When a Roman Catholic scholar involved in the Dead Sea Scrolls Project discovers a heretical message contained in one of the Scrolls he hides it. Decades later, a prominent archeologist discovers reference to the scroll in an archeological dig. This discovery spurs the world religions into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, in which all who seek the hidden scroll are mysteriously silenced, leaving the salvation of humankind to a father and son, who must either find the hidden scroll … or die trying.

Conversion Story Part 2: Being True to a Promise

By Dr. Laurence B. Brown

In the winter of 1990, when my second daughter was born, she was whisked from the birthing room to the neonatal intensive care unit, where she was diagnosed with a coarctation of the aorta.  This meaning a critical narrowing in the major vessel from the heart, she was a dusky gunmetal blue from the chest to the toes, for her body simply was not getting enough blood and her tissues were suffocating.  When I learned of the diagnosis, I was shattered.  Being a doctor, I understood this meant emergency thoracic surgery with a poor chance of long-term survival.  A consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon was called from across town at the pediatric hospital in Washington, D.C., and upon his arrival I was asked to leave the intensive care unit, for I had become overly emotional.  With no companion but my fears, and no other place of comfort to which to go while awaiting the result of the consultant’s examination, I went to the prayer room in the hospital and fell to my knees.  For the first time in my life I prayed with sincerity and commitment.  Having spent my life as an atheist, this was the first time that I even partially recognized God.  I say partially, for even in this time of panic I was not fully believing, and so prayed a rather skeptical prayer in which I promised God, if, that is, there was a God, that if He would save my daughter then I would seek and follow the religion most pleasing to Him.  Ten to fifteen minutes later, when I returned to the Neonatal ICU, I was shocked when the consultant told me that my daughter would be fine.  And, true to his assessment, within the next two days her condition resolved without medicine or surgery, and she subsequently grew up a completely normal child.

Now, I know that there is a medical explanation for this.  As I said, I am a doctor.  So when the consultant explained about a patent ductus arteriosis, low oxygenation and eventual spontaneous resolution, I understood.  I just didn’t buy it.  More significantly, neither did the Intensivist – the Neonatal ICU specialist who made the diagnosis.  To this day I remember seeing him standing, blank-faced and speechless.  But in the end, the consultant was right and the condition spontaneously reversed and my daughter, Hannah, left the hospital a normal baby in every respect.  And here’s the rub -- many who make promises to God in moments of panic find or invent excuses to escape their part of the bargain once the danger is past.  As an atheist, it would have been easy to maintain my disbelief in God, assigning my daughter’s recovery to the doctor’s explanation rather than to God.  But I couldn’t.  We had cardiac ultrasound taken before and after, showing the stricture one day, gone the next, and all I could think of was that God had made good on His part of the deal, and I had to make good on mine.  And even if there were an adequate medical explanation, that too was under the control of Almighty God, so by whatever means God chose to effect His decree, He had answered my prayer.  Period.  I did not then, and I do not now, accept any other explanation.

The next few years I tried to fulfill my side of the bargain, but failed.  I studied Judaism and a number of sects of Christianity, but never felt that I had found the truth.  Over time I attended a wide variety of Christian churches, spending the longest period of time in Roman Catholic congregation.  However, I never embraced Christian faith.  I never could, for the simple reason that I could not reconcile the biblical teachings of Jesus with the teachings of the various sects of Christianity.  Eventually I just stayed home and read, and during this time I was introduced to the Holy Quran and Martin Lings’ biography of the prophet, Muhammad, entitled, Muhammad, His Life Based on the Earliest Sources.

During my years of study, I had encountered the Jewish scriptures referencing three prophets to follow Moses.  With John the Baptist and Jesus Christ being two, that left one according to the Old Testament, and in the New Testament Jesus Christ himself spoke of a final prophet to follow.  Not until I found the Holy Quran teaching the oneness of God, as both Moses and Jesus Christ had taught, did I begin to consider Muhammad as the predicted final prophet, and not until I read the biography of Muhammad did I become convinced.  And when I did become convinced, suddenly everything made sense.  The continuity in the chain of prophethood and revelation, the One-ness of Almighty God, and the completion of revelation in the Holy Quran suddenly made perfect sense, and it was then that I became Muslim.

