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Chapter 14: Changes and Conversions

George left for the café to meet Adam, but when he arrived he didn’t find him. He asked another waiter who was working there about his absence, but the waiter replied that he had no news about him…

•George: I saw Adam just yesterday and we agreed that we’d meet here today.

•Waiter: We don’t know why he didn’t show up for work this morning. In fact his absence is very strange. Don’t worry, he’ll probably come tomorrow.

George left the café and went straight to Adam’s house; he knocked on the door but nobody was there. He even tried to call Adam on his mobile, but he couldn’t reach him, so he returned home feeling rather anxious and uneasy.

•George: Katrina, Adam has disappeared; I couldn’t find him at the cafe, he’s not at his house, and I couldn’t reach him on his cell phone.

•Katrina: Darling, this isn’t the first time this has happened; don’t you remember this happened before?

•George: Yes, you’re right. I thought he was with those who were imprisoned because they were accused of that terrorist explosion, but I didn’t even know he was Muslim then.

•Katrina: I don’t know him as well as you, but I do respect him. I saw how compassionate he was when you were sick, and I saw how he reacted to Kach’s ill manners.

•George: And what you don’t know about him, but what I know for sure it that he always advised me properly and wanted the best for me, I saw this often. I was even surprised at how he would care for me in this way.

•Katrina: What’s surprising about it?

•George: It wasn’t surprising until I knew he wasn’t a Christian.

•Katrina: I don’t understand, why?

•George: Because he was the one who urged me to go to Tel Aviv and learn the Jewish religion, he also urged me to learn Christianity and go to Rome. But why on earth would he do this when he’s not a Christian?

•Katrina: Maybe it’s a sign of the confidence he has in his religion.

•George: Or maybe because of his confidence in the way of life and path he follows?

•Katrina: Anyway, the Holy Qur’an is a rather unusual book, aren’t you going to read it this week as you said in your email?

•George: Yes, I will, but the problem with Kach is really annoying me, and then the disappearance of Adam. Nonetheless, have you finished reading it yet? I want to read it.

•Katrina: Yes, I have, but I think I need to read it again. Would you like me to buy you a copy?

•George: Okay, buy me a copy if you’re near a bookshop, but what language is it in?

•Katrina: The holy Qur’an is only in Arabic.

•George: How can you read it then?

•Katrina: I only read the translation.

•George: When it comes to the Bible don’t we read the translation of both the Old and New Testament, so what’s the difference here, anyway?

•Katrina: Based on your questions in the e-mail, I have actually revised and read about this very subject. The Qur’an has been transferred in the most precise and accurate way ever known in history. A lot of people have transferred the holy Qur’an from Muhammad, who then transferred it to many others, even up until this day, and it hasn’t been distorted by any of those who transferred it up until this day. But the translations, however, might include some misrepresentations and errors.

•George: How?

•Katrina: A lot of priests have actually translated it, but they did it in the manner that suited them, and there are also some evident errors in some of their translations.

•George: Then should we say that the Qur’an belongs to only the Arabs, and the one that is for others includes errors?

•Katrina: Perhaps, but that’s not what I said! You can find in many places where it actually states that it is not just for the Arabs, as it is “for all people” (translation of Quran). Also there are many translations that are good, but when there seems to be any errors, one should refer to the Arabic text. What is even more remarkable is that the Qur’an has been transferred accurately not only in its written or verbal form, but also the way in which it should be pronounced as well.

•George: And what are the criteria to know if the translation is correct?

•Katrina: The translator only translates the meaning of the Qur’an and not the Qur’an itself, since the Qur’an is only in Arabic. But you will notice that when you read it.

•George: I’m tired now and I want to sleep, but I’m also hungry and need to eat, and I’m worried about Adam, and also confused and I want to give my reply to Kach - and you’re busy only thinking about the translations of the Qur’an!

Katrina smiled and then said:

•Katrina: Then let’s have supper quietly together, and leave the other things aside for now.

The next morning George woke up and prepared himself for work. He left feeling heavy headed and depressed, wondering if it was because of Kach or because of the confusing matter he was concerned with which he hadn’t decided about yet?
He entered his office and called Adam. He couldn’t reach him, so he sent him a message. A few minutes passed and Kach called him to come to his office.

•Kach: You look so worried, what’s wrong?

•George: Nothing, I’m just a little bit tired.

•Kach: But you seem worried!

•George: It’s nothing for you to be concerned about, I just can’t find one of my dearest friends and have been looking for him. I’m a little bit worried about him.

•Kach: Did you look for him at his work, house and through his friends?

•George: Yes, and what is peculiar is that his friend, the waiter in the café, said he didn’t say he wouldn’t go to work, and that’s not like him.

•Kach (laughing): Ha ha ha, your dearest friend! Isn’t he that waiter we met in the hospital?

•George: Yes.

•Kach: I was about to kick him out of the hospital. How can you have a waiter as a friend?

•George: It’s Katrina who almost threw you out when you attacked him. Adam is my dearest friend and I don’t like you talking about him like this.

•Kach: You’re a candidate for the position of the manager of the company, and then you tell me a waiter is your best friend! I’m afraid that despite your functional efficiency, your social intelligence is limited, which is really important when you hold high positions.

•George: Does social intelligence mean treating people rudely, obnoxiously and arrogantly?

•Kach: It means having the skills to win the favor of important characters who can increase your income and your chances as well.

•George: Is friendship for you a way to get more money and opportunities?

•Kach: Yes, all the life is like that - but I don’t know when you will eventually understand this.

•George: I don’t want to understand this.

•Kach: My friend, calm down! When will you travel?

•George: I don’t’ want to be your friend, and I prefer Adam’s friendship than yours.

•Kach: Ha ha ha … Calm down! What is important for me is your work, not your friendship. So, when will you go to Sweden?

•George: I’ll let you know tomorrow, excuse me.

•Kach: Actually we have already booked your tickets; you can collect them from William. And don’t forget to tell us when you find that waiter friend of yours, ha ha ha.

George went to his office reprimanding himself for not standing up to Kach and telling him that he wouldn’t go to Sweden and he wouldn’t contradict his principles. Was it because of the fear of losing his job? If that was the case, then he must be just like Kach who only cares about money, and he must be just hiding under the mask of fake principles…
Kach seemed to be very frank with himself and correct when he said that people only stuck to principles as long as they were in their interests, but if they weren’t in their interests they would throw these principles behind their backs and renounce them. He wanted to go to Kach and tell him his decision, no matter what might happen, but he decided to write a letter saying he wouldn’t travel, instead. At that very moment, William entered his office.

•William: Here are the tickets from Kach.

•George: I’m feeling rather uneasy with Kach’s insistence that I travel, though I don’t want to. And I know that you or the marketing manager is able to travel, so why do I have to travel when it’s your duty travel, not mine?!

•William: He’s forced to do that, it’s not his choice.

•George: How?! I don’t understand!

•William: When you were in Tel Aviv a decision was made to promote you to general manager, and for Kach to take another position at another branch, so Kach couldn’t find a way to delay this except by telling them that there was some kind of work which could only be accomplished by you, and that he would delay implementing this decision until you had accomplished the task.

•George: And if I don’t finish the task?

•William: I don’t know. I would have liked to travel but Kach refused, so here are the tickets; your flight is in about nine days from now.

•George: Things are more understandable now; I now know why he insisted that I travel. Can you send me the telephone number and email of the client in Sweden, please?

•William: Check your mail in five minutes and you will find it in your inbox.

•George: And also the telephone numbers of the board of directors and their e-mails too.

•William: Okay, I’ll send them to you as well.

•George: Thanks a lot William.

George resumed writing his letter to Kach, but he changed his mind about writing to Kach and wrote to the board of directors instead:
“Dear board of directors, It has been my utmost pleasure to have worked in this company for more than fourteen years and it is an honor to have gained your trust, and I hope that I’m qualified for that trust, since the success of this company has been my mission. I would like to thank you for encouraging me in a way that helped me to accomplish what I’ve accomplished for this company. I sincerely wish that you will accept my resignation, as although I thought that you would value my efforts, I have been threatened to be expelled from this company if I don’t go against the ethics of my career and my principles. I hope to receive all the rights that are due to me, for resigning is better for both the company and me than betraying the principles I believe in. I thank you all sincerely. Yours truly, George Neason”
As soon as he had finished writing the letter, he looked into his inbox and found that the addresses of the e-mails of all the members of the board of directors had been sent to him, so he sent the last message to all of them, including Kach, then he left the company heading to Adam’s house. But no one answered him at Adam’s house, so he went to the café where he didn’t find him either, so he asked the waiter about Adam. The waiter answered him:

•Waiter: You’re the same one who came yesterday. He didn’t come today either, but someone called an hour ago and said that he had an accident, and that he is in the hospital now and is getting better.

George called the hospital and headed straight towards it. On his way he called Katrina and said to her:

•George: He was by my side when I was in the hospital, I must stand beside him as well.

•Katrina: Can you come and pick me up and we will visit him together?

•George: I’m very near the hospital now. I’ll visit him first and you can visit him in the evening.

George entered the hospital and asked for Adam’s room number. When he reached the room he found Adam sleeping in his bed and his leg wrapped up, and there was a number of people around him.

•George: Hello there! How are you Adam, what happened?

•Adam: Hello, I’m alright George. Sorry I just saw your message now as I got my cell phone a few minutes ago. How are you?

•George: What happened?

•Adam: I fell when I was walking down the stairs and broke my leg. I was taken to the hospital and had an operation, but now I’m okay.

•George: So why didn’t you let me know? I’ve been worried sick since your sudden disappearance.

•Adam: Thanks and so sorry George, you’re very kind. As a matter of fact I didn’t call anyone, my friend who accompanied me to the hospital only called our mutual friends; Let me introduce you to them: Ahmed from Syria an electronic engineer, Adrian from Britain a pharmacist, ‘Ali from Saudi Arabia a higher education studies scholar and Bassem El-Azhary from Egypt imam of the Islamic center in London, this is George, software engineer and vice president of a reputable software company. Actually, he’s the one who brought me that luxurious bag some of you commented on.

•George: Pleased to meet you all. This is the first time I have meet the friends of my friend.

•Adam: George is always busy traveling, but he’s just a phone call away.

•George: As Adam has introduced me, I’m an ex-vice president now, and I’ve learnt a lot from Adam.

•Adam: What? Since when are you no longer part of the company?

•George: Since about an hour ago, I handed in my resignation just before coming to you.

•Adam: But why?

•George: It’s a long story; we’ll talk about it later. How is your leg? And what did the doctor say?

•Adam: Thank God, I’m better now, but I’ll have to stay in the hospital for five days, and then stay in the house for almost a month. And I’ll have to walk using crutches for another month.

•Sheikh Bassem (smiling): I don’t mean to intrude, but we have to go to pray. We’ll be back.

•Adam: I’ll be waiting.

•Adam: Sheikh Bassem has been my teacher since I was young.

•George: Oh, okay, but where did they go?

•Adam: They went to perform Duhr prayer.

•George: Today is Tuesday, what prayer is this?

•Adam: Being Muslims, we have to pray five times a day.

•George: Yes, I’ve learned that you’re a Muslim and it was quite a surprise! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?!

•Adam: I told you before that you do not connect different discussions together; my name and my discussions, and even my features show that I’m an Arab and a Muslim. Anyway I didn’t want to hide it from you, but you asked me whether I was catholic or protestant? I apologize if you felt that I wanted to hide that from you.

•George: No, it’s okay. Aren’t five prayers every day really difficult to perform?

•Adam: The prayers soothe us from the agonies of life; they don’t tire us at all.

•George: We are also comforted with a prayer every week, but I think five prayers daily would be really hard to keep up!

