Today I have something for you that I am pretty excited about…an interview!! It is the first one I have done for this blog, but I have to say I really enjoyed making up the questions and seeing what kinds of answers I got, so in shaa Allah there may be more coming (wink, wink). It also felt like a really lovely way to connect with a fellow sister and blogger, and if you keep your eye out you may just see a reciprocal interview from yours truly pop up on her site soon =)
For our interview today I have Lili from Life of a Muslim Revert . I don’t remember how I stumbled upon her blog, but I was immediately won over by her sweet disposition, heartfelt writing, and her fresh perspective on things. It was just that—her different perspective—that made me want to have her around for an interview!
So here it is, and if you enjoy hearing from her I cannot encourage you enough to go check our her blog!
Salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh! Thank you so much for agreeing to come on for an interview; I love reading your blog, and I hope my readers will enjoy your writing as much as I do. I find your perspective so interesting and can’t wait to learn a bit more!
Waalaikumussalam sister Ashley! I really love reading your blog and I hope, inshallah, you’d like it as much as I liked reading your stories thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer your questions, it is such an honour.
1.To get things started, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are you and what do you do (if you are comfortable sharing)? When did you decide to convert to Islam?
My name is Lili, and I’m currently in my early 20s. I’m Chinese, and a university student doing a degree in Psychology, alhamdulilah. Inshallah, in the future I am able to help and work with autistic children. I am very grateful, to be a part of this sisterhood in our blogging community. Mashallah the support is truly amazing!
I actually decided that I wanted to convert around December in 2015, but I was reluctant to recite the shahadah because I feared the lifetime commitment which I had to be mentally and emotionally ready. But alhamdulilah, Allah and the people I love has given me strength to overcome the impossible and I recited my shahadah in May 2016.
2.Next can you tell me a bit about your blog? What was your main purpose behind starting it, and what are your plans for the future?
Honestly, I started my blog when I was really depressed. I felt such sadness I’ve never felt before, that I knew I must share my story, to tell people they are never alone. I could not bear someone out there thinking they are alone when I, myself am feeling what they are feeling. I could not let that go.
My plans for the future – I hope to gain more experience as a revert and to gain more hikmah. Inshallah by then, I can start giving advice for reverts, Muslims and Non-Muslims on how to get by in life. Hence, my goal is to move on from personal stories to advice-related posts
3.OK, so one of the things I find so interesting about your revert story is the fact that you do not come from a Christian background. I, and most of the other reverts I know, all come from some sect of Christianity, so we all have that foundation. Could you tell us about your previous religion? What religion did you belong to? What were your beliefs and how did you practice your religion in your everyday life? (however much you are comfortable with sharing!)
First of all, thank you for finding my story interesting! Well, I was a Buddhist, a practising Buddhist. Now before I address this further, I’d like to clarify that these are my own opinions and I am sorry if I’ve said anything wrong.
So, some people claims Buddhism as a religion, whereas some do not. For me personally, I did not consider it as a religion, because there was not any “God”. Buddhism offers sets of teachings that are actually really general and their advice are good, honestly. They really do emphasise on doing good deeds, being respectful to your parents and all that. The statues, as what you’d call them, are actually “role models”, or you’d say “idols” that are highly respected and admired, but interestingly, some of them treat these idols as God whereas some don’t. I used to recite the chanting verses in Sanskrit that was found in Buddhists Holy Book, which was aimed to remove your sins. But what made me convert to Islam is that I felt that I needed God. And that was the thing that was lacking in Buddhism personally.
4.Since you didn’t come from one of the three major monotheistic religions, which all tend to have a lot in common, I can imagine there were some ideas presented by Islam that were very different to you. Tell me about one or two Islamic concepts that were initially very foreign to you.
Initially, covering oneself was very foreign to me, and I finally understood that to truly understand, one must practise it. It was very foreign to me because I was brought up in the sense that a girl must take the best opportunity of being young, and to kind off be ‘proud’ of what you have. I was offended by how women had to cover up and not men. But later when I started to try the hijab, that completely changed my perspective and bias. This is actually a really long personal story and it’d be great if you could read what I wrote on my post “Wearing Hijab”
5.I would love to know what drew you to Islam in the first place. And after the initial contact with Islam, what was it that finally made you decide to revert?
Interestingly, Islam just came to me when I was questioning my own religion, which was Buddhism. As stated before, there was no God in Buddhism. I thought there was, but to my disappointment, the person who I was worshipping was not God. That then made me question: “Who am I praying to if the role models are not God? Who is the One who created them, then?” Then Islam came when one of my friend started show me quotes about Islam, and introducing me the concept of monotheism, which I completely fell in love with. And I’d say that’s what made me want to revert, because it made me realize I can finally have someone that will always be there with me, forever and always. It was a kind of eternal love that I have been searching for my entire life.
Interestingly, I recited my shahadah accidentally because I didn’t do it intentionally. That day, I was just visiting my sisters, so that they can teach me how to pray correctly. And then, one of my lovely friend asked me : “Do you trust me?” I was like :” What do you mean, of course I do!” And then she asked me:” Do you believe in the Oneness of God? If you do then recite after me” so there you have it: ” la ilaha illallah ” She asked again : ” do you believe that Muhammad (pbuh) as the messenger of God?” And there you have it: “Muhammadoo-rasullullah” I was SO not expecting that when I was just learning how to pray! I was like: “was.. was.. that the shahadah? that’s it?!” Subhanallah.. the power of Allah happens anywhere, anytime!
- Did you have anything that you particularly struggled with on your journey to Islam?
That would be my attachment with my parents. I am the only child and since young, my parents were my best friends. Converting to Islam meant changing and letting go the way I lived, and that includes changing the way I talk, do, eat and everything else, basically. Naturally, best friends do everything together, and it is a very special bond. Hence, embracing another way of life meant losing some fragments of that bond. It took time for me to accept things will change and are changing, for the better. It also made me realize that although we lose some things, we can still cherish the things we have, even more. It has allowed me to trust Allah more, than any other bond that I will ever have in my life. It pulled me closer to Allah when I had nothing to count on.
7.Ok, last thing—one thing that always inspires you and motivates you to keep going when things get tough, or you begin to have doubts about this new religion/way of life?
Allah. Imagine having a best friend who is constantly by your side, always and forever. No matter what you are doing, whether you are eating or sleeping, sitting, or drinking, someone is constantly watching and protecting you. This Best Friend also happens to be the Most Merciful, the Most Understanding, the Most Forgiving above anything else in this world. It just makes me feel happier, even for a tiny bit, to have a Best Friend like this! 😉 The remembrance of Allah truly reminds me how temporary this world is.
Thank you again for coming on the blog for this interview and sharing so much of your story with me, I appreciate it so much! I wish you all the best in your journey with Islam and your blogging endeavours, and may Allah put barakah for you in all that you do, ameen. Jazakum Allahu khairan!
It is my pleasure, Ashley! Thank you for giving me such an opportunity. I wish you all the best in your journey as well, may Allah guide you and make things easier for you, ameen. Also, I’d like to give a shout-out to all the lovely sisters I have met along the way. I wouldn’t be here without you guys and that includes you too Ashley! Jazakallah Kheiran!