Dr. Susan Carland has opened up about her conversion to Islam in an interview, admitting she was “terrified” to tell her loved ones she had become a Muslim. The academic and wife of The Project host Waleed Aly appeared on this week’s episode of ABC show Home Delivery, and sat down with host Julia Zemiro for a look back at her life.
Carland was raised Christian, and religion was always present in her life: She was made to attend Sunday school throughout her primary school years. But questions about her faith started to emerge.
But questions about her faith started to emerge.
“When I was 17 I still had lots of questions. I began to wonder, am I just following the Christian path because that’s what I’ve been raised in? Is there truth or meaning elsewhere? I decided I was going to look,” she told Zemiro.
Islam was not her first option.
“I was adamantly NOT interested in Islam; I thought it looked sexist and outdated and barbaric. All the stereotypes, the standard things that many politicians today seem to think. But to my surprise, it provoked my interest.”
Two years later, at the age of 19, she became a Muslim. In those two years, she’d immersed herself in books and joined a Muslim women’s group at university to make sure the religion was right for her.
Susan completed her studies up to PhD level. She did research on the challenges facing women in leadership problems seasons. Susan is now a lecturer and tutor at the School of Political and Social Inquiry at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, for the field of gender studies, youth and the sociology of religion.
“I love Islam and Muslims, without a doubt. People who are most admirable and most inspiring I have ever come across is the Muslims, and it helps me not to withdraw completely from society,” said Susan.
The next test: ‘Coming out’ about her religion to her family and friends.
“I was terrified, absolutely terrified about telling people. My family – my mom in particular. And my friends, it was awful. I was so worried about telling people, because I didn’t know how they’d react. I assumed they would react negatively, and most people did,” she recalled.
“It didn’t help that I wanted to wear the hijab straight away. I think if I just said, ‘I’m going to become Muslim but still look the same’ it would have been much easier for people to take.”
Carland converted to Islam pre-9/11, and has now watched her religion become closely linked to global terrorism in many people’s perceptions. Even now, Carland says her life would be “so much easier” if she wasn’t a Muslim: Time and again, she says she comes up against people who “cannot believe that someone, especially an educated woman, would possibly choose it for herself.”
But this hasn’t swayed her from her religious beliefs.
“I really believe in Islam as a religion. I really believe it has something to offer the world and it’s a thing of beauty. I just want people to see that,” she says.
Asked about her spiritual journey after converting to Islam, she revealed that she felt an intellectual freedom. “I started to go in the Muslim chat rooms on the internet. I am acquainted and establish communication with several Muslim women who were studying at my university. They patiently answered my questions,” said Susan.
She continued, “When I let the religion speak for itself through its traditions, through the clergy and the sacred text, to resist what is written by journalists at the tabloids and the appalling behavior of Muslims, I find that Islam is a religion of peace, egalitarian, socially just and beautiful balance between the spiritual and intellectual. ”
Susan preaches Islam by making Salam Cafe television program that aired nationally on the Australian television network. She received many awards for the program that made it. Susan is also frequently invited as a speaker at churches, schools, business organizations, community organizations and even the Jewish community. He was active in various research institutes.
“Good and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better.” That’s the line from the Koran that Dr. Susan Carland says came to mind as she sat one day mulling the best way to deal with online trolls attacking her because she’s Muslim.
She writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that she endures a regular litany of abuse, including jeers at her hijab and even death threats. “I’d tried blocking, muting, engaging, and ignoring, but none of them felt like I was embodying the Koranic injunction of driving off darkness with light,” she writes. Then Carland—who converted to Islam at age 19 and is now considered part of “Australia’s Muslim power couple” with TV host husband Waleed Aly, per Australian Women’s Weekly—hit on a way she could repel that darkness: give money to others each time she was attacked.
“I donate $1 to @UNICEF for each hate-filled tweet I get from trolls,” she tweeted on Oct. 21. “Nearly at $1000 in donations. The needy children thank you, haters!” She writes in the Herald that UNICEF seemed like the natural choice as her recipient, since the group often helps kids “in horrific situations that were the direct outcome of hate—war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence.” Many are praising her idea, with Mashable calling her efforts “inspired,” and UNICEF Australia tweeting: “You’ve turned hate into something wonderful: education, health care and protection for kids.” Carland’s mission has even had an effect on how she responds to nasty postings. “Now when a ghastly tweet comes my way, I barely bat an eyelid,” she writes. “It represents nothing more than a chalk-mark on my mental tally for the next [installment] to UNICEF.” (A slain Japanese journalist tweeted against hatebefore he died.)
Source: m.northernstar.com, www.newser.com, eramulism.com