What does Judaism, Christianity and Islam have in common? Other than being known as Abrahamic faiths — they were all the religions of 24-year-old Diego from Mexico. Mind you — he didn’t practice them all at the same time.
Like most Mexicans, Diego was a once-a-week, Sunday Church-going Catholic. He would attend gatherings with his family and was very involved with community work. However, at the age of 16, his Aunt decided to start practising Judaism. This sparked his interest in Islam — sounds confusing right? Well, it’s not as confusing as it was for the young Diego.
Diego recalls the moment his journey began: “One day, during one of her Sabbath celebrations, I heard her reading some Jewish scripture in which she mentioned the Prophet Moses. I was really surprised since at that time I thought all the prophets were Christians! Some of the teachings were about, there is only one God and how we must praise Him alone with partners or intermediaries — something which I totally agree with.”
Praying to saints never sat easily with Diego. Whilst he loved attending church to volunteer, he always felt more connected when he prayed only to God — directly — avoiding praying to saints and even to Jesus, altogether.
He would often help his Aunt prepare for her rituals during the Sabbath. As per some traditions, she wasn’t allowed to switch on the light, cook or use machines on Saturdays. Although confusing (and frustrating) at first, this allowed him to ask questions and learn more about her faith.
“I started learning more about both religions, but the more I read the more confused I got, and one of the biggest problems was I couldn’t truly understand who Jesus was. I reached a point where I admitted I couldn’t guide myself and I asked God for guidance, to show me the truth and the path He wanted me to follow.”
That was both the beginning and the end of another journey.
After attaining his scholarship to Germany, Diego relocated to study. It was here where he met Muslims for the first time. Apart from noticing their unusual headgear, he didn’t look much into Islam. “I always thought it was a religion for the Arab. Who worshipped the God Allah.” He did however befriend some Muslims and he stayed in touch long after his return to Mexico.
Diego loved his religion, or more specifically he loved worshipping God. He had a great affinity to the local Church but always harboured doubts about some aspect of the nature of God in Catholicism and often found no answers to some questions about worship.
Whilst talking to his friends online about religion, he was surprised to learn just how similar Islam was to Christianity: “I explained what Catholics do and got really surprised when someone from the Muslims told me: ‘We believe in Jesus and his mother too!’ I couldn’t accept it at first because I thought Muslims believe in a different God altogether, but then they began to talk about the prophets I believed in also!”
This piqued his curiosity, so he started investigating deeply about Islam and reading a translation of the Qur’an in Spanish. It was within this translation he began to unearth all the answers to his doubts and confusion. With the help of his Muslim friends online, Diego learned everything he could about Islam’s concept of God, worship, life and death. He even began to pray like a Muslim, stopped eating pork, and repeatedly visited the mosque.
Diego had to keep up appearances though so he continued visiting his church — so his parents wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary — however, he prayed only to God. But he still didn’t consider himself a Muslim, well, not yet.
All that changed.
“Diego,” the doctor says “You have an issue with your heart”.
“After being rushed to the hospital for what I thought was a reaction to an allergy, I woke up to something else quite alarming. The doctor was right though I did have a problem with my heart.”
It was a spiritual defect.
“It came to my mind that if I die and I didn’t accept Islam my destiny would be a bad ending. My fear increased when they got me into the shock room and they connected me to the ECG, then I asked Allah to give me more time.”
“I went to the cardiologist and he said my heart was even healthier than his, so I took it as a sign. I went to the masjid Isa ibn Maryam on a Ramadan Friday night, there were Muslims gathering, having iftar together. I asked them to tell me about Islam as if I did not know anything, and what they told me matched completely with what I had researched.
But I got scared.
What if I accept Islam now? What changes would Islam bring to my life? I went home without doing my shahada.
Days after, I started feeling the same symptoms that took me to the hospital, so I asked Allah again, promising this time I wouldn’t turn my back. I went on a Friday again to the same mosque, to see a Jumu’ah prayer. I talked with Rafael Barajas from iERA and he encouraged me to accept Islam before it was too late.
That hit me hard. This may be my last chance — so I took my shahadah.
I feel is such a blessing to be guided by Allah in this way, and that makes me feel the need to share Islam with others, many could be like I was previously, confused and not knowing anything about Islam. That gave me the opportunity to join other dawah projects – sharing Islam, desiring only the reward from Allah in the afterlife.
Diego is currently part of iERA’s team in Mexico sharing Islam.