An Exclusive Interview of a Revert to Islam, Robin, from Sweden, by Bentolhoda Mofakhami
- Please give us a biography of yourself.
I’m Robin, I was born 14 October 1996 in Sweden as the youngest sibling in a family of three kids. I have one big sister, one big brother and one mum and one dad. My family is practicing Christians so when I grew up I went to Sunday school and I did confirmation, even though I didn’t want to because I didn’t feel Christian, but my mum made me do it.
Today I am a 21-year-old film student from Sweden. I like watching films, of course, spending time with my husband, baking and reading books. Right now I live in a house in the south Swedish countryside with my husband, and at the moment also with his parents and siblings that are visiting from Saudi Arabia for Ramadan and to celebrate our wedding. Soon Insha’Allah my husband and I are going to move to Stockholm because I got accepted to a bachelor in film editing at a university there Alhamdulillah.
- How did you get familiar with Islam?
I first really learned something about Islam when I was 12 years old and had religion class for the first time in school. When I heard the declaration of faith it really touched me, because I had been thinking about what religion that suited me, and the Islamic declaration of faith felt like it described my feelings exactly. But the school also taught a narrow-minded view of Islam and the way they talked about four wives scared me away from it a bit.
3. What drove you to convert to Islam?
When I was 18 years old a friend asked me “what’s your religion?” and I just answered honestly “I am Christian on paper but I feel like Muslim in my heart”. After answering that question I started reading more about Islam and different issues, and I got a deeper understanding of rules about wives and pork for example. It opened up my mind and after a few months of preparation I dared to take the step and as 18-years-old women finish the conversion that had sown its seed in the 12 years old girl. Since I was 12 years old I knew I didn’t feel like a Christian because I couldn’t believe God has a son, but I couldn’t put words to my faith at that age.
- 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 told my family before converting that I was interested in Islam. They mostly shrugged first and said “I thought you were atheist a few months ago”, but after a while, especially when I stopped eating pork (which I did before converting) they understood I was serious. They felt uncomfortable at first, and maybe a bit sad since they are practicing Christians (it is quite rare to be a practicing Christian in Sweden, but many are Christian on paper), but now they have gotten quite used to it I think.
I didn’t have so much problem with people I know, probably because I let them know I’m Muslim kind of slowly, step by step. Most of my friends that was friends with me before and after converting think that it a little bit odd maybe, but not more than that. Some make jokes about it, but in a friendly manner. Sadly only in the last few months or so my brother has been more and more negative, and it has definitely affected our relationship.
I am married, and I married after converting. It is so frustrating when people – mostly on the internet but in real life as well – think my husband “brainwashed me” to be a Muslim and try to “save me”. I’ve had internet trolls that tells me I’m a traitor to my country and such. There is unfortunately a political party in the parliament here in Sweden that is very openly Islamophobic.
- How do you see the spread of Islam in your country?
Islam spreads in Sweden mostly through immigrants coming here from mainly Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Somalia. Many came in the 80s, 90s and right now with the war in Syria. I feel Islam is more visual in the last few years, both for good and bad. Many people are spreading islamophobia our extreme secularism, but Swedish Muslims are also starting to be more vocal and defending our faith and our right to practice our faith more.
- What is the most beautiful Ayah of the Quran in your opinion? And why?
It is so hard to choose one, and frankly I don’t know if you should, the Quran is all holy and great, but some nice examples of good verses to carry with you in life as a reminder is “Will they then not meditate on the Qur’an, or are there locks on the hearts?” (Muhammed, 47:24), “whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (Al Maidah, 5:32) and also “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Al Hujuraat, 49:13).
- What’ your opinion about hijab? did wearing hijab have any effect on your private life? Do you think it is only dedicated to women?
I am very unsure on how I feel about hijab and I have been thinking about it lately. I’m not necessarily convinced, not right now at least, that hijab is something religious. But I do know a lot of people see it as religious requirement.
It took me long time after converting before I started wearing hijab. Partly because I am not convinced about it being necessary, but also because my mum really dislike it. Now when I have been living on my own for the last year I have been wearing it all the time, before I didn’t wear it every day, but maybe a few times a month.
I like that when I wear hijab people can see that I am Muslim, because if I don’t wear it no one would guess that a blond blue eyed swede is Muslim. I am proud of my religion so I like to be able to show it to everyone. Sometimes it makes me feel odd, but mostly it makes me feel comfortable and happy to be right away seen as a Muslim.
When it comes to men and women I don’t know if I would like to talk as specific as to talk about hijab, but I will say something. I think it is important as a Muslim, man or woman, to not make your own or another gender into a sexual object. Always treat people with respect and not as sexual object.
- How do you analyze the family institution according to Christianity and Islam?
I think they are pretty similar, at least if you compare with Protestantism which my family belongs to. The main difference I can think of is polygamy being allowed, because the allowed number of partners is not mentioned in the Bible.
- What specifically attracted you to Islam?
How beautiful in its simplicity the declaration of faith is and that Jesus is seen as a great prophet, not the son of God.
- What was your religion before converting to Islam?
My family raised me as a Christian.
- What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
I can’t remember the feeling of first time I prayed because I was so young.
I tried praying five times before converting, but then I didn’t know people prayed in a certain way so I just went with whatever I felt like, but then I was told people pray in a certain way and I learnt that way and started praying that way before converting. Now I am back to praying the way I feel like, but I still pray five times a day.
Praying shouldn’t have to be hard for you, it’s about connecting with God. The only hard thing about it was that my family would make comments whenever I prayed so I tried to not be seen when praying to often to escape their comments.
- 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?
Alhamdulillah my life feels so truly changed after converting to Islam. I have found more peace in my mind. I have always been a reflective person, but I feel I have more depth in my reflections now. Alhamdulillah, Islam is truly a blessing and God is granting me so many blessings, Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Alamin.
- How do you analyze women’s right in Islam compared to what the West has propagated?
I think Islam believes in equality between the genders, even if it sadly isn’t always what you see Muslims acting according to. I think Islam highly values personal freedom, there is no compulsion in religion. I think Islam and the west, which is not something you have to put “vs” each other, there is plenty of Muslims living in the west, have this, equality and freedom, in common when it comes to feminism. Some parts of the third wave of feminism might have a bit big focus on sex and bodies sometimes, while what you could call “Islamic feminism” focus on the right to have the freedom to choose.
14.Which feature in Islam attracted you?
How beautiful in its simplicity the declaration of faith is and that Jesus is seen as a great prophet, not the son of God. Adhan and mosques are beautiful.
- Who/ what influenced your conversion to Islam?
My friend that asked the simple question “what is your religion?” which made me look into it heart for the answer. Without him I might not have been where I am today. God works in mysterious wonderful ways.
- As a convert, what way of inviting to Islam you believe is more effective on non-Muslims?
Providing general objective neutral information, and not being afraid to have discuss ”taboo” issues or showing that there is many different views and ways to think within Islam.
- How do Muslims supply their own Halal food? Is there a main shop for it? What is its name?
There is many different small stores. Muslim immigrants own many stores and butchers around the country that sells halal meat. Also the big Swedish supermarkets often have a small halal meat section. One big slaughter house brand is called “Muslim Halal Kött”.
Kött means meat in Swedish.
- And how is your TV programs in your country?
Is it good for family?
Yes, many different good shows