Personal testimony


Almost all the people in my village use to call me Manigun. I do not know if this name is after the 99 names of Allah, as almost all the Muslims are named after the 99 names of Allah. Only two persons in my village are known by this name. Now I have found out that this same name is called among the Meitei community also (indigenous people of Manipur), but very rarely. I think my father took the liberty of naming his only son in this way – not after the names of Allah as in the case of Abdallah. Interestingly, some of my relatives like paternal uncles and the family members and also all the maternal relatives and their neighbours use to call me as Nazim-ud-din (in short Nazimdin/Nazamdin). It seems that they are not happy with the name “Manigun” that sounds un-islamic. Any way I am known in my village and other places by these two names. Manigun is the composition of two syllables Mani (diamond) Gun (quality). Nazim ud-din is composition of Nazim (intelligence/power) ud-din (of the religion/faith). My name is registered as Manigun in the official or academic records / documents.

My surname is known as Mirai/Merai Mayum in Manipur. I do not know much about this surname. My father once told me that we are the generations of a few special people who came to revive Islam among the Meitei-Pangals (Muslims) in Manipur. The first generations of those Muslims who settled in Manipur before and after Meitei King Khagemba (1597-1652 AD) did not practice Islam seriously and they did not have proper mosque for prayer as they lived much like the Indigenous people (Meitei) in many areas, because they were the generations of mixed parents and heavily influenced by the cultures and traditions of indigenous people in the country known as Poirei Meitrabak/Kangleipak/Manipur. They were hired by Prince Sanongba to fight with his brother King Khagemba, but Khgemba defeated his brother Prince Sanongba along with his allies and captured all the Muslim soldiers in 1606. King Khagemba treated them well instead of putting them as captives. It is recorded in the royal historical books that those Muslim soldiers who settled in Manipur were given agricultural land, Meitei wives, family titles, freedom of practicing their own religion etc. by Meitei King Khagemba of Manipur. I was told that those who came for reviving Islam among the Muslim in Manipur were the generations of some close officials of Prophet Muhammad. Meitei King Charairongba (1697-1709 AD) gave those Muslim revivalists as “Mirai/Merai Mayum” as their family name/surname which is commonly known as Syed/Sayed.

Family background

My Grandfather Saher-ud-din Sayed along with his family members shifted from Phaoden - an area occupied by Meitei Pangals in Thoubal District, to Shikhong Khunou – a new Meitei Pangal village in the area of Nongpok Sekmai in the same district. I was born and brought up in this new Muslim village. This new village is surrounded by Meitei villages. My grandfather was a brave and strong man and respected by all the Muslims and Meiteis who knew him. The most I admired at his life was his strength and wisdom to fight with many men of his time and his business of survival that requires travelling on foot hundreds of kilometres

every week. Every week he travelled to Burma to sell his merchandise. He could speak some Burmese just for communication in his business with people in Burma. He loved me. He also predicted about me that I would not stay at home, spent my life as a wanderer. My grandfather had three sons and three daughters of whom my father is the eldest one. My father had some education. He was honest and a man of his word and respected by his friends and all the communities who know him far and near – very rare among the Muslims in Manipur. He served as a high school teacher for some time while I was a small boy. He left the job for some reason and after this our family become poor. My two sisters were not given any secular education. Though there was financial problem my mom and dad tried to provide for my education. Seeing the condition of the family I discontinued after the completion of my pre-university classes. I thought of finding a job to provide me and help parent.

My early life and following years

While I was a small boy I was sent to a local Madrasa where Islamic scriptures are taught by an old Maulana and beginner’s class of secular education of our mother tongue Meiteilon (Manipuri). The Maulana taught us lesions to read the Arabic language of the Holy Quran separated into some small sections in the book form like Kaida, Ampra, Sayakulu etc. When the students finally finished all of these sections (booklets), the student will be guided to read the Holy Quran directly. Then the students will be taught on how to perform namaj and many other practical religious matters and activities of Islam. It is a long and rigorous practice that enables students to memorize the many chapters and verses of the Quran and other related books and also master their pronunciations and style of reciting them. It is not mandatory for students to know the meaning of the Holy Koran. I began to attend the Madrasa and learnt to read the first section called Kaida (booklet). I completed the said section and continued to read Ampra.

