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Winnipeg Article on Niqaab

30 Dec

But some women choose covering

Family handout / Postmedia News Minna Ella (centre), with her family in Montreal, was born and raised in Ontario but has been told by strangers �You�re in Canada, now,� and to �go home.�

When Minna Ella walks through the department store, she’s one of the few women who don’t get pestered by clerks trying to dole out free makeup and perfume samples.

“They just look right through me,” says the 35-year-old.

The reason seems clear.

Whenever the mother of four leaves her house in Waterloo, Ont., she covers herself with a niqab, a Muslim veil that covers her from head to toe, leaving a slit for her eyes.

She is one of an estimated 300 women across Canada living their public lives under the cover of this veil.

Ella, who was born and raised in Ontario, says in the past few years, she has noticed a sense of growing anger and fear from Canadians.

This week, Jason Kenney, the minister of immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism, announced that women will now be required to remove their face coverings during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.

Survey results from Forum Research showed widespread support for the move, with 81 per cent of respondents saying they agreed with it.

In fact, a majority of the survey’s 1,160 respondents in every major category — sex, age, region and political persuasion — agreed.

Still, some have been angered and point to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects religious freedoms and freedom of expression, saying this rule will set Canada back, and flies in the face of our multicultural society.

“We have never locked into a notion of what it means to be Canadian,” says Bev Baines, professor of public and constitutional law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“So, if we want to have a debate about our identity, we should have it being conscious of the fact that almost a third of Canadians now are not the old-line francophone or anglophone folks that we used to be.”

The veil has become a highly political garment, both here and abroad, with Canadians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, on both sides of the debate.

France and Belgium were the first to ban the face covering in all public spaces, and the issue often makes headlines in the Netherlands and Denmark, with supporters calling the niqab a “medieval relic” that oppresses women and promotes sex discrimination.

Naima Bouteldja, a French researcher who interviewed 32 niqabi women in that country for an April 2011 report and is in the process of doing the same in the United Kingdom, says there is a disproportionate response from politicians to what they see as the “problem of the niqab.”

Bouteldja wears the hijab, a Muslim garment that covers her hair but leaves her face revealed.

“It’s a clear political manipulation, which they use to divert attention from economic problems,” says Bouteldja, who says she personally has not met any women forced to wear the niqab.

In fact, she says some have been thrown into family conflict because they choose to cover against the wishes of their parents.

“But none of this is addressed by an outright ban,” she says.

Ella says under her niqab she wears makeup and follows the latest fashion trends.

“If you were to visit me at home, I would be wearing whatever I want to wear — I have skinny jeans and nice tops, I have everything that everyone else wears, but I only show them inside my home, with my family and friends, or outside with only women.

“In our book, the Qur’an, there are verses that God has sent to us that explain how we’re supposed to dress,” says Ella, when asked why she decided, at age 17, to cover herself for the sake of modesty.

Still, in countries such as Canada and France, where women have fought for equality, where an increasingly secular society has seen religious belief steadily decline, and where many young women take every excuse to flaunt what Mother Nature gave them, the idea that any woman would choose to keep her body out of sight can seem alien.

“It’s hard for many Canadians to understand,” says University of Montreal researcher Patrice Brodeur.

When confronted with a woman in a niqab, there’s a certain level of discomfort because we don’t know how to behave, he says.

Without being able to see her body language, how can we know her intentions?

But banning certain types of dress has never been the answer, he says.

The government’s move has earned praise from some quarters.

Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauded Kenney’s announcement.

“He has done in one stroke what any other Canadian politician has not had the courage to do. It sends a clear message that this attire is not welcome in Canada.”

Fatah, whose organization has been called right-wing by members of other Muslim organizations in this country, called the niqab “monstrous” and accused women who wear it of being agents of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood who hate Canada.

He says the veil allows them to avoid pledging allegiance to the Queen which, he says, is against their “extremist views.”

Brodeur counters that it’s foolish to assume all women who wear one piece of traditional clothing think or believe the same thing.

Critics of the Tory government’s recent policy change have pointed out it was done with little public consultation with the community.

Furthermore, Brodeur says, the niqab simply isn’t that prevalent in Canadian society.

There are not more than 50 women in the Greater Montreal Area who wear the niqab, he says.

There are perhaps 100 around Toronto, and fewer in Vancouver, and a total of maybe 300, at most, across the country, Brodeur estimated.

Those numbers could grow.

The population of Muslims in Canada is expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7 million in 2030, according to a Pew Forum survey on The Future of the Global Muslim Population.

Muslims are expected to make up 6.6 per cent of Canada’s total population in 2030, up from 2.8 per cent today.

“It’s frustrating because we are not a threat,” Ella says.

“They are making us seem like a threat, they are making up stories and making people scared of us.”

When asked if she will guide her daughter to cover herself, Ella says no, it’s a personal matter between a believer and her creator.

“No one else can make that decision for her.”

But she is worried.

“I was shopping once and a lady came up very close to me. She stared into my eyes and said ‘You’re in Canada, now.’ “

Most people tell her to “go home” or give her dirty looks, Ella says, but she just keeps silent when this happens.

“It makes me feel sad, because I would like to reach out and say, ‘I’m just like you, and I dress like this because it’s a religious thing, but it doesn’t make me less human than you.’ “

— Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2011 A29

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Women’s Rights in Islam

30 Dec

TRUE islam shows real rights for women, especially for 1,400 years ago. the Qur’an is the legitimate word of God and its worth a read if you want to understand what islam really is. you cant judge a religion because of its practicers, or sects who have interpretations. you have to only look at the text and judge it for yourself. that’s the only way to understand islam. i am a revert. i reverted after reading the Noble Qur’an.  first of all the Qur’an is the continuation of A) Torah and B) Gospel. We accept all the same prophets from Adam (pbuh) to Jesus (pbuh) + Mohammad (pbuh). now, the Qur’an and the Bible and the Tanakh then share a lot in common, but they change in a sense. Each one is different. They all came at a different time and to a different people. The Qur’an came in a time to the Arabs from the angel Gabriel and in terms of women’s rights, which is what were addressing, women have huge 

rights compared to earlier religions (Judaism and Christianity). i wont go into comparative right now however in Islam women are entitled to:
1) Mahr (protection if divorced, usually a sum of $$)
2) A 3 month waiting time where couple is hoped to reunite where wife is being supported financially
3) OH WAIT, THE RIGHT TO SEEK DIVORCE!!
4) Custody of children
5) The right to remarry
6) The right to INHERITANCE
7) Bridal gift kind of like dowry
8) THE RIGHT TO BEAR WITNESS (2=1 man), but compared to Christianity where women couldn’t witness. Plus taken in Qur’anic context this verse was revealed when discussing finances. In situations where the issues involve women women can testify. Also if it is husband vs wife regarding adultery they can each swear as equals. And they say May Allah swt punish me if I am lying.

9) The right to work

10) Equal sight under God. Equal chance in the Hereafter.

11) Women were made from rib o fman but not ‘under’ man, we were made as companions. In fact the creation of women is beautiful in the Quran:

O mankind! Verily We have created you from a single (pair) of

     a male and a female,m and made you into nations and tribes

     that you may know each other… (Qur’an, 49:13

FROM A PAIR

And their Lord has accepted (their prayers) and answered them
     (saying): 'Never will I cause to be lost the work of any of
     you, be he male or female; you are members, one of another...
     (3:195)

“It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her in love” (7:189).

12) RIGHT TO EDUCATION AND TO SEEK KNOWLEDGE

13) RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Something else you should read is the Sunnah: the way of life of the Prophet pbuh. Women in his time participated in wars, in nursing, in teaching Qur’an and memorizing hadiths (The Prophet’s pbuh’s words), In business, in schools etc etc. Did you know that in most Arab countries the university population is 60% or more female. 

