Yes, I am Muslim. I am also Australian, I’m a journalist, and I am also a traveler. Being a Muslim doesn’t change the elements that make up who I am as a person. Although you can never truly express what comes from your own heart in your own personal journey, my reversion to Islam was due to three main factors. This is my story and mine alone.
Traveling to Malaysia was definitely the foundation for my conversion to Islam. After deciding on a whim to go on student exchange to Malaysia, I never imagined what a crazy adventure I had set myself up for. Malaysia is my second home. It holds a very special place in my heart and I grew immensely as a person there. I experienced some of the best and worst moments of my life; and the whole experience was filled with color, adventure and opportunity.
From sleeping in a dirty ferry port for eight hours, getting lost in a rainforest on Tioman Island (and trying to make it back before dark), riding on motorbikes in Penang and scuba-diving in Perhentian Islands, these were just the beginning of my adventure there. I was getting out of my comfort zone in Malaysia and exposed to things I had never seen as a small town Australian girl from Gippsland. Nothing went to plan nor was expected in Malaysia.
Before Malaysia, I knew nothing about Islam. I had never met a Muslim (to my knowledge) and I always thought of Muslims as wearing heavy black garments somewhere in the Middle East, far, far away from ‘civilization’.
Yes, I also thought Muslim women were oppressed. That they couldn’t go anywhere without their husbands, that they couldn’t have careers, and had to wear black all the time. Not that I really thought about it much, I was always in my own bubble of society to ponder too much about it. So, my somewhat fabricated image of Islam was shattered when I came to Malaysia. Suddenly, I found myself becoming curious of the pretty South-East Asian Muslim girls with their colorful hijabs and clothes. I met many Muslim friends – who became life-long friends- who went to university, who had jobs, who wore veils and also many who didn’t, and they all seemed quite content and loved their religion.