Sunday, April 18, 2010

Buddy’s words turned Periyar Dasan into Dr Abdul

Buddy’s words turned Periyar Dasan into Dr Abdul

First Published : 12 Apr 2010 03:14:00 AM IST
Last Updated :

COIMBATORE: He is to Tamil Nadu what noted author Kamala Das was to India. Both were towering personalities in their respective areas — he an atheist and scholar, she a popular author and poet. Both took similar decisions during their sunset phase that left people around them totally shocked. While Kamal Das became Kamala Suraiya after adopting Islam, atheist Periyar Dasan got converted to Islam and became Abdulla. So how did Dasan turn a believer?
“It all started in the new millennium when my teacher Janardhan of the Rao Bahadur Calavala Cunnan Chetty (RBCC) school at Perambur in Chennai expressed a desire to meet four of his old students — Narayanan (Kalki Bhagavan), Deivasigamani (Tamilaruvi Manian), Periyar Dasan and Sirajudeen — who were classmates right from Class I to XI. All of us, except Sirajudeen whose whereabouts weren’t known, met up with our teacher. On quizzing a couple of religious heads at a mosque, we found out that Sirajudeen was neck deep into spiritual work at Abu Dhabi.”
The friends were delighted that they had traced their classmate and soon Sirajudeen managed to converse with his teacher and his old classmates through tele-conferencing. It was indeed a joyous moment, the meeting opening up a cache of school memories. Subsequently, Sirajudeen kept in touch with Periyar Dasan.
In 2004, Periyar Dasan got an opportunity to visit Dubai and that’s when the he met his old classmate Sirajudeen, face-to-face this time! The two bonded very well and met every day till it was time for Periyar Dasan to return to India. During one such meeting, Sirajudeen hugged him and said that his friend shouldn’t die a non-believer. Mere words but to Periyar Dasan, those were like veritable gems of wisdom. After all, hadn’t a few words spoken by the Buddha transformed Angulimala or the wise counsel given by Narada changed Valmiki?
After that Dasan, persevered to read the Holy Quran and the history of Prophet Mohammed. It dawned on him then that life without religion was incomplete. He then realised that God is one and his vocabulary expanded to include words like Qayamat (Judgement Day) and Marumai (life after death).
It was only a matter of time before Periyar Dasan became Dr Abdulla. The well-known atheist went to Mecca to perform Umra and after that embraced Islam through a Dawa center in Saudi Arabia. Brushing aside the widespread criticism about his conversion, he said, “Coming to the realisation that God exists as I did recently, I had been expressing my views about the same in various popular vernacular magazines for more than a year. Nobody questioned me about it then. But now that I have embraced Islam, there is a big hue and cry with many even making accusations that I converted just for money.” Dr Abdulla said that he had pacified his wife and prayed that she should be his wife in the next life as well. “My wife has fallen in line with my religious belief. I have decided to name her Fathima and we would be performing our Umra soon. As for my two sons, they are under no compulsion to convert,” he said.

Source: The New Indian Express, 12 April 2010, Chennai

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