Through Friendship I knew and chose Islam
Brother Kusmari Rendrabwana
I was born and brought up into a devoted catholic family. My father comes
from a family whose members mostly turned out to become priests and
priestesses, while my mother still has a certain aristocratic blood in her
family. My parents were blessed with five children, of which I am the only
male and the youngest one. I never had anyone of them to play with since I
was a child because of the quite significant difference in age, they were
always occupied with their school tasks whenever I needed someone to play
with. As it turned out to be, I got used to spending my time with the
maidservant and when I was bored, I simply went out to play. For that
reason I was used to make friends with people outside of my family, people
in my neighborhood who were mostly Muslims.
In my family, everything that has a "Muslim taste" in it was usually
considered inappropriate. So every Thursday when the time was for the
recitation of the Qur'an (we only had TVRI, the government's station back
then) the TV set was immediately turned off, that's how my family was
like. When I got to school age, naturally my parents chose a catholic
institution, as with all my sisters. Even so, I always found it easier to
be friend mostly with people who were Muslim.
Perhaps it was because of my negative childhood image, that when I grew up
to be a teen-ager my family always thought of me as being this troublesome
kid. In other words, to them I was always the one to blame for everything,
anything good that I did was practically nothing to them. Hence, I always
tried to look up for answers of my problems through sources outside of my
family. My academic records were also nothing special except for English
And so I started to contemplate with questions that I had in my high
school year, I asked and kept asking, I read many books and literature,
trying to explore everything about my faith then. But as it goes, the more
I gained something, the more I felt that, "This isn't it, this is not what
I want." What's worse is that the more I involved myself with religious
activities, the more I went further from what I expected, which put me
down more and more. What I always found in there was nothing but negative
views on somebody else's faith. Whenever I tried to give in another view,
they put me down saying that I'm taking sides, I'm giving too much of a
value judgment, so on and so forth.
Eventually I became more distanced from them, but interestingly (and this
is what had always happened) I felt myself drawn closer and closer with my
Muslim friends, they seemed to accept me without any sort of tendency to
judge. They knew I didn't share their faith but most of them didn't seem
to mind or be disturbed by it whatsoever.
My adulthood started when I entered college. I enrolled in a private
college whose students were predominantly Muslims. Even so, I still tried
to involve myself in religious activities with students of the same faith.
In that community, the old conflicting trauma appeared afresh, even worse.
Eventually I lost my interest in it. As a college student, I felt more
comfortable in my soul searching process. Naturally, I had more access to
many references, times and places of interest, because I never felt home
with my relatives, even with my sisters. And so I went on with my life as
usual, until this deep spiritual experience happened. This is the story:
One morning, I don't remember the date, but it was in 1993. I was abruptly
awoke from sleep and just quickly sat down. Then unconsciously went up and
washed my face, hands and feet, then got back sitting with my legs
crossed. Exactly then the call to Fajr prayer started. but very
differently. I listened to it with an indescribable feeling and emotion,
it was touching me so deeply, in short. I myself never could explain what
really happened that morning, but so it did. Ever since then I looked for
answers and learned with a practicing Muslim friend, read books, started
everything from scratch.
The first obstacle for me naturally came from my family, especially my
mother. I became uncertain again, this is the most difficult choice in my
entire life. And so months I spent trying to think over my intention to
become a Muslim. I felt that I had to make a choice. And of course I chose
to become a Muslim eventually.
In early 1994 I declared my shahadah after finishing the Maghrib (evening)
prayer in jama'ah (congregation). It was really emotional, friends from my
faculty in college even made me work out a written statement with them as
witnesses, how touchy it was.
In short, I've lived my life as a new person ever since then. After
finishing my school, I started working. Even though my relationship with
my family is falling apart, I try to pull everything together and be
strong as to endure the hardships.
My new life was again put to a test when I was going to marry. Because I'm
considered an apostate in my family's view, I had to do everything by
myself, the proposal, etc., everything. No wedding reception or any of
that sort, just the obligatory ones.
And then when my mother died, unfortunately I didn't get to see her for
the last time. Her wish, which of course I cannot comply to, was for me to
return to my old faith.
"O you who believe (in the previous Messengers, Moses and Jesus, may
peace be upon them)! Fear Allaah, and believe in His Messenger (Muhammad,
may peace be upon him), He will give you a double portion of His Mercy,
and He will give you a light by which you shall walk (straight). And He
will forgive you. And Allaah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."
[Translation of the meaning
of Sura al-Hadid, Ayah 28]