Rev. Richard L Kifer taking Shahada

My Journey To Believing In God…Once Again – A Reasonable Response – Rev. Richard L. Kifer

The journey of a forty year career Christian Minister and Christian College Professor from Christianity to Agnosticism, then to Islam – My Journey To Believe In God, Once Again.

Who would’ve thought that a 40 year career Christian Minister and Christian College Professor reverts to Islam, from Christianity to Agnosticism, then to Islam? Allah (SWT).

Here is Rev. Richard L. Kifer’s story…

The Journey of Rev. Richard L. Kifer to Islam
My Journey To Islam – Rev. Richard L. Kiefer

ON THE EDGE ……

MY JOURNEY TO BELIEVE IN GOD, ONCE AGAIN

By Rev.Richard L. Kifer, Former 40+ years Christian Pastor / Minister / Educator

Qu’ran Al-‘Imran 3:103 – “And hold fast to the rope of God, altogether, and do not become divided. And remember God’s blessings upon you; how you were enemies, and He reconciled your hearts, and by His grace you became brethren. And you were ON THE EDGE of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. God thus clarifies His revelations to you, so that you may be guided.”

What do you do when your 60 year old faith in God lies at your feet in shambles? What do you say when your life’s message just seems like empty platitudes based on centuries of verbal traditions and written manipulation by those seeking personal advancement, recognition, and ecclesiastical control of the multitudes?

On a personal basis, how does a retired Christian Minister come to grips with the feelings that four decades of work were, perhaps, a waste? I should be embracing atheism but something deep inside would not allow me to make that last step. In desperation, I looked to the skies and made one last cry for help.

What was to follow was beyond my wildest imaginations. Regardless of the fear of “fall out” from lifelong friends and relatives, I was presented with an unbelievable series of events that would erase my doubt of God’s existence and place me on the road to, once again, unashamedly, identify as a man of faith, and as a Muslim.

You would think that this news would be met with much rejoicing from friends and loved ones alike. Once again, an agnostic has found God. On the contrary, my spiritual “rebirth” caused a reaction of concern and confusion. The problem with my new spiritual life was that it took its root in Islam.

Please join me in re-counting this surprising development in the life of a man who simply followed the divine road that unfolded in answer to a desperate prayer that was offered with very little faith attached. Obviously, that mattered very little to God, who primarily identifies himself as the “Most Gracious” and the “Most Merciful.”

SEPTEMBER 1960 – THE END IS NEAR ! OR SO THEY SAID.

I grew up in beautiful and mountainous, (but poverty stricken), Cumberland, Maryland. As a youngster, my family was not into regular church attendance but, from time to time, attended the small Methodist Church in our town. Mostly, I attended to be with my school friends who attended as well.

On one particular Sunday morning in the fall of 1960, our Sunday School teacher told us that she believed that the earth would come to an end before the year 2000. She quoted some random Bible verse and then told us all to make sure to be ready. Well, that is where the lesson ended…..”be ready.” The problem was, I had NO idea how to get ready and I surely had no concept of what I was to get ready. So, my friend, Joey, and I walked home discussing the end of the world that was to happen in our lifetime and cut our lives short.

One day later, we decided to visit a nearby neighbor, who was known as a “spiritual woman,” to see if she knew anything about this apocalyptic demise of planet earth. To make a long story short, she told us the Bible story of Jesus and his death on the cross for our sins to pave the way to heaven. She invited us to say “the Christian sinner’s prayer” to “accept Jesus as my personal Savior.” I really didn’t know what I was doing but I was assured that I was now “ready.”

She invited us to attend her Baptist church to sit under the influence of “sound Biblical teaching” that she said was not available at the Methodist Church (P.S. this was my first experience where one Christian group disrespected another claiming “the corner on truth” over the other). So, I “became a Baptist,” “got baptized,” and joined the church.

At this young point of my life, emboldened with “the end time truth” I jumped wholeheartedly into my new church world, which included Sunday School, two church services on Sunday, Sunday night Baptist Youth Fellowship, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Saturday Youth For Christ meetings, Bible Quizzing, Church Choir ,Awana kid’s club, Vacation Bible School, and Youth Conferences., etc. Yes, I was very zealous for my new church community.

