According to rahyafte (the missionaries and converts website):
An Exclusive Interview of a Revert to Islam, Kendra Moe, from Indiana, by Bentolhoda Mofakhami.
Kendra Moe was born in a small town in Indiana. She grew up in a Christian house for most of her life. The first time she heard about Islam was because of the events of 9/11. But she never believed what was shown on the news and other media. She says what drove her to convert to Islam was two main reasons: the peace she felt when listening or reading the Quran and the urge and pull towards Islam after starting to research it. Here Rahyafte team (related to Edoardo Agnelli Islamic Association) invites you on a special journey into the life of our sister Kendra…
Please give us a biography of yourself.
I was born on 12/13/2000, and grew up in a Christian house in the sort of outskirts of a small town in Indiana for most of my life, and always went to Sunday school and basically learned the Bible that way. I went to church pretty much every Sunday and in 5th grade I was in youth group with my former church (the second one I’ve been to) and I decided, “well, everyone else is accepting Jesus as their savior, so sure, I would too” but I only really did it because I felt like I’d be judged if I didn’t. The thought of baptism scared me, so I never did that. Within the past year or so…or maybe 2 years, I kind of started questioning the Bible, but I just sort of moved it to the side until this year (2018).
How did you get familiar with Islam? And what derived you to convert to Islam?
The first time, I had ever heard about Islam, like I’m sure many people my age has, is because of the events of 9/11. But I never thought a religion could be so evil as to do stuff like that, so I never really saw Islam as a terrorist religion even though that’s pretty much all that’s shown on the news and other media. Of course, I was still a baby when 9/11 happened, but we learned about it in school each year, you know, like “remember 9/11” programs or in history class.
What derived me to convert so quickly after researching it (3 months) was really 2 main things: 1. The peace I felt when listening or reading the Quran (which is part of a larger story) and 2. This irresistible urge and pull towards Islam even 2 months after starting to research it (alongside Christianity). I didn’t want it to be a “phase”, so I dealt with that feeling for another month before deciding “ok, I can’t deal with this anymore. I have to take my shahada and convert.”
Which feature in Islam attracted you?
All of it really. The dress was beautiful, Muslims seemed happier (They must have something I don’t since I’m depressed all the time, luckily I’m not anymore; all depression and anxiety went away immediately after converting and other mental problems became severely repressed). They seemed to have a lot of fun. Arabic looks and sounds beautiful (I’m also somewhat of a language nerd though, so I think all languages do), really a whole load of stuff about Islam or the (Arabic) culture of it was all so beautiful to me. And also going back to the Quran, I found it so peaceful and relaxing when listening to it being recited and there were times I almost started crying even though I didn’t know what they were saying.
What was your family’s reaction after you became a Muslim? Did you have any problem with people who knew you? Are you married?
I’m not married, but Alhamdulillah, pretty much everyone seems accepting of it except my dad and grandma. Not everyone in my extended family knows I’ve converted, but the ones who do know are accepting of it. Even one of my cousins (she’s super cool) said she’d stand up for me if need be.
How do you see the spread of Islam in your country?
I live in basically a giant cornfield in the US (got to love the Midwest), but there are surprisingly quite a few Muslims here, so I think it’s growing pretty quickly. I’m not sure what official statistics say, but that’s how I see it.
What is the most beautiful Ayah of the Quran in your opinion? And why?
I haven’t really memorized the Quran, but one Ayah I keep holding onto is “Those who believe and whose hearts are set at rest by the remembrance of Allah” (13:28). When I’m stressed out about something, especially since senior year is almost over for me, I just think “ok God, you know best, but please help me with this” and immediately I’m much calmer.
What’s your opinion about hijab? Did wearing hijab have any effect on your private life? Do you think it is only dedicated to women?
I personally love the hijab. It hasn’t really affected my private life, but kids at school have asked me about it. When I started wearing it, it was because of what the Bible said (but I still felt more called towards Islam while wearing it and wanted to call myself a Muslim), but aside from that, it hasn’t affected my private life. I can still live my life the way I always have. But one thing I’ve noticed though is that mentally I have this sort of weight to carry, not that wearing hijab is a burden, but the fact that I’m the only Muslim in my town and in my family, I’m the only one who can really represent Islam for what it is, so it just causes me to watch what I do and say. Alhamdulillah, I’ve needed to do so for a while anyways. So I’m glad that by wearing the hijab, I’ve been able to act more consciously. And I think guys should be more modest, at the least; too many guys wear immodest clothes and have vocabulary that seems made up of only cuss words, so I think it’s important for guys too.
