By Maulana Nadeem Al-Wajidee
Translated from Urdu by Raihan Nezami, NewAgeIslam.com
15 June 2009
The news that a prominent English and Malayalam writer, Kamala Das, died at the age of 65 was published in the newspapers on 31 May, 2009. She had converted to Islam on 12 December 1999. Kamala Suraiya - her Islamic name - was considered to be one of the finest authors. She was also a good poet. Known as a tradition-defying iconoclast, she had sought to convince her readers that inequality among humans is most inhuman. After a long creative life and having pondered over the ideology of Islam and presumably comparing it with other religions, for a long time, she decided to take refuge in Islam. After her conversion in a grand ceremony organized at Chohi in Kerala, she observed in a T.V interview: “I didn’t accept Islam under any pressure; it’s my spontaneous and personal decision. So I don’t care about any criticism, Islam is the most precious treasure for me and it is dear to me more than my life”.
A transcript of this interview was published on 15 December 1999 in the Times of India. She asserted that the practice of the veil (Burqa) had impressed her most in the Islamic teachings. She used to live with her non-Muslim family that didn’t accept Islam, but she stuck to her Islamic faith till her death. She had expressed her wish to be buried among the Muslims in the graveyard of the grand mosque in Plaem. In the light of her last wish, she was buried in the above mentioned graveyard with full official honours.
This incident of conversion into Islam came to light as it was related to a famous author. Such incidents are not rare in India. Rather these incidents are being censored due to the unpleasant conditions prevailing in the country. If an incident comes to light my heart is filled with ecstasy. This happens especially when it is related to a renowned intellectual who might have accepted Islam having been impressed by a particular practice of this religion. It is a matter of great satisfaction that Islam is gaining popularity among intellectuals more than among the illiterates. Learned people are accepting Islam in large numbers – that is a sign of Islam being a natural religion with the ability to touch the heart and mind at the same time.
The people in Europe and America are especially being attracted towards Islam. They try to understand the religion, feel its goodness and acquire its benefits. According to a report published recently in Arab News, Islam is growing as the second greatest group after Christianity in terms of its followers .On the one hand, the more the British media is trying to propagate against Islam, the more it is spreading its impact among the British. As a result, the population of Muslims in Britain has crossed 2 million while it was noted only 1.6 million in the census of 2001. This confirms the fast growth of Islam in Britain.
This number will rise to such an extent in near future – in the coming 20 years that the minority group at present, will become the majority. The same situation is prevailing in other countries of Europe. The number of Muslims in the European Union was 15 million in 2003 which can rise to 30 million and 50 million by 2015 and 2020 respectively if the same trend of the people’s attraction towards Islam continues. About five thousand people are converting to Islam in Spain every year.
It is generally being felt that the Muslims can hold the posts of Mayor in certain cities of some countries in Western Europe in the times to come. In regard to the conversion into Islam, one point is especially notable that the highly educated intellectuals, the people belonging to high castes and renowned personalities are being more impressed by Islamic teachings than the people of low rank and education. Big business personalities and industrialists are also not behind in accepting Islam. The number of Muslim millionaires has crossed ten thousand in Britain; presently, the investment of the Muslims in the British economy is 31 billion pound sterling. Generally, people accept Islam very cautiously after a long consideration; the negative approach of the media and the government directs their attention towards Islam and they take the initiative to investigate it by increasing interaction with the Muslim community and culture, and ultimately, the study of Islamic books or the observation of the conduct of Muslims inspires them to accept Islam.
The people, who are converting into Islam, are obviously impressed by something good in Islam. In this way, Islam is being projected before the world as a religion which has charisma and decency in its teachings – which can touch the heart as well as satisfy the mind. Islam is equally attractive for the people of all walks of life – men, women, young, old, common, distinguished, educated, and illiterate. According to the information published in the newspapers or leaked through media, it is getting known that sometimes a trivial incidence becomes the motivation for conversion to Islam.
