Some of you will remember how in 2018 we helped Jay an Afghan Christian escape the dangerous persecution he faced in Kent when the Muslim community discovered his apostacy (quitting of Islam). We helped him move to a place far away from where he had lived and with the help of Nissar Hussain another Ex-Muslim (click here) we had a relocated, were able to re-establish a new life for him free of danger amongst a supportive church network.
Jay has continued his attendance at church at his new location and is an ardent believer who believes God is developing him to be an evangelist and one day he hopes to bring more Afghans to Christ – in God’s time of course.
Prior to his salvation, Jay had been much more severe in his beliefs as a follower of the Koran, but now feels the ideology it espouses and the manner in which it is often taught is too blame for the current extremism.
Jay entered the UK as an illegal migrant to escape the Afghanistan War that began in 2001. He travelled for 6.5 months in the back of articulated lorries and extensive walking. Travelling from Iraq -Turkey – Bulgaria – Serbia -Hungary – Slovakia – Austria – Germany – France and then to the UK. He gained British citizenship and started a take away with two Afghan friends after his mum gave him a loan after re-mortgaging her home. He began conversations about faith with a non-Christian English driver working for him, and was gifted a Gideon’s Bible received by the man from his school in the 80’s.
When Jay read God’s word it began a transformation that brought him inner peace, but turned his whole life upside down. Speaking to BACA Jay has explained what it was that inspired him to switch faiths, the primary factor being the love Christians are called to have for their enemies – while Islam in his opinion only inculcated hatred.
Jay has referred to verses in the Koran calling for the death of Christians, Jews and other Kaffir, stating that he preferred a God that wanted to improve the human soul rather than a god that destroyed the essence of humanity.
After a spirit-filled transition into Christianity the Koran no longer made sense, as Jay increasingly recognised many discrepancies in what he had been taught. Reading about Jesus in the Bible he noticed how the Koran itself makes reference of Jesus more than Muhammed, moreover even in the Koranic scripture it is Jesus who returns at the ‘end times’, a phenomenon he felt meant Jesus was more special than anyone else that had ever lived on earth. Jay believes that even when you read the Koran with a clear heart and mind though it is not designed to do so, the book leads you to a discovery of Jesus’ special role for us.
After turning to Christ Jay started to share the inspiration of the Gospel with his wife and other family members. Overjoyed by the cataclysmic realisation that he was granted eternal life through Christ he wanted to bring his family into the kingdom. He had been married for 6 years and had been very close to all his friends an family but sharing his new beliefs resulted in him being shunned and threatened by all of them. His wife who had been very much in love with him which had been reciprocated by Jay, no longer wanted to speak to him and returned to her family. Jay believes that this is because of pressure from her family, the societal environment she is enmeshed in and the cultural limitations she is subject to. Regrettably, despite his attempts to convince her to join him in the UK her family organised a new marriage for her with another man.
Jay is now concerned about the Christians in Afghanistan who are living in fear of potential brutality now that the Taliban have taken control of the country. In an interview with us this morning he said:
“I have lived in the UK for almost 20 years now and while here I converted from Sunni Islam to Christianity back in in 2016.
“Having seen the gains of a democratic Afghanistan, I was thrilled to preach Christianity in Afghanistan with little trouble because the democratic society under the previous regime were more tolerant than the previous Taliban religious dictatorship.
“In the last few weeks the Taliban have shattered the dreams of millions of Afghans.
“I keep hearing news that the Taliban have changed a message they are trying to broadcast globally.
“If the Quran and their Prophet Mohammad and the Hadith had changed then I would believe that they too have changed, but this is not possible.
“In my opinion the Taliban, IS, Boko Haram, Al Qaida are all the same.
British Asian Christian Association, have become aware of breaches in the commitments made by the Taliban to the US, already women in senior roles have been expressing draconian measures implemented that have seen them pushed out of certain work roles.
For instance, the case of Shabnum Dawran, a young lady was a news anchor on RTATV, which was a government owned channel and now is in Taliban hands, illustrates the loss of freedom and authority.
Though the Taliban have said women will not lose their freedoms, the morning after they seized control of Kabul Shabnum was sent home.
