A Story of Conviction and Change
‘It is our responsibility to appeal to the world to travel a peaceful journey with its faith-ticket. If the message of Islam reaches all people, then even their lives will transform like mine did. And whoever does not believe, then let him ask my heart of what a terrifying place hell is, and of paradise, a place worth getting sacrificed for,’says SOHAIL SIDDIQUE who found his destiny on the road to the Truth of Islam.
Born into a family of Thakur landlords, on the 13th of August, 1983 in a village in Gujarat, I was named Yuvraj. C. I have an elder sister and her husband is a BJP leader. I was doing my B.Com in A.J. Jaspal Thakur College which is run by our family, when I had to discontinue my education.
After the Godhra riots, during the riots of 2002, me and eight other friends of mine used to consider these riots a great leisure pursuit. In and around my locality, brutal oppression was at its heights. Sixty to seventy people were burned alive in Sundarpur, a village fifteen kilometers from mine. Our adolescent zeal and passion led my friends and me into believing that taking part in these riots was a matter of great pride and heroism.
Located in our village was a mosque which was considered to be very historic and was built by a Peer Hamdani. Many people had accepted Islam at his behest. Our loathing towards the religion and its followers, made us decide that a mosque such as that, had to be eradicated. All the eight of us prepared ourselves and went ahead with the idea. Even after our unyielding and relentless efforts, the main mosque could simply not be damaged. It had seemed as if our axes made up of iron, had turned to wood. After a long time we gave up and decided to destroy the mosque’s compound wall, which was weaker as it had been built by the villagers just a few years back. After destroying that wall we decided to set the mosque on fire. When one of my companions, started to light an old rag dipped in petrol, his own clothes were ablaze and he burned to death. The fire had extinguished, but left its scars on me. I was terror-stricken after the incident and did not have the nerve to continue our plan. Even after that appalling episode, my friends continued to pursue our intent, causing trivial damage to the mosque. Within a week, four of my friends breathed their lastcomplaining of severe headache. Two more of my friends who were involved in our notorious act, became insane.
I was scared for my life now. In the day, I would roam around ashamed, anxious and troubled, and mostly stayed out of people’s sight. In the nights, I would secretly enter the mosque and go into prostration and cry out, “O Lord of the Muslims! Please pardon me for my sin!”
During this time, I could see both, hell and paradise in my dream. I once envisioned that I was in hell, and that the guards there, were punishing my friends, who were a party for demolishing the mosque. The punishment was that they were to be dragged by a rope over a large iron mesh of sharp spikes. Their flesh and skin both would be stripped off from neck to toe once they were done. But in no time at all, the body would return to normal and they would be dragged over the mesh again. Later they were hanged upside down and below them, a roaring fire was being kindled. As they were being burnt, two guards were continuously flogging them with whips. My friends cried and pleaded for mercy with the guards, but in vain.
They kept screaming, “Forgive us. Please forgive us. We’ll never trouble any Muslim ever again. We’ll never ever demolish any mosque after this.”
The guards simply replied, “Your chance for forgiveness is over. No forgiveness shall be granted after death.”
After seeing such dreadful sights, I would nearinsanity. Like as if to comfort me, I would then see paradise in my dream. In paradise, I envisioned a river larger than a lake, in which was flowing fresh, creamy milk. There were beautiful waves of fresh, sweet water, rich honey and wine being formed. I wondered aloud what a thing as harmful as alcohol was, was doing in paradise. I was reassured that this was clean and sweet smelling wine and that drinking it would still keep you in your senses.
On another instance,I saw a huge tree with a canopy wide enough to shade thousands. And sometimes, I could see exquisite orchards and I could always hear, “Allahu Akbar” being recited. I did not like the recital and when I would not repeat “AllahuAkbar” with them, I would be thrown out of paradise, and I would wake up to find myself fallen from my bed. Once, when I saw paradise, I recited, “Lailahaillalah.” A large group of charming looking boys and girls hurriedly began to wait on me.