Pretty smart, hunh?  No, not at all.  For I would err greatly if I believed that I figured it out for myself.  One lesson I have learned over the past ten years as a Muslim is that there are a lot of people much more intelligent than I am, but who have not been able to figure out the truth of Islam.  It is not a matter of intelligence but of enlightenment, for Allah has revealed that those who disbelieve will remain upon disbelief, even if warned, for in punishment for having denied Allah, Allah in turn has denied them the treasure of His truth.  As Allah teaches in the Holy Quran:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe.  God has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil.” (Quran 2:6-7)

But, on the other hand, the good news is that…

“…whoever believes in God – He will guide his heart” (Quran 64:11)

“…God chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him].” (Quran 42:13)


“…And God guides whom He wills to a straight path.” (Quran 24:46)

So I thank God that He chose to guide me, and I attribute that guidance to one simple formula: recognizing God, praying to God Alone, sincerely promising to seek and follow His religion of truth, and then, once receiving His mercy of guidance, DOING IT .

Conversion Story: The Nature of Conversion Stories and the Common Ground Between Them, No Matter What Religion.

By Laurence B. Brown, MD

Having repeatedly been asked about how I became Muslim, and why, I have decided to tell the story one last time, but this time on paper.  However, I feel conversion stories are worthless unless related with the lessons learned, and it is with those lessons that I intend to begin.

No doubt, there is a certain fascination with conversion stories, and for good reason.  Frequently they involve dramatic life-altering events, sufficient to shock the convert out of the materialistic world and into the spiritual.  Those who experience such life dramas are brought face to face with the bigger issues of life for the first time, forcing them to ask the ‘Purpose of Life’ questions, such as ‘Who made us?’  and ‘Why are we here?’  But there are other common elements to ‘conversion’ stories, and one of them is that the convert is humbled to his or her knees at such moments, and looking back, most relate having prayed with sincerity for the first time in their lives.  I have been intrigued by these commonalties, and have noted some significant lessons.  The first, I would say, is that most converts who passed through these moments of trial and panic prayed directly to God, without intermediary, and without distraction.  For example, even those who spent their lives believing in the Trinity, when faced with catastrophe, instinctively and reflexively prayed directly to God, and never to the other proposed elements of the Trinity.

Let me relate a story as example.  A popular television evangelist once had a lady relate her ‘Born Again’ Christian conversion story, which revolved around a terrible boat-wreck, from which she was the sole survivor.  This lady related how during her days and nights of survival against the harsh elements of the open ocean God spoke to her, God guided her, God protected her, etc.  You get the idea.  For maybe five to ten minutes she told her tale, which was indeed dramatic and captivating, but throughout the story she related how God did this, God did that, and seeking His favor, she prayed to God and to God Alone.  However, when she was saved by a passing ship, she described how the minute she landed on the ship’s deck she threw her arms open to the heavens and yelled, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Well, there is a lesson there, and it relates to sincerity.  When in the panic and stress of circumstance, people instinctively pray to God directly, but when conceiving themselves safe and secure they frequently fall back into previously held beliefs, many (if not most) of which are misdirected.  Now, we all know that many Christians equate Jesus with God, and for those who would like to argue the point, I just suggest they read my book on the subject, entitled The First and Final Commandment (Amana Publications).  For all others, I would just continue by saying that the real question is ‘Who truly is saved?’  There are countless convert stories, all telling how the God of this or that religion saved the person in question, and all of these converts conceive themselves to be upon the truth by nature of the miracle of their salvation.  But as there is only One God, and therefore only one religion of absolute truth, the fact of the matter is that only one group can be right and all others are living in delusion, with their personal miracles having confirmed them upon disbelief rather than upon truth.  As God teaches in the Holy Quran:

“…God leaves astray whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]” (Quran 13:27)


“So those who believe in God and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path.” (Quran 4:175)

As for those astray in disbelief, they will be left to stray, as they themselves chose.

But the strength of belief, even when misdirected, is not to be underestimated.  So who is going to become Muslim based upon my conversion story?  Only one person -- me.  Muslims may find some encouragement in my story but others may be left empty, just as Muslims sigh and shake their heads in despair when hearing others relate the ‘miracles’ which followed prayers to patron saints, partners in the Trinity, or other distractions from the One True God.  For if a person prays to something or someone other than our Creator, who, if not God, might be the one answering those prayers?  Could it just possibly be a certain one who has a vested interest in confirming those who are astray upon their particular flavor of disbelief?  One whose dedicated purpose is to lead mankind astray?

However a person chooses to answer those questions, these are issues addressed at length in The First and Final Commandment , and those interested can investigate.  But for now, I will tell my story.

      Next: Laurence Brown, Medical Doctor, USA (part 2 of 2): Being True to a Promise

Psalms Scroll - Song of Ascent

The book of Psalms contains fifteen Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). 