One day, during recess, I was sitting under the veranda of the school building watching my friends playing nearby. Suddenly a boy hit the wall of the school with a stone. At the sound, the other Muslim teacher who teaches secular lesions rushed out in anger and beat me mercilessly. I tried to explain the truth, but he did not listen. I was shocked by his cruel treatment and cried loudly from anguish. I was burned with a feeling of anger and revenge. I, however, was helpless as I was a small boy. I took my Ampra book and tore into pieces and threw into the small canal running close to the Madrasa. I left the school without any word and from the next day I stopped going to the Madrasa. Very soon my father came to aware of my negligence towards the Madrasa. He scolded me seriously about my negligence towards the education. One day he tried to punish me for this, but I asked him if Allah was a God of love and mercy. He nodded yes. I told him the story and said there was no love and mercy in that school where Alah’s word is taught and I told him that I would not go to the Madrasa anymore. My Father did not force me to go the Madrasa after hearing my story. I learnt some basic items for namaj and other prayers – regular and occasional prayers from my parent. I was orthodox in my nature and jealous and proud believer in Islam. I enjoyed listening Islamic story told by learned Maulvis who were invited for such programme in turn at almost every Muslim’s house in the village.

Very soon, when I become a full teenage, my orthodoxy, jealous and proud nature died down slowly. Fear and anxiety slowly merged in my thoughts and actions. I began to ask questions inwardly, but I was afraid to ask them to a Mualvi or parent as I thought that would make other suspicious over me. Almost all the stories/teachings were concluded in fear and some kind of threat. I saw people do not follow Islamic teachings honestly/sincerely. Almost every Muslim in my village and other parts of Manipur teach and practice Islam hypocritically. I heard and saw myself of their disunity and fighting over the doctrinal matters. They change things whenever they want and impose on others what they don’t do. Al the Muslims were extremely affraid of death as if there is no hope after death. I heard stories and songs that Islam was built on bloody wars. I strongly felt prayers were imposed on Ummis. I was not comfortable about their superstitious belief and practices like using witchcraft and other non-Islamic practices. I was not comfortable with the idea of fast/Ramadan and its evening prayer. It, I think, is the longest prayer we perform after having a heavy dinner. Most of all, all the Muslims have no assurance of entering Janna/heaven. I was told that every Muslim is destined to enter hell once and the person will be lifted up from it according to his/her account of good deed (which I found latter in Sura 19:71,72). I had no peace in my mind. I seriously began to think about my life hereafter. Doubts and uncertainty filled my heart that if my life will go to janna or not.

Once I asked my mother while she was busy in cooking our lunch, if she would go to heaven. She was not comfortable with my question. She sadly replied that she did not have clear idea about the matter. Her reply mad my heart very sad and sick. My mother is the best woman I have ever known especially among the Muslims in my village. She was the most righteous person according to my understanding. She is a very simple housewife, very humble, kind; respect everybody, loyal and obedient to her husband, no records of cheating, stealing and fighting. She loves us more than she loves herself. I thought if my mother does not go to Janna, nobody would go there.

The word of my mother about Janna was the biggest turning point in my life. From this time onward I slowly turned my heart from Islam and started a new journey of my spiritual life secretly.

I began to think about my neighbours – the Meitei and Meitei Hindu community, their faith, culture and traditions. As a result I began to have many friends from this community. I learnt from them and read stories and Meitei Puya (books written about their beliefs, mainly sayings of their Maichous (prophets), cultures and traditions at the Central Library, Imphal. I, while I was in class nine standards, my father registered me at this Library as a member so that I could borrow books and read at home. I even listened to their stories of Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas. I read Gita. All of them were good, attractive and built on high philosophies, but my spiritual thirst and demands were not met. I was searching for the answer my mother could not give me. This, according to my understanding, is the most important question in life. Most people I have ever met or heard have concern on this matter in different styles and expressions like najat, moksha, nirvana etc. Even fakirs, sadhus, muni-rishis are concerned about this matter. At last I found myself in a sea of philosophies, mythologies and confusion. I was tired, worried and sank into a hopeless and helpless like mire.

