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By Kallada Hamza, Calicut

The recent conversion to Islam by the acclaimed Malayalam and English writer and poetess, Madhavikkutty alias Dr Kamala Das, who belongs to a high caste Hindu aristocratic family in Kerala, has caused much uproar in the media. Her conversion and the adopting of the name ‘Surayya,’ was solemnised on 16 December by VM Sulaiman Moulavi, imam of the Central Juma Masjid, Ernakulam, at her residence in Kochi.

In a press conference, Surayya stated that she had been cherishing her obsessive desire to embrace Islam over the past 27 years. After her relentless quest for solace and security, she has found that Islam alone will help her to attain spiritual salvation. A writer, born and brought up within a particular cultural milieu and endowed with high academic qualifications, literary talent and material wealth at her disposal, would not be influenced or lured by outside forces either political or religious.

In her autobiography, My Story, she has reflected on the clash of different mores and patterns of Hindu culture. Her other writings also bear testimony of her philosophical vision on the subtlest shades of human feelings and emotions. She stated that Islam is the religion of peace and love.

Surayya's conversion has raised a barrage of criticism and condemnations by the rabble-rousers of the majority community. A fierce campaign was launched by hardliners against Surayya. Surayya has come under heavy criticism from the extremist groups. Her fault, according to them, is to put her individual conscience above the collective conscience of the majority community to which she belonged. Amidst the fusillade unleashed by the Hindutva stalwarts, some eminent writers and intellectuals of various communities viewed her conversion as a personal and private matter.

But some Hindus are frustrated though not because of her conversion. Her remarks in a recent press conference about the idol (deity) Krishna which is being worshipped by Hindus were considered as ‘derogatory.’ Surayya also dismissed the allegation that some Muslim friends and parties had been persuading her to take such a bold decision.

Some skeptics are attributing ulterior motives because Surayya indicated that she was not averse to accepting a suitable match from the Muslim community. She is now wearing a black hijab and observes all obligatory Islamic tenets at her residence.

Strangely enough, no Muslim organisations or the Muslim media in Kerala appeared to be jubilant at her conversion. 

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