"I was born and brought up in an upper class Hindu Brahmin family of priests in Udupi, Karnataka, India. A city known for its temples.
My learning of Hindu scriptures commenced at an early age through a teacher where I noticed many contradictions and began questioning, but could not get any satisfying answers nor the meaning of the scriptures. Such a beginning, early in life, made me search for the truth about right religion.
Owing to my persistent questioning, my parents (on advice of religious heads) transferred me to an Aashram to become a Hindu priest. After joining the Aashram, my doubts and questions increased to which my teachers had no answers. I was advised to read books from the library to know the answers and hence I got an opportunity to read lot of Hindu scriptures. With no satisfaction in life and unable to get proper answers to the doubts building up in mind, I left the Aashram and started learning about Jainism and later Buddism, but neither of them had any answers to my questions.
I left them, started to search and learned about the religion of Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Judaism. When I was studying Judaism I could not find a fundamental difference between Jews and Brahmins. While studying Judaism I came to know about Jesus and started reading the Bible, thinking that Christianity should be the perfect religion, and was hoping to get answers to all my questions. After reading the Bible over 34 times and visiting the church, I developed many doubts on the contradictory methods of teaching in different churches. On finding contradictions in the Bible itself, I went to the priests who advised me to take baptism so that I can see the holy spirit, which will clear all my doubts. One fine day I readied myself to be baptized, where the priest dipped me three times and when I came out of the water, I looked up to see the holy spirit, but I could not see anything.
I went to different churches and raised the same questions. Even they baptized me but I couldn’t find the holy spirit anywhere as promised. When I openly questioned about it, they were quiet, but one of the church members advised me to go to a different church where people used to speak with the holy spirit. When I went there and asked for the Holy Spirit, they promised that I will receive it the following Sunday. I was very happy and went to the church wearing good clothes with one day of fasting as per their instruction. The priest came near me and pushed my head in the water so hard that It was painful. He repeatedly they asked me if I can see the Holy Spirit to which I replied in the negative. The priest then said that I have Satans spirit in me (which will first be removed) and then fill me with the Holy Spirit. Fearing further pain, I pretended to act as if I had seen the Holy Spirit to escape, but he and the believers then said they saw my Holy Spirit. I realized that the whole group was acting with me and I realized that they are fake people of the fake Holy Spirit. This led me to lose all interest in Christianity.
I continued to enjoy my life till one day, while commuting by bus to the office, I saw a hoarding with the message “For a free copy of Qur’an please contact....” a thought came to mind that this could be another book like Bible. However, I decided to call them and get a copy of the Qur’an so that I can read the Qur’an to find mistakes and make fun of Muslims. To finally get my copy of the Qur’an I had to call the center 3 times in 9 months. The third time I was a little more angry, and finally the Qur’an reached me.
I began reading the Qur’an with the intention to find fault in it, but amazingly started to get answers to my questions one by one, as if the Qur’an is answering and clearing all my doubts. Although I decided to read at least four pages every day and to complete it quickly, but to the shock of my life, I could barely read more than half a page daily. As I moved on, I started getting answers to all my queries: why I am here, why I was created, what is the purpose of life, and by the Grace of Almighty Allah I was getting closer to the Qur’an and my Creator.
The brother who gave the Qur’an would call and ask whether I am reading the Qur’an. One day he asked me to perform Salah (prayer) with him and I refused. However, we started meeting very often to discuss over coffee / juice on Islam. One day while having a drink, he mentioned that if he died right now, before completely drinking the juice, he might enter paradise because he is a Muslim as he tried to follow the commandments of Allah. But what would I do if I died before I finish my juice? because, there is no guarantee of life span for any one. I was shocked for a while and could not drink the juice and felt as if I am going to die any moment. I went home, sincerely prayed to Almighty Allah for the first time in my life that if I die today please forgive my sins, and slept. When I got up in the morning I was afresh and deciding not to waste any more time, called the brother and informed him that I accept Islam. In fact with the discussion on the previous evening, Allah opened my heart to the truth. I thought that accepting Islam would be a big function like in Hinduism. The brother called me to the center and in front of two people, asked me to declare in Arabic and English the Shahadah: "La ilaha illallahu Muhammadur Rasulullah - I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is his Messenger (peace be upon him)".
I swear by Allah that when I took the Shahada, I felt an amazing sensation, as if a huge, physical weight had just been lifted off my chest; I gasped for breath as if I was breathing for the first time in my life. Alhamdulillah, by reverting to Islam, my journey to find the true religion ended with immense pleasure, happiness and utmost satisfaction.
I want to convey a humble message to all those who are looking for a true God and faith: It is only when you take the pain of learning about all religions, that you will know the beauty of Islam. The Message of 'Oneness of God Almighty' in its Purity and 'the way of life taught and practiced by Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) as Islam' is the only way of life which could keep you pleased with your existence as human being.
Life is a total waste without Islam as the way of life. Alhamdulillah, Allah has given me a new life, a clean slate and a chance for Jannah, and I pray that I live the rest of my life dedicated to spreading the message of Islam and die as a Muslim. Aameen."
Muhammad Ishaaq, formerly Girish KS Udupa
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