 

The 6 Pillars of Faith

23 Dec

As a Muslim, one must believe in:

1) The existence of God/Allah and ONLY him as God.

2) The Books we have been given (Torah, Gospel and Qur’an)

3) The Prophets we have been sent (from Noah, to Moses, to Abraham, to Jesus, to Muhammad pbut)

4) The unseen (angels, devil, spirits, Heaven, Hell…)

5) Destiny

6) Judgement Day

The 5 Pillars of Islam

23 Dec

As a Muslim, one must:

1) Bear witness that none should be worshipped except Allah swt and Muhammad saw is His Messenger.

2) Pray 5 times daily.

3) Give charity.

4) Perform Hajj/pilgrimage.

5) Fast during Ramadan.

 Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

Message to Non-Muslims

22 Dec

★ WHAT DOES GOD SAY ABOUT NON-MUSLIMS…? THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:

We draw peoples hearts towards Islam through kindness, love and forgiveness, the way the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us. We don’t need to force people to convert because then that would mean they don’t really believe it from their heart and it would be meaningless. The MILLIONS of brothers and sisters who are out there helping to promote Islam understand very clearly that we don’t have the power to turn peoples hearts towards Islam, only God has the power to do that and our duty is only to help spread knowledge and try to be the BEST example of a Muslim we can be, with great character and a positive attitude. Nowhere in the Quran does God say to, “kill christians or jews or anyone if they don’t convert.” The only statement close to that line is where God gives people permission to defend themselves if they are attacked unjustly in war. That is only fair and common sense. The 99.99% of Muslims, including those whom we all lived and went to schools with, also understand this very clearly and the .01% that are “extreme,” and causing terror, Muslims are standing against them and will even fight them if they try to cause harm to innocent people, whether muslims or non-muslims, because that is not part of our religion. 

Unfortunately there will always be evil but Gods message of peace will never change, that is the right religion, clear and straight. That is why despite all the negativity surrounding Islam, it is now the FASTEST growing religion in the world, soon to be #1. Do you think all these people are converting to become terrorists…? I understand we need proof so all we need to do is go on Youtube and listen to the THOUSANDS of people who are converting, uploading these videos and trying to help people understand….people from all over the WORLD! White, blacks, russians, chinese, spanish! LISTEN to these people because they are pouring their hearts out…and the truth comes straight from the heart. Again, God is just as GREAT and Merciful as we imagine Him to be and the test of this life is to find your way to Him. Its actually quite simple and its right in front of our face…we just need to trust our heart and use our own intelligence…..May God open the eyes of all the people around the world so that they can see the truth more clearly, ameen.

Do We Misunderstand Islam?

22 Dec

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP2FsLrraxE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bElPCm47LOk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31cRSbPRXsE&feature=related

Here are my thoughts:

In fact the Qur’an IS the literal word of God and it SHOULD be taken literally. In fact you will find that if you read the Qur’an you will not find anything so controversial, it is rather when you read anything out of the word of man, whether it be scholars, imams etc. 

Secondly, there are MANY MANY countries which are Muslim which DO have peaceful governments: Many countries in Africa like Tanzania, Senegal, Morocco, Kenya etc etc. and others in the Middle East and Asia.

Shari’ah law is NOT like Canadians think. Even there is a hadith where a woman confesses adultery to the Prophet (pbuh) while she is married; the punishment is death. However, the Prophet (pbuh) tells her to leave, it is okay. **Will provide proof.** Also one needs FOUR witnesses to confirm adultery. FOUR! This means a woman is scandalous and is a known ‘threat’ to the fabric of society. One must remember that these laws were implemented where there was no ‘GOVERNMENT’ with limitless power rather in a group of people who needed a form of governance. Government and governance are two different things. 

