I Was Socialized Among Muslims – How I Found Islam

I was born and grew up in a Chinese family in Malaysia. My parents speak Cantonese at home. And it was important to remember and venerate our Chinese ancestors. We followed different Chinese annual and daily rituals.

However, our neighbors and my friends in the small town we lived were mostly not Chinese and most of them were Muslims. Therefore, I grew up with Islam all around me. I witnessed my Muslim friends performing prayer and fasting during Ramadan. When I was fifteen years old, I wanted to know more about the religion that surrounded me.

I Became Angry Reading Quran

I started asking questions to my Muslim friends. They were always welcoming and tried to answer my questions as good as possible.

One time I asked one of my best friends for a copy of the Quran. She gave me a Malay translation. Besides the Cantonese spoken among my family in my home, I was used to speaking, reading and writing in the Malay language.

I started reading the translation of the Quran and became angry. And I did not understand why Allah says in His holy book that the disbelievers will not enter paradise. I was a good person. I did not do anything wrong. So I was confused.

My friend brought me to a proper Islamic scholar. I met him several times and he explained all my questions and confusions.

Am I Not Your Lord?

He explained about Allah and His mercy. He explained how Allah created us and he explained to me about the covenant Allah made with all the souls He had created. Allah asked all the souls: “Am I not your Lord” and all the souls answered: “Yes.”

That fact really made me think and I continued learning about Islam. I don’t know exactly when it happened but one day I really wanted to renew my promise to Allah. And I wanted to be Muslim.

I called my best friend and told her about my decision. She was extremely happy and wanted to meet me right away. A few days later I said my Shahadah in front of one of the religious officers in the mosque.

My Parents Tried to Keep Me Away From Islam

I kept my becoming Muslim hidden for some time. But eventually I felt that I needed to reveal it also to my parents. My parents were not happy at all. My father became angry. He told me that I betray my Chinese identity, my Chinese tradition and culture and my Chinese ancestors.

The next few months became very difficult for me. My parents tried everything to make me leave Islam. They made sure that they always cooked pork for us to eat. And they also encouraged me to drink with them. In addition, they did not allow me to pray in our home. When I wanted to go out covered with a headscarf, they would prevent me and force me to take it off. It was a big, big challenge.

Leaving Home

I tried to be patient. I tried to be a good daughter. And I tried to respect them. I know that Islam teaches respect for parents and we should treat them with kindness. However, I could not leave my new found religion. I was not willing to leave Islam. I was not prepared to give up Allah in exchange for my parent’s love.

One day I decided that I had to leave my parents’ home. I informed my best friend and she said that the Muslim community will always take care of me. She picked me up. My heart was heavy, yet light. My eyes cried, yet I smiled. I moved from house to house. Stayed two months with one friend and the next two months with another friend.

Alhamdulillah, my Muslim community has been there for me. They took really good care of me. They helped me financially and I was able to study and obtained my first degree.

A Family of My Own

After a few years I tried to go back to visit my family. They never replied my phone calls or messages. My father did not invite me into the house. He just asked me why I returned. I had to leave without being able to talk to them. I always make dua for them. May Allah gift them with the guidance He has given to me. I never regretted coming to Islam. I have found the truth, I have recognized my Lord. Praise be to Him!

Alhamdulilah, two years ago I got married and was gifted with a little son. Now I have a family of my own. And insha’Allah, one day, my parents will open their home to me again. Ameen.

This is Lim’s story. She became Muslim six years ago in Malaysia.

About Claudia Azizah
Claudia Azizah is originally from Germany and mother of two children and writer. She served as Assistant Professor at the International Islamic University in Malaysia until August 2019. She is co-founder of the Ulu-Ilir-Institute in Indonesia. She regularly writes for the German Islamic newspaper. She is interested in Islamic spirituality, art and Southeast Asia. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: #clazahsei