Saturday, 22 August 2015

GUEST INTERVIEW // STORY || BARNSLEY BORN, BARNSLEY BRED GIRL TURNS TO ISLAM



 
Above is a picture of Tanya before modest dressing.

Tanya lives in a small town I grew up in, with a very British family. The town is considered very racist, discriminative and a lot of bullying goes on towards those who are different and yes I'm talking from experience although most people living there will agree.

Reading Tanya's answers its clear to see that she had been confused in what to believe in and once she did some research and spoken to people who know a lot on the subject, it was pretty clear to her what she wanted to follow.

She's very brave to do what she has done in the old town of Barnsley as not many people living there tend to convert to Islam - Find out how her family dealt with the change, if her friends stuck around and how she deals with  her new life and having to dress with modesty.

 Here is a picture of Tanya dressed with more modesty, covering her hair and neck.


FOLLOWING ISLAM

What inspired you to follow Islam?

Okay so here goes the essay.. In the beginning when I set out to find the true religion, Islam didn't even cross my mind. Why would it? After all, they're all terrorists, right?
I actually spoke to a close friend of mine about the religion that she follows.
She is Jehovah's Witness. We were sat one day discussing religion and I started asking questions regarding her life and beliefs. I was surprised at how interested I actually were, although I always believed in God previously, I had my own interpretation based on my own ideas, as do many other people. She gave me books to read etc. and I did my research. Although deep in my heart I felt like I was doing something wrong. So one night I just prayed for myself to God just asking for guidance and for Him to not let me devote my life to something that was wrong and may earn His anger. A few weeks passed and I started speaking to another friend of mine who were born Muslim, and after speaking about it for a while I was pleasantly surprised to find that Islam is so similar to Christianity, which I previously believed (partly). I was told Muslims believe in the same God as Christians and this made me question why, when a Muslims life is different to a Christians life? The more research I did the more I learned how peaceful and pure Islam is. Islam simply means the submission to God, and Allah is the Arabic word for God. The main difference is we believe that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was the final messenger sent by God, after Jesus, to bring the message and guidance to the people, (God spoke of sending him in previous scriptures) and Islam is the only scripture that has never been changed from the original revelation.


Has it been difficult so far?

I would be lying if I said it wasn't from time to time, but we're all tested by God in different ways. I just try my best to deal with it in the best way that I can, and I keep hope that God will make it easy for me, if He wills.

What changes has it made to your daily life?

My life has changed massively. I am a totally different person now to what I were before. In a good way, all praise and thanks be to God.


How are you adapting to modest clothing?

In the beginning I didn't really know what to wear! I had my own style obviously, and I liked my clothes so it was difficult because they weren't as modest as they should have been. So to fix that, say I had a dress with short sleeves, I'd just put a top underneath to cover my arms, and pair it with leggings or tights. Now I have Adopted a new style which I think is still modern but modest at the same time.


Is it hard to find clothing in shops that are suitable to pass as modest clothing?

Erm, in the beginning because I didn't really know what style I wanted to adopt, yes. But now not really as you can make more or less anything modest.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY
 
When did you decide to make this change?

I took the plunge and did my Shahadah (testimony of faith) on the 15th of July 2014, although I were researching into Islam for months prior to this.

How did your closest friends and family react, was they all accepting and relaxed or did it spark a couple of conflicts?

My mum has been my rock from day one. Well, after realising it wasn't just a phase. My dad is atheist so I guess he thought I was a little crazy, now he's come to terms with it and is also supportive of my choice. Most of my family have been accepting although my older sister had an issue right from the start. Unfortunately this did spark conflict between us and we had a few crossed words. Sometimes the disagreements got heated and we wouldn't speak for weeks, but a year down the line she's more accepting and has realised that there's things in her life that I won't agree with and there's things in my life that she won't agree with, but my life is my choice and her life is hers. If we want each other in our lives then we have to accept that and move on. Friends on the other hand, what are they? They're nowhere to be seen. A few people keep in touch from time to time but due to the different outlooks on life and our differences of interests, we have unfortunately gone our separate ways. I have new friends now, sisters in Islam that are there for me and help me in any way they can, and vice versa and we have bonded really well. All praise and thanks be to God.

