My Journey to Islam

by S.S. Lai



The day I write this, I have lived my life knowing what Islam means for approximately 5 years and 11 months. I reverted to Islam on the 5th October 1991. I believed that every child is born in a pure state and that only their parents brought them up to the way they think best and the only way they probably know how.May Allah guides their hearts to Islam.

I came from a Chinese background. My whole families believed in worshipping the idols and the dead ancestors. Throughout my childhood I was made to believe that there were many gods, god of mercy, wealth etc., Every year, I would had high hope and enthusiasm that my grandfather would bring me to the temple to worship 'our' gods. What drew me to them as a child was that there were many foods ( I thought the foods would taste nicer because they had been worship to the great and mighty ones ) and the 'gods' look very mystique. Some of the idols projects a sense of fear, some beauty and this lists go on and on. On that day, we would burnt paper money and worship our 'gods' using some incense sticks.We would observe all these in silence and these brings more impact to my young mind. I used to hope that one day I would know how to say the words that my grandfather said to the idols and the little secrets and tricks he used with the 'magic stones'.

At home we have pictures of dead ancestors . Every fullmoon , I would eagerly ask my grandmother if she would honor me by throwing the two coins. If the coins both shows the head or tails then they ( the dead ancestors ) have not finished eating.

I also came from a 'Muslim' country called Brunei and by the blessings of Allah, I came to a school with the majority of the students being Muslims. I remembered once a friend brought a comic book with pictures of the punishment of hell fire. I didn't fully comprehend them at that time. The only lesson I had at that time was never to 'tear any packages of sweets or crisps, otherwise we would be punished equally in the hereafter ).

A lesson in geography on why we could all stand and walk on the surface of the earth and not thrown out into the dark space started my journey to Islam. I came home feeling confused and asked my uncle why this is so. My uncle advised me to always asked WHY for everything. Since that day I had never started asking WHY .

In the year 1988, I won a scholarship to come to UK to study . This had been my lifelong ambition and I had worked long and hard for this. My main aim in life up to that point was to become rich and useful and to make my parents very proud of me. The only way I know how then was to become a doctor. The helpless feeling I had when I was forced to sit next to my great grand mother's death bed till her last breath had never escaped my memory.

I studied A level in girls only school. All I know about Islam although I had many Muslims friends and live in a Muslim country then, Muslims do not eat pork, they fast in Ramadan and they were the losers. All my experience with Muslims had made me not attracted me to them although I had a strange feeling at age seven I will become a Muslim just like my uncle. I had never asked anybody about Islam for fear they will go very excited and this always frightened me and made me very shy.

In that college, one night I dreamt I heard a loud Adhan. I walked towards it and stood infant of a big gate with Arabic writing on it. I didn't know what it meant for I knew not Arabic writings then. I felt an immense sense of peace and security. The room was illuminated with light and I sawwhite figures praying ( wallahu'alam ). The feeling I had was greater than I could write or expressed. The next day I forced myself to asked one of my malaysian Muslim friend. She told me it is 'Hadassah' from Allah. This first conversation helped me to asked many more questionsthat had been on my mind for all these years about Islam. I had always been thought the Muslims are bad people and they always oppressed the non-Muslims etc..,That year I went back to Brunei, I told my families I want to have a year out for my mind cannot concentrate on my previous aim. I felt there was something more important than everything I had worked for all those years.Not surprisingly, I was not allowed and had to continue in this state of mind. Days and nights I cried because I can only hear the Adhan echo in my mind up to the point my best friend thought I was crazy ( I even believed I was ).

My first contact with real practicing Muslim was my childhood friend. At that point in life she was also renewing her faith. I learnt a lot from her mostly from her actions. That was the first time Isaw Islam in action ( people praying etc., ). I tried fasting then and also attempted to eat only halal food for 2-3 years before my conversion.

The turning point in my life was when I was rejected from all the universities to study medicine . I pondered about the attributes of Allah and promised Allah that should I be accepted to a medical college, I would believe all that my friends had told me . Allah is ever listening and everpresence. Miraculously, the next day I was told that despite their initial rejection, I was accepted. What can I say after that but 'There is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the the last prophet of Allah'.