In my youth years, when faced with a predicament and my own powers failed, I turned to God in my heart and the situation changed for the better.
It came naturally, therefore, that to learn the truth about God I made a decision to join the Department of Philosophy at the Moscow State University. It was there that I first read the Bible.
It left me with a contradicting impression: some texts seemed genuinely inspired by God, while others attributed God with a desire to destroy the majority of the humankind and were abundant in such strange notions as God’s “hand”, “body”, “flesh and blood”.
But in the 1970s in Moscow the Russian Orthodox Church was the only real alternative to the Communist ideology. So when I first came to the Orthodox cathedral at the age of 19, I discovered an ancient tradition and the beauty of the Christian hymns, which praised the Lord, and I decided to get a deeper theological knowledge. To this end I later entered the Seminary. It was not an act of conscious choice of one specific religion over another, as I didn’t have a chance to compare Orthodoxy with any other religion. Rather, it was a pronounced definite decision against the false concept of denial of God, as I joined the only religious organization that was available at the moment. Having learned the fundamentals of Christian theology, I became a priest in 1983. At the moment my benefice symbolized the spiritual and intellectual struggle against the absence of God, and I felt I was a warrior of the Lord.
But unfortunately, when my real service began, I was faced with carrying out the rituals ordered by largely superstitious people rather than with fulfilment of my spiritual and intellectual tasks. Even as I was fully aware of the fact that those rituals were not any different in meaning from pagan chanting, I could not avoid them, as they had become an integral part of the Christian religious practice. This situation brought about an intrinsic opposition between personal faith and public duty. In 1983-1985 I worked as a priest in Central Asia. It was there that I first met Muslim people and began to feel the propensity towards the Word of Islam.
Once an elderly Tajik of noble appearance came to my church. People believed he was really a secret sheikh. After a brief conversation he suddenly said to me: “You have Muslim eyes, you are destined to become a Muslim”. This seemingly controversial statement, made in an Orthodox cathedral to an Orthodox priest, did not provoke my resistance. Moreover, his words were imprinted on my mind. In 1988-1990 the struggle against atheism became a matter of the past. The Orthodox Church, however, became more inclined to prefer building new premises and carrying out the more profitable ordinances to the educational mission or the drive against superstitions. No longer did I feel like the warrior for God, I felt rather like an official magician, solely expected to fulfil magic ceremonies and chants. This made me step outside the clerical staff in 1991. In order to find a theological explanation that would endow the church rituals with the true faith, I turned to studying the early Christian sources: the history of Church, the history of church services, the history of theology. The profound study of theology and the Christian primary sources made me cast doubt on the true character of the Roman-Byzantine church services, as they contained all too many borrowings from the pagan worship of the past.
This realization came to me in 1995, and made me quit the church services even outside the clerical staff. Still, the belief in the antropic nature of Christ prevented me from understanding a simple and clear principle of the One and Only God. At that time I did not know the true word of Islam, as Krachkovskij’s Russian translation of the Quran all but obscured the meaning of Divine Revelation. When I first read the periphrastic translation of the Holy Quran, made by V. Porokhovaya, with a commentary to the text of the Quran and the Islamic teaching about Jesus (let peace be upon him!), my last reservations about accepting the word of Islam vanished. Allah, Almighty and Most Merciful gave me strength to go on, and my spouse and I made a decision to publicly profess our return to the true faith in the One and Only God. Every human being is born into true faith; the choice of Judaism, Christianity or heathenism is predetermined by the individual’s upbringing. Hereby I would like to commit to paper the thoughts that helped me reject idolatry and profess love and worship of the One and Only God, without associates.