Mahatma Gandhi had five children, of which four survived.
His eldest son was Harilal Gandhi. Harilal had major differnces with Mahatma Gandhi as he grew up, as a result of which he broke of all the ties with his family around 1911. Infact, he attended Mahatma’s is such a condition, that not many could identify him.
It is said that Harilal converted to Islam and took the name Abdullah Gandhi
Exactly 82 years ago, the complex issue of ‘conversion’ to another faith presented itself before Mahatma Gandhi. His eldest son, Harilal, 48, had accepted Islam on May 29, 1936 at the Jumma Masjid in what was then Bombay. Bapu was concerned because he knew that his son had a different reason for converting to Islam than was publicly known. He wanted his son to accept another religion but without any self-interest in mind.
In a letter to his son Ramdas Gandhi, Bapu wrote on May 30: “…just read in the paper about Harilal’s exploit. There could be no harm in his being converted to Islam with understanding and selfless motives. But he suffers from greed for wealth and sensual pleasures. I shall be spared all mental pain if I find my impression wrong and he turns a new leaf,” he wrote. Bapu wanted that the extract of the letter be read out to Harilal.
source : TOI
Vice-chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith, Sudershan Iyengar, says Gandhi would not have had any problem if Harilal had become a Muslim in the true sense— that is, in quest of truth and liberation.
“Bapu believed that all religions have equal potential to taking one on the path of truth provided one understands it first,” said Iyengar.
Bapu wrote: “…now he (Harilal) had taken on the label of Islam. That does not make him a follower of the faith, though we should indeed feel satisfied if he truly practices in his life what is best in Islam… we should try to understand whatever religion we follow and bring credit to it.” In November that year, as the Mahatma had anticipated, Harilal reconverted to Hinduism.