Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Julia reverts to Islam after living with muslim Family during Ramadan



Salam Alaikom, May peace and blessing be upon you all. 
My name is Julia Thorsén. I am 19 years old and I live in Sweden in a small city named Enköping (one hour from the capital, Stockholm). This is my story about converting/reverting to Islam. But first, I like to introduce you my family background and my childhood.
     I am the oldest child of four siblings, two half-sisters and one brother who is three and a half years younger to me. My brother is my best friends. We are very close and share everything.
     My parents divorced when I was 7. My mother found a new boyfriend and got married and has two sweet daughters. My father tried to take care of me and my brother. He is alcoholic and has lots of problems so my brother and I moved to my mother's house, but we visit our father sometimes.
My family is Atheist and do not believe in God, but are cultural Christians. This is very common in Sweden. We never pray and only visit the church for weddings or funerals and also do celebrate Christmas, Easter and other Swedish traditions. Sadly in Sweden consumption of alcohol is a big problem and drink more during Christmas and Easter. This is the reason that i did not want to celebrate all this festivals because I never liked alcohol. I started to dislike family dinners and Christmas. My friends and I used to hang out together but never drank alcohol. I have only been drunk once in my life. It came as a good relief that Alcohol is not permissible (halal) in Islam.

 It all began with trip to Alanya in Turkey with my family in 2011. It was my first vacation outside Sweden. We stayed there for one week. I saw the culture, different mosques and I listened to the Adhan (call to prayer) so many times during that week. The Adhan is very beautiful and relaxing to listen. The thing I noticed that unlike Swedish men, Turkish people saw me for what I am and did appreciate me because I was taking care of my brother and had no bad habits. In Sweden, the people see women as object and externally beauty but in Turkey, I felt that people saw me from inside for what I am. This made a lasting impact on me I was nearly 18. I cried and missed Turkey when the airplane took off. 

Back in Sweden, I was depressed and one night in late august 2011, I had someone randomly added me to Skype. He told me he was Tunisian and we started speaking every day. I deleted him, but changed my mind and re-added him. We used to talk regularly. I realised that I have so much to gain/learn about spirituality from this Tunisian man than any Swedish person. We started to like each other and developed an attraction. After two months I decided to travel to Tunisia
     My family was taken aback about my decision to travel alone to Tunisia for three week during Christmas break and to meet a Muslim friend. It was a big risk of traveling to Tunisia to meet a man whom I knew little about like his age, how he looked. I was scared that he may not show up at the airport, or his family will not like me. But he did show up at the airport and the feeling was absolutely amazing. The trip went good, and I got back to Sweden with new experience.

   Now I and my Tunisian friend spoke on Skype every day. I worked and earned some money to travel again in august 2012, this time to stay there for 3 months. I was there during the holy month of Ramadan to saw them fasting and celebrating Eid after the end of Ramadan. I lived with a Muslim family for 3 months and saw that my new boyfriend went to mosque every night to pray. I saw his mother and little brother prayed in the house. The experience of Ramadan and praying was amazing. I wanted to learn more and decided to read the Swedish translation of the Qur’an and I felt that Islam is for me. I learnt Salat (prayers) and started praying with my Tunisian friend and his family, but I was not Muslim yet. My Tunisian friend taught me about basics of Islam.

     When I returned back to Sweden, I stopped drinking alcohol, and stopped eating pork. Within a month or so I decide to Revert to Islam and be a Muslim, so I called up the Imam in the nearby bigger town and told him that I want to be a Muslim. He invited me to his house to meet him and his family, and we discussed about Islam.  I did my wudu (cleaning oneself), Shahada (declaration of faith), and Salat (prayers) together with his family. I entered his house without hijab, and left with hijab, first time I was walking outside in hijab. Everyone was staring at me, and it was so scary to go outside with hijab, as I am from a small town and people have rarely seen a hijabi women. It was scary in the beginning but now it is not a problem..

The headscarf has always been my own choice. I love to wear the headscarf. But it came with a price as some of my childhood friends have grown apart and I lost contact with my stepfather's relatives. I was first mocked by my family, but they starting to accept me now and in'sha'allah, when I visit the mosque next time, I may make new Muslim friends. The mosque is pretty far from my place as I live in a small town. People do still stare at me, as many Swedish people are full of prejudices and think the Muslim woman is oppressed. I just smile back and thinking 'feel free to ask me, because I like to tell you my story', as it gives me an opportunity to do Dawah and remove the preconceptions about Islam. To me, Islam means peace and harmony. And this is my own choice.

 I am looking forward to the future and need to earn money and then will move to Tunisia and in'sha'allah get married in Tunisia, have children. Islam taught me to respect and love other people.

Islam is my love and will remain a Muslim always, no matter what and be a practicing hijabi Muslim. I will in'sha'allah go for Hajj and do my five prayers of the day. I do not know everything yet, but I am learning!
Alhamdulillah. Thank you all for reading this!
 Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu!