Monday, July 11, 2011

Martin Guevarra Abella, my untiring search for the truth

I am Martin Guevarra Abella. I was born in Manila, Philippines in the year 1966 to Catholic parents, and when I was barely two weeks old I was baptized a Catholic. My family rarely missed Sunday mass and we never failed to observe different Christian, or shall I say Catholic activities like Christmas, All Saint’s Day, Holy Week/Easter, etc. By the time I was 12, I was a devout Catholic. I even attended masses devoted to the “Virgin Mary” on Wednesdays and prayed the “rosary” daily.

I was deeply interested in religion and read the Bible cover to cover but it never strengthened my Catholic faith and instead rocked my faith. I started questioning Catholic practices of worshipping/praying to graven images and having one God with three personas? What, 1=3? I questioned the different sacraments of the Catholic Church like baptism, wedding, mass, etc., which have a corresponding fee for those wanting to avail them. Even prayers for the dead and blessing of the dead with sprinkling of “holy water” are not exempted.

I have distant relatives who are priests and nuns and I questioned them about these matters whenever I had the opportunity. They could not answer my questions and I could see from their eyes that they just simply dismissed me as a “Catholic who sings a different tune, a thorn in the side of an established order.”

I questioned the doctrine of limbo regarding the status of unbaptized infants/individuals who die without being freed from “Original Sin” (as Catholics believe). Medical personnel can baptize patients who are in critical condition (near death) and this was believed to be sufficient if the patient/individual dies. But if the patient survives, he still needs to go to a priest for baptism. But why, if truly the first baptism performed by the medical personnel is already deemed sufficient?

Relatives of the dead who are rich can offer unlimited masses to remove the souls of their loved ones in “Purgatory” (an invention of the Catholic Church) of course for a hefty fee, again, paid to the Church. This made it possible for the rich to buy his/her way to “Heaven” while the “poor” souls whose relatives cannot afford to pay, is sure to rot in purgatory, much worse go straight to Hell. Even the tolling of church bells to announce the death of someone in the community has a related fee.

When I got married at age 21 and had a family of my own, I ceased to be a Catholic. I stopped attending masses. I began my search for the true religion as I no longer believed in the Catholic faith. This led me to study the faith of those who profess to be Protestant Christians - who believe that mere acceptance of Jesus as your personal Savior will lead you to salvation. Protestants believe that “faith alone” is necessary for salvation. I find that odd. Sorry, but I thought that this must be the religion of those too “lazy” to do good deeds for the pleasure of God!

I then studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses who insist that God’s name is Jehovah, despite admitting themselves that Yahweh must be the more proper name of God as there are no vowels in the Hebrew language.

I also became a member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC).[1]

Again, I have many questions as to the practices inside the INC that made me continue my search for the true religion.

I worked in the island of Mindanao for two years, specifically, Cotabato City in the late 1980s but did not have the opportunity to study the predominant religion there which is Islam.

Christians see our Muslims brothers as troublemakers, polygamous terrorists, murderers, kidnappers, drug traders, suicide bombers such that there is really a well-known local maxim that “A good Muslim is a dead Muslim” Being a Muslim at that time was farthest from my mind as my belief was rooted on the need of an intermediary between God and man(being brainwashed for two decades by false religions) and that religion should not foster violence (though I am also aware of the history of Catholic inquisition, etc.).

All in all, it took me more than two decades or 23 years to be exact, when I stopped using the Bible as a standard of measure of what I consider should be the true religion. I began reading the Holy Quran and made countless searches on the web to satisfy my curiosity. The deepest questions in my mind were answered one-by-one when I learned of this site, There are many helpful articles readily accessible for one searching for the truth. But there are also sites on the internet that depend on lies, deception and twisting of facts, to try to lead one astray from the original and true teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

With God’s mercy, my eyes were opened. My zeal to search for the truth was further awakened but not without trying to resolve the contradiction I saw in the practices of those who profess to be Muslims but in reality, are farthest from being true Muslims. I observed that maybe because Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country. Muslims here are corrupted. Their behavior is wanting of what is demanded by the high morality standards of Islam.

I learned that Islam is a religion of peace and that violence is farthest from the mind of a true Muslim. I learned the six pillars of faith and the basic beliefs and practices in Islam. I had the conviction of finally saying the Shahada (All praise and thanks are to God) and enter the fold of Islam.

Life is not just being born, studying worldly knowledge in some university, earning money to spend for one’s needs, and then old age, sickness and eventually death. For if this was the meaning of life, then life would truly be miserable because “even if you win the rat race, you still remain just a miserable rat.”

Without embracing Islam and spending one’s life purely for the pleasure of God (Praise belongs to God and all thanks to God), life will remain meaningless and full of troubles. (The Religion of Islam.htm)


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