It was at one of these Youth Conferences in picturesque Ocean City, New Jersey in the summer of 1963, with the sound of the ocean roaring in my ears, that I responded to an invitation given by one evening’s compelling speaker, to offer my life to follow Jesus into full-time Christian ministry. I really do not remember why I made that decision except that it just seemed like the best way I could spend my life serving Jesus, and plus, it made me feel very good inside.

From when I first become a Christian at age 12 in 1960 until graduating from high school in 1965, I became a devout Christian and a dedicated Baptist. I was instructed that my Bible needed to be a Scofield King James Version Bible. This Bible, in King James English, significantly reflected the Biblical opinions of the translator, Dr. C.I. Scofield.

This Bible was extremely popular among the conservative evangelicals and promoted a literal interpretation of Scripture and a view of the uniqueness of Israel as separate from the Church in God’s program. It was promoted that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. We were told that this Bible was without error. Period.

When you think you have the corner on ”truth” that makes you label everyone else in the “full of error” category, it makes you haughty and arrogant. Therefore, I looked at all (and I mean literally ALL) other churches and denominations as full or error, apostasy, and, frankly, under the leadership of Satan himself. I even criticized other Baptist churches that were not from our particular Baptist Church association.

Back to 1965. Following high school graduation and a summer job at a burger place, I happily boarded a Greyhound Bus that would take me to college and seminary in preparation for the Christian Ministry. After 2 years of college, God blessed me with a wonderful woman who is the perfect life-partner.

Kathie and I began our journey of serving God together. Sharing together with this wonderful, talented, and faithful woman has brought me indescribable joy and happiness for 52 years. Her faithfulness and love is unsurpassed. Her constant love and devotion was the foundation of my life and our home. She is an amazing wife, mother and grandmother.

Seven years later, following college and seminary graduation, with both a bachelors and masters degree in education and theology in hand, I was publicly “Ordained” as a Christian Reverend” in a special ceremony at my home church in Cresaptown, Maryland. I had achieved my goal of being able to serve God full-time.

From 1972 until retirement in 2016, I served as Church Pastor, Youth Pastor, Youth Counselor, Youth Conference Coordinator, Music Minister, Education Director, Curriculum Coordinator, all in Metro Detroit, Michigan. Additionally, I wrote the curriculum and taught as an adjunct professor at William Tyndale College (A Christian College) in Farmington, Michigan, which, ironically, is now the Muslim Community Mosque.

The most rewarding time of my ministry was spent in counseling and helping young people. Through speaking engagements, small group discussions, individual counseling, crisis management, trips, conferences, musical presentations, Bible competitions, and a multitude of miscellaneous assignments, I spent many long hours guiding young people through the ups and downs of growing up in an ever-changing and confusing world while waiting for those “teachable moments” when youth actually stop and listen.

Following my retirement from the Christian Ministry in 2016, a number of factors contributed to the re-evaluation of my Christian beliefs. Slowly but surely, I began to lose faith and to begin viewing myself as an agnostic. I hoped there was a God, but I concluded that it was impossible to know.

However, during the many years in the Christian ministry, God, in His mercy, guided me through two “unforgettable” and “unexplainable” events that clearly marked my life. Even during those “days of doubt” and re-evaluation of my faith, these two experiences stood as an impenetrable barrier for me ever declaring myself as an atheist. I had doubts but my heart would not allow me say, “there is no God.”

EVENT NUMBER ONE

Following a Thanksgiving music concert in Detroit, I was driving home along with my young 8 year old son in the passenger seat. While making a quick drive thru “burger stop” my car was quickly surrounded by an armed group of youth who ordered me out of the car. It took me a moment or two to realize that my car doors were locked, windows up (it was November), and the car engine running. In a quick impulse, I stepped hard on the accelerator and started my escape.

Unfortunately, we were not in the clear. Two of these young men had grabbed large chunks of concrete from the side of the road and hurled them at my car. One came through the front window and the other through the passenger side window. It was this moment that my belief in God was “cemented.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). The reason for this belief was that, even though the one chunk totally took out the front window and the other totally took out the side window, BOTH landed in the BACK seat with BOTH passing on each side of my young son and me without a scratch (emotional damage not included).

Please understand that these concrete chunks were quite large and my car was a small compact. The odds of both chunks of cement shattering the windows and missing both of us were very small.  God had permanently established a foothold that would keep my faith alive.