Pilgrims would recite these Psalms while making their way “up” to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals. Scholars also maintain that they were sung by the temple priests while ascending the steps leading up to the temple. 

 In 1956, Bedouin discovered Cave 11 at the Qumran site Six different Psalms’ manuscripts emerged from the dusty cave next to the Dead Sea, revealing a plethora of insights into the way in which the sectarian group formed liturgies of both canonical and non-canonical Psalms. 

The four leaves reproduced here contain portions of eleven of the fifteen Songs of Ascent.

On "Jesus Freaks"

A fan recently sent me the following suggestions, regarding my article entitled “Jesus Freaks:” 

•    We eat halal meat, which is equivalent to kosher in the sense that it is slaughtered in accordance with God’s laws.

Muslims say "Insha-Allah" as per James 4:15 - Christians don't say “God-willing” nearly as frequently as Muslims

•    Moses removed his shoes on Mount Sinai, because it was holy ground. Muslims remove their shoes before prayer. 

•    There was a direction for prayer in the Old Testament (Jerusalem). Muslims also have a direction for prayer (Makkah).

•    There was a call for prayer in the Old Testament. Muslims have the Adhaan.

The posture for supplication (du'a) in Muslim prayer is IDENTICAL to this verse:

"...when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven."-(1 KINGS 8:54).

See posture here and compare with 1 Kings 8:54

Of all of the above suggestions, I like the last the most. Regarding removing the shoes, I don’t agree with this point, because Muslims are actually bidden to NOT remove their shoes before prayer, to distinguish themselves from the Jews. But I love this kind of feedback, and I encourage all constructive criticism. Many thanks to this devoted reader!!!

Jesus Freaks by Laurecne B. Brown

When I was a child, growing up in the sixties and seventies just a few blocks away from the notorious Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, I was surrounded by the hippie movement.  It was a “turn on, tune in, drop out” age of sexual freedom, cultural revolution and social recklessness.

Happily, I was never caught up in the hippie movement, but being so close to it, I could not help but observe its development.  One thing I clearly remember is how many hippies were labeled “Jesus freaks.”  As I surf my childhood memories, nearly four decades later, this euphemism strikes me as having been decidedly peculiar.  These hippies were considered “Jesus freaks” because they dressed as Jesus did, grew their hair as he did, renounced materialism as he did, and propagated devotion to God, peace, charity and communal love.

Now, many whom embarked upon this path fell into hallucinogenic drug use and wanton sexual proclivities—practices which are far from the example of Jesus—but this is not why these hippies were called Jesus freaks.  Rather, they were called Jesus freaks for their long hair, loose clothing, asceticism, communal unity and passivism, all a result of their effort to live like Jesus.  The House of Love and Prayer, located nearby in the avenues, was a collecting point for many of these well-meaning souls, and the title of the institution reflected their focus in life.

Looking back, what seems strange to me now is not that people would wish to embody Jesus’ values, but that others would criticize them for it.  What seems even stranger is that few Christians, in the modern day, match this profile.  Indeed, what seemed most strange to me, prior to my conversion to Islam, is that Muslims seemed to embody Jesus’ values better than Christians.

Now, that assertion requires an explanation, and it goes like this: To begin with, both Christianity and Islam consider Jesus to have been a prophet of their religion.  However, whereas Jesus’ teachings have been lost from the creed and practices of most Christians (see my article, Where is the “Christ” in “Christianity?”), these same teachings are respected and evident in Islam.

Let us look at some examples.


1.      Jesus was bearded, as are most Muslims, but only the rare Christian.

2.      Jesus dressed modestly.  If we close our eyes and form a mental picture, we see flowing robes, from wrists to ankles—much like the loose Arabian thobes and the Indio-Pakistani shalwar kameez, typical of the Muslims of those areas.  What we don’t imagine is the revealing or seductive clothing so ubiquitous in Christian cultures.

3.      Jesus’ mother covered her hair, and this practice was maintained among the Christian women of the Holy Land up to the middle of the twentieth century.  Again, this is a practice maintained among Muslims as well as Orthodox Jews (of which Jesus was one), but not among modern day Christians.


1.      Jesus focused upon salvation and eschewed finery.  How many “righteous” Christians fit this “It’s not just on Sundays” profile?  Now how many “five prayers a day, every day of the year” Muslims?

2.      Jesus spoke with humility and kindness.  He didn’t “showboat.”  When we think of his speeches, we don’t imagine theatrics.  He was a simple man known for quality and truth.  How many preachers and how many evangelists follow this example?

