From A Freethinker To A Muslim: A Story About Finding Faith For 44 Years


Qistina Bumidin •  Jan 31, 2022

Reverting is no easy feat. It involves major changes in the way one lives their life, dealing with hardships from loved ones, and most importantly, the commitment to maintain one’s faith in the face of adversity. Madam Iman Wong has been practicing Islam for 44 years, but it is a journey filled with joy, tears, pain and utmost strength, as seen in the story she shares with us. 

Madam Iman Wong's Journey To Islam

What motivated you to convert to Islam? 

I was born to parents who practiced the Taoist faith. For me, I was a freethinker, and I couldn’t understand my parents’ beliefs. All I did was just follow everything they wanted me to do, such as carrying joss-sticks or cleaning the altar of my late grandfather. My life felt so monotonous; all I ever did was just eat, sleep, work, play and repeat, and there seemed to be no meaning to my life. I was somehow like a lost ship floating on the sea with no sense of direction. 

Credit: Courtesy of Madam Iman Wong

That was when I began to do a little soul-searching. I was pretty sure that there must be some form of superpower that created everything, like a God, but I do not know which direction to get to Him. My head kept pounding with the same two questions: “Who is He? Where is He?”

Finally, I saw the light, and my questions were answered. A Malay Muslim neighbour gave me a English translation of the holy Quran. I did not read the book immediately though, but when I finally made the time to open the Quran, the first verse, Al Fatihah, attracted me and made me feel that this must be ‘the awakening call’ I was searching high and low for it. Afterwards, I started becoming even more interested in Islam, and began to attend classes hold at Darul Arqam’s previous location at Pheng Geck Avenue.

How did your family react? 

Credit: Courtesy of Madam Iman Wong

My parents did not know that I am attending Islamic courses on my own. My imaginations of how they would react all came true. When I decided to convert in 1978, my father was so mad at me that he did not speak to me for a year. My relationship with my father was further strained because growing up I was always the rebellious kid, always wanting to do something different from my siblings and I could never understand him because we didn’t have much communication at all. My eldest sister was strongly against it because she became a Catholic. The only person who was very supportive was my mother, Alhamdulillah. 

Credit: Courtesy of Madam Iman Wong

Nevertheless, I still decided to embrace Islam without the blessings of my eldest sister and my father, but deep down, I fely really upset in doing so. However, my mentors, Mr Kamar Lim and Ms Saibah at Darul Arqam understood my difficulties and gave me a lot of support. They always reminded me to keep praying and Allah S.W.T. will lighten your burden. I kept these words throughout my entire life, up until now. I decided to become a council member under the encouragement of Mr Kamar Lim, and Darul Arqam became my second home, Subhan’Allah. 

Were there any moments in your life that saw your faith being tested?

Darul Arqam gave me the opportunity to represent them at a youth camp in Taiwan organised by World Assembly Muslim Youth. I was so excited to meet so many other Chinese Muslims because at that time, in Singapore, it was simply rare to see one! And the best part of the trip? I met my late husband there as well.

Life for me felt like it was going well. My family were on much better terms with me than ever before, I married a good, religious man, and I gave birth to my son. However, in 1998, my late husband got into a car accident, and my faith began fluctuating drastically. The only thing getting me through this challenging period of my life was my son. I started occupying myself by attending classes and partaking in activities at Darul Arqam. I realised that living in this world is not forever and that one day, we have to return to Allah S.W.T., whether we are ready or not. Alhamdulillah, my faith strengthened day by day.

Madam Iman Wong's son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Credit: Courtesy of Madam Iman Wong

It has been 44 years, since I embraced Islam, and I am so blessed. I am still imperfect, and there’s still many weaknesses I would like to improve, but my faith keeps me going, especially last year. 2021 was a bittersweet year.

Madam Iman Wong and her late mother. Credit: Courtesy of Madam Iman Wong

While my son and his wife have a 4 month old son, my dearest mum passed on at 90 years old due to Covid-19. Allah S.W.T, in many ways to me, is fair. He took someone I love, but replaced a new person that I will cherish for life. 

Madam Iman Wong is part of the Hui Hui Cultural Association, a group of local Chinese Muslims passionate about their cultural heritage and determined to serve the community. Check out all the good they have done here!

Do you have any advice for new converts?

My only advice to new converts is just put your trust in Allah and everything will fall in its place, Insha’Allah. Just like a Chinese saying goes, “Ji lai zhi ze an shi”, which means “be content where you find yourself”. ?

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