EVENT NUMBER TWO

Picture this. I am driving a typical VERY WIDE 1990’s Ford station wagon. Riding along with me this time is my wife and my 3 children, PLUS enough sound reinforcement equipment to perform a vocal music concert in the 11,000 seat Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan. We were on our way to perform for an annual Christian Convention. Every spare space in the station wagon was occupied.

For those not familiar with Detroit freeways, the Lodge Freeway comes to an end under Cobo Hall as you connect and come to the surface on Jefferson Avenue directly in front of Cobo Hall.  At that intersection there is a traffic light. As I made the turn under Cobo Hall, I began to apply the brakes to be able to stop behind the traffic already stopped at the red light. As I pressed the brake pedal, I began to sense that we were not slowing down AT ALL. I kept pressing and pumping the brake pedal to no avail. We were heading at freeway speeds towards a car directly in front of us. A wreck was in my near future. Of greater concern was the inertia effect that would jettison all of the heavy sound equipment forward in our car on impact. At the last moment, I veered to the right in an attempt to soften the impact by hitting the car a glancing blow on the right fender while scraping along the cement barrier wall . This wall was directly to the right of the stopped car and ran parallel to the road.

The next few moments happened in the blink of an eye. As I veered towards the right to minimize the impact, my 6 foot wide station wagon “maneuvered” miraculously between the car stopped at the light and the cement wall, a space of 4 feet (trust me, I measured), without touching either the car or the wall……AT ALL. Suddenly, with my foot still on the brake pedal, the brakes engaged and brought the car to a stop. Again, I am convinced that God was driving down a stake of faith in my heart that, while questioning many things of my past religious beliefs, would prevent me from losing complete hope.

Among the many factors that challenged 60 years of solid faith, there are the “TOP TEN” issues that led me to question my thinking and belief in the Bible and Christianity . I will discuss these later, but first, the main part of the story.

A faith-shaking event took place in my life, which was the beginning of my downward spiral towards unbelief. A close friend, who had been a significant member and leader of our ministry programs, declared his new position of un-belief as an atheist. This young man, who once championed a national Bible memory program, no longer believed in God. I was shocked and stunned. My student had reached a point where “the regular answers” were not sufficient for his “questions.” I reached for every resource possible to find the answers that would bring my student “back into faith.” I was sure that his atheism was just a phase and that I would be able to “fix” him.

I fielded each and every question with the knowledge I had gained during my formal education and on-going study throughout my four decades of Christian ministry. But every time I shared my answer, he asked a deeper question for which I had no answer. As I “dug deeper and deeper” into the beliefs being questioned, more and more I discovered that many of the Christian scholars, after describing a particular doctrine in immense detail, would inevitably conclude by saying, “this (insert the name of many Christian beliefs) is inscrutable (impossible to understand).”

In the past, I had always answered many of these questions with the common Christian response, “that is a mystery known only to God.” Well, that did not satisfy my young atheist family man and, frankly, it began not to satisfy me either. I began to conclude that if we cannot understand a particular belief, then how could we even begin to claim that we believe it? That made absolutely no sense. Further, if an Almighty Omnipotent God desired to communicate to mankind (His creation), why did He not write it in such a manner that everyone could understand simply? My question: Why would God make questions too hard for people to answer? Why would those answers be so diverse and confusing throughout Christianity, depending on which denomination is speaking?

One day, In May, 2018, while driving home on US23 in Livingston County, Michigan, I called out desperately to God and said, “God, I don’t know what I believe anymore. I am frustrated and feel very alone. I feel deceived and confused. I need to see something. If you are real and if you are there, I need to see something very tangible, visible and undeniable. I know that this is a very bold and pushy request but please, I am desperate. I want to know if you are there. Amen.” At this point I had absolutely no thoughts of seeking any other religion, faith or spiritual institution. I only wanted to know if there was a divine intelligence or a “God” who superintends the universe …… especially planet earth.

With that prayer made, I then went about my regular life, not really knowing if the prayer was even heard or answered. Please understand. This was not a prayer made with great faith. In many ways, I really did not think anything would happen.

What was about to take place was beyond anything that I had ever experienced or witnessed in my 72 years on this planet. I had asked for a sign, but Allah determined that I needed an entire series of signs that would mark my life forever and eliminate all doubt.

