How 9/11 Motivated Me to Find Answers
By Rick Richter
Author of Comparing the Qu'ran and the Bible
9/11 didn’t just happen. It was preceded by the bombing of the embassies in Nairobi
Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on Aug 7, 1998 in which an estimated 223 people were killed and 4,085 were injured. Also 9/11 was preceded by the bombing of the USS Cole in a Yemen port on Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39. Things were happening. The signs were evident. Something was brewing. It caused me to purchase a Qur’an in July of 2001. Then the tragedy of 9/11 took place in the Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the fields of Pennsylvania in which nearly 3,000 people were killed. It was alarming.
Many different things were said about Islam. I wanted to know from the primary source, the Qur’an, itself the true story. I began in earnest to read and study the Qur’an and other books. Today that Qur’an copy is dog-eared, the cover has fallen off, the pages are falling out, and I have learned the answer to my questions.
I have read in the Qur’an about Jihad, Will of Allah, Jesus, Angels and Jinn, Crucifixion
and much more. I compared passages from the Qur’an with passages from the Bible. I have learned the answers to my questions. And I have learned of a basic difference in belief between the Qur’an and the Bible.
I also learned how to share my faith. Before 9/11 my wife and I visited the extended family of a friend of our daughter in Fort Worth, Texas. He was Muslim. At a cookout with the family, out of the blue, one of the relatives said to me, “you follow the teachings of Paul.” I was dumbfounded and unable to answer. I did not know what to say.
Now I would answer that Paul, (or Saul) believed just like Muslims that Christians were “blaspheming” when they called Jesus “the Son of God.” But then Jesus appeared to Paul in a brilliant flashing light. When Paul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Paul was baptized and “at once began to preach in the synagogues(pl) that Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).
I also look forward to witnessing to Muslims in my every day life. I met a Muslim when I was having a CT scan. I conversed with him about his background, (He came from Pakistan), finally asking him politely, “Are you Muslim?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “I have been reading the Qur’an.” He asked, “What have you learned? I said, “I learned that it says Jesus was not actually crucified, it only “seemed” that way.” He said, “That is right.” I went on to say, “For me the cross is a “plus sign” of the love of God, just as John the Baptist (who is important in the Qur’an) says, “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). With that it was time to pass through the CT scan.
Amidst the tragic events of life, such as 9/11, may we maintain a compassion for sharing the agape love of God in Jesus Christ with Muslims and all people.
Rick Richter has been a pastor in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for over five decades. He served in the Chicago area for many years and now ministers at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, Illinois. He is the author of the upcoming book Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible (Baker Books; November 2011)
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