The family returned to the hotel in the evening and later George received a call from Janolka telling him that the appointment with the priest, Luigi, would be at the church at 10 a.m. the following day, and that he was expecting them.
•George: Katrina, that was Janolka informing us that the appointment with the priest is tomorrow at 10a.m., but what shall we do with the kids?
•Katrina: We can either take them with us or leave them at the park next to the church – it’s a wonderful park.
•George: I think it will be better to leave them at the park.
At 8:30am, George, Katrina and the kids went to the fantastic playground in the park next to the church. They left Michael and Sally there after they had asked the caretaker to watch over them. The couple then went to the church to meet with the priest, for their 10 a.m. appointment. Janolka welcomed them and then they went to meet the priest, Luigi, who warmly received them.
•Father Luigi: Hello, Katrina. I’ve heard about your great efforts in Britain, may God bless you.
•Katrina: This is due to what we’ve learned from you and your knowledge from which we have benefited.
•Father Luigi: Hello George. Janolka has told me about your questions and his admiration for the way you think; so please, go ahead and ask anything you want.
•George: I have four questions. I don’t want to waste your time so I’ll get straight to the point. The first one is: I can’t understand how come the Lord is one and three at the same time? I’ve read a lot about this and heard many explanations, but I haven’t managed to reach an answer yet, and - I apologize for saying this - I get the feeling that Christianity is just like paganism.
The expression of the priest’s face changed. He looked at Janolka’s and Katrina’s faces, and then gazed down and said:
•Father Luigi: And what’s the second question?
•George: Is Jesus divine or human? Is he a god to be worshipped or a servant who was murdered? Did the Lord have to die to save humanity?! Isn’t it possible to save humanity without needing to die?
•Father Luigi: Okay George, what is the third question?
•George: The Old and New Testament of the Bible, who wrote them? Who translated them? Who passed them to us? And why are there so many contradictions between its different versions? Also I’m ashamed to read much of it to my children, so how can it be from my Lord?!
•Father Luigi: I listening George, what is the fourth?
•George: Is the history of religion and the prophets a history of murder and immoral actions? I hate violence and murder, and I hate those who encourage them, yet I am surprised at the biblical accounts of the prophets and messengers; I’m also surprised at the texts of murder and lootings!
The priest raised his head and looked into Katrina’s and George’s eyes before turning to Janolka, then he said:
•Father Luigi: Why didn’t you tell me about his questions earlier?
•Janolka: Because he didn’t tell me about them!
Father Luigi stared at George, then he looked up with a tired yet tough expression, and said with a deep sigh ..
•Father Luigi: O my son, it is difficult to find the answers to all these questions. Also explaining them will take a long time and a great deal of effort. Why don’t you, instead, dedicate yourself to the service of God?
•George: Father, I came to learn and benefit from your knowledge, and no matter how long any explanation may be, it is possible for a scholar to summarize it to make it clear.
•Father Luigi: Well, my son, there are a number of mysteries related to religion which must remain as mysteries; and there are a number of texts which you can’t understand by yourself.
•George: Father, as for the mysteries: how can it be possible that we’re commanded to follow a religion from God which is made-up of mysteries? And how is it possible that the texts are from God for all humans, but only a few can understand them?!
At this stage of the conversation it became clear on the priest’s face that he did not like such words, so he gazed down and said to Katrina and Janolka:
•Father Luigi: Could you please leave me alone with George?
Janolka’s facial expression changed and it became clear that he disliked this request, as how could his friend exclude him from a meeting that he had arranged in the first place?!
•Janolka: Do you want me and Katrina to leave? Why? Is there another big mystery?!
•Father Luigi: I just want to discuss something with him privately, so I’d be grateful if you two would leave.
•George: Katrina, could you and Janolka please go to Michael and Sally, and wait for me there. I’ll join you soon.
Katrina said goodbye to the priest; he blessed her and confirmed that he would be attending the Sunday mass which the Pope himself would be celebrating. So she left to go to the park with Janolka. After they had left, the priest turned to George and said:
•Father Luigi: My son, you are so bold and courageous. The kind of courage I’m talking about isn’t the courage of war; no, it’s the internal kind of courage.
•George: Thank you, father.
•Father Luigi: My son, I’ll be brave and tell you what you may dislike to hear.
•George: Please, tell me. It’s not important that I hear what I like, but rather I want to hear the truth.
•Father Luigi: You may be astonished by this, but I’m sorry, there are no complete answers to your questions.
•George: Father, don’t you know that faith and skepticism cannot be present together at the same time?
•Father Luigi: You are right, yet I can’t find a complete answer. I have spent my entire life searching for the answers to questions like the ones you’ve just mentioned. If I wanted to answer you by mentioning any illogical answer, I would have done so - as there are so many illogical answers! But I promised you I’d be bold and honest with you; the truth is I don’t have a complete answer.
•George: So father, what is the solution then?
•Father Luigi: The reason I’m still a priest is because I haven’t found anything better yet. To have questions about some points is better than being uncertain about everything, isn’t it?
•George: You’re right, but to find the answers is better, of course!
•Father Luigi: Yes, you might find these answers, but one thing I’m certain of is that you will not find them in the church. I have been a priest in this church for more than thirty years, but I haven’t been able to find the answers. So let’s leave it at that.
•George: May I ask you a question, father?
•Father Luigi: Yes, please. Go ahead.
•George: Why did you ask Janolka and Katrina to leave?
•Father Luigi: You might be surprised by what I’ll tell you. It was because of my lack of courage, no one likes to seem weak and foolish in front of others, especially if they believe that he is knowledgeable and if his opinions are greatly respected. And if they were to leave Catholicism or Christianity as a result, what would they turn to? Atheism? I think having minor doubts is better than living in a world full of doubts and uncertainty!
•George: I apologize, but aren’t there any other brave priests and monks who declare what you have just said?
•Father Luigi: Yes, there have been some throughout the history of Christianity, but they were either killed, made to disappear or ran away; the papacy is very harsh about such cases.
•George: So you think there is a secret relationship between the Vatican and the intelligence agencies, as confirmed by Eric Frattini in his book «The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage”?
•Father Luigi: Of course not ... that’s wrong! It’s just a prejudiced view of an American protestant against the Catholic church.
•George: But what about the facts he mentioned?
•Father Luigi: Most of them, unfortunately, are true, but he explained them while being biased against the Catholic Church and the papacy.
•George: But the infiltration of the Vatican’s intelligence agency is a fact, in other words the Vatican’s intelligence agency is present in all corners of the world, isn’t that the case?
•Father Luigi: Yes, regrettably, but it’s not normal, although it does happen quite a lot.
•George: But why doesn’t it deal harshly with the sex scandals of monks and nuns?
•Father Luigi: That’s impossible! Do you expect them to cause a split in the church for the sake of some children?! Also, some of these sex stories are even stated in the teachings of the Bible. He continued by saying: You are an educated reader, so use your research in a way that will benefit you, my son. Can we stop now please?
•George: Father, what shall I say to Katrina and Janolka if they ask me why you made them leave?
