A Revert Story: Ustaz Farid Ravi

Bismillaahirrahmaanirraheem…
Assalaamu’alaikum Wr. Wbt.

Alhamdulillah I had the chance to meet with one of the most wonderful souls – Ustaz Muhammad Farid Ravi. He’s a TV celebrity and well known across Malaysia and Singapore through his famous television program called ‘Tilawah al-Quran’. Ustaz Farid Ravi is a Malaysian and currently pursuing his PhD studies in the University of Jordan. Ustaz Farid Ravi was invited by Dr Khazer al-Majali to take over the class I was sitting in (Da’wah and the Spreading of Islam) to share with us his inspiring revert story.

Ustaz Muhammad Farid Ravi or was known before reverting as Jesiah Ravi Jacob. He was born into a Christian family but was brought up in a Hindu setting instead. He is the last child out of 5 siblings but sadly his dad passed away when he was just 4 months in his mother’s womb.

Ustaz Farid Ravi lived in a Malay village and in the village there were only two Hindu families. Hence whenever he wanted to go to the temple, he had to go out of the village. He studied in a traditional Malay school in the village and he had to pass by a Masjid whenever he’s going to school. He was always in awe when the adzhan or Quran recitation being aired through the speaker of the Masjid.

As a non-Muslim, Ustaz Farid Ravi did not have to attend Islamic class. Until he was in primary 3, his friends asked him why he didn’t want to join the class. He answered that he’s scared the teacher will chase him out. His friend reassured him and he tried sitting in for the class. Indeed, the teacher wasn’t bothered by his presence and he started sitting in till he was in primary 6. MasyaAllah. Ustaz Farid Ravi memorized surah Al-Fatihah, few short surahs, the adzhan and a few du’as.

When Ustaz Farid Ravi entered secondary school, for 3 years, he had to take up Tamil language because he can’t really take up any other general classes. Everyday he seemed depressed because he didn’t enjoy Tamil class. He knows how to speak but he can’t recognise the characters. Again, his friends noticed him and asked what’s wrong. He answered that he wanted to join the Islamic class but he can’t cz he’s not a Muslim. And again, his friends reassured him but this time round his friends brought him to meet their Ustaz. Their Ustaz welcomed him with open arms but they had to meet the head master first. His head master was a Buddhist so the head master wasn’t feeling right about it and hence they met the deputy head master. Ustaz Farid Ravi was anxious in meeting the deputy head master because the deputy head master was a Hindu! After much negotiations among the teachers, Alhamdulillah Ustaz Farid Ravi finally got a place in the Islamic class when he was in secondary 3.

Now that he’s more matured, he tried to understand the surah that he has memorized. During the class, his teacher shared with them stories of the Prophets and one story that he could relate so much to was Prophet Ibraheem a.s. A brief story about Prophet Ibraheem a.s.:

Prophet Ibraheem lived during the period where people worship statues and idols. Prophet Ibraheem wanted to show the villagers that they are worshipping something that can neither benefit nor harm them. So he broke all of the small idols leaving the biggest idol only. When the villagers came to know that their idol were destroyed, they knew it was none other than Prophet Ibraheem’s doing. They confronted him and asking him to admit. But instead, he said that the biggest idol did it and asked them to speak to the idol. They got enraged and said that the idol cannot speak!

SubhanAllah. Ustaz Farid Ravi could totally relate to this amazing story. He started pondering on the temple that he and his family used to frequent. He pondered on the idols that his family had in their house. They’re non living things! They do not hear, they do not speak, they do not act on the prayers! From then, Ustaz Farid Ravi stopped visiting the temple and he’ll give all sorts of excuses when his family asked him along.

At 17 years old, Ustaz Farid Ravi was ready to revert to Islam but because he was still underage his application was rejected. He had to come back to the institution at the age of 18. Meanwhile, he kept Islam in his heart and still practised like a real Muslim.

In 1990, when Ustaz Farid Ravi was 18, he finally took the shahadah. He couldn’t keep the secret for long from his family. It was on a Friday when Ustaz Farid Ravi attended the obligatory Friday prayer when his famiy got to know about his reversion. Things in the house started to get ugly. His mum ignored him completely. His brother whom he was super close to tried to kill him and when he asked, “What’s so bad about Islam??”, his brother ignored his question.. His sister packed his bag and chased him out from the house.

He stayed six months in a welfare home – the place where he seek shelter and learnt more about Islam. After which, he pursued his degree at Ahlul Bayt University in Jordan.

Fast forward to 2001. Ustaz Farid Ravi finally went back home to meet his mum. He held his mum’s hands and he apologised for not being a good son. His mum is his responsibility and he felt guilty for not taking care of her for 10 years. He also felt guilty for not spending time with her and he yearns to meet his mum again in Jannah. But the only way for them to reunite again in Jannah is for her to revert to Islam too. His mum had the intention to revert but she was worried about what will happen, etc. Ustaz Farid Ravi reassured her that he’s gonna teach her all that she needs to know about Islam and she took the leap of faith. SubhanAllah.

