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Conversion Stories New Muslims

The Swiss Nora Illi, the Co-founder of the Swiss Central Islamic Council, Dies Aged 35

Nora Illi, a famous Islamic preacher who co-founded the Swiss Central Islamic Council (IZRS), died on Monday at the age of 35, after a long illness. As the IZRS now reports, Nora Illi has lost the fight against breast cancer diagnosed in 2012. She is survived by six children and her husband.

Originally from Zurich, Illi converted to Islam in 2002, aged 18, after a trip to Dubai. Prior to this, she had been a punk and had also been interested in Buddhism.

Nora Illi was born in 1983 to a German psychotherapist and a Swiss social worker. Illi dropped out of high school and trained as a polygraph. In addition, she became active in the punk scene of her hometown Uster ZH. As an 18-year-old, she converted to Islam.

At a solidarity campaign for Palestine, she met her future husband, Schaffhausen’s Patric Illi (now Qaasim Illi). In 2003 they married in Jordan. Together, they subsequently represented the Swiss Islamic Central Council (IZRS) in public: Nora Illi as the commissioner for women’s affairs, her husband as the PR manager.

Influence of chemotherapy

She was known in public for always wearing her Niqab. Illi was an advocate of polygyny. This differs from polygamy in that a man may have several women, but a woman may only have one man.

In the talk show Anne Will in 2016, she was defending the woman’s right to wear niqab. Thus, she was falsely accused of supporting extremist groups like ISIS. Replying to this false accusation, she stressed that any Muslim whether in Switzerland or any other country in the world should denounce and avoid violence.

Bussenfang in Ticino

As a Niqab activist, Illi publicly caught fines: After the ban on veiling came into force in the canton of Ticino in July 2016, she received the first banned buses because of her public appearance in the Niqab. In 2017 she also had to pay for her veiling in Vienna.

Her husband, Qaasim Illi on the passing of Nora Illi, said, “We are overwhelmed by your tributes from all over the world – Thank you!” Keep her and us in your du’a’.


Sources: 20min.ch/schweiz/ (as cited in allaboutgeneva.com) with some modifications.

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Conversion Stories New Muslims

Why I Converted to Islam – Part 2

By Sarah Price

CHRISTIANITY

I was a very strong Christian before converting to Islam. It’s an extremely focal point of my faith journey and without it I would not be a Muslim.

My love for Jesus (peace be upon him) actually led me to Islam. Christianity is actually the closest religion to Islam, not only theoretically but also historically.

Jesus (peace be upon him) is an important figure and you cannot be a Muslim without believing in the life and work of Jesus (peace be upon him)

There are many misconceptions about what Islam teaches about Christianity. To begin, the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) taught Muslims regarding how they should treat Christians.

To summarize it, we are to treat Christians with respect, and even if a Muslim man is married to a Christian woman, she cannot be stopped from praying in her place of worship. In Surat Al-Ma’idah (The Table Spread), 5:82, this is what it says –

‘and you will find the nearest of them in affection to the believers who say, “We are the Christians”. That is because among them are priests and monks and because they are not arrogant’. (Quran 5:82)

Christians and Jews are commonly referred to as ‘People of the Book’ in Islam, because we all have the same Abrahamic roots.

The Status of Jesus and Mary (Peace Be Upon Them) in Islam

Jesus’ (peace be upon him) name is actually mentioned more times in the Qur’an than the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him).

Muslims still believe in the virgin birth and place importance on Mary (may Allah be pleased with her). Jesus (peace be upon him) is an important figure and you cannot be a Muslim without believing in the life and work of Jesus (peace be upon him). I could write a huge post about this, which I will discuss further in future blog posts.

Jesus (peace be upon him) prostrated and humbled himself before God. He only performed miracles under God’s permission. He was an incredible prophet who taught love and compassion to the children of Israel.

The only difference between Christians and Muslims is that we take Jesus (peace be upon him) to be a prophet and not to be worshipped alongside God.

Islam teaches the Oneness of God, and to worship Allah alone and we believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) taught this himself. The term ‘Allah’, by the way, is the Arabic word for ‘God’ and is not just an Islamic term. Arab Christians also call God ‘Allah’.

Christianity vs. Islam

However, after returning from Malaysia I felt like something was missing. I researched key aspects and foundations of Christianity, right down to the trinity and where the concept came from.

I researched what Paul taught, what various historical leaders implemented after the death of Christ and I read my Bible inside out. I researched on what has been taken out of the Bible, what has been put in and the various contradictions and solid truths of the Bible.

There are similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible. For me, the Qur’an answered many questions I had about my Christian faith for a long time. I could find no fault, no contradictions in the Qur’an. I listened to debates between world-renowned Biblical and Qur’anic scholars, and felt that the Qur’an made more sense.

