Ihsan Chua Gim Sam, 23, born a Taoist, who when he was 9 years old believed in Christianity because of a threat and later in his young teens followed the teachings of Buddha, shares with Sister Muneera Al-Adros, his path toward embracing Islam. Ihsan's story was published in the "Muslim Reader", Oct-Dec 1994. This is a publication of the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore.
According to a hadith, when a child is born, he or she is like a white cloth, it is the parents that will colour the white cloth to be red, blue, green or yellow. My parents are Taoists, therefore I was brought up as a Taoist since my birth. During my childhood years, I believed and accepted Taoism even though I did not know anything about it. It was only during my teens did I find out that Taoism is a religion of ancestral worshipping. My parents like many other Taoists do not even know or bother to find out the history of Taoism. I was not taught the history or principles of Taoism. I accepted and practised Taoism according to what was "handed down" to me by my parents. Like many Taoists, I accepted what was "handed down" to me without any qualms.
When I was about 9 years old, a school teacher told me and some of my school mates that we should all become Christians. We were told if we do not become Christians, we will have to die as a punishment for being a non-Christian. I was very afraid of that threat. Thereupon I became a believer of two religions - Taoism (because of my family) and Christianity (because of the threat). As I grew older, I could not decide which religion I should be practising.
During my third and fourth year in Secondary School, I opted to study Buddhism as a subject in Religious Knowledge because it was known to be the easiest paper to study for. I was influenced by the Buddhism doctrine because it is very logical and practical. The concept of benevolence in Buddhism struck a chord in my heart. I followed the teaching of Buddhism as closely as possible but I did not become Buddhist I found that even though Buddhism is based on good principles and practices, however, it lacks the presence of a supreme being - God. When I joined St. Andrew's Junior College, a missionary aided school, it was compulsory for all students (except Muslim students) to attend the school's weekly chapel service. During the service, we sang songs and listened to sermons. At the end of some of the services, we were asked if any of us would like the become Christians. I was influenced by one particular priest, whom I considered to be "powerful" in his preaching. He used prophecies in the Bible to effectively prove the "Truth" found in the Old Testament in relation with those found in the New Testament. I was especially impressed when he spoke of prophecies in the OT being fulfilled in the NT. My interest was also aroused when he talked about the Last Day. He also related to us various experiences that some Christians have gone through. One example was that of a Christian lady who was certified dead. In her "death", she went through the ordeal of having her legs pulled down to Hell. Somehow she was released and came back to life. On her return from "death" she confirmed that there is God, life after death and Hell as stated in the Bible. That was how I was initially drawn toward Protestant Anglican religion. I was 17
years old then.
However I could not settled down with one one denomination of the Christian faith. I kept changing from one church to another. I was still searching for inner peace and could not make up my mind as to which church I should be attending. When I was in my final year in the army, I met a friend who brought me to his church, St. John St. Margaret. I finally felt "at home" in this church. I became active with the church activities. I was a leader in two ministries, one ministry dealt with children while the other was a sports ministry. I was involved in the children tuition scheme. The ministry provided free tuition to school children at the same time, spreading the message of Christianity slowly and subtly. The children were from Primary One level onwards. I was assigned to take care of two students. Before every tuition, there was a session of worship. We sang songs and had story sessions wherein I told the children stories from the Bible.
I also worked hard with the Church's sports ministry. We did missionary work by asking people to join us in game. I was in charge of the basketball team. Every week, we rented a court and practised the game. We invited "outsiders" and tried to lead them to Christianity by example. We highlighted the spirit of care and concern and tried to express these virtues as much as we could. In between and after practices, we tried to indoctrinate Christianity to these youths, most of whom were teenagers and young adults.
The sports ministry's concept is quite practical, not only in Singapore but also in other countries. My church was the first in Singapore to introduce this concept of care and concern.
While I was still active with the church, I got to know a Muslim whom I tried to talk to about Christianity. She was very sure about the truth of her religion but she did not know how to explain its truth to me. There was no way I could convince her about Christianity. It made me wonder because many Muslims even those who are drug addicts, they are all "dead sure" that Islam is the true religion. I decided to ask my Muslim friend what is so true about her religion that its followers will not renounce it. She did not know how to explain to me but instead told me to get information on Islam from Darul Arqam, the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore. I agreed to her suggestion even though I regarded Islam as a religion of terrorism and a religion that does not make sense. My reasoning was that if the religion is good, the people will be good. As for Muslims, I knew only a few of them and those that I knew were not "good Muslims." I remember knowing only one good Muslim friend during my junior college days but she did not make any attempt to convey the message of Islam to me. At that time, there were Muslims who had tried to spread the message of Islam to me.
My family has been against Islam because of what always happened in the Middle East as well as the Malay workers that my father hired, all of whom happened to be lazy and always misbehaved.