•Adam: As a matter of fact we get tired if we don’t pray every day, and our prayers aren’t hard at all. Even going to the mosque is not hard.

•George: Do you go to the mosque?

•Adam: If it is possible to go to the mosque, it is better, but you can pray anywhere. I myself will perform my prayers after a while on the chair.

•George: You will pray in this condition?

•Adam: Yes of course! Praying in this condition is even more important; I need God all the time and now I need him even more. The tests of life make one less able to withstand difficulties, so at such times it is easy to act against ones morals and forget one’s principles.

•George: Truly, such principles make one tired.

•Adam: That’s why we need prayer, to make man be patient and steadfast.

•George: I have sent you a message telling you that I’m interested in reading the holy Qur’an, but I don’t know which translation to read.

•Adam: I hope you are able to understand Arabic, to enjoy reading it as we read it. Anyway, I’ll give you a translated copy, after Sheikh Bassem returns.

•George: Is Islam only for Arabs?

•Adam: As a matter of fact the number of Muslims in non-Arab countries is more than those in the Arab ones, for Islam, as Allah says: [And we have sent you O Muhammad not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).] (Al-Anbiya: 107)

•George: Mercy!

•Adam: Yes, mercy… if you study it and read it you’ll find out how merciful it is, and that it’s for all people!

•George: That’s the same thing Katrina says when she talks about Catholicism.

•Adam: As you studied Catholicism… now study Islam. If you are not convinced after that, put it aside.

•George: Yes, I’ve decided to study it and I’ll start with reading the Qur’an, but I’ll analyze it critically.

•Adam: Very good, because Islam is a religion of knowledge and doesn’t want you to believe without learning about it first. And that is the reason why the first of Allah’s commands to his Prophet was: “Read”.

•George: You seem confident with Islam. I met a Muslim from Egypt, and he said that he wished to be like us in the West, and advised me not to learn about Islam.

•Adam: Sure, you’ll certainly meet some Muslims who say Islam is a religion of terror and is against development, but that is only a small percentage.

•George: Yes, he told me that too.

•Adam: And you’ll also meet some Muslims who say that Islam is a religion that is against women.

•George: That’s what that Muslim in Rome said.

•Adam: Isn’t it possible that you might meet someone who criticizes mathematics, geometry, medicine or technology?

•George: Actually that happens a lot.

•Adam: Does this affect your understanding of these sciences or affect our need for them?

•George: Absolutely not, but here the case is different.

•Adam: No it isn’t, I don’t see any difference, only that there seems to be organized attacks against Islam, while there aren’t such attacks against sciences.

•George: Ha ha - what do you mean by organized attacks?

•Adam: Do you remember that terroristic explosion in London which Muslims were accused of?

•George: Yes, and it was proved that it was not an act of terrorism.

•Adam: It was only proved after the media had talked about the so-called terrorism of Muslims for a long time, then the denial was very short, as usual. Do you know that I was suspended and imprisoned for that explosion? And the accusation was because of being a Muslim, which means that I’m automatically seen as a terrorist. Do you know that all evidence proved that Muslims were innocent, but the media had a ready-made accusation?

•George: But don’t you see that it’s because of the repeated actions of Muslims?

•Adam: In every society and religion there are extremists, but the difference here is that when the case is a criminal one, it is not connected to Muslims, but when it is terrorism it is connected with Muslims, don’t you find this funny!

•George: You seem very confident about Islam.

•Adam: Let me be straight with you, what is stopping you from being a Muslim? And living happily?

•George: I didn’t expect that question, but is being a Muslim as simple as that?

•Adam: Yes, I don’t think you need the rituals of the church or other elaborate religious procedures; becoming a Muslim is easy but it is a completely new way of life.

•George: Do you think I might be a Muslim one day?

•Adam: Yes, and I believe you’re very close to becoming one.

•George: Excuse me, but you don’t know me well Adam. I can’t adopt anything that my mind, logic or principles do not accept.

•Adam: No, excuse me. It’s you who doesn’t know Islam well!

•George: What do you mean?

•Adam: Entering Islam is easy, but you can’t enter Islam before you are convinced by it, inwardly and totally - it isn’t a matter of just saying ‘I believe that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ without believing it in your own heart. What is important is your heart, faith and what you believe inside you.

•George: Though I don’t think that I’ll be a Muslim any time, but who knows?

•Adam: Though I am convinced that one day you’ll be a Muslim, I think that your path to Islam is through knowledge, that’s why I think that you should study Islam well first, and then I feel you’ll accept it because you believe in knowledge, logic and reason.

•George: I don’t know whether you are saying that to flatter me or for Islam, or for both? But you remind me of that Muslim we met in Rome; he said something similar to Katrina before he gave her a copy of a book called: “My Great Love for Christ Led Me to Islam”.

•Adam: Didn’t you just tell me that this Muslim you met in Rome denied Islam?

•George: What is really strange is that this one was the brother of the first one I told you about; we met them both.

•Adam: And who is better, in your opinion?

•George: I’m not quite sure, the first one was older but the second one respected his father and mother more and they respected him, but I didn’t bother to compare them.

•Adam: And did Katrina read the book?

•George: Yes, she read it twice and she was really moved by it.

•Adam: And did you read it?

•George: Yes, I read it too. Oh yes, you told me that you’d give me a translation of the Qur’an today.

•Adam: Yes I shall when Sheikh Bassem comes. I expect that they are praying now. Please excuse me, I have to pray. If you have any questions about Islam, ask Sheikh Bassem, I’m only his student, and the copy of the Qur’an is a gift to you.

•George: I’ll wait until you finish your prayers and then leave.

•Adam: Alright.

Adam started his prayers while George was watching him, then Sheikh Bassem and his friends returned and George addressed him, saying:

•George: Adam told me that you’re a man of religion in Islam and he promised me that you’d give me a copy of a translated Qur’an.

•Sheikh Bassem: There are no men of religion in Islam, as Islam is for everybody. The copy is in the car outside, would you like to come with me and take it?