It’s a matter of greater amazement, when a religious preacher accepts Islam on realizing that the religion which he had been following for years has no logical basis or the ability to reform and reconstruct the society. Even some great religious preachers are unable to explain and elucidate their religious faith and teachings. A few years back, a Christian preacher converted to Islam at the Islamic centre in New York, and was known as Mohammad Ahmed. He wrote, “ I spent 10 years in completing the course of Christianity, even then, I couldn’t understand the Christian Shariat, although I became a Christian preacher, my faith was still befuddled and confused”.
According to Christian faith, Nauz Billah, God is one or there are three parts of God, except God, His son Hazrat Eisa (Jesus Christ. May Allah be pleased with him) is also His partner and the blessed Hazrat Miriam (Mother Mary, May Allah be pleased with her) also participates in the running of the universe. Taking all the three divine powers together, the image of God that appears in our mind is partly masculine and partly feminine. So I considered it to be very funny. I thought of discussing this issue with Father Michael to clear the confusion as he was very popular and used to visit our village for delivering lectures. Once when he was on a visit, I decided to question him in this regard. At the end of the lecture, I requested permission to ask a question in the presence of thousands of people.
On getting permission, with Faith in the Cross, I asked, “Why are Hazrat Eisa (Jesus Christ - May Allah be pleased with him) and Hazrat Miriam (May Allah be pleased with her) considered to be the parts of the God even though we are supposed to believe in one God?”
“Is God Masculine Or Feminine?”
In this regard, the Christians believe that God is masculine, Hazrat Eisa (May Allah be pleased with Him) is his son. When His son Hazrat Eisa (May Allah be pleased with Him) recommends anything, He doesn’t refuse. On the other hand, Hazrat Miriam (May Allah be pleased with Her) is also involved in the affairs of the universe as God doesn’t ignore Her recommendations also.
Finally I asked Father Michael, “What is this confusing riddle - whether masculine characteristics or feminine ingredients are found in the personality of God”? Father Michael ignored my question considering it childish and worthless and retorted smilingly that he had some other important questions whose answers are more demanding. I insisted that he give a reply to my question. Annoyed with my persistence, which also had the support of the audience, he replied, “The image of God consists of various shades, some bear feminine resemblance and some are of masculine nature.” This led to more questions arising in my mind and the debate continued for hours but with no avail. Father Michael failed to answer my queries. The influence of his spiritual knowledge and divine power over my mind was removed, and I felt as if the very basis of Christianity was hollow – the religion which can’t present its God’s image in a convincing manner, what can it give to the humanity? How can its teachings be applicable and practical? This thought diverted me towards Islam. I didn’t obtain the treasure of Islam for free but by dint of hard labour. I studied numerous books, studied diligently from dawn to dusk, left no stone unturned in the search of Truth – Haq. Only then could I obtain the wealth of the religion - Islam.
A Japanese lady Miss Lagata has expressed her story of conversion into Islam in the form of a book titled “Root to Islam” The lady was settled in Paris for higher education in French Literature. Like many Japanese, she too didn’t believe in any religion. Her favourite philosopher and preachers were preachers of atheism and agnosticism like Sartre, Nietzsche and Camus. But strangely enough, even being at a distance from religion, she was quite fond of studying different religious teachings, not out of any deep spiritual quest, but rather objectively, in search of Truth. This is what brought her to Islam and quenched her thirst for knowledge.
She writes: “The first book I studied about Islam related the advantages of the veil. It said that the Almighty Allah-e-Kareem strongly suggests it. I would have certainly revolted if anyone had ordered me to wear a veil. Islam requires complete adherence to the wishes of the Almighty Allah Kareem and absolute submission in His obedience. To obey someone was a very difficult task for someone like me who had been without a religion for so long. But by the grace of God, my desires were automatically turned to the wishes of the Almighty Allah Kareem and I became able to perform the duties of Islam without feelings compelled to do so. I was satisfied in my new look as the veil was not only the sign of obedience to the Almighty Allah-e-Kareem but it was also an expression of my Faith. A Muslim woman in a veil can be recognised in a large congregation whereas the non-Muslim can be known only through her words. My veil checks and controls me to beware that my actions and speech should be like that of a Muslim – the same as a policeman controls his behaviour when he is in a uniform. Similarly my veil strengthens my Muslim identity.”
