Why I Became a Muslim

I was born and raised as a Catholic for 20 years. I came to realize that some Catholic teachings are not biblical, so I began my own study and research. Looking for answers, I attended biblical and religious groups. This was where I began learning about other religions, opening my eyes to a lot of views. And that was where discovered Islamic religion.

In all honesty, I did not even consider Islam until I met someone who invited me to listen to their teachings. But as time wore on and I learned about Islam through the Holy Quran, I was convinced that this is the religion for me. This is the religion I have been seeking for, and this is where I will find peace and ultimate understanding about God. Thus, I began to embrace Islam.

In Islam, it is very clear that there is only One True God, Allah, unlike other religions that believe and praise many gods. We do not need intercession to reach God, nor do we praise and worship images or idols.

Muhammad is one of the prophets and messengers of God, whose character was very serene and perfect. He had a great mercy towards human beings, animals, and the environment. Reading about him not only helped me in understanding his life but also helped me in following his path. He opened my eyes to see not only the material things or other images I used to pray for, but to live simply and become a better person through faith and religion.

When worshipping, we do it in utmost devotion and sincerity. We never miss our prayer time no matter where we are or what we are doing. During the month of Ramadan, we do fasting not only to cleanse our physical body but as spiritual devotion. It showed me how passionate Muslims are in how they worship and pray, and it made me feel as if I were one with God during these religious practices.

I was looking for a life with contentment and inner peace, where I am satisfied through faith and not by material or ungodly things. Through living a life totally devoted to Allah and accepting Islam, I discovered something new and now embrace a whole new perspective in life.

Why French Burkini Ban is not Helping Peaceful Co-existence

One of the main issues we face today would be clothing, as it can differ from personal style, or even religion. An example would be a Muslim woman dressed from head to toe as a way to show their modesty.

But what happens when a Muslim woman is in a public place like the beach, where the norm is to wear something less than covered?

This is why some clothing manufacturers have released the burkini, a swimsuit covering everything except the hands, feet, and face. The burkini was made for Muslim women so they will be able to enjoy a nice day out in the beach or pool without going against their beliefs.

But in recent news, France has banned the burkini in public beaches. I believe that this ban is not helping peaceful co-existence AT ALL. It causes outrage and divisiveness, setting us apart from the Muslims. I feel like it makes them feel as if they were judged for their own beliefs.

It’s an anti-Muslim act, intensifying the negative stereotype that “Muslims are terrorists”. And that’s not true! We are all brothers and sisters, where we must respect other people’s choice of clothing AND religious beliefs.

Banning the burkini only shows racism more so than “safety”. After all, it isn’t the burkini showing a threat to public safety. It does not prove a risk, nor will it identify a terrorist. It only identifies that a Muslim woman is acting upon her religious beliefs through wearing what is accepted by her religion. And is that a bad thing? No! Despite our differences, we should not judge on the clothing we wear, but the acts we do.

Banning the burkini does NOT promote unity in diversity, it only heightens tension and trouble we want to avoid in the first place. It is also illegal and a violation of personal rights, which the government and its people are supposed to demonstrate concern to.

Basically, this banning of burkini does injustice to Muslim people. It does not show equal rights, mutual understanding, and respect of each other’s rights to choose freely his/her own piece of clothing. And I believe that no matter what explanation the government of France will give, it will not be a valid reason as to why it should be banned.

Life as a Muslim in UK

Growing up as a Muslim, I can say that we were reared differently from other girls in different religions. I can say that our upbringing is very conservative, as we had different beliefs. There are three main differences I noticed compared to those who have different religions: Muslim women act, talk and dress up differently.

When I had the chance to study in UK, I really did not know what to expect. Moving in to UK, I know I had to make some adjustments. As a Muslim, I am to advise to follow rules that I know will clash with western women as they are brought up in a modern way and believe in equality. We are taught to obey our parents, from the moment we are born. In fact, we marry whomever they want for us, then serve and obey our husband.

I experienced racism many times. I was badly stared and smirked at. Some people found me weird, and there are times where I feel like they still do. I am not accepted in some groups, usually joining Muslim groups around the area. Sometimes, I was tempted to lie and go against my beliefs just to fit in!

One time, I was with my Muslim friends eating in a café and I noticed some people were uneasy because we were also there. The staff approached us and we were told that other guests would occupy our table. We knew that was just a lie. People keep their space as if I was going to attack them, and I can say that as a Muslim in the UK, it’s hurtful and difficult.

I have also been told that what I believe in is wrong, and that was one of the most hurtful things I’ve heard since I moved. But, it’s a good thing that my faith is intact. Despite the judgment, I am not giving up on my dreams. I am confident in my own skin. I am not going to give up the teachings I have learned just to fit in because everything Muslim women are told to do ultimately benefits women.

Being a Muslim in the UK may be difficult at times, but through guidance in my beliefs and the right crowd, I believe I’ll be able to live a great life.