In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficial, the Most Merciful, the Lord and Creator of this world.
This piece of sharing was written under a request of a brother, who was hoping it would be beneficial to other people in knowing more about Islam and solving misunderstandings or misconceptions for people who are still searching for the light of Islam.
May Allah guide us and grant us His Hidayah, always keep us on the right path and not on the one that leads us astray.
This sharing is about a story of a reverted Chinese Muslim from Malaysia.
His name is William Chau, sounds like a Christian name, but he was actually a Taoism follower. Sounds confusing at the beginning right? William was raised in Taoism environment (not Buddhism). He was named William (a Christian name) after the name of the famous Prince William. Like most of the other young kids, he knew nothing about his religion, or why was he practicing it. He just knew Taoism was the option he would go after every time he had to fill in the religion status on a form.
As for a kid who was born and raised in the rural area, he was very close with next door Malay family and both families were close to each other. However, his big family did not fancy Malays or even their religion, Islam. The main reasons were due to the political issues in Malaysia and the misconceptions of Malays and Islam. He was ‘brainwashed’ with a lot of bad perceptions about that particular race and religion but it wasn’t really a concern for a young kid like him at that time.
At the age of 7, William and his family moved from Perak to Johor. He started a new life away from the rural area and learned more about this world. He made a lot of good friends from different races, religions, and backgrounds throughout his teenage years. Yet, one thing got him confused as he could not understand the behaviors of certain Malay students during his secondary school. The bad behaviors of these students annoyed him and made him thought why Muslims yielded people like them as he thought every religion taught their believers to be a good person. Why the other way round in this case? Maybe you thought the same thing when you saw some Chinese ‘gangster’ around in school, didn’t Buddhism teach good stuff as well? (For William at that age, he had a mindset that Islam was very rigid and different from other religions as Malays are born to be Muslims and they must obey the teachings of Islam without other options).
Not just the school life gave him bad impressions on the race and religion, the information he got from news and people around him also established his bad perceptions on both race and religion. The misconception went on after he enrolled into a boarding school. His life in boarding school was totally different. There were sweet and bitter experiences throughout the years. The bitter part was being bullied by his Malay friends as Chinese was the minority race there. Fortunately, he got a lot of supports from his other mates. Life was unexpectedly and surprisingly secret-revealed; you might think all of the selected boarding school students excel in both academic and attitude but the other way round. Bullying among students and stealing things were common social issues in school and even worse. William strived hard for the first year in building a good rapport with the hostel community and his bad perceptions towards them got worse as days went by.
He was glad because he still got a few close Malay classmates who were good Muslims practitioners as well. They always helped each other in academic and had fun all the time. Until one day, something came across his mind. “Why there is a contradiction between those good Muslims and bad Muslims I met in school? Don’t they believe in the same God and practice the same religion?” He was curious about it.
The history class during his high school mainly taught him about the religion of Islam. William found a spark of light in knowing more and more about Islam. The stories and history of prophethoods and Islam, how it all began and spread across the world were inspiring. Many moral lessons could be extracted from the history of Islam. William started to learn and understand the basic knowledge of Islam but he didn’t go deeper as he thought he learned it only for the exam. At that time, he was holding firm to Taoism as the exam was getting closer. This made him prayed more often compared to in the past as William also was a believer in God, who believes God does exist and He is the ultimate master behind the creation of this world.
Another interesting story of his journey, which sparked another light for him in getting to know Islam is when he fell in love with a lovely Malay woman. The story was complicated but in short, at one point, William was told he ought to convert into a Muslim if he wanted to tie the relationship. Did it mean that William was going to become Malay? Quite scary, wasn’t it…hahaha!
Here’s where the story began! William started asking his close Malay Muslim friends and got serious about studying Islam. You can’t just jump into it without knowing anything at first hand! Then, he started to learn more about Islam, not only the history, but also the practical aspects such as praying, fasting, adhan, reading the Holy Quran and many others. Things were getting interesting as he realized all of the attitudes he saw from those bad people particularly Muslims, didn’t reflect Islam at all. More interestingly, he got to know the reasons behind every practice of Islam. He even tried to fast with his Muslim friends during Ramadan and enjoyed it very much. Respect and mutual understanding are fundamental to build a good rapport between people with different backgrounds.