A young communist woman Cheling Kum says: “I watched the red flags with hammer and sickle flying all around my village since childhood. My father told me that hammer and the sickle were the sign of the communist party which rules over Russia and doesn’t believe in any religion; rather the hammer and the sickle themselves are sacred to them. These two objects remind the labourers to work harder to earn their livelihood as it is the most important thing in life without which survival of a man is difficult.
“In my youth, I came into contact with people of different religions. One of them was a Muslim, Mohammad Hadi Hassan. He told me that food, clothing and lodging are of utmost importance in communism but there may be something beyond it – of which the disbelievers are unaware. They think acquiring these things meant for survival are the ultimate achievements of life. This concept of life is very trifling and Islam doesn’t accept it. Islam believes in the high standards of life as for these basic requirements even the animals are also concerned. It is important for the human beings to live with a high standard of ethics and conduct, and shouldn’t worry for the livelihood alone only like the animals – that is basically provided by the Almighty Allah Kareem. The human beings should rely on the Almighty Allah Kareem for all their needs. Mohammad Hadi Hassan’s argument impressed me a lot as I was destined by the Almighty Allah Kareem to leave disbelief and accept Islam. He eased all my troubles, and now I, Aamna Hadi Hassan, am living in Britain practicing Islam, Masha-Allah.
An American soldier Holdbrooks, who was deputed to look after the prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay prison, was highly impressed by a prisoner, Ahmed Al-Rashedi of Morocco. One night, he suddenly decided to accept Islam,. He passed a piece of paper to Ahmed Al-Rashedi through the bars and requested him to inscribe the Kalmah-e-Shahadat in both Arabic and English language. Just on receiving the paper, he recited the Kalmah-e-Shahadat in a high pitch voice, and accepted Islam in the Camp Delta in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Holdbooks - Islamic name Mustafa - used to talk to the prisoners about different aspects of Islam.
He said, “I talked to the prisoners on different topics such as Father, Christmas, Hazrat Ishaque (May Allah be pleased with Him) and Hazrat Ibrahim (May Allah be pleased with Him), and the ritual sacrifice. I even discussed Hazrat Eisa (May Allah be pleased with Him). I was highly impressed by the lifestyle of the Muslim prisoners. Most Americans have forgotten God whereas the Muslim sufferers in the Guantanamo Bay prison performed the Islamic tenets without fail.”
Mustafa is now 25 years old. He has abstained from drinking alcohol and performs Salah regularly five times a day at an Islamic centre near the university where he studies. The Muslims meet and greet him with passion and excitement, whenever they come to know that he was converted to Islam in the Guantanamo Bay prison. The Imam of the mosque Umru Al-Sunni says, “I thought there are only tyrants and wild soldiers deputed in the Guantanamo Bay prison, but it is a pleasant surprise to know that there are people like Hold Brooks also there.
Abd Al-Wahhab, old name Joseph, is an employee in a company of Jews. He writes in his autobiography: “I was a catholic Christian of very firm Faith, devoted to Christian society and used to participate in all the congregations of Christianity with great passion. There were some Muslim employees where I worked. I often watched that they used to sit together united after the duty hours, and regularly prayed on time, observed fasts (Al-Saum) also in the sacred month of Ramadan. Gradually and slowly I was being attracted by their mutual understanding and the eternal solidarity in their Faith. After some time, I came into close contact with the Muslims and tried to understand Islam. Later on, Islam had penetrated deep into my heart and I accepted Islam.
There are numerous and amazing examples like this, which are spread like the sunrays in the cosmic firmament. Some converted Muslims have even penned their biographies. But most have preferred to keep it to themselves. Everyone’s tale is different – someone likes the Oneness of God in Islam, someone loves the Faith of the prophet Hazrat Mohammad (Peace be upon Him), someone is impressed by the concept of Heaven, Hell-fire and the life after death, someone is interested in the system of prayers, someone is fond of the cultural and ethical teachings of Islam, someone loves the Islamic concept of equality, someone came closer to Islam due to the Islamic concept of human rights and so on.
Islam possesses thousands of adorable and striking qualities and each one is loved and treasured by someone somewhere in the world.
Is there any religion in the world so exquisite, and with so many virtues which its followers feel so proud in introducing to the world of humanity?
Source: Hindustan Express, 15 June 2009
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