Some of us are blessed to have been born as Muslims - growing up learning to read the Quran and practicing the Sunnah, and
performing our daily obligations (sometimes begrudgingly). I’m sure you could relate to this.
Well, it’s easy to take something so easily gotten for granted. Lest we forget, there are those among us who’ve just embraced Islam - our new brothers and sisters who are on a journey to be closer to Allah. As we bid goodbye to Ramadan and greet Syawal with festivities, let us gather inspiration from the stories of how these Muslim reverts’ welcome Hari Raya. ✨
1. Tell us a bit more about your journey to Islam.I started journeying and exploring Islam right after University. I spent a lot of time with Muslims, my closest friends were all Muslims and so were my colleagues at the time. And they played a huge role in my decision as I watched them live as Muslims day in and day out. When I started to delve deeper into Islam, I decided to speak to someone more knowledgeable for me to find out more. I found such a place in Ampang called Hidayah Center. There, I was very fortunate to have met an officer who explained Islam to
me from such a refreshing perspective! It made me feel so welcomed and I was moved. It felt like an answer - like it was the missing piece of the puzzle. Alhamdulillah, that very same day I made my decision to revert to Islam. 😊2. Do you remember your first time celebrating Raya? What do you remember about it?
Yes! To be honest, I was at first confused. I was born a Catholic and I used to celebrate Christmas. As the only revert in my immediate family, I had no idea what to do when Raya came about. Fortunately, I am blessed with such a loving and welcoming family and they celebrated Raya with me over a meal. My closest friends also did their very best to include me in their festivities and their families invited me to celebrate the first day of Raya with them so that I could experience every beautiful thing about this yearly celebration.
3. How do you include your old family/traditions into your new one as a Muslim during Raya celebration?For me, the most important tradition is to make sure that family is at the forefront of every celebration - especially now that I am married. I am doing everything I can to
make sure that the element of family is constantly there just as it has been since I was a child. No matter what, my family will always be part of all that I do.4. What's the biggest challenge you face during Raya?
My biggest challenge during Raya is trying to avoid constant food coma 😜 But on a serious note, it's hard not to get sidetracked by all the food after fasting for a month. As the years passed (this is my third time celebrating Raya as a Muslim!) I am always reminding myself that Raya is not just about the food and the public holiday. It is about celebrating Islam and the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
5. What is the one thing you love most about Raya?
Ahh the food definitely! And the open houses! I love everything about Hari Raya because it feels like one of those days when everyone is so open and forgiving of one another. All aspects of race and religion become unimportant when everyone comes together to celebrate the day, sharing the festivities with family and friends.
6. What are your hopes for new reverts?I hope that new reverts are able to have a
smooth transition into Islam, insyaAllah. It is a tough journey and at times it may seem like a struggle, but embracing Islam is the most rewarding journey of truth!
1. Tell us a bit more about your journey to Islam.
I come from a multiracial family. And I started celebrating Hari Raya since I was young, surrounded by other family members who are reverts. I've basically learned and become accustomed to Islam from a very young age. When I finally embraced Islam a few years ago, alhamdulillah it was an easy journey for both me and my family.
2. Do you remember your first time celebrating Raya? What do you remember about it?
The first time I celebrated was so many years ago with my closest friends who are Muslims. I'd always get invited to their gatherings (at any one of their houses) and we'll end up playing with fireworks, late into the night until the Raya day ends.
3. How do you include your old family/traditions into your new one as a Muslim during Raya celebration?Thankfully, I have been surrounded by my Muslim and non-Muslim family members and so the transition was very natural for me. I celebrate Raya every year and the only difference
now is that I am also a Muslim, a wife and a mother.4. What is the one thing you love most about Raya?
My favourites will have to be the variety of food that's laid out during this festivity, getting to play with fireworks and the gatherings with my family and friends that happen throughout the Raya period. It's the spirit of togetherness is what I love most about it.
5. What is your advice for new reverts?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, you are now a Muslim, practice Islam daily for as much as you can. And keep at it. When the going gets tough, always remember that Allah is with you every step of the way. InsyaAllah.
Syafiq Raffiqin Liow
1. Tell us a bit more about your journey to Islam.Before I became a Muslim, I was an atheist and I went through the worst period of my life. While I was trying to find a way out, I believe I received hidayah from Allah and I decided to become a Muslim. In 2006, at the age of 30, I finally recited my syahadah and became a devout Muslim. It was Ramadan then, which makes this
memory even more special.2. Do you remember your first time celebrating Raya? What do you remember about it?
Just 4 days after I reverted and learned how to fast, came Hari Raya. At this point I was used to celebrating Raya with my Muslim friends. But back then it just feels like any other culture's celebration. My view completely changed once I became a Muslim. I learned that Raya was to celebrate the completion of Ramadan where we strive to overcome our sins, empathise with those less fortunate and hope that this perspective carries us through the next 11 months to become better Muslims. With this realisation, when it comes to celebrating Raya, I hope I am becoming a better Muslim every year. And when my time comes to return to Him, my deeds will be accepted by Allah.
3. How do you include your old family/traditions into your new one as a Muslim during Raya celebration?My family didn't know that I reverted until a year after. And so my first year as a Muslim left me feeling lonely. Because I didn't know how to celebrate with my family. To me, it was my new life, my new religion and I was alone in
it. But after 2-3 years learning more about Islam, I decided to cook a special dish for my family and share with them the meaning of Raya. Alhamdulillah, although I was born to a non-Muslim family, their understanding grew and I'm now able to celebrate Raya with them.4. What's the biggest challenge you face during Raya?
Aside from feeling lonely during the beginning, I have always enjoyed Raya. What I found challenging was fasting - having to control when to eat was hard and I'm still learning to improve myself to become a better Muslim.
5. What is the one thing you love most about Raya?
The gatherings! This is the best part of this celebration - where all my family members gather together and enjoy the food. This is when I truly get to see the harmony of Malaysia's multiracial community. We get all the different races, making different cuisines for Raya, giving us a variety (aside from the regular Malay food)! In the face of adversities, it’s enlightening to see families come together for Hari Raya.
6. What is your advice for new reverts?My advice to all the new reverts out there, move on and don't look
back. Stay strong in the face of adversities from Allah, because Allah knows what's best for us. When something becomes difficult, don't give up! Face it, have faith in our doas and ask Him to show us the way.
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