An interview with my friend Evita, a revert to Islam, written originally for http://www.igotitcovered.org/2011/11/03/evita%E2%80%99s-story/
The first thing I noticed about Evita was her shining face, with a pretty purple hijab firmly in place. As she pored over her book, trying to understand the glorious words of the Qur’an during our Tafseer class, I made a mental note to catch up with her after class. Evita had a very interesting story to tell, and in this email interview with me, she talks about her inspirational journey to taking the shahadah.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, where you hail from, your parents and family.
Evita: I was born and brought up in Australia, and my parents are from India. I have one younger brother, and we grew up in a typical Hindu household. My parents were moderately religious, and we celebrated all the Hindu festivities throughout the year.
What drew you to Islam?
I have always believed in my heart that there was one God. I was a practising Hindu (the most religious in my family!) and used to pray every day, without any knowledge of what I was doing and why I was doing it. It wasn’t until I was about 20 years old, I began to question my blind faith, and started searching for the truth. After about six months of researching all the world’s religions, I found that Islam was the most simplest religion, which made the most sense… so then, I converted!
How did you cope with family pressure?
It was really difficult for me. My parents took me out of university for one semester and shipped me off to India. When I came back and still believed in Islam, they thought that I was brainwashed, and took away my car, mobile and ceased contact with any friends that were Muslims. We had a lot of arguments, but alhamdullillah, my Iman just got stronger and stronger!
Did the family eventually come around?
Unfortunately, I lost my father during the process, but about one month before he passed away, he did accept it (My Mum told me!), but it took slightly longer to convince my Mum. Eventually, once I got married (about five years after I converted) my entire family accepted me as a Muslim wholeheartedly, and over time, when they got to know my husband and saw that I was happy, then they were all happy for me, alhamdullillah. They are very receptive to da’wah, and constantly question my way of living and praying. I’m always giving them as much insight as I can to this beautiful path to Allah.
If you had to choose just one thing that finally convinced you to embrace Islam, what would it be?
The Aqeedah – The oneness of Allah. The fact, that you can worship Allah the way it is supposed to be, without any intermediaries. It just feels so right.
Did you ever feel Islam was the natural thing to believe in, since it agreed with every natural feeling?
Yes, I believe that it is totally instinctual to follow and practice Islam the way our beloved Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has showed us how to. It is so simple, and beautiful. I love the fact that you have a direct connection with Allah, and you don’t have to go through some person, idol or ritual. Also I was attracted to the lifestyle of Muslims – that you didn’t have to give up having a family or work to follow Allah.Most religions require a great sacrifice in your lifestyle in order to be worthy in the eyes of God. Islam, allows you to get married, have kids and live out your life within the boundaries of Shariah. When you implement this in your life, everything just ‘feels’ right.
How was it after you took the step of Iman? Tell me about the challenges you went through. And more importantly, how did you feel? Liberated? Curtailed? Frustrated?
The very day I converted to Islam, I felt on top of the world. I felt such a light feeling in my heart, and it was like I was flying. I’ve never felt so happy in my life. The most difficult hurdles that I had to face, was with my family. They just didn’t understand where I was coming from. All they could think about was, “what will people think, what will they say?” But alhamdullillah, it was those very hurdles, that made my faith stronger and confirmed by belief even more.
And finally the HIJAB!
I was always on and off with the hijab, and I finally took the big step and put it on about 4 years ago. It was a great feeling, to be identified as part of the Muslim family, ‘officially’, and to start looking like one.
What did you think of hijab?
The hijab is a true statement of ‘modesty’. When you wear the hijab, it is the ultimate tool to freedom. You’re no longer a slave to your mind and desires, and what people think. You are no longer judged by your looks, but judged through your mind, and people see the ‘real’ you.
Did it ever make sense to you?
I took slow steps towards modesty gradually as my understanding of Islam increased. Hijab is not just covering your head, but a whole way of protecting and honouring women. The hijab doesn’t degrade woman, but elevates them with so much respect.
What made you take it up?
I put it on because I wanted to look like a Muslim, and be identified as one. I was sick of looking like everyone else, and following the fashion, and most of all, being a slave to my desires. It wasn’t until I put it on, that I realised, how much more people respect you.
And now that you have ‘got it covered’, how do you feel?
I feel great. My husband respects me even more, and so does society. I feel that the hijab protects me, and allows me to be myself. I’m no longer treated as an object, but a strong woman who practices what she believes.
Jazak Allahu Khayr for your answers and here’s wishing you all the best from everyone at I Got It Covered!