Please follow along, step by step, (really sign by sign) as I describe an amazing series of events that go way beyond the possibility of categorizing them as coincidental. What I experienced was what I call “putting the puzzle together,” as only Allah could do. He set out to prove to a disgruntled retired Christian Minister that He exists and heard my prayer. God miraculously re-aligned “my world” with that of His world. Unknown to me, the groundwork for my “sign” was quickly on its way and, WOW, was it ever to be a major surprise for this Baptist Minister!

Allah began working “behind the scenes,” even before I prayed, in order to get me in a position to experience my requested “sign.” He had to make it probable and possible for me to visit the Cricket Wireless Store in Brighton, Michigan to meet a young Muslim from West Bloomfield. To do that, Allah had to coordinate and direct ………

ALLAH’S “12 STEP” (SHOW RICHARD THE SIGN HE ASKED FOR) PLAN TO PUT A MESSENGER IN PLACE FOR ME TO HEAR THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM

1ST SIGN – ALLAH SENT A MAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA ON A DRIVING TRIP TO ARIZONA AND BACK TO PENNSYLVANIA

I attended a business meeting in Ohio in the fall of 2017 where I met a man from Pennsylvania. During the process of our interaction, he told me about the new cell service that he was using. It’s name? Cricket Wireless. While discussing the need to “Mobile Hot Spot” the internet to operate our laptops, this gentleman briefly told me about the reliability and cost savings benefits of Cricket Wireless. He told me about a Pennsylvania to Arizona business trip where he had an uninterrupted signal for this lengthy trip. This info was “filed away” on some remote brain cell in my head. I never realized how meaningful this knowledge was about to be. However, at that time I didn’t think it was very relevant to me.

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

2ND SIGN – ALLAH GUIDED A WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICHIGAN BUSINESSMAN TO OPEN THREE CRICKET WIRELESS STORES AND ONE OF THEM IN BRIGHTON, MICHIGAN

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

3RD SIGN – ALLAH SUPERINTENDS THE AVAILABILITY OF A PRIME STORE LOCATION FOR THE CRICKET WIRELESS STORE IN BRIGHTON

Due to a burger restaurant suddenly going out of business, a fabulous right priced retail location became available to Cricket Wireless “at just the right time” and in a prime location in Brighton. The Brighton, Michigan Cricket Wireless store opened on March 5, 2018 in the Grand Crossing Mall at 9912 E. Grand River Avenue, just 15 minutes from my home in Whitmore Lake.

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

4th SIGN – ALLAH PUT A MESSENGER IN PLACE

Ghassan, a young devout Muslim from West Bloomfield, was hired by the new manager of the Brighton Cricket Wireless Store to be a Sales Associate. Ghassan was somewhat hesitant to apply for this job since Brighton was 27 miles away from his West Bloomfield home and the trip to Brighton is via a very congested freeway. In spite of this, Ghassan accepted the job. As a college student, Ghassan ONLY worked Tuesdays and Thursdays and weekends (important detail).

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

5th SIGN – ALLAH GUIDES THE KROGER CORPORATION EXECUTIVES TO EXPAND THE CURRENT STORE IN BRIGHTON

To make that store expansion happen, Kroger had to cancel the lease of several small retail stores that were located in the strip mall which would become their space for expansion. This included a greeting card store, a fudge shop, and ……… my regular barbershop, “Big League Haircuts.”

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

6th SIGN – ALLAH LEADS THE “BIG LEAGUE” BARBERSHOP TO FIND A NEW LOCATION

I regularly get my hair cut at “Big League Haircuts” in Brighton. The store was located in the strip mall in Brighton owned by the Kroger Corporation. The Kroger executives made a decision to expand the Brighton Kroger Store into a much larger supermarket. This decision forced “Big League Haircuts,” who leased store space from Kroger, to re-locate. Big League Haircuts found a new store space at nearby 9912 E. GRAND RIVER IN THE GRAND CROSSING MALL. Doesn’t this address sound familiar??????

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

7th SIGN – TIME FOR A HAIRCUT AT THE NEW LOCATION!

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, I left my home in Whitmore Lake to head to Brighton to get a haircut at the new Big League Haircut Store. As I pulled into the store’s new location in the Grand Crossing Mall, a large nearby green sign caught my attention. The sign said, “Cricket.” Suddenly, I remembered my October 2017 discussion with the man from Pennsylvania and his satisfaction with his new wireless provider, Cricket Wireless. So, following my haircut, rather than head directly to my car, I walked two doors away and entered the Cricket Store where I was greeted by the friendly Sales Associate, Ghassan, who “just happened” to be working that day, because it was Thursday, one of the only two days he worked during the week.