The 10 Commandments

20 Dec

Yusuf Estes’ Reversion Story

20 Dec

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kte-t9NZ_r4&feature=related

We Are All Born Muslim

20 Dec

The Prophet Muhammad said, “No babe is born but upon Fitra (as a Muslim). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6426)
Islam is the religion of all Prophets, Adam to Muhammad. Children are not born out of any sin, original, inherited or derived. They are born on the religion of their nature, i.e., Islam.

RECOGNITION OF ALLAH

The question which arises here is, “How can all people be expected to believe in Allah given their varying- backgrounds, societies and cultures? For people to be responsible for worshipping Allah they all have to have access to knowledge of Allah. The final revelation teaches that all mankind have the recognition of Allah imprinted on their souls, a part of their very nature with which they are created.

In Soorah Al-A’raaf, Verses 172-173; Allah explained that when He created Adam, He caused all of Adam’s descendants to come into existence and took a pledge from them saying, Am I not your Lord? To which they all replied, ” Yes, we testify to It:’

Allah then explained why He had all of mankind bear witness that He is their creator and only true God worthy of worship. He said, “That was In case you (mankind) should say on the day of Resurrection, “Verily we were unaware of all this.” That is to say, we had no idea that You Allah, were our God. No one told us that we were only supposed to worship You alone. Allah went on to explain That it was also In case you should say, “Certainly It was our ancestors who made partners (With Allah) and we are only their descendants; will You then destroy us for what those liars did?” Thus, every child is born with a natural belief in Allah and an inborn inclination to worship Him alone called in Arabic the “Fitrah”.

If the child were left alone, he would worship Allah in his own way, but all children are affected by those things around them, seen or unseen.

The Prophet (PBUH) reported that Allah said, “I created my servants in the right religion but devils made them go astray”. The Prophet (PBUH) also said, “Each child is born in a state of “Fitrah”, then his parents make him a Jew, Christian or a Zoroastrian, the way an animal gives birth to a normal offspring. Have you noticed any that were born mutilated?” (Collected by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim).
So, just as the child submits to the physical laws which Allah has put in nature, his soul also submits naturally to the fact that Allah is his Lord and Creator. But, his parents try to make him follow their own way and the child is not strong enough in the early stages of his life to resist or oppose the will of his parents. The religion which the child follows at this stage is one of custom and upbringing and Allah does not hold him to account or punish him for this religion. (By Abu Ameena Bilal Phillips )

Why Are So Many Modern British Career Women Converting to Islam?

20 Dec

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran. 

She is just one of a growing number of modern British career women to do so. Here, writer EVE AHMED, who was raised as a Muslim before rejecting the faith, explores the reasons why.

Rejecting her faith: Writer Eve Ahmed was raised a MuslimRejecting her faith: Writer Eve Ahmed was raised a Muslim

Much of my childhood was spent trying to escape ­Islam. 

Born in London to an English mother and a ­Pakistani Muslim father, I was brought up to follow my father’s faith without question. 

But, privately, I hated it. The minute I left home for university at the age of 18, I abandoned it altogether. 

As far as I was concerned, being a Muslim meant hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again. 

Girls from my background were barred from so many of the things my English friends took for granted. Indeed, it seemed to me that almost anything fun was haram, or forbidden, to girls like me.

There were so many random, petty rules. No whistling. No chewing of gum. No riding bikes. No watching Top Of The Pops. No wearing make-up or clothes which revealed the shape of the body. 

No eating in the street or putting my hands in my pockets. No cutting my hair or painting my nails. No asking questions or answering back. No keeping dogs as pets, (they were unclean). 

And, of course, no sitting next to men, shaking their hands or even making eye contact with them.

These ground rules were imposed by my father and I, therefore, assumed they must be an integral part of being a good Muslim. 

Small wonder, then, that as soon as I was old enough to exert my independence, I rejected the whole package and turned my back on Islam. After all, what modern, liberated British woman would choose to live such a life? 

