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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Pakistan's Youhana embraces Islam
Yousuf Youhana
Youhana was the only Christian on the Pakistan team
Pakistani cricket star Yousuf Youhana says he has converted to Islam from Christianity after attending preaching sessions by a leading religious group.

Youhana, who now calls himself Mohammed Yousuf and was the only Christian in the team, says his wife also converted with him about three months ago.

But he says they did not make their decision public for family reasons.

Reports in Pakistan say his parents are furious while Yousuf says he wants the rest of his family to convert too.

"I don't want to give Yousuf my name after what he has done," his mother was quoted as saying by the Daily Times newspaper.

"We came to know about his decision when he offered Friday Prayers at a local mosque. It was a shock," his mother was reported as saying.

I cannot tell you what a great feeling it is
Yousuf Youhana

He moved out of his parents' house when they came to know about his decision but has since moved back.

A Pakistani television channel showed him offering prayers along with other members of the Pakistan cricket team including skipper Inzamam ul Haq.

Life 'ruined'

Mohammed Yousuf's mother says she had been worried about her son's behaviour for a long time.

She blamed the brother of a former Pakistan cricket player, Saeed Anwar, for "ruining my son's life," according to the Daily Times.

Saeed Anwar and his brother have become Muslim preachers who preach from the platform of Tablighi Jamaat - Pakistan's largest non-political religious grouping.

Yousuf confirmed that he was a regular at the preaching sessions held by the Tablighi Jamaat.

But he told journalists that he had converted of his own free will and there was no pressure on him to do so.

"I cannot tell you what a great feeling it is," he told the BBC.

Officials in the Pakistan cricket board say members of the Tablighi Jamaat have been visiting the board's offices and training camps regularly over the last several years.

Most of the team members have become overtly religious over the last few years, the official said.

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