She has bravely, placed a video up on twitter condemning their actions and now faces death threats and is seeking a way out of the coun try.
We share an Associated France Press video of the twitter message by Shabnum Dawran here.
Jay went on to explain to us that flogging for breaking Sharia Law had not happened in Kabul for a long time, due to an elected Government trying to overcome the draconian measures of the past. However, it has been commonplace in villages where it is the norm in many places especially in Taliban controlled or influenced areas. He fears that as soon as the west completes their evacuation of Kabul that flogging will return.
Already women are being told they must wear the Hijab or face severe consequences and Sky News have heard reports that in some provinces girls schools are being shut down. Moreover, the deadly threat received by Taliban Spokesperson Dr Suhail Shaheen, when he unambiguously stated Western agencies involved in the evacuation of their citizens and Afghans who had worked with them, must leave by the agreed date of 31st August, illustrates the inflexibility of the new regime. Dr Shaheen has made it entirely clear there will be no extension to the agreed deadline instilling dread amongst those seeking to flee the country. Of course citizens of foreign lands will have priority for seating and with reports that Britain’s carrier capacity is to low to meet the demand for agreed relocation, thousands will be left behind. Besides Britain has made it clear it will not be able to continue after the deadline without the support of the US as they simply do not have the resources to take on the Taliban. With President Biden confirming no extension will be forthcoming terror has instilled itself amongst a sizeable community of people still seeking exit from Afghanistan.
To compound the intense fear within the beleaguered asylum seekers, UK armed Forces Minister James Heappy has now declared ‘credible threat’ of a ‘lethal terrorist attack’ is imminent (click here). One can only guess the levels of anxiety those awaiting transport away from the hell they once knew as home, are going through. No doubt, future news reports will bring a more palpable understanding as interviews are shared globally. Already news of stampedes at the airport, gun shots being fired and 20 dead create an alarming backdrop (click here).
Western nation spokespersons have advised visa applicants and holders, that have not made it to Kabul Airport to terminate their plans. This message will have cut the last shreds of nerves of many families some with small children who must now feel hopeless.
To rub salt in the wound, these evacuees are being asked to seek routes via land to the countries bordering Afghanistan by the UK’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace (click here) . This disingenuous request seems ill-thought-out and requires the traversing through lands even more entrenched under Taliban control. Moreover, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China and Pakistan have all toughened their borders since the capitulation to the Taliban and all these countries have human rights issues of their own. Tajikstan has offered asylum to afghans (up to 100,000 people), but does not have the largest border or safest route to get there. They too are registered as a country of concern by the UN but the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan does seem to be trying to fight religious extremism (click here).
Some Muslims might be able to relocate to these countries permanently or transitionally but for Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, LGBTQ+ and other minorities this will be fraught with danger. Women seeking freedom from oppression would not be be particularly enthused by travel to these nations either. There is a significant number of Christians in the country some say as many as 7000, which is quite some miracle when you consider this is the home of the Taliban.
During the recent democratically elected Islamic Republic of Afghanistan tenure of near 20 years, a rather peaceful existence had transpired in which often Christians were more open with their faith or conversion and could even share this with Islamic leaders. In a BBC Interview from March 2006, a Christian who left the Islamic faith, said:
“Most of my friends know that I am a Christian,” he said. “I have many friends who are mullahs and maulvis.
“Some of them say they like me more these days. Before I was a liar, I was cheating people and many other things. I don’t do that now.”
He clearly felt that Afghan society was safe at the time and took a brave decision without facing a backlash. However, this was not the case for everyone as the article itself was in response to the case of Abdul Rahman who later called himself Joel another Afghan convert to Christianity. Abdul Rahman had been inspired by Christian aid workers who had been serving the Afghan people. After reading the Bible he was touched by God and found salvation. Like Jay he was shunned by friends and family and was then taken to court by the family of his wife intent on severing his ties to his children.
Though the constitution of Afghanistan promotes equality, fairness and the promotion of human rights, a controversial section 130 destroys this concept (click here for constitution):
“In cases under consideration, the courts shall apply provisions of this Constitution as well as other laws. If there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws about a case, the courts shall, in pursuance of Hanafi jurisprudence, and, within the limits set by this Constitution, rule in a way that attains justice in the best manner.”
