Most people will never understand the pain of a teacher seeing a student they know and love lose faith in God and His Prophet. They will never understand how much fear seizes me when I enter a new class, not knowing if the same thing will happen again.
Whenever I get news that someone has lost faith, a fragment of my life breaks off and shatters away.
That is the heaviest load that a teacher in a conversion class has to carry.
When you walked into to my class so many years ago, you clearly knew about religion, and I thank you that you were not rude or condescending to me, as many other of the students in my class were and are.
I respect you for making the decision to leave your old self and become a Muslim. I do not know if ever I was placed in such a position, I would be able to do the same.
I saw you grow in faith. You wholeheartedly plunged into Islam with all your heart, your body and your soul. You made many friends and companions along the way, and you helped other fellow discoverers too.
You met your share of difficulties. You fell in love and got married. That did not work out. Then a good friend of yours lost faith. And there must have been other challenges.
And now, well ....
You will always be in my heart, S. Many students have come and gone, but you have been in touch with me all these years. I'm glad you came to my home for my hajj majlis, although you had other appointments. It was good to see you.
I hope you find what you are looking for, S. All these years - almost 10 years, you have believed in something, something greater than you. Even if you no longer believe in God and His Prophet, they still believe in you, and I still believe in you.
If you ever lose your way, the Malays say to return to the crossroad and start again. You can always come back to this crossroad, and find Him.
The journey of faith never ends until we die. God and His Prophet be with you, S. And I will always be here for you too.
But this is not about me. You have had a good run as a Muslim, in which time you achieved much more than most can claim to be proud of. I know you have thought this through carefully.
The object of religion is not to beautify itself, but the people who are of it. Too often we read and hear about how Islam is beautiful; but the truth is, it is people that matter, and it is Muslims who are beautiful, although they may not realise it in themselves.
You have to admit, in these last few years you developed and blossomed in many ways. Things may be bleak now, but dont be discouraged. It is only in darkness that the true light of a candle be visible, whilst the false sparkle of diamonds will be unseen.
I will pray for you during these troubled times, S. Remember that changing your religion will not change who you are. The Prophet will be sad, but he still loves you.
And you are always my friend.
though i realise its hard to take courage
in a world full of people
you can lose sight of it all
and the doubt that's inside you
can make you feel so small.