3.      Jesus taught his disciples to offer the greeting of “Peace” (Luke 10:5), and then set the example: “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36, John 20:19, John 20:21, John 20:26).  Who continues this practice to this day, Christians or Muslims?  “Peace be with you” is the meaning of the Muslim greeting, “Assalam alaikum.”  Interestingly enough, we find this greeting in Judaism as well (Genesis 43:23, Numbers 6:26, Judges 6:23, I Samuel 1:17 and I Samuel 25:6).

Religious Practices

1.      Jesus was circumcised (Luke 2:21).  Paul taught it wasn’t necessary (Rom 4:11 and Gal 5:2).  Muslims believe it is.

2.      Jesus didn’t eat pork, in keeping with Old Testament law (Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8).  Muslims also believe pork is forbidden.  Christians … well, you get the idea.

3.      Jesus didn’t give or take usury, in compliance with the Old Testament prohibition (Exodus 22:25).  Usury is forbidden in the Old Testament and the Quran, as it was forbidden in the religion of Jesus.  The economies of most Christian countries, however, are structured upon usury.

4.      Jesus didn’t fornicate, and abstained from extramarital contact with women.  Now, this issue extends to the least physical contact with the opposite sex.  With the exception of performing religious rituals and helping those in need, Jesus never even touched a woman other than his mother.  Strictly practicing Orthodox Jews maintain this practice to this day in observance of Old Testament law.  Likewise, practicing Muslims don’t even shake hands between the sexes.  Can Christian “hug your neighbor” and “kiss the bride” congregations make the same claim?

Practices of Worship

1.      Jesus purified himself with washing prior to prayer, as was the practice of the pious prophets who preceded him (see Exodus 40:31-32 in reference to Moses and Aaron), and as is the practice of Muslims.

2.      Jesus prayed in prostration (Matthew 26:39), like the other prophets (see Nehemiah 8:6 with regard to Ezra and the people, Joshua 5:14 for Joshua, Genesis 17:3 and 24:52 for Abraham, Exodus 34:8 and Numbers 20:6 for Moses and Aaron).  Who prays like that, Christians or Muslims?

3.      Jesus fasted for more than a month at a time (Matthew 4:2 and Luke 4:2), as did the pious before him (Exodus 34:28, I Kings 19:8), and as do Muslims in the annual fast of the month of Ramadan.

4.      Jesus made pilgrimage for the purpose of worship, as all Orthodox Jews aspire to do.  The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca is well known, and is alluded to in the Bible (see The First and Final Commandment).

Matters of Creed

1.      Jesus taught the oneness of God (Mark 12:29-30, Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27), as conveyed in the first commandment (Exodus 20:3).  Nowhere did he declare the Trinity.

2.      Jesus declared himself a man and a prophet of God (see above), and nowhere claimed divinity or divine sonship.  Which creed are the above points more consistent with—the Trinitarian formula or the absolute monotheism of Islam?

In short, Muslims appear to be the “Jesus freaks” of modern day, if by that expression we mean those who live by God’s laws and Jesus’ example.

Carmichael notes, “… for a whole generation after Jesus’ death his followers were pious Jews and proud of it, had attracted into their fold members of the professional religious classes, and did not deviate even from the burdensome ceremonial laws.”[1]

One wonders what happened between the practices of the first generation of Jesus’ followers and the Christians of modern day.  At the same time, we have to respect the fact that Muslims exemplify Jesus’ teachings more than Christians do.  Furthermore, we should remember that the Old Testament foretold three prophets to follow.  John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were numbers one and two, and Jesus Christ himself predicted the third and last.  Hence, both Old and New Testaments speak of a final prophet, and we would be amiss if we didn’t consider that final prophet to be Muhammad, and the final revelation to be that of Islam.

Copyright © 2007 Laurence B. Brown.

[1] Carmichael, Joel. p. 223.


Out of my lean and low ability I’ll lend you something – Shakespeare

            -----Now that’s humility!

Papyrus 7Q5 from the Dead Sea

Papyrus 7Q5 was found in cave seven at Qumran and was translated by scholar Jose o"Callaghan as being the earliest fragment of the Gospel of Mark. He is supported in his view by some scholars including Carsten Peter Thiede but is contested by other scholars.

War Rule fragment

This six line fragment that is part of what is called the War Rule scroll has been named by some as the "Pierced Messiah Scroll fragment". The text is a Herodian script of the first half of the first century AD and refers to a Messiah from the branch of David, to a judgement, and to a killing.

The text of line four reads:"and the Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, will kill him." An alternate reading reads "and they killed the Prince". It is because of this second reading that it was dubbed the "Pierced Messiah". Perhaps alluding to Isaiah 11:4.