My Name Used to Be Muhammad (Hardcover)

The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian

by Jeff Benedict, Tito Momen

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Product Description

Tito Momen was raised Muhammad Momen. Born in Nigeria, he was taught to observe the strict teachings of Islam.

Beginning at age five, he woke at 4:45 every morning to attend the mosque and perform dawn prayer with the other men in his village. At age six, he began memorizing the Qur'an by copying the entire book word for word. He was preparing to become a cleric capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam.

But Tito's path took an unexpected turn when he was introduced to Christianity. His decision to believe in Jesus Christ cost him his family and his freedom. Sentenced to prison, Tito expected to spend his remaining days enduring a life sentence in an uncivilized Egyptian prison. For fifteen years, he suffered and waited and prayed. "I never gave up hope," Tito says. "I never stopped believing."

Although he was falsely imprisoned, beaten, and ridiculed, Tito's remarkable true story is one of faith and forgiveness, as well as a witness that God does hear and answer prayers.

“My Name Used to Be Muhammad” is a life changing book! It was fascinating to me to learn about what it was like to grow up in an Islamic community with very extreme beliefs and rules. Titon Momen’s story about finding Christianity makes me reflect on my own Christianity and resolve to be a better Christian. I am a better person for having read this book. It was easy to read, and hard to put down. I marvel at Tito’s faith and optimism. If he can remain positive in his trials, then I know I can be more positive in mine. I am grateful to have read such a wonderful book, and look forward to reading it again. —Tom Castleton

One man's journey from Muslim to Mormon - An LDS Living Feature! (Click Here)

Product Details

  • Size:  5½" x 8"
  • Pages:  208
  • Year Published:  2013

About the Authors

Jeff Benedict is the author of eleven critically acclaimed books, including Little Pink House, The Mormon Way of Doing Business, and Without Reservation. His articles have been published in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, and he appears as an expert on network news and cable television programs. A frequent public speaker, Mr. Benedict teaches writing at Southern Virginia University.

Chapter 1

THE CHOSEN ONE

November 21, 1965

Nguru, Nigeria

Wake up! Wake up!”

Startled, I sprang up in bed. It was 4:45 in the morning. In the darkness I could see my father’s silhouette in the doorway. He had on his red Moroccan cap and an ash-colored gown over his trousers.

“We’ll be late,” he said. “Hurry.”

Anxious, I slid off my handmade cotton mattress onto a colorful mat made of palm leaves and hit the light switch. A single bulb at the end of an electrical cable dangling from the ceiling illuminated the concrete floor and the scarce furniture in my room: a crude wooden wardrobe and a rickety wooden chair under a matching table with a kerosene lamp and a Qur’an on it. The room’s only window was a two-foot-by-two-foot opening with three iron bars instead of a windowpane. It was my fifth birthday, and my presents hung from nails in the wall: white trousers, a long white gown, a white Moroccan cap, and a turban to wear over my cap.

I quickly dressed in my new outfit and grabbed my new string of ninety-nine plastic prayer beads, wrapping them around the fingers on my right hand. With my left hand I picked up my brand-new black leather sandals and headed for the door. My home was part of a compound that included six houses and a mosque. Relatives, mainly my uncles and cousins, owned the homes. My bedroom door opened to an outdoor walkway that led directly to the mosque. At the doorway I dropped my sandals over the threshold and onto the walkway. Then I stepped through the doorway, right foot first, and slid my feet into the sandals. Always exit and enter a room right foot first. Never wear shoes in the house. Those were the rules of Islam.

Careful not to step back into my bedroom with my shoes, I reached just inside the door and retrieved a blue kettle of water. Then I ran down the walkway to catch up with my father. Lean, wiry, and just under six feet tall, he had rich dark skin and walked with a slight limp.

“Good morning,” he said impatiently.

“Good morning, Father.”

“Do you have your Misbaha?”

I raised my right hand, showing him the prayer beads.

“Good,” he said. “Dawn prayer is like starting the day with the Almighty.”

I touched the tips of my beads and repeated the words: “Allah is great. Allah is great. Allah is great.”

Arriving at the mosque, my father went directly inside. He had gotten up early enough to perform his ablutions at home. I ducked into the open-air washroom at the entrance to the mosque. It had a concrete floor with a round hole in it for urinating, as well as a water trough that led to an outside gutter. I squatted over the hole. Standing causes urine to splatter, which is forbidden because urine is considered unclean. A prayer offered by a man with urine splattered on his garment would not be accepted.