Neither did my dreams cease nor did the riots of Gujarat. But there was a change in me. I began to deem that I was a Muslim from inside. When I would hear of the massacre of Muslims, I would feel a heart-wrenching pain for them, like they were one of my own. I once happened to make a trip for Bijapur, Karnataka. I came upon a mosque there who’s Imam was from Saharanpur. He had already worked with Moulana Kaleem Siddique in Haryana. I narrated my story before him. He delighted me by telling, “Allah loves you a lot. Because if he didn’t he would have ruined youalso the way he ruined your friends. Please respect His mercy and accept Islam.” He also said that the two people who were the first ones to propose the idea of demolishing Babri Masjid had also accepted Islam at Moulana Kaleem’s behest. He also narrated the incidents where two dacoits from Haryana reverted to Islam. He said, “Maybe Allah wishes to guide you towards the treasure of Islam. Please hasten towards this treasure.”
Before the occurrence of my dreams, even the name of Islam irritated me. I would not let any Muslim walk the through the gates of A.J. Jaspal Thakur College. But I couldn’t understand why, all of a sudden everything about Islam appealed to me. After returning home from Bijapur, I made up my mind to become a Muslim, otherwise I, just like my friends would face the torment of hell. I went to Ahmadabad and accepted Islam in Jamia Masjid. The imam there advised me to not disclose my conversion to my family. I brought back a book named, “Rehbar-e-Namaz” and began to learn how to perform Salah. Very soon, I learnt the procedure and began to offer Salah in hiding. After my exams, during the summer holidays, I planned to go in aJama’at. I informed my family that I wanted to holiday in Goa and showed them the ticket I had got. I let my friend visit Goa on that ticket and I put in forty days in a Jama’at in Baroda. There I read ‘Fazail-e-A’amaal’ and ‘Maut Ke Ba’ad Kya Hoga’ (What happens after you die). When I read about hell and death, it was like I could actually see it before me. After coming home from the Jama’at, I kept offering Salah secretly. Once while I was offering Salah, our housekeeper Virendra Singh suddenly entered my room. He told my father and family of what he saw. After I finished offering Salah, my father stopped me near the door and said that they were now aware that I had become Muslim. He asked me to choose between Islam and my family. He also said that the doors of his house could never welcome such a sacrilegious person. Alhamdulillah, my faith was so strong that at that time even if he would have asked me to choose between Islam and my life, giving up my life would have been a much easier task for me, than leaving the fold of Islam would have been. Even the thought of abandoning my faith seemed fatal to me. I was clichéd of living a Muslim in a disbeliever’s guise. I wanted to let go of living on my whims and start a life on what my Lord wished from me. Now that I had so easily let go of my desires, then how difficult could it possibly be for me to let go of my family’s desires. Fully positive of my decision, I declared that I chose to leave home;and that leaving the fold of Islam was an immoral thought for me. My father seized my cell phone, credit card and my ATM Card, and asked me to leave.
I went to Ahmadabad’s Japura mosque. Everybody there were scared that I belonged to the family of a BJP leader, and did not let me stay there. From there I went to Daryapur to the OldMarkaz. The authorities there checked my credentials and confirmed my identity through phone calls. When they were informed that my father had family connections to a famous BJP leader, who was now minister, then even they refused to allow me to stay there. I was hungry, penniless and had no money for food. I would buy tea and biscuit and before eating it I would recite ‘Bismillah’ and would supplicate to Allah saying, “O my Lord who has power over everything. In this tea and biscuit, please grant me energy for three days.” Alhamdulillah, my Lord had been merciful on me and he did not let me feel hungry for three full days. Someone suggested that I go to Palanpur. A haji in Palanpur advised me to go to Sittur where I could be helped in settling down. In Sittur I was sent to New Jaipur Hotel, Rajasthan. Hotel proprietor, Malik Dhikr bhai,letme stay there for 25 days. I used to perform Salah there and would do some hotel chores voluntarily, even though he did not let me do it. He introduced me to Ahmed bhai who was a very close associate of Moulana Kaleem Siddique. He guided me to go to Phullat. As soon as I reached Delhi, I decided to get it certified by Jumma Masjid that I had becomeMuslim, so that people wouldn’t doubt my story. In the mosque, Imam Bukhari asked me to come on Friday. But then, as soon as I stepped into Phullat, I felt like I had come home after a long time. In Phullat, everybody refers to Moulana Kaleem Siddique as Abi or Abbaji. In Phullat, the lifestyle of Sahabas and the Prophet (saws) was clearly visible in the people’s everyday life.