•George: Fine…. I’m late, I want to leave but let’s wait for Adam to finish his prayers, if it won’t take too long.

•Sheikh Bassem: Our prayer is like our religion; easy and full of happiness.

•George: Happiness?

•Sheikh Bassem: Yes, happiness in this life and the next. It’s strange that you’re a friend of Adam and yet he hasn’t talked to you about this, I will scold him if he hasn’t talked to you about this great religion when you are one of his friends. He won’t find a more valuable gift for you than talking to you about Islam. Look around you, don’t you see a lot of people being led astray, looking for what may guide them in this life but ignoring the religion of the last Prophet and Messenger?

•George: Maybe that’s why he gave me a copy of the Qur’an.

Adam finished his prayer, and then looked at George and Sheikh Bassem.

•Adam: Sheikh, don’t scold me, I told him that Islam makes one happy in this life and the next…

Bassem smiled, saying:

•Sheikh Bassem: George, we all feel a relief after each prayer because we give all our problems to Allah, the All-Powerful, the All-Merciful, the All-Generous, the All-Hearing and the All-Knowledgeable. Learn Islam, it’s the path to happiness.

•Adam: I wish you happiness in both this life and the next, just as Sheikh Bassem mentioned.

•George: I cannot simply change my religion until I learn it and become convinced after studying it with a critical eye, isn’t this what I’ve always done with all the religions, Adam?

•Adam: Yes, and I want you to do the same thing with Islam. And although I sincerely hope you will become a Muslim, Islam teaches us to have knowledge first.

•Sheikh Bassem: You must learn first, and then you will have no excuse not to be a Muslim, my friend. Shall we go now?

•George: I don’t understand why you are so sure that if I study Islam I would become a Muslim.

•Sheikh Bassem: Our confidence in Islam comes from God, who has sent the holy Qur’an.

•George: We’ll see! I promise you to read the Qur’an and more about Islam, and then I’ll discuss it with you and make my decision.

•Adam: Fine… that will be better.

•Adam: And don’t forget to travel, just as you did earlier to get to know about other religions.

•George: Let’s go now….. I’ll start to read your holy book and will try to visit you tomorrow, as currently I’m unemployed.

•Adam: You surprised me when you said you had left your work, but it seems that you’re in a hurry to explain now. If you don’t come tomorrow, then we’ll chat on the phone. May God be with you.

George returned home with a copy of the holy Qur’an. He didn’t find Katrina in his house. He called her and she told him that she was on her way to the hospital to see Adam, and so he decided to start reading the holy Qur’an. He was surprised how Adam recommended this particular book while there were so many other books about Islam. After two hours of reading the Qur’an had passed, Katrina returned to the house.

•Katrina: Hello George, I’ve just come from visiting Adam.

•George: Thanks for visiting him.

•Katrina: But he is an odd individual.

•George: Why?

•Katrina: I don’t know why; he and his other Muslim friends don’t shake hands with women, but they apologized politely. Can this be considered a form of discrimination as in the Jewish and Christian religions?

•George: Maybe… I don’t know, I’ve only just started reading about Islam two hours ago, and actually I’ve noticed that it is fair with women, and that it respects and appreciates them.

•Katrina: Yes… I’ve read the translated copy. It’s true, but the way they treated me just felt so strange.

•George: Why? Was there any disrespect or did they insult you?

•Katrina: No, they were very polite with me, but they didn’t shake my hand and didn’t look at me when I was talking.

•George: But you are so late, didn’t you talk with them?

•Katrina: Yes, we did. We talked a lot, mainly about Islam. I don’t know why they reminded me of some priests so much.

•George: Maybe it is because of his friend Bassem, who is a man of religion.

•Katrina: No, Bassem is not a man of religion and he refuses this title. He said that in Islam they don’t have men of religion in the same way that Christians have Popes in Catholicism, but he is a scholar of Islam.

•George: Yes, you’re right; he said the same thing to me. He is a well-mannered man and his smile shined. He gave me his card. Can you believe it, he wants me to become a Muslim! I’m surprised at how confident they were that I would enter Islam!?

Katrina then looked at the ceiling as if she was recalling something: All of them had great manners and performed acts of worship a lot but they weren’t like priests; all of them worked for a living and they weren’t devoted to just worshipping all the time, they even considered their work and studies as types of worship. They didn’t separate life and work from worship, as our ordinary folks do. Adam even performed his prayers on his bed and had told her that Muslims pray everywhere, and that their religion is easy.

•Katrina: You know George, Adam prayed while I was there and told me they do their ritual prayers five times a day. He said that it brings them happiness, but although I wasn’t convinced, they seemed to be very sure about that.

•George: Yes they’re very sure, their speech is very moving; also their relationships with each other and their smiles are touching too.

•Katrina: You seem to like them!

•George: Liking is not the case; the case is that Muslims, the holy Qur’an and Islam is a truly different system and also their nature is different from what we are used to.

•Katrina: Please explain more, as I had the same feeling when I started to read their holy book, the Qur’an, but I couldn’t explain it totally – it was a strange feeling I had inside me, especially on subjects like: the Oneness of God, praising Him, His names and characteristics, and also the stories of the prophets, especially Jesus Christ and the virgin Mary, and even when it talked about morals and manners.

•George: I have the same feeling, but I will not judge it now, it would be too quick a judgment. Things will be clearer with time when we’ll know this religion better, its points of weakness and deficiencies, and its contradictions. And the situation of the backward Muslim dictators is the strongest proof of such points.

•George: Though I like Adam, I don’t have any desire to know about Islam more, but I’ll fight myself to know more. I did enjoy reading the Qur’an, though.

•Katrina: Reading their holy book gives me a really strange feeling.

•George: Good news…..I resigned today. O how I hate Kach the liar. I learned that he had delayed my promotion and had assigned me to go to Sweden instead, so I resigned in a way that if they don’t answer me, my resignation would be final.