I left the washroom with my water kettle and rushed through the purification procedure known as Wudhu. I washed my right hand three times, then my left, before rinsing out my mouth and nose three times. Then I washed my face, ears, and feet. Clean, I looked heavenward and pointed with my finger. “I bear witness that there is no god except Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.”

Barefoot, I entered the mosque, clutching my beads. Individual rolled-up prayer mats lined the rear of the room. I passed through large wooden columns. Roughly thirty men from my village—all wearing trousers and V-neck shirts covered by full-length gowns, covered in turn by three-quarter-length gowns—were lined up in perfectly straight rows, kneeling on mats, facing the front of the mosque. My father was in the front row, on all fours, his eyes closed, his forehead pressed to the floor. I knelt on the mat beside him. A few feet in front of us, my uncle Othman (Oath-mun) knelt alone on a slightly elevated platform, his back to us.

Othman was our imam. We called him Sheik Othman. He was tall, slim, and bald with a long gray beard; his top front teeth were big and crowded. At 5 a.m. sharp, he rose to his feet, wearing a white gown and white trousers.

The moment he stood, everyone else stood and shouted: “Allah is great.”

The imam raised his hands high above his head. “Allah is great,” he said.

All of us put our hands above our heads.

“Allah is great,” the imam said. “I testify that Allah is the only God, and I testify that Muhammad is his prophet.”

“Allah is great!” we all repeated.

We all knelt back down.

“In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy and the Giver of Mercy,” the imam began.

I repeated those words in my heart as the imam took us through the first surat in the Qur’an. Muslims perform five obligatory prayers throughout the day. The dawn prayer—or El-Subh—is the first one. And this was my first opportunity to do it. From that day forward I would be expected to rise before dawn and perform this prayer. No exceptions.

Forty minutes after arriving at the mosque, I returned home with my father to begin the day. We lived in Nguru, a town on the northern edge of Nigeria in Yobe State, nestled between the Sahara Deseret and a river flowing from Lake Chad. With around 150,000 residents, Nguru was connected to Lagos by rail and served as a hub for collecting and shipping ground nuts, cotton, meat, hides, and skins headed to Nigeria’s capital city. The region’s first modern slaughterhouse and refrigeration facility was erected there in the mid-1960s to process cattle and goats from outlying areas.

Our home was outside the city in a neighborhood called Hausari. It was predominantly Muslim, although there were some Christians, too. In fact, Christians built our home. It had cement walls with a zinc roof, wooden doors, and a cement floor. All the window openings were small and rectangular with iron bars. This design kept intruders out and allowed the desert air to circulate through the house.

The other homes inside the compound were identical to ours. Only the imam’s residence was bigger and more elaborate, an indication of his status. His residence was an extension of the mosque. From my bedroom window I could see the mosque and a couple of forty-foot-high neem trees whose dark green leaves provided canopies of shade over the white desert sand that covered the ground all around our compound.

A few weeks after I started attending the mosque with my father, he came home from a business trip with a box full of writing exercise workbooks. Each workbook had about 150 blank lined pages. They were for practicing penmanship. “Keep these,” my father told me.

Puzzled, I put them in my room.

The next day my father confronted me. “Where are the exercise books?”

“In my room.”

“Good,” he said, handing me a Qur’an. “Copy this book.”

The thick book had a hard blue cover with gold lettering. It felt like an anchor when he placed it in my little hands.

All Muslims recognize the Qur’an as the supreme authority in Islam. It’s the word of God as revealed through the angel Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad. The text is the basis of Islamic law and Muslim theology. Throughout his ministry, Muhammad recited the Qur’an to his followers. In keeping with that tradition, Muslims are expected to eventually memorize the entire text. Training begins at age six, around the time that children become school age. Those able to recite the entire Qur’an are known as hafiz. It’s a distinction that is required to gain admission to top Muslim secondary schools in some countries.

Suddenly I realized why my father had given me all those writing exercise manuals. He expected me to get a head start memorizing the Qur’an by copying it word for word.

“Start with the ‘The Opening,’” he told me.

The first sura in the book is known as “The Opening.” It’s very short. He recited it to me:

“In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy! Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of Judgment. It is You we worship; it is You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path: the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone astray.”

“Praise be to Allah,” I said.