The journey in his boarding school ended after he took his GSCE exam but the journey in knowing more about Islam didn’t stop there. William got more and more support from his new friends in the National Service Programme that he attended for 3 months. He sought help from a dorm mate who was a knowledgeable Muslim practitioner to teach him more about the religion. During that time, he learned to pray and read books about Islam which were sneaked out from the surau by his mate. Non-stop curiosity got him motivated to keep learning. Motivations from his Muslim friends helped him a lot in establishing his intention and retaining his interest about Islam.
The turning point for William was during the A-level study in Selangor. His interest to become a true Muslim grew stronger day by day as he knew more about Islam. He gained more confidence in believing Islam as the true religion of God after he had made a comparison with other religions he came across throughout the years. Different beliefs in other religions about the concept of God didn’t stand firm after being questioned by William’s logical mind but not for Islam. He didn’t hide his interest in becoming Muslim in front of other mates as he took the opportunity to ask for help and guidance from other Muslims. Alhamdulillah, he got all the needed help from his acquaintances.
After 2 years of seeking knowledge about Islam, he decided to take his shahada on the night of Ramadan. It was a chilly night in UIA, after tarawih prayer, he phoned up his mother and told her about his decision to convert. You can expect the outcome, a big NO from the parents.
That phone call was a long and tough one for William, as he needed to go through all sort of arguments with his parents and explained the reasons he chose to become Muslim. For a Chinese guy to be the first ever Muslim in his family, it was something odd despite his family had no good perception about either Islam or Malay. He remained silent on the phone, but loud, painful screams erupted in his head, with non-stop tears streaming down his cheeks. The tough journey continued after he went back home for a holiday after the night in UIA. The awkwardness was killing him softly as he used to chat frankly with his mother whenever he was at home and enjoyed the moments together. However, this time he was so afraid to start any conversation that might hurt, make her mother angry or lead to the topic that he was trying to avoid from happening (on why he became a Muslim).
Many family members and relatives tried to persuade him to change his mind. A lot of obstacles arose throughout the journey at that time including family issues, halal food, prayers, fasting, and etc. All of them sorted out after time, as the family members started to be more open to accept the fact that one of them became a Muslim.
Understanding is the main key to resolving this issue. People see difficulties when they don’t understand certain things. When they do, they will see the good side of it and start to accept it gradually with an open mind. To make his family understands his situation; William needs to find ways to educate his family about Islam.
The efforts given throughout these 4 years of Muslimhood were not easy for William.
A lot of knowledge needs to be learned and the art of da’wah is required to deliver the teachings of Islam. Allah knows the best and He is the best planner. He is always there to help me out while giving da’wah to my family. While trying to recall those memories, I am amazed how beautiful His plan is throughout these years. Whenever there is a risk, there will be an opportunity. Sometimes we need to take a risk in da’wah, the risk as might cause people to keep away from us and feel disgusted with us, but remember, you will never know the future outcomes, and people might accept your da’wah!
Never be afraid to take the risk, you need to have faith on you and your effort. Occupy yourself with essential knowledge of Islam and always remember you don’t have to become a religious teacher or scholar to start a da’wah.
The art of da’wah? Go back to learn the seerah of Rasulullah PBUH and make him your role model and reference in doing da’wah. Remember how he was able to spread Islam across the world through the system of da’wah and tarbiyah that he created 1400 years ago.
Understand and respect other people’s faiths are important as well which most of the Muslims in Malaysia don’t practice nowadays. That’s why many racism issues happened in our country and the da’wah is not stepping forward successfully.
As a dai’, sacrifices and efforts are needed. Nothing comes without an effort. It is a tough journey to walk on, but when you know where you’ll be heading toward as your destination, you’ll appreciate the hardship, every single tear and sweat you have put into da’wah.
As with every difficulty, there will be ease. As there is surely ease with every difficulty.
My story started with people and I met Islam through people. Without people like you in da’wah, other people might never get the chance to know Islam.
So never underestimate your own potentials. Take the risk and always have faith. May Allah ease our journey and guide us all the time.
(15th November 2016)