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Omar (Shiam Gautham)
Shiam Gautham has been born in the sixties of the last century to a Hindu family of ancient lineage. He has been educated in the state of UP, India. His family belonged to the Shudras caste, the second class of the Hindu community based on its position, and the advantages accorded by the Hindu religion.
Shiam, the Hindu grew up in India for some time. He has worshiped stone idols, and venerated animals and trees, and has glorified their foolish lies. Shiam’s family was not religious and couldn’t care less about it. For them, faith was merely: “Customs and traditions handed down by their fathers and grandfathers; so they have adopted them as a way of life.” Allah supports this claim in Sura A-Baqara, verse 170: “(When it is said to them: "Follow what Allah hath revealed:" They say: "Nay! we shall follow the ways of our fathers." What! even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?)”
The first thing that shocked Shiam in Hinduism has been the caste system. Humans have been divided into four branches in the books of the Vedas that are sacred to Hindus. For instance, the (Brahmins claim to have been created from the mouth of God. In second position comes the caste of Shudras, who have been created from God's arm. The third class is the Vaishyas; according to this claim, they have been created from God’s thigh. And finally, the last and fourth group is the Shudra caste. Of course, we know about another layer of society called the untouchables, or out of caste.
This division hasn’t been to the liking of Shiam despite belonging to Shudra caste. It’s the second societal class in status. He used to feel hurt by the sight of his father torturing his farm workers who hail from Shudra caste. He was always wondering, how does religion allow such a racial discrimination? The priests then reply with a disgraceful answer: this is the will of God. Here, Allah rejects their false claims in Sura Al-A’raf, verse 28: “(When they do aught that is shameful, they say: "We found our fathers doing so"; and "Allah commanded us thus": Say: "Nay, Allah never commands what is shameful: do ye say of Allah what ye know not?)”
To me, it is “repulsive to see arrogant Brahmins or descendants of high-class families, consider themselves superior to others. They expect people to fear their wrath or even seek their friendship without doing any good work and worthy deeds. And likewise, it hurts me great deal to see lower class people outcast without guilt or shortcomings. They are followed by disdainful looks and derogatory remarks for no other sins but stereotyped by society. I am still captive of these doubts like a feather floating in the wind.”
The Hinduism’s contempt for these outcasts has reached a level that it has prevented them from practicing their religion. It has also forbidden them to read or touch religious books. It has even denied them hearing the hymns of those books. Furthermore, it has forced them to plug their ears to stop the readers’ sounds reaching their hearing. According to Hinduism, these creatures have been found to serve the upper classes only.
All of these images and others have led Shiam to a firm conviction. “This religion will never provide man with correct guidance. How can this happen with a faith based on such unfair differences and privileges"?
Shiam’s doubts increased and strengthened when his mind rejected the large number of gods in Hinduism. Everything has been worshiped in India; nothing has been left out. The Hindus have worshiped things they love, and things they hate. They even worshiped imaginary deities. Their books are packed with the names of their gods and their wars with each other. They even describe the plots against their rivals of the alleged gods.
“I have seen in those books, contradicting religious theories in the process of the many 330 million gods. I felt suspicions creeping into my heart more than before. I have fallen prey to anxiety and chaos. Deep down, I believed I was looking impulsively for the one and only God. Whenever I read Hindu books, doubts after doubts preoccupy my mind.”
To get rid of the pain of these suspicions, Shiam kept to the shelves of the university library. And for two years (1978-1980AD), he read the books of the Vedas and other books of the Hindus. He looked also into the books of Christians and Jens philosophers. He hasn’t neglected to leaf through the pioneers of reform in the different religions. His dedicated reading into these various references has added but a waste of time in a sea of falsehood. Nevertheless, a solid fact grew in his heart: Monotheism is the absolute truth promoted by all religions; however, quickly contradicted. The Hindus who believe in millions of gods claim that above all these gods there is one unique God. And so does Christianity, they worship the Son and the Holy Spirit. They also claim to be Unitarian in belief, yet, their three gods are one god. The verse 106 of Sura Yusuf in the Qur’an suits their claims to a tee: “(And most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him!)”
Shiam ended up taking a decision; that is to become a hermit and to go into seclusion away from people. Lucky for him, he has postponed the implemented of his decision until after graduating from college. He continued to read and see in the books of different religions and faiths.
One religion Shiam did not read about; it is Islam. What made him overlook it was the memory that still lingers in his mind. “They are the false and negative perceptions that have permeated our minds since childhood. Since early boyhood, we have been hearing that Muslims insult Indians. They are envious lot and assassins and worthy of ostracism and disdain. Will anyone whose heart is filled with such emotion and effusive aversion against Muslims think of Islam?!”