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

8th SIGN – SIGN ME UP!

Being a comparison shopper, I went home to do some research on “Cricket” wireless from May 10th until May 26th, During this research time, I went back to visit Ghassan countless times to ask additional questions revealed in my online investigation. Finally, I called the man from Pennsylvania to confirm his continued satisfaction with “Cricket.” Fully convinced, I made the decision to switch wireless carriers and made yet another appointment with Ghassan. As a point of information, we only discussed the Cricket Wireless service at this time, plus I took a “ready for Facebook” picture of Ghassan behind the Cricket Store counter.

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

9th SIGN – THE FIRST MENTION OF ISLAM

A week following the activation of my two cell phones, I posted the picture of Ghassan on my Facebook page proclaiming the “wonders of Cricket Wireless” for all my friends to see. So, I returned to Cricket Wireless to show Ghassan my Facebook post and to, once again, say “thanks” for his guidance and information. During my discussion with Ghassan that day, I mentioned to Ghassan that I was not “Islamophobic” and that he should be prepared to hear some comments from some prejudiced customers about being Arab. At this point, Ghassan told me that he was a Muslim.

GHASSAN WAS THE FIRST MUSLIM WITH WHOM I EVER HELD A CONVERSATION ABOUT ISLAM. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, GHASSAN WAS THE FIRST MUSLIM WITH WHOM I TALKED ABOUT ANYTHING.

I began to ask numerous questions about life as a Muslim since I knew absolutely nothing about Islam. I couldn’t help but share one of the biggest misconceptions that I heard. Previously, I heard that Muslims were moving to America to only, at some point much like the “trojan horse,” fully armed, and take over the country. This statement made Ghassan laugh hysterically. He told me that his family does not even own a gun. He believed that I was making up this belief. I assured him that I was not. This humorous story soon caused sadness for both of us, as we realized that the depth of racism in America was significant, even in the 21st Century. The next time I visited the Cricket Store to visit with Ghassan, I brought along an article called “10 Misconeptions about Islam” that I had copied from the internet. Naturally, the #1 misconception listed was “Muslims are violent, terrorists and/or extremists.” This led to even further discussion about Islam and more visits to talk to Ghassan.

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

10TH SIGN – ALLAH SENDS A SECOND MESSENGER

On Tueday June 5th, Ibi, Ghassan’s good friend, came to the Brighton Cricket Store to spend the day with Ghassan. Ibrahim had promised that he would come to the store some time and so he picked June 5th to visit even though he had worked all night, June 5th was also another day that I stopped at the Cricket Store and talk of some more about Islam with Ghassan. Ibi was knowledgeable about the history and preservation of the Qur’an and was more than happy to share his knowledge with me.

I knew nothing about the Qur’an and so I was very interested in what Ibi had to say. Of particular interest to me was Ibi’s information that the Qur’an, as the last testament in a series of divine revelations from God, had remained intact since the original revelation by God in the 7th century. No changes at all. This information, once again, led to more reading and research. I firmly believe that Allah brought Ibi to the Brighton Cricket store this day to help me understand the Qur’an since I was only familiar with the scriptures found in the Bible. It was very significant that this subject was discussed at this point in my investigation of Islam, as I had told Ghassan that I wanted to read the entire Qur’an as a part of my research and study.

Over the 2 years that had passed since I “officially retired” from the Christian Ministry, I had already become very skeptical about the Bible and it’s accuracy and preservation. The “Christian position” on the Bible is that “the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God.” The belief is that “the very words of Scripture were given by the Holy Spirit, that the writers were not left absolutely to themselves in the choice of which words they should use, but were divinely directed in their selection. However, when pushed to the reality of a multitude of versions of the Bible, the Christian theologians then clarified that this “inspiration” applies to the “original manuscripts.”