“Praise be to Allah,” he said. “Now, you copy until you can recite it.”

“Yes, Father.”

At that moment I commenced a daily routine of endless repetition, writing exercises intended to force me to memorize the Qur’an. Whenever I had nothing to do, I copied. Before bed, I copied. When I couldn’t sleep, I copied.

These copying exercises were part of my father’s dream. He believed in dreams, good and bad. Good dreams came from Allah and were viewed as revelation. Bad dreams were inspired by Satan and were never to be discussed. My father’s favorite dream was a recurring one that always ended the same way, with my becoming an imam. In Arabic, imam means “leader.” He leads the prayers and is generally regarded as the spiritual chief in the community.

But that wasn’t good enough for the son of Abdul Momen. He had named me Muhammad Momen after the prophet of Islam. Proud and fiercely loyal to Islam, my father expected me to emerge as a leader among clerics, capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam throughout our entire Nigerian homeland.

His dream for me was ambitious, even presumptuous. No one dared tell him that, though. That would have been an insult. Where I come from, insults are fighting words, especially insults directed at a man’s family. To my father in particular, a man’s reputation was a matter of life and death.

Like his African features, much of my father’s personality stemmed from his roots. The son of a nomadic cattle herder whose ancestors poured into West Africa in the late 1700s, Abdul Momen was a member of the Fula tribe and a descendant of a sultan who came to power after Islamic spiritual leader Dan Fodio founded an Islamic spiritual community in Nigeria in 1809. A revered religious leader, Fodio took his people into exile and called for jihad against his oppressors. It became known as the Fulani War, which catapulted Fodio to prominence and led to the spread of Islam throughout the sub-Saharan African region, replacing paganism as the predominant religion.

Born in the 1930s, Abdul boasted that his ancestors were credited with introducing Islam into West Africa. He also didn’t shrink from their reputation as nomadic cowboys, fearless men who drove cattle and goats through harsh desert terrain while holding fast to the strictest tenets of Islam. Abdul married young. By tradition, girls married between the ages of thirteen and sixteen; boys married by age twenty.

My father and his first wife started a family in Gashua, a large town located in northwest Nigeria, near the borders of Niger to the north and Chad to the west. My father started his career as a trader specializing in delicatessen and gourmet foods not readily available in the arid desert climate of northwest Africa. He’d journey to cities closer to the African rain forests, returning with yams, chocolate, honey, nuts, and other rare goods. Most consumers in Gashua couldn’t afford his products. But my father wasn’t after most consumers. He catered exclusively to the elite—Muslim spiritual leaders and the governmental leaders of Northeastern State (now known as Yobe State).

As the source of rare goods in high demand, he enjoyed great popularity among the ruling class. The most popular item he supplied was cola nuts. In Nigeria and throughout much of West Africa, cola nuts are symbolic and extremely important. Tradition holds that he who brings cola nuts brings life. And he who partakes of cola nuts partakes of life.

As a result, cola nuts are used to celebrate marriages, in much the same way that many Westerners use champagne. Cola nuts are also taken to funerals and given to the family that has lost a loved one. As a seller, my father knew a great deal about the nuts, which come from kola evergreen trees. The cola has a bitter flavor and a chemical composition that includes caffeine. Since Muslims are forbidden to consume alcohol, cola nuts are a popular substitute. But they leave a brown stain on teeth. That’s why my father also sold miswak sticks, a chewing twig that whitens teeth and contains natural fluoride deposits and antiaddiction properties to combat the influence of caffeine. These sticks come from salvadora trees, which are native to the Middle East. Islamic tradition holds that the prophet Muhammad routinely used a miswak to clean his teeth and to give him strength while fasting. Muslims believe that besides preventing tooth decay and eliminating bad breath, the chewing stick cures headaches, increases vision, sharpens memory, and facilitates digestion if used frequently.

This sort of information flowed easily from my father. He had developed a comprehensive knowledge of his products, mastering even their chemistry and organic composition. He took the business of trading in commodities very seriously. The only thing he took more seriously was Islam. It was no coincidence that much of his inventory had some sort of religious connection. Islamic tradition, for example, held that the prophet Muhammad viewed the chewing stick as a purifying agent and a way to seek God’s acceptance. Muhammad’s views on miswak were contained in what’s known in Arabic as hadith, basically narratives of the prophet’s statements not found in the Qur’an.

