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Sudan Don't Let Fear Stop You By Shanan Kodi Born and raised in a Sudanese Suni Muslim family, I was the fourth child of 16. My father, a practicing polygamist, had two wives and, though illiterate, faithfully followed the Islamic religion. ey were strict but good parents, teaching us respect and obedience. In school we studied the Quran, which we were not allowed to question. It was difficult memorizing assigned verses, as Arabic was not our first language, and failure to do so resulted in punishment. I was a good kid, but I remember challenging the teacher, being slapped across the face and ordered to sit down. My dad's intention was that I grow up to be a good, strong Muslim person, but in my heart I still questioned this god who demanded blind, unquestioning obedience and fear. In 1983 we moved from the Nuba Mountains in the west to Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. at same year, war broke out between Muslims of the north and Christians of the south. e government declared Jihad, or holy war, and military training camps The government were established to train declared Jihad… young children for battle. I was confused, so I would go to the mosque and pray. It was there that I heard the Imam ask god to give us power to slaughter our enemies, make their kids orphans and their wives widows. Other disturbing things were said, and my heart became burdened and heavy, grieving about my beliefs. To resolve this internal conflict, I began aggressively reading the Quran and other books, looking for answers. In the end, I was le weary and feeling dry so I avoided the mosque, prayers and Ramadan. Still, I felt a lot of pressure, not 6 BIMI WORLD Number 1, 2013 wanting to be perceived as an infidel by my family and community. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. One day I met a man who gave me a Christian magazine titled Step, where I read the Beatitudes. Among them were Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy…blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. ese words brought me great comfort and effectively closed the door on Islam forever. A new door opened. Several days later, I heard sweet music floating through the air in the streets of Khartoum. I felt drawn to it and followed the sound to a building where a Christian exhibition was taking place. Cautiously I entered the premises and headed for the book section, where I found numerous back issues of Step. While I was flipping through the pages, a friendly woman approached me and asked, “Are you a Christian?” e question sent a strange chill through my body and I told her I was not, but neither was I a Muslim. She immediately