Father Luigi kept silent, then he looked down and said:
•Father Luigi: The truth is always the best thing to say.
•George: Thank you, father, I’ll tell them the truth, God willing. I’ve learnt a lot from you.
•Father Luigi: Thank you, my son, may God bless you. Hope to see you at the holy mass on Sunday, as some certainty is better than total skepticism.
•George left and went to the park to find Katrina and Janolka waiting for him. When he arrived, Janolka asked:
•Janolka: Why did father Luigi ask us to leave? This is the first time I have seen the father acting improperly!
George didn’t want to discuss the matter, especially since it was obvious that Janolka was anger.
•George: It’s nearly lunch time. Are we near El-Fakhama restaurant which is next to your house, so that we can eat together and have a chat.
•Janolka: Yes, it’s only a five minute walk away.
•George: Is it alright if I sit with the kids a bit, and then go with you to the restaurant after half an hour or so. What do you think, Katrina?
•Katrina: Fine, no problem. But I had hoped you would have told us in this half an hour what you and father Luigi had talked about. In any case, after half an hour we will know everything.
While George was at the playground with his kids, he started to think of what he should say to Janolka and Katrina. Should he tell them exactly what happened, whatever the outcome might be, or what should he do?
When half an hour had elapsed, George returned with his children, and he said to Katrina and Janolka:
•George: We’re so hungry now, let’s go to eat.
•Katrina and Janolka: Okay, let’s go then.
They reached El-Fakhama Restaurant after about a five minute walk. George leaned close to Michael and Sally and said:
•George: My little darlings, how about dinning on the terrace of the restaurant?
•The kids: Yes, okay. But where will you and Mum eat?
•George: We have an important appointment, so its better if you both eat there so the two of you can chat with each other and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
•Michael: Okay, Dad. Let’s go, Sally.
George, Katrina and Janolka sat at a table in the center of the restaurant. As they looked at the menu, George turned to Janolka and said:
•George: Janolka, where is your Muslim friend?
•Janolka: I feared that he’d ask to talk to you alone and that you’d leave us again. Anyway, he will come soon to take the orders.
•George: It wasn’t me who asked you to leave; it was your friend, the priest, who asked you.
•Janolka: But you agreed straight away.
•George (Laughing): Ha ha ha! Well, aren’t we supposed to obey men of God?! Anyhow, let me tell you what he said. He said that he wanted to tell me that there were no answers to my questions, but he didn’t want you to think he was weak or foolish.
Katrina took offense and looked into George’s eyes, then said:
•Katrina: It’s impossible that the priest couldn’t answer such simple questions!
•Janolka: I know that he has no answers, and he knows that I know that. So why did he ask us to leave? I think that there is another reason.
•George: You should ask him. You know him better than I do. I think he was ashamed to ask Katrina to leave by herself.
A period of silence passed, and George saw confusion and doubt, for the first time, in Katrina’s expression of bewilderment on her face - as if her eyes were expressing the anxiety inside that she was trying to overcome and hide. Perhaps her silence could be compared to a volcano when it is latent, when only smoke is visible. As for Janolka, his silence was because of his friend’s behavior although he knew his views, as if he still had doubts about what George had said and that something else had happened behind the scenes.
The waiter interrupted the intense silence when he came to take their orders. Janolka asked him about Selim, the owner of the restaurant, and if it was possible to see him.
•Waiter: Mr. Selim is in a meeting in his office with some colleagues. I’ll tell him that you want to see him. Can I take your lunch order now?
The waiter took their orders, and George told him where Michael and Sally were sitting to take them their orders when they were ready. Then he looked at Janolka and asked:
•George: Janolka, is Selim that Muslim you were talking about?
•Janolka: Yes, when you first see him you may think he’s Italian… By the way, he speaks English fluently.
•George: That’s good. I hope he comes soon so we can speak to him.
Katrina started to talk after a long silence, saying:
•Katrina: Now, let’s return to the priest. You said he couldn’t answer your questions!
•George: Yes, he even said that all his life he had tried himself to answer them as well as many other questions, but he couldn’t find any convincing answer.
•Janolka: Katrina, the priest you’re talking about is my friend. I’m sure that he doesn’t know the answers as I’ve discussed these and others matters with him several times. But the thing that amazes me is why he asked us to leave?! This is what I don’t understand!
•Katrina: Priest Luigi Staveno is one of the people who helped me to be certain in my faith. How can he have such doubts?!
Janolka sighed, looked up and said:
•Janolka: In my experience I have found that as much as the knowledge of a priest increases, his private conversations become more flexible, and the effect he has on the general public according to what they need increases.
•George: What do you mean by that?
•Janolka: What you generally hear from him is what he says to the public, but what he said to you in private was something else. This is what I understood. What do you expect him to say to the public? Do you expect him to say that he doesn’t know about God; or that the Bible is corrupted or forged?!
Katrina’s eyes filled with tears while she said:
•Katrina: No! I want him to say that even if the Generous, the Merciful and the One Lord is three persons, He is the One who sent down the Bible.
Janolka looked pitifully at Katrina and said:
•Janolka: What then should we do with the contradictions in the bible?! Could you please explain to me, in a convincing and logical way, how can God be three –in –one and one-in –three at the same time?! I hope you will not reply with what is said in the churches, as I have heard this reply a thousand times, and am still not convinced. I’m convinced that such a reply is only suitable when addressing the general public.
George noticed Katrina’s anxiety and the volcano that was exploding within herself. He said to himself:
“Perhaps the shock of the news of the priest was too much for her to endure, so I’ll try to change the subject …”
•George: How about talking about that some other time? Look, someone is coming towards us.
•Janolka: Yeah, that’s Selim. Hello Selim, some people here want to meet you.
•Selim: Hello everyone, and welcome to my restaurant.
•Janolka: It’s the first time that my friends have sat with a Muslim, and they would like to chat with you.
•Selim: Hello, I’m from Egypt. And where are you from?
•Katrina and George: We’re from Britain.
•Selim: The number of Muslims in Britain is many times more than the number of Muslims in Italy.
•George: That’s right, yet I’d like to learn about Islam from you. Does your Holy Book believe in the Old and New Testament?
•Selim: Although I only know a little about the beliefs in Islam, I’ll tell you what I know. Yes, we believe in them, yet - and I apologize for saying this - we consider that they have been corrupted.
•George: So you believe in Moses and Jesus Christ?
•Selim: Yes, we believe that both of them are prophets from God.
•George: Do you believe that Jesus is our Lord?
•Selim: No, we Muslims believe he’s an honorable messenger, but not the Lord.
•George: What’s your holy book called and how did it reach you?
•Selim: The holy book of Islam is called the Qur’an. It reached us through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). What else would you like to know?
•George: We need to learn about Islam and its teachings.
•Selim: I don’t know much about Islam at all, what I know is tourism and trade, but what do you exactly want to know about Islam?
•George: It’s just that we are astonished by the violence and terrorism you have in your religion.