These narratives are an essential element of Islamic law, and my father strictly practiced them. That had a lot to do with why his profession was so closely aligned with his ultimate mission—spreading the word of Islam. To him, there was no higher purpose in life. That’s why he became so obsessed with raising up a son fit for the clergy.

When I was six, one of the most well-known imams in West Africa visited our mosque. Thousands of Muslims from nearby towns and cities came to hear him and be blessed by him. He gave a sermon that lasted through the night. My father took me, and at one point the imam placed his hands on my head. They were only there for a few seconds. But I felt honored, as if a holy saint had touched me.

The following day, my father led me into my bedroom for a talk. He pulled up a chair, and I sat on my bed.

“You saw how many people came to see that imam?”

“Yes, Father.”

He poked his finger in my chest. “I want you,” he whispered, “to be bigger than that someday.”

It felt like his finger was going through my chest to my heart.

“He studied hard to get where he is,” my father said.

I nodded.

“You must study harder. And with Allah’s blessings you will get there.”

I nodded.

“Don’t let the evil one distract you.”

“Yes, Father.”

“No playing.”

I nodded.

“No joking.”

I nodded again.

“Pray very hard and take life very seriously.”

He reached into his pocket and removed some dates. They were soft and plump. They were from Saudi Arabia.

“Thank you.”

He reached into his other pocket and retrieved two shillings. He handed me those, too.

“Thank you.”

Then he handed me a book. “This is another book for you,” he said. “I will be traveling today. When I return, make sure you have read it and copied it. All of it.”

He walked out.

I put the book down and ate some of the dates. They were juicy and delicious, unlike the dry, shriveled-up dates we had in Nigeria.

Then I flipped through the book. There were more than 200 pages. I knew I’d better get started right away. It would take days to copy all those pages word for word. I couldn’t disappoint my father.

Before I was born, my father had two sons and a daughter with his first wife. Both sons were raised to observe the strict teachings of Islam, but they weren’t groomed to become imams. My father was convinced that neither of them was the elect.

The boys were relatively young when my father’s first wife died. It wasn’t unusual for women in northern Africa to die before middle age. Conditions were rough, and women were perpetually pregnant. Plural marriage was also common, so the loss of one wife didn’t work a hardship on the husband. His children were simply raised by his other wives.

Plural marriage is the only aspect of Islam that my father did not keep. I’m not sure why, but he remained monogamous. As a result, when his first wife died, he faced the prospect of raising two sons and a daughter on his own. With his heavy travel schedule, that wasn’t going to work. Besides, like all the other men in his village, he wasn’t accustomed to child rearing. Men eat, sleep, conduct their business, and practice Islam, which consists largely of performing prayers. Without a wife, he’d go hungry and his kids would go naked. So immediately after becoming a widower, my father went looking for a new wife.

That’s when he met Hauwa (How-whah) Isa, a native Nigerian. In Arabic, Hauwa means “Eve.” You wouldn’t know she was a native by looking at her. She had very pronounced Arab features, such as jet-black straight hair and light skin. She married my father early in 1956. I don’t know the exact marriage date or how they met. What little I do know is that their marriage wasn’t born of romance. For my father it was a marriage of necessity. For Hauwa it was one of duty.

She conceived quickly and had a daughter named Amina. Four years later, on November 21, 1960, I was born.

My path to the clergy started that day. The minute my father laid eyes on me, he declared me the chosen one. He named me Muhammad Awal. Awal meansthe first.”

When I was four, my father put me on his knee and explained the significance of my name. “Peace upon him,” he began. “You are named after the prophet Muhammad. You have a name to live up to.”

He made sure I understood my responsibilities. “Lots of people name their sons Muhammad,” he said. “Some fathers name all of their boys Muhammad. Muhammad the first. Muhammad the second. And so on. But in this house, you are the only Muhammad. Muhammad Awal means Muhammad the first. There will be no second. Not in this family. You must live up to that name.”

My older half-brothers resented me because my father favored me. Over time, that resentment festered into hatred. But my brothers couldn’t question my father’s choice. At least not openly. Muslim fundamentalists in northern Nigeria take the view that fathers can select a favored son, irrespective of the boy’s place in the birth order. My father subscribed to that view.