Well, quite a lot, it turns out, including Islam’s latest surprise convert, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth. And after my own break with my past, I’ve followed with fascination the growing trend of Western women choosing to convert to Islam. 

Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, says she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.

She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom, and says: ‘It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.’ 

Before her awakening in Iran, she had been ‘sympathetic’ to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine. ‘I was always impressed with the strength and comfort it gave,’ she says. 

How, I wondered, could women be drawn to a religion which I felt had kept me in such a lowly, submissive place? How could their experiences of Islam be so very different to mine? 

Convert: Lauren Booth, who is Cherie Blair¿s half sister, decided to convert to Islam after what she described as a holy experience in IranConvert: Lauren Booth, who is Cherie Blair’s half sister, decided to convert to Islam after what she described as a holy experience in Iran

According to Kevin Brice from ­Swansea University, who has specialised in studying white conversion to Islam, these women are part of an intriguing trend. 

He explains: ‘They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers. The other type of women who turn to Islam are what I call “converts of convenience”. They’ll assume the trappings of the religion to please their Muslim husband and his family, but won’t necessarily attend mosque, pray or fast.’

I spoke to a diverse selection of white Western converts in a bid to re-examine the faith I had rejected.

Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.

CAMILLA LEYLAND
CAMILLA LEYLAND

Changing values: Camilla Leyland, 32, pictured in Western and Muslim dress, converted to Islam in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’

The turning point for Kristiane came when she met and briefly dated the former Pakistani cricketer and Muslim Imran Khan in 1992 during the height of her career. He took her to Pakistan where she says she was immediately touched by spirituality and the warmth of the people.

Kristiane says: ‘Though our relationship didn’t last, I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’

‘In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system. 

‘In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God’

‘Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’ 

For a significant amount of women, their first contact with Islam comes from ­dating a Muslim boyfriend. Lynne Ali, 31, from Dagenham in Essex, freely admits to having been ‘a typical white hard-partying teenager’. 

She says: ‘I would go out and get drunk with friends, wear tight and revealing clothing and date boys.

‘I also worked part-time as a DJ, so I was really into the club scene. I used to pray a bit as a Christian, but I used God as a sort of doctor, to fix things in my life. If anyone asked, I would’ve said that, generally, I was happy living life in the fast lane.’ 

But when she met her boyfriend, Zahid, at university, something dramatic happened. 

She says: ‘His sister started talking to me about Islam, and it was as if ­everything in my life fitted into place. I think, underneath it all, I must have been searching for something, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my hard-drinking party lifestyle.’

Liberating: Kristiane Backer says being a Muslim makes her life purerLiberating: Kristiane Backer says being a Muslim makes her life purer

Lynne converted aged 19. ‘From that day, I started wearing the hijab,’ she explains, ‘and I now never show my hair in public. At home, I’ll dress in normal Western clothes in front of my husband, but never out of the house.’

With a recent YouGov survey ­concluding that more than half the ­British public believe Islam to be a negative influence that encourages extremism, the repression of women and inequality, one might ask why any of them would choose such a direction for themselves. 

Yet statistics suggest Islamic conversion is not a mere flash in the pan but a significant development. Islam is, after all, the world’s fastest growing religion, and white adopters are an important part of that story. 

‘Evidence suggests that the ratio of Western women converts to male could be as high as 2:1,’ says Kevin Brice. 

Moreover, he says, often these female ­converts are eager to display the ­visible signs of their faith — in particular the hijab — whereas many Muslim girls brought up in the faith choose not to. 

‘Perhaps as a result of these actions, which tend to draw attention, white Muslims often report greater amounts of discrimination against them than do born Muslims,’ adds Brice, which is what happened to Kristiane Backer.

She says: ‘In Germany, there is Islamophobia. I lost my job when I converted. There was a Press campaign against me with insinuations about all Muslims supporting ­terrorists — I was vilified. Now, I am a ­presenter on NBC Europe. 