The overwhelming problem, however, is if we don’t have the original manuscripts, how do we know if what we have in today’s Bible is the intended message from God? Christian Bible scholars tell me that through the various “later” manuscripts, we can be confident that no major deviance has occurred from the “inspired” original manuscripts. Seeing that the original manuscripts do not exist, and neither do any copies of the originals nor any copies of the copies of the original, nor any copies of the copies of the copies of the originals, etc., how am I supposed to know that what I have in my hand (a 1611 King James Version of the Bible) is the inerrant inspired Word of God?

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

11TH SIGN – TIME TO PRAY

June 15, 2018 was Ghassan’s 19th birthday. I wanted to stop by the Cricket Store and express my birthday wishes. For a birthday present, I brought him a large pepperoni pizza and breadsticks. Is that funny or what? How was I to know?????? Ghassan invited me to join him for prayer. This was an amazing experience. I didn’t understand a single word, but seeing Ghassan bow and prostrate before God made a significant impression on me. I had never seen worship like this before. My previous worship experiences did not include kneeling, let alone prostrating in humility and worship. I was impressed. He then gave me a web address with the Muslim prayer described and gave me a copy of that prayer in English.

I went home and considered the prayer that I now held in my hand. I really hadn’t prayed since my desperation prayer in early May. So, with a little fear and excitement, I stood up in my study, faced northeast, as I had been instructed by Ghassan, and began to say ……. “In the name of Allahl…………………..….”

That is all the further I got. My eyes filled up with tears, and my heart melted with the warmth and presence of God as if He were saying, “welcome home.” I began to weep. Rather than continue further with the prayer, I continued to repeat “In the name of Allah………………………” I can’t remember how long I stood and continued like this, but I was well aware that I would never be the same again. In the very moment I called, God had invaded my heart with such warmth and peace that I knew that my prayer for a “tangible, visible and undeniable” sign had been answered, and in a brief moment, He turned my unbelief into firm belief in “the sustainer of all the worlds” “Whomever Allah desires to guide, He spreads open his heart to Islam.” Qur’an 6:125. Allah subhanna wa ta ‘ala had done just that. He opened my heart!

IF THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, I WILL NOT HEAR ABOUT ISLAM!

12TH SIGN – TIME TO CLOSE THE DEAL

I could barely wait to see Ghassan again and tell him of my experiences. I arranged to visit him at the Cricket Store, of course. I told him about what had happened to me when I prayed that first time and then in again in subsequent attempts at prayer. After explaining this experience to Ghassan, I looked directly at him and said, “I AM MUSLIM.” In all of the days of searching and researching, I realized that all I ever really wanted to do was to worship Almighty God. I felt like the church had exchanged worship for a produced spectator program. Too many “inscrutable” Christian doctrines left me very confused and anxious. Jesus, himself, constantly instructed the masses to “Love the Lord your God.” He never sought worship himself or instructed us to worship him as God.

Ghassan remained silent for what seemed like a long time. He said I needed to do something called “shahadah.” I discovered that the “shahadah” is the “Statement of Faith” that declares, “I bear witness that no one is worthy of worship except Allah. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. In the Arabic it is, “Ash hadu an la ilaha ‘ill-Allah, Wa ash hadu anna muhamadan abduhu wa rasuluh.

Allah is not some new or different god. Allah is the Arabic word for God. Wherever God is worshiped in the Arabic speaking community, whether Judaism, Christianity or Islam, God is Allah. This is often a misconception about Islam, but the truth is that Muslims worship the same God of the Jews and the Christians.

This statement of faith, while also recognizing Muhammad as the messenger of God, does not exclude previous prophets. Quite the contrary, in the Qur’an, Al Baqara, Ayad 136, God reminds us that “We believe in God and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was and what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him.” Following “Jumuah” prayers on Friday, June 22, 2018, I voiced my faith with the brothers and sisters who had assembled at the Muslim Unity Center, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for prayer.

Faith! The very thing that, only weeks before remained as fleeting as a clear blue sky in the path of an on-coming summer storm, was now 100% crystal clear, firm, and without a shadow of doubt.
Yes, without a shadow of doubt …………………………………… in answer to my prayer!

MASHA’ALLAH!

OH, BUT THERE IS MORE!

As I mentioned earlier, it was during Ramadan 2018 that Allah drew me to Islam. That alone, is an amazing “miracle” to me. Well, it seems that more unbelievable events were waiting for me during Ramadan 2019, my first Ramadan as a Muslim.

