Islamic. Jihadist. ISIS. Terrorist. Women banned from driving in Saudi Arabia. Burqa. 9/11... Unfortunately, the term 'Muslim' or 'Islam' isn't always associated with the most positive attributes. In fact, the term 'Islam' can inflict some pretty negative connotations in this day and age. For a term that means 'peaceful submission to God', it is a religion that is often seen in the media for all the wrong reasons.
So, why would a young woman from country Australia who is educated, independent and well travelled decide to convert to a religion that is widely considered 'backwards'? Well, it's for multitude of reasons. Although people usually assume it's for a man. Why else would a woman do that, right? WRONG. Not in my case anyway.
It's pretty dazzling how some people assume these things though. Even asking for halal food at my local university cafe received a snarky comment from the waitress asking if I 'converted for my boyfriend'.
I get confused looks at my fair skin and light eyes, some Australians ask what country I'm from, only to be shocked to hear I am myself an Australian. Australian AND Muslim? The combination is unthinkable to some.
Despite some pretty harsh and rude comments about my change in faith, I've also had some amazing people come up to me and ask me why. This, ladies and gentleman, is the question that I am happy to answer. You don't have to agree with it – my word, you don't even have to accept it – but this is my story and reasons which led me over the course of two years to where I am now.
Converting to Islam has been no easy task. I've been called names, been scrutinized, rejected and fired from jobs, lost friends and had a really difficult time with my family accepting the changes in my life. But with prayer, investigation, lots of reading and researching and talking to people from different faiths and backgrounds has all contributed to my peaceful way of life now.