JOHOR BARU - Blood is thicker than water for Fatimah Fadhilah Rajeswary, whose bond with her mother continues to be strong despite the both of them embracing different faiths.
Fatimah, who became a Muslim in 1991 when she was 28 years old, takes care of her mother at their home in Terengganu and whenever Aidilfitri or Deepavali comes around, she and her eight siblings celebrate the festivities together with their mum, 76-year-old Papati Sanmugam.
"I'm a Muslim and my mother is a Hindu but we have no problems living under one roof,'' said Fatimah, 52, a clerk at a legal firm in Kemaman.
"Although my mother and I stay together, I never preach to her about Islam. She tells me, 'You have chosen Islam but I will remain Hindu'," added Fatimah.
Yesterday, she received the Exemplary Muslim Convert Award, in the women's category, at the inaugural National National Muslim Converts Convention at the Iskandar Islamic Centre here.
The recipient of the award in the men's category is Muhammad Farhan Tee Abdullah, a 29-year-old officer at the Malaysian Muslim Welfare Association (Perkim).
Both received their awards from Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin in conjunction with the two-day convention.
Muhammad Farhan, who became a Muslim in 2005, said he was not the first in his family to convert to Islam.
His sister and two uncles had converted before him many years ago.
Muhammad Farhan, who went to live with a foster family after becoming a Muslim, said it was only five years later that he told his family about it.
He said he remained filial to his mother, Ong Cheok, 55, and visited her regularly.
Muhammad Farhan added that while he was now a Muslim, he was still Chinese.
"Islam has nothing to do with race," he said, putting to rest the belief among some Malaysians that when one converted to Islam, he or she "masuk Melayu (becomes a Malay)".