While the Christians are expending all their efforts in disseminating distorted Christianity all over Andalusia (Spain) after the evacuation of the Muslims, Allah, The Almighty, opened the heart of one of its great scholars to Islam. He submitted sincerely to Allah, and stood upright in obedience to Him and struggled with his hand, tongue and pen in His way.
This man was Sheikh Abu Muhammad Abdullah Bin Abdullah Al-Tarjuman, the Majorcan, who was once a priest called Anselm Tormida. He was known as Tarjuman (The Translator), because in less than 5 months after embracing Islam, the Sultan appointed him general of the Marine Administration where he learned the Arabic language and became a skillful translator in discussions between Muslims and Christians. After only 1 year, he excelled in the Arabic language and was appointed as the head of the Translation Affairs.
He was famous among the common people with some nicknames; the most popular was Sidi Tohfah, which means ‘My Master Gift’, referring to his famous book ‘The Gift to the Intelligent for Refuting the Arguments of the Christians.’
The book was a powerful blow to the structure of Christian belief because it was written by one of the greatest scholars of Christianity in those days, as admitted by Christians themselves. He began his book by mentioning the story of his guidance to Islam, how Allah freed his heart from the slavery of idolatry and polytheism, and how he opened his heart to Islam and filled it with His light.
What follows is a summary extracted from his story as related in his own words:
“Let it be known to you all, may Allah bless you, that my origin is from the city of Majorca, may Allah return it to Islam, which is a great city on the sea between 2 mountains and divided by a small valley. It is a commercial city, with 2 wonderful harbors. Big merchant ships come and anchor in the harbor with different goods. The city is on the island which has the same name – Majorca, and most of its lands are populated with fig and olive trees.
My father was one of the respected men in the city. I was his only son. When I was 6, he sent me to a priest who taught me to read the Gospel. I memorized more than half of it in the period of 2 years. Then I began to learn the language of the Gospel and Logic, which I finished in 6 years.
After that, I left Majorca and traveled to the city of Larda, in the region of Castellion, which was the center for learning for Christians in that region. A thousand to a thousand and a half Christian students gathered there. All were under the administration of the priest who taught them. I studied Physical Sciences and Astronomy for 6 years. Then I studied the Gospel and its language for another 4 years.
After that, I left for Bologna in the region of Anbardia. Bologna is a large city and the center of learning for all people of the region. Every year, more than 2,000 students gather together from different places. They cover themselves with rough cloth which they call ‘The Hue of God.’ All of them, whether the son of a ruler, or the son of a workman, wear this wrap, in order to make the students distinct from others. Only the priest who teaches them controls and directs them.
I lived in the church with an aged priest. He was greatly respected by the people because of his know-ledge, religiousness and ascetism, which distinguished him from the other Christian priests. Questions and requests for advice came to him from everywhere, from kings and rulers, along with presents and gifts. They hoped that he would accept their presents and grant them his blessings.
This priest taught me the principles of Christianity and its rulings. I became very close to him by serving and assisting him with his duties until I became one of his most trusted assistants, so that he trusted me with the keys of his domicile in the church and of his food and drink stores. He kept for himself only the key of a small room where he used to sleep. I think, and Allah knows best, that he kept his treasure chest in there.
I was a student and a servant for a period of 10 years. Then he fell ill and failed to attend the meetings of his fellow priests. During his absence, the priest discussed some religious matters, till they came to what was said by the Almighty Allah through His Prophet Jesus in the Gospel: “After him will come a prophet called PARACLETE.” They argued a great deal about this prophet and as to who he was among the prophets. Everyone gave his opinion according to his know-ledge and understanding; and they ended without achieving any benefit in that issue.
I went to my priest, and as usual he asked about what was discussed in the meeting that day. I mentioned to him the different opinions of the priests about the name Paraclete, and how they finished the meeting without clarifying its meaning. He asked me: “What was your answer?” I gave him my opinion, which was taken from my interpretation of a well-known exegesis. He said that I was nearly correct like some priests, and the other priests were wrong. He said: “But the truth is different from all of that. This is because the interpretation of that noble name is known only to a small number of well-versed scholars. And we possess only a little knowledge.”
I fell down and kissed his feet, saying: “Sir, you know that I traveled and came to you from a distant country, I have served you now for more than 10 years; and have attained knowledge beyond estimation, so please favor me and tell me the truth about this name.”
The priest than wept and said: “My son, by God, you are very much dear to me for serving me and devoting yourself to my care. Know the truth about this name, and there is a great benefit, but there is also a great danger. And I fear that when you know this truth, and the Christians discover that, you will be killed immediately.”
I said: “By God, by the Gospel and He who has sent me with it, I shall never speak any word about what you will tell me, I shall keep it as a secret in my heart.” He said: “My son, when you came here from your country, I asked you if it is near the Muslims. And whether they made raids against you, or you made raids against them. This was to test your hatred for Islam. Know, my son, that PARACLETE is the name of their Prophet Muhammad to whom was revealed the 4th book as mentioned by Daniel. His way is the clear way which is mentioned in the Gospel.” I asked him: “Then sir, what do you say about the religion of these Christians?” He said: “My son, if these Christians remain on the original religion of Jesus, then they would have been on God’s true religion; because the religion of Jesus and all the other prophets is the true religion of God. But they changed it and became unbelievers.”
I asked him: “Then sir, what is the salvation from this?” He said: “Oh my son, embracing Islam!” I asked him: “Will the one who embraces Islam be saved?”