•Selim: Those who commit acts of terrorism in Islam ruin everything in the name of religion.
•George: When you say “in the name of religion”, do you mean that Islam isn’t a religion of terrorism and violence?
•Selim: Exactly! Islam is a religion of peace and not a religion of terrorism, but Muslims are a backward and intolerant people.
•George: I’ll ask again, so is Islam a backward religion or are terrorist Muslims backward people?
•Selim: Islam isn’t a backward religion, but Muslims are a backward people. If you were a Muslim, your wife wouldn’t sit and chat with us like this. Isn’t this backwardness?
•Katrina: Oh no!? Why couldn’t I sit with you?
•Selim: That’s because you’re supposed to be covered and to stay away from men. In fact, I left Egypt to get away from these backward ideas.
•George: Do your family and your country have the same view?
•Selim (Laughing): Ha ha ha! My father, mother and friends always tell me that my beliefs would take one out of the fold of Islam.
•George: But why?
•Selim: Islam is totally different from Christianity. As for Christians, it’s sufficient to pray on Sundays, and not even regularly, to be considered as a Christian, but for us Muslims, those who don’t pray five times a day are considered to have left the fold of Islam. You deny the Torah and Bible, but if any of us talk against the Qur’an, they are considered to have left the fold of Islam.
•George: Is there anyone from your family here in Italy?
•Selim: I have been living alone in Italy for ten years. I refused to go back to my country. My brother, mother and father came to visit me for the first time a week ago, and they will travel back home in three days.
•George: Can I meet them?
•Selim: Yes, of course. But… and I apologize for saying this, they consider you as unbelievers.
•George: But why?
•Selim: You Christians believe in the Trinity, worshipping others with the God, so according to them you are unbelievers.
•George: So what›s the difference?! We consider them to be unbelievers too, because they don›t believe Jesus is God. Let›s meet them.
Katrina was still silent because of the startling news of the priest, and she felt that she couldn›t handle being upset further, so she said:
•Katrina: George, we don’t have time now. Don’t forget that we have to attend the holy Sunday mass tomorrow.
•George: Don’t be silly dear; we have plenty of time, if they do. When can we meet them?
•Selim: Any time you wish as all the time they’re either at home or in the restaurant. I expect that they’ll be here any minute now, but If you want to meet them any other time, I’ll arrange it with them; and again, I warn you that I’m not to be blamed for anything they might say that offends you.
Katrina was upset at George’s insistence, and said sharply:
•Katrina: Excuse me! George, I don’t understand you, but if you insist on waiting, we’ll wait for a few minutes - so that we don’t have to return to the restaurant another time.
•George: I’ll go upstairs to see Michael and Sally, and then come back again.
•Selim: George, please wait, they are coming. Should I ask them to join us?
•George: Yes, of course, and I’ll go to see the kids and come back quickly.
•Selim: Okay, fine. I’ll invite them then. But you’ll face the consequences, as it’s per your request . (Selim turned to his parents) Mother, father and Khalid, I’m here. Please join us. Here are some people who want to meet you.
•Khalid: Selim, what do you want?
•Selim: Khalid, these are my friends and they want to become acquainted with you, so please have a seat. (Selim turned to Katrina and Janolka) May I introduce to you my brother, Khalid, and my mother and father... Khalid speaks English, and my mother and father understand it to some extent, but can’t speak it. I’ll just follow the discussion, if you don’t mind, and won’t interfere.
•Khalid: Hello, everybody. As you’ve just been told, I’m Khalid, and I’m an architect. This is my father, ‘Abdullah, and this is my mother, ‘Aisha.
•Janolka: Hello, I’m Janolka, I’m Italian. I have my own business.
•Katrina: Hi, I’m Katrina, I’m British.
•Khalid: Pleased to meet you.
George came back from the kids. He said hello and shook hands with Khalid and his father, but when he extended his hand to the mother, she just smiled and welcomed him ...
•Khalid: I’m sorry, but my mother doesn’t shake hands with men, but she says welcome to you.
•George: I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.
•Khalid: We became acquainted with each other before your arrival. I’m Khalid, an architect and Selim’s brother. This is my mother, and this is my father.
•George: I’m George. I’m a computer engineer from Britain. How do you find Italy, the land with a tradition, religion and art?
•Khalid: Being an architect, I’ll begin with art. Art in Italy is unique. Italy is a land that has a civilization and it is also a leader in modern discoveries, though there is something that I don’t admire here.
•George: What is it?
•Khalid: I don›t like the idols and how people revere them; this doesn’t comply with what we were brought up with as Muslims - we consider this as paganism and taking partners with the Lord.
George remembered that he, like Muslims, also doesn’t like statues and paganism. The paganism and the statues of Hindu gods and Buddhists came to his mind.
Khalid went on, saying:
•Khalid: This leads me to talk about religion in Italy, the subject you were asking about.
•George: Excuse me, I’m sorry for interrupting you, but what do you mean by “what you were brought up with as Muslims”?
•Khalid: In Islam we don’t set up partners with God and we must have the belief that there is only one God, Who has no partners. Also, we mustn’t raise people to the degree and the rank of God, whoever these people may be. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do not make my tomb an idol that is worshipped; I’m only a servant of Allah and His Messenger.”
•George: Do you mean that we are unbelievers?
•Khalid: Whosoever believes that the God is the third of three is setting up partners with Allah.
Katrina interfered in the discussion, as if she was letting off steam, and said:
•Katrina: But Selim, even your older brother doesn’t agree with you and believes that this is extremism.
•Khalid: Selim is my older brother and I respect him. Also, I wouldn›t like to disagree with him in public; but, personally, I›m totally convinced with what I have just said.
•George (interrupting): Does this mean that Moses and Jesus are liars?
•Khalid: Allah forbid! We sincerely believe in Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them) and we respect and honor them. We also believe that they were messengers from Allah, and we believe in the holy books which were sent down to them. In fact, we believe that most of your beliefs lower their rank.
•George: We lower the rank of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!?
•Khalid: You believe that he was murdered, but we believe that he wasn’t murdered. Even some of you believe that he was an illegitimate child, isn’t that so? Don’t some of you believe that?
•George: Then what do you believe about Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary?
•Khalid: We believe that he is God’s slave and messenger, and that they didn’t kill or crucify him, but it appeared so to them. Also, we believe that he was born to the Virgin Mary (peace be upon her) miraculously, without any father, by the decree of God, just as Adam was created without a mother or a father, and similarly he spoke when he was in the cradle. We also believe that God made him able to perform many miracles; he healed those who were born blind and the leper, and he brought the dead back to life, by Allah’s Leave, and he informed people of what they have just eaten and what they have stored in their houses.
•George: So you have a clear description of Jesus (peace be upon him) and you believe in him and in the Old and the New Testament, isn’t that the case?
•Khalid: Yes, we believe in the Torah and the Bible, and we believe that they were sent down from God.
•George: But according to the Bible, Jesus is the son of God!
•Khalid: We believe that the Bible was sent down from God, but it was later distorted. Don’t some Bibles say that Jesus is His servant, and not His son or a God?
