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Why did C.L. Edwards (Abu Yazid) went back to Islam?

Chessie L. Edwards was born in a Christian African American family of alcoholics and drug addicts in the United States. His life-story became exceptional, after he converted to Islam and then to Christianity and became a Christian apologist who attacked Islam [1]. But he shocked all Christians after ten years, when he became a Muslim again. How is such a thing possible?

1. His life showed always openess for other lifestyles

Raised in a Christian family, Chessie lived in his early twenties in inner city of Detroit and was looking for girls, using drugs and doing other illegal practices [2]. But as a young man, he was also trying to fill the gap of his empty spiritual heart with the knowledge of world religions. Through the biography of Macolm X, Muslim hiphop music and internet he became interested in Islam. Edwards became attracted by the strict guidelines and schedules of the Muslims. This was something he lacked when he grew up. With this he could get his life together. He developed a desire to reject Western and white race culture, welcomed Islam as a warm alternative and became a Muslim. Chessie met radical Muslims who talked about jihad. Some were convicted criminals before 9/11, the Muslim terror attacks on the WTC in New York and Pentagon in Washington D.C. on 11 September 2001. After that, he was gradually involved in the radical religious practices of the Salafi movement. Problems with Islam started when he married and his wife was more liberal than him and didn’t want to study Islam. His wife told him that he was brainwashed, because he repeated what other Muslims said. She left him and he became divorced. Now he lost this wife, he asked himself what he did wrong. At Ramadan 2010 Edwards tried to renew his faith in Islam, but it was a failure. Suddenly, he met a Christian who told him: “why can Allah not become a man. Is he not able to?” The meeting with the Christian came while his faith in Islam was weak. Chessie had also problems with his health and ex-wife. It were critical and overwhelming problems for him. He thought the problems came because he left Jesus Christ. He started to think: “why am I doing the Islam practices?”. The situation leaded him in such a way that in December 2010 he started to read the Gospel of Matthew. Edwards started to answer the question when he would die today, what would happen? He had no insurance about going to heaven. It was a game-changer, because he stopped with his faith in Islam. Now he was convinced that only Jesus Christ offers salvation and said: “this time, supernaturally, I understood the Gospel”. Chessie prayed the sinners prayer and started to tell people that Jesus is Lord and Savior and was baptized. Now, being in his twenties he had an emotional feeling to tell how he has been deceived by Islam. Therefore he was involved in a Christian ministry as a apologist at ABN TV, specialized in refuting Islam. Edwards was on ABN Television from 2011 to 2018, did about 50 anti-Islam shows, in which he called people away from Islam. He came with rational arguments for Muslims to leave Islam. As an apologist in Jesus or Muhammad he was co-host of David Wood. After 2013 he began to slow down with his Christian ministry activities, but still had a blog, did television interviews and studied at Christian seminary. Confusing came in his mind again, so he went back how to fill his empty spiritual heart with the knowledge of all world religions again. The confusion in his mind became bigger when he met a rabbi who told him that when a non-Jew person believes in one God and a righteousness system, he is saved. The rabbi reminded him at the food laws, something he recognized from his ten years as a Muslim. Not long after that discovery, he received an SMS from a Muslim at the start of Ramadan. The message was if he was ready to come back home. It came suddenly at the moment he appreciated the guidelines and schedules of the Muslims again. He noticed the coincidence of what happened. Finally he went to the mosque again, talked with an imam and accepted Islam again. It seems he feels that he lives in an uncertain world. When problems come or when Edwards feels alone, he finally is escaping from his present religion and is going to another religion.

2. He could not wait for God"s promises

To find explanations about Edwards’ religious shopper behavior, we need to dig deeper in his understanding van adaption of God’s salvation. Chessie accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the first step in Christian initiation. But there is also written in the Gospel to surrender to Jesus Christ, to trust him (Luke 8:25) and to follow him [3]. It is hard to look inside someone’s inner life. However, what a follower of Jesus needs is life lead by the Spirit (Romans 8:14, 12:26). In the interview with Brother Rashid, Edwards has been asked about his road to Christ. The answer was that he just did rational and logical thinking. It was a rational truth, not a revealed full truth by revelation. Chessie had to wait for God’s confirmation with the gift of the Holy Spirit to be born again. Edwards knew about this and after studying theology should have done self inspection about signs and wonders in his life. There can be no doubt Edwards was searching the Supreme Being and worked hard to keep best practices of Christianity. The question remains if he was able to wait for God’s revelation to be born again and to learn from God’s personal revelations to him.

3. His theological study confused him

Edwards is blessed with a good mind and is able to describe the things in the world. But a rational understanding is can be a blockade to victory over inner struggles. There is an inner world inside every human being. Only with the power of the Spirit of God we can get victory. Chessie finally denied Jesus is divine and this is undermining God’s salvation. Edward’s life story illustrates that without the Spirit people are uncertain about going to heaven: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The more rational oriented studies of Christian doctrines undermined Edward’s faith in salvation in Jesus Christ. This is the reason that evangelists like Billy Graham and Benny Hinn never studied theology, because it didn’t help them in the growth of their faith. A man who studied theology, tried to refute Billy Graham on resurrection of Jesus Christ, but Billy Graham said: “no, because of faith”. Education must be based upon revelation. Nobody can receive God’s word, until he is born again.

4. Personal problems in his life

Chessie had to be confronted with issues in his life, like everyone. The background of his youth is from a family of alcoholics and drug addicts. When he was in his twenties, he lived in the inner-city of Detroit. He and his friends were involved in looking for girls, using drugs and doing other illegal practices. Edwards was an alcoholic and also addicted to marijuana. His acceptance of Islam opened to way to get a more healthy life, because he met new friends, the radical Muslims. They didn’t use alcohol or drugs. So, gradually he was influenced by them and he stopped with using drugs and illegal practices. But when health issues and relation problems entered his life, he left Islam and became a Christian. The addiction issues can follow Chessie for the rest of his life. The fact that Muslims helped him to control it, opened a way to go back to Islam and to become a Muslim again. However Islam is not directed to spiritual practices and certainty about life after death. There is still an empty place in Edward’s heart where he is searching for certainty of his salvation.

5. His church did not give sufficient support

One of the reasons Edwards returned to Islam was because his church failed in pastoral care for African Americans. There can be corruption in churches, because Christians who confess Jesus Christ, are able to bring shame to his name because they do it on their own. Pastoral leaders with larger churches, such as Chessie’s church will create disappointing people when they can’t get to every person anymore. Edwards was one of them who needed pastoral care, although he was a Christian apologist. His church did take care enough for others. No Christian visited Edwards for pastoral care when he needed spiritual motivation to break though his inner struggle.

6. Conclusion

Chessie was searching for truth with a Christian background. First he thought the meaning for his life was in Islam and he lived as a devout Muslim. Then he was confronted with the fact that he was not sure about going to heaven and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. However after a study in Christian theology confused him to much and he did not find enough connections in it with his own spiritual life. His church didn’t support him with his problems. Finally he started to look for a spiritual future outside Christianity and an old friend brought him back to Islam. Chessie’s life is not over and his soul is waiting to be called by God’s grace. It is still possible he will see his mistakes and will be guided by God’s grace to Jesus Christ.


1. Brother Rachid, An interview with an African American converted to Islam then left it, Youtube, 2015.
2. Farid, David Wood"s co-host reverts to Islam [CL Edwards Interview], Youtube, 2020.
3. E.g. Matthew 4:19, 8:22, 9:9, 10:38, 16:24, 19:21; Mark 2:14, 8:34; John 1:43, 8:12.


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