21stCentury Press, 2009.
(Also available in Australia at Koorong Books)
This is the powerful and inspiring story of an Iranian who went from being a committed Muslim revolutionary to a passionate follower of Jesus. It is a most compelling look at the real nature of Islam, and how the grace of God in Christ can radically transform a life.
Shayesteh, who now lives in the West, spent the first three decades of his life in Iran. He was able to recite the Koran from memory at age nine. As a devout Muslim, he grew up learning to hate Jews and Christians. The Koran calls them unclean, and his life was one of total ignorance as to other religious beliefs.
Although he could read and recite the Koran in Arabic, he had no idea what it meant. He simply believed what his religious instructors taught him. And he knew that to even dare to question the authority of the Koran meant death.
While at a university in Tehran he became heavily involved in the Iranian revolution. He even married a woman because she too was a committed revolutionary. He organised and led many into joining the revolutionary Islamist cause.
But most Iranians wanted a king, and did not go along with the Muslim activists who wanted to radically remake Iran into a land under the jackboot of sharia law. Nor did they want to see America and Israel destroyed. Nevertheless he persisted.
He dedicated his life to overthrowing the Shah of Iran, and installing the Ayatollah Khomeini as leader. He and his revolutionary colleagues really believed that once Khomeini seized power, the gap between rich and poor would disappear, and peace and democracy would prevail.
However, when the revolution did occur in 1979, it quickly became clear that promises of reform and democracy were all lies. Instead a cruel and vicious police state was inaugurated, and all dissent was quickly and mercilessly crushed. “We were misinformed and brainwashed,” says Shayesteh. “Without question or investigation we believed that to follow Islam was to follow our leader blindly”.
Countless people were killed and imprisoned. Even children, family members and loved ones of the new ruling Islamists who dared to question the terror were tortured and killed. Prisons were filled, graves were dug, and the stench of dictatorship covered the land.
In the name of establishing an Islamic theocracy, things became much worse than before. Shayesteh realised that for all its faults, the rule of the Shah was the “pinnacle of freedom when compared to all other Muslim kingdoms”.
It was during this time, and especially after his conversion to Christianity, that he was able to clearly see the “intolerance and inhumanity of Islam”. Islam is really a political religion, “whose goal is to triumph and eradicate all other beliefs”.
The ruling mullahs quickly acquired a taste for a lavish lifestyle, and though poverty was widespread in the nation, “they became rich and lascivious”. Some mullahs even raped young girls and boys who were sent to learn the Koran. Those who tried to refuse were “imprisoned, tortured and killed”.
When Shayesteh learned that he had been betrayed by Khomeini and his cronies, he sought to help correct the situation, even hoping to run as an independent political candidate. But opposition political parties were not allowed under the Islamic dictatorship, and Shayesteh soon found himself languishing in prison.
He endured months of torture and barbarism, and he was sentenced to death. But through some miraculous events, he managed to get out of prison, and return to his homeland in the north. But various attempts by the authorities to take his life made it clear that he had to flee the country with his family.
Through another series of miraculous events he was finally able to make it into Turkey. It was while he was there that his conversion to Christianity occurred. He went to a Christian church which ministered to Iranian refugees in Istanbul, hoping to get some help with some financial problems he was involved in.
But he got help of another sort – he had a life-changing encounter with the risen Christ. He started to read the Bible for the first time in his life, something that was not permitted in Islam. And he was shocked to learn that other Muslims had converted to Christianity.
He even had dreams about Jesus, as so many Muslims have had. And compared to the life of Islam which he had known, one of “selfishness, religious nationalism, discrimination, and racism” he found at this church Christians of different ethnic and racial backgrounds loving God and each other, singing to God, and praising him in their own tongues.
After some months of resisting, he finally surrendered his life to Christ. The living example of Christ in these Christians, coupled with the hell of reality under Islamic totalitarianism, could not be clearer to Shayesteh. He knew that Christ was what he had been looking for his whole life. “The love of Christ not only opened my eyes to the problems of Islam, but to the problems of my heart.”
Now he had to break the news to his wife and children. That was not easy, but after seeing the radical change in his life, they too eventually came to experience the liberating love of Jesus Christ. But things were still very dangerous in Turkey, with Islamic hit squads from Iran out to get Shayesteh. He survived yet more attempts on his life, and realised he must flee to the free West.
He eventually made it to Australia, where he now conducts a worldwide ministry, warning Westerners of the dangers of oppressive Islam and its goal of world domination, and the contrast between Christianity and Islam. He warns of being fooled by interfaith and multicultural ventures.
After all, the use of deception (taqiyyah) is allowed in both the Koran and the hadith to advance the goals of Islam. He warns about allowing mosques to be set up in Western nations. They are in fact more than just a place of worship: they are “also a garrison for Muslims to prepare themselves for fighting”. Thus a mosque becomes a place where Muslims “learn hatred towards their opposition and non-Muslims”.
A mosque is also a symbol of Islamic domination of a non-Muslim nation: “Building a mosque in a non-Islamic society or country symbolizes Islam’s claims over that society or country, even with a non-Muslim majority”.
That is why Islamic countries are investing millions of dollars in building mosques and Islamic schools throughout the West. They become footholds for the spread of worldwide Islam, and the Muslim takeover of those lands. They believe freedom is only for Muslims, and of course will not allow Christians to build churches in their lands.
So just like with communism, the West is selling the rope to the Muslims with which to hang itself. They are bending over backwards to allow Muslims to gain ascendency in the West with the view of total capitulation of Western Christendom.
The unconditional love of Christ is now the message of Daniel Shayesteh, as is the message that Islam is a political religion bent on world domination. Islam and democracy cannot co-exist, and if we do not wake up in the West, we will soon lose all of our freedoms.
There are many good books warning about the dangers of Islamic imperialism. And many books demonstrate the superiority of Christian love over Islamic servitude. This book nicely covers both topics, and deserves a very wide reading. We ignore it at our own peril.