Interview With Sister Katia on How She Found Islam::
Q: May I know what’s your name?
Sister Katia: My name is Katia, and my Muslim name now is Aisha.
Q: Ma-Shaa-Allah. I want to ask you Aisha, what were you before you became Muslim?
Sister Katia: I was a Russian Orthodox, I was Christian.
Q: So you are actually from Russia. Were you born there?
Sister Katia: Yes, I was born in Russia, then I came here, so I’ve been here for over 12 years.
Q: How long have you been a Muslim?
Sister Katia: About a year and a half.
Q: What kind of person were you before Islam? Were you a religious Christian, or just an agnostic Christian?
Sister Katia: I think I would have been more religious if my family were. My family was not really that religious, so when I came I was looking for this. Part of me was constantly looking for something to belong to. You know?
And I tried different branches of Christianity, a lot of my friends were Pentecostal, Catholic, so I would try to kind of fit-in, I would try to go to church mass, and I really enjoyed some of them. I’m not trying like to say something bad about people, as this is everywhere, but I did find a lot of hypocorism. There a lot of people who put on this face inside the building, and as soon as they are out of it completely different people, completely different personalities. So that kind really pushed me away from a lot of religious groups.
In different religions except Islam, there are a lot of things that don’t fill up this gap, and there are a lot of questions that are left unanswered.
Q: What was the key for you to become a Muslim? Had you seen a Muslim before in Russia? What really made you think about Islam as a religion?
Sister Katia: Mainly I’ve seen Muslims in Russia, but I never saw hijab, like the hijab I’m wearing. I’ve never seen a woman cover, so perhaps I never saw a Muslim who was covered who was obvious to the eye.
But I had a friend, her name is Salaly, in high school, and she was the only girl that I ever seen who was covered. And to be honest to you, I was never thinking I respect her religion or I’m proud of her because she’s got this faith. Actually it was the other way round, I actually thought it was strange. I thought OK, good for her, whatever makes her happy go for it, but it was rather interesting.
And I’ve had some Muslim friends, but they were not as religious, and the best thing I learned when I began to research about Islam someone said to me “Don’t judge Islam by Muslims, because Islam is one – there is one pure thing – but Muslims are so many and different in race, culture and everybody practices Islam in their own completely different way.
But I don’t care, everyone has their own traditions. And that’s what I think a lot of times makes people really surprised because they see for example me, the way I dress, they don’t realize sometimes that I am Muslim, they ask me if I’m Jewish, because they expect Muslim women to have the face veil, and all black, and not even be outside, and this is strange because how different people cultures in their home country does not necessarily mean that is what Islam is all about.
And so the biggest thing I think turning to it is a cultural gap, and also what happened in 9/11 along with all the rest of my classmates, my high school …, because this time when I was at high school everybody started pointing fingers and everybody started spreading these rumors, and automatically believing that this one particular group is the one to blame for every problem in the world, especially 9/11.
And just like my peers, and I see that not just in 9/11 but every day, everybody, especially I feel like being here and standing in the outside I see that people here sometimes give up on thinking for themselves, and tend to rely on what their other peers or family or media tells them to believe and think. And so just like everybody else I was in this frame of thinking “they hate us, we should hate them back, we should do something about it, …” and it did really make me I guess upset enough to look into it, and Al-Hamdulel-Allah I think things do happen for a reason. I’m not saying that such a horrible thing happened for me, but …
Q: You are not the only one who became Muslim because of 9/11, there was actually a lot of people who turned around and started to know and to question Islam, so this is not abnormal for you to question Islam after 9/11
Sister Katia: Yes, but because like I said I had some friends in high school who are Muslims and who are people I would never even think of do such thing, and here are a group of people pointing fingers at Muslims and I was like OK I want to be one of those people who points, but I want to know why I’m pointing, I want to know why I’m blaming these Muslims.
And I did, I began to read a lot, I began to look into it, and I began to question a lot of people, but it was not “In Islam do you teach people to blow up themselves?”, and this is the most ridiculous question people sometimes joke with me about. It’s that which make me truly look into Islam. I doesn’t have to be this scholarly study of Islam, you don’t have to go and attend classes, all you need is the five-page booklet that teaches you why you should wear hijab, you know pure modesty, and this kind of stuff in little steps.
Q: Some people say oh you become a Muslim because you love a man, because of a boyfriend, did that apply in your life?
Sister Katia: No. Almost every single person, even the friends I have right now, the Muslim ladies I have right now, that was the first thing:
– “Oh Ma-Shaa-Allah, thank God sister you became Muslim. Who is he?”
– “Who is who?”
– “Who is the man, the man who brought you?”
And everyone thought it is some kind of boyfriend relationship, fiancé, … and I say no. And the friends I have now everybody is kind of surprised and say:
“Oh, really? There is nobody? No marriage? Nothing involved?”
And I was like no. Sometimes it takes a person, you know you have nothing to do finding out. So it was really my finding Islam, not any kind of friends…