Is it challenging to live a Muslim life within non-Muslim people? If so then why?

Yes and no. I'm quite a strong person and I'm strong in my faith so I can get on with most of the things that I need to do privately. Although people can be judgemental and it's hard sometimes to do other things such as wear hijab on a permanent basis when I go out etc., but the intention is in my heart to do those things required of me and in time, if God wills, I will be strong enough in myself and it will no longer be an issue. My aim is to live in a Muslim populated area so I can be around people with the same duties and outlooks as myself.

Does your new religion stop you from doing many things you would find yourself doing previously? If so then what?

Yes, but I understand why I shouldn't do these things. Everything that Islam forbids you of is all harmful to us in the long run. God forbids what is harmful to us and permits what is good. Whatever we give up for the sake of God, God will reward us with something of far more value.

How has your social outings changed? Do you still drink alcohol and go to pubs/clubs?

No I don't drink alcohol anymore, or go to clubs/pubs. This wasn't as much of an issue for me as it might have been for someone else. I don't actually like the taste of alcohol so I didn't drink regularly, although I did love a good night out with the girls every blue moon. Sometimes I do miss these times when I look back on good memories, but I prefer my life how it is now than how it were. I still go out and see my friends etc. it hasn't restricted me socially, if anything it has broadened my horizons, as I have realised there's more to life than getting drunk.



DISCRIMINATION AND CHANGE
 
Have you yet faced any negativity or discrimination if so how do you deal with it?

Yes, people are slating Muslims and Islam left, right and centre. People have so much hatred built up towards Muslims and how the media portrays us, that they have no respect for us what so ever. In the beginning I would stand my ground and argue with anyone and everyone because Islam is something I am deeply passionate about. Then I learned that actually, Islam teaches us to be kind to those who are unkind to us. You can't put fire out with fire. Spreading kindness and peace, even to those who we believe may not deserve it, purifies our own souls and teaches people the true nature of Islam.

What is your view and opinion on those people who discriminate against communities, religions and nationalities?

Honestly, half of me doesn't blame them. The way Islam is portrayed in the media etc., would turn anyone away from following the right path. Although I do believe people shouldn't judge something they know very little about. If they looked into it for themselves and just took time out to learn what it's all about and what Islam teaches, they would be pleasantly surprised, as was I. In the time of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) they used to say look at the Muslims to know Islam. Now, due to the corruption in the world they say don't look at the Muslims, look at Islam and the Quran for the purity and true meanings. Although the people who discriminate due to race etc. I believe there is no excuse for that, may God guide them.

Do you believe that people are negative to other people different to them simply due to been uneducated enough on what those people believe in?

Yes, I do believe in some cases people take parts of things they read/see on Facebook and the media and they make their own opinions. Also they naively believe lies that are so easily spread for the pure intention of causing hatred and separation between us. We each have different views and we should all focus on making ourselves the best that we can be instead of criticising other people. But there's too much evil in the world to tempt us. May God protect us all. Amen.

What tip would you give those who are truly wanting to change their belief or religion. How do they make that final step?

So the first step would be to research, then research some more. You can't make a hasty decision, it's a way of life, it's the submission to God. It's not something to be taken lightly. Also don't look to google for answers, speak to someone who knows Islam in it's pure form. (There's always so many people out there willing to help you!) pray to God for guidance. Then the final step would be to take the Shahadah. (testimony of faith) I hope that helps anyone that may be of interest.

 
Well done to Tanya for finding her self and following what she beleives is right for her.
Times like this defiantly show who your true friends are, so good on you girl!
 
Hopefully this has inspired some of you to find yourself in whatever way you must, research and learn new things that interest you and one day your knowlage will come in handy.
 
Thank you Tanya!
 
 

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