Why I Converted To Islam? A Chinese Muslim Revert Story

Having been a Chinese Muslim revert for more than two decades, I thought of sharing my story on why I converted to Islam.

Why, Why, Why? … “Elaine, why did you convert to Islam?” That was one of the most ‘commonly asked questions’ posted to me. At the initial stage, it was hard for me to reply and there was normally some awkward moment with long-paused silence.

I must admit that during those early years after I embrace Islam, I was rather afraid to answer this question and avoided it most of the time. I didn’t like the way others looked at me as if I had committed a big sin.

However, over the years, I came to realise that the reason why they asked me is because they love me and care for me. I know they are feeling worried about me when they got to know that I became a Muslim. Alhamdulillah, I’ve overcome that challenging situation. And today, I am happy and proud to share with anyone about my revert story.

And if you can understand Mandarin, you can watch the recording below where I appear on RTM TV2, What Say You? program to share my journey to Islam.

What is the Difference Between Convert to Islam & Revert to Islam?

Before I start talking about myself, I feel it is important to differentiate between the terms convert and revert when it comes to embracing Islam. It is, after all, another commonly asked question, especially by my non-Muslim friends.

Well, “Convert” is most often used for one who embraces a new religion. A common definition of the word “convert” is “to change from one religion or belief to another.”

But among Muslims, you may have heard about people who have chosen to adopt Islam refer to themselves as “reverts” instead. Some people see their embrace of Islam as a “return” back to this original, pure faith in our Creator.

A common definition of the word “revert” is to “return to a former condition or belief.” A revert is returning back to that innate faith to which they were connected as young children before being led away. 

Perceptions Towards Islam

Honestly, prior to my revert, my perception of Islam and Malays are the same. To me, Islam is Malay, and Malay is Islam. But I gradually understood that Malay is a race, while Islam is a religion. That is also why I am a Chinese Muslim, not a Malay Muslim. Unfortunately, to this day, there are people who thought I am a Malay because I wear a tudung (headscarf).

On top of this, I realised that there are other key misconceptions about Islam:

1. Islam is a violent religion: This is one of the most widespread misconceptions about Islam, and it is largely fueled by media coverage of acts of terrorism committed by extremist groups claiming to be Islamic. However, such acts are not representative of Islam, which promotes peace and justice.

2. Muslims are terrorists: This is another common misconception that is largely driven by media coverage. The reality is that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and law-abiding citizens who contribute positively to society.

3. Women are oppressed in Islam: This is a misconception that arises from a misunderstanding of Islamic teachings. Islam places great emphasis on the dignity and rights of women and provides them with legal and social protections.

4. Islam is a backward religion: This misconception is based on a biased and stereotypical view of Islamic culture and history. In reality, Islamic civilization has made significant contributions to art, science, and philosophy.

5. Muslims do not respect other religions: This is a misconception that arises from a lack of understanding of Islamic teachings. Islam teaches respect for all religions and encourages peaceful coexistence and dialogue.

It is important to address them to promote understanding and harmony among people of different faiths.

My Journey Back To Islam

I spent my childhood in Muar, Johor and I grew up in a typical Chinese family surrounded by mainly Chinese neighbourhoods. Thus, there wasn’t much exposure for me to get to know much about other races and religions.

Why I Converted To Islam - Childhood venue at Muar

I was born in a Buddhist family and every time I was told to pray to the statue, I followed, and never asked much. However, there were lots of questions lingering in my mind…

“Why are there so many statues (gods) of different faces?”

“There are so many statues in everyone’s houses, and which statue is the most powerful? Which one has the supreme power to answer my prayers and have the ultimate control over the universe?”

“When I leave home for overseas, do I leave the statue (the God), or did the God leave me?”

… there were just so many curiosities and “unanswered questions”. Perhaps it was just my lack of understanding of Buddhism and I never got the opportunity to get my curiosities satisfied.

I still remember this one episode that further triggered my curiosity when I was away on overseas studies. Having been away from Malaysia for more than a year, it triggered me to think, where is the god (statue) which I normally prayed to?

I didn’t bring the statue with me and does it mean that “they” (my God) are not with me? It was a very strong feeling that I needed God but the statues were not with me, and I can’t pray. The feeling was devastating and I felt lost. This episode puts me into a deeper thinking mode – Where is God? and Who is the real creator?

Why I Converted To Islam - Singapore Islamic Hub

Upon returning from my overseas study, I continued to look and search for the answers to all my queries about Islam. All in all, it took me around 4 years to clear my curiosity and doubts towards Islam. I was blessed to have many friends who gave me encouragement to attend religious classes and be with me during my “challenging time”.

In one of my classes back in 2000, I learned how to pray. A prayer mat was laid on the floor for me and nothing was in front of me, as in nothing – no statue, no photo of any “god”, nothing physically displaying in front of me, but a strong feeling that ALLAH is with me, even though I don’t see anything physically.

Why I Converted To Islam - Woman kneeling down on grey carpet
Revert to Islam gives me peace of mind in my day-to-day life

At that moment, I know ALLAH is with me. Alhamdulillah, in that very year, I took my syahadah at Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS) and became a Muslim of my own will.

Reverting to Islam – A Deeply Personal Choice

To me, every Muslim revert has his/her own story and reason to revert to Islam. Everyone has their own unique story and reasons.

When a person is considering whether to become a Muslim, I strongly encourage them to do more research and learn more about the religion. It is important for you to understand its teachings and practices.

When a person decides to embrace Islam, it means he/she is ready to accept and believe in the Islamic faith, which is centred around the belief in one God (Allah) and following the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. If you want to understand more about Islam, you may read the Quran, speak with a local Imam, Muslim scholar or any other Muslim reverts to gain more insights.

It is also important to understand that becoming a Muslim is a personal decision, and it should not be made under pressure from others. Take your time to learn and reflect before making a decision, and make sure that it is something that you truly believe in and are committed to following.

Ultimately, the decision to become Muslim is a deeply personal one, and it should be based on your own beliefs and convictions.

The best thing to do to obtain peace of heart and mind, happiness and tranquility is by the remembrance of Allah. Allah says: “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.

(Ra’d 13:28)

Connect with Me

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as I share my little story on why I converted to Islam.

I am also a certified Islamic Financial Planner and a CFPCERT TM Professional. If I can be of assistance to you, feel free to reach out to me.

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