This touched off a classic Cain and Abel situation. My brothers didn’t understand why they had been rejected. And I didn’t understand why they hated me. Luckily, my mother spotted my vulnerability early on, and she worked hard to protect me from my older rival siblings. That made them resent her as much as they resented me. They saw us as the enemy. We even looked different from them. I had light skin just like my mother’s. My hair was like hers, too—straight and black. My half-brothers had Afros like our father. It was easy to see that I was Eve’s boy.

All of this made our family rather complicated. But my father was aloof from most of what went on. He was quite preoccupied. The same year that I was born, my father was appointed to be the spiritual advisor to the emir of Bade, who presided over an Islamic kingdom headquartered at Gashua. The emir was a traditional king who ruled under Islamic law. My father’s post entitled him and his family to move into a home that was part of the palace compound in Gashua. We suddenly had access to servants and guards. Our home was always quiet and spotless. The same prisoners who were assigned to clean the governor’s palace also cleaned our living quarters.

My father’s position gave us access to the finest medical care. When I came down with malaria as a toddler, the sultan’s physician attended to me, injecting me twice daily with drugs not available to the general public. I recovered and went on to develop a strong, healthy body. These were the perks of palace life and of being the son of a prominent trader who doubled as an influential spiritual advisor to the political elite.

I have little memory of living in the palace compound in Gashua. We moved from there when I was four. That’s when we settled in the family compound in Nguru. My father wanted to be settled in Nguru before I turned five. That’s the age when boys start attending the mosque. In the Muslim culture, age five is an important milestone in the development of a child. Boys begin to learn the rituals and prayers of Islam, and girls start learning to cook and clean.

Preparing, cooking and serving food occupies a significant portion of a young woman’s life. At our home, the kitchen wasn’t actually in the house. Cooking indoors just wasn’t compatible with the oppressive desert heat. Instead, my mother cooked in an open-air kitchen twenty feet from our house. It had a roof to shield her from the sun, along with one wooden table for food preparation. There was a fire pit with a hearth consisting of three large stones. Clay pots containing water typically rested on the stones. The floor was white desert sand. Pumpkins, clay pots, and firewood often dotted the outskirts of the kitchen space. Closer to the fire, my mother typically had a goat or ram carcass. The smell of burning animal hair would waft through our home.

Her specialty was okra stew and rice with pumpkin. But she had a routine. Every day at noontime she would go out to meet a group of women from the village that were referred to as the dairy ladies. They always had two or three large calabashes, or gourds, stacked on their heads. These hollowed-out vegetables were used to transport fresh cow milk, yogurt, and gwe (gwee), our version of butter.

I never liked the milk—it was unpasteurized and often had cow hair in it. But the yogurt and gwe were like candy. My mother would routinely mix yogurt with millet balls, cassava grain, or the crust of rice or millet and feed it to me like a dessert. The gwe was used in soups and sauces.

Girls are required to be in the kitchen; boys are forbidden to go there. It’s a woman’s domain. Men and women don’t eat together, either. In fact, our family never ate together. Each day at sundown, one of the imam’s disciples bellowed into a loudspeaker that could be heard throughout our compound: “God is great. I testify that Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his prophet. Come along to pray.”

Men and boys drop whatever they are doing and head to the mosque for the dinner-hour prayer. Women remain at the fire, putting the final touches on dinner preparations while listening to the imam’s prayer as a disciple repeats it over the loudspeaker. Our imam usually kept the dinner prayer short. He did not like to wait for his dinner.

After prayer, men spill out of the mosque, take their seats on the deck of the veranda, and wait for their daughters to serve them. The imam had four wives, each of whom served as chief cook on alternating days. Since my father had just one wife, my mother cooked every day, and she dutifully sent the best portions of meat to my father and the men who were eating with the imam.

Boys ate together in the courtyard between the houses and the mosque. My sisters always served us boys after the men. I had my own special plate. It was a metal bowl with a cover that had a flower on top. We didn’t have utensils. We ate everything with our hands, including rice. We didn’t have cups or mugs, either. We drank from hollowed-out gourds. We’d fetch water from a well with a big clay pot and then pour it into a gourd. All of us children shared one gourd. The women had their own gourd to drink from. The same with the men. The imam drank from his own gourd.

My mother was always the last person to eat.

After dinner, the women washed the dishes and the men returned to the mosque for evening prayer.

