An Exclusive Interview of a Revert to Islam, Sharleez , from Singapore, by Bentolhoda Mofakhami
- rahyafteha.ir :First of all please tell us about yourself. (Name, Country, Job, Field of Study, Degree, Your background, Age, where you were raised, and anything interesting about your background)
Assalamualaikum. Hi, my name is Sharleez. I am 26 years of age. I am a new revert from Singapore. I reverted back into Islam on 14th of January 2019. Alhamdulillah. I currently have a first-class honor majoring in Business and Marketing. I am still living with my family and we were all born into a Taoism family. But my mother always told me to choose whichever religion I felt is the closest to my heart. But I know deep down she wanted me to choose Taoism. My mother allowed me to label my religion as ‘Free-Thinker’ as she felt that I should choose what I want when I’m much older.
- rahyafteha.ir :How many brothers and sisters do you have? And how do you stand in your family?
Masha ‘Allah I have 3 wonderful great siblings which are all older than I am. In order, I have 1 elder brother and 2 elder sisters. One of my sisters is just a year older than I am therefore my relationship is very close to her. Even though I might be the youngest but sometimes I felt like the eldest sister. Generally, I would like to think that I am very protective of them.
- rahyafteha.ir :Please tell us about your previous religion, before converting to Islam!
I guess I would say that I am a Free-thinker? Previously before Islam I always questioned people around me how do they know there is a God? (Astaghfirullah, I didn’t even realize how rude I sounded back then).
- rahyafteha.ir :How did you become familiar with Islam? What specifically attracted you to Islam?
In Singapore, it is easy to get to know about Islam. Alhamdulillah. Majority of Muslims in Singapore are traditionally ethnic Malays and in school, I mixed around with classmates that were Malay, therefore, it was not hard to know about Islam. We even have an Eid celebration in school as well.
- rahyafteha.ir :When and how did you convert to Islam? ( please also talk about your last second before converting )
I reverted back to Islam on the 14th of January 2019. Which means I am really still a very new Muslimah. I went to a Muslim conversion center in Singapore name Darul Arqam. (For Singapore readers who are interested can find out more on http://www.darul-arqam.org.sg/). I took my time to decide before I want to be a Muslim. Unlike others that I knew of, they revert immediately after they finished the compulsory course required before conversion. I took >3 years to make the decision as I wanted to be really sure that Islam is the right religion for me. I remember my last second before reciting my Shahada was ‘Why didn’t I choose this earlier’. I just felt so relieved. I fully understood what do they meant when they say you will feel ‘reborn’.
- rahyafteha.ir :When did your journey to Islam begin? (Your Opinion?)
Generally, I am a very curious person therefore, I think my journey to Islam can begin as early as a teenager. I remember seeing my Muslim friend fasting and started asking them questions about why must they do that.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did You Ever hesitate to say Shahadah?
No, never. In fact, before reciting the Shahadah, I have been looking at many youtube videos on reverts and I was always amazed and touched when they mention how surreal they felt when reciting the Shahadah. I never thought it would happen to me but indeed it is really a surreal moment for me as well.
- rahyafteha.ir :How do you feel when you work for your Akherah (The other World)?
I felt great. To me, this dunya is temporary and we should all focus on our Akherah. Most importantly, I never forget about my Salah, Zakat, doing good deeds etc to be closer to Allah.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did you have any problem with your family members when you accepted Islam?How did you come up with and Control the clashes with your family members?
Fortunately, I do not have any problem as of now, with my family members (or maybe because not all of them know I am a Muslim). My mother and sisters are much closer to me, therefore, it is very easy for them to accept me for who I am. My sister even bought me new utensil after she found out that I am a Muslim. She even makes sure the food she purchased for me have the Halal label as well. May Allah bless her kind soul. My family, of course, wouldn’t understand the concept of eating only Halal food. But when we eat out, we tend to eat at a seafood restaurant. My mother would always double check with the chef to make sure he/she doesn’t add only pork into our dishes. It is the little things they do that counts.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did they try to convince you not to revert to Islam?
My mother is a very caring person. She thought that in order for a person to be a Muslim, he/she have to KNOW Arabic, remember the whole Al-Quran, etc. She even assumes that I have to sit for an ‘entrance test’ in order to be a Muslim. She thought all of that sounded really tough so she told me that I can be a practicing Muslim but don’t convert as it might be too hard for me.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did the people around you cut their relationship with you after converting to Islam?
Well, yes of course. But I was not upset at all because I understand that not many people are used to changes. It is not their fault, what I can do is to show them I have become a better me.
- rahyafteha.ir :What were your family members’ reactions when you were practicing Islam or doing your prayers?
My nieces and nephew thought I look funny. Sometimes while they were watching the Television while I do my prayers I can feel them staring at me. Or when I lock my door and they knock for quite a bit and realize I’m not answering them they will sit outside my room waiting patiently as they know I was praying.
