A Hindu girl marries a temple priest, Chandra, now Rafiq, who later embarked on a journey to study other religions for enlightenment and to find the right path to One God, which ultimately led him and his wife Indrani, (now Nishani) to embrace Islam. In this last of the two-part personal account, the revert shared his experiences of journey into Islam with Muneerah Al-Idros.
CHANDRA did not know anything about Islam except that in Islam, God is One. He would meditate daily and would be chanting the names of his gods. However, this time when he called out their names he felt something was wrong so he just said in English, “Almighty God, Almighty God…” In his meditation, he knew Muslims were praying to the true God.
Chandra’s biggest problem in practicing Islam was Indrani. She didn’t like Muslims and was active with her temple activities. He tried to influence his wife on the teachings of Islam by turning on to the Malaysian Islamic program on televisions, like “Pedoman.” Indrani would complain that it was not necessary for her husband to take so much interest in Islam.
But ultimately one day he told her that he no longer believed in Hinduism, reasoning that it did not have a holy book and a basis of belief. Failing to find out how Hinduism started it merely seemed a culture full of complexities brought down by their ancestors.
He bought a copy of the translated version of the Qur’an by Yusuf Ali and was deeply impressed when he read about the Prophets, of the beginning of mankind and of heaven and hell. He found many things that were necessary for every human bring to know and he encouraged Indrani to read it. When he read that idol-worshippers will be thrown to hell, he had all the idols and pictures removed from their home. Chandara now concentrated on learning more about Islam from various sources. He tried to learn more about Islam from his Malay friends. However, they usually could not give him answers to his questions. They suggested that he should seek help from some religious scholars.
Chandra started bringing home books on Islam, as well as on Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism, telling his wife to read and make a comparison of these religions. Indrani was not interested she was very satisfied with her belief in Hinduism. She told herself that there is no way he could influence her with his idea of One Almighty God and swore in her heart that she would bring him back to her way.
Indrani had no intention of reading the books her husband brought home. Yet when she had trouble sleeping at night, something made her pick up the Qur’an and read it. She felt so lost because since her husband removed the Hindu deities from their home, she could no longer pray to them. Indrani began to have dreams. During her first pregnancy, she dreamed of the Kaaba. She related her dream to one of her Muslim colleagues, who then related Indrani’s dream to her father, who said that she was fortunate to have dreamed of the Kaaba.
She also dreamed of Hindu gods giving her warnings and threats but she had more dreams about Islam and pious Muslims. In one dream, she saw herself telling her husband about her previous dream. She asked him what the “way” was and he told her to look out the window. When she did, she saw Yusuf Islam, the British revert, dressed like an Arab giving a talk on Islam, surrounded by other people dressed like him. Indrani had never seen Yusuf Islam before but she had heard of him. Somehow, in her dream, she knew it was him.
These dreams had a very strong impact on Indrani’s belief. She became increasingly drawn toward Islam and wanted to follow the way of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She recalls that she wanted to accept Islam, but was afraid as she was expecting her third child. She feared something would befall her baby as she thought of the threats the Hindu deities had made in her dream. After her delivery, Indrani told her husband that she was ready to embrace Islam.
They were told about Dar-ul Arqam — The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, where they could register their reversion to Islam. Chandra initially refused as he thought Dar-ul Arqam was affiliated to [another strange organization]. They went to Jamiyah (Islamic Theological Society of Singapore) instead, and registered their names as Mohamed Rafiq and Nishani.
When they announced their reversion, they encountered many problems. This was especially so when Indrani started wearing the hijab. Their parents, siblings, relatives and friends who used to hold them dear, now chided them. All the Hindu friends refused to have anything to do with her, for fear that she might bring them to Islam. They were especially surprised because Indrani used to dislike Muslims more than they would do. Indrani and her husband, ostracized by their parents, missed the affection they previously received from them. Indrani repeatedly told herself that since God loves her so much, the sacrifice she was making in losing her family was nothing. She knows that no one loves her more than God Himself.
Learned Hindus and gurus tried to bring Chandra back to Hinduism but he turned them down politely. They then severed their relationship with him. Indrani’s family swore to see that her children Nisha, Nafeesa and Natasha be brought back to Hinduism when they grow up, refusing to acknowledge their grandchildren’s Muslim names. The children now studying at the madrassah are very pleased with their religion. Chandra encourages them to wear the hijab, even though they are still young, with the intention of getting them used to veiling. The parents observed that the children like the hijab so much that they themselves refuse to remove it.
Despite being rejected by their families, Indrani and Chandra never gave up trying to improve their relationship with them. The mothers of both Indrani and Chandara now admit that they have a filial son and a filial daughter.
Alhamdulillah (All praise be to God).