Philosophy professor shares his conversion from Islam

By Grace Ostuni
Staff Writer

Students and professors filled the International Lounge to hear about a Franciscan University professor’s conversion from Islam to Catholicism on March 20 at 5 p.m. 

Rashad Rehman, associate professor of philosophy at Franciscan, opened with, “This story is about God’s pursuit of me and nothing about my own merit.”  

Rehman said his parents divorced when he was a baby, leaving him with two different exposures to religion: his father kept a Muslim household, and his mother was a theist.   

“As a kid, I attended a youth day camp and I learned who Jesus was but just in the vague sense,” said Rehman.  

Rehman said his first problem with theism was the problem of divine justice. 

“Why do I live a life with no disabilities, but others live a life with disabilities?” asked Rehman. 

Rehman said neither his father nor the Islamic religious leaders had a satisfactory answer for him. He added that this gave him the impression that Islam could not be challenged. 

“Either you had good answers to your questions or you’re religious,” said Rehman.  

Rehman said he attended a Catholic high school and “caused trouble for his teachers, playing music during prayers, or writing anti-Catholic propaganda.” 

“I had three things I knew about Christianity at this time: Christianity was a white man’s religion, Christianity believed that a man was God, and Christianity caused trouble in my family,” stated Rehman.  

According to Rehma, his first real exposure to Christianity came through the help of a substitute teacher during his junior year of high school. He noted that his regular teacher went into early maternity leave because of the stress Rehman caused her. 

“[I] dismantled everything I believed with ease, simply by asking hard questions. What he demonstrated to me was that you could be religious and intelligent,” said Rehman, speaking about his substitute teacher. 

Rehman said that he began to explore philosophy and bought “Confessions” and “The A to Z of Philosophy.”  

“My father deeply disapproved of my interest in Christianity,” said Rehman. “One time, he even suggested a Muslim father could not have a Christian son.”  

Rehman mentioned that he began to listen to the podcast “Reasonable Faith” on the bus on the way to school each morning.  

“This was a real paradigm shift for me,” said Rehman. 

In his fourth year of high school, Rehman said that he began to speak to a teacher at his school who held a doctorate in philosophy. The teacher answered all of Rehman’s questions and encouraged him to read even more philosophy. 

Through his study of philosophy, Rehman explained that he began to accept Christianity, specifically Catholicism, as true.  

“This wasn’t just a God who existed, this was a God who loves me, who desires me,” said Rehman, who was baptized in 2016. 

The talk was put on by the Beloved First Truth Household as a part of their pillars of evangelization and preaching.