Biography of Zachariah Anani
Zachariah Anani was a teenage militia fighter. Born into a family of Muslim clergy in Beirut, Lebanon, he began Islamic school at age three. His grandfather and great grandfather had been imams (religious authorities), and his family expected him to carry the torch.
At 13 he joined one of the many military groups that existed in the early '70s. "All the religious fragments had their own secret militia," he says. "I was trained to fight and kill Jews, and to hate Christians and Americans."
His family was pleased with his decision because according to Islamic teaching, those who die in battle against "unbelievers" are assured of reaching heaven. Ironically, Anani faced the Israelis only once. Most of the time, though, the Muslim groups fought among themselves.
Soon after enlisting, he made his first kill. By the time he turned 16, "life meant nothing," he says. "Every time I killed someone and two or three fighters witnessed it, they would give me a point on my chart. I carried 223 points."
Even his comrades feared him. "Although we had a sense of loyalty to each other," he says, "we were ready to take out enemies or friends." When a fanatical Muslim joined his regiment and began knocking on doors to wake the others for prayer at 3 A.M., Anani warned him: "I don't want to pray. Don't come and wake me." When he heard the knock early the next morning, Anani picked up his gun, shot him, and went back to sleep.
Anani was soon promoted to troop leader and then formed his own regiment. But "life seemed painful and empty," he says.
Anani met a Christian missionary and had a spiritual journey and converted to Christainity which became a turning point in Zak’s life.
Zak initially tried to keep secret his new faith, apart from one professor, no one at his univerisity suspected he was a Christian. But in the Muslim neighborhood where he grew up, everyone knew it. He moved to the city's Christian sector, but the persecution continued. Even his father hired assassins to kill him.
Finally church leaders convinced him to leave Lebanon because his presence endangered others. In 1996 Anani entered Canada as a refugee. It took another three difficult years before his wife and three children could join him. After Anani debated with a Muslim scholar in the United States, his family was attacked in Lebanon. Two of his children required surgery.
Zak has been attacked numerous times for his faith as a Christian, even in Canada.
When in Lebanon he was nearly beheaded and was only saved when an army patrol came by and the Islamist gang dispersed leaving Zak with huge wound on his neck. Zak nearly blead to death and was actually technically dead for 7 minutes before being revived.
In Canada where he now lives, his house and car have been burnt, his family attacked physically as well as Zak himself. Speaking out in a free country sometimes is not as safe as it should be.