Umar Gautam: A journey into enlightenment

Umar Gautam: A journey into enlightenment
Updated 07 October 2013

Umar Gautam: A journey into enlightenment

Umar Gautam: A journey into enlightenment

Why do they embrace Islam?
According to Hadiths collected by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (peace be upon him) reported that Allah said, "I created my servants in the right religion but devils made them go astray." The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, "Each child is born in a state of "Fitrah," then his parents make him a Jew, Christian, a Zoroastrian, or a polytheist."
This is one reason why most of the people who embark on a quest of truth, they more often than not find themselves on to a path that leads them to Islam.
India's Shyam Prasad Singh Gautam's (now Muhammad Umar Gautam) may not be the only case in isolation, but his relentless struggle to find Truth reminds of the efforts by the early Muslims to suffer persecution while standing by the Truth they had embraced.
Umar Gautam at an early age of 15 was intrigued by the concept of God. He grew doubts about idol worshipping, as he found his own Hindu scripture strictly forbidding idol worship and speaking about one Parmeshwar (God). He continued contemplating: Why worshipping 33 million gods and goddesses; the concept of reincarnation so embedded in Hinduism; and most of all what is the purpose of one's life? Does God want something from us? These questions began haunting Gautam's mind.
He approached many Hindu scholars to seek answers to his queries but nobody could pacify his anxiety and his never-ending questions.
Born in 1964 in a kingly Rajput family residing in the city of Fatehpur, a city in the largest province of Uttar Pradesh, India, Shyam Pratap Singh was the nephew of Raja V P Singh who was India's prime minister during 1989-91.
While studying in a university in a nearby city Pratapgarh, he had read almost every Hindu scripture and biographies of Hindu social reformers, but at the end he would be left more confused.
On one occasion, Gautam decided to retire to the mountains living as a hermit in the search of peace. He beseeched Lord to guide him and show him the straight path and remove him from his uneasiness.
God has indeed His own ways to answer one's prayers. In 1984, Umar Gautam met Nasir Khan in his neighborhood when he met with an accident and was unable to go to college on his own. Khan, being a good neighbor, lent support and helped him attending classes. He took Umar Gautam to a hospital too and also brought meals for him from his mess and gave him good company. This continued for almost a month. Umar was left deeply touched and affected by the attitude of this young man. He was curious as to why he was so generous and could not help asking him, ‘Why are you helping me so much. You barely know me even they you are so sympathetic toward my condition. You don’t even belong to my religion.’
Khan said, "Islam teaches me to fulfill the rights of a neighbor no matter which religion he belongs to. Being good to my neighbor and helping him during his difficult time is every Muslim's responsibility. Allah will question me on the Day of Judgment as to what did I do when you needed me, and I do not want to stand speechless that day. I want to please my Lord and hence I am not just doing this for you but for me and my life in Hereafter."
Impressed by what Khan told him, Umar began to understand a religion which was so hated in his family and his village, and which seemed carrying answers to all his questions. Thus began Muhammad Umar’s journey toward enlightenment as Khan gave him a plenty of Islamic books to read. After nearly six months, Umar had a clear picture.
Besides studying life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as also those of the caliphs, he finally read Hindi translation of the Qur'an. His heart felt at ease as all his doubts had been answered and he had finally discovered the true religion of the Almighty and the purpose of his existence. Umar embraced Islam in 1986.
He soon faced stiff resistance from within his community; his Hindu friends began boycotting him; local media poured venom against the decision; and a few members of the fanatical Hindu groups like RSS and VHP first intimidated him and then abducted him and took him to the jungle where they assaulted him, and left him with a warning that if he didn’t go back to his former religion they will kill him. His family too abandoned him. With the support of some Muslims he later continued he education and took admission in Jamia Millia Islamia University of Delhi and did M.A. (Islamic Studies).
It took nearly 12 years for the situation to calm down as he began visiting his parents. He preached Islam to his family and mother soon embraced Islam. His wife too had already become a Muslim, and who is currently engaged in Dawah work among women.
After embracing Islam, Umar Gautam has made his mission to invite people to Islam.
He says, "Islam is a religion of peace and a religion that teaches us amazingly beautiful things. I want non-Muslims to stop judging Islam by looking at the behavior of Muslims, I want them to understand Islam from the Qur'an and Hadith as Muslims of today are indeed not the best portrayers of their religion. I also request my Muslim brothers to display good attitude as that is what attracts another person and if we wish to spread Islam we must rectify our attitude and show humility toward every other human being."
He said, "There are uncountable discussions held in the world everyday regarding human rights but none of us are aware that Islam is a religion that talks about human rights in the most perfect way. I pray to Allah Almighty to guide us all to the right path."
Muhammad Umar Gautam has been successful in reverting over hundred people to Islam.