Muslim convert tells of death threats made to his wife and children in India

After Indian expatriate Abdullah Singh announced to his relatives that he was converting from Sikhism last year, his wife and two children at home began to receive death threats.

Indian expat Abdullah Singh, left, says his wife and children have received death threats since he converted to Islam last year. Pawan Singh / The National
Powered by automated translation

A Muslim convert believes his family in India are in danger because he changed religion.

Last year Abdullah Singh, 37, told his relatives he was converting from Sikhism. Since then, he says, his wife and two children have been receiving death threats.

He said he was disowned by his family and cut out of his inheritance.

Mr Singh is desperate to bring his wife, Rebecca, four-year-old son Ankosh and two-year-old daughter Hatel to the UAE but cannot because his salary is too low.

To qualify for family sponsorship a resident must earn a minimum of Dh4,000 a month. He earns Dh800.

“Returning to India is out of the question,” said Mr Singh, 37, who was known as Nidhan Mohinder Singh before his conversion.

He arrived in the UAE six months ago to work as an industrial painter and was already thinking of converting to Islam, having studied the religion back in India.

With the help of some fellow labourers, Abdullah made his conversion at the camp’s mosque.

When he told his family in Punjab, the repercussions began.

“My family was very upset with me,” Mr Singh said. “They said they cannot face society because one of them became a Muslim.

“They want me to go back as soon as possible to convert back to Sikhism.”

He said his wife, who was a Christian but had also converted to Islam, had been harassed and verbally abused by people in her village.

“When my wife goes out in the street they start pointing at her, ‘This is the Muslim’s wife’, and various types of bullying and slander,” Mr Singh said.

She eventually left her home and moved back to live with her family, only to come under pressure from them to divorce her husband.

Mr Singh sought help from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department but UAE immigration laws do not allow low-income workers to sponsor their families.

He met his wife while Mr Singh was working as a bhangra dancer at a wedding.

“The first time I saw my husband in the street, he looked at me and I looked back and it was attraction from first sight,” said Mrs Singh, 26.

“I respect Muslim culture and since my husband made his decision to convert, I accept his religion too.

“Some Sikh and Hindu people are very cruel. They keep saying, ‘Your husband is a very foolish man.’ They even called me a prostitute.”

Mr Singh said he had doubts about Sikhism before he came to the UAE.

“I was not convinced of Sikhism. I used to go to the temple but never felt the peace of mind and soul,” he said.

He started going to Muslim gatherings while working in Delhi.

“I was impressed by their way of worship and lifestyle. It made sense to me. It was what I was searching for but did not find in my previous religion.”

Mr Singh started practising even before he officially converted.

“I used to fast the whole month of Ramadan,” he said. “I even reached a stage where whatever I asked from Allah I was granted.”

Now he is praying that someone offers him a job paying enough to let him move his family to the UAE.