•George: No, we don’t have anything like that.
Janolka raised his long hair with the end of his hand. Then he raised his hand, and said:
•Janolka: Excuse me! I apologize for interrupting you, but we have this belief in the Gospel of Barnabas, which is a Gospel that was written in the fifteenth century by a Catholic monk who had abandoned Christianity. The Gospel was not recognized by the different Christian denominations, because it said that Jesus gave glad tidings of a Messenger that would come after him, and it also states that Jesus is a messenger of God.
George opened his eyes wide in amazement and said:
•George: That’s right!? But why wasn’t it recognized by the Catholic denominations?!
•Janolka: That’s the situation, George, it was not recognized by Catholicism or Protestantism; as otherwise it would have been recognized by other Christian denominations, and many of them would have entered Islam as a result. That’s why they said they doubted it and claimed that it had been written by a Muslim.
Khalid smiled, and said:
•Khalid: There are signs proving that Gospel to be the closest to the correct version.
•George: What do you mean by the closest to the correct version? Is there a correct version and a version which is far from being correct?
•Khalid: I mean, the closest to the one that was sent down from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).
•This was endorsed by one of the ancient manuscripts; the Gospels found in one of the caves of Beni Mazar in Egypt, dating back to the beginning of the third century AD., which was called the Gospel of Judas. It says the same thing. Note that it was before the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Janolka said, sarcastically:
•Janolka: You’re totally correct, but most Christians don’t believe either in the Gospel of Barnabas or the Gospel of Judas?
Khalid, while looking at his brother Selim, said:
•Khalid: I apologize if what I said disturbed you, but all that I said is due to my love of Jesus (peace be upon him) and the book sent down to him from God.
Katrina’s emotions became all mixed up, and her eyes filled with tears when she heard about Khalid’s love of Jesus, so she said:
•Katrina: My whole life is full of sacrifices and love for Jesus Christ, and therefore we believe in him and accept him as our savior, so we’re called Christians.
•Khalid: I’m not a scholar of religion, I’m only an architect. It seems that you are sincere in your love for Jesus (peace be upon him). Have you read the book called “My Great Love for Jesus Led Me to Islam,” written by Simon Alfredo Caraballo, who used to be a Venezuelan Catholic?
•Katrina: No, I’ve never even heard of that book, and I don’t think that my love for Christ will lead me to anything except Catholicism!
•Khalid: So why don’t you read it?! You are sure about your Catholicism, aren’t you?
•Katrina: I’ve never come across it, otherwise, I would’ve read it.
•Khalid: This copy which I have is a gift to you. I don’t know why but I feel that you sincerely love Jesus (peace be upon him) unlike others, and I apologize for saying this, but some monks and priests whom you may think to be pious earn their living from their claim that they love Jesus.
•Katrina: Thank you. I’ll read it, but I’m sure I won’t have a change of heart about Jesus or Catholicism.
•George: You say that you aren’t a scholar of religion, yet you’re talking like one, and even like a preacher.
•Khalid: Islam requires all of us to call people towards this religion, through beautiful preaching. Then he smiled, looked at his mother and said: When my mother forced me to come here to Italy, she said: “It would be a good chance to call people to Islam.” I don’t speak Italian, so this is my first attempt at that.
•George: I’m sorry, but all people like coming to the advanced civilized West, and escaping from the underdeveloped countries, but you say that she forced you to come?!
•Khalid: Europe is more advanced than our countries, this makes immigrants happy because they were able to reach Europe, especially because of the political, religious and economic oppression in our countries, but I work as an engineer in a good company and my income is sufficient. After the fall of the dictatorial regime in Egypt, things are getting better - so let’s at least hope it will continue getting better.
•George: But you suffer from religious and political oppression due to the religion, isn’t that so?
•Khalid: It’s impossible for Islam to be a reason for oppression.
•George: But the Muslims bombed the Kedeseen Church in Alexandria, didn’t they?
•Khalid: This is what was initially said. And the whole world believed this, and so did I, even though I was astonished by it. But after the fall of the dictator Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, who was supported by the West, it was proved that he and his intelligence agency were behind the bombings. I think you heard the first news and not the latter, as usual.
•George: But you’re still backward due to your religion!
‘Aisha, Khalid’s mother, pointed at him and said in Arabic:
•Khalid’s mother: O Khalid, tell him that we are backward because we have moved away from our religion!
Khalid translated his mother’s words into English, and then lunch was served. George tried to continue with the discussion, so he said:
•George: Does your mother and father understand the discussion that is going on between us?
•Khalid: Yes, they understand it well, though they can’t speak English well. Selim told you this at the beginning, perhaps before you came.
•George: May I ask her something?
•Khalid (translating): She says go ahead, and I will translate what she says.
•George: Would you like to become an atheist, a Jew or a Christian?
•Khalid’s mother (Khalid’s translation): O my son, I seek refuge with God, no one ever likes to be in a state of loss.
•George: Are we in a state of loss?
•Khalid’s mother (Khalid’s translation): If it isn’t a state of loss, then I do not know the meaning of the word ‘loss’. I’m happy, honored and treated well in Islam.
•George: Mmmm, is this just your opinion, or the opinion of all Egyptians?
•Khalid’s mother (Khalid›s translation): It is at least my view. But unfortunately some of us have been affected by you Westerners, and so see our religion as being backward.
•Then she looked at her son, Selim, who looked down in embarrassment...
•George: But the woman is despised in Islam!
•Khalid’s mother (Khalid’s translation): Nonsense! O son who told you this?! I’m sixty five years old and I can force my son, Khalid, to come with me, and he obeys me happily, though I know that he is busy and that he didn’t want to come. He visits me, and also my daughters visit me three, four or even five times a week. They give me presents; they can’t disobey me or their father. Have you ever seen such generosity? I don’t know the meaning of the word ‘generosity’ if such acts are not considered to be a form of generosity.
•George: Oh! I haven’t seen my father or mother for three months.
Khalid’s mother answered, but Khalid seemed a little perturbed by her reply. He looked at Selim, who also looked perturbed.
•George: Khalid, please tell me what she said?
•Khalid: Never mind, it’s not important …
•George: No, please, go ahead.
•Khalid: She says that we have ones like Selim who have learnt from you and adopted your bad habits.
•George: Most people in our country don’t do anything but drink too much alcohol and show bad manners or inappropriate behavior.
•Khalid’s mother (Khalid’s translation): Everywhere people lose their way and become lost, yet whenever they find the way again, they repent and return to their Lord.
Michael and Sally came from the terrace after they had had their lunch, and said:
•Michael and Sally: Dad, you said that you would return in 20 minutes, and we have been waiting for 45 minutes now. Are we going to go now as you promised, please?
•Khalid: I apologize; we have taken up your time.
•George: Wow! The time has passed by so quickly!
•George: Thank you, Selim, Khalid, Mrs. ‹Aisha and Mr. ‹Abdullah, and I’m sorry for taking up so much of your time. Here›s my card, could I have yours?
