(Note: – The true identity and name of person and places have been kept confidential for the welfare and safety of the person’s family)
Agarwal did not yet make any formal declaration of his newly accepted faith. Like any shrewd business-man he weighed the result of his action with consequences. Accepting Islam meant ruining his personal and business lives. He did want to risk losing two most coveted things in any man’s life – wealth and family. So he forsook the idea of formally accepting Islam. Why should he forsake his life of ease and abundance for the sake of accepting a new way of life?
Just as a background to his life before Islam, Agarwal at that time in nineteen-sixties use to wear three-piece suits (something of very high class at that time particularly in India) and used to shave daily and even twice daily; once before going to work in the morning and the second time in the evening when meeting his high-class friends in a European club of the city. He was a member of that club and was living a life of extravagance. He used to travel on vacation at least once a year with his family (his wife and six children) by airplane (uncommon at that time in India and only available to the privileged) and first-class trains. In his previous life he had no understanding of the afterlife. The goal of life was to eat, drink and enjoy; no more. So why should he leave all these niceties!
But, then he came across a verse in the Qur’an which changed his perspective entirely. The verse in which Allah SWT declares that whosoever treads His path, He is with him. Is Allah going to be with me, if I follow His path?
If this world divorces me and Allah is with me, then isn’t He sufficient for me?
Pondering on this, Agarwal finally accepted Islam with the intention that Allah SWT be pleased with him. This was in the month of March 1968.
Agarwal accepts Islam…
Agarwal had now become Mohammad. Allah Akbar!!!
As Mohammad had foundational knowledge about Islam by then, he started offering his salah in secrecy, because he did not want to expose himself to problems. But, Allah had willed something else for him. Within four to five days, his wife noticed him purifying himself with water after urinating, just like Muslims did. So, she confronted him and asked straightaway, “Have you accepted Islam?”, “Yes, I have”, replied Mohammad, as he did not want to pile lies upon lies. He knew that one day he had to face this.
This led to his wife becoming extremely angry, and she turned against Mohammad. She threatened him with suicide if he did not return to his old faith. For Mohammad this was his first major test. He loved his wife, mother of his six wonderful children. He had a normal, loving family. He did not want to risk her life. He was perplexed. In fact an incident happened which greatly shocked Mohammad.
Here comes the trial…
After about 10 days of him accepting Islam, when he came back from his store, Haque who was Mohammad’s friend and neighbour informed him that his wife had attempted suicide by burning herself that morning. She was eventually saved by her children. Burnt clothes were found lying in the home. This was no ordinary news and thus agitated him greatly. His wife threatened to repeat this act if he did not revert to his old faith.
Mohammad contemplated on the issue on the following lines:
• As his wife has already attempted suicide once, it was likely she might try again as doing for the first time is the most difficult step. Once somebody does a thing, repeating it becomes easier. So if he refused to appease her, this would entail keeping an eye on her round the clock, which was not practical.
• The other option was to appease her and fulfill her demand to renounce Islam and return to his original faith. He initially considered whether to just articulate the words she needed to hear to placate her, while keeping his true faith (Islam) in his heart knowing that the true essence of faith is related to the affairs of the heart. But then he came to the conclusion:
“The time and cause of death for a human being is pre-destined by God. If Allah has willed for my wife to die by committing suicide, then I cannot save her even if I please her. And if Allah has willed for her to die otherwise, then accepting her demand and ruining my life will be of no use. In any case, I should not succumb to her demand and ruin myself in front of my Lord.
So why should I not try to please my Lord Allah SWT who has the power to change my wife’s actions and intentions. This is what Allah SWT made firm in his heart.”
Mohammad thus gave a tough reply to his wife “I feel I have been tested by my Lord. But if this is the cost for the gift of faith what Allah SWT has given me, then I am ready pay this price whole-heartedly and will not feel sorry about it”. Mohammad supplicated to Allah to relieve him from this distress and Allah came to his rescue.
Much to his relief, his wife in a few days said, “I am not a fool who will commit suicide and allow you to take a second wife after I am gone; who will look after my kids then?” Subhan Allah, this was indeed a huge relief for Mohammad.
This reply from his wife indicated two things: First, Allah SWT had put in the heart of his wife that this would be her own loss. Secondly, it was clear to him that his wife has dropped the idea of committing suicide. This was a huge relief for Mohammad not just because he loved his wife and his family dearly but also because recently Mohammad has come across a saying of Prophet Mohammad SAW which states “I (Allah SWT) am to my slave as my slave thinks of me”.
Life, once again was on a smooth road for Mohammad. He began practicing his new faith and his wife kept on frowning at him without giving him much headache. To Mohammad belonged his faith, and to his wife was hers.
Here comes the second trial…
Mohammad came to know that “A believing man cannot have a non-believing wife”. Now, this was a real test. It meant choosing between the two. Allah or wife.
For Mohammad, this was one of the biggest tests. Allah wanted to check his sincerity and love for his newly acquired faith. Mohammad’s thoughts were perturbed for the following reasons:
1. A Hadith of Prophet Mohammad SAW in which he SAW says’, “None of you has believed until his desires are in accordance with what I (Mohammad SAW) have come to you with”. This means he has to make sure that none of his action and desires should be against Allah SWT and His messenger Mohammad SAW.
This statement may be very easy to utter or listen to but to live according to it is another matter. Forget about leaving one’s wife, we are not even ready to leave petty things in our daily lives for the sake of Allah SWT and his Prophet Mohammad SAW. In fact many things in our life are against the Deen of Allah SWT.
So are we truly Muslim? The call is to tame our desires according to this Deen but we have reversed it today. We have tamed our Deen according to our desires. To be Muslim in front of Dunya is one thing; to be Muslim in front of Allah SWT is another matter.
Many people are misled to feel that, just because they were born to a Muslim parent they are Muslim even if they do not care about practicing the true faith. Is there any Islamic text which states that one of the reason for being accepted as a Muslim is that you have Muslim parents? Is a child of an engineer automatically an engineer? Is an offspring of a doctor automatically a doctor? So how come we very easily assume that a child of a Muslim is a Muslim without any conditions? If a son of a Prophet can be a non-believer then are we better than Prophets? The Hadith where Prophet SAW said to his beloved daughter Fatima RA that, “save yourself … for I cannot benefit before Allah”.
2. Another Hadith of Prophet Mohammad SAW states “None of you becomes a believer until I am dearer to him than his children, his parents and all mankind”. Some versions add: “…his life, his wealth and his family”.
This is further endorsed by the Qur’anic verse, “The Prophet is preferable for the believers even to their own selves…” [33:6].
“So if I prefer my wife over Allah SWT and his Prophet SAW do I really love Allah SWT and Prophet SAW in its true sense?”
3. The meaning of Allah-Akbar: Is the utterance of this word merely for name sake or does it is encompassing upon us certain responsibilities too? Mohammad said in his own words using an example to understand the point: “Every family has some head. What is the meaning of ‘head of the family’? Head of the family is supposed to be followed in do’s and don’ts by rest of the family members. If he is diminished to a mere symbolic head without being followed and respected then its equivalent of ridiculing him”. So, if Allah is the greatest then He must be loved and His orders and injunctions must be followed at any cost!
Bolstered by these thoughts, Mohammad had finally come to the conclusion that time has come that he should seek separation from his non-believing wife. But, this was not an easy job. This demanded a huge sacrifice. Luckily for Mohammad, two luminaries in the field of Shariah came to the city for a religious program. Mohammad met them personally and explained them his situation in detail seeking their advice and religious ruling in his case.