Sometimes, I would miss my family and home. But then when I would hear that Moulana Kaleem was returning from a trip, I would be overjoyed and wouldwait for his return excitedly. When he returned from a trip,he would embrace me in such a way that all my distress and worries would be wiped out. For me, the thought of dying a disbeliever was no less painful than the thought of entering hell. My lord has been merciful on me and granted me the gift of Islam even though I was more deserving of hell than my friends were. Blinded by my family’s social, political and financial status I had become a tyrant for the Muslims in my area. I walked with pride on Allah’s land; I ate ungratefully what He provided me with and used the body given by Him for His disobedience.After accepting Islam, I once saw my mother set Prasad before an idol of the Hindu god, Vishnu. I noticed two ants come and carry some of it away. Following them came a dog that tasted some of it and urinated on it. That Prasad couldn’t satisfy either of the three; the dog, the ants and the idol. If my Allah wouldn’t have guided me then even I would be, so ignorantly prostrating before a clay idol.
When I sometimes speak to my Hindu brothers I feel even sorrier.They tell me that they worship somebody they can see and ask me how I can worship somebody I cannot see. I ask them, “In the air that you breathe, how can you tell that there is oxygen?”
They reply, “If it wouldn’t have been there, none of us would have survived.”
Then I ask, “Have you ever seen the oxygen that you breathe.”
They confirm, “We can at least sense it.”
Then I tell them, “How unfortunate are you. You sense and believe in oxygen and, are not able to sense or believe in the Lord who created oxygen! You have really pitiful senses.”
I have decided to let matters cool a little and then send my story to World News, so that my family reads it. My family is very popular in the area and anybody who saw me thought I wasliving in heaven. Even the word ‘Islam’ enraged me. But then when truth came before me and the curtains of falsehood vanished, I wondered how I was possibly living when I was denying the existence of the true Master. Now the dearest of words to me is Islam. If somebody asks me now to give my life for Islam or a Muslim, I would consider it my good fortune. I want people to know of my story so that people realize that if a boy from such a privileged household could have abandoned his lifestyle for this religion then truly this religion has to be more precious and valuable than any joy on earth.
But blood ties are very sentimental and strong. Hence I miss my parents and family a lot. More then their life, the thought of their death is a very troubling one. I have never once contacted them after the day I left home, but still I pray for guidance for them. I have told Moulana Kaleem Siddique also and I know even he prays for them because he’s promised me of it. And I also trust my Lord to not reject his prayers, and bless my family with the gift of His guidance and mercy. I once asked Moulana Kaleem, “You are my father, my teacher and everything else. Will you please grant one wish of mine? In the mosque, they’ve named me Sohail Khan. But it will be an honor for me if my name is associated with yours because you mean more to me than my own father does. Now that my biological parents have kicked me out, will you please permit me to name myself Sohail Siddique?” I believed that if I named myself after Moulana Kaleem Siddique, then Allah would make me also the medium of guidance for others, like he made Moulana Kaleem Siddique. At the least I would be the source of guidance for my family. To that, Moulana Kaleem replied, “My son, the truth is that Kaleem Siddique himself isn’t a Muslim yet. Our Prophet (PBUH) has reported that towards the end of the world Islam will enter the house of every man. This prophecy will undoubtedly come true, but you will give credit to the name of Kaleem Siddique. What’s the point of such an improper feeling? Actually, the title ‘Siddique’ was given to Abu Bakr (ra) for his unhesitant acceptance of Islam and for testifying for the Prophet of Allah and the truth. Similarly even you accepted Islam by your visions and have testified for the truth; hence even you can yourself Siddique – the Testifier of Truth.”
From then on, I changed my name from SohailKhan to Sohail Siddique.
Life is like a train journey, where the destination is heaven. When a traveler gets on a train he requires a ticket which determines whether or not he is a legal traveler. In the journey of life, iman is the ticket, without which one’s like an illegal traveler who is not sure of whether or not he’ll reach the right destination, or will be thrown out by the guards half way. Hence it becomes our responsibility to appeal to the world to travel a peaceful journey with this ticket. If the message of Islam reaches all the people then even their lives will transform like mine did. And whoever doesn’t believe then let him ask my heart of what a terrifying place hell is, and of paradise, a place worth getting sacrificed for.
[Contributed by: Zainab Aliyah]