Kamala Das S Balakrishnan

From: jimas <mail@jimas.demon.co.uk>

Subject: conversion

Date: Tuesday, July 04, 2000 7:02 PM



4th Rabi' al-Thaani 1421:5th July '00 : Wed:2.55 am (UK time)

From Abu Muntasir,

Assalaam 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.

Innal hamdalillaah was-salaat was-salaam 'alaa rasoolillaah.

Originally posted by brother Mazhar <mkpathan@bigfoot.com>

***** Indian Nobel Prize Nominee Embraces Islam *****

It takes extraordinary courage for a rich and famous Hindu to

embrace Islam and be faced with the ire of Hindu extremists,

who recently murdered an Australian Missionary priest and his

two lovely children by burning them alive.

The celebrated Indian novelist and poetess Dr. Kamala Das is

now Suraiyya. Her Krishna poems are replaced by Ya Allah.

Kamala's "My Story" has been published in more than 15

languages and is a text book in Japan. Her English poetry

collections include: Summer in Calcutta, Alphabet of Lust,

The Descendants, Old Play House, and Only the Soul Knows

How to Sing. She has been awarded numerous prizes and was

the only Malayalee to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Here is part of the "Times of India" article:

I like Islam's orthodox lifestyle: Kamala Das

S Balakrishnan

The Times of India

MUMBAI: Noted writer Kamala Das finds herself in the eye of

a storm following her recent decision to embrace Islam and

change her name to Suraiya. This is not the first time she

finds herself embroiled in a controversy. Her writings in

the past have generated considerable heat. But the earlier

controversies were essentially confined to literary circles.

Her decision to convert to Islam has taken Kerla by storm

with applause and criticism both flying in her direction.

The Times of India spoke to her over the telephone at her

home in Kochi on Tuesday evening. Excerpts:

Question: When exactly did you decide to embrace Islam?

Answer: I do not remember the exact time. I think it was

about 27 years ago.

Q: Why did you wait so long to convert?

A: When I discussed the matter first with my husband in the

early seventies, he asked me to wait. He advised me to read

books on Islam. I again thought of converting before the

1984 parliamentary elections.

But, not all my children were married and settled at that

time. I did not want my decision to impact on their lives.

Now, all of them are well settled and happy. Hence, I have

announced my decision now.

Q: Who introduced you to Islam?

A: My first interface with Islam was through two blind

Muslim children, Irshad Ahmed and Imtiaz Ahmed. They were

sent to me by the National Association for the Blind since

I had volunteered to read and teach the blind. The children

virtually stayed at our flat at Bank House at Churchgate,

Mumbai. I was required to read them Islamic scriptures.

Q: What was it in Islam which attracted you?

A: I liked the purdah which Muslim women wore. I liked the

orthodox lifestyle of Muslim women.

Q: But, doesn't the Purdah circumscribe your freedom?

A: I don't want freedom. I had enough of it thrust on me.

Freedom had become a burden for me. I want guidelines to

regulate and discipline my life. I want a master to protect

me. I wanted protection and not freedom. I want to be

subservient to Allah. In fact, for the past 24 years I had

worn a purdah off and on. I had gone to markets, matinee

shows and even while abroad I had worn purdah. I have

several of them.

A woman in purdah is respected. No one touches you or

teases you if you wear one. You get total protection.

Q: But isn't freedom the most precious of all gifts enjoyed

by humankind?

A: My freedom had become frayed at the edges. It was not

good any more. It was no more the toy I wanted to play with.

I had outgrown the desire for freedom.

Q: What was the immediate reason to accept Islam?

A: Recently I was travelling in a car from the Malabar to

Kochi. I started the journey at 5.45 a.m. I looked at the

rising sun. Surprisingly, it had the colour of a setting

sun. It travelled with me and at 7.00 a.m. it turned white.

For years I have been looking for signs telling me when to

convert. Finally, I got the message.

Q: Can you please specify the three chief reasons which

prompted you to become a Muslim?

A: I cannot list the reasons like that. I wanted protection.

My husband died seven years ago and I am now a lonely widow

who is 67 years old. When he was there he provided me with

protection. I had not to bother about getting tickets,

passports, visa and such other things. I just had to follow


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Wassalaam 'alaikum wa rahmatullaah.


"Take benefit of five before five: your youth before

your old age, your health before your sickness, your

wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your

preoccupation, and your life before your death."

[Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam - al-Haakim,

al-Baihaqee: Saheeh]


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