Shiam has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and needed hospitalization that had lasted weeks. His friend Muhammad Nassir Khan visited him regularly. “He comes every day, and gives me food, drink and medicine, and enquires about my health. Weeks have gone by like this. He spoke to me about everything except Islam. However, his noble and compassionate demeanor as well as his good manners affected me profoundly. One day, I decided to ask him where he has acquired such lofty traits. His reply didn’t exceed more than these words: “I am a Muslim; I have been weaned on the values of Islam. Its principles teach us impartiality, compassion and cooperation among neighbors.”
Mohammed Nasser has learned this great behavior from the Prophet (PBUH). He has visited his uncle Abu Talib in his death bed. He also visited a Jewish boy in his illness that led to his death. He later visited the head of the hypocrites Abdullah ibn Ubay Bin Salool, when he was breathing his last.
Bara 'ibn Aazib said: “The prophet (PBUH) ordered us to perform seven acts and avoid seven: we follow funerals, visit the sick, and answer invitations, and assist the oppressed, and fulfill the oath, return greeting, and bless the sneezer. He has forbidden us the usage of silver vessels, to wear gold rings, wear silk, brocade, and bows and arrows, and.”
At Shiam’s bedside began his story with Islam, has embarked on reading it for the first time. He has read more than thirty books. The most influential and has touched his heart was “to understand Islam” authored by A-Mawdudi. He was also impressed by “Islam in Focus” of Hamouda Abdel A’ati; “Social Justice” of Sayed Qutb; “Our Islamic Life” Yusuf Islahi. It then came the center piece of all books: the translation of the Holy Quran donated by his friend Mohammed Nasser. Omar said: “the more I read a page; I felt drawn to it; it's like iron attracted to a magnet. I have felt light wrapping my existence, and fill me with faith and spiritual pleasure. At one moment in time, I felt the dark falsehoods lifting away after they have been weighing on my chest for a long time.”
Shiam says: “I liked Islam’s teachings and ethics and values that Hinduism has no inkling of. These principles include the neighbor’s right, the respect for the parents, and the conviviality of the wife. And after all, Islam is not a religion of obsolete rituals; it is a way of life.” Allah says in Sura Al-An’am, verses 161-163: (“Say: "Verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight - a religion of right - the path (trod) by Abraham the true in Faith, and he (certainly) joined not gods with Allah" (161). Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: () No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will. (163)”)
However, one thing has puzzled Shiam and kept him away from Islam. It is the conditions of the Muslims and their behavior that didn't look anything like the wonderful things he has read about in the Qur’an. The behavior and actions of these people are deplorable. They present a miserable image for religion; they embrace. How truthful the Prophet (PBUH) has been when he said about the sort of people: “O people, there are among you those who discourage others.”
After six months of reading about Islam and deep pondering of the translation of the Holy Quran (July 1984 AD), Shiam pronounced the two Shahadas at the hands of his friend Muhammad Nasser Khan. Then he declared it openly among Muslims on Friday prayers. He took the name Omar. He has been influenced by Omar Al-Farooq’s (RA) character. Gautham described him as the “Colossal genius who has exceeded all other prominent persons of Islam.”
Since embracing Islam, Omar hasn’t spared any effort to show Islam to the wandering thousands of his people. These were bowing and prostrating in front idols in Hindu temples. He has embarked on a mission to invite Indians to Islam. The media has written coverage warning of his activities. He was kidnapped by Hindu gangs, and threatened to kill him. They have given him three days to renounce Islam; likely he escaped their clutches and settled in Delhi. There, he completed a Master's degree at the International Islamic University in New Delhi (1990). Then he proceeded to study for a doctorate in comparative religion. He couldn’t complete it due to financial conditions that have befallen him after his conversion to Islam. In addition to his woes, his family has cut him off. Again, Allah states their precise intentions in Sura Al-Munafiqun, verse 7: (They are the ones who say, "Spend nothing on those who are with Allah's Messenger, to the end that they may disperse (and quit Medina)." But to Allah belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth; but the Hypocrites understand not.)
Omar was holding tight to his conversion to Islam. There is nothing helping him in his adversity except: “The sweet taste of faith in my heart, the comfort of confidence and the tranquility of the heart.”
Omar was happy in the company of a group of Indian senior scholars. These experts were Abu al-Hassan Nadwi, Abdullah al-Hassani, and the ascetic scholar Siddique Albawandi. The company of these eminent scholars enabled him to acquire a lot of Sharia's sciences. Brushing shoulders with such elite had paid off. Omar has authored a book titled “Islamic Knowledge," which has been printed in Urdu and Hindi.
Omar Gautham has become among the preachers to orthodox Islam. God has made him likeable among the people. Hence, the fruits of his efforts have guided more than two hundred of his family and acquaintances. So did many more people who frequent the Research and Education Knowledge Center managed by the guided Omar Gautham for over ten years.
We supplicate Allah to keep him steadfast on Islam, and to bless his efforts.
Dr. Munqith Bin Mahmoud Al-Sakkar
Researcher at Muslim World League
Translated by Sadok Salehi
Translator at Muslim World League