- rahyafteha.ir :What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
I love it. I love praying to Allah so much. Due to my work constrain, I cannot pray my daily 5 prayers on time. In fact, during working days the only prayer I can pray on time is Fajr prayer. I end work as late as after Isyak over here in Singapore. During my days off, I do pray 5 times. Insha’Allah whoever is reading this, please make dua for me to find a new job that allows me to pray on time.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did you think that Islam is a religion Just for Arabs? ( before converting to Islam)
I always knew Islam is a religion for everybody because since young in school we have Muslims that were ethnic Malay, Indian and mixed as well so Islam is a religion Just for Arabs have never come across my mind. In fact, when I knew about Islam, I didn’t even hear of Arabs.
- rahyafteha.ir :How do you see the spread of Islam in your country?
In Singapore, there are more and more reverts which I think are great. People nowadays know what they want therefore, I guess embracing Islam is what they want. Sisters don’t have to worry about wearing Hijab in the public which is great.
- rahyafteha.ir :Many people think that religions are the main cause of problems in the world today, did you believe that too?
I think people are the root cause of the problem, not religion. To me, religion can never be the main cause of problems. We, humans, tend to focus only on the negative news we heard and then blow it up on the media.
- rahyafteha.ir :Did you use Media like You Tube, Facebook, etc. to be more familiar with Islam?
Yes, youtube is my favorite media channel as from there I learned to recite my Shahadah, doing my prayers as well as listening to stories of revert. Nowadays, I enjoy using Instagram as well as I get to connect with Sisters around the world. Whenever I have questions, I can always seek help from them.
- rahyafteha.ir :How did you adapt yourself with new ethics of Islam?
Before becoming a Muslim, I know that I have to cut out alcohol in my life so I stopped drinking even before having the intention to revert. I started dressing more modestly beforehand as well.
- rahyafteha.ir :How was the effect of reading the holy Quran for you? How did the holy Quran Influence you?
The Quran is very beautiful. I love the fact that it is revealed by Allah to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril).
- rahyafteha.ir :What is the most beautiful Ayah in Holy Quran?(Say your opinion)
My favorite quote even before knowing the Quran will be ‘So remember Me; I will remember you.’ [2:152]
Somehow it meant so much to me. It reminds me to be grateful for the things around me and reminds me to give thanks and show gratitude.
I love Surah Al-Fatihah as well. Because no matter what nationality we are, which languages we speaks, when it comes to prayer time, all Muslim brothers and sister will know how to recite Al-Fatihah. I felt that it unites us and that is the beauty of Islam.
- rahyafteha.ir :Why do most of the media attack on Islam? Why most of the Media are against Islam?
Like I mentioned earlier, people just want to focus on the bad part of things. Just because of the one terrorist who is Muslim they saw in the news, they want people to associate it as an act approved by Muslims. But I think it happened more by the western news. In Singapore, at least to me, terrorist & Muslim doesn’t come as a match.
- rahyafteha.ir :What’s your opinion about hijab? Has wearing hijab had any negative effects on your private life? Do you think it is only dedicated to women?
I think the hijab is very beautiful. In fact, I get a lot of praises wearing Hijab. I felt that the Hijab make me feel more confident and also I didn’t care how I look. In the past, I want to look good for others but now I just want to look good for myself.
- rahyafteha.ir :Has wearing hijab limited any activities of your normal life?
Of course not, nothing has changed.
- rahyafteha.ir :How do you analyze women’s right in Islam compared to what the West has propagated?
“And for women are rights over men, similar to those of men over women.” Qur’an 2:228
In the west, people always assume women are being oppressed. While in my opinion, we are not. I felt that Islam give us women the respect we needed.
- rahyafteha.ir :As a convert, what way of inviting to Islam you believe is more effective on non-Muslims?
I believe that showing them how Islam changed them. I feel that words cannot really show people how Islam changed me but instead through actions can. After becoming a Muslim, I felt much calmer and kinder. I used to be very hot-tempered person with little patience but have since tone down because I felt that as a Muslim we have to be peaceful and kind. Some days, I tried to read some verse from the Quran to my sister and share information about Islam so that she can know more about Islam. I blog at
https://sharmoiselle.com as well to inspired people who want to know more about Islam as well.
- rahyafteha.ir :how is muslims’ behavior?
Came across this quote:
“If becoming ‘religious’ had made you more judgemental, rude, harsh, a back bitter, you need to check if you are worshipping God or your ego.”
I have come across Muslims who behave like they know everything (which they don’t) and Muslims who know so much but remain humble. Therefore there is no definition to muslims behaviour. But generally most Muslims I met are generally very respectful and willing to share more about Islam with me.
- rahyafteha.ir :How do muslims supply their own Halal food? Is there a main shop for it? What is its name?
In Singapore, finding Halal food is easy as we have quite a number of Muslim living here as well. Since I’m a Chinese, naturally I tend to miss some Chinese cuisine such as Dim Sum etc and it is not easy to find halal Chinese cuisine in Singapore. But meat produce wise is easy to find.
- rahyafteha.ir :If you want to say some words about the beauty of Islam, the peace, the calmness you have found in this religion what do you say?
As cliche as it is, Islam is a beautiful religion. I find myself being so much calmer after learning the religion. Most importantly, it is the Muslims around me makes me feel so welcome. The most special thing about Islam I guess is, Allah describes Himself as being extremely generous, merciful and forgiving towards His creations. Which ALL my Muslims friends agreed to. This draws me toward Islam even more. May Allah subhabahu Wa ta’ala ease our affairs.