Saturday, 6 April 2013

Hijab brought me to Islam: Jessica-New revert to Islam

Jessica Rhodes is a 21 year old female from Norwich, UK who works as a telesales consultant and is also a student. She was a Pagan before reverting to Islam a month ago.
She was born in 1991 and was adopted in 1993. Grew up in a small seaside town on the south east coast of England, she went to university at 19 to study for a degree in Music and she hopes to do postgraduate qualifications in counselling starting September 2013.
She has an amazing story of her reversion and how she got attracted to Islam. New York based lady Nazma Khan started a campaign known as ‘world hijab day’. The movement has been organised almost solely over social networking sites. It has attracted interest from Muslims and non-Muslims in more than 50 countries across the world. For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and divisiveness. It’s a visible target that often bears the brunt of a larger debate about Islam in the West. World Hijab Day is designed to counteract these controversies. It encourages non-Muslim women (or even Muslim women who do not ordinarily wear one) to don the hijab and experience what it’s like to do so, as part of a bid to foster better understanding.
It was social networking that got Jessica Rhodes involved. Her friend Widyan Al Ubudy lives in Australia and asked her Facebook friends to participate. Jessica who was a non-Muslim decided to participate in the world hijab day. She says: “I took part in the first World Hijab Day and challenged myself to wear the hijab for a month. I then began reading the Quran and the words in the Quran seemed logical and clear, rather than in the Bible where they tend to waffle. I also did some research into Islam as a whole and felt that it was an inclusive religion that could give me the answers I was looking for”. Although her parents were little apprehensive, if it was a good idea or she may be attacked in the streets because of non-tolerance.
Several Websites like BBC, CBBC, Muslim times, Malaysian Digest has published articles on her regarding the experience of anon-Muslim wearing a hijab
The defining moment in her life was when she walked out in Hijab for the first time as a non-Muslim and she could not remember what it felt like to go without a hijab on.
On reaction of her parents/friends/relatives/Husband she says: It was a bag of mix, parents were not happy but they accept my decision. My in-laws have been extremely supportive. My friends are unfortunately a mixed bag – some are happy with my decision, others want to argue with me about it, and still others walked out of my life altogether.”
On the question of what challenges she faced   as a Muslim she said is lucky and so far she didn’t face any problem and everybody has been very supportive and open-minded about it.
She further added on the level of support from other Muslims: “I have had some support, but not many people seem to want to reach out to me, it is always me asking for help. When I go and ask questions, people quote the Quran at me and do not seem open to a convert’s interpretation of the Quran. They can improve this by being more open-minded to other interpretations, because it is not just Westerners who can be narrow-minded, misguided etc.”
She further adds:  “sometimes I am unsure – the reaction from most of the Muslims that I have spoken to has led me to feel like I should leave Islam and go back to paganism as in that religion I was given a choice about how I practice my religion, and nobody cared if I did things my way or another way. As for the Muslim Ummah… that is in the hands of Allah. If people worldwide, of all walks of life, are more open-minded perhaps we can move forward but if not, we will simply continue to be in a mire of misconceptions, anger and pointless wars”.
Jessica wore the hijab for the first time last week to her office and got wonderful response.