How do you analyze the family institution according to Christianity and Islam?
Family is important in both religions, but I think Islam emphasizes it more. In Christianity, I’ve found too many divorced and broken families, but in Islam, there’s an emphasis on only using divorce as a last resort and for men to treat their women well.
What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
It was a bit awkward because I wasn’t sure how to, and even now it’s hard because I’m still new to Islam, but InshaAllah I can continue going to the mosque and learning how to pray with the other sisters there. Fajr is still the hardest for me to wake up for.
How do you analyze women’s right in Islam compared to what the West has propagated?
This should be a fun one to answer. I think women are more liberated in Islam because we have the option of how to dress, however, as long as we’re modest but in the West, I feel like there’s a big push to have everyone look a certain way or dress a certain way and if you don’t, then you’re outlasted by certain groups, and in a way, that itself can be oppressing. So I think society has flipped our minds to think the more modest person is oppressed, but when people seemed forced by the media to dress a certain way, or if the only thing sold in stores is super short, low-cut, whatever, then we don’t see it as oppressed, and media has almost fooled us to think that everyone in Islam (especially the women) are forced to dress this way. That’s only my opinion; hopefully that seemed to make sense…
Who/ what influenced your conversion to Islam?
Different YouTubers for the most part: Ahmed Deedat, Zakir Naik, Yusuf Estes, Yusha Evans, DawahMan, different websites, the Quran itself, and the fact that for every question I asked (or Googled) there was ALWAYS an answer, and I didn’t find that in Christianity. Same with science. I found it amazing that what’s mentioned in the Quran, whether it’s health benefits, how the world was made, how people are formed inside the mother’s womb, that we’re just now finding out 1400 years later. I think I found the scientific aspects of what’s mentioned in the Quran the most surprising out of everything. Especially since that was 1400 years ago and wouldn’t have had access to modern equipment to know that, but God told the people in the Quran this stuff back then that we’re only finding out now!
As a convert, what way of inviting to Islam you believe is more effective on non-Muslims?
If people ask me questions, I do my best to answer, but I can’t force Islam on them – for one thing we aren’t supposed to – so I just try and answer their questions the best that I can, or I tell them what I found with it, and sometimes it just leaves them thinking, but I only do this if someone asks about Islam, mainly just because of the type of person I am, I find it hard to start up conversations with people, especially about religion.
How do Muslims supply their own Halal food? Is there a main shop for it? What is its name?
Because of the area I live in, if there were to be other Muslims around, we would have to go to maybe an international store to get halal food…or just eat vegetarian.
And how are TV programs/shows in your country? Are they good for family?
In general, the TV programs are good, but I’ve never seen an Islamic channel, even at my grandma’s house where she has like 1000+. And since we only have a few channels that come in at my house (we don’t have cable), it’s impossible to find any, and I’d love to have some on non-cable TV someday.
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?
Honestly, I would say to look it up for yourself and keep an open mind and know that Islam isn’t what the media portrays it to be. Get a Quran (or download the app if you want to read it but need to keep it secret) and just look up different things, especially videos by Ahmed Deedat and Yusuf Estes and Joshua (yusha) Evans; they all have good videos, same with Deen Show and Digital Mimbar. They really kind of explain what Islam is and tell other convert stories and what they’ve found in Islam (which I personally found helpful). But keep an open mind through it, definitely. I personally felt extremely peaceful and almost started crying when listen to the Quran being recited. All the Muslims I have met have been extremely friendly and have just talked like we’ve been old friends, even if I’d never seen them previously, because that’s really what Islam is.
Thank you very much for your attention. May Allah bless you and keep you strong and firm on this true path.
Edited by Asma
DUA: Allah please accept this from us. You are All-Hearing and All-Knowing. You are The Most Forgiving.You are The Most Relenting and repeatedly Merciful. Allah grant us The Taufiq to read all the 5 prayers with sincerity.
(Taken from: To Be Earnest In Prayers By Amina Elahi)
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