A health worker who was born into a Hindu family but later converted to Islam expounded on how growing up in a Muslim-majority neighborhood had an impact on her decision to transition faiths.
Growing up under the influence of Muslims in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Vijayalakshmi, who is now known by her Muslim name Fathima Noushad, said that she was extremely fond of Islamic culture and has always desired to learn more about the religion.
“I had such a positive influence of Muslims who were super kind, friendly, generous and gentle, that I think this was one reason I fell in love with a Muslim man, " Noushad told Khaleej Times on Tuesday.
Falling in love with a Muslim is considered a cardinal sin in most Hindu homes, however, Fathima was lucky when she sought permission from her family to marry one in 2015.
“People may think that I embraced Islam after marriage, but to be honest I would fast even when I was a Hindu. I learnt about Islam and its values from my friends and neighbors and my parents never stopped me. Since we were never a very religious Hindu family, my parents were okay when I told them about getting married to a Muslim," she said.
The couple moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates after tying the “knots” and exchanging vows in both countries in two seperate wedding ceremonies.
When asked about the impact that declaring the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, has had on her life, Noushad said: “It has brought immense peace into my life. I feel so peaceful, calm and composed at all times now. Every time I pray and get up from my Salah, I feel so fresh. Whatever stress or negative thoughts I have vanish when I prostrate before Allah for Salah, and I get up from the prayer mat feeling fresh and happy.”