•Katrina: Then your principles won again.

•George: Maybe, but what encouraged me to do that was Kach’s reaction to the decision of the board of directors, and my hope of being viewed in a good way by the board of directors. Anyway, I’ll raise my complaint to the worker’s union if they didn’t respond to the letter well.

•Katrina: I’m still wrestling between my principles and work. I used to cover my doubts and flee from them, but it’s you who insisted on uncovering them.

•George: Since the time we married, I’ve not seen you change so quickly as you have done in the last month, after coming back from Tel Aviv!

•Katrina: Change is not always totally bad and not always totally good, but I hope it is for the better.

•George (laughing): Ha ha ha, and is there anything better than Catholicism?

•Katrina: My faith in Jesus is great, as is my faith in Catholicism. And I don’t think there is anything better, but who knows?

•George (laughing): Ha ha ha…. I want to sleep early tonight; I’ll just check the e-mails quickly.

George opened his account and found some replies to his messages. He replied briefly and then sent them back to everyone. He found that most of them agreed with his decision.
“Janolka: Principles always come first for those who are brave, but it sometimes comes with problems too.” “Levvi: The correct view is that principles are more important, but we’re not always able to keep to this as we are weak due to the pressures of life.” “Habib: We have to prioritize principles; otherwise we would live in a jungle.” “Katrina: It is necessary to put principles first, but it’s a tough decision.” “I’m still waiting concerning my former message about the Holy Qur’an, George”
He continued reading his e-mails and he found a message from Janolka…
“My dear friend, George… Even though our time together wasn’t long, I found many resemblances and possibly similarities in both our ways of thinking. There is something I would like to ask you about, which you may find strange. After you left I read the book that the Muslim had given to your wife; I read it on the internet, then I met a Muslim construction engineer who asked me to read a translation of the Qur’an first, so I read it and in fact I have finished it more than once; then we met again and spent some time discussing things. And I don’t know what kind of magic is in that holy book! I asked him about a few points in Islam, but he said that he was only an engineer, so I asked him how I could learn more about Islam. He told me that he knows no one in Italy, but if I wished to know more about Islam there were two ways I could follow: either to read and see about it in the media, which is mostly broadcasted by those who hate Islam, or to find a sheikh in Italy who knows about Islam and learn from him. So I chose both ways, and now I have been reading about five hours every day about Islam since you left, and I’m willing to go to Egypt or Libya. Do you have any advice? My greetings to you and Katrina, Janolka”
So he replied …
“My friend Janolka, I’ve read your message and I’m fond of your bravery; it seems the changes you’ve been through since our last meeting are more than I expected. I encourage you to follow both ways and I’m waiting for you to tell me what you’ve learned as I really learn much from you and your critical mind. Regards, George.”
George woke up and found that Katrina had set the breakfast table. They sat down to have their breakfast.

•George: I don’t have work today and I don’t know what to do.

•Katrina: It’s better for you to go to work. I think your resignation hasn’t been accepted or refused yet, and your absence will be against you in the work union.

•George: I didn’t think about it that way, but you’re right.

•Katrina: Your problem is over, but mine is not yet. I’ll try to resolve it today.

•George: Resolve it?!… How and why?

•Katrina: I’m not sure how, but I’ll go to work and try to resolve the problem.

•George: I sent you an email yesterday about what I received on the conflict between principles and interests. Read it, it might be useful in making your decision.

•Katrina: I’ll read it before I take my decision; I’ll go now because I’m late.

•George: Me too, I’ll go now.

George went to work and entered his office. As soon as he had sat down William, the manager of public affairs, entered angrily:

•William: What have you done?

•George: Nothing, what happened?

•William: After you left yesterday, Kach called me angrily. I’ve never seen him this way before. He asked me where you got the emails of the board of directors from. I told him that I didn’t know.

•George: Why didn’t you tell him you gave them to me?

•William: He might harm me because of it! You know him, he doesn’t think of anyone or anything but his own best interests.

•George: That’s how all of us are, we’re afraid of one another... I won’t tell him it was you, so relax, but do you know why he was angry.

•William: It seems that the board of directors called him and requested to hold an urgent meeting in the next three days, based on a letter they received from you.

•George: A meeting, why?

•William: I don’t know. All I can figure out is that it has something to do with you; that’s why I asked you what you wrote in your message.

•George: So the situation is encouraging, I didn’t expect that.

•William: Encouraging! What’s encouraging?

•George: Nothing.. I sent them my resignation. Anyway, no-one will know that it was you who gave me those email addresses.

•William: Thank you… excuse me.

George sat thinking about his next step, because he knew how cunning Kach was and how he might use his cunning to affect the board of directors during the meeting, as he didn’t really want to leave the company. Should he request to attend the meeting of the board of directors or should he present a full detailed file, or what should he do? It was strange that no one had answered his e-mail yet! This meant that they would listen to Kach first, which he definitely didn’t want! He thought for a while, and then he decided to write another letter to the board of directors which said:
“Gentlemen, members of the board of directors: It has been my pleasure to work in the company for more than fourteen years and it has been an honor to have gained your trust. The success of this company is my mission, and I want to thank you for encouraging me in a way that helped me to accomplish what I’ve been able to do for this company. As you are aware I sent you my resignation yesterday, but I haven’t received any response from you yet. Does this mean you have accepted my resignation or does it mean I will continue in my job? I hope the board of directors will discuss the matter with me directly. Best regards, George.”
He wished that by this letter he would be requested to a meeting to uncover the matter to the board, but as soon as he had sent the letter he received a call. It was Kach….

•Kach: All this for principles! Is it possible for you to come to my office now?

•George: Yes, because of my principles, but I won’t change my principles.

•Kach: Can you come to my office?

•George: I’ll come.

George entered and saw that Kach was angry. He said:

•Kach: What is it that you exactly want, George?

•George: I want to stick to my principles.

•Kach: It seems as if you want to be the president of the company!!