His mum took the shahadah in March 2001 and Allahuakbar, she returns to her Creator in June 2001.

Four years after, in 2005, Ustaz Farid Ravi’s brother suddenly called him when he was working. His brother wanted to take the shahadah too, SubhanAllah! Ustaz Farid Ravi met his brother straight away and he asked his brother what made him wanting to revert to Islam. His brother answered, it was the question that Ustaz Farid Ravi posted to him 15 years ago – “What’s so bad about Islam?”. From then he started researching about Islam and he found all the good aspects about Islam! SubhanAllah.

His brother wanted to learn more about Islam once he reverted by he didn’t know a place that he can go to. Ustaz Farid Ravi recommended the same place where he used to learn about Islam.

His brother took his shahadah on Monday, and he passed away on a Friday in a Masjid. SubhanAllah. SubhanAllah!

How much Allah SWT loves His slaves?

That’s the inspiring revert story of Ustaz Muhammad Farid Ravi. Let’s all make do’a for his sisters to be given the hidayah too, InsyaAllah.

MasyaAllah. Indeed, Allah SWT guides those who He wants to guide. From this sharing, we can get a few great tips.

1. Just a simple question like, “What’s so bad about Islam?”, can make someone ponder so much. Just a simple gesture, and SubhanAllah, Allah will do the rest of the job.

2. Be hungry for the truth. Ustaz Farid Ravi attended his first Islamic class when he was 9. From that time on, he started searching for the truth and Allah SWT brought the truth to him because of his sincerity.

3. Do not stop making effort and do’a. Ustaz Farid Ravi yearns to reunite with his mum again in Jannah. He tried being the best son and Alhamdulillah, his chances of reuniting with his mum in Jannah seems brighter now.

4. Ustaz Farid Ravi is a revert but MasyaAllah, his contributions for the Ummah way surpass ours, a born Muslim. There are quite a number of reverts who are well-known for their da’wah towards the Ummah. So what’s our contribution for our brothers and sisters?

Let’s all make do’a for Ustaz Farid Ravi, and also make do’a for ourselves. May we be reunited with our loved ones again in Jannah.

If you’re a non-Muslim and you’re reading this, the next time you’re in distress, just close your eyes and say this in your heart, “Dear God. If you do really exist, save me and I will try my best to search for you”. No, you don’t have to relate God to any religion. Just keep the sincere intention in your heart and God Willing, He will bring you to the truth.

WAllahualam.

Muslim Coming from Secular Education? Join IIUM!

Bismillaahirrahmaanirraheem…

Assalamualaikum Wr. Wbt.

All my life I have been “moulded” by secular education with only weekend Madrasah to keep me grounded. Having said that, I quitted my weekend Madrasah when I started my pre-U studies at 17. When I entered a local Uni in Singapore at the age of 20, I didn’t have any proper Islamic education. Until I was almost 22, I decided to quit that Uni and pursue my passion – to be a Physical Eduction teacher. I almost got into the local Uni which offers the course. However, it was fate when I was eating with my family at a Thailand restaurant, my dad’s friend, who is the owner of the restaurant, suddenly asked me, “Are you from IIUM? My son is a student there.” and I was like, “What is IIUM?”. He answered, “International Islamic University of Malaysia.”

The next day I applied for the school, not knowing anything, but with only one intention – to know my religion better. Alhamdulillah I was accepted into the school and the course that I wanted – Psychology. Coincidentally, when I just got to know my husband, he just graduated from IIUM and I was just about to start my first semester (How I Met My Husband). Hence, with both my husband’s (as a graduate) and my own experiences (as an undergraduate still), InsyaAllah I will share why IIUM would be the best choice for Muslims who are planning to pursue your studies as undergraduate, Masters or Phd students.

The Environment

View from my room at my hostel.

A lot of Singaporeans have the misconception about Malaysia. Just like how I used to think about Malaysia – “Huh? It’s just Malaysia what”. The landscape, especially in IIUM, is just SubhanAllah. Singapore is crowded with people and buildings, and it’s hard to catch a glimpse of the sunrise or sunset. IIUM is a good place to escape from the hustling and bustling of a city life. From wherever you are, it’s easy to spot sun rising and setting between the mountains. And IIUM is surrounded by greeneries, which means you are always breathing in fresh air and your mind is always at calm.

The architecture of the school is mesmerising. If I’m not wrong, it was built according to the setting during our Prophet Muhammad SAW’s time. Whereby the Masjid is in the center of the school’s landscape and the different faculties surrounding it. Oh! Best part, you’ll be able to hear the azan, five times daily! Where can you get that in Singapore, right? Okay, except at Masjid Sultan.

Incomparable Education System

So where does IIUM rank in the World Ranking of University? Honestly, it’s nowhere near the top 10 or 100 or 1000 even, I guess. But wait, you’re comparing an Islamic University to Oxford? In what basis are they supposed to be compared? Two different schools, with two different goals, with two very different approach of education. So, even if you’re trying to compare University Malaya with IIUM, they are different.

