According to research from the Shari’a Islam Office in the city of Banda Aceh – Indonesia around 30 ethnic Chinese  became converts to Islam. They became converts not because of the element of coercion, minority, environmental intimidation, or because of the enactment of Islamic Shari’a in Aceh as stipulated by Regional Regulation No. 5/2000 concerning the implementation of Islamic Shari’a. However, long before the establishment of Aceh as the only region that applied Islamic Shari’a law, some of them had made the decision to convert to Islam.

Aceh is a very conservative region (upholding religious values and diversity). According to the existing literature, the influx of ethnic Chinese has existed since the 17th century. Aceh and Chinese  have a good relationship. At first they came to Aceh as seasonal traders. Then they settled and became permanent traders. Peunayong is one of the areas in Aceh which is often referred to as the Chinese Town of Aceh. Because of the gathering of ethnic Chinese  in the area to carry out their activities as traders. They live in harmony alongside each other and carry out their activities as usual.

REBORN tells how these individuals converted to islam because of their own awareness and choices. Surely that belief was chosen based on various considerations. There are those who are converts to Islam because marriage, there is also an interest in Islam, some even because of supernatural experiences. One example is Ami, who has now changed his name to Aslamiyah, converted to Islam in 1977 because she married an Acehnese man. With permission from the husband after marrying Aslamiyah immediately entered the pesantren and lived in the pesantren. You could say after marriage Aslamiyah was not live home with her husband and immediately entered the pesantren for two years. While at the pesantren (Islamic boarding school) Aslamiyah studied Islam seriously and produced positive results. At present he is the head of a Muslim community the city of Banda Aceh and opened his house to teach Qur’an recitation to children in the area where he lives. The great thing is that Aslamiyah once represented Aceh in the National MTQ (Musabaqah Tilawatil Qur’an) competition. According to Aslamiyah, he was very grateful to be able to find Islam and make Islam his religion. Even now, through Aslamiyah all of his extended family has become converts to Islam  follow in his footsteps.

The story of Aslamiyah became a convert because of marriage, like as  Nurfifah, a housewife. Convert to Islam because she married a tengku. Tengku in the sense of Aceh is a person who is considered to have religious knowledge and often becomes an imam in the area where he is located. Nurfifah was a Christian who was quite devout before entering Islam in 1971. Since entering Islam, Nurfifah received direct guidance from her husband in studying Islam. Even though she converted to Islam as a condition for marriage, it turned out that Nurfifah already had an interest in Islam because of seeing the lifestyle of some Muslim friends. Nurfifah also often gets dreams that bring her to keep asking questions about Islam. Nurfifah was very active in Islam community Aceh, she was also one of the organizers of the association of Muslim converts in Aceh. Until now Nurfifah has remained passionate about sharing her life experiences as a Muslim woman with her non-Muslim family and relatives.

If you see the story of Aslamiyah and Nurfifah very different from Herman, who is now familiarly called Taufik, He is a monk and the person in charge of one of the Vihara in Medan who has attended several Buddhist deepening training to be prepared to become a kind of religious leader, has received strong resistance from his extended family for Islam.  Almost five years Taufik had never communicated with his family, even today some of his family are still hostile to him. Taufik was born in Sibolga on March 23, 1982. Taufik migrated to Aceh precisely in Lhokseumaweh in 2008 in hopes of getting a job. Several months in Aceh finally Taufik became a convert after experiencing a supernatural event. At one point Taufik heard the sound of a Goib saying “You must enter Islam”. Since experiencing the incident, Taufik immediately searched for a pesantren and stayed in a pesantren for two years to get guidance in studying Islam. At present Taufik has a small shop in his home and has married an Acehnese woman and is blessed with two children.

Taufik’s experience as a convert was similar to Asiung who is now called Firman and Ko Awie as familiar to Awi. Awi was born in Medan and has long moved to Aceh together with his wife. Awie received guidance and converted to Islam in 2010. Awie currently owns an eyewear shop and several other businesses. Awie is determined to help fellow converts to have their own work or business. Firman chose to convert to Islam in 2015 because every day he saw people who were praying at the mosque in front of his boarding house. Firman  felt seeing people who were praying like there was peace in themselves.  After a few months Firman continued to pay attention to the activities of the people in the mosque, as if there was a voice from within he kept calling him to be closer to the mosque, as if to bring Firman  to the mosque and even enter it. At that time Hendri made the choice to convert to Islam and become a Muslim following his inner voice. The decision made Firman  have to deal with his family who are still Buddhists who were very opposed to Firmna’s choice. As a result Firman  no longer received financial support from his family and the assets that were part of him were no longer given, making Firman  have to try to make ends meet. To the extent that at one point Firman  no longer felt reluctant to borrow money from his friend just for the cost of his meal at that time. Firman  never regretted the decision he had made, Firman  still felt calm and patient in undergoing everything he experienced in the beginning becoming converts. But the fruit of his patience made him slowly begin to be opened by Allah and given abundant sustenance. Currently Firman  has a retail sales and service for photocopying machines. He owns a shop and vehicle for operating his business.

Firman has the principle that being a convert is not to be pityed or underestimated by the environment or family or to make it an opportunity to get donations and help from others. Same is the case with Linda Tjen (Sari) and Suhia (Nadia vega). Sari and Nadia are brothers born in Jakarta. Sari was born 31 January 1995 and Nadia was born on 1 January 2004. Sari works as a cleaning service and Nadia is still in the first grade of junior high school. Come to Aceh in 2012 with his mother following his Brother who had already been in Aceh. A year in Aceh, Sari and Nadia made the decision to convert to Islam, at that time because his mother was sick and eventually died. Right in front of the body of Almarhumah, his mother Sari and Nadia were confessed and converted. At the moment they only live together because Their Brother is moving to Yogyakarta  because of work. Sari and Nadia remained strong in living their daily lives, never feeling sorry for the choices they had made. They continue to live day after day with hope, patience and full of enthusiasm even though they have become orphans.

Another interesting thing is Dahlia or Nurul Chairy and Asang who changed their name to Hasanuddin. Both were born and grew up in Peunayong, Banda Aceh. If Nurul became a convert in 2003 while Hasanuddin in 1978. Since entering Islam Nurul no longer lives with his family who do not accept that Nurul has converted so that Nurul must move or leave his house. Finally Nurul married an Acehnese man and had two children. Sad thing was Nurul had just lost her husband who died some time ago because he suffered from severe illness. Therefore Nurul is currently looking for work to fulfill and support her life and her two children who are still in school. It was different from Hasanuddin as the head of the family working in a fertilizer factory whose wife and child had also converted to Islam. Hasanuddin was an active and friendly person who made him chosen as the head of the complex where he lived and was active in various activities in the community.

From the government side, through the Shari’a Islam Office in Banda Aceh, They has a training program for converts in Aceh. Aim to continue to build up the converts in studying Islam. The Trainings were held every two weeks which took place in the bureau of the Islamic Sharia Office as their commitment to take responsibility in fostering every convert in Aceh. Some of the ethnic Thionghoa who converted to Islam were also routinely taking part in the study program so that they continued to grow in their faith. This is part of the life story of ethnic Thionghoa who converted to Islam and how they live today.