Tag Archives: jesus

“What is it that I seek?”

A new poem by Akbar Ahmed has been published over at Washington Post’s On Faith.

What is it that I seek?

A force of such might
it sets me free
A light so bright
It blinds me

I heard it in the voice of the nightingale
I know it was in the hearts of the wise
I sensed it in the lover’s tale
I saw it in your eyes

I heard it in Rumi’s poetry
I know it was in Gandhi’s gaze
I sensed it in Mandela’s oratory
I saw it in Jesus’ ways

What is this riddle and what is its part?
What is this enigma and mystery?
What can reveal the secrets of the heart?
What has the power to change me?

It is God’s greatest gift
It raises us high above
It is the bridge over the rift
It is love, love, love

Give it in generous measure
Give it as if there’s no tomorrow
Give to all you meet this treasure
Give it and banish sorrow


Akbar Ahmed
October, 2010
Washington, DC


“Journey” Teaser series: How did a Priest turned Grand Mufti of Rwanda end up at a run down mosque in South Dallas?

For a full answer to this and other questions, see Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

We found the former Grand Mufti of Rwanda in a small, run down Dallas Salafi Mosque. Sheikh Issa Gisesa met with us after a Sunday afternoon Quran class (in Arabic) that he allowed us to sit in on. Imam Gisesa was the highest official of religious law over the Muslims in Rwanda.

But, before he was a Muslim, he was a Catholic. And not just a Catholic but a Catholic Priest. His birth name is Edward and it is befitting that his Muslim name is Issa, which means Jesus. Islam is spreading in Rwanda, he told us, and 2,000- 3,000 people convert every month, partly because the 1994 genocide was conducted in Christian churches. “Before I was a Muslim,” said the Imam, “I was a Tutsi.”

Imam Gisesa is in his 70’s and told us he fled Rwanda after he started to have doubts about his faith.  “People looked at me as the devil because I questioned.” He was afraid of being captured and hid from his pursuers in a Muslim community in Burundi. The Muslims there welcomed him and treated him like family.  He began to study Islam and in 1958, he became a Muslim. He went away to study in Medina,  in Saudi Arabia. After the genocide in Rwanda he returned, and was voted Mufti of Rwanda. After five years he decided to return to Saudi Arabia for studies, this time to Mecca, and then decided to come to the United States. The imam had led such an incredible life and we found him, the Grand Mufti of Rwanda, having experienced all the pain of genocide, sitting with us in a small Salafi mosque in a depressed area of South Dallas.

Order Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.
Next: Why are so many white women converting to Islam?