“My son Jahirul Islam lives in Sydney, Australia. He went there for a higher education in 2006. In Bangladesh he never said anything to us about his conversion to Christianity,” Ms Islam said (pictured with her daughters). In fact, she can still remember “exactly the day when she heard about her son’s conversion: 18 June 2009. I was shocked.”
Her husband, Aminul Islam, has spent the past 22 years working in Saudi Arabia. When he came home in June on a holiday he began pressuring Jahirul to marry a Muslim woman after making Hajj in Makkah, plans his son rejected because of his “Christian faith.”
“When my husband became insistent, I told him about the conversion,” she said. “He really got mad and began beating me, accusing me for allowing him [their son] to study abroad, at Notre Dame College, a Catholic university in Sydney,” she said.
After that, not only did her husband continue to beat her, but he also forbade her from talking to their son.
Instead, Jahirul spoke to his mother, telling her to turn to Rev Alex Khan, who first accompanied him on his path towards conversion. Because neither her relatives nor police did anything for her, the clergyman became her only support, an experience that gave her comfort and peace.
“I found the love of Christ,” she explained, “and began reading passages from the Bible with the help of the pastor and my daughter Arifa.”
A few days ago, she told her husband Aminul that she too had converted to Christianity. In reacting to her announcement, he tied her and her eldest daughter and brutally beat both of them in front of her youngest daughters. He also set fire to a Bible, threatening them that they would get a “similar treatment”.
“We are scared,’ she said, but praying has become a source of comfort for her.
“We pray regularly,” her daughter said, “that one day my father might find the love of Christ. I forgive him even if he beat me like a dog. I am not afraid to be burnt my father as he did with the Bible."