tagInterracial LoveA Saudi Woman Turns Christian

A Saudi Woman Turns Christian


When God speaks, you should obey without question. Just remember that God is love and anyone who preaches hate doesn't come from God. I feel that those words hold true regardless of which religion one follows, but they should be required for all followers of Islam, the religion I was born into. My name is Fatouma Bilal-Sanchez, and I'm a young woman of Saudi descent living in the City of Toluca in the Capital region of Mexico. When most people see me, they think that I'm Mexican because of how I look, and while once it might have bothered me, I now embrace it. A year ago my life changed completely, and I am happy with those changes today.

I was born in the City of Riyadh in the Capital region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. My parents, Ahmed and Anisah Bilal were quite strict, even by Muslim standards. I seldom left home, and like most gals from my faith, I married early. My husband, Mohammed Akbar, was ten years older than me. When I turned twenty six, we traveled from Saudi Arabia to Canada to visit his family. I had never seen anything like Canada. This strange world, where women were supposedly equal to men, held great fascination for me. I became fascinated by Canadian culture during the two months that we spent there. Living in a conservative town in central Saudi Arabia, I seldom left my husband's house and when I did, I always wore the burka. My husband was a rich man, and he had two other wives, a Moroccan woman named Khadija and a Somali woman named Zahrah. With Khadija he had two sons, Ishmail and Kader. With Zahrah he had a daughter, Aisha. I was the only one unable to produce offspring for my husband, and I was his third wife. That put me in a position of great shame, you see.

The other wives didn't like me, and they didn't hide their scorn. Khadija in particular began whispering wicked thoughts into my husband's ear, so I knew he was going to divorce me. While we were visiting his parents in the City of Toronto, Ontario, my husband told me that as soon as we returned to Saudi Arabia, he'd leave me and I'd be destitute, an unmarried woman with no money and no job. Such was to be my fate. Well, fate can be a funny and often terrible thing. My husband had some business dealings with some Arab American businessmen living in the City of Austin, Texas, and he often traveled from Toronto to Austin to meet with them. While our plane was flying from Toronto, Ontario, to Austin, Texas, it went down during a thunderstorm and I was the sole survivor. Somehow our plane had gotten diverted beyond the Mexican border when it went down, and that's where I found myself. As the plane went down, I blacked out and to this day, I don't remember much about the crash.

After the plane crash, I woke up in a small-town hospital. I had been rescued by some poor Mexican farmers, among them a twenty-year-old American-born Mexican student named Guillermo Sanchez. The young man who saved me was visiting his parents from Los Angeles, California. He saw the plane go down and gathered some friends to try to help the survivors. I now believe that God sent Guillermo to save me and that's exactly what he did, in more ways than one. Later, I would learn much about Guillermo, his family and the Mexican people. For now, I was in a hospital bed, and I couldn't move. I suffered terrible burns on my back, arms and thighs, but miraculously my face was spared. I lay in bed, and wept. I wept for my family back in Saudi Arabia, for my husband and for myself. No one deserves to die a fiery death in an airplane crash. My husband wasn't a nice man but by Saudi standards, he was pretty decent. He didn't beat me or anything, though he frequently called me names and made me feel worthless. Allah forgive me, part of me is glad he's gone.

A long convalescence awaited me, and I learned from my saviors that the world at large believed that there were no survivors from the crash. The world believed me dead. My family in Saudi Arabia had already buried me, in their own way, even though no body had been found. I should have been bothered by this, but a part of me was glad that my own people thought I was dead. My parents were never kind to me. My father had one son and three daughters and after my brother Hamoud got himself killed in a raid by United States military personnel hunting down terrorists, my father lost his reason for living and turned against my mother and my sisters Halima, Nadya and Barirah. He frequently beat us and treated us like shit. When time came for me to marry, I thought I had finally found deliverance from the hell that life under my father's roof had been. Little did I know that I was merely trading one hell for another. No, if my family thought I was dead, so be it. I missed my mother and my sisters sorely, but I know they would want me to move on. It's the lot of women in the Muslim world that our fates are tied to unscrupulous men who treat us like shit, first our fathers and then our husbands. We're property in their eyes, the same way you own a plough or a car. Nothing more and nothing less, ladies and gentlemen. In Saudi Arabia, I was little more than a slave, all because of the restrictions placed upon me by my gender and my religion. In Mexico, I was badly scarred and alone, but free.

