I Dared to Call Him Father
13 August 2010
I Dared to Call Him Father: The Miraculous Story of a Muslim Woman's Encounter With God by Bilquis Sheikh, is a pioneering, powerful testimony of a Muslim's encounter with the living Messiah, Isa (Yeshua, Jesus) — first published over 30 years ago, when such testimonies were much more rare than they are today.
In 1966, Pakistani Bilquis Sheikh was 54 years old, divorced and rich — and restless and seeking. This book recounts how, step by step, her unknown Heavenly Father was leading her to an intimate relationship with Himself, His Son Isa (Yeshua, Jesus), and the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is a story of wondrous encounters with the supernatural, amazing "coincidences", intense interactions with outraged relatives, the timely providences of a loving Heavenly Father, and more! Throughout all of these circumstances, we see Bilquis grow in her newfound faith through trial and error, success and failure, as she learns how to stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and walk in obedience to His gentle promptings.
Now, let's take a look at some excerpts from the book and let Bilquis speak for herself:
Always before, I had read the Quran as an obligation. This time, I felt I should really search its pages.... The next morning I picked up the Quran again, hoping to find in the curling script the assurances I needed so desperately. But the assurances never came. I found only directives for how to live and warnings against other beliefs. There were verses about the prophet Jesus whose message, the Quran said, was falsified by early Christians. Though Jesus was born of a virgin, he was not God's son. So say not, "Three," warned the Quran against the Christian concept of the Trinity.
After several days of applying myself to the holy book, I put it down one afternoon with a sigh... "Where? O Allah," I whispered, "where is the comfort You promise?" Back in my bedroom that evening I again picked up the Quran. And as I read I was again impressed by its many references to Jewish and Christian writings that preceded it. Perhaps, I wondered, I should continue my search among those earlier books?
But that would mean reading the Bible. How could the Bible help since, of course, as everyone knew, the early Christians had falsified so much of it? But the idea of reading the Bible became more and more insistent. What was the Bible's concept of God? What did it say about the prophet Jesus? Perhaps after all I should read it. But then came the next problem: Where would I get a Bible? No shops in our area would carry one....
I lay back on my bed, my hand over my eyes. If the Bible and Quran represent the same God, why is there so much confusion and contradiction? How could it be the same God if the God of the Quran is one of vengeance and punishment and the God of the Christian Bible is one of mercy and forgiveness? I don't know when I fell asleep. Normally I never dream, but this night I did. The dream was so lifelike, the events in it so real, that I found it difficult the next morning to believe they were only fantasy.
In my dream, I found myself having supper with a man I knew to be Jesus. He had come to visit me in my home and stayed for two days. He sat across the table from me and in peace and joy we ate dinner together....
For the next three days I continued reading both the Bible and the Quran side by side, turning from one to the other. I found myself picking up the Quran out of a sense of duty, and then eagerly turning to the Christian book, dipping into it here and there to look into this confusing new world I had discovered....
Again for several days I found myself alone with two books — the Quran and the Bible. I continued to read them both, studying the Quran because of the loyalty of a lifetime, delving into the Bible because of a strange inner hunger. Yet, sometimes I'd draw back from picking up the Bible. God couldn't be in both books, I knew, because their messages were so different....
As a little girl, my father didn't mind if I bothered him. Whenever I had a question or problem, no matter how busy he was, he would put aside his work to devote his full attention just to me. It was well past midnight as I lay in bed savoring this wonderful memory. "Oh, thank You..." I murmured to God. Was I really talking to Him? Suddenly, a breakthrough of hope flooded me. Suppose, just suppose God were like a father. If my earthly father would put aside everything to listen to me, wouldn't my heavenly Father...? Shaking with excitement, I got out of bed, sank to my knees on the rug, looked up to heaven and in rich new understanding called God "my Father." I was not prepared for what happened.
"O Father, my Father ... Father God." Hesitantly, I spoke His name aloud. I tried different ways of speaking to Him. And then, as if something broke through for me I found myself trusting that He was indeed hearing me, just as my earthly father had always done. "Father, O my Father God," I cried, with a growing confidence. But suddenly the room wasn't empty any more. He was there! I could sense His Presence. I could feel His hand laid gently on my head. It was as if I could see His eyes, filled with love and compassion. He was so close that I found myself laying my head on His knees like a little girl sitting at her father's feet. For a long time I knelt there, sobbing quietly, floating in His love. I found myself talking to Him, apologizing for not having known Him before. And again came His loving compassion like a warm blanket settling around me.
"I am confused, Father," I said. "I have to get one thing straight right away." I reached over to the bedside table where I kept the Bible and the Quran side by side. I picked up both books and lifted them, one in each hand. "Which, Father?" I said. "Which one is Your book?" Then a remarkable thing happened. Nothing like it had ever occurred in my life in quite this way. For I heard a voice inside my being, a voice that spoke to me as clearly as if I were repeating words in my inner mind. They were fresh, full of kindness, yet at the same time full of authority. In which book do you meet Me as your Father? I found myself answering: "In the Bible." That's all it took. Now there was no question in my mind which one was His book....
I found myself standing at a great crossroads. So far I had met, personally, the Father God. In my heart I knew I had to give myself totally to His Son Jesus or else turn my back on Him completely. And I knew for certain that everyone I loved would advise me to turn my back on Jesus.... Then one evening as I relaxed before the fire, I found myself picking up the Bible again. That night I had reached the last book in the Bible. I read as if directed, strangely confident. And then abruptly I came to a sentence that made the room spin. It was the 20th verse of the third chapter of Revelation:
"See, I stand knocking at the door. If anyone listens to my voice and opens the door, I will go into his house and dine with him, and he with me."
And dine with Him, and He with me! I gasped, letting the book fall in my lap. This was my dream, the dream where Jesus was having dinner with me! I closed my eyes and once again could see Jesus sitting across the table from me. I could feel His warm smile, His acceptance. Why, the glory was there too! Just as it had been with the Father. It was the glory that belonged to His Presence! The way was clear. I could accept Him, or reject Him. I could open the door, ask Him to come in permanently, or I could close the door. I would have to make my full decision now, one way or the other.
I made up my mind and knelt in front of the fire. "O God, don't wait a moment. Please come into my life. Every bit of me is open to You." I did not have to struggle or worry about what would happen. I had said yes. Christ was in my life now, and I knew it. How unbearably beautiful. Within a few days I had met God the Father and God the Son. Did I dare take one more step? I remembered that in the book of Acts, at Pentecost, Jesus had baptized His followers with the Holy Spirit. Was I supposed to follow the same pattern?
"Lord," I said, "I have no one to guide me except You Yourself. If You intend for me to receive this baptism in the Holy Spirit, then of course I want what You want. I am ready." ... As I looked up, I seemed to be looking into a great light. Hot tears flowed down my face as I raised my hands to Him and cried out, "O Father God, baptize me with Your Holy Spirit!" I crumpled face down on the chilled floor where I lay crying. "Lord," I sobbed, "I'll never want to get up from this place until You give me this baptism."
Suddenly, I was filled with wonder and awe. For in that silent, pre-dawn room I saw His face. Something surged through me, wave after wave of purifying ocean breakers, flooding me to the tips of my fingers and toes, washing my soul. Then the powerful surges subsided, the heavenly ocean quieted. I was completely cleansed. Joy exploded within me and I cried out praising Him, thanking Him. "O Lord," I said, "Could the heaven You speak of be any better than this? To know You is joy, to worship You is happiness, to be near You is peace. This is heaven!"
For the exciting testimony about another Pakistani woman encountering Yeshua, be sure to see my review of the book The Torn Veil