In a world where faith can often be a polarising force, Sydney-sider Zaine Alabdi is trying to go against the grain and build relationships across the religious divide.

Mr Alabdi, who grew up in a devout Muslim family in Saudi Arabia and became a Christian after his family came to Australia, is the founder of a new Sydney-based ministry, Al Haqq, which aims to create a respectful dialogue between Christians and Muslims and share the Gospel using the power of technology.

Through a series of videos posted on a dedicated YouTube channel, Mr Alabdi hopes to correct misconceptions among Muslims about Christianity and also equip Christians to be able to have better conversations with Muslims about faith.

Zaine Alabdi

Zaine Alabdi

 

“The main focus of the videos is correcting misconceptions and encouraging Muslims to revisit some of the beliefs that they have."

- Zaine Alabdi, founder of Al Haqq

“The main focus of the videos is correcting misconceptions and encouraging Muslims to revisit some of the beliefs that they have,” says the 22-year-old. “Because Muslims have many misconceptions of Christianity – their misconception that the Bible is corrupt, that Jesus never claimed to be God, that Jesus was not crucified or resurrected  - and we take topics like that and do a five minute video and post it online.”

The first video, which was launched on Good Friday, looks at how the Quran portrays Jesus and addresses what Mr Alabdi says is the “mistaken belief that Jesus was only a prophet of God and only a messenger”.

“When you actually read the Quran, Jesus has abilities and qualities that only belong to God – He’s able to raise the dead, He is able to…create birds out of clay by breathing life into them – the exact way that God created humans, He’s a healer, He has divine names as well, He’s called the Spirit of God and He’s called the Word of God...” he says. “We create videos like that to encourage them to rethink their views.”

Mr Alabdi says the Sydney-based ministry is also aimed at encouraging Christians to build relationships with Muslims as well as equipping them with tools sharing their faith.

“A lot of Christians have fear or anxiety – they’re not sure how to communicate with Muslims because it’s a different culture with different beliefs,” he says. “So equipping them and teaching them how to interact with Muslims would be amazing, especially as we see many, many Muslims coming as refugees all over the West. It’s a huge chance for us…God is bringing them to us so all we need to do is try and build relationships with them, show them the love of Christ and eventually, hopefully, by prayer, they will come to accept Him.”

Mr Alabdi was inspired to start the ministry thanks to his own journey to the Christian faith.

He says that growing up in Saudi Arabia, where his birth name was Mohammad, he was taught not only the precepts of Islam but that Christians and Jews were the enemy.  “We were taught to view them as bad people…” he recalls.

It was only after he came to Australia in 2010 – when he was 14-years-old - that he even met a Christian and discovered that, in fact, his father had been a Christian while they’d lived in Saudi Arabia. It was because his father had been imprisoned and tortured for his faith, says Mr Alabdi, that the family had come to Australia on a humanitarian visa.

“When we actually came we had nothing…and it was a church that actually showed us love and care and that shocked me because throughout my life I was taught that they were the enemy,” he recalls.

“When I was praying for them to die and suffer, they were praying for me to see the love and grace of God. And that was extremely confusing and shocking.”

Al Haqq website

The Al Haqq website which is linked to a dedicated YouTube channel.

Over time, Mr Alabdi says he started to have a lot of doubt in Islam – “my faith was challenged by a lot of people…and I really started to question why do I believe what I believe?” – and eventually a Christian friend spoke to him about Jesus.

“We were having conversations almost on a daily basis and they invited me to church…” Mr Alabdi says he went along to “see what would happen”. Little did he anticipate the impact it would have upon him.

“The way I felt during the worship was unlike anything that I had ever felt. I felt such a presence that, as a Muslim, praying to Allah, I never felt, such comfort and peace. And I started reading the Bible and studying the life of Jesus and I just fell in love with the character of Jesus. The stuff He was teaching was radical, [it was] amazing, [it was] unlike anything that I’d ever heard – “love your enemy”, “do good to those who persecute you” and, the biggest thing for Him, [which] was loving God and loving people.”

Mr Alabdi says he realised that "if there was going to be peace and compassion and the world was going to be a better place, it needs to be led by teachings like that of Jesus.”

He spent about a year-and-a-half looking into the Christian faith, including studying the historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Christ and His claims to be divine, and, at the same time, praying for God to reveal Himself.

“The evidence was so great, I was convinced that Jesus was crucified and rose again.”

- Zaine Alabdi

“The evidence was so great,” Mr Alabdi says, “I was convinced that Jesus was crucified and rose again.”

Accompanied by some dreams and visions he had of Jesus, Mr Alabdi says he was then “able to take the biggest step of my life" - becoming a Christian. It was a costly decision.

“When I first decided to become a Christian, the decision broke my relationship with my mother [in Australia] and family in Saudi,” he says. “I was receiving death threats almost daily from my own uncles, aunts and grandparents, telling me if I do not revert back to Islam, they will send terrorists or they themselves will come to kill me. So, for me, personally, this choice meant life or death.”

Mr Alabdi says that while the response may not be that severe for other Muslims who become Christians, there will still be “a degree of rejection from their Muslim community and maybe family”.

“I know many Muslims in Australia who are afraid to ask about Christianity or show interest in Christ because of that fear of rejection,” he says. “For me, what helped me through this stressful time was God and then the church family and Christian friends. So showing love, support and care to Muslims and being their family is most significant because then if they decide to convert they still have that love and support and will be more encouraged to look into Christianity.”

He says his mission to reach other other Muslims with the Gospel came out of his desire to "share the joy and freedom that I have in Jesus". He adds that that as he prayed and thought about it, he was led to the idea of using social media and the internet as a tool to reach Muslims all over the world.

As well as reaching Muslims with videos and encouraging and equipping Christians in building relationships with and evangelising among Muslims, the four-fold mission of Al Haqq Ministries (the name means 'the truth' and relates to the ministry's goal of sharing the Gospel with Muslims) also includes raising awareness of the persecution of Christians living in Islamic-dominated countries and advocating for their religious freedom.

“[M]illions of Christians are unable to practice their faith freely and openly and will be punished if they do,” Mr Alabdi says. “Muslims are not allowed to convert to any other religion as well so there are many Muslims that are convinced of Christianity but will be killed or imprisoned for life by the government if people knew. So people need to know the severity of this. Our Christian brothers and sisters [are] being oppressed by governments that we have relationships with and we want to advocate for change of laws to allow Christians and others as well to worship freely.”

Mr Alabdi, who is studying construction management while also working casually as a paid Christian outreach worker, is looking for financial support to expand the ministry with hopes that the videos can be eventually be produced in Arabic as well as English.

He says he’s happy to attend churches to speak about the mission of Al Haqq and provide tips on how congregations can go about building relationships with Muslims. But prayer, Mr Alabdi says, is what he and the ministry need most.

“[P]ray that Muslims will be saved through this ministry, [that] Christians will be encouraged to speak to Muslims and [for a] change of laws in Islamic countries allowing Christians to worship freely," he asks.

~ https://alhaqq.com.au