Life in Mexico would prove to be a challenge for me, but luckily, I wasn't alone. The man who saved me, Guillermo Sanchez, was there to help me. He was really something else. Six feet tall and strongly built, with dark bronze skin, curly Black hair and pale brown eyes. The people of Mexico closely resemble us Arabs and North Africans. Walking among them, I felt right at home in some ways, except that Mexico was definitely not Saudi Arabia. Mexican women wore whatever they wanted, and they were loud, opinionated and passionate. They weren't afraid of men. To be a Saudi woman means fearing the men in your life, first your father and then your husband, and even your son sometimes. Why? Simply because under Islamic law, women have been given unto men and men are our protectors, which is another word for masters.

Adapting to life in Mexico wasn't easy. Mexico is a predominantly Christian country and although I hated life in Saudi Arabia and all the rules of Islam, I still had much love for Allah. It's mankind that's flawed, not God. I could never turn my back on God. For it was God who saved me from that plane crash. I got to know my savior quite well. Guillermo Sanchez was born in the City of Los Angeles, California, to Pedro and Maria Sanchez, a pair of illegal immigrants. When they got caught by the U.S. authorities, they were shipped back to Mexico, and Guillermo went with them. He was still an American citizen, though, and at the age of eighteen, he returned to the U.S. to study civil engineering at the University of California campus in Los Angeles. This guy was Mexican and American, yet seemed uncomfortable with both identities. When I asked him about it, my crucifix-wearing savior told me he felt uncomfortable in both worlds. I smiled and told him that I could relate.

Guillermo grinned, and asked me to elaborate. I sighed, and pondered how to best explain to him what I was going through. Life in Saudi Arabia is hell for women because we have no rights, but at least over there I understood the rules. In Mexico, I saw women who looked identical to us Arab women with their bronze skin, black hair and dark eyes. However, they were louder and livelier than us Saudi women would ever be. Mexican women are fearless. I've seen them in police cars, and they were the ones driving! I've also seen Mexican women in military uniforms. Will Saudi Arabia ever allow Saudi women to become soldiers and police officers? They're still arguing over whether or not they're ever letting us Saudi women drive! Yes, Saudi Arabia was hell for me and Mexico seemed like paradise, but at least in Saudi Arabia I understood the rules. What are the rules for a woman like me in a place like Mexico?

I felt strange walking around without a burka on, even though I always felt trapped and powerless inside it. Like I said, it was at least familiar. I wore pants and long dresses now, and I sometimes wore a modest hijab. Guillermo told me I looked beautiful and I blushed when he said that. After the burns I suffered, I thought no one would ever find me beautiful again. Guillermo's parents operated a farm and I was more than happy to help them with farm work to earn my keep. As the wife of a Saudi millionaire, I had servants in my home to do the dirty work. As a poor woman in Mexico, I had to get my hands dirty. I liked the work, though. I like milking cows, and herding the sheep. I also found out that dogs liked me. That was a revelation to me.

In Islamic culture, dogs are considered unclean and most Muslims don't keep them as pets. The Sanchez family had five dogs, and they treated them like members of the family. Guillermo was particularly fond of a big German shepherd dog he called El Cid, and El Cid seemed to like me. I grew fond of El Cid too, although grudgingly at first. The damn mutt kissed Guillermo every bloody day, while I had yet to do more than shake hands with them. The Islamic norms I grew up with still existed in my head and I wasn't too keen on physical contact with men, but I was really fond of Guillermo. Sometimes, at night, when I lie in bed alone, I have sinful thoughts about him.

One day, while Guillermo was working in the stable, shirtless, with El Cid by his side, I walked up to him and offered him some ice tea. He smiled and thanked me. His hand reached for my shoulder and he stopped himself, then apologized. For a moment, he looked like he wanted to say more, but he stopped himself. I felt mixed emotions burning inside of me. Mexicans, of both sexes, are really affectionate with each other. They hug and kiss all the time. As a Muslim woman, I couldn't touch any man I wasn't related to or married to. And yet, I wanted to touch Guillermo, and I didn't know why. My heart thundered in my chest as I looked at Guillermo, and I was stricken by how beautiful he was. The glistening sweat on his bare chest, his handsome, bearded face, so similar to an Arab man's, but different, more rugged. He was so beautiful. Before I could stop myself, I did something very haram. I threw my arms around a startled Guillermo, stood on my tippy toes, and kissed him.