Dress was another thing women had to concern themselves with. All the Muslim women in our community wore layers of clothes, exposing only their feet, hands, and face. It was a sin to display more of themselves than that, and in certain situations their faces had to be covered too. My mother always wore a long-sleeved, multicolored blouse and a black, ankle-length skirt. On top she’d wear a wrap that matched the blouse. She wore a red or yellow or green headscarf.

My mother was short and had narrow feet and small fingers. Her nails were kept extremely short. Only prostitutes had long nails. But my mother always had a pair of huge circular rings dangling from her ears. Most women had multiple piercings in each ear, some as many as twenty. My mother had only one hole per ear.

Feet and hands are about the extent of what I saw of my mother’s body. Once in a while her lower arms were visible, as when she was cooking over a hot fire.

Whenever my father went away on business, he would bring back something for my mother. Typically it was an article of clothing, such as a headscarf or a wrap. Sometimes he’d bring her a piece of jewelry. Of course, my mother rarely had opportunity to wear these items in public, because she wasn’t allowed out of the compound except on special occasions, such as the birth of a child or the death of a loved one. Women were expected to stay indoors or at the outdoor kitchen. They almost never ventured into town.

My father, on the other hand, was a big traveler. He was one of the only men in our neighborhood with a car. It was a light green Opal. That’s what he used to transport his goods to and from the various cities where he did business.

One of the first gifts that he brought back to me from a business trip was a soccer ball. It was green and made of rubber.

My father loved soccer. We called it football, and it was my only diversion from religion. The day after he gave me the soccer ball, he saw me kicking it against the wall of our compound. At one point the ball bounced off the wall, and he intercepted it. “With football you need to learn to dribble,” he said, advancing toward me as he kicked the ball. “If you can’t dribble, you can’t be a good football player.”

He kicked the ball to me. I tried dribbling like my father. But I lost the ball. He retrieved it and dribbled again. “You must practice,” he said. “Practice. Practice.”

My fondest memories of my father involve our kicking a soccer ball together on the sand. It seems like we did it all the time. We really didn’t. But those memories with my father are so bright that they tend to eclipse the other ones. Soccer was the only thing we did together that didn’t have religious overtones. I liked that.

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One of the most amazing books I have ever read.

by  Steven  -   reviewed on  October 27, 2013

"My Name Used to Be Muhammad" is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. I couldn't put it down. I finished it just moments ago, and the book has changed my life forever. In many ways, Tito's story is terribly tragic. He is disowned by his family, he loses the love of his life, he is repeatedly beaten and mocked, and he suffers fifteen years in prison for his beliefs before finally being released in 2006 for medical reasons--particularly diabetes, stroke, and heart problems. But at the same time, Tito's story is one of glorious redemption. Through all of his trials, Tito finds the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is a greater gift than all of the wealth in the world. Tito's experiences bring to my mind the words of the Lord to Joseph Smith while in Liberty Jail: "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes" (D&C 121:7-8). Tito's life is a reminder to me that no matter how dark life may seem to be, Christ will never forsake us. He will ALWAYS be there. One note: In the book, Tito does not mince words in his descriptions of abuse, drug and alcohol use, sexuality, and harsh prison life. Some of his descriptions are graphic and are obviously not meant for children. However, for adults of all Christian faiths, I offer my highest recommendation for "My Name Used to Be Muhammad". Download it. Read it. And change your life because of it. You won't regret it.

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An eye-opening, testimony-building story.

by  Debbie  -   reviewed on  August 29, 2013

It's hard to imagine some of the experiences people are subjected to in non-Christian parts of the world. This story was told from the heart with an honesty and sincerity that was gripping. I learned a great deal about the Muslim/Islam way of life and about the sacrifices that are made when embracing Christianity. Tito helped me appreciate the religious freedom I enjoy and I'm grateful for his story being told.

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Wow!

