Yusuf Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain (part 1 to 5)
Heralding New Muslims:
A Personal Account
Of Revert Muslim:
Yusuf Estes, now
an active preacher of Islam, humorously tells his
story about entering Islam. Part 1: Background.
Estes, Former Christian and Federal Prison Chaplain
(part 1 of 5)
Many people ask
me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever
go to Islam, especially considering all the negative
things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday.
Some people are simply curious, while others take a
profound exception to my "conversion" to Islam. Some
have asked how I could have turned my back on Jesus,
or if I truly understood the Holy Ghost, and some even
questioned whether or not I considered myself as "born
again" or had ever really been saved at all. These
are good questions to which I will offer answers to at
the end of this writing. I would like to thank
everyone for their interest and offer my humble story,
One very nice
Christian gentleman asked me in email why and how I
left Christianity for Islam. This is more or less a
copy of the letter I sent to him.
My name is Yusuf
Estes now, but in years past my friends used to call
me Skip. I have preached Christianity and worked in
the entertainment and music industry since I was a boy
in the 1950's. My father and I have established music
stores, TV and radio programs and outdoor
entertainment for fun (and profit). I was a music
minister and even used a pony ride and entertained the
children as "Skippy the Clown."
Once, I have
served as Delegate to the United Nations Peace
Conference for Religious Leaders. Now I am a retired
former Muslim Chaplain for United States Bureau of
Prisons, Washington, DC. and I join alongside many
American Muslims, working with Muslim students and
youth organizations as well as schools for Muslim
children. As such, I travel around the entire world
lecturing and sharing the message of the Christ of the
Quran in Islam. We hold dialogs and discussion groups
with all faiths and enjoy the opportunity to work
alongside rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests
everywhere. Some of our work is in the institutional
area, military, universities and prisons. Primarily
our goal is to educate and communicate the correct
message of Islam and who the Muslims really are.
Although Islam has grown now to nearly tie
Christianity as the largest of religions on earth, we
see many of those who claim Islam as Muslims that do
not correctly understand nor properly represent the
message of "Peace, Surrender and Obedience to God"
[Arabic = ‘Islam']
Dear me, I am
afraid that I got a bit ahead of myself. I was trying
to give a bit of background of our work perhaps to see
if it would in anyway benefit those who may being
going through what I experienced while trying to
resolve some of the issues of Christianity.
This may seem
quite strange, while we perhaps may share a few
different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus,
prophethood, sin and salvation. But you see, at one
time I was in the same boat as many folks are today.
Really, I was. Let me explain.
I was born into
a very strong Christian family in the Midwest. Our
family and their ancestors not only built the churches
and schools across this land, but actually were the
same ones who came here in the first place. While I
was still in elementary we relocated in Houston, Texas
in 1949 (I'm old). We attended church regularly, and
I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas.
As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to
learn more of their teachings and beliefs. The
Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic
movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God,
Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic,
Presbyterian and many more. I developed quite a
thirst for the "Gospel" or as we say; "Good News." My
research into religion did not stop with
Christianity. Not at all. Hinduism, Judaism,
Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were
all a part of my studies. Just about the only one
that I did not look into seriously was "Islam". Why?
Anyway, I became
very interested in different types of music,
especially Gospel and Classical. Because my whole
family was religious and musical, it followed that I
too would begin my studies in both areas. All this
set me for the logical position of Music Minister in
many of the churches that I became affiliated with
over the years. I started teaching keyboard
instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios
in Laurel, Maryland, called "Estes Music Studios."
Projects in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida
Over the next 30
years my father and I worked together in many business
projects. We had entertainment programs, shows and
attractions. We opened piano and organ stores all the
way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida. We had earned
millions of dollars during those years, but could not
find the peace of mind that can only come through
knowing the truth and finding the real plan of
salvation. I'm sure you have asked yourself the
question; "Why did God create me?" or "What is it
that God wants me to do?" or "Exactly who is God,
anyway?" "Why do we believe in ‘original sin?" and
"Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his
‘sins' and then as a result be punished forever." But
if you asked anyone these questions, they would
probably tell you that you have to believe without
asking, or that it is a ‘mystery' and you shouldn't
ask - "Just have faith, brother."
enough, the word "Trinity" is not in the Bible. And
it has been a concern for religious scholars as early
as 200 years after Jesus was raised up by Almighty
God. I would ask preachers or ministers to give me
some sort of an idea how ‘one' could figure out to
become ‘three' or how God Himself, Who can do anything
He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people's sins, but
rather and had to become a man, come down on earth, be
a human, and then take on the sins of all people;
keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the
whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and
outside of the universe as we know it. They never
seemed to be able to come up with anything other than
opinions or strange analogies.