I have a weight problem. This problem “kicked in” somewhere just past my 50th birthday. My doctor told me that, along with a case of Type II Diabetes, my metabolism was becoming less effective and that there was very little I could do to lose weight, especially since I was taking insulin shots every day. Insulin, I am told causes weight gain. I felt pretty trapped to be “morbidly obese” (that is how it was written in my medical records) for the rest of my life. It had even been suggested that I consider bariatric surgery.

Everyone at the masjid was talking about the coming Ramadan and the blessings that it provides. Of course, I heard about the fasting that is required of all Muslims. When I told my doctor about the food and water fast for a month, she told me, in no uncertain terms, that I could not participate because of the severe ramifications that might bring on my diabetic body. My Imam confirmed to me that I would not be required to fast because of medical conditions.

I was disappointed. I asked the doctor if I could participate “just a little,” and the response was the same. No way! Not to be deterred, I decided that if I could not fast, then I would do something else to help me focus on the reason for Ramadan. So, I decided to set aside all pop, junk food, chips, cookies, etc. and ask Allah to help gain control of my eating habits and maybe lose some weight. At the beginning of Ramadan, I weighed in at 314. On day one of

Ramadan, I set aside all of the foods that were no longer beneficial to growth and stamina. I set a goal of being under 300 pounds by the end of Ramadan 2019.

I had tried “Weight Watchers,” “Slim Fast Diets,” “The Atkins Diet,” and even a professionally designed diet from the University of Michigan Health Service. Nothing worked. But now, during Ramadan, I began to see pounds slowly coming off. As I continued to participate in the other Ramadan celebrations, the numbers continued to go down. At the end of Ramadan, I weighted 299. Alhamdulillah. I did not want to stop, so I continued to eat healthy (meat, fruits, vegetables, and little else). Today, (September 25, 2019), I weighed in at 272, a loss of 42 pounds. In addition, as the pounds came off, so, too, did my need for insulin. It was shortly after Ramadan that the doctor began to reduce my insulin intake. Starting at 70 units per day, I saw the need drop to ZERO units of insulin per day. SubhaaAllah. During Ramadan 2018, Allah gave me faith. During Ramadan 2019, He gave me health.

Thank you for reading the story of Allah guiding me to become a Muslim. For an old Baptist minister that is quite a “jump,” but not really, as I continued with renewed faith to worship the same God to whom I prayed as a 12 year old in 1960.

Making Duaa to Allah
Make Dua To Allah When Searching For God

The "Shahada" in Arabic

“There is none worthy of worship except Allah and
Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah”


Contact Information:

RICHARD L. KIFER r.kifer@sbcglobal.net
Available for Speaking, Siminars, and Consultation

A message from Iam Mohamed Almasmary supporting Richard Kifer and his Launchgood Projects.

“Last year, we were truly blessed to have brother Richard join our community, embracing Islam. Alhamdulillah. People embraced our dear brother. We were truly excited and happy to see a brother like brother Richard accept Islam with all his experience, his knowledge and wisdom. Alhamdulillah. May Allah Subhannau Wa ‘Ta Ala make it easy for him and continually shower him with His blessings. Since then, our dear brother Richard never stopped. Continued to work. Continued to read. Spiritually grow. Educationally grow. Alhamdulillah. We can see that in his discussions. We can see that in his writings where he continues to produce and he continues to educate us as Imams and educate the youth in our community and members in our community and we’re truly blessed to have someone like him at Muslim Unity Center.

I know my dear brother Richard has launched a new project, a dawah project. We support him in everything that he is doing. He is someone that is fit for the job and someone who has enough experience to lead such effort. We ask people to show their support to our dear brother. When you see him GIVE HIM SALAM. When you see him, of course, TELL HIM JAZAK ALLAHU KHAIR (May Allah reward him for all the good work). Of course, FINANCIALLY SUPPORT THESE PROJECTS that will truly benefit the Ummah and benefit the Muslim community, the non-Muslim community. A large people will benefit from these dawah projects. Allow us to show this project our support. Allow us to be a part of something that is noble. InshAllah. Barak Allahu Feekum (may Allahward you all). May Allah be with Richard in everything he does.”

Rev. Richard L Kifer taking Shahada
Rev. Richard L. Kifer Taking “Shahada” At The Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI

JUNE 22, 2018 – RICHARD KIFER TAKING “SHAHADAH” – MUSLIM UNITY CENTER, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI

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