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As a Catholic, I was led to believe that Catholicism was the only true religion, and that Judaism was only a preparation for Christianity. Hence the other religions were all false. In fact, I only heard about Islâm for the first time in 1978. I had learned that Muslims believed in the divine origin of Christianity and Judaism. The Qurân indicates that Allâh (the proper name for God in the Arabic language) had sent prophets to every land in order to guide people to the path of truth and righteousness.

In order to carve the Christian message into the depths of my subconscious, the Catholic Church designed a program which, when applied from childhood, had a very high probability of retention. This program affected peoples beliefs and their behavior for the rest of their lives. In this scheme, the central figure is Jesus and the rites are mostly related to events surrounding his birth, supposed death and resurrection; from his birth, assumed to be in December, to his alleged crucifixion on Easter. These religious rites were introduced by human beings many centuries after Jesus departure rather than by Divine Revelation.

According to tradition in Venezuela, at midnight on December 24th I used to wait for the arrival of Jesus to bring the gifts that I had requested in my yearly wish letter. Being from a poor family, and having several brothers and sisters, I understood that it was very difficult for Child Jesus to bring me what I had asked for. But I was often confused and puzzled because if Jesus had performed so many miracles as I had learned from nuns and priests, why was he not able to bring me a tricycle? Wasnt that request easier for Him than bringing dead people back to life? Thus, for several years, the concept of Child Jesus left me disappointed.

As Easter was approaching, I used to watch televised stories of how Jesus was abused until he was hung on a cross to be crucified. I really wanted to climb inside the TV set and help him somehow. I asked God to help him, and asked Him not to let His son be crucified. In the end, I would hide and cry because I was taught that men do not cry. I could not understand why such brutality was inflicted on such a good man. As a child, this incident cultivated in me an intense love for this great prophet of God. As for other children, perhaps the toys they received on Christmas as an answer to their wish letters was the cause of their affection towards Jesus.