Guillermo seemed surprised by my kiss, but only for a moment. He held me tenderly, and kissed me passionately. When our lips at last parted, he smiled at me and I smiled at him. I saw something in his eyes, a burning passion, and I liked it. Moments later, we were rolling around in the hay. I climbed on top of Guillermo, aching with my need for him. He kissed me, and we undressed each other. I felt self-conscious about getting naked in front of him, not because of Islamic modesty but because of my scars. As if reading my mind, he told me I was beautiful. I smiled, and told him he was truly a Godsend. Guillermo laid me down on the hay and tenderly kissed me all over. He kissed my neck and rubbed the areolas of my breasts, and I moaned under his touch. He licked my tits while caressing me, and his knowing hands found their way between my thighs. I shuddered as he slid his fingers into my cunt, and began playing with my insides, causing me to squeal in delight.

No man had ever pleasured me like Guillermo had. He spread my thighs and began licking my pussy, taking his sweet time as he made love to me. When he at last put his cock inside of me, I welcomed him. I wrapped my arms around this man, and held on for dear life as he fucked me real good, slamming his cock inside of me. He was rough at first, then gentle, taking his sweet time and asking me if I liked what he was doing. No Guillermo, my sweet Papi, I love it! We made love like that for hours, and fell asleep, naked, on the hay. The only witnesses to our passion were a collection of four-legged creatures. Yeah, that afternoon, Guillermo and I crossed the line. It's a sin for a Muslim woman to have sex with a man she isn't married to. However, my husband was dead, and I was dead to my family, and besides, I'm in frigging Mexico, not Saudi Arabia, so what's the harm?

Guillermo and I talked about what happened between us, and I told him that it was the single most thrilling experience of my life. And I wanted it to happen, again and again. The Mexican-American stud smiled at me and told me that if all Arab girls were like me, he understood why the Arab guys kept us hidden. I smiled and told him he hadn't seen anything yet. Then I grabbed his dick and we made love again. Thus began my relationship with Guillermo. The fact that we'd become a couple surprised absolutely no one, but his mother seemed concerned. Maria Sanchez, wife to Pedro and mother to Guillermo, is a tall, stout Mexican lady with dark hair, bronze skin and pale bronze eyes. When she saw me walking hand in hand with her son, she narrowed her gaze. The following night, she sat me down and talked to me.

Maria Sanchez is the lady of the house, and among Mexicans, the woman of the house runs things. It seems to be the Christian way and the Mexican way. In Islam, the man of the house controls everything and the woman of the house is nothing. I had a lot of respect for Maria, but when she sat me down and talked to me, I was worried. She hadn't pressed me too much about my past before, but now she had a thousand questions. She told me that she loved her son, whom she raised to be a good Catholic, and she didn't want to see him become something else. Also, she told me that she didn't want him to get hurt. Truth be told, Maria's words hurt me, and I politely but coldly told her that what happened between her son and I was none of her business. Then I went to my bed.

That night, I lay in bed, unable to sleep. Maria's words haunted me. In Islam, men can marry women of any race or religion but Muslim women can only marry Muslim men. It's something I've never questioned. Until now. I was falling in love with Guillermo, a man who treated me better than any man ever has. A man who saved my life. How far was I willing to do for his love? I no longer considered myself Saudi because I've always seen my country as a hell for women, especially after my trip to Canada. However, was I willing to leave Islam? In Muslim countries, any man or woman who wants to leave Islam is instantly put to death. That's the penalty for Apostasy, the crime of leaving Islam. Still, I was in Mexico, a predominantly Christian country. The whole time I've seen in Toluca, I haven't seen a single Muslim. These people are either hardline Catholics or they follow the Santeria faith, which is a mixture of Christian lore and Native American beliefs. I said a silent prayer to God and went to sleep.