Ordained Non-Denominational Minister
My father was
very active in supporting church work, especially
church school programs. He became and ordained
minister in the 1970s. He and his wife (my
stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and
preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in
the building of the "Prayer Tower" in Tulsa,
Oklahoma. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy
Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Baker, Jerry Fallwell,
John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America,
"Praise" Tapes for Jesus
During the early
1980's my Dad and his wife worked together and were
most active in recording "Praise" tapes and
distributing them for free to people in retirement
homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly. We were
really "winning souls to the Lord - for Jesus" day
Met a Man
It was early in
1991 when my father began doing business with a man
from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him.
This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea
of having an international flavor. You know, the
pyramids, sphinx, Nile River and all that.
He Was a
Kidnappers; Bombers, Terrorists - and who knows what
else? Then my father mentioned that this man was a
‘Moslem.' First, I hated the idea of meeting an
"infidel, hijacker, kidnapper, bomber, terrorist,
non-believer." Any normal person would be repulsed at
the idea. I couldn't believe my ears. A ‘Moslem?'
No way! I reminded my dad of the various different
things that we had heard about these people.
Muslims & Islam - They Told Us, Muslims:
They don't even
believe in God. They worship a black box in the
desert. And they kiss the ground five times a day.
No Way! I Did Not Want to Meet Him! I did not want
to meet this ‘Moslem' man. No way! My father
insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was
a very nice person. This was too much for me.
Especially since the evangelists that we used to
travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very
much. They even said things that were not true to
make people afraid of Islam. So, why would I want
anything to do with these people?
"Change Him to Christian"
Then an idea
came to me, "We can change this man to Christian."
So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting, but on my
terms. Met Him With A Bible, Cross and Cap with
"Jesus Is Lord!" on it. I agreed to meet him on a
Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and
in good standing with the Lord. I would be carrying
my Bible under my arm as usual. I would have my big
shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which
says: "Jesus is Lord" right across the front. My wife
and two young daughters came along and we were ready
for our first encounter with the ‘Moslems.'
Where Is He?
When I came into
the shop and asked my father where the ‘Moslem' was,
he pointed and said: "He's right over there." I was
confused. That couldn't be the Moslem. No way.
I'm looking for
a huge man with flowing robes, a big turban on his
head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows
that go all the way across his forehead with a sword
or a bomb under his coat.
No Turban -
No Beard - [No Hair at All!]
This man had no
beard. In fact, he didn't even have any hair on his
head at all. He was nearly bald. Best of all, he was
very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. This
didn't make sense. I thought they are terrorists and
bombers. What is this all about?
I'll get right to work on this guy. He needs to be
‘saved' in the ‘Name of Jesus', and me and the Lord
are going to do it.
After a quick
introduction, I asked him:
"Do you believe
He said:"Yes." -
Then I said: "Do
you believe in Adam and Eve?"
He said: "Yes."
- (Very Good!)
I said: "What
about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to
sacrifice his son for God?"
He said: "Yes."
- (Even better!)
Then I asked:
"What about Moses? Ten Commandments? Parting the Red
Again he said:
"Yes." - (Better still!)
about the other prophets, David, Solomon and John the
I asked: "Do you
believe in the Bible?"
Again, he said:
"Yes." - (OK!)
So, now it was
time for the big question: "Do you believe in Jesus?
That he was the Messiah (Christ) of God?"
Again the said:
"Yes." - (Fantastic!)
Well now - This
was going to be easier than I had thought. He was just
about ready to be baptized, only he didn't know it.
And I was just the one to do it, too.
Knowledge - Muslims Believe in the Bible?
One day in the
Spring of 1991, I came to know that the Muslims
believed in the Bible. I was shocked. How could this
be? But that's not all, they believe in Jesus as:
* A true
messenger of God;
* Prophet of
* Miracle birth
without human intervention;
* He was the
‘Christ' or Messiah as predicted in the Bible;
* He is with God
now and most important;
* He will be
coming back in the Last Days to lead the believers
against the ‘Antichrist.'
souls to the Lord for Jesus" day after day, this would
be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these
‘Moslems' and ‘convert' him to Christianity.
Cup of Tea -
I asked him if
he liked tea and he said he did. So off we went to a
little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my
favorite subject: Beliefs. While we sat in that
little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of
the talking) I came to know that he was very nice,
quiet and even a bit shy. He listened attentively to
every word that I had to say and did not interrupt
even one time. I liked this man's way and thought
that he had definite potential to become a good
Christian. - Little did I know the course of events
about to unravel in front of my eyes.
Agreed to Do
First of all, I
agreed with my father that we should do business with
this man and even encouraged the idea of him traveling
along with me on my business trips across the northern
part of Texas. Day after day, we would ride together
and discuss various issues pertaining to different
beliefs that people have. And along the way, I could
of course interject some of my favorite radio programs
of worship and praise to help bring the message to
this poor individual. We talked about the concept of
God; the meaning of life; the purpose of creation; the
prophets and their mission and how God reveals His
Will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal
experiences and ideas as well.
