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A Mother's Prayer Brings Muslim to Christ

CBN.com -“It gave me identity. It wasn't something we did. I found my identity in Islam. It defined who I was. I was told what was expected of me. It was very clear.” Raised in a strict Islamic home, TawfiQ Cotman-El did his best to be a good Muslim, but never felt he measured up. “I remember looking up to the sky as a child and just feeling like I was never doing it right. I wasn't praying the right way. I didn't know all of the verses to the suras and the prayers that we were supposed to be praying. And if this is who I am, if this defines who I am and I'm not doing it right, then who am I? What am I? There must be something wrong with me.”

TawfiQ ‘s father was a leader in their mosque and Muslim community in Rhode Island, and their family faithfully adhered to Islamic life. But his mother, Davida, began seeing another side of Islam that disturbed her -- the senseless murders of innocent people by radical Muslim terrorists. “One day I was walking down the street and I was thinking about how much I looked like, to anyone who didn't know me, that I could be a terrorist. I had a hard time squashing a fly, so that bothered me. I was just very unhappy, uncomfortable, and I just wanted a change.”

Davida soon got her chance to break away from Islam. Crime had been increasing in the neighborhood, and Davida and her husband agreed she would move TawfiQ and three of his siblings to San Antonio, Texas. Duty bound by the mosque, TawfiQ‘s father stayed behind. For Davida, the time for change had come. “When I walked away from Islam, I didn't walk away from Islam into something else. I walked away into nothing,” she remembers. 

Then she started attending a Christian church with a friend. Eventually Davida accepted Jesus Christ as her savior. She hoped her children would follow, but was met with much resistance.

TawfiQ was defiant against Christianity. “To let go of Islam is to let go of my identity, to let go of my father, to let go of my friends and everything I knew. Being taken to this church where they were telling me to believe all this stuff that I had been told all my life is idolatry and blasphemous and hell worthy, was no easy task.” 

Reluctantly TawfiQ went to church with his mother, but resentment towards her and God began to grow. And now away from his father and the Muslim community, his ties to Islam faded. He started partying with friends and became engrossed with the hip hop culture. “I was extremely hungry looking for some type of world to belong in. I loved hip hop and the music I was listening to was very profane,” TawfiQ remembers. I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to find my outlet in this music thing.’  And so I did. I wrote all the time. I rapped all the time. I would sneak out of my house, go to parties. I was smoking cigarettes in the back yard. I would get weed from school.”

His mother knew the best thing she could do was pray. “(I was) not only praying myself for him, but praying with others for him, and just trusting and believing God every step of the way.”

“I wanted to chase my sin and she was very intentional about blocking me as much as she could -- and so I went around her,” TawfiQ said.

TawfiQ eventually moved in with a cousin, and began selling drugs, but even then, his mother never gave up on him.“I’m high all the time. My mother was still taking me to church, still being there for me, still having an ear. I mean, she just walked with me through this whole thing,” he recalls.

When his cousin heard that TawfiQ had been attending a Christian church, he kicked him out. “(I had) no money, no food, no prospect, and no hope. At this time, I was extremely depressed. I had nothing, no identity.”

Completely out of options, he called on the One he had been avoiding.  I said, “’God, I don’t know who You are, but I need your help. I need something here.’"

His answer would soon come. He got a job working at a Christian conference in Chicago, where the hip hop group, Cross Movement, was performing. The music got his attention, but when the lead singer presented the gospel of Jesus, TawfiQ was captivated. “That other church I was at gave me little puzzle pieces. When you're putting a puzzle together you need to see the box so you can see the picture. Well, that's what he did. Not only did he give me the picture, he gave me the rest of the pieces to put the whole thing together and it made sense now.”

After the concert, TawfiQ went to speak to him. “He just pressed me and said, ‘You need to examine Jesus Christ and who He is. I challenge you to look into Him and see why He's so amazing, so beautiful, and why Islam doesn't even compare.’"

He took him up on his challenge and began studying about Jesus. TawfiQ says as he did, he couldn’t escape the truth. So he asked God to forgive him and accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. “I fell on my knees and I called out to Him and said, ‘I’ve been living a lie. I've been fake this whole time. I didn't know You, but now I want to know You. I want to know this God that people have been preaching to me about. I want to know Jesus.’”

TawfiQ says that in Jesus he finally found his true identity. Over the years he learned more and more about the love of God, and now shares that with his wife Michelle, his children and his mom. Davida says, “I am so, so grateful for what God has done in his life, is doing in his life, and what he's allowing God to do in his life. What I’m seeing in his family with him as a husband, as a father is that he's a mighty man of God. He really is.”

“Although I was an enemy of Him, He saw fit to love me and send His Son to die for me, to wash my sins away, so that I don't have to face His wrath,” TawfiQ said. “I’m going to have eternity and I’m going to be able to be with him forever. I am thankful to be a recipient of grace, to be a vessel of mercy. I'm thankful to be saved.”

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