In her fifties and working at a call centre, Geraldine Chew, also known as Nyla, has embarked on a path of faith, resilience, and transformation. She reverted to Islam on the 20th of August this year and embraced her new life as a Muslim while coping with a chronic illness that has significantly impacted her journey.
Geraldine's journey began with her being pursued by someone who slowly became her guiding light. They started as friends, and her suitor's persistence touched her deeply. Her initial faith in Christianity was strong, but she soon found herself drawn to Islam, a religion that resonated with her suitor's unwavering support in the face of her chronic illness.
"He keeps saying that we're only here temporarily on Earth. That was refreshing because people usually think of themselves and their situation."
A Revelation of Oneness
As her relationship with her suitor deepened, Geraldine was introduced to the teachings of Islam. The concept of the oneness of God and the Prophet's teachings gradually led her to reconsider her own faith. She found herself drawn to the genuine kindness and support she encountered among her suitor's Muslim friends, who represented various races and backgrounds.
“Then I started being around his friends, most genuine people. I think it has to be the religion; nicest people, very kind, very courteous, very helpful. And I experienced during Ramadan, people handing out food on the street to people they don't know from different races. I was like, this is the nicest thing I've ever seen.
And I've never heard so many people say, 'I will pray for you. I will doa for you.' I was like, wow, these people are going to pray for me? It totally blew me away."
Geraldine's path to Islam was not without its challenges however, as she grappled with her chronic illness. However, her supportive family and friends helped her navigate this big journey, showing her the strength of human bonds and compassion in the face of adversity. She was touched by the amount of people who supported her, even her colleagues from different backgrounds.
“My colleagues, they are all very supportive. They're all from different races like Chinese, one is a Hindu, so they are really supportive.”
When telling her family and friends, her mother’s understanding response was something that stood out to her.
“My mom, she's quite open minded. For her it's like, so long as you find someone that you're happy with, I'm supportive. And everyone else is really so nice. They just treat me like family, it's amazing!"
Embracing the Future with a Chronic Illness
For Geraldine, her conversion to Islam has helped her change her mindset on her illness, from being something that was a burden to her, to no longer thinking of it as a hindrance. A particular moment in her journey that truly gave her clarity was something her Uztazah said in one of her first Islamic classes.
"I attended this Darul Arqam class about general faith, and in the first lesson the Uztazah said something like, 'We are here temporarily, and our purpose in life will lead us to Jannah.' For me, it was like a light bulb that went off; it was a revelation."
She is now determined to prepare for the afterlife, believing that she is on a path to Jannah, despite her health challenges.
"I'm running out of time, but at least I'm doing good things. That quote totally changed my life."
A Message of Faith and Resilience
Geraldine's message to those considering exploring or reverting to Islam is one of faith, prayer, and guidance, regardless of the challenges they may face. Her story serves as an inspiration to those embarking on their own spiritual journeys, reminding them that faith and resilience can light the path to hope and transformation.
Her journey is a testament to the enduring strength of the human spirit, the transformative power of love, and the boundless possibilities of faith and resilience, even in the face of a chronic illness.