Celebrating special occasions as a revert undoubtedly comes with quite a few challenges. From dietary restrictions to differing religious practices, many Muslim reverts have to find a balance between enjoying the day with their non-Muslim loved ones while still practising Islam.
Maeena Carmen, a Muslim Revert from Malaysia, shares with us her journey reverting to Islam, and how she’s celebrating Chinese New Year this year!
P.S. Check Out How This Singaporean Chinese Muslim Revert Celebrates CNY!
This Is How This Muslim Revert Celebrates CNY
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Your name, age, what you’re doing right now, hobbies etc.
Credit: carmen.maeena_ on Instagram
My name is Maeena Carmen Kuan after reverting to Islam. I am 25 years old and I am a sales admin cum teacher assistant in Artist City. I spend my free time doing photography and going to the gym.
When did you decide to revert?
I reverted to Islam on 9th January 2022. Before learning about Islam, I’d been taught Buddhism and Christianity since childhood, even though Islam is the fastest-growing religion! It’s truly the most misunderstood religion in this world.
What made you decide to revert to Islam?
I have been through a lot of mental health issues since I was 20 years old. Before this, I suffered from major depression which led me to self-harm. This got especially worse after my boyfriend of 4 months broke up with me. I was at my lowest and would cry every day. So much so that I started to beg God to save me from my emotions.
Funny thing is, my ex-boyfriend was a Muslim from Pakistan and when I found out he was a Muslim I started to worry! I wondered if I would have to stop eating pork, if I would have to change my name and so on! As someone who didn’t come from the faith, my head was filled with many stereotypes about Muslims.
Credit: Carmen Maeena
One day, I decided to study Islam and to try to understand the meaning of the verses in Al-Quran. After only three months of studying, I fell in love with the religion. I started practising Islam and even tried fasting during Ramadan. I also slowly started putting on the headscarf and dressing modestly. The experience felt incredible because I had found meaning in life while practising Islam.
P.S. Fortunately, my mental health got better after a few years of counselling!
You mentioned you decided to revert in December 2020 but reverted in 2022. Would you be able to share why? Did you face any challenges along the way and how did you overcome these challenges?
After only a few months, I was ready to revert to Islam, but I worried about how my parents would react to it. Initially, I planned to revert secretly and practice Islam privately. I started to pray a lot to Allah, asking Him to soften my parents’ hearts and help them respect my decision (to convert).
One day, I came across a youtube video about a man who reverted to Islam without letting his parent know. After reverting, his parents found out and one of his mom’s first words were '’I feel bad because we are the last ones to find out.’' This scene made me realise that I had to let my parents know, even if they might end up being disappointed
Now, alhamdulillah, after 1 year of practising Islam and my parents slowly accepting me, I can patiently explain to them the true meaning of Islam. They are quite open-minded to learn and respect me and the religion! My parents even asked to join my Shahada. With that, I successfully reverted on the 9th of January 2022.
How has your life changed since reverting?
I faced a lot of issues after I reverted. Some of the restaurants we went to before I could no longer go to with my family. Our lifestyle changed, but Alhamdulillah my parents are patient enough.
How has CNY changed since reverting?
During Chinese New Year, I realise that Chinese people have a lot of traditional pork dishes, so it was quite hard to cut them off. Last year, I celebrated alone because Malaysia was still under MCO. But this year might be different! InshaAllah, this year I can go back to my kampung to celebrate CNY.
Credit: carmen.maeena_on Instagram
I can also still receive angpao but cannot attend any events that include another religion’s ceremony. Although most of my cousins are curious about my religion, it’s been really hard eat with them. Sometimes, I have to prepare my own meal and go with them.
Alhamdulillah, I am so grateful that my parents and cousins respect my choice (to revert).
The journey has indeed been tough but it seems Maeena has managed to get through it all to get to where she is today! If you’re interested to find out more about how she spends her Chinese New Year as a new Muslim revert, look out for her CNY vlog on 3rd February 2022!
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