LAST_UPDATETue, 15 May 2018 11am

Confessions of a Muslim Convert

He likes to read and observe. Through both he fell in love with Islam.


Mohd Ikram Loh Abdullah whose original name was Loh Kim Hua started reading books written by Datuk Ismail Kamus and in between attended the energetic talks delivered by Datuk Harun Din. Both were his idols in learning about Islam and in answering his queries.

Mohd Ikram, 52, a teacher at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Seri Mahawangsa in Jitra, Kedah converted to Islam in his 30s but Islam was close to his heart right from his teenage years.

“I converted to Islam not due to the influence of my colleagues. My urge to become a Muslim came from within,” said the third of the six siblings.

Right from the secondary school this former Buddhist adherent loved to read books on Islam and while in Universiti Malaya he specialized in Malay studies.



Impressed With Islamic Ways


"One more thing, I like to observe and thus have been impressed with the way Muslims pray. The congregational prayer and the call for prayer (azan) brought me inner peace and confidence in Islam,” said Mohd Ikram when met after receiving the "Tokoh Saudara Kita" award in conjunction with the state level Maal Hijrah 1432 celebration in Kedah recently.

"Even before converting, I was already following an Islamic way of life like fasting two to six hours daily, learnt about the prayers by reading and watching VCDs," he said.

Mohd Ikram's family is no strangers to Islam as his elder sister was the first one to convert to Islam in the 1980s.



Acceptable to the Family


On why he did not convert to Islam during his teenage years, he replied this was because he did not want to hurt his mother's feelings. Mohd Ikram officially converted to Islam quietly in March 1993.

"At that time I was prepared. I was already working and was independent, and free to decide on my destiny," he said with a great sense of satisfaction.

Even then he was not prepared to reveal his new status as a Muslim to close friends and family members fearing they would shun him. 

"But one day an old friend saw me returning home from a mosque and soon the word spread that I have converted to Islam," he said.





However, his family only got to know that he is a Muslim when he made known his intention to marry a Muslim woman. Initially he was cold shouldered but it was only a matter of time before the family accepted the fact, he said.

"My mother Tan Ah Soo is 69 years old and she still sees me as her son and I'm closer to my siblings now.

"During each Chinese New Year I will return home to celebrate with my family," said Mohd Ikram.



Active in Societies


His wife Tom Pah Chom Sharif Taha, 42, and the in-laws played a big role in strengthening his faith.

"My in-laws have helped me to overcome many of the stumbling blocks including in matters relating to Islam. I'm happy that they accepted me as what I am," he said.

Mohd Ikram is also active in the Islamic non-governmental organization (NGO) Islam and he is now the Secretary for the Kedah/Perlis Chinese Muslim Association. The association is responsible for the affairs of the new converts around Kedah and Perlis, and so far has 48 members.

"Our association caters for the Chinese who have converted to Islam, but other Muslim converts in need of assistance can consult us as well," he said.

The association will work to guide and assist new converts in leading a life based on Islamic teachings.

"In reality, there are some converts who revert to their original religion as they have nobody to depend on and to guide them in religious matters.

"There are also converts who still continue with their old ways like consuming alcohol and non-halal food," said Mohd Ikram who is also a committee member for Yayasan Dakwah Islam Malaysia (Yadim) Kedah.

As Mohd Ikram is familiar with the woes and challenges faced by new converts he advised them to be patient and put their faith in Allah.

"We have to be sincere in whatever we do and should do it wholeheartedly," added Mohd Ikram.

- Bernama



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