This is the second part of Ramadan Experiences, a segment at HHWT where we share people's stories and experiences in Singapore and all over the world during this special month ? We spoke to Siddique, a Singaporean student who converted to Islam 4 years ago and founded Converts Central in 2020, a podcast that focuses on the challenges that Muslim converts face along their conversion journey and also helping Muslims from all backgrounds to find a strong foothold in Islam.
P.S. If you missed the past few stories for Ramadan Experiences, check out right here: Our Non-Muslim Colleague Tries Fasting For A Day And Here's Her Experience
Siddique's Journey In Islam
1. What made you choose to embrace Islam four years ago?
I got introduced to Islam through a previous relationship in junior college, and was eventually mesmerised by how much the religion made sense to me. It was truly unexpected for me, considering how I never really thought about religion growing up, and religious practices always felt more like family traditions than what it really was. What eventually convinced me to convert though was the beautiful mannerisms of the Muslims I was introduced to! I then decided to become a Muslim in 2018 ?
2. How did your family react to your decision to convert?
I was 19 when I first informed them about my decision to convert. I messaged all of them directly via a Whatsapp group message, and at first, they were all shocked and strongly rejected my decision. Afterwards, I learnt to slowly communicate my decision and determination to my mother and finally got her support for my decision before converting. My family members might not completely agree with my decision, but they support my decision to decide my own path. I'm grateful that I have an open-minded family who always respect each other's decisions despite our tense relationship at times ?
3. What was your first time fasting during Ramadan like?
At first, it felt daunting to abstain from food and water for almost 12 hours, so I wanted to take it slow, aiming at fasting 4 times a week. But I ended up fasting almost everyday because I realised that it was manageable! Waking up in the wee hours of the morning to cook sahur was also a little difficult at first, but alhamdulillah now it's has become second nature to me every Ramadan! I also had to explain to my family and friends that I had to fast now that I am a Muslim, and that took some time for them to get used to that idea ☺️
4. How has your experience during fasting been since then?
But now that I've been fasting for 4 years now, I've learnt that it is very important to not eat dehydrating foods right before subuh! More importantly, I realised that what brings us through a successful day of fasting is ultimately not how much food we eat or how much water we drink but rather the will and assistance from Allah SWT. There were some days when I had a huge breakfast and ended up hungry before 8am, but in other days, all I had were a few dates and a cup of milk but that was enough to sustain me throughout the day ? Ramadan is our time to increase our trust and reliance on Allah SWT and the best practice in Ramadan is to try to follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAW.
5. What motivated you to start Converts Central?
While I was blessed to receive a lot of support and guidance from a couple of older Muslim converts when I was struggling to find my own Muslim identity, I realised that I was one of the fortunate few who had access to this level of support and I should also extend the same support if I was able to. The opportunity came when Singapore went into lockdown for the first time during the pandemic in April 2020. Many Muslim converts were left isolated and without support at home, especially new converts who may have just converted in Mar 2020. That was when me and my other Muslim friends came up with an idea to start a podcast to reach out to these converts and ease their challenges for them ?
6. What do you envision Converts Central to be in the future?
We want Converts Central to be a place where all born Muslims and converts can go to learn more about each other and to be a bridge connecting muslims in our community to the beautiful teachings of Islam. This means building beneficial circles and forming bonds within our community that allows people with different backgrounds to connect and bring each other closer to Islam through our events and working with Asatizahs to properly represent the essence of Islam.
7. What are some tips or advice you would like to share to Muslims, whether it's their first time fasting or not, to have a productive Ramadan?
Pace yourself and focus on one main thing per week; add on one more as each week passes and when you can balance more on your plate, such as your eating habits, learning a new surah, just to name a few. By the end of Ramadan, we would've already learnt 4 new things and can strive to practice it for as long as we can! You should also start by doing some 'ibadah like giving charity so that we do not miss it out in Ramadan, there are a lot of charities which have auto-deduction functions for us to make the arrangement! Continue your 'ibadah after each of our 5 daily prayers so that we will never miss out the great blessings of this special month. Finally, it really helps to have a circle of friends to fast and strengthen your faith with. Ramadan is a marathon and if we want to run far, we need to run together ?
If you want to support Siddique and his cause, you can check out the links below! Stay tuned for the video portion of Siddique's story, where he shows how he spends his day in Ramadan! ?
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