To make their soldiers fearless, Mohamad Faridi’s Iranian superiors made them sleep in empty graves.
Since a boy, Mohamad was fervent Muslim, praying 10 times a day, way more than the regimented five times. But nothing could ease his fear of death and his apprehension that he might be judged unworthy of being admitted into Paradise beyond the grave.
“I was in a lot of despair, a lot of depression, and I was hopeless. The only hope I had was to die, so I contemplated suicide,” he says on a Your Living Manna video “But I was afraid because if as a Muslim you commit suicide you end up in hell.
“I was living in hell in this world.”
The Tehran-born boy was taught to never question Islam.
“I went to my mom and ask her, ‘Mom, does this god, the god of Islam, speak Farsi (the language of the Iranians)? Can I speak to him in Farsi?’ My mom said, ‘You do not want to be tormented by Allah. You do not want to be tortured by Allah. A good Muslim only surrenders, only submits.’
“From that moment on, I just put my blinders on.”
Mohamad memorized entire chapters of the Koran, washed himself religiously, prayed ritually and fasted during the 30 days of Ramadan.
But the question nagged him: Would he ever be good enough to merit Paradise?
Allah, according to the depiction, weighed your good actions against your bad actions on judgement day. Nobody ever knew for certain who would get into eternal glory and who would be cast into torment.
The Shia sect of Islam practiced in Iran also has the ritual of self-flagellation with chains containing barbs and knives. By drawing blood in penance, they hope to curry the favor of the imams in Paradise so that they may pray for their souls, Mohamad says.
“Someone recites a eulogy and provokes the crowd to beat themselves, weep and cry,” he explains. “That’s how we’re gaining points and how we punish ourselves that maybe one of these Imams would intercede for us at the day of judgement. We beat ourselves so much that we bruise and bleed with chains on our backs.”
At age 19, he joined the Revolutionary Army to fight in the decade-long war against Iraq. The nation’s imams said that it was jihad, or holy war, which meant that if anyone died in it, he would be taken straight to Paradise.
His uncle and brother were part of the mass deaths of Iranians, but Mohamad was spared.
Back from the war, he resumed his rituals of desperately trying to appease Allah. During one 10-day stretch of self-flagellation, he beat himself so badly through nine days that he could not rise from his bed on the tenth to carry on.
“I was so broken and I was so bruised that I could not get out and go beat myself more on the tenth day,” he recounts. “I was ashamed of myself. I said this is the least asked of me and I cannot fulfill that.”
Light finally broke into the darkness. Mohamad rekindled a childhood friendship with a friend named Rasul. He noticed Rasul was uncommonly light-hearted.
“What is going on with you? What is happening to you?” asked Mohamad.
Rasul responded that he became a Christian.
“That was the first time I was hearing about Christianity without bad-mouthing it or without saying that it is corrupted,” Mohamad remembers.
“God loved his creation,” Rasul said. For two hours, he elucidated the free gift of grace through faith in Christ and his death on the cross.
Mohamad raised every objection he had heard at home or in the mosque.
Rasul tired of two hours of arguing, so he said he needed to go.
“The last thing I’m gonna tell you is Jesus was beaten, he was bruised, he was crucified, his blood was shed for your sin so that you can have everlasting life,” Rasul said.
Then he quoted to him John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The concept of Jesus being beaten and bloodied instead of Mohamad beating and bloodying himself left him astounded. It was an utter contradiction of everything he knew from Islam.
It resonated deep within him, and Mohamad decided at the end to accept Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
“When I opened my eyes from that prayer, everything in the world got a new color, everything that was a shade of gray and black got colors,” the young man recounts with wonder. “For the first time in my life, I felt peace in my life.” Read the rest: He was bruised and beaten for our sins, Muslim discovers salvation without works in Christianity.