by  Stephanie  -   reviewed on  November 16, 2013

Because he was his fathers favorite son, when Muhammad Momen was a little boy he was groomed to become an "imam" or a holy leader in his community. This required much sacrifice and dedication, even memorizing the Qur'an by copying it diligently, verse by verse. Muhammad wanted very much to please his father and as a teen was thrilled to be accepted into a prestigious Islamic private school. He was disillusioned however when he arrived at the school to discover it wasn't so much an institute of higher learning as it was a place to indoctrinate and brainwash young male teens to follow the teachings of extreme Islam. The teachers were very abusive going so far as to beat students who asked questions that were contrary to Islamic teachings. Muhammad stands up for himself and his friends eventually finding himself expelled from 2 schools, hurting his fiancee Aaban by cheating on her, drinking alcohol, and smoking. As he falls further and further away from Islam he finds himself falling closer to Christ. He attends church with a friend and discovers the healing love and acceptance of Christianity when he attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cairo. Eventually seizing the opportunity to be baptized, Muhammad changes his name to Tito (the Italian version of Titus) and embraces the gospel tightly. This dedication to Christ eventually leads to imprisonment where he was given a life sentence... Never giving up hope and never giving up on his faith, Tito tells his story of life as a child of extreme Islam, his conversion to Christianity and paying the price for his dedication to God by serving 15 years in terrifying conditions. A prisoner in a corrupt system of government. All I can say about this book is wow. It really brings to life what it is like to be a child of Islam. How they live day to day. And why they do what they do. What is expected of them. This book is eye-opening, educational, faith promoting, and heart wrenching all rolled into one. Once I started this book, I could NOT put it down. I needed to know what happened to Tito Momen. This man is courageous. I would love to meet him. Wow. I mean. WOW.

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Great story!

by  Courtney  -   reviewed on  November 22, 2013

I found this book to be less a story about a Muslim converting to Mormonism but a Muslim converting to Christianity. You needn’t be a member of my church to enjoy and learn from his experiences. There are just so many things to learn from Tito’s life. My Name Used to be Muhammadnofollow is a wonderful story of faith, repentance, and the healing power of the Atonement. Tito was raised to be able to lead a Jihad, and while it didn’t turn out exactly like his father had planned, Muhammad DID have a holy struggle. It began with a simple questioning of his upbringing, and it ended with a change of name, a change of religion, and a change of heart.

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The honestly and intimacy invoked a deep sense of humility.

by  Kelly  -   reviewed on  November 30, 2013

Reading this account of Tito Momen's life had so much contrast to my own experiences I had to keep reminding myself that it was true. His ability to relate his experiences with such honestly and intimacy invoked a deep sense of humility. His life is a remarkable testament to the scripture "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Matthew 16:25)."

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Wonderful book

by  Leigh Ann  -   reviewed on  December 09, 2013

This book really grabs you and doesn't let go. It certainly shows an insider view of the Muslim religion, as taught to children through young adults. It is a testimony to how blessed those of us are to have freedom of choice available in our lives. Tito Momen's testimony stands firm through 15 years years of imprisonment for his Christian conversion. Incredible story...

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A powerful story of conversion and hope under the most difficult of circumstances.

by  Heidi  -   reviewed on  November 20, 2013

A powerful story about a man who grew up Muslim yet eventually becomes a Christian. But he pays a high price for doing so, he is completely disowned by his family, he loses the woman he loves, and he's thrown in an Egyptian prison for 15 years. The book is a fascinating and heart-wrenching account of the suffering inflicted by religious extremism. It's sad to read about how instead of using faith to encourage obedience, all too many of those Tito is surrounded by use fear and intimidation and violence. It's not too surprising to read about Momen's trip back to Nigeria only to discover that many of those he once new had joined Al Qaeda. After reading about Momen's struggles both internal and external, I truly have a greater appreciation for the freedoms available, here in the United States. Despite the suffering that Momen undergoes the book remains hopeful and there are plenty of examples of God watching out for him even under the most horrendous circumstances. A heart-wrenching but ultimately hopeful read.

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Amazing story about an amazing person!

by  Cathy  -   reviewed on  November 25, 2013

I was really amazed by this story. It's not very often you hear of a Muslim converting to any Christian religion, let alone the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was amazed by the very different way that Tito was brought up, the customs of the Muslim people seem so very foreign to me. I was amazed by his trials after he became a member of the LDS church. But I was most amazed that even when in the midst of these terrible trials he never once lost his faith or wavered, even when it would have been easy to or when it would have saved him even more trials. This book is very raw and honest, there were several of the more mild swear words, there was talk of sex, but nothing overly explicit. It's definitely not a book written for kids, but I think that it's a book that's well worth reading.