•George: No Kach, I’m not doing this for any position, though if it happens it’s because I deserve it.

•Kach: Then the case is not principles but is position.

•George: Take it as you may, but I’ll not change my principles and I only came because you told me we’d talk and agree. Trust me, Kach, I won’t give up my principles.

•Kach: If it’s principles as you say, I have another offer for you.

•George: What is it?

•Kach: I’ll go to Sweden, on the condition that you leave London.

•George: Why?!

•Kach: It’s related to me personally, I don’t want to be away from the company now. If the board of directors meet while you’re in London, they might make the decision to promote me, as they would say, and so force me out of the company. That’s why I convinced them that it was important for you to travel to Sweden. He then smiled and said: Due to your principles I’ll travel myself, but you have to be outside London at the same time so that the decision will be delayed.

•George: Where shall I go?

•Kach: Anywhere you like, we have business in Germany, Ukraine and in Egypt.

•George: And if I refuse?

•Kach: Then it’s obvious that it’s a matter of position, and not principles! In such a case, things will take a different route.

•George: I’ll think about it and answer you tomorrow.

•Kach: Give your answer to me, and not the board of directors.

•George: I promise you…

George left the company, and while he was on his way he called Dr. Tom…

•George: Can I see you?

•Tom: Yes.

•George: I’ll be there in thirty minutes, I’m on my way.

George reached Dr. Tom’s clinic, where he found a new receptionist who welcomed him.

•The receptionist: Dr. Tom is waiting for you.

•Tom: Hello, George… You’re the first patient I’ve had since opening the clinic. I’ve just started today and all my appointments start from tomorrow.

•George: Good news. I’m sorry I didn’t ask you about your problem, is the problem with Brad over?

•Tom: Yes, thank God it is.

•George: Where did he go?

•Tom: To prison, he was caught selling drugs.

•George: How I hate Brad!

•Tom: And why do you hate him, surely you have no quandary with him?

•George: He is a person who has no morals, and when one loses his morals he becomes like an animal, or even worse!

•Tom: How hard the experience of life is; I had two choices: first to leave my principles and all my problems would be settled, or second to stand firm to my principles and encounter a hard test. I chose to stick to my guns and I almost lost everything, but I was convinced that to stand firm to my principles would definitely lead to a good end, and that’s exactly what happened.

•George: It’s as if you know what I came for!

•Tom: Not really, what is it?

George told him the story about Kach until he reached the point of traveling, when he started hesitating…

•George: I want your opinion: Do you think that if I travel but don’t carry out his conditions to bribe the company, I would be compromising my principles?

•Tom: I don’t understand! How would you be compromising your principles? You’re only traveling to another job.

•George: But I’ll make Kach fulfill his evil aim.

•Tom: Then maybe you would expose his tricks to the board of directors.

•George: Then, you think I should travel?

•Tom: Yes, and to Egypt.

•George: Why?

•Tom: Didn’t we agree that you have to study Islam. You have the chance now. I would have liked to have gone with you but I have just opened the clinic again.

•George: I don’t want to travel, I’ve travelled a lot lately; if I travel I would prefer to go to Germany.

•Tom: It’s up to you, but I think that your trip is important; you will see Muslims in their own country and will learn their behavior and practices.

•George: I’ll think about it. Anyway you’re the first one I asked for advice. I’ll think about it and tell you what I decide… excuse me, today you’re busy with your clinic and you deserve to be as you stood firm to your principles. Excuse me.

On his way he called Adam. He told him that he wanted to see him, but Adam apologized because he said that the doctor wanted to perform some tests and that he was waiting for him in the evening, so he headed to his house and decided to continue reading the holy book, the “Qur’an”…
While he was reading, his children, Michael and Sally, entered:

•George: Father, you’re home early today?

•George: Yes, there were some matters at work that made me come early.

•Sally and Michael: What are you reading, father?

•George: I’m reading a book which is known as the book of the Muslims.

•Sally and Michael: The Muslims who are called terrorists?

•Tom: Yes.

•Michael: In our school there is a Muslim boy from India. He is a little bit lazy, but he is kind and not a terrorist.

•George: Son, terrorism has no religion, don’t say what others say. You should treat people according to their manners.

•Michael: But although he is kind, I feel that he tends to stay by himself.

•George: Why?

•Michael: I don’t know! Maybe because they say he is a terrorist or because some pupils laugh at the way he looks.

•George: Who does that?

•Michael: I don’t like that, but some pupils do that.

•George: Son, it’s the manners and morals of people that makes one respect or disrespect others.

•Michael: Those are the same words as Iqbal.

•George: Who is Iqbal?

•Michael: My Muslim friend from India that I told you about.

•George: Yes, the Qur’an says: [O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (i.e. one of the pious) Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.] (Al-Hujurat: 13) So there is no difference between one person or another due to their color or nationality, except for their righteousness.

•Michael: Isn’t Islam only for Arabs? I was surprised when I found out that Iqbal was a Muslim.

•George: The number of Muslims is over a billion and a half, spread all around the world from China to USA. And what’s strange is that 80% of the Muslims are not from the Arab world.

•Michael: I wish we had such equality.

•George: Why?

•Michael: Some pupils laugh at him because he is from India and not English, because of the way he looks and because of his Mum.

•George: That’s forbidden son. You can tell your teacher about it.

•Michael: I’ll tell her, but I know that they won’t stop except in front of the teacher.

•George murmured to himself while the children left: “Even Sally understands the difference between the whole moral system and fake morals.”

George continued reading until Katrina came home.

•Katrina: What a long day!

•George: Please, one moment.

•Katrina: What are you reading?

•George: I’m reading the book of the Muslims, can you wait for a while, I’m busy right now?

•Katrina: Where have you reached?

•George: I haven’t finished yet.

•Katrina: Wow! You seem so interested.

