Feeling abandoned by her parents, Duhra prayed to Allah for help: “I need a mother; I need a father. Why did you create me with no parents?”
One night, Duhra dreamed of a large white building like a mosque, but instead of having a minaret, there was a cross. Having never seen such a building before, she recognised the cross from the tattoos she had seen on the wrists and hands of her Coptic Christian classmates.
The dream brought Duhra such comfort she began drawing a cross on her own wrist, despite her family’s Muslim background. When her grandmother saw it, she was alarmed. “This is very wrong,” she said. “The Christians can hurt you and do so many bad things.”
Her grandmother was so concerned she took Duhra to a mosque for “treatment” however, the imam’s treatment resulted in Duhra being sexually abused.
Coming home from school one day, Duhra unintentionally took a wrong turn and found herself standing in front of the church she had seen in her dream. From then on, she would secretly leave the house at night and visit a church near her home.
When Duhra was 13, her grandmother died, and her mother returned to Egypt to care for her “problem child.” Once she learned that Duhra had been visiting a church, her mistreatment of Duhra only intensified. “Many times, she sent me to sleep in the dirt by the bus station in front of our house,” Duhra said, “but I still went to church.”
At 15, her family moved, and Duhra shared her story with a Christian neighbour. The neighbour introduced Duhra to a Coptic priest, who gave her a Bible and began teaching her about the Christian faith.
Jesus is in me and is real
As Duhra studied the Bible, she soon placed her faith in Jesus. “Jesus is in me and is real,” she said. “Though I never saw Him before, I knew Him before.”
Although Duhra’s new faith provided an inner peace, her problems at home intensified. Her mother continually beat her and even hired off-duty police officers to beat Duhra on her behalf. One time her legs were broken and because Duhra was denied appropriate medical treatment, she now suffers from chronic pain.
Kept as a prisoner
When Duhra was 21, her mother believed she had found the solution to her problem. “My mother made a deal with a man who was to marry me,” Duhra said. “She asked him to restore me to be a committed Muslim once again.”
After the arranged marriage, her husband’s first act was to burn off a cross tattoo Duhra had secretly put on her shoulder. Wanting to cripple her faith, he then poured acid over Duhra’s shoulders and back.
Her days of secretly visiting the church were over. Duhra had become a prisoner in her own home, never allowed to leave.
With the birth of their baby boy, Duhra chose to give him a Christian name. Enraged, her husband beat her, divorced her and threw her out on the street while keeping their son. “They were afraid I would raise him in the Christian faith,” she said.
“God is real to me”
Duhra is no longer subjected to daily beatings, but she lives with the constant pain of missing her son whom she hasn’t seen for 11 years. Duhra’s day-to-day life is difficult, however she remains faithful to the God who has called her from childhood.
“God is really with me,” she said. “I think all the suffering and struggles strengthened me and gave me an indication that I am on the right path.”SUBSCRIBE