When I Converted to Islam, I Lost Everything

This is Abdullah’s story. He is from Indonesia and embraced Islam eight months ago.

I grew up in a strict Christian family in Indonesia. Although my family has lived in a majority Muslim country, we have always held tight to our Christian faith and identity.

We had mostly Christian friends, and my father dealt almost exclusively with his Christian business partners. We went to church regularly and I went to a Christian school. Later I spent two years acquiring deep knowledge of the Christian faith in a Christian seminary.

The First Step Towards Conversion

However, from an early age I also learned about Islam. Only later did I know that I learned about it in such a way to be able to do missionary work.

Nevertheless, looking back, the first step in my conversion to Islam was actually found in one of the books I was given to read by my father. It was about the crusades and was supposed to strengthen my spirit of doing missionary work in different areas of Indonesia. I liked the book very much, especially the role the great warrior Salahuddin Al Ayyubi played.

Tolerance and Chivalry

He was totally different to the Christian crusaders, who killed left and right, men and women, old and young. I was impressed by this Muslim commander, who respected religious minorities, tolerated them and even gave them rights after his army took over the territory.

I was in my early teens during this time and the chivalry Salahuddin Al Ayyubi displayed towards religious minorities impressed me tremendously. He did not force anybody to accept Islam. People were free to practice their religion peacefully. Secretly he became my idol. Although I never told anybody.

Reading and Learning about Islam

This story stayed with me. And whenever I felt that we, as a Christian minority, were not being tolerant (although behind doors), I was reminded of Salahuddin Al Ayyubi.

In my late teens I started reading more about Islam. So I visited Muslim websites. I genuinely wanted to know about the true message. I started to have online-Muslim friends. They were very kind and tried to answer my questions as good as they could. I had started working in my father’s construction company. I worked well and he trusted me. So finally, I was given my first independent contract in another city.

Outside My Familiar Circle

Being outside my familiar circle was great. I finally felt that I could try and connect with people who were not our close Christian family or friends. Whenever I went out to have lunch or dinner, I would talk with the people who sold the food or with other customers. I met with friendliness and openness.

One day I met a guy who became one of my best friends. Faisal was also new to the city. He was Muslim. And he introduced me to Islam. I loved it when he talked about Islam. He was full with love and passion for his religion. One day I just followed him to a mosque and announced my shahadah and converted to Islam.

Everything Changed

I felt like a new person. And I felt alive. I loved the mosque. I loved the prayer. And because I was so happy and so convinced, I told my father when he came to visit to check on his construction project. He was furious.

In a matter of seconds my whole life changed. I cannot tell what he did and what he said because I still want to respect and honor him because he is my father. But in a matter of seconds I lost everything. I lost my father and my family. I lost my money and my work. And I lost all my business contacts and friends.

Alhamdulilah, Faisal helped me out in the first few months after this. I stayed with him and he helped me out financially.

Not the Only Case

This is almost one year ago. Together with my brothers in faith from the mosque, I was able to get quickly back on my feet.

We are trying to set up our own business. At the same time we want to help converts who experienced something similar to me. We want to establish a support network. I now know that most Indonesians who converted to Islam have similar experiences. Their families have stopped all contacts. They cannot visit their homes. They are basically outcasts.

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