My student life in Imphal where I was found by Jesus

I continued my education in Imphal. While I was studying my pre-university courses in Imphal, I joined AMYPO (All Manipur Young Pioneers’ Organization) and involved in various social activities. During my time in this Organization, I learnt about evolution theory from renown scholars like Indubhushan and also about Leninism and Marxism. All of them could not meet my spiritual demand and I saw them as human inventions and have no eternal value. I slowly turned away from AMYPO and started a body building programme with a friend living very close to the place where stayed in rent. One day in a fine afternoon, while my friend and I were working on the weight, two strange men entered the house to meet us. As we were working on the weight, they did not disturb us, but left a few tracts for us. After taking bath my friend Duttasen and I were eager to see the contents of the tracts. We, however, could not read the tracts at his house as their parent and other family members were very strict orthodox Meitei-Hindu devotees. So we went to Langol foothill (a long hill nearby Imphal city) and read the contents of the tracts. We found out that contents of the tracts were about Christianity. I picked one of them and scanned through the contents. I commented to my friends that those contents were all lies and fabrications of Christians. I was not comfortable at the points in the tracts that Isa (Jesus) was given the title ‘Lord’, ‘Son of God’ and making equal with God like ‘I and the Father one’ and at the idea that ‘He forgives sin’ and ‘he died for the sins of mankind’ ‘ killed by Jews’ and many others foreign ideas against Islamic teachings. I, after reading the tracts, started thinking about the misleading literature. I decided to do something about this matter, but I did not tell my friend about what I was thinking. I returned to my place angry and confusion. The next day I began to search a church where I can talk with Christians about their misleading literatures. As I came near the War Cemetery in DM College Road, I saw a sign board named as Manipur Presbyterian Mission (MPM) and near the gate a small book stall. I approached the book stall and found a man with stammering tongue. I asked him about the MPM and he told me that it was Presbyterian Mission office. I continued to ask him if there is any church and Christian who take care of it. He led me to a Tribal (Mizo tribe from Mizoram state) Pastor of the Church in this Mission Compound.

The Pastor could speak Manipuri language very well. He was also a trained Pastor. He welcomed me warmly and treated me with respect. I was amazed at his warm and humble attitude towards a stranger met for the first time. He talked to me very politely. I talked to him about the misleading literature. He assured me that he will try his best to help me in the discussion about the literature. He politely asked my personal details and in the meantime his wife served us with coffee and biscuits. He did not give me direct objections against my idea of the literature. He began to talk about interesting characters in Islam like Adam, Abraham, and Joseph, even more than what I had heard. As one of his appointments approached, we had to close the discussion at around 5 pm. He invited me to come the next day for further discussion. The next day also I went to meet the Pastor when I come back from my college. In that meeting he talked about the person of Isa in the Quran and in the Bible. He held the same tract I had read and explained the difficult ideas I found in it using his Bible. By reading with me many texts from the Gospel of John mainly, he explained that Jesus was not a mere prophet as Muslims believe, but much more than that. He explained to me about the idea of sin in Islam and Christianity. In this way we met many times and he shared about the person of Jesus, his mission as to how God provided Salvation to mankind

by his death on the cross. He also taught me about the idea of Salvation in the Bible. He explained all my misunderstandings against Christians and Christianity. I became addicted to meet that Pastor. He gave me a Bible (a compact KJV edition), but I could not understand the language. So he gave me another Bible (New Testament translated in Manipuri Language). I read the Bible whenever I had time, but not very openly/freely.

The idea of sacrificial death of Jesus through which God provided assurance of salvation to mankind was reasonable to me. I was also happy to know that salvation is given to man through His grace, not through our good deeds. I was able to comprehend about this idea, because I know the sinful condition of man. I know that our good deeds cannot be credited as righteousness in the sight of God. Slowly my way of understanding Islam and Christianity changed. Though there was a great fight in my inward being, I was drawn to the truths of the Gospel day by day. Finally, I could not stop myself from being repented of my sins and accepted Jesus in my heart as my Lord and Saviour. The result was an inexpressible joy that dispelled all my fear and doubts that ruled over my life before. The result was a wonderful change in my life and new understanding and insights towards spiritual matters.

I came to know that the person, who handed tracts to us while we were working on the weight in Uripok Achom Leikai, lived in that Mission compound and served as an evangelist of the Mission. His name is Rakhon. He was a popular evangelist among the Meitei Christians in Manipur. His younger brother Bharat became my close friend. The Pastor and my friend Bharat invited me to Sunday worship programmes. By attending church programmes I learnt many things about Christian faith which was totally different what I understood before. Finally, I was invited to a Camp (Born Again Camp) held in Kwakeithel where I was given water baptism dated on 13th July, 1986 officiated by the Pastor – his name is Rev. Lal-Thankhuma.

Price paid for accepting and following Christ

My family and my community came to know about my conversion slowly but surely. My community and Muslim underground groups attempted to bring me back to Islam and also attempted to finish my life when they saw my unshakable stand. I slowly became homeless and lost everything. Because of my conversion my parent and sisters received ill treatment from Muslim society and suffered very much. I became enemy of all the Muslims in Manipur. I was denied to attend my parent’s funeral services. Live under constant threats from Muslim fanatics. I find solace in the word of God where Paul says “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

Such payment of price is nothing in compared to the joy of receiving Salvation and today my joy is being more fulfilling by sharing such wonderful good news to thousands of perishing Muslims in Manipur.


Rev. Manigun Sayed



Make a free website with Yola