Kerala Woman Converts to Islam, Then ‘Returns’ to Hinduism
When 23-year-old Athira, a Hindu woman from Kerala's Kasargod district, spoke to media in July, she was clad in a hijab and confidently said that she had converted to Islam upon her own free will.
Months later on Thursday, Athira addressed the media a second time. This time, the hijab was gone, and Athira appeared with a bindi and kumkum on her forehead. She was no longer the Islam convert who took the name Ayesha, but Athira, who believes in Hindu religion, she said.
"Om Namah Sivaya," Athira began, while addressing the press meet in Kochi on Thursday.
Athira Said Her Friends ‘Misguided’ Her
Athira had left her home in the first week of July, leaving a 15-page letter explaining that she was going to study Islam. On 27 July, she surrendered before Kannur police and a local court sent her to a state home for women.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Athira said that her Muslim friends had misguided her into believing in Islam.
Soon, her friends began giving her books on Islam, Athira said. "One of them was about hell. The description of hell in that book was so scary, that I lost my sleep for several nights. I began thinking that if I don't follow Islam, then I will have to go through that hell."
Apart from this, Athira claimed that her friends gave her reading material including a book on converted women and also watched speeches made by Zakir Naik.
According to her, she got in touch with an Ustad in Malappuram through a friend, after which she was added to a WhatsApp group called "Hidayat sisters."
She said that there had been only 6 or 7 people in that group and one of the girls began texting her personally.
Converting Her Parents
Apart from reading more about Islam, Athira said that at one point, she also tried to convince her parents to convert.
The Decision to Leave Home
According to Athira, she knew her parents would protest if she started dressing differently or started praying in the Islamic way. Her friends then told her about three Islamic institutions where she can study the religion, Athira told reporters.
"They told me I will get certificate from one centre in Ponnani, Tharbiat-ul sabha and Sathyasarani. I was oblivious to my parents' suffering".
She also spoke about a Siraj, a worker of Popular Front of India (PFI), who she claims, helped her with everything. She said that people including Siraj instructed her on how she should give her statement in court, when her family files a complaint.
“People of Hindu helpline helped my parents and told us about Arsha Vidya Samajam in Ernakulam. They didn’t force me at all, but gave me right information. They told me that I should re-read Quran with an open mind and I didn’t get the same feeling I used to get before. When I read it rationally, I had many doubts,” she said.
Following this, she said that she took interest in learning Hinduism in detail and enrolled at the Samajam.
"Nobody there forced me to reconvert but they urged me to read Quran with an open mind and I realised what I had believed about Islam was not right," she said.
(This article was originally published in The News Minute, and has been republished here with permission.)