times and wrote letters explaining his situation and how he had been charged with a crime he didn't commit, but it was no use, and his petitions were always denied. Tito tried to remain positive and upbeat, despite his less than favorable circumstances. Thankfully, he was finally released from prison after 15 years. When Tito stood before a judge afterwards, the judge asked him if his decision to convert had been worth it. Tito knew that it may have been a trick question, but he answered honestly and said that if he had to do it all over again, he would still convert to Christianity.

This was a great book about one man following his mind and heart when it came to what he believes. I definitely recommend it!
Tito (on the right) and Jeff Benedict (on the left). They worked together on the book.


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