•Khalid: My mother and father don’t have any cards, but here is mine. My e-mail account is written on it. I hope you’ll give me your opinion about the book, Katrina.
•Katrina: I’ll try, thank you Khalid.
After Khalid had left with his father and mother, Selim apologized to his guests and said:
•Selim: I kept silent, as I told you I would, and I apologize for any discomfort their comments may have caused; I told you and warned you from the beginning, but you insisted.
•George: Though I’m surprised at what they said, and their strict opinions, they all talked very politely. Ha ha ha! So please don’t apologize to me, go instead to your mother and apologize for not visiting her for years.
Janolka said goodbye to everyone then he left to go to his work. George and Katrina went to Trevi Fountain with the children ... It was a wonderful fountain. They were happy to see it, as it was so beautiful, so they spent the rest of the day there. Before they left, Katrina threw a coin into the fountain. So Sally looked at her in surprise...
•Katrina: Italian legend says that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are sure to return to Rome.
•Sally: Dad, please give me a coin to throw.
•George: My little darling, don’t believe such superstitions.
•Sally: Dad, I know, but I want to throw a coin, so I can say that I threw a coin into Trevi fountain.
•George: Ok, darling. This coin is for you, and another one for Michael. Katrina, I hope you aren’t superstitious.
Katrina replied, with a strict tone:
•Katrina: And I hope you aren’t complicated! Take it easy, this is just a picnic.
•George: Katrina, what’s up?
•Katrina: Nothing, I’m fine.
•George: Don’t you like the fountain or the area around it? You’re not laughing or talking much today, it’s unlike you.
•Katrina: No, it’s wonderful. I’m just a little distracted, that’s all.
•George: So what is it then that has made you so distracted?
•Katrina: Why did you want to meet those Muslims?
•George: To get to know if the old wives tales about them and their backwardness is true, and to be ready to give an answer to Tom when he asks me about them.
•Katrina: But you looked so interested in what they were saying.
George smiled and looked into Katrina’s eyes, and said:
•George: Did I, really?!
Katrina understood what he meant and said:
•Katrina: But they deny our love for Jesus.
•George: No, it seems that they really love Jesus and his mother, Mary.
•Katrina: No, I disagree! What are you saying?
•George: The difference lies in the view of Jesus being divine, since they believe that this is polytheism, infidelity and paganism.
•Katrina: But we believe that it’s monotheism and a form of worship.
•George (Laughing): Ha ha ha! Tell me, are you going to read that book?
•Katrina: No, I don’t want to.
•George (Laughing): But you promised him that you would. Are you afraid of reading it, like he said?!
•Katrina: It’s all nonsense, if you ask me! George, this book can’t do anything.
•George: You’re right … so why don’t you read it? What’s the harm then?
•Katrina: There’s no harm.
•George: For the first time I see that you are unable to defend Catholicism. It is the first time I have heard such simple words shake you so much.
•Katrina: I just don’t want to read the book, okay?
•George: This proves that you’re afraid of the affect it might have on you.
•Katrina: Fine, I’ll read it just for you then.
•George: Katrina, my love, what’s wrong with you? Why are you acting so strange and unsure all of a sudden?!
•Katrina: I really don’t know. From the time we met the priest I’ve felt troubled. Perhaps I’m truly afraid of reading the book.
•George: Katrina, you aren’t afraid, you’re strong; you’re even my role model with regards to your certain faith. I suggest that you read the book now because it’s very small, and I’ll check my email messages because I didn’t check them yesterday.
While Katrina was reading the book George checked his email, but his eyes kept watching Katrina and her enthusiasm while she was reading. He found replies from those he had sent messages and quotes from the Torah. They had sent him their comments, which he then summed up and sent back to them. “Tom: Do you mean that this is the reason why Brad became such a monster?! It appears that this is a fair description of him.” “Levvi: Although you know my opinion of this savagery - all of you believe in it. As whosoever attacks theTorah, attacks all heavenly religions.”
•“Habib: I completely agree with him, but have noticed that Muslims, though I don’t like them, differ from him with regards to their belief in the Torah.” “Adam: This seems to be very bad words; can it really be from the Lord?”
Then he sent them the following message in reply: “Today I’m expecting your comments on an idea which I have not quoted from any text. That the Christian Trinity is a form of polytheism and a vague concept, and that God is One and Jesus is His slave and messenger. I’m waiting for your reply and your brief comments, George”
George finished his work on the computer and turned to Katrina, who was still absorbed in the book . .
•George: My darling, have you finished?
•Katrina: Please, wait a little longer.
•George: Honey, you can finish reading the book tomorrow. I want to discuss some urgent things with you.
•Katrina: Please, just a few minutes and I’ll be finished.
•George: You seem such an enthusiastic reader!
•Katrina: George, please, just a few minutes.
•George: I’ll sleep, then.
Katrina finished the book, then she drew near to George who was lying on the bed, and said:
•Katrina: I apologize. I was near the end of the book and I just wanted to finish it.
•George: It seems to be quite a convincing book then!
•Katrina: To a certain extent, the story isn’t too bad.
•George: I’d like to know our plans for tomorrow.
•Katrina: Tomorrow is Sunday; the priest asked us to attend the mass, didn’t he?
•George: Yes, he asked us to attend, but are we going to go?
•Katrina: Sure, are we going to leave a mass in the holiest church?
•George (laughing): Ha ha ha! So your love of Jesus led you to the church and not to Islam?!
•Katrina: Although the book is convincing to a great extent, I’ll go to pray in the church tomorrow.
•George: But where will we leave the kids?
•Katrina: They can come with us to the mass.
•George: Aren’t you afraid of the priests?
•Katrina: What do you mean?
•George: I can’t take my kids to the mass. I’m afraid of the priests there.
•Katrina: Afraid of what?
•George: Their barbaric behavior because they have read the Old and the New Testament repeatedly.
•Katrina: You’re not making sense today. Is it possible to explain to me what you mean?
•George: Haven’t you read about the sex scandals of the churches? Haven’t you read about the cases brought by the juveniles against the church? I can’t forget the meeting with the one who was raped in the church. The monks and priests were like monsters, not humans. I don’t want Michael and Sally to see any of this.
•Katrina: George, what’s wrong with you? I go to the church more than once a week and nothing has happened to me. Why do you have such insinuations?
•George: Have you ever seen, discussed, or read about the moral scandals of the church?
•Katrina: No, never.
•George: Okay, let’s agree that you go on YouTube and watch videos about this matter, and if you still insist on taking the kids to the mass with us, we’ll take them.
•Katrina: I’ll only watch them for your sake, and we’ll all go to the church tomorrow. I can see that you’re starting to talk the same way as that Muslim we met.
•George (laughing ): Ha ha ha! And it seems that you’ve also been influenced by his speech. I’m sure you’ll be affected by the videos that you’ll watch, so good night, my sweetheart.
•Katrina: Good night, my love.
