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This Indian Muslim Revert Shares How He Celebrates Deepavali With His Family


Hazirah Hakeem •  Nov 11, 2023

This article is written by HHWT Explorer, Mithunn Naidu.

If you would like to share your story, travel experiences, tips or itinerary with the HHWT community, please fill in the form here

Deepavali, the festival of lights, is a significant and joyous occasion for Hindus around the world. However, for Mithunn Naidu, a 30-year-old consultant, it has taken on a new and profound meaning since his conversion to Islam in December 2020.

Mithunn Naidu

Mithunn's Unique Path to Islam

Mithunn's first encounter with Islam began during his secondary school years. He often found himself being mistaken for a Muslim due to his appearance. In those moments, he had to correct people and explain that he wasn't Muslim. It was in junior college that he befriended many more Muslim classmates, who shared more about their faith. These friendships opened the door for Mithunn to learn more about Islam beyond stereotypes.

As life presented its challenges, he delved into a period of introspection, questioning the purpose of his existence and seeking inner peace. This led him to explore various religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and ultimately, Islam. Mithunn found solace in Islam's understanding of hardships, believing that they were a test from Allah, rather than motiveless suffering.

“The biggest question I always had was, ‘Why do the good people always go through these kinds of hardships if they did nothing wrong?’ And that's when actually, as I learned more about Islam I realised that, the more Allah loves you, the more hardships you go through because basically, in this dunya we are all tested, right?

And this kind of shaped my mindset because it made sense. Like, it can't be that good people suffer now, and then just go away from existence. Some religions just stop there. Like, there's the end of life so you make do with what you have in this life. Just hustle financially, have all the material things, enjoy the moment. But in Islam itself, we believe in the hereafter, and that was a lightbulb moment for me.”

Challenges and Support

Mithunn's journey came with both support and challenges. His family was initially taken aback by his decision to convert, as they were rooted in the belief that one's religion should remain constant throughout life.

“No one knew about it until about one year into the conversion. So I was living a secret life for that one year. So I had to find out things on my own, like secretly learning how to pray, how to fast, and more. It wasn't taken well, when it was first announced after that first year.

The second year was the year where I found the courage to ‘confront’ my parents, and actually showed them me practising Islam in person. I invited my Muslim friends over and we did jama'ah prayers together. So in a way it was an icebreaker, to show my parents that this is real. And slowly they understood that this was my decision and that it wasn’t an immature decision.”

His close Muslim friends played a pivotal role in educating and supporting him during his initial years as a Muslim. They clarified his doubts, taught him to pray, and provided guidance, making his transition smoother.

“I think another eye-opening experience was during my trip to Umrah. So I already thought Indian Muslims, more so Indian Muslim reverts, were a small niche group. You know, Indians being of a smaller population percentage. And then once you head over for Umrah in Saudi Arabia… that's when you realise it actually doesn't matter because you get to see people from all walks of life, all races, but only one religion.

Mithunn at Umrah

Addressing Misconceptions

Mithunn encountered several misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam during his journey. His family expressed concerns about issues such as name changes, dietary restrictions, and cultural practices. Mithunn addressed these concerns by explaining that he could retain his family name while following Islamic practices. He also emphasised that he could still participate in family gatherings, albeit without compromising his faith.

Mithunn encouraged his family to view his decision to embrace Islam as a personal one rather than being driven by external factors. Over time, they witnessed his dedication and strengthened his faith, which helped them better understand and accept his choice. To help his family understand, Mithunn also tried to draw connections between Hinduism and Islam to show the similarities between the two religions, such as how both religions fast - just in different ways, along with how the different celebrations are. For both Deepavali and Hari Raya for example, the majority celebrate it by spending it visiting their relatives and catching up. These are just some of the similarities he realised, having experienced both religions.

Playing with sparklers during Deepavali

Deepavali Celebrations as a Muslim

While Mithunn's reversion to Islam brought changes to his participation in Deepavali celebrations, it did not eliminate the sense of togetherness and joy that the festival brings. He continues to celebrate Deepavali with his family and relatives, participating in cultural activities and traditional practices. Some changes include abstaining from alcohol and avoiding certain forms of gambling during the festival.

Mithunn also respects his family's religious practices, accompanying them to the temple, but stepping to the side to refrain from participating in the religious aspects. He joins in the joy of family gatherings and relishes the rich Indian culture that Deepavali represents.

Picture of friends and family during Deepavali

Advice for Those Considering a Similar Journey

Mithunn's journey from Hinduism to Islam has been both inspiring and eye-opening. He offers valuable advice to individuals considering a similar path:

Take It Slow:

Mithunn suggests not rushing into conversion. Learning about Islam and the intricacies of the faith is crucial before making such a significant decision.

“There's no rush to convert per se. Conversion; the idea of converting or reverting, it's very individualistic. Only you know when you are fully ready and committed.”

Seek Knowledge from Reliable Sources:

It's important to seek knowledge from credible and accredited sources of information to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings.

Connect with Fellow Converts:

Joining a supportive community of fellow converts can provide guidance, clarify doubts, and help newcomers navigate the transition.

“Speak to us, your fellow converts. Head down to Darul Arqam, or Converts Central. Go through our experiences, our life situations, and see if you are interested in it, and if there’s any ways we can help you to reduce the difficulties that you may face.”

Address Concerns with Family:

While it may be challenging, engaging in open and honest conversations with family members about your decision can help them better understand and accept your choice.

“I think maybe the mistake I made would be not telling my parents sooner because I was afraid of their reaction, but I think at the end of the day I realised that ultimately, they are your parents, they should eventually understand and it's up to us to show them that this decision was thought through.”

Respect Cultural Traditions:

You can still participate in cultural and family activities without compromising your faith. It's essential to find a balance that aligns with your beliefs.

Mithunn hopes to be able to inspire people and to let them know that different types of Muslims exist in the world, and it is okay to take your time to explore Islam, as everyone’s journey is planned. As Mithunn continues to celebrate Deepavali, he showcases the harmony that can exist between faiths, highlighting the common thread of togetherness and love that runs through us all.

Deepavali Picture

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the opinions or views of Have Halal, Will Travel.