•George: Listen what God says in the Holy Qur’an: [Alif-Lam-Ra. These are the Verses of the Book, and a plain Quran. Perhaps (often) will those who disbelieve wish that they were Muslims [those who have submitted themselves to Allah’s Will in Islam; Islamic Monotheism, this will be on the Day of Resurrection]. Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!] (Al-Hijr: 1 – 3)

•Katrina: Why did you choose this verse?

•George: I don’t know why, but there are some parts that seem to be addressed to me, especially that part.

•Katrina: And what are the exact parts that seem to be addressed to you?

•George: A clear book that guides us. Disbelievers wish they could have been Muslims…. Disbelievers are distracted by food and play. I don’t know why it feels as if all of that is addressed to me.

•Katrina: Do you mean you would like to be a Muslim?

•George: You’re dreaming, that’s not possible… but I want to find answers to my questions, and to find the path to happiness, and not be distracted by food or drink. I don’t know why I feel that this part in particular is addressing me personally?

•Katrina: Is it possible that Islam is the way and path to happiness?!

•George: Ha ha ha, just as Adam said. Although I don’t think that is the case, I’ll answer that point scientifically, as I’ve always done with all the religions, not just by guessing or only according to what I feel.

•Katrina: By the way, how is Adam?

•George: You saw him after me. I didn’t visit him today; many new issues occurred at my work.

•Katrina: What happened?!

•George: Kach offered me to go to Germany, and I won’t have to compromise my principles there.

•Katrina: Have you agreed? Is the problem over then?

•George: No, I told him I would think about it, because I actually don’t want to travel now.

•Katrina: Then it’s now a matter of personal opinion, and not principles?

•George: That’s what Kach told me…. but in fact another reason for travelling appeared as I asked Tom’s advice and he had another opinion.

•Katrina: And what’s Tom’s opinion?

•George: He advised me to go to Egypt.

•Katrina: You told me Germany?

•George: Kach gave me some options: Germany, Ukraine or Egypt. I wished to go to Germany, but Tom advised me to go to Egypt.

•Katrina: In order to search for answers to your questions?

•George: Yes, but I don’t want to go to an underdeveloped country like Egypt instead of going to a strong country like Germany.

•Katrina: But Egypt, even though it is a Muslim country, is also the country of Copts and is the land of the Pyramids and the Nile.

•George: It sounds like you know Egypt quite well!

•Katrina: Yes, Egypt is the land of the Coptic Orthodox Church and is a land of one of the wonders in the world - the pyramids - and also the country with the longest river in the world - the Nile. I knew an orthodox Copt and he used to always criticize my Catholicism, just like we criticize your Protestantism.

•George: Because you split from them, just as Protestants split from Catholics. Should I understand from what you are saying that you also want me to go to Egypt instead of Germany?

•Katrina: Maybe, but it’s up to you. I like countries with ancient civilizations and maybe you like developed countries, even though you were very comfortable in India.

•George: I’ll think it over. But it seems that you are the one who likes the idea of me traveling.

•Katrina: Though I’d rather we were together and had some time to rest together after your successive trips; but not sticking to one’s principles or compromising them would make the person lose themself, and on the other hand if you stuck to your principles, you might lose your job. So maybe this would be a good way to get over this problem.

•George: Yes, that would be the best way to get out of the problem. Anyway, I have time to think it over. Is there anything new concerning your problem?

•Katrina: Yes and I think that it’s almost over.

•George: Over? What is over?

•Katrina: I think this is the last month I’ll work for them.

•George: And after that, then what?

•Katrina: I’ve made arrangements to apply for another job. Don’t worry yourself thinking about it, I’ll tell you about it as soon as I hear anything. And now let me prepare the meal for Michael and Sally.

In the evening George went to visit Adam. He entered his hospital room and found Adam talking to Sheikh Bassem and laughing…

•George: How are you doing? You look as though you are in a good mood today.

•Sheikh Bassem: Thanks be to Allah. I’m always happy, and I’m happier today because of you and my brother Adam. How are you?

•George: I’m fine. How are you, Adam?

•Adam: I’m okay, thanks be to Allah.

•George: I came to see how you are, and ask you for advice!

•Adam: Go ahead.

•George: It won’t take long. I had to choose between my principles and my work, and after a hard time deciding I eventually chose my principles. After that things became easier, but now I have to go on an urgent trip.

•Adam: All those who have stood by their principles have won in the end, even though they thought they might lose at any particular point.

Bassem smiled, saying:

•Sheikh Bassem: Allow me to add. Haven’t you read in the Qur’an how the prophets won by patiently sticking to their principles?

•George: I read in your book details of how all the prophets won. Even Jesus won and wasn’t killed, whereas in our religion he was sacrificed for the sake of mankind.

Bassem smiled:

•Sheikh Bassem: Ha ha ha, then Islam appreciates Jesus (peace be upon him) and loves him more than you do.

•George: But it doesn’t describe him as having supernatural powers, or explain how kind he was and how he saved mankind, as we do.

•Sheikh Bassem: On the contrary, Islam gave him more than that. It seems a though you haven’t read the holy Qur’an as he is mentioned in more than one place. Didn’t you read the story of Jesus in the Qur’an?

•George: I only got the translation yesterday, but I have read most of it already and I have read the story of Jesus.

•Sheikh Bassem: Then I expect you have read his words as related by God in the chapter of Mary: [“And He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me Salât (prayer), and Zakât, as long as I live.”] (Mariam: 31) And also the words: [“And Salâm (peace) be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!”] (Mariam: 33) And God says: [And will make him a messenger to the children of Israel (saying): “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s Leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah’s Leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.”] (Al-Imran: 49)

•George: Yes, I’ve read all that you have mentioned, but what amazes me is how you respect Christianity!

•Sheikh Bassem: Do you want the truth?

•George: Yes, Of course.

•Sheikh Bassem: You don’t believe in Jesus as much as we do.

•George: How?

•Sheikh Bassem: You believe he was crucified and we believe he was raised up to God. Haven’t you read: [And because of their saying (in boast): “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the messenger of Allah,” - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Tesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely they killed him not (i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus)).] (Al-Nisa: 157)

•George: Yes.