They hugged each other for a long time, then George slept, but Katrina stayed up watching the videos and reading about the sex scandals of the church, and she moved to the other types of scandals too. She was oblivious to how the time had passed so swiftly. She returned to the book “My Great Love for Jesus Led Me to Islam”, and started to re-read a passage from the book without knowing why she chose that particular one:
“Besides being contradictory to mind and logic, the doctrine of redemption and crucifixion also opens the door to abandoning good deeds and committing evil deeds and sins, like murder, robbery, rape, adultery and so on. Saint Paul underestimated the importance of the law, commandments and the good deeds which the Christ came to fulfill and call others to. Paul said in his message to the Romans (3:28) ‘Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.’ And even Adam, peace be upon him, his good deeds didn’t help him (4:3), so he came to confine salvation and deliverance just to having faith in the crucifixion of the Christ, peace be upon him. So if you think in this way, don’t ask about the poor state of humanity. And a reply to Paul can be found in what came on the tongue of Jesus, in Matthew (5:19) ‘Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’”
She re-read the passage several times ... Then she realized that it was very late, so she put the book down beside her. She then tumbled into bed and kept thinking until she eventually fell asleep.
George woke up early the next morning, but Katrina was still in a deep sleep. He got out of bed, bathed and dressed himself. When he went closer to Katrina to wake her up, he found the book beside her, opened on the page where she had stopped reading the day before. He read it and then put it turned over on the same page he had found it.
George went to the kids’ room and woke Michael and Sally up to get ready for the day ahead. Then he returned back to Katrina and woke her up to get ready. While they were on their way to have breakfast in the buffet of the hotel, Katrina turned to George and asked:
•Katrina: Where are we touring today?
•George: The most beautiful and best places.
•The kids: Mum, where are we going today? We’ve asked Dad, but he said that it’s up to you. So please tell us where we’re going?
•Katrina: It’s a surprise! We’ll tell you soon.
Katrina asked the kids to go ahead of them to the buffet as she wanted to have a little talk with George.
•Katrina: George, where are we going today?
•George: Did you watch the videos or read about the sex scandals in the church last night?
•Katrina: Although I have spent a lot of time at the church, what I saw and read was beyond my imagination. If it is true, then they are monsters, not human beings.
•George: Do you think that’s because of Paul’s instructions that separates faith from good deeds, and that’s why Christianity invented the doctrine of redemption and salvation?
•Katrina: Did you read the book?
•George: No, I read only a passage on the page where the book was open. Is there a problem if I read it?
•Katrina: No, darling. I was just surprised. Even if you do read it, it would be okay; I’m not afraid. Perhaps this passage, in particular, poses a problem for me. Anyway, we can think about it later. Now, where are we going?
•Katrina: We must attend the mass in the church.
•George: Okay, but first, we should go to Villa Doria Pamphili Park for a short while. It is the largest park in Rome and even one of the most beautiful ones.
•Katrina: But then we’ll be late for the mass.
•George: Ha ha ha! Don’t worry, nun. We won’t be late.
•Katrina: Okay, let’s go to the park then.
The area of Villa Doria Pamphili Park was about nine square kilometers. It had a large green space that brought joy and comfort to all its visitors, and was indigenous to various species of birds. Michael and Sally thoroughly enjoyed watching the birds, and Michael remarked:
•Michael: What a wonderful choice, Mum! This visit is one of the best visits on our holiday so far.
•Katrina: It’s a wonderful and beautiful place. Do you like it, Sally?
•Sally: Yes mom, I like it a lot.
•Katrina: Do you know what would make the day even more beautiful and complete? If we went to the mass at church today.
Michael clamored and said:
•Michael: Please, I don’t want to go to church today.
George shrugged his shoulders, looked at Katrina and said:
•George: It’s up to your Mum, Michael, so ask her.
•Katrina: Darling, after taking this spectacular sightseeing tour, we should take a religious and spiritual tour and thank Jesus for giving us this amazing opportunity.
•Michael: Sorry Mum, but I don’t want to go to the church, I don’t like it!
•Katrina: You don’t like to worship and thank Jesus, who created you then provided food for you and is merciful to you?!
•Michael: I like to worship my Lord, but without going to church.
•Katrina: Unless man directs himself to God, worships Him and thanks Him, the world will become straitened for him.
•Michael: Mum, do you insist on us going to the church?
George wanted the discussion to be more light-hearted, so he said:
•George: Darling, if you don’t worship your Lord and thank Him, you’ll feel distressed. But at the same time I think worship isn’t linked or confined to going to church.
•Karina: Michael, we must go to church after we finish our tour of this wonderful park. Please, enjoy your time, but be careful to worship God and thank Him.
•Michael: Thank you Mum and thank you Dad for the lovely trip. But why is worship only linked to going to the church?!
Katrina wanted to end the discussion, so she said:
•Katrina: Sally come here, let’s go and take a look at that bird over there.
Michael and Sally ran after the bird.
•George: Michael sure is a good talker.
•Katrina: Yeah, but why do you always put me in trouble with the kids?
•George: Weren’t you the one who wanted to go to the mass?
•Katrina: We’ll continue later, innocent philosopher.
The family spent the morning at the park, and then they had lunch. After they finished, Katrina turned to her kids and said:
•Katrina: Mike, Sally, we’re going to the mass now and I want you to perform the prayer humbly, but at the same time be very careful.
•The kids: What should we be careful of?
•Katrina: Of anything, any one or any act that may hurt or bother you.
•The kids: Like what, Mum?
•Katrina: Anything that might harm you. Is it clear, Sally and Michael?!
•Michael: Yes Mum, crystal clear, but I don’t know why you are warning us like this. Are we going to the church or to the park for beasts and predators?!
Once they approached the church, Katrina went closer to George and whispered in his ear ..
•Katrina: You’ve made me worried. Please, you watch over Michael and I’ll watch over Sally.
•George: Darling, not to that extent! It seems that you’re really over reacting. But okay, I’ll check him.
They all entered the church; the holy mass had already begun. Unlike George who was uninterested in it, Katrina was impressed, but worried and stressed.
Once it had finished and they had left, Michael embraced his mother and said.
•Michael: Thank you, Mum. It was a wonderful mass. How much I love Jesus!
•Katrina: Jesus died for our salvation, and even for the salvation of all of mankind, from sin.
Sally innocently asked her Mum:
•Sally: Mum, isn’t it possible for the Merciful God to save us from our sins without Jesus being killed?! The death of Jesus the son of God has caused me much pain, as I love Jesus and it is because of him that I receive gifts on Christmas day.
•Michael: Me too, Sally. Perhaps this is the reason I don’t like going to the church, or maybe because I don’t like priests and monks.
•Katrina: Your love of Jesus will save and redeem you.
•George: Michael, don’t forget to work as faith alone is not enough, according to what Jesus taught us.
The family made their way back to the hotel and once the kids entered their room, George said to Katrina with a sly smile:
•George: You were nervous in the church!
•Katrina: And you were obviously uninterested!
•George: Yeah, how can I be interested in something I’m not convinced of? What’s important is that we’re travelling the day after tomorrow and I’d like to enjoy what time is left, like we enjoyed the past few days.