He answered: “Yes, in this world and in the Hereafter.” I said: “The prudent chooses for himself; if you know sir, the merit of Islam, then what keeps you from it.” He said: “My son, the Almighty Allah did not expose me to the truth of Islam and the Prophet of Islam until I have become old and my body weakened. Yes, there is no excuse for us in this; on the contrary, the proof of Allah has been established against us. If God had guided me to this when I was your age, I would have left everything and adopted the religion of truth. Love of this world is the essence of every sin, and look how I am esteemed, glorified and honored by the Christians, and how I am living in affluence and comfort! In my case, if I show a slight inclination towards Islam, they would kill me immediately. Supposed that I was saved from them and succeeded in escaping to the Muslims, they would say: ‘Do not count your Islam as a favor from us, rather you have benefited yourself only by entering the religion of truth, the religion that will saved you from the punishment of Allah!’ So I would live among them as a poor old man of more than 90 years, without knowing their language, and they would not know my real status and I would die among them starving. I am, and all praise is due to Allah on the religion of Christ and on that which he came with, and Allah knows that from me.”
So I asked him: “Do you advise me to go to the country of the Muslims and adopt their religion.” He said to me: “If you are wise and hope to save yourself, then race to that which will achieve this life and the Hereafter. But my son, none is present with us concerning this matter; it is between you and me only. Exert yourself and keep it a secret. If it is disclosed and the people know about it, they will kill you immediately. I will be of no benefit to you against Islam. Neither it will be of any use to you if you tell them what you heard from me concerning Islam, or that I encouraged you to be a Muslim, for I shall deny it. They will trust my testimony against you but will not trust yours against me. So, do not tell a word, whatever happens.”
I promised him not to do so. He was satisfied and content with my promise. I began to prepare for my journey and bid him farewell. He prayed for me and gave me 50 golden Dinars. Then I took a ship to my city Majorca where I stayed with my parents for 6 months. Then I traveled to Sicily and remained there for 5 months, waiting for a ship bound for the land of Muslims. Finally a ship arrived bound for Tunis. We departed before sunset and reached the port of Tunis at noon on the 2nd day. When I got off the ship, the Christian scholars who heard of my arrival arrived to greet me and welcome me to their dwelling place. Some local merchants also offered their hospitality to me and I stayed with them 4 months in ease and comfort.
After that, I asked them if there was in the Sultan’s palace a translator. The Sultan (ruler) in those days was Abu Al-Abbas Ahmad. They said there was a virtuous man, the Sultan’s physician, who was one of his closest advisors. His name was Yusuf Al-Tabib (Joseph, the doctor). I was greatly pleased to hear this, and asked where he lived. They took me there and I met him separately. I told him about my story and the reason of my coming there; which was to embrace Islam. He was immensely pleased because this matter would be completed by his help. We rode to the Sultan’s palace. He met the Sultan and told him about my story and asked his permission for me to meet him. The Sultan accepted, and I presented myself before him.
The first question the Sultan asked was about my age. I told him that I was 35 years old. Then he asked about my learning and the sciences which I had studied. After I told him, he said: “Your arrival is the arrival of goodness. Be a Muslim with Allah’s’ blessings.”
I then said to the doctor: “Tell the honorable Sultan that it always happens that when anyone changes his religion, his people defame him and speak evil of him. So, I wish if he kindly sends to bring the Christian priests and merchants of this city to ask them about me and hear what they have to say. Then by Allah’s will, I shall accept Islam.”
He said to me through the translator: “You have asked what Abdullah Bin Salam asked about the Prophet when he (Abdullah) came to announce his Islam.” He then sent for the priests and some Christian merchants and let me sit in an adjoining room unseen by them. When they came he asked them: “What do you say about this new priest who just arrived by ship?” They said: “He is a great scholar in our religion. Our bishops say he is the most learned and no one is superior to him in our religious knowledge.” After hearing what the Christian said, the Sultan sent for me, and presented myself before them. I declared the 2 testimonies that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His messenger, and when the Christians heard this, they ‘crossed’ themselves and said: “Nothing incited him to do that except his desire to marry, as priests in our religion cannot marry.” Then they left me in distress and grief.
The Sultan appointed for me a quarter of a Dinar every day from the treasury and let me marry the daughter of Al-Hajj Muhammad Al-Saffar. When I decided to consummate the marriage, he gave me a hundred golden Dinars and an excellent suit of clothes. I then consummated the marriage and Allah blessed me with a child to whom I gave the name Muhammad as a blessing from the name of our Prophet.
Thus we come to the end of the story of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Tarjuman who mentioned after that in his book some events of the Hafsah State in which he served as the chief translator. He followed that with 9 chapters; among them: a chapter on the truth about the writers of the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), whom he proved were not among the disciples of Jesus.
He also discussed other topics like Baptism, Trinity, Original Sin, The Lord’s Supper, The Indulgence, The Law of Faith, etc. and refuted them all with the texts from the Gospels and logical proofs. He also proved the human nature of Jesus and disproved his divine nature.
He then exposed the contradictions in the interpolated texts of the Bible. Lastly, he discussed what the Christians criticize the Muslims about, like the marriage of the religious scholars and the pious men, circumcision and physical enjoyment in Paradise. He concluded his book by proving the truth of the Prophet hood of Muhammad with texts from the Bible.
[Source: An article entitled “How A Great Christian Scholar of the 14th Century Became A Muslim?” written by Abul Farag Ibn Ahmad (islamweb.net)]