‘I call myself a European Muslim, which is different to the ‘born’ Muslim. I was ­married to one, a Moroccan, but it didn’t work because he placed restrictions on me because of how he’d been brought up. As a European Muslim, I question ­everything — I don’t accept blindly.

‘But what I love is the hospitality and the warmth of the Muslim community. London is the best place in Europe for Muslims, there is wonderful Islamic ­culture here and I am very happy.’ 

For some converts, Islam represents a celebration of old-fashioned family values.

Ex-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late EightiesEx-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late Eighties

‘Some are drawn to the sense of belonging and of community — values which have eroded in the West,’ says Haifaa Jawad, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, who has studied the white conversion phenomenon.

‘Many people, from all walks of life, mourn the loss in today’s society of traditional respect for the elderly and for women, for example. These are values which are enshrined in the Koran, which Muslims have to live by,’ adds Brice.

It is values like these which drew Camilla Leyland, 32, a yoga teacher who lives in Cornwall, to Islam. A single mother to daughter, Inaya, two, she converted in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’.

She explains: ‘I know people will be surprised to hear the words ­“feminism” and “Islam” in the same breath, but in fact, the teachings of the Koran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.

Convert: Former DJ Lynne AliEscape route: Former DJ Lynne Ali is happy to pray five times a day

‘The big mistake people make is by confusing culture with religion. Yes, there are Muslim cultures which do not allow women individual freedom, yet when I was growing up, I felt more oppressed by Western society.’

She talks of the pressure on women to act like men by drinking and ­having casual sex. ‘There was no real meaning to it all. In Islam, if you begin a relationship, that is a ­commitment of intent.’

Growing up in Southampton — her father was the director of Southampton Institute of Education and her mother a home economics teacher — Camilla’s interest in Islam began at school.

She went to university and later took a Masters degree in Middle East Studies. But it was while living and working in Syria that she had a spiritual epiphany. Reflecting on what she’d read in the Koran, she realised she wanted to convert.

Her decision was met with bemusement by friends and family. 

‘People found it so hard to believe that an educated, middle-class white woman would choose to become Muslim,’ she says. 

While Camilla’s faith remains strong, she no longer wears the hijab in public. But several of the women I spoke to said strict Islamic dress was something they found empowering and liberating.  

Lynne Ali remembers the night this hit home for her. ‘I went to an old friend’s 21st birthday party in a bar,’ she reveals. ‘I walked in, wearing my hijab and modest clothing, and saw how ­everyone else had so much flesh on display. They were drunk, slurring their words and dancing provocatively.

‘For the first time, I could see my former life with an outsider’s eyes, and I knew I could never go back to that.

‘I am so grateful I found my escape route. This is the real me — I am happy to pray five times a day and take classes at the mosque. I am no longer a slave to a broken society and its expectations.’ 

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey, called From MTV To Mecca, believes the new breed of modern, independent Muslims can band together to show the world that Islam is not the faith I grew up in — one that stamps on the rights of women. 

She says: ‘I know women born Muslims who became disillusioned an d rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against, but the culture. 

‘Rules like marrying within the same sect or caste and education being less important for girls, as they should get married anyway —– where does it say that in the Koran? It doesn’t. 

‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’ 

While I don’t agree with their sentiments, I admire and respect the women I interviewed for this piece. 

They were all bright and educated, and have thought long and hard before choosing to convert to Islam — and now feel passionately about their adopted religion. Good luck to them. And good luck to Lauren Booth. But it’s that word that sums up the difference between their experience and mine — choice.

Perhaps if I’d felt in control rather than controlled, if I’d felt empowered rather than stifled, I would still be practising the religion I was born into, and would not carry the burden of guilt that I do about rejecting my father’s faith.

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

Last updated at 1:54 PM on 28th October 2010