This photo was taken by M.Nguyen (me). This is the famous ‘Blue Mosque’ in Istanbul, Turkey, where I visited in February.
I finally did it.
A few hours ago, I clicked “Send”, and the letter I spent about 2 weeks writing and editing was sent away. The receivers would be my parents, those I dearly love. I wrote in my email: ‘This is a special letter, because it contains something I have always wanted to tell you ’.
Don’t feel so freaky. I wasn’t pregnant; I wasn’t in love; and I wasn’t lesbian, either. I also did not murder anyone, nor did I hurt any person physically or emotionally. In fact, I am a typical kid that parents don’t have to worry so much about: I have no tattoo, no crazy hair style, and no sexual relationships that leave behind serious consequences.
So, what is the secret that I have always wanted to tell my parents? Well, the secret is: I have converted to Islam. It is clearly not something that is worth printed in a newspaper, but for my parents, it will be shocking. After their initial shock, they will feel frustrated and perhaps, disappointed. The Vietnamese society is characterised as homogenous, and thus being different is not encouraged, if not disapproved and criticised. Islam is almost non-existent in Vietnam: for 17 years living there, I have neither met a Muslim nor read anything about Islam and Islam history. What can I do? The communist government clearly doesn’t want to inform the population of different religions, fearing that it would cause rebellions and instability. Since I was young, I have always been taught that there is no God, and humans evolved from monkeys. The word ‘religion’ has a negative connotation, as it is usually associated with superstitions and backwardness. To be a modern Vietnamese is to be an atheist, a communist, and a materialist. Yet, at the same time, I grew up witnessing so-called rational people worshiping ancestors, going to pagodas to pray for money and prosperity, and flinging themselves into all sorts of superstitions such as fortunetelling, astrologies and ghost-calling. I confess that I used to be a part of that insane system, that is, I also went to temples to pray different gods and saints. But I don’t think I had ever really believed that these gods existed or if the existed, they had power. When I felt desperate, I still called for some Being, although I didn’t know who to call. I just knew that there must be somebody out there who is beyond this world, and who can assist me with His power. Yes, so even in that pseudo-communist system, I already recognised the existence of God. It is just that I didn’t know who He was, and how should I think of Him.
My two years in Australia helped me to find the answer. After researching into different religions, from Buddhism to Christianity , I eventually met Islam. And guess what, the description of God that Islam provides is just perfect. God is One. There is no other god But God, who is the Creator of the universe, who creates the tiniest atom as well as animals, human beings, the sun and the galaxy. God is neither a white man dying in the cross, nor an angelic woman, nor an Indian with big ears. God is not like anything in this world, because He is the Creator, not the creation. He is the Eternal, the Powerful, the Infinite. He creates human beings so that we, as his arts, can manifest His attributes, can appreciate his works, and give thanks. I don’t know how you feel, but when I read this description, I realised that this ‘God’ must be the One that I have always been searching and calling for help. No other religions confirmed the Unity and Singleness of God the way Islam does. And no other religion or philosophy has moved me that much when I learn about the definition of ‘God’.
I took more researches before I decided to become a Muslim. It was a huge decision, and until now, I still think it must be the wisest thing I have done in my life. Islam has changed me a lot. At least, I’ve become less angry, less impatient, and less greedy. At least, I know what I am supposed to do. At least, I feel a sense of tranquility in my heart.
Yet, after these two years of being a Muslim, there was still something I couldn’t do: informing my parents that I am a Muslim. I had a lot of fears: fear of being mistreated in Vietnam, fear of unemployment, fear of hostility from friends and relatives and so on. But what worried me most is that I would have to see my parents in pain and disappointment. I love my parents a lot, and it is excruciating to watch them hurt, dejected and depressed. That was why I hesitated to tell my parents the truth.
So, what made me decide to send them a letter now? Many practical reasons, to be honest. But the most important reason is that I know it is the time to do so. I don’t want to hide my parents anymore. Come on! They are my parents, those I love and treasure. It would be nonsense if I refused to tell them about an important part of my life. It would make me no different from a hypocrite, who boasted about their love for God yet didn’t do anything for Him. In addition, I also hope after knowing me as Muslim, my parents will be interested in learning about Islam. They might not think Islam is the truth, but at least they will be informed. After all, it is better to know than to stay ignorant.
I am waiting for my parents’ responses. Before I started typing this entry, I was panicking, and felt like the world would end soon. However, now, I feel a sense of relief. My heart is at ease, cause I have nothing more to conceal. That’s it. The truth is out. That’s it. I have completed one of my duties, that is, to inform other people of Islam. That’s it.
Now the results are up to God. He will decide what will happen next. I pray that I will have strength to face all the cumbersome problems, and that in the end, after all the fuss ,my parents will accept me, or at least understand me.