•Katrina: I’m so tired; I went to bed very late last night, so I think I’ll go to sleep now.
•George: Okay dear. I’ll check my email first, then head to bed. Could you lend me the book that Muslim gave you?
•Katrina: Do you want to read it?!
•George: Maybe; what harm will happen if I do?
•Katrina: Nothing, here you are. Good night.
George got out his computer and checked his email to find his friends’ comments on his message: “Habib: I did my best to make my students in the university understand how the trinity is monotheistic, but I couldn’t. Perhaps it’s because I, myself, don’t understand it. Generally speaking, what you’ve mentioned is found in the very old versions of the Bible.” “Tom: Math says that 3 ≠ 1, and logicians say that any portion of the whole is subordinate to the whole. My dad says: ‘Don’t speak about things you don’t understand,’ and I say: ‘Tell me about things I can understand so I will be able to answer you, ha ha ha!’” “Adam: If we say that Jesus is a slave of God and not a partner or son, this doesn’t mean that we are demeaning Jesus (peace be upon him).” “Levvi: This is similar to those who say that the Torah states that Ezra is the son of God. I think both are vague concepts.”
George sent all of the comments to all of his friends without mentioning who they were from, then he typed the following message: “Third discussion point: Is it possible that Paul is responsible for the corruption of the NewTestament? George”
And while he was reading the messages, he found a message from Kach: “Dear George.. I hope you’re fine. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon, Kach” ' alt='en.islamkingdom.com' />Note: You have been off work for more than one week.
He was about to turn off his computer when he remembered Adam’s Facebook page and that he hadn’t checked it in a while, so he browsed it and found that Adam had written a new post about him: “Lessons of My Friend Searching for Happiness 3” “My friend, who’s searching for happiness, faced a strange health problem recently. So before sharing what I’ve learned from him, I’d first like to share what happened during his illness: 1- Disease is usually accompanied by a period of weakness and this indeed was the case with my friend, and I feared that this would deter him from continuing his search, but his sincerity and determination made him continue. The moral here is that a wise person shouldn’t take any fateful decision during any period of weakness. 2- There was a time when I almost told him what the path to happiness was, when I saw how weak he was, but God saved me from doing this. 3- I’m sure that the coming period for my friend will be the most difficult period, so I’ll tell you any news as soon as I hear anything. Let’s talk again about the lessons. My friend is still determined to find the path to happiness, and I’ve learned the following lessons from him: 1- People who surround you are either influenced by you or influence you, othrewise you have to struggle with them. This is established by both the intellectual conflicts and the conflicts of belief. Many people have begun to be influenced by my friend, and this shows just how strong his determination and sincerity is. Generally speaking, I think there is more than one person who is searching for happiness. Perhaps I’ll give you the good news soon that they all reached the path to happiness. 2- Having a psychological balance and avoiding dealing complicatedly with any ideas are of the utmost importance on the quest for happiness. And my friend has such characteristics, though he sometimes loses them under pressure. 3- The importance of learning: one must not be afraid to relearn the things that one thinks one knows but which may not be right. I admire my friend’s insistence on learning things that he has known since his childhood, yet with an open mind. 4- My friend, unfortunately, has a limited ability to link between accidents, and what he reads and discusses, which is a very important ability that we need when we compare between ideas to reach happiness. I think my friend is taking his final steps towards happiness and towards answering the major questions about life. I’ll keep you informed in the lessons to come, Adam”
George read the readers’ comments, and his attention was drawn to a reader’s comment in which he said: “You seem to love your friend so much; so you portray him as a role model.” Adam’s reply was: “Yes, I wish him all the best, as I wish for all people; God commands us to wish good for the people.”
Then he read another post from Adam, talking about ideological transformations. It was written as follows: “Despite the difficulty of ideological transformations, I had a strange experience today; I sat down with a smart psychiatrist, and a genius philosopher too, but he always seemed to change his belief and ideas; he was a Christian then an apostate. He also became a bad mannered and an irreligious person. He has studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity, and now he wants to study Islam, yet he has two problems: First, he believes that philosophy rules everything, yet I told him that science rules everything, not modern principles of philosophy, but he wasn’t convinced, though he told me he would have second thoughts about it. Second, he is thinking of each religion with a mind filled with hatred towards all religions, and this is due to him being an atheist and his deep knowledge of the corruption of the religions he has studied. So please, could you give me some advice? How should I deal with him? Adam”
George knew that Adam was talking about Tom, so he browsed over Tom’s page, but couldn’t find any new posts. And what was strange was that Tom hadn’t logged onto his page for five days, which was unlike him. George turned off the computer and held the book to read over its pages quickly as he felt sleepy. Suddenly a passage grabbed his attention; he read it carefully without knowing why he was so taken aback by it, though it was just ordinary material. Could it be because he missed it in Christianity?! As in Christianity there was almost a complete separation between worship and asking for salvation, and everyday life, or was it only because it was said by a Christian?
“After putting the Prophet Muhammad at the top of his list in his book, the American writer, Michael Hart, said: ‘Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history.’ “
George went to bed but kept thinking until he eventually fell asleep. He remained in a deep sleep until the morning when Katrina woke him up, saying:
•Katrina: George, honey, wake up! Wake up! Ha ha ha! This is because of the book.
•George: Oh ... you seem to be worried. Be at ease, darling, I didn’t read all the book.
•Katrina: Ha ha ha! All this and you didn’t even read it all, so what if you had read it all! Come on, get up!
•Katrina: You should hurry, since we don’t have much time. Today is our last day in Rome and we still have many sites to see.
It was a busy day; the family visited gardens and parks, they boarded boats in the artificial lake, and ended their tour by going shopping. While they were leaving the market, George prodded Katrina gently, and with a meaningful smile, said:
•George: You haven’t bought the cross yet. Did you stop loving Jesus?
•Katrina: No, never! I have increased nothing but my love for him. However, one shows love by being obedient and through good deeds, not by only having crosses.
•George: That’s what I’ve been trying to say to you for a long time, that love isn’t measured by crosses, statues, monks or priests.
•Katrina: Let the matter drop, O biased protestant.
•George: Or perhaps my love of Christ will make me a terrorist Muslim, even though I haven’t read the book.
•Katrina: I think you are fit to be a terrorist or a Hindu who worships cows.
•George: Ha ha ha! Very funny!
When evening time came, the family went to dine at a luxurious restaurant overlooking the River Alteverh. They had dinner at a seat with a spectacular view and enjoyed the fresh and cool air.
•Michael: Excuse me, I heard you talking about religion. Is religion really important for people?
•Katrina: Of course, darling.
•Michael: A friend at school says that Atheism is the basic order of affairs; that nature created us and that the idea of religion is a form of wretched ancient mythology.
•Katrina: But what do you think?
•Michael: I think that there are some things in religion that are just fables.
•Katrina: There is a big difference between considering the idea of religion as a fable, and in some religions being fables.
•Michael: But there are a lot of fables in religion, as my friend said.
