This is a transcript of an interview of Reza Safa by Sid Roth. Part 1
Sid: Hello, Sid Roth here. Welcome to my world where it’s naturally supernatural. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love that rarified atmosphere. My guest, Reza Safa, was a Shiite Muslim, raised in Iran. And I have to tell you, coming from an orthodox Jewish background, I’m so grateful for your book, “Inside Islam”, but I want to find out a bit about what your life was like as a young man. What did you think of God? What was your prayer life like? Tell me some of these things.
Reza: I grew up in a very religious and radical home. My father was a Muslim scholar, and ever since I remember my name, my dad used to take me early in the morning, before the sun rose, to get up and do my prayer. I had to learn to pray in Arabic by heart, because Iranians speak Farsi, which is a totally different language.
Sid: So did you understand Arabic?
Reza: I didn’t understand, no.
Sid: Same thing with me. I had to learn everything in Hebrew and didn’t understand a word of what I was saying. I mean we are mishpochah, cousins, Arabs and Jews.
Reza: That’s right. And so, I prayed these words that I learned by heart, standing towards Mecca, up and down, five times every day. The toughest one was in the morning, early morning, before the sunrise. During the month of Ramadan, I had to pray, I had to fast thirty days without drinking and eating as long as the sun was up.
Sid: How does a young kid do that?
Reza: It’s very tough.
Sid: On Yom Kippur we had to fast, and it was tough for me too.
Reza: I remember in the summertime sometimes, because it’s a lunar month that changes every year, and in the summertime 100-plus degree weather, no drinking for eighteen hours. I would put ice on my head and put a hose, just connect a hose to the ice and cool my body down. Thank God I got saved when I went to Sweden because in the north of Sweden, the sun never goes down. That’s why there are no Muslims there, because for six months they have no sleep.
Sid: But I have to ask you something. With me, it was such a heavy-handed thing. I did it because my parents insisted, not because I had a great love for God. That’s just me personally, not true of other Jewish people. How about you?
Reza: My dad had a tremendous love for God, and he implanted that in my heart ever since I was a little kid, so there was a craving in my soul to please God. I would do anything in my power. I would go at night during the month of mourning, beat myself with chains, and chant with other kids in the street just to please God. I would sometimes travel eighteen hours by train to go to the shrine of a dead imam, pray for a whole week, day and night, in order to please God. And so, I had a tremendous respect and fear. Of course, Islam is based upon fear, and I feared God and I wanted to please Him.
Sid: What did you think, if you did at all, what happened when you died?
Reza: You always hoped. Islam is based upon good deeds versus bad deeds.
Sid: So is Judaism.
Reza: That’s right. All religion, really, in reality, is based upon your works, so you hope in the end that God is going to outweigh those good deeds versus the bad deeds. And of course, there’s never that assurance or consciousness of eternity in the heart of a Muslim.
Sid: What about God speaking to you?
Sid: Was that part of your… I mean, do Muslims talk about God speaking to them?
Reza: No, God is so far beyond your imagination, He’s so far beyond. The unity of God, the oneness of God, it teaches that it’s beyond man’s approach to God.
Sid: Ok, you go to Sweden, you bump into a couple of Christians. Initially, what did you think of them?
Reza: Well, I was a lonely person there, and I thought these Christians are very naïve, very weak looking group of people, so I thought, you know what, they could help me out; I could take advantage of them. Why not? Let’s try this out, not recognizing that God was setting me up for something massive.
Sid: What would you say is the major thing that impressed you about them?
Reza: The love that they had. I grew up with six sisters. There are nine of us in the family. My sisters adored me. I sat on the couch and they served me foot and leg. But these Christians had a love that I had never experienced before. It was pure, it was raw. It wasn’t for anything else other than love of God.
Sid: Now they gave you, unlike the Koran which was in Arabic, they gave you a Bible in your language, the Farsi language. What did you think of this Bible?
Reza: When I started reading the scripture, it really fascinated me, because the reading of the Koran is not in histories, it’s all “this verse and that verse”, a lot of confusion reading the Koran. But the Bible was all stories, Jesus healing this and healing that. One thing that fascinated me about Jesus was the healing; how He healed people.
Sid: I thought we Jews were the only ones who were fascinated with miracles. You mean you Arabs are interested too?
Reza: Muslims, there are no miracles. Actually the Jews came to Mohammed and said “If you’re a prophet of God, Jehovah God, then perform a miracle.” And he couldn’t of course. So in Islam, there are no miracles, so there’s a craving in the heart of men on this planet for the reality of God. They want to know if God is real.
Sid: So you said a prayer to God after reading the Bible over and over again. What was your prayer?
Reza: After six months, I tried to find fault in the scripture, and I was very confused. Fear began in my heart, about, if Mohammed was not from God, what will happen? So one night I prayed. I said “Jesus, are You the Son of God? Are You what this scripture says You are? Did You rise from the dead? If so, I don’t know. I grew up in an Islamic society, they told me this is the way. If You are, show Yourself to me. If You’re alive, You ought to hear this prayer. And if You’ll show yourself to me…”
Sid: That’s an honest prayer.
Reza: That’s an honest prayer. My heart is, I want God, whoever that is. I don’t know who it is. I said “If You’re real, show Yourself to me and I’ll give You my life.” The following morning about 3 o’clock, I woke up to do my prayer. And as I sat on my bed half asleep, I heard the voice of God. It wasn’t an audible voice, it was an internal voice. And He said, He called my name, He said “Reza, you don’t need to pray like this anymore. Your sins are forgiven you.” It wasn’t so much what I heard, I felt like somebody put their hand in my gut and yanked out all that guilt and all that burden and all that pleasing burden.
Sid: Ah! But what does a family do with a radical Muslim that believes Jesus is the Messiah? Don’t go away, we’ll be right back, and miracles – I mean amazing miracles will go on.