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Hands Down one of the Best Book I have EVER Read!!!!

by  Rebecca  -   reviewed on  March 10, 2014

This was a really great book. I really do not like reading non-fiction, because I usually read to "escape" reality not read about it. I had heard so many wonderful things about this book, so when I saw it on my moms table I grabbed it and soaked it up. It was so hard to read, but I couldn't put it down either. It is mind blowing to me that religious persecution is still out there. I cannot fathom being imprisoned for being a Christian. Yet, this is exactly where Tito (aka Mohammad) found himself. His life story is absolutely amazing. It was so emotional to read this first hand account about the persecution this man went through just because he decided to become a Christian. He was brought up Muslim, and he was brought up in fear. With every page I turned I couldn't help but feel so emotional. His childhood was so horrific. Maybe not all the time, but enough of the time. The poor boy lived in fear. He worshiped out of fear, and did everything out of fear. How sad is that? He grew up with a father who repeatedly beat him, and his mother, and was expected to just accept this behavior as "okay". It was an eye opening reading experience. A child should never have to live in fear. I do not care what part of the world they live in, what religion they are born into, or choose to follow, or land they live in. It was so horrific. I cannot believe the way he grew up. I am blown away that he turns out to be such an amazing man who breaks the cycle of hate and finds true happiness. Mohammad (Tito) was brought up to think Christians were evil, that dancing was evil, that anything that wasn't of his religion was evil. He grew up with so much hatred around him, yet in all of this he realizes there has to be more to life. This man served 15 years in prison for converting to Christianity. Not only Christianity he became a "Mormon". I am a Mormon m self, and this book made me even more thankful for where I was born, how I was brought up, and my love for my religion. I have had to deal with people who "hate" my religion, but never have I feared for my life because I am a Christian. I cannot even fathom that it is possible for people to be tortured, imprisoned or hated because of their faith. Tito, when asked after all he had gone through if it was worth converting to Christianity, he didn't hesitate when he said "YES". I hope so much that I would have the faith and the conviction this man had to stand up for what I believe in no matter what circumstance I am faced with. No on on earth should ever have to deal with such horrible things. While serving his time in prison he could have become bitter, and hateful, but he never did. He may have gotten depressed and saddened by his situation, but through the whole experience he tries his hardest to make the best of it. He learned to love the people he was in prison with. He learned a lot about himself in prison. I do not think I would have the gusto to stay so positive. I know that during his incarceration his faith was tried more than any one persons faith should ever have to be, yet he stays strong, and keeps the faith. I am so glad I took the opportunity to read this amazing book. I love that I have grown up a Mormon! I love that I live in a land where I am free to choose, and free to worship. To me there is never ever a reason to treat another person differently for any reason. People should be treated with love and kindness no matter what. I know that religion is different in different countries, yet in my opinion it shouldn't matter. In my dream world no one would ever be harmed, punished, or persecuted for any reason. Especially for the way they choose to worship. No one should ever have to live in fear for any reason. There should never be any reason for religious persecution of any kind. The world really needs to be more accepting of every one, and every religion. Tito is an inspiration to me. He suffered almost his whole life. He was beaten, tortured, and imprisoned. He was treated unfairly, and yet when it was all said in done, he had love in his heart. Such an inspiration. I have been touched and have learned so much while reading this book. SUCH AN AWESOME BOOK!!!

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Powerful

by  rhonda  -   reviewed on  November 16, 2013

5 STARS This book was very interesting. I can understand a little more about Muslims what they believe and why some hate everything different. This starts out telling about his life from the time he was about 5. About what they learned and what they were kept away from. He doesn't speak of Muslim religion with bitterness or angry. He just tells what his life was like growing up. Explains why and how come he did some things or didn't do. About his regrets and wrong things he did and why. To me it seemed like a real honest look back at his life so far. I like the culture of the different countries he was in and the differences he encountered. I was also surprised that the Qur'an has more of Mary's story in it than the Bible does. The story just flowed and was so interesting. I was sad to see it end. I admit that I have taken the freedoms that I have for granted. I am glad that Tito now has more freedom. The scene with his father for the last time brought me to tears. I am grateful that I was able to read Tito's story. I was given this ebook to read and asked in return to give honest review of it by Netgalley. I want to see some of his drawings. Also want to help others who have gone through some of the same hardships for believing In Christ too. This is a powerful book. Thank you for sharing your story and your life. Published November 12th 2013 by Ensign Peak 278 pages ISBN:9781609077105

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One of the best book I ever got

by  Archer  -   reviewed on  January 26, 2014

This book deserves to be one of the best. I love the story of Muhammad and it has a very wonderful ending that touches our very heart.

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