"Ya Allah, what shall I do now that I can't have access to Islamic books?"
I was forced to stay in my family home after my divorce. No house, no car, not much money. All that's left is my freedom. And along with it, a great hope that in two months' time, I'd finally be able to embrace Islam officially as my religion.
In the meanwhile, I had to keep my plan a secret from my family.
One word out, and all hell will break lose. I'd face more obstacles in my quest to be a Muslim if my family were to find out about my plan.
Staying at Mum's meant not being able to learn more about Islam.
I couldn't read Islamic books openly.
I couldn't watch Islamic programmes on tv.
I couldn't just walk into a Islamic religious department with Mum and Brother following behind.
Mum is always at home with me.
I needed sustenance.
I prayed long and hard for a solution.
Alhamdulillah, the answer was just a click away.
"Can you connect?"
"Got it! You no need use my computer any longer. Just click from your laptop."
Thanks to Allah. Brother knows a lot about computers, and with some tinkering, he managed to link my laptop to his desktop. I no longer needed to use his desktop to read my emails.
I finally had internet access connected to my own laptop. Yet looking for good information about Islam, and how to be one in Malaysia is more difficult than I had thought. I didn't know where to start. Typing 'how to be Muslim in Malaysia' led to nowhere. Finally I entered forums where most Malay Muslims participated. One thing led to another and I finally found a kind and sympathetic Muslim brother online. With his help, I downloaded some e-books which I'd read when Mum or Brother wasn't looking over my shoulder. I entered Islamic websites that helps to explain about Islam. I spent two fruitful months learning about Islam through the internet, and my conviction grew stronger that Islam is the true religion.
Of course, my secret was almost revealed incidentally.
Brother returned home early one day and saw me reading a page about Islam. "What's all those Arabic words for?"
Quick thinking saved me. "Oh well, I have to learn about Islamic Civilization next semester (it's a true fact, I got a B+ for that paper). Am learning what I can about it." I replied nonchalantly. Brother shook his head but as he wasn't interested, he walked away. Fuhh!
Through the internet, I became friends with helpful Muslims who became my mentors and online friends. They became my anchor. They prayed for me. They wished me well. And when I officially became a Muslim, they rejoiced. They kept in touch with me during the difficult phase every new Muslim faces, and showed concern about my well-being when Muslims around me didn't seem to care.
I am one of the lucky ones. 10 years of journey into Islam. 10 years of waiting, searching, learning and re-learning. Some may think that a 10-years-journey is a waste but alhamdulillah, for me, 10 years late is better than never. Come to think of it, I am actually spared of 10 years' worth of sins. Alhamdulillah.
When books are not available for me, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala opened the door of technology for me to learn about Islam. I didn't even have to step foot into the local Islamic religious offices. All the information I needed was just a click away, thanks to online friends who provided them to me. There are many people who are undergoing the same adventure as I do. There are those who are not computer literate and need to rely on Muslim friends as well as on any available books for information about Islam. There are those who want to learn more about Islam but do not want to reveal their identities for reasons best known to them. All they need to do now is to open the right doors.
And alhamdulillah, the doors to information about Islam are available more than ever now. There are now many good international websites such as islamonline.com. Free e-books about Islam can be optained from www.islamhouse.com. For others who want a fresh perspective on Islam and immediate response to questions, they may want to try http://islamiccentral.blogspot.com/, the brainchild of an enthusiastic and friendly Muslim brother.
It is hoped that by providing such information readers will gain a new perspective and knowledge about the true teachings of prophet Muhamad. It is also hoped that through the sharing of Muslim reverts' experiences we would be able to show that it is possible to be a good practising Muslim despite opposition from family members. For Malaysians, it is also hoped that providing the correct information will help to dispel the notion that being a new Muslim means having to adopt another culture.
We are all servants of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala. Therefore if there is anything that I could do to help in the cause of Islam, may He help me to do it now...amiin.