Extremists in the country soon picked up on this and began a torrid campaign to have Mr Rahman killed for apostacy under a Sharia principle defined from the Hadith a book that compliments the Koran, written by the followers and close friends and family of Mohammed.
‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’ Book 88 Hadith 5
After every western nation condemned the imprisonment and potential death of Mr Rahman based in his choice of changing his faith, attempts were made to bring him back to Islam, then to mitigate the law by claiming he was not mentally fit (click here). However the devout Mr Rahman refused all these attempts stating he was sane and wiling to die rather than lose his Christian faith.
In the face of several threats from western nations that foreign aid would be stopped President Hamid Karzai held a emergency meeting with his cabinet. One day later the Judge presiding over the case declared: “The case, because of some technical as well as legal flaws and shortcomings, has been referred back to the prosecutor’s office” This was quite an amazing result, as a cleric who was a member of the Supreme Court had previously said there was no way that Mr Rahman could escape justice. The country was in a furore and BBC reports suggest that many (though not clear if that was a majority) wanted Mr Rahman dead. President Karzai was accused by hardliners of procedural impropriety for interfering with a subjudice court case.
The Afghan convert interviewed by the BBC, said:
“Some political groups use Islam as a vehicle for their advantage; to get power and to keep power. They are still using it.
“These groups are discredited in Afghan society. They have used Abdul Rahman to promote their power. Afghans feel at ease with Christians. It is only a few political groups who don’t.” Read the BBC article (here)
He seemed confident that the majority of people in Afghanistan are tired of extremism and hold more balanced views. A view that is shared by Jay who would one day like to go back to his homeland and share the Gospel. he is hoping to share it with some of the new arrivals to the UK as he believes only an understanding of Christianity can truly bring peace to the beleaguered Afghan people.
“In Kabul flogging does not happen but it is rife in the villages of Afghanistan, where it’s the norm thanks to the Taliban.
I can give a thousand examples and fear that from September we will see the true nature of the Taliban.
“A prominent Afghan human rights activist on TRT news said shame on the west – I totally agree.
“They have abandoned 40 Million Afghans and left them in the middle of real devastation.
“20 percent of the Afghan population are Shias and the Taliban Islamic ideology is the Wahabi Salafists version, which treats Shias as infidel.
“They will be harsh on women and I fear the worst for Christians and other non-Muslims, the prognosis is dire.”
In 2010, a UK parliamentary debate focused on a remark made by Deputy Secretary of the Afghan Lower House of Parliament regarding the execution of Christian converts from Islam after an associated press article (click here). So the previous government had it’s fair share of problems but the fact that swathes of people were coming Christ and causing him ire by publicly filming and sharing their baptisms expresses the new found freedoms in the country.
In the BBC interview the unnamed Afghan Christian said:
“There are Christians whose families have been Christian for many generations, but most converted recently,”
Some Christian institutions say that with all that is going on in Afghanistan more and more Afghans are questioning their faith. Jay told us that many find Christ once they read the Bible and learn about the glorious love and forgiveness available to them. With this in mind, we should expect many more cathartic conversions amongst the new wave of Afghan asylum seekers. It is therefore essential that the UK church community ensures our churches are places where they will feel welcomed.
BACA is calling for prayers for the safety of Christians that remain in Afghanistan, we know God desires the Gospel for all, so there will always be Christians there.
Pray for the safe transport of those who are transported away from the dire situation in their homeland.
Pray for wise decisions from the international community who must all find ways to help the people of Afghanistan.
In A 2016 report in The Sunday Times, which looked at conversions and asylum claims, the then Dean of Liverpool, now Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, said: “I can’t think of a single example of somebody who has already had British citizenship converting here with us from Islam to Christianity.” Well in Jay’s case and for many others this is not true and we hope people ignore this flippant remark.
British Asian Christian Association continues to provide a safe haven for converts by paying for their relocation and securing new homes via a network of churches, committed to helping those facing persecution for their conversion in the UK. You can help us continue this work by donating (here)