JOURNALISM

My sheer drive to be a journalist has taken me to places I never imagined and allowed me to meet amazing people. I’ve interviewed famous people such as One Republic, Bastille, Marina Mahathir, Kristian Chong, Yannick Bovy, Sisters in Islam, Virginia Haussegger, Senator Michaelia Cash, VJ’s Hanli Hoefer and Alan Wong and the list goes on.

I’ve been to incredible events and interned at really great places. I am very fortunate to have experienced so much at such a young age while still completing my undergraduate degree in journalism.

However, the best part of being a journalist is being able to make some change in the world. To give people a voice, to learn about human beings and the world around me. This is so humbling and motivates me every day.

Being a journalist led me to learn about Islam.

Yes, I am still a journalist and still as motivated (if not more) as a Muslim woman. Incorporating my faith and career is not a difficult task, and in fact Islam helps me to appreciate people and the world around me in many different ways.

Interviewing UN Person of the Year, passionate leader of SIS (Sisters in Islam), writer and strong advocate for women’s rights Marina Mahathir definitely shaped my view of Muslim women’s rights and of Islam itself.

I still remember how sweaty my palms were. A million thoughts were rushing through my head. ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘Am I really cut out for journalism?’ This was my first interview with someone quite famous.

As soon as I met Marina, her quiet yet assertive nature impressed me and I immediately felt a sense of ease with her. I knew the interview was an important one, a life-changing one. She answered so many questions I had been asking myself since arriving in Malaysia.

The Qur’an does not teach inequality.

It does not permit men to beat their wives. Her knowledge was exuberating, and I felt as if I had a newfound understanding of something much bigger and deeper than I ever thought possible.

“We are all one people on this Earth, ” said Marina as we finished the interview. I smiled at her in appreciation, and looking back now I know that was the most important lesson I had learned thus far.

Despite various factors that apparently make us so different – such as national borders, countries, politics, culture, tribes, heritage, skin color, race and religion – we all bleed the same and breathe the same air. I think we should all try to remember this daily.

It’s Important Not to Judge Too Harshly

The most vital thing I’ve learnt in Islam which I incorporate into journalism is no matter what evil and good I see in people, it’s important not to judge too harshly (that would be bias for one, we need to be as objective as possible in our reporting) because EVERYONE is capable of anything.

‘The greatest jihad (struggle) is to battle your own soul; to fight the very evil within yourself,’ Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We can always look at others and improve certain things about ourselves. There’s so much worldly wisdom in this one quote, and it truly inspires and humbles me.

But let me not disillusion you – becoming a Muslim and incorporating it into my way of life has not been easy in the slightest. It’s hard, and you learn more every day.

People judge you, even Muslims judge you. I’m not going to just put some holy light around it…being a Muslim has tested my patience more than ever before, more than I ever imagined. But they say the right path is not always the easiest one – and despite how hard it is at times, it also brings an incredible sense of peace in my heart and into my life.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is part of me now, but not all of me. It makes me happy, it makes me cry, and it makes me question a lot of things about society and about the Dunya (this life).

All I can say is that I find rest with Allah , and no matter what I go through, I know I am never alone every time I make Salat to my Creator. Truly,

‘verily with every hardship comes ease’ (Quran 94:6).


Source: http: muslimsincalgary.ca with some modifications

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Why I Converted to Islam – Part 1

By Sarah Price

Islamic. Jihadist. ISIS. Terrorist. Women banned from driving in Saudi Arabia. Burqa. 9/11…unfortunately, the term ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’ isn’t always associated with the most positive attributes. In fact, the term ‘Islam’ can inflict some pretty negative connotations in this day and age. For a term that means ‘peaceful submission to God’, it is a religion that is often seen in the media for all the wrong reasons.

Islam quickly became a mysterious religion I wanted to learn more about. That’s when I decided to do one of my investigative articles about Muslim women’s rights.

So, why would an educated, independent and well-travelled young Australian woman decide to convert to a religion widely considered ‘backwards’?

Well, it’s for multitude of reasons. Although people usually assume it’s for a man. Why else would a woman do that, right?

WRONG. Not in my case anyway. It’s pretty dazzling how some people assume these things though. Even asking for halal food at my local university cafe received a snarky comment from the waitress asking if I ‘converted for my boyfriend’.

I get confused looks at my fair skin and light eyes, some Australians ask what country I’m from, only to be shocked to hear I am myself an Australian. Australian AND Muslim? The combination is unthinkable to some.

Converting to Islam Has Been No Easy Task.

Despite some pretty harsh and rude comments about my change in faith, I’ve also had some amazing people come up to me and ask me why. This, ladies and gentleman, is the question that I am happy to answer.

You don’t have to agree with it – my word, you don’t even have to accept it – but this is my story and reasons which led me over the course of two years to where I am now.