Duniawi…and Ukhrawi!

Another view from my hostel.

IIUM doesn’t only focus on Ukhrawi (the Hereafter), but it also focuses on Duniawi (the world). Just like any universities, IIUM offers a looooooot of courses. From Medicine to Dentistry to Engineering to Human Sciences to Islamic Revealed Knowledge, to anything lah! If I were to enroll into a local Uni taking Psychology, the one very important aspect that I will miss out on is studying the Islamization of Psychology. In general, IIUM doesn’t only equipt you with Western theories, but also the Islamic perspective about that particular topic. It’s important to include Islamic element into the studies because Islam is a way of life and you won’t be blinded by what Westerner theorists try to push down our throat.

You don’t need to have any Islamic background to join IIUM. Just like any universities, they have their own compulsory core modules, and for IIUM, their core modules are introductory modules to Islam. For example, I’ve enjoyed and benefited greatly from modules like Methods of Da’wah, Prophetic History, Revelation as a Source of Knowledge, etc. It’s an eye opener especially for student with secular education like me.

You will also learn Arabic in IIUM! Trust me, in Singapore it’s almost impossible to grasp the language if you were to attend Arabic lessons only once a week. The Arabic lesson in IIUM is intensive. InsyaAllah by the time you graduate from IIUM, you’ll be able to have some knowledge of the Arabic language.

Comparable Education System

What! I just say it’s incomparable and now I’m saying it’s comparable? Comparable in the sense of classroon setting. I was from Singapore Management University (SMU), and SMU is well-known for having small classes for better and more effective interaction, presentations and class participation. When I entered IIUM, I was quite amazed at how similar SMU is compared to IIUM in terms of the classroom setting and course outline! Of cz in IIUM, pressure in class isn’t as high as in SMU. I still remember how stressful it was being in a class in SMU  because it’s so competitive and people just know how to fluff their way thru! Fuh. Seriously. No exaggeration. That’s another thing SMU is well-known for. Hehe.

Dedicated and Competent Lecturers

Again, JÙST because it’s Malaysia, doesn’t mean they do not have any capable Professors to feed our “highly intellectual” minds. In fact, there are lots of Professors in IIUM who are both duniawi and ukhrawi educated – best of both worlds! My lecturer whom I learnt in my module Prophetic History, he used to teach in Oxford for a period of time.

It’s in English!

Yeap! Since it’s an international university, all modules are in English (except if you were to take a course in Islamic Revealed knowledge). Okay, and they do have Bahasa Melayu Nusantara as compulsory module BUT only 2 modules!

4-Days Per Week School

Uhh-huhhh. From Monday till Thursday. And it’s only occassionally that lecturers have make-up class on the weekends. But, which school doesn’t have make-up classes during our precious weekends, right? Huhu. Sooo which means you can go back to Singapore after class on Thursday and get back to school on Sunday!

Cheaper in Many Sense

When I was in SMU, my tuition fee was about $7k plus per sem, if I’m not wrong. But over in IIUM, my tuition fee is around RM4k plus. Which is around $2k. Hostel? RM500 for 6 months. Or if you wanna stay alone with complete facilities, it costs RM500 per month. But if you’re coming back to Singapore every week, I reccommend you just go for a shared room.

We Have Community!

ASSIIUM – Association of Singaporean Students of IIUM. Remember when I say you can come back to school on Sunday? ASSIIUM provides bus service from Larkin (in JB) all the way to school every Sunday night! You’ll just have to pay for the bus fare. And ASSIIUM is also active with events like welcoming new Singaporeans, farewell for soon graduates, every thursday night halaqah (under ASSIIUM Research Team – ART), travel to other countries, etc. So, get involved and you won’t be homesick, insyaAllah!

You’ll Miss the Experience and the Experience that Lasts

My husband has been telling me how he misses the school, his lecturers and his friends. My husband was the best student for his faculty and he said IIUM has contributed the most in shaping who he is now. He said IIUM has open his eyes for a better worldview. He is still in contact with several lecturers and he’s happy that his wife is still in IIUM cz it means that he can meet his lecturers again! Hehe.


Just to note, I am not paid to write this post. Haha. I’m doing this out of my own will because increasingly I’ve seen Muslims who want to pursue a formal education yet at the same wanting to feed their thirst for religion. I was one of them. Alhamdulillah IIUM is the best platform for newbie like me who has just started to love my own religion and the best way to love it is to learn it. And I’m not gonna lie. My friend once broke my heart by saying that someone told her that IIUM is a Wahabi school and that I should take care of myself. She told me that after I almost completed my first semester and I was ignorant about the term Wahabi because all this while I was taught the real meaning of Islam and the real practise of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. And now I understood. If by learning and holding on to the Qur’an and Sunnah is a Wahabi, then I’m glad to call myself one.

If any of you are interested to know what IIUM offers, you can go to their website: http://www.iium.edu.my 

Wallahualam