•Katrina: Like what, baby?
•Michael: Though my teacher explained the belief in the trinity, redemption, etc., more than once, I couldn’t understand it.
•Katrina: Perhaps because you’re young, you’ll understand it when you are older.
•Michael: My atheist friend says, “Those whom you ask say that you don’t understand because you’re still young, but believe me, they all don’t understand these matters.” Do you understand them, Mum?!
•Katrina: Yeah, to some extent.
•Michael: And you, Dad.
•George: Ha ha ha! No, no to some extent.
•Michael: Oh no! It’s a tricky question. Does the Lord want us to get tired before even knowing Him?
Katrina was annoyed and said:
•Katrina: Come on, now - you’re making it hard like your Dad. It’s as easy as A B C, darling.
George decisively added:
•George: Hey Michael, that’s great. It’s impossible that the Lord would send down something we can’t understand. And if that’s what you think, it means that you must learn more to understand. But don’t accept any view that says that these things are mysteries that we have to accept.
•Michael: Dad, do you agree with my atheist friend then?
•George: Absolutely not! Atheism is nothing but a myth which is totally contrary to reason.
•Michael: Sorry, Dad, I don’t understand. Could you explain it to me?
•George: Is it possible that the world came to be through coincidence?! Can mankind be created by chance?!
•Michael: Atheists don’t say that, Dad, as some of them talk about Darwin’s theory which we studied in biology.
•George: Yeah, Darwin’s theory is one of the ancient historical theories, but now it’s been proved to be false, both theoretically and practically.
•Michael: But how? George: You should ask your science teacher. He has more knowledge about that than me; I can buy you a detailed book about it if you like. We should rely on knowledge and not on myths, even if they seem to be scientific.
•Michael: But the problem is that religious beliefs are contrary to science.
•George: Impossible, none of them can do without the other.
•George: I can summarize it with Einstein’s proverb “science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind.”
•Michael: Do you mean that the science of the atheists is lame?!
•George: Their ignorance is greater than their knowledge, and even what they do know is lame and does not support anything. Similarly, religion without science may become legends and just mysteries, and that’s why it’s considered to be blind in such a case…
Michael was silent, meanwhile George pondered whether his questions, which seem to be older than his age, were evidence that Michael was clever or that he had some type of doubts.
When the family returned to the hotel, Janolka was waiting for them in the reception. Once he saw them, he stood to greet them and said:
•Janolka: A surprise visit! Hi.
•Katrina: Look who’s here! The priest’s friend. We didn’t see you in the mass!
•Janolka: I haven’t attended mass in almost a year.
•Katrina: And you and the priest are friends, how?
•Janolka: It seems that you see the priest as a very holy figure, though he couldn’t answer George’s questions and evaded them. He explained to me what happened.
George was amazed and said:
•George: You didn’t believe me?!
•Janolka: No, I didn’t mean that. It was just that the priest acted strangely. You’re right; it seems that the priest just didn’t want Katrina to leave alone.
Katrina opened her eyes with astonishment and said:
•Katrina: But why me?!
•Janolka: I told you that he differentiates between talking to the public like you who follow and benefit from his sermons, and talking to his friends in private. Anyway, I don’t want to take up too much of your time; I think you’re travelling tomorrow.
•George: Yes, we’re travelling tomorrow.
•Janolka: I came to say good-bye. Please, keep in touch. It was so nice meeting and talking to you.
•George: Likewise, the pleasure was all ours, thank-you.
•Janolka: Please, could you lend me that book? I asked my friend for a copy, but he said it was the last one he had.
•George: Is the book so important to you?!
•Janolka: Our meeting that day proved to myself that I don’t know anything about Islam except some general ideas and media reports, that’s why I decided to learn about Islam. The title of the book attracted me actually, so I’d like to read it.
•Katrina: I’ll go upstairs with the kids and get the book for you. Let’s go Michael, Sally.
George said, smiling:
•George: Ha ha ha! You have decided to study Islam, then.
•George: Will you become a Muslim?
•Janolka: Come on! Do you expect me to be like the former president of Libya, Al- Gaddafi? I will study all ideas without discriminating between any of them. I realized that I didn’t know enough about Islam in that meeting, and although I have a lot of information about Islam, it’s all just hearsay.
•George: I haven’t read about Islam yet. I’ll read about it soon. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to read the book yet. I wish I could read it too.
Katrina came with the book. She gave it to Janolka, who took out a piece of paper and a pencil and took down some information about it. Then he gratefully gave it back and said:
•Janolka: Here you are. Sorry, I changed my mind.
•George: Don’t you want the book?
•Janolka: No thanks, I wrote down the title of the website of the book and that’s enough for me. Goodbye and keep in touch.
George and Katrina went upstairs to their room. George turned on the computer because he was expecting his friends’ answers to his question: “Was Paul responsible for the corruption of the Torah or not?” Much to his surprise, all the replies said that the Torah had been corrupted, but the ways they said it had been corrupted were different. He typed up all the answers and resent them to all of his friends. “Habib: Historically and unfortunately, yes.” “Tom: If it is corrupted, I don’t care who actually corrupted it.” “Adam: What a difficult question! I don’t know who corrupted it.” “Levvi: So who corrupted the Old Testament then?! Perhaps the problem happened due to the delay in writing the bible, and not that anyone actually meant to corrupt it.”
Then he replied to them: Fourth discussion point: “Tell me truthfully, do you wish to learn about Islam? And if so, why?” “I’d like a short answer, please, as tomorrow evening I’ll be back in London, George in Rome”
He sent the message to all his friends and added Katrina and Janolka this time, and then he checked his email messages to find a message from Tom: “To all my friends, I must inform you that my Facebook page has been hacked, and I had to negotiate with Facebook administration to log me back into my account, so anything shameful that may have appeared on my page doesn’t express my opinions, Tom”
George browsed Tom’s page and he found photos which showed Tom engaged in acts of intimacy with a lot of women. George said to himself, ‘’Has the battle between Tom and Brad begun?’’ Then he remembered Adam’s article on the intellectual fluctuations of the doctor and said, ‘’Adam was right; I think Tom was at rock bottom.’’ George continued to look at the photos. After a short while he realized that he was looking at these photos to see if Katrina was there. Then he felt that his doubt was misplaced and that such behavior didn’t suit him or her, so he turned off the computer. He went to Katrina, who was lying on the bed, and kissed her. She felt his kiss, so she kissed him and then opened her eyes and said, smiling:
•Katrina: I love you.
•George: I love you, too. Come closer.
The following day passed very quickly as they had only a few hours left before going to the airport. They went to the market where Katrina reminded George about Adam’s present, the very luxurious, but cheap leather bag. While searching for the shop they came across one that had a clearance sale on some leather bags, and was even offering a discount of up to 80 % on some pieces. So he managed to buy Adam a luxurious, but cheap bag. They went out of the shop laughing at the strange order and how they, by chance, were able to find it.
After they had eaten lunch at a restaurant near the market, they returned to the hotel to pack their luggage and make their way to the airport.