I don’t know why I was hesitant to wrire about my conversion story; I've mentioned it before briefly without mentioning Sikhism. I felt I may be mocked by other Sikhs. They may not take me seriously or consider me a traitor. However, if even just one Sikh reads this and benefits, it is worth for me to share the story. So here it goes. Another conversion story, but probably not like the ones you've heard of before.
It is important first to know some background information about the history of the Mughal empire conquering India. Most people consider there are only three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Of course, only Islam is the religion where one believes in only One God without partners. However, most people (non-Muslims) would consider Sikhism as a monotheistic religion as well, as the Sikhs say they believe in One God. The Sikhs believe however the Essence of God is different, because they believe He is Omnipresent (exists everywhere in everything). Its only today that I can realize this is seriously major shirk. You have associated all of creation with God, but none is comparable to Him. Alhamdulilah, I get it now.
What the normal Sikh grows up learning is that when the Muslims (Mughals) came to India, they oppressed the Hindus. They forced them to convert, tortured them (99.9% of Sikh temples, if not more, have graphic portraits of Sikhs and their prophets being tortured by the Mughals. Such as being boiled in pots of water/oil, being sawed in half, woman with their children's body parts put on a string like a necklace around the mother's necks. Sorry to be so graphic, but I am not exaggerating. I am just trying to put you in my shoes of what the average Sikh (or probably all) sees on a daily basis, or at least once a week when they visit the temple, regardless of how religious they are or how tolerant they are).
The Sikh children grow up being told stories revolving around these portraits. They are gifted books with such graphic portraits. This is the bulk of the Sikh history we learn at home and at a Sunday school. However, we are taught all religions are different paths to the same God. I think it’s hard to be a Sikh and not grow up with a deep-rooted hatred for Muslims, even if it’s a secret hatred. However, a lot of the teachings of Sikhism are taken directly (or mixed up and combined) from Islam and Hinduism/Buddhism. However, it is impossible to have a discussion about this with a Sikh as they will become angry if you mention this. They believe their religion is unique and not taken from the polytheistic Hinduism. They will argue that they believe in one God. In fact, the first words in the Sikh Holy Book translate to exactly: there is One God (Laa ilaaha illa Allah to us, which is the heart of Islam). However, all (Sikhs) say He is omnipresent (everywhere), which contradicts He is One. The Sikhs will argue and describe their belief in one God in everything as a drop of water, and God is like the body of the water, so we are part of Him and somewhat separate. I no longer believe this, nor does it make sense to me anymore. But yes, once it made sense, and I did believe in it. However, it left me with a lot of other unanswered questions, such as if God is everywhere/in everything, isn’t everything worth of worship? Also, what part of us sins, our bodies or souls? Of course, our souls. So, how could that be part of a Perfect Creator?
In Sikhism, we are taught we need to overcome our egos. Now, I feel this is the most egotistic and arrogant claim, that any part of you is part of the Divine Creator. This is not a humbling belief at all. For example, if you look around you know, EVERYTHING has been created for a purpose, but the creator/maker is not physically part of it. Take a basic table (for example), it’s made for sitting at and putting dishes and food on it. The man who made it is not physically in there, not at all. The table is a sign of the maker, and he is SEPARATE from his creation. This is so basic.
Now that I've bored you (hope I haven't), I personally grew up not hating Muslims. I had Muslim friends. I hated, HATED what the Mughal Muslims did, but I personally could not associate the Mughals with all of the Muslims (as my parents and other Sikhs do). Growing up I was told to stay away from the womanizing Muslim boys and men. This is extremely common with Sikhs, to tell their children to stay away from Muslims (especially of the opposite sex) and not to listen to what they say of their religion. We are told they rip of the heads of the animals (cruelty), have 4 wives, etc. I would say similar views of the typical close minded non-Muslim.
We were also told that the Muslims killed our Prophets. Sikhism was created during the Mughal Empire's conquest of India. A man by the name of Guru Nanak came claiming he was enlightened by God, and that there was such thing as Hindu or Muslim. We are all equal and hence, his teachings are a blend of Islam and Hinduism. They and their followers rebelled against the Mughal’s Empire and would not convert. They were tortured and killed brutally.
I would say I was "safe" from the Muslims until I went to college. There I became more open minded, maybe too much to the point that I wondered what was wrong with gay marriage, two people loved each other !?! I met my husband and we married despite my parents’ disapproval and disownment. I was actually harassed quiet a lot by them (phone calls, cursing, etc). I think now there was a lot of wisdom behind this, because this got me to somewhat disconnect from Sikhism. I always wanted to know more about God growing up. I used to call upon God to make me understand Him more. I was not finding it in Sikhism, but I never even THOUGHT about leaving Sikhism. I thought if I learned about other religions, I could apply it and "add" it to Sikhism and better understand God. I don’t know why I had an urge to learn about Islam, especially after I got married.