Converting to Islam has been no easy task. I’ve been called names, been scrutinized, rejected and fired from jobs, lost friends and had a really difficult time with my family accepting the changes in my life. But with prayer, investigation, lots of reading and researching and talking to people from different faiths and backgrounds has all contributed to my peaceful way of life now.

Yes, I am Muslim. I am also Australian, I’m a journalist, and I am also a traveler. Being a Muslim doesn’t change the elements that make up who I am as a person. Although you can never truly express what comes from your own heart in your own personal journey, my reversion to Islam was due to three main factors. This is my story and mine alone.

MALAYSIA

Traveling to Malaysia was definitely the foundation for my conversion to Islam. After deciding on a whim to go on student exchange to Malaysia, I never imagined what a crazy adventure I had set myself up for.

Malaysia is my second home. It holds a very special place in my heart and I grew immensely as a person there. I experienced some of the best and worst moments of my life; and the whole experience was filled with color, adventure and opportunity.

From sleeping in a dirty ferry port for eight hours, getting lost in a rainforest on Tioman Island (and trying to make it back before dark), riding on motorbikes in Penang and scuba-diving in Perhentian Islands, these were just the beginning of my adventure there.

I was getting out of my comfort zone in Malaysia and exposed to things I had never seen as a small town Australian girl from Gippsland. Nothing went to plan nor was expected in Malaysia.

My Thoughts About Islam Before Malaysia

Before Malaysia, I knew nothing about Islam. I had never met a Muslim (to my knowledge) and I always thought of Muslims as wearing heavy black garments somewhere in the Middle East, far, far away from ‘civilization’.

Yes, I also thought Muslim women were oppressed. That they couldn’t go anywhere without their husbands, that they couldn’t have careers, and had to wear black all the time. Not that I really thought about it much, I was always in my own bubble of society to ponder too much about it.

So, my somewhat fabricated image of Islam was shattered when I came to Malaysia. Suddenly, I found myself becoming curious of the pretty South-East Asian Muslim girls with their colorful hijabs and clothes. I met many Muslim friends – who became life-long friends- who went to university, who had jobs, who wore veils and also many who didn’t, and they all seemed quite content and loved their religion.

An Article on Muslim Women’s Rights

Being a journalism student, I’ve always been an open-minded person and have a lust for the unknown. Islam quickly became a mysterious religion I wanted to learn more about. That’s when I decided to do one of my investigative articles about Muslim women’s rights.

THIS was the beginning of everything. My eyes and mind were completed opened and bursting with knowledge about Islam and the fact that WOMEN HAVE MANY RIGHTS IN ISLAM!

In fact, Muslim women were legally given rights (that’s including divorce, land rights, monetary rights, the right to choose who to marry, etc.) in the Qur’an and Hadiths hundreds of years before Western women were legally given the same rights.

There’s even a whole chapter about Women in the Qur’an. Men are taught to lower their gaze, and to treat women and their wives with utmost respect because this is favored in God’s eyes.

THIS, of course, does not mean Muslims are sinless. People need to differentiate between culture, politics and religion. We humans are not perfect, in fact far from it. Even I learned this in Malaysia – instead of judging a whole religion on a few people’s actions, look into the religion and what it teaches.

Feelings Never Felt Before

When I first stepped into a mosque, I felt an immediate sense of calm and peace. I even interviewed an imam. The strong yet humble cry of the call to prayer invoked feelings in me I had never felt before. When I first bowed my head toward the Ka’ba, I felt home in my heart. I didn’t convert to Islam in Malaysia – I was to over a year later – but it introduced me in a beautiful way to Islam and to the Oneness of God.

As each day passed in Malaysia, and with each experience I lived, it dawned on me that I was starting to outgrow the sheltered life I was living back home in my country town, and the various stereotypes placed on society from culture to culture. Malaysia was having an effect on me far greater than the boundaries of Monash University, cool clubs and intriguing food; it was the people itself and the lessons I was learning. I realized that every little moment in Malaysia would be some of my best.

I was definitely not the same girl that left Melbourne airport for this unexpected journey I grew immensely, while paradoxically also finding myself and what I’m truly capable of. I was a girl who was insecure and always feeling confined and trapped in the community I was living in – Malaysia, in a way, set me free.

The Best Decision I Have Ever Made

While we can’t be sure of much in this world, I know without a shadow of a doubt that going to Malaysia randomly was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Malaysia didn’t turn out as I imagined or planned, and that in itself made it so wonderful. It taught me to believe in my own capabilities and in myself more than ever, and that comes with taking a deep breath and stepping into the world on your own for the very first time.

Malaysia gave me adventure. It kick started my career in journalism. It allowed me to meet wonderful, terrible yet interesting people. But most importantly…Malaysia gave me Islam. I truly believe I was meant to go there.

To be continued…


Source: http: muslimsincalgary.ca with some modifications

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