I wasn't born into Christianity. I was not baptized as a child because my parents wanted me to make my own decisions about what I wanted to believe in. I will always be grateful to them for that. My Grandmother taught me about the Bible and I still cherish all the talks we have about the Bible and Christianity. However I could never really find a church I liked – I found them all very different from each other and I didn't like how much emphasis is placed on the differences between each church even though they claim to follow Jesus (pbuh). I went to Catholic churches, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witness, Baptist, Pentecostal, and the list goes on. However, I was against really going to a particular church because I just wanted to follow and love God. I was actually baptized at the beginning of my trip in Malaysia, on the coastal waters of Penang under a starry night sky. However, I was baptized just as a Christian. No church involved, which I liked. Although I quickly became interested in Islam, changing religion from Christianity to Islam was the hardest decision I have ever made, but it was the right one for me.
Christianity taught me to love God. It taught me humility, it taught me to love others, and it taught me a lot about Jesus (pbuh). I would not be who I am if I wasn't once a Christian.
My sheer drive to be a journalist has taken me to places I never imagined and allowed me to meet amazing people. I've interviewed famous people such as One Republic, Bastille, Marina Mahathir, Kristian Chong, Yannick Bovy, Sisters in Islam, Virginia Haussegger, Senator Michaelia Cash, VJ's Hanli Hoefer and Alan Wong and the list goes on. I've been to incredible events and interned at really great places. I am very fortunate to have experienced so much at such a young age while still completing my undergraduate degree in journalism. However, the best part of being a journalist is being able to make some change in the world. To give people a voice, to learn about human beings and the world around me. This is so humbling and motivates me every day. Being a journalist led me to learn about Islam. Yes, I am still a journalist and still as motivated (if not more) as a Muslim woman. Incorporating my faith and career is not a difficult task, and in fact Islam helps me to appreciate people and the world around me in many different ways.
Interviewing UN Person of the Year, passionate leader of SIS (Sisters in Islam), writer and strong advocate for women's rights Marina Mahathir definitely shaped my view of Muslim women's rights and of Islam itself. I still remember how sweaty my palms were. A million thoughts were rushing through my head. 'Am I good enough?' 'Am I really cut out for journalism?' This was my first interview with someone quite famous. As soon as I met Marina, her quiet yet assertive nature impressed me and I immediately felt a sense of ease with her. I knew the interview was an important one, a life-changing one. She answered so many questions I had been asking myself since arriving in Malaysia. The Qur'an does not teach inequality. It does not permit men to beat their wives. Her knowledge was exuberating, and I felt as if I had a newfound understanding of something much bigger and deeper than I ever thought possible. "We are all one people on this Earth, " said Marina as we finished the interview. I smiled at her in appreciation, and looking back now I know that was the most important lesson I had learned thus far. Despite various factors that apparently make us so different – such as national borders, countries, politics, culture, tribes, heritage, skin color, race and religion – we all bleed the same and breathe the same air. I think we should all try to remember this daily.