Pakistani Christian brothers tortured into reciting Islamic creed

5 March 2024

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Pray for physical, spiritual and emotional healing for two Pakistani Christian brothers kidnapped by radical Muslims in Punjab province and tortured into “converting” to Islam.

Azam Masih, 39, a tailor, and his brother Nadeem Masih, 41, were repeatedly hit with iron bars and threatened with death by their two captors if they did not comply.

Wounded and weak, the brothers were forced into reciting the shahada Islamic creed, which is considered by Muslims to constitute conversion to Islam.

Angry welts mark where one of the brothers was beaten with iron bars

Azam and Nadeem were released but their captors threatened to kill the brothers and their families if they reported their ordeal, which took place on 22 January 2024.

The brothers, who received hospital treatment for their many injuries, later filed a complaint with police.

Police have arrested two Muslim men, Naseem Shah and Sunny Shah, and charged them with five offences, including kidnap, theft with the intention to cause injury or death, and religious hatred. Both men have criminal records and have been involved in previous incidents of inciting hatred against Christians.

The abduction in Sialkot District has shocked and caused fear among the area’s minority Christian community. Azam and Nadeem are now in hiding with their families.

Some Muslims believe that the mere recitation of shahada (or kalma in Urdu) is sufficient to convert a non-Muslim to Islam, even if there is no belief and no matter what the circumstances that surround the “conversion”. Once a person becomes a Muslim, he or she is considered an apostate if they return to their original religion. According to Islamic law, apostasy is punishable by death, imprisonment or confiscation of property, although in modern times this is rarely practised at state level. However, zealous Muslims may sincerely believe they are doing the right thing by attacking or killing apostates.

Attempts to forcibly convert Christian men or boys to Islam are rare in Pakistan. However, Christian and Hindu girls and young women are frequently abducted and forced to “convert” to Islam before being coerced into marrying a Muslim. These “conversions” are often committed under a threat of violence to the victims and their families, but the authorities rarely intervene.

Ask the Lord to protect Azam and Nadeem and their families. Pray that the authorities take action to halt forced “conversions” of non-Muslims.

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