Since I had agreed to visit Darul Arqam, I went on ahead to the Association. On my first visit I attended the orientation class and was introduced to Brother Remy. I was shocked and impressed over two things that he told me. First, he pointed out that Islam is not based on emotion unlike Christianity. I contemplated these words and was surprised at my reaction to those words. Secondly, he said, "Don't convert first, until you ask questions as much as you want and when you have no more questions to ask, then only convert." In Christianity, you cannot ask questions because the more questions you ask the more confused you become.
After highlighting those two points, Brother Remy recommended to the Orientation class the book, "Islam in Focus". I was shocked at what I found in the book. Some issues which I felt was not logical in Christianity but had no way to resolve them, I found the answers in this book. I was also shocked to find in the book what I believed and like about Buddhism are actually Islamic beliefs. There are many similarities in the principles in the principles of Buddhism with that of Islam.
The following week I went back to Darul Arqam to attend the beginners' class and the class was half way through the Pillars of Islam. I found the class boring and only attended one to two more lessons but gave up the class. Thereafter, I bought two more books on Islam - "The Choice, Islam and Christianity" by Ahmed Deedat and "The Basis of Muslim Belief" by Gary Miller. I was really impressed by both books. I met Brother Remy again and he introduced me to Uztaz Zulkeflee who discussed Islam with me for a few weeks. Whatever questions that were posed to me about Christianity which I could not handle, I would list all those questions and pose it back to my church and the Singapore Bible College. I was put in a very difficult position because I could not accept either my church or the Bible College's answers to the questions. If I had accepted their answers reasoning it would like dishonouring God. For example, when I tried to discuss the contradictions in the Bible, all they could tell me was that these are minor contradictions or minor mistakes or copying error. I had to do alot of my own research on those questions posed by Darul Arqam. The most devastating part of my research was on the church history. The church history itself highlighted the fact that the concept of Trinity was introduced in 325 A.D. which was 325 years after the "death" of Christ. Before that, there were different doctrines and all the doctrines were different from one another.
Since I got alot more information from Islamic sources on Christianity, I was not satisfied. What I found out about Christianity from the Islamic sources, I checked with various encyclopedias and other different sources. I found that all the information I got from the Islamic sources were genuine facts.
When I took a closer look (closer than I ever did before) at the prophecy, "the spirit of the truth will come and lead people to all truth," I could clearly see that this prophecy was referring to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his message. This prophecy did not point out to Jesus (a.s.) because the early Christians could not decide on the identity of Christ. To this date they are still arguing regarding the identity of Christ.
During my study on Islam, I also tried to learn about Islam from Christian books and I found them to be malicious. With the knowledge I have on Islam, I could refute all the false claims made by Christians. One example is the claim that they made about God in Islam - "that of being seen as so far away and cannot be reconciled with His creations." I know this is not true because in Islam, God is close to His creation, as close as to a person's jugular vein. "It was We who created man, and We know that dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein." (The Holy Quran, [50:16])
The Christians also claimed that Allah lacked lovable qualities. I do not know how the Christians can make such a claim when saying the "Basmallah" (In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful) is very much part of a Muslim daily routine. In addition, the 99 names of Allah highlight the many loving and caring attributes of God in Islam. I had to reject all the claims that the Christians made against Islam because I had to be fair to myself. They are all from the evangelical point of view and I had to regard them as lies.
I then read "Muhammad in the Bible" and "The Gospel of Thomas". By now, I had had too many shocks. The "Dead Sea Scrolls" made a final impact on my Christian belief. I tried but found no reason to remain a Christian. I saw all the falsehood I did not expect to see about Christianity. I had carefully checked every way I could in case I was wrong but there was nothing left to check.
I continued to learn about Islam from the Quran and other books as well as the various Muslim teachers who strive to guide me towards the true path.
One day, Uztaz Zulkeflee asked me, "When are you going to convert?" I was speechless. I thought about it over and over again and could not find one single reason not to embrace Islam. Thereafter, I decided to embrace Islam, the true religion.
Initially, my family did not take my conversion seriously, They though I had embraced Islam only in namesake and would still continue to eat pork and lead a non-Muslim lifestyle.
Later on, when my family found out that I was a practising Muslim, there was chaos. It became more chaotic when I observed fasting during the month of Ramadan. I was almost driven out of my house. The situation at home continued to be strained for several months thereafter. I did not eat at home. I was accused of not loving my family anymore. There were constant quarrels between my family and I. I tried to explain Islam to them but they just did not understand.
I grew afraid to go home. I stayed out late at night. One day, my mother approached me and told me not to be out so late at night. She said my father had expressed concern about my late nights. She suggested that I buy my own food and she would cook separately for me. Now, most of the time my family and I eat halal food at home. It is more convenient for my mum to cook dishes where not only my family members can eat but also her Muslim son. Situation at home has improved for the better except for the occasional harmless nagging that I get from my family. Alhamdulillah.