•Sheikh Bassem: You, or at least some of you, believe that the Virgin Mary committed an action of adultery, God forbid.

•George: And you, who do you think is the father of Jesus?

•Sheikh Bassem: He has no father, as just as Allah created Adam from no father or mother, He created Jesus from a mother without a father. That’s why he spoke in his cradle to defend his mother.

•Sheikh Bassem: We respect all heavenly religions, starting with the father of mankind, Adam, peace be upon him, as well as all the prophets that came calling others to the same and one thing; that is the Oneness of God, and each prophet came with the good news of the coming prophet. Haven’t you read in the translation: [And (remember) when ‘Ieasa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), said: “O children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he (Ahmad i.e. Muhammad) came to them with clear proofs, they said: “This is plain magic.”] (Al-Saf: 6) Isn’t that written in your books?

•George: No I haven’t read what you’ve just mentioned, or maybe it’s in the part that I haven’t read yet, or it is only mentioned in some of our books.

•Sheikh Bassem: The problem is that the Bible has been interpolated and rewritten in different forms, especially when the Jews were persecuting the Christians.

•George: I think this problem has happened in all the holy books; there isn’t a book that hasn’t been rewritten.

•Sheikh Bassem: But all people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, agree that the holy Qur’an hasn’t been rewritten, and what is more is that there is not a more accurate book which has been transmitted from one to another than the Qur’an. It has been transferred by thousands of men, but you will not find even a single letter which is different in any copy, and even what’s even smaller than a letter.

•George: And what is even smaller than a letter?!

•Sheikh Bassem: In Arabic we have diacritic marks which determine how any letter is pronounced. And all scholars agree about how each letter is pronounced in the Qur’an, and they even agree on the characteristics each letter should have, eg. if it is lengthened or partially hidden etc.

•George: Aren’t there any differences between the copies?

•Sheikh Bassem: Not at all. There are different ways of reading some words but this is only due to the different Arabic dialects.

•George: You mean there might be a version where Jesus is killed and in another one he sacrificed himself?

•Sheikh Bassem: Of course not! The Qur’an is the same, there cannot be different copies. What I’m referring to is the different dialects with which the Holy Qur’an is read, although the actual recitation usually has exactly the same meaning and the same words.

•George: To this degree? I think you are exaggerating!

•Sheikh Bassem: You can read for yourself what your historians have said, and you’ll find it is as exactly as what I’ve told you.

•George: But…..don’t you think you are exaggerating?

•Sheikh Bassem: Maybe, but Adam told me that you have been looking for answers to your questions for a while now, and that you have studied all religions to get to know them, and now you’ve finally reached Islam. And he told me you like following scientific methods and relying on facts.

Adam sat upright, and asked George:

•Adam: A good discussion, but I apologize for my intrusion… what is it that you wanted to ask about, George?

•George: You’ve made me forget my question, Bassem.

•Sheikh Bassem: I apologize for that.

•George: Anyhow, after I stood by my principles I came to two choices; to travel in a way that doesn’t contradict my principles, or otherwise leave my work. And now I think I might travel, but right now I am tired of traveling.

•Adam: You’re always traveling!

•George: Yes it’s true, and I don’t want to travel, but it seems it is the only way out of this current predicament I have at my work.

•Adam: Putting up with the fatigue of the body is easier than not living up to one’s principles, because if you don’t live up to your principles your soul will become tired. Where are you going this time?

•George: To Germany, Ukraine or possibly somewhere else.

•Adam: I wished it would have been to a Muslim country, as just as you’ve traveled to know about Judaism and then about Christianity, I had hope you would travel to know more about Islam.

•George: The countries are Germany, Ukraine or Egypt.

Adam looked to the ground and said:

•Adam: Ah, how I long to go to Egypt. Both Sheikh Bassem and I are from Egypt. I believe you would know more about Islam if you visit Egypt.

•George: Are you an Egyptian?

•Adam: Yes. I think I told you that before.

•George: Maybe, I don’t remember.

•Adam: If you visit Egypt I’ll call some of my friends to meet you and take you on a tour.

Bassem then said with a happy voice:

•Sheikh Bassem: My brother is a mathematics teacher in Cairo, he can arrange everything you need.

•George: Despite really wanting to go to Germany, I find everyone is advising me to go to Egypt.

•Sheikh Bassem: Then I’ll wait for you to let me know your decision so I can call my brother.

•Adam: I wish I could travel with you. I miss Egypt and Egyptians as it’s been nearly two years since I was there last.

•George: Then why don’t you come with me?

•Adam: I’ll leave the hospital the day after tomorrow, and then my university exams will be in three weeks.

•George: Never mind. It’s enough that you are alright. What shall I bring from Egypt for you and Bassem?

•Adam (laughing): Ha ha ha, bring me all of Egypt.

•George (laughing): Ha ha ha ha.

In the evening George opened his email. He found the replies from his friends about the Qur’an…
“Levvi: I’m not quite sure. I’ve only read some parts as I didn’t have enough time.” “Habib: It’s more accurate than other heavenly books.” “Tom: I apologize… I was busy in the clinic and haven’t read a lot of the holy book of the Muslims, but I shall read it.” “Katrina: It has really been sent by God.” “Janolka: It has been proven worldwide that the Qur’an was transferred through Muhammad, and that it has no falsifications and has not been changed. And he who believes in Muhammad must believe that the Qur’an has been sent by God.”
What surprised George was that Janolka sealed his message with his name and then Tripoli-Libya. He then opened a new window for another message and wrote to all of them….
“The eighth discussion point: I would like to know Islam better and I may travel to Egypt for some urgent business, so who can help me with: 1- Titles of books from which I can obtain better knowledge of Islam and Egypt. 2- Points for me to discuss and raise. 3- Replies for me to deliver. I’ll wait for your replies in two or three days, and I’ll summarize the replies later and send them back as usual, George.”