The next day, Sunday, I did something I had never done before. I put on a flowery sundress, and left my hijab on my dresser. Then I went to the Roman Catholic Church service starting at nine o'clock. Guillermo typically went with his parents, as well as all the workers. Nobody works the farm on Sunday. To Mexicans, Sunday is the day of rest and they take it seriously. I walked in the crowded church, and looked for a seat. I looked from row to row, and saw lots of familiar faces. The village is fairly small, and everybody knows everybody. Mexicans believe in being good ( read nosy ) neighbors. I finally spotted the Sanchez family. You should have seen the look on the matriarch Maria Sanchez's face. I smiled at her and hugged a very surprised Guillermo, who offered me the seat beside him. I had never been to a church before. It's another double standard of the Muslim world. Muslim immigrants will build their mosques anywhere but they don't allow churches in Saudi Arabia.

I thought the church would be similar to the mosque, but I was dead wrong. Christians don't just practice their faith, they celebrate it with pomp and circumstance, as they say. In mosques, men and women cannot pray beside each other. Either the women are in the back with the men praying at the front, or the women are shucked from the premises altogether. No equality of the sexes in Islam. In this church, men and women, and their offspring, everybody sat together. Every praised and sang happily. I watched the Priest. He was a stocky older man with a beard. He smiled beatifically at his audience and spoke to them in their native tongue of Spanish, which I now understood somewhat. Another key difference between churches and mosques? Aside from women and men enjoying equal access to the facilities, churches differed from mosques in that all Muslims, regardless of their ethnic or national origin, must learn the Arabic language to pray properly according to the Koran, while the Bible is translated in a thousand languages and Christians can pray and worship in whatever language they prefer. I was amazed. I didn't know that.

I looked at the men and women around me, and felt their infectious joy worm itself inside of me. I looked at Guillermo, who clasped my hand as the ceremony continued. I looked at Jesus Christ on the cross. The Koran mentions Jesus Christ the Messiah respectfully, but Muslims don't believe him to be the Son of God. Muslim scholars believe him to be just another prophet. They refer to him as Isa Al Masih, the Son of Mary, not the Son of God. The service continued, and the Priest shared a tale with us. He spoke of Jesus Christ preaching the Word of God to a woman of ill repute, a prostitute, in the Bible. I was stunned. In the Koran, all prophets are holy men. A true prophet wouldn't be seen wasting his time by talking about God with a prostitute. A true prophet would slay such a woman for being unclean and a whore. In my faith, prophets were mighty men of God and they were vengeful and fierce. In the Christian faith, their most celebrated prophet, Jesus Christ, was a man of peace. The fact that he would speak with such kindness to a lowly prostitute moved me to tears. Guillermo noticed me crying and he asked me if I was okay. I nodded, and fixed my gaze on the Priest.

Soon time came for communion, a ritual I had never before beheld. A man in a suit and an older woman in a blue dress wearing something very similar to a hijab, but with an oversized cross in front of her shirt, stood on either side of the Priest with a special goblet in their hand. Male and female, young and old, everybody got up to line up. I thought the women would form one row and the men would form another row for this ritual just like in Islam. I was wrong. The women and the men went together. Husband and wife. Friend and friend. Brother and sister. Happily they took from the goblet a small piece of something white and ate it, crossed themselves, then went back to their seat. I stood up, moved by something I couldn't explain, something beyond me. I got up, and walked up to the Priest. He looked at me beatifically and asked me if I accepted the Body of Christ for my salvation. I looked at him with tear-filled eyes, and said amen. I took the small piece of white food he offered me, and ingested it. Then I crossed myself for the first time.

When I came back to my seat, the Sanchez clan stared at me like I had two heads. I went to Guillermo with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. The man who saved my life and had been my guide and protector in Mexican society, the man destined to be my true husband, hugged and kissed me in front of everybody. From that moment on, life would never be the same for me. Thus I became a Christian. I, Fatouma Bilal, born in Riyadh City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, became a Christian in Toluca City, in the Capital region of Mexico. In that very same church, I would marry my beloved Guillermo Sanchez a few months later. I thank God for His blessings. And His blessings keep on coming indeed. You see, while on a routine trip to the doctor for vague unease, I discovered I was pregnant...with twins.

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