My husband was not practicing at that time. In fact he told me once,
"You know what a Kaafir (disbeliever) is? A Kaafir is one who does not believe in God, so you are not a Kaafir."
This always makes me laugh when I think of it now. I used to ask him questions about Islam but I didn't always get the right answer and sometimes no answer. So, I gave up asking, but I wanted to learn more. Once after having my first son, we went to Morocco where my wonderful father-in-law (may Allah bless him and have Mercy on him) gifted me the Quran in English. I was happy to get it and curious to see what this book said. My parents weren’t there to grab it and throw it or yell at me and make me feel nervous and guilty for holding it or wanting to read it. Alhamdulilah, for the distance, I don’t know if I could ever have read it without this distance. Exalted is the Wisdom of Allah, truly!
Mind you I was not familiar with the Bible or Torah or stories of the prophets. I asked my sisters in law questions, like how did Noah fit all the animals on the ark? How did Moses separate the ocean? One sister-in-law (may God bless her, I love her, she's mashaAllah very intelligent and a teacher) said to me do you believe God performed miracles through the prophets? She asked me if I believed God was capable of this. I said yes, definitely. She said, that is how He did it. It clicked. Now I feel stupid for not considering that. The question was simple, the answer was even simpler, and I got it.
Then when I read the Quran, I found it so strange in a good way. I said this is different, it says We (for God), like its written in first person. I never read anything like this before. It was wonderful. I got through Surat Al-Fatihah for the first time and I couldn't put it down. I used to wonder why children die, why is there suffering, hunger, poverty, etc. When I got to the line in Surat Al Baqarah where Allah says that we will be tested with loss of wealth, loss of life, etc. and give glad tidings to the patient ones, I wept. Again, I got an answer to a basic question I had that I could not find a clear answer for in the Sikh Holy Book. In the Sikh Holy Book, I was taught that affliction is a result of bad sins committed by us in our past lives. This reasoning never stuck with me, it didn’t seem fair/correct to me. However, in the Quran, the purpose of affliction was that it is a test, and the solution is to be patient. It was like my heart and my head had said the Shahaadah without me uttering it. You know it was weird, I didn't want to be a Muslim; but here I was. I could not deny it. I could not be dishonest to my soul. A few months later in Ramadan I completed reading the Quran in English and I said the Shahaadah out loud while Allah was my only Witness. It was something special to say it alone in private. It was from my heart. It was witnessed and heard by the One and Only Knower of All who had guided me. Perfect Praise be to Him.
I still find it so strange that I am the only Sikh I know that has converted to Islam. Sometimes it makes me smile and laugh, I used to go to the temple every Sunday and sing hymns there often! And sometimes I feel humbled and honored at the drastic change but peace of mind and wonder why me? I feel I have some duty to fulfill due to my conversion, like write a book or article debunking omnipresence, this is the heart of Sikhism. If they just understood that God is not omnipresent, then only Islam would be left for them to consider. Sikhism already believes God has no children. InshaAllah, one day I will.
I think the beauty of Islam is hidden from Sikhs and others behind a veil of misconceptions and deep-rooted hatred for them all due to the horrible actions of a few misguided ones. This makes me sad and I wonder how other Sikhs will ever come to Islam. However, it brings peace to me to know that it is Allah who Guides whom He wants regardless of who it is and in what circumstance they are in.
I say to the Sikhs, SEARCH! After all, Sikh means learner or to learn. Learn about other religions, Islam AND other religions. Read the Holy Books of other religions not what people have said about them. Go to the correct source, read it with an open mind and ask the Creator to guide you to the truth. If Sikhism is preferred to you over other religions, then through your study of faiths you will only come out as a stronger and more convinced Sikh. You may love Sikhism more, but you will probably question it more. I ask you, what/who are you afraid of, your parents or the truth? What is preventing you from learning the truth about Islam from the best and correct source, the Quran? In the end, aren't the Sikhs like the Muslims? Are they not supposed to fear none but God, their Creator?
Many Sikhs like to say they are Sikh by choice. In fact, my Sikh brother has a shirt that says precisely that. I feel a lot of Sikhs are Sikh by choice because they would rather choose not to disappoint their parents, their friends and they don't want to betray a minority religion whose followers were brutally tortured. Sikh by guilt/anger. I challenge any Sikh reading this to read the Quran and then tell me if you are still Sikh by choice.
Do not lie to yourself, or to your Creator.