My Background before being a Muslimah
My family and relatives are strict Buddhist. We are from the middle class of the society. My family's nationality is a mix of Chinese and Thai.
I was raised and trained to be a loyal Buddhist. As a young girl, I had supported the local temple, and I went to the temple quite often. Almost every day I would give charity to the monks as I believed that this is the way to enter paradise. Moreover, I was a good daughter and granddaughter. I used to take care and obey my parents and was good to all relatives.
How did I become a Muslim?
When my older sister graduated from Grade 9, she had a good chance to study in USA. She stayed with a Muslim family. They told my older sister so many things about life after death and Oneness of God.My sister embraced Islam. She used to write letters to me telling me to avoid eating pork as it is not good for health. I only read her letters, but I didn't realize the importance of Islam and what she said to me.
When I was in grade 10, I became more attached to the temple and supplicated to the Buddhist Statues. One day in the class, one thought just came to my mind about the statues, "Why I never get anything I have asked to these Gods?" However, I just ignored this thought. At the end of the semester, my parents sent me to USA for the summer camp and visiting my sister.
I had only few days to stay with my sister with the Muslim family. I heard about life after death and oneness of God "Allah" from them. I believed what they told me was true but I didn't yet accept Islam. During the summer camp, I heard someone in my group saying something bad about Islam. I didn't like that, and I had an argument with that person. I felt like I wanted to protect Islam because it is a good religion. Finally, I just stopped the argument as we knew no one would win this argument.
After summer camp was over, I went back to Thailand and continued my study until I graduated from High school. My parents wanted me to go with my father to visit my sister in the USA. So I had a chance again to go and stay there. Fortunately, everybody in this Muslim family had convinced my father to let me stay and study in USA .
The family I lived with always spoke about the greatness of Allah and life after death. After a few days, I told my sister that I would like to be a Muslim. I was about 19 years old. My sister taught me the first and the second Kalimah. After that, I learned how to pray from my sister. I cried a lot because I wanted to be able to pray salaat like other Muslims.
Every Sunday, the grandfather of this family took my sister and I to the Masjid to learn how to read the Quran. The Muslim teacher there put me in the kindergarten class and learn few alphabets. I felt so ashamed to stay in the class as I was the oldest but knew nothing. I couldn't express my difficulty to anyone and I couldn't even communicate with other Muslim teachers there because my English was very poor and only few people understood me. Finally one Muslim sister taught me the basics of reading Quran (Alphabets and vowels).
I wanted to learn more about Islam. I searched the internet and came across Mufti Taqi Uthmaani's name.I got in touch with him and Alhamdulillah he sent me some books on Islam which were most valuable.
I also found the website of Jamiatul Ulama, South Africa. Whenever I had any question/or needed any suggestion, I would send an email and waited for the reply eagerly.
One Ramadhaan, I contacted the Jamiat. They suggested to me to contact Mufti Ebrahim Desai as he was in America. I sought advice and took Bay'ah from him. Whenever I needed any advices, I would contact Mufti Ebrahim Desai via email. Mufti Ebrahim Desai has helped me to have a better understanding of Islam and practice Islam.
Life after returning home
After I graduated from Associate Degree, I got scholarship offer from New York University to continue my bachelor degree. My parents didn't allow me to go there and study because they wanted me to revert to Buddhism. I didn't want to turn back to Buddhist anymore because I believed and loved Islam dearly. I thought too much about life after returning back to Bangkok, Thailand. For example: what should I do as I would face non-Muslim relatives and friends; what would I do there; would I pray and wear hijab; what food I would eat, I didn't have any Muslim friends at all etc.
Finally, I had to go back to Thailand. Life in Bangkok with my family was not easy at all. I had to face so many difficulties. I still wore the hijab but everyone was against me. My Imaan was weak and I stopped wearing HIjab. I rarely had a chance to connect with Mufti Ebrahim Desai. My parents ordered me to go to Laos and stayed there almost a year. Every day we had big arguments about me being a Muslim. I admit that I was weak. However, I didn't abandon my prayer and fasting. I tried my best to eat Halal food. I couldn't go anywhere as this place was not my hometown and I didn't have money or car to go out without my parents' permission. I was forced to dress up to look more beautiful for the public. I cried many times and made Dua that Allah helps me to practice Islam and make me a good Muslim. Alhamdulillah,once a Lao Muslim family sent me Halal food as they knew that I became a Muslim.
I thought hard about what I should do to practice and follow the commandments of Allah.I asked my parents to return to Bangkok to continue with my studies. This is the only reason that I could use to return to Bangkok as I could do as I wish. Yes, my decision was right with the Help of Allah. Now I could wear the hijab, and I had Muslim friends.
After marriage, I didn't contact Mufti Ebrahim Desai.What I had learned from him while in America has been very valuable and carried me a long way. Mufti Ebrahim Desai sent me books which were and are more valuable than any of my belongings. Whenever some matters arose, my husband would come and consult with me as he knew that I learned from reliable Ulama. During previous years of my marriage, I still had so many difficulties but my Imaan was stronger and the love for Allah has been increasing. The love of Allah helped me to overcome many challenges of life.I feel being in touch with reliable Ulama is the greatest bounty for people like us who have very limited access to Islamic knowledge.
Allah says ''When Allah opens up the heart of someone for Islam, that person is on light (guidance) from Allah''.