The Saudi youth, who due to the nature of his work traveled frequently, was told by some colleagues about a center that teaches how to improve one's health by natural healing. The center was run by an elderly woman who is a famous television personality and who often appears on a Lebanese channel to talk about, among other things, a diet exclusively of grains and pulses.
Encouraged, the youth traveled to Lebanon and joined the center. His mother was not surprised when he changed his diet to grains, pulses, and nonprocessed food. At first she was happy — until she saw the literature her son brought back with him from Lebanon.
"If my son knew at first what these books were about, he would never have accepted them or stayed a minute in that woman's center," said Umm Ali (not her real name). "She brainwashes people."
The books were in English and a few weeks after he started reading the books her son seemed disturbed and confused.
"He seemed upset most of the time," she said. "When he would come from work, he'd just sit and read the books. I don't read or speak English, and my daughters were too young, so no one in our home knew what he was reading. And I was dying to find out what was disturbing him so much."
Umm Ali sought the help her neighbors who were Indians.
"When my son wasn't home I took the books and went to my Indian neighbors and asked them to tell me about the books," she said. "But the moment they saw the books they knew what the books were about. They told me that the author was a corrupt man and a cult leader."
She was shocked when they told her that her son had been reading books authored by an Indian cult preacher who claimed divinity.
The Indian's followers included many Westerners. There were reports in newspapers that many of his followers turned to prostitution and drug peddling to make their stay in India and visits to the cult's ashram affordable.
In the ashram, this particular preacher taught all forms of corruption that leads to self-destruction.
He spoke against all known morals and ethics of humanity, and he encouraged people to live rather like animals and strip themselves of any sense of shame or responsibility toward family, spouse or society. He preaches that there should be no religion. There were also incidents of violence in the ashram that required authorities to intervene.
When Umm Ali heard that her son had been reading the teachings of such a man, she was shocked. However, she hoped and prayed it was not too late for her son.
"I can't believe that my son goes to a health center and gets books on paganism under the pretext of improving his lifestyle. I went to the elder members in the family and told them what was going on. We asked my son to meet a faith healer who spoke to him about Islam and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). My son started feeling better again, and he told us that he felt like he had been brainwashed," said Umm Ali.
Scholars warn people to be wary of advertisements on television and the Internet about healing programs which seem to be harmless from the outset. They say there are many disguised websites that spread anti-Islamic teachings.
These sites, which target Muslims with very little religious knowledge, often claim to answer Islamic questions but in fact contain false edicts, unauthentic Hadith and inaccurately quoted Qu'ranic verses.
They use Arabic texts and names and sometimes praise Islam and Muslims to convince visitors of their authenticity.
Sheikh Hassan Al-Kilaty said in order to keep their sons and daughters safe from being misguided Muslims parents should teach them not just the basics of Islam. He said this would help people easily recognize verses from the Qur'an and the Hadith from messages that are misquoted and diluted to mislead them.