Moved to Our
One day I came
to know that my friend Mohamed was going to move out
of the home he had been sharing with a friend of his
and was going to be living in the mosque for a time.
I went to my dad and asked him if we could invite
Mohamed to come out to our big home in the country and
stay there with us. After all, he could share some of
the work and some expenses, and he would be right
there when we were ready to go to out traveling
around. My father agreed and Mohamed moved in.
Ministry & Preaching
Of course I
still would find time to visit my fellow preachers and
evangelists around the state of Texas. One of them
lived on the Texas-Mexico border, and another lived
near lived the Oklahoma border. One preacher liked to
carry a huge wooden cross that was bigger than a car.
He would carry it over his shoulder and drag the
bottom on the ground and go down the road or freeway
hauling these two beams formed in the shape of a
cross. People would stop their cars and come over to
him and ask him what was going on and he would give
them pamphlets and booklets on Christianity.
One day my
friend with the cross had a heart attack and had to go
to the Veteran's Hospital where he stayed for quite a
long while. I used to visit him in the hospital
several times a week and I would take Mohamed with me
with the hopes that we could all share together in the
subject of beliefs and religions. My friend was not
very impressed and it was obvious that he did not want
to know anything about Islam. Then one day a man who
was sharing the room with my friend came rolling into
the room in his wheelchair. I went to him and asked
him his name and he said that it didn't matter and
when I asked him where he was from he said he was from
the planet Jupiter. I thought about what he said and
then began to wonder if I was in the cardiac ward or
the mental ward.
Wheelchair - Needed the Lord
I knew the man
was lonely and depressed and needed someone in his
life. So, I began to ‘witness' to him about the
Lord. I read to him out of the book of Jonah in the
Old Testament. I shared the story of the prophet
Jonah who had been sent by the Lord to call his people
to the correct way. Jonah had left his people and
escaped by boat to leave his city and head out to
sea. A storm came up and the ship almost capsized and
the people on board threw Jonah over the side of the
ship. A whale came up to the surface and grabbed
Jonah, swallowed him and then went down to the bottom
of the sea, where he stayed for 3 days and 3 nights.
Yet because of God's Mercy, He caused the whale to
rise to the surface and then spit Jonah out to return
back home safely to his city of Nineveh. And the idea
was that we can't really run away from our problems
because we always know what we have done. And what is
more, God also always knows what we have done.
this story with the man in the wheel chair, he looked
up and me and apologized. He told me he was sorry for
his rude behavior and that he had experienced some
real serious problems recently. Then he said that he
wanted to confess something to me. And I said that I
was not a Catholic priest and I don't handle
confessions. He replied back to me that he knew
that. In fact, he said: "I am a Catholic priest."
I was shocked.
Here I had been trying to preach Christianity to a
priest. What in the world was happening here?
The priest began
to share his story of being a missionary for the
church for over 12 years to south and Central America
and Mexico and even in New York's Hell's Kitchen.
When he was released from the hospital he needed a
place to go to recover and rather than let him go to
stay with a Catholic family, I told my dad that we
should invite him to come out and live with us in the
country along with our families and Mohamed. It was
agreed by all that he would so, he moved out right
Study ISLAM? - YES!
During the trip
out to our home, I talked with the priest about some
of the concepts of beliefs in Islam, and to my
surprise he agreed and then shared even more about
this with me. I was shocked when he told me that
Catholic priests actually study Islam and some even
carry doctors degrees in this subject. This was all
very enlightening to me. But there was still a lot
more to come.
Versions of the Bible
in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table
after dinner every night to discuss religion. My
father would bring his King James Version of the
Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version
of the Bible, my wife had another version of the Bible
(maybe something like Jimmy Swaggart's Good News for
Modern Man. The priest of course, had the Catholic
Bible which has 7 more books in it that the Protestant
Bible. So we spent more time talking about which
Bible was the right one or the most correct one, than
we did trying to convince Mohamed about becoming a
Only ONE Version - In Arabic - And Still Exists
At one point I
recall asking him about the Quran and how many
versions of it there were in the last 1,400 years. He
told me that there was only ONE QURAN. And that it
had never been changed. Yet he let me know that the
Quran had been memorized by hundreds of thousands of
people in its entirety, and were scattered about the
earth in many different countries. Over the centuries
since the Quran was revealed, millions have memorized
it completely and have taught it to others who have
memorized it completely, from cover to cover, letter
perfect without mistakes. Today, over 9 million
Muslims have memorized the entire Quran from cover to
This did not
seem possible to me. After all, the original
languages of the Bible have all been dead languages
for centuries, and the documents themselves have been
lost in their originals for hundreds and thousands of
years. So, how could it be that something like this
could be so easy to preserve and to recite from cover
to the Mosque
Anyway, one day
the priest asked the Mohamed if he might accompany him
to the mosque to see what it was like there. They
came back talking about their experience there and we
could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and
what all types of ceremonies they performed. He said
they didn't really do anything. They just came and
prayed and left. I said: They left? Without any
speeches or singing? "He said that was right."
A few more days
went by and the Catholic priest asked Mohamed if he
might join him again for a trip to the mosque which
they did. But this time it was different. They did
not come back for a very long time. It became dark
and we worried that something might have happened to
them. Finally they arrived and when they came in the
door I immediately recognized Mohamed, but who was
this alongside of him? Someone wearing a white robe
and a white cap. Hold on a minute! It was the
priest. I said to him: Pete? -- Did you become a
He said that he
had entered into Islam that very day. THE PRIEST
BECAME A MUSLIM!! What next? (You'll see).
Announces Her Islam!
So, I went
upstairs to think things over a bit and began to talk
to my wife about the whole subject. She then told me
that she too was going to enter into Islam, because
she knew it was the truth.
I was really
shocked now. I went downstairs and woke up Mohamed
and asked him to come outside with me for a
discussion. We walked and talked that whole night
By the time he
was ready to pray Fajr (the morning prayer of the
Muslims) I knew that the truth had come at last and
now it was up to me to do my part. I went out back
behind my father's house and found an old piece of
plywood lying under an overhang and right there I put
my head down on the ground facing the direction that
the Muslims pray five times a day.
Guide Me! O
God! Guide Me!
Now then in that
position, with my body stretched out on the plywood
and my head on the ground, I asked: "O God. If you
are there, guide me, guide me."
And then after a
while I raised up my head and I noticed something.
No, I didn't see birds or angels coming out of the
sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see
bright lights and flashes. What I did notice was a
change inside of me. I was aware now more than ever
before that it was time for me to stop any lying and
doing anything sneaky. It was time that I really work
at being an honest and upright man. I knew now what I
had to do.
So I went
upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that
I was ‘washing' away the sinful old person that I had
become over the years. And I was now coming into a
new, fresh life. A life based on truth and proof.
A.M. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one
the ex-priest, formerly known as Father Peter Jacob's,
and the other Mohamed Abel Rehman, and announced my
‘shahadah' (open testimony to the Oneness of God and
the prophethood of Muhammad, may the mercy and
blessings of God be upon him).
"I bear witness,
there is no deity to worship, except Almighty God,
alone and He has no partners and I bear witness that
Mohammad is His messenger and servant."
My Wife Was
A few minutes
later, my wife followed along and gave the same
testimony. But hers was in front of 3 witnesses (me
being the third).
My father was a
bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more
months before he made his shahadah (public
testimony). But he did finally commit to Islam and
began offering prayers right along with me and the
other Muslims in the local masjid (mosque).
were taken out of the Christian school and placed in
Muslim schools. And now ten years later, they are
memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of
Wife (Stepmother) Next
My father's wife
finally acknowledged, before she died, that Jesus
could not be a son of God and that he must have been a
mighty prophet of God, but not God. She passed away
within a few months of this statement at age 86. May
God accept her statement of faith, ameen.
New Muslims - What's next?
Now stop and
think. A whole entire household of people from
varying backgrounds and ethnic groups coming together
in truth to learn how to know and worship the Creator
and Sustainer of the Universe. Think. A Catholic
priest; a minister of music and preacher of the
Gospel; an ordained minister and builder of Christian
schools; and the children, even a great-grandmother -
they all come into Islam!
Only by His
Mercy were we all guided to see the real truth of
Islam, by removing the coverings over our ears and the
blinders on our eyes, no longer having seals over our
hearts - He was Guiding us now.
So, now you have
the introduction to the story of my coming into Islam
and becoming Muslim. There is more on the Internet
about this story and there are more pictures there as
well. Please take the time to visit it and then
please take the time to email me, and let us come
together to share in all truths based on proofs for
understanding our origins and our purpose and goals in
this life and the Next Life.
writing my story and publishing here on the internet
many other websites have picked up this story and it
had become a famous example of how "Priest and
Preachers Are Coming to Islam."
Again, I thank
you for visiting. And I thank our Christian friend
for his email. If he hadn't sent it, I probably would
still not have completed this task of putting down the
story once and for all of how my family, friends and
myself all came to Islam.
Please feel free
to share this story with others. You should print it
out and make copies for everyone. Give them our
links, add our story to your website or blog page, and
send out emails to everyone you know. Maybe it could
make a difference for others like us, God Willing.
May God guide
you on your journey to all truth. Ameen. And May He
open your heart and your mind to the reality of this
world and the purpose of this life, ameen.
Peace to you and
Guidance from God the One Almighty God, Creator and
Sustainer of all that exists.