An Exclusive Interview of a Revert to Islam, Kristin (Abedah), from the United States, by Bentolhoda Mofakhami
Would you please give us a biography of yourself!
My born name was Kristin but after reverting to Islam, I now go by the name of Abedah. I come from a Republican Christian family. I live in Texas, USA. My birthday is May 6, 1986. I took Shahada on April 5, 2012.
Before reverting to Islam, I was a famous rapper by the name of MC Router. I produced albums and toured all over the US and Europe. My last show as MC Router was in Amsterdam with the biggest audience in my career, topping out at over a thousand.
I was also featured in a documentary on Netflix (an American entertainment company) and appeared on many shows, magazines and newspapers all throughout the US and Europe.
I gave up my music career at the peak of my music career after reverting to Islam, because I knew I had a new path to follow. Allah (SWT) blessed me with an audience and a gift to be able to have a following and they listen to me, so I used my ability to perform in front of crowds and changed it into Dawah.
How did you get familiar with Islam?
I used to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) to foreign students in the university. A group of Muslims from KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) came into my life and introduced Islam to me and continued to teach me and challenge me every day to learn about Islam until I understood it and accepted it.
What drove you to convert to Islam?
I was raised Southern Baptist and my grandfathers were both Southern Baptist preachers who both had their own churches in which they lead. As a Christian, you are taught and almost even brainwashed to believe and accept that Jesus is the only way to salvation and when you pray, you pray to Jesus. However, I never felt this was right and I was always seeking a relationship with mighty God. Christianity isn’t really set up for its followers to seek out understanding and closeness to Allah (SWT) rather than Jesus. The more I learned about Islam and that there is none worthy of worship but Him, it really was the turning point to lead to me to Shahada because this was more logical and Islam is more structured and focused on the worshipper and his true God.
What was your family’s reaction after you became a Muslim? Did you have any problem with people who knew you? Are you married?
My fathers’ side of my family did not accept and they called the FBI (the Federal Bureau of Investigation) and homeland security on me; claiming I was involved with terrorist activities. I had agents at my door day-and-night, following me everywhere. They went on investigating every small part of my life. Though I have tried tirelessly to keep my ties with that side of the family, they have threatened me and warned me to stay away and made it clear they will never accept me as one of their family.
My mother, at first did not take the news of my reversion well. We were featured on the TV show; Dr. Phil because she thought I needed an intervention and I needed to go back to Christianity and also feared I would join ISIS. However after a few years, I moved in with my mother and now she has accepted it, but she still is not comfortable with it.
She watches me closely and if I make any mistake she tells me I am a bad Muslim or a hypocrite just to have a reason to tell me I made the wrong choice. Most of the people who knew me before Islam abandoned me, just like my family did. None of them wanted to associate with me at all and to this day, six years later, I have not had their acceptance.
I am not married, I am divorced. I met my ex-husband years after becoming a Muslim.
How do you see the spread of Islam in the USA?
The spread of Islam in the USA is growing slightly, but not as rapidly as in other countries like Europe for example. I believe this is because there are too many people in America who are against Islam and especially our current president who encourages hateful attitude towards Muslims. I get attacked and yelled at and harassed every single day by people in my city. I can’t get hired anywhere because of my hijab and other Muslims constantly encourage me to take it off, but if I trust in Allah I know I will be given something better by His will alone.
What is the most beautiful Ayah of the Quran in your opinion? And why?
There are many beautiful Ayahs in the holy Quran, but the most beautiful one to me is in Surah Duhaa 93:7;
“And He (Allah) found you lost and guided you.” (93:7) .I think this is or should be special for reverts because we were lost, a lot of Muslims forget we are all born Muslim, (Fitra ), but depending on how our parents raise us, we end up following and believing in other religions. As a revert, I was completely lost, and not all people who are lost are guided to Islam, Allah (SWT) chooses whom He wills to guide and I was guided. There is nothing more beautiful or amazing to know and remember that I didn’t choose Islam, Allah (SWT) chose me and guided me! SubhanAllah!
What’ your opinion about hijab? Did wearing hijab have any effect on your private life? Do you think it is only dedicated to women?
I started wearing hijab on the first week I took Shahada. It was such an easy transition for me and even though some of my friends and my mother especially, didn’t approve or didn’t understand, I am a strong-willed person and I always do what I want to do without giving regard to anyone else, and that can be a bad thing or a good thing, but it’s my character.
If I want to do something, I don’t let anyone around me tell me I can’t or let their opinions influence me. My ambition drives me.
Every day I hear Muslim women, new and old, talking about their struggles of wearing hijab, how they are scared of it being dangerous for them or because they are scared of what others think, but in my opinion, I only care what Allah (SWT) thinks and I fear Allah (SWT) not the people.
I don’t understand how it can be hard for someone because it was never hard for me and it’s a part of Islam I never struggled with. I just knew it was my duty as a Muslima and that was enough for me.
I definitely think hijab is for both men and women. Hijab is not just a scarf on the head, it’s modesty and a mindset and a piece of our character. It’s how we talk to people, how we act towards people and how we present ourselves and interact with each other. For men, it’s less talked about, but I think it is important to discuss hijab for men because it’s not only the women’s obligation or responsibility.
Hijab for men is a long discussion and takes some knowledge and understand to process but in short, the opinion that Muslim men must cover themselves between the navel and the knees is predominant, and most Muslims believe that a man who fails to observe this requirement during Salat must perform the prayer again, properly covered, in order for it to be valid.
Three of the four madhabs, or schools of law, require that the knees be covered; the Maliki school recommends but does not require knee covering. According to some hadith, Muslim men are asked not to wear gold jewelry and to lower his gaze, just to give a few examples.
I think the biggest link between men and hijab is lowering the gaze because the main purpose of hijab is modesty and a man lowering his gaze is a great way to practice that.
How do you analyze the family institution according to Christianity and Islam?
Being raised a Christian, I went to church on Sundays and that was the end of my spiritual growth. Some Christian families are more involved with the Bible studies and praying together as a family such as before a meal or at bedtime, but the Christians I knew never really had a structured spiritual environment in which they were daily reflecting and practicing the religion or daily setting time apart for worshipping Allah (SWT).
In Islam, it is much more common that parents teach Quran to their children along with prayer and Sunnah’s of the Prophet (PBUH). You see more young Muslim kids praying and active in the mosques than you see Christian kids active in praying and the churched. You also see how the teachings of Islam affect the children and how the Muslim children are more adept to respect their parents and take care of them when they are older.
Islam gives a structure and a guideline for Muslim families on how to approach parents in old age, approaching marriage and staying connected to the Deen by praying and seeking knowledge. Many Christian kids don’t seek out knowledge about Christianity as they get older and don’t memorize the Bible…some do of course but it’s more probable in muslim families because Christianity lacks in spiritual family structure as compared to Muslims families.
What specifically attracted you to Islam?
Two things specifically attracted me to Islam equally:
The close relationship a Muslim can have with Allah (SWT). Without going through a preacher, priest, saint, angels, or other Prophets.
The structure of Islam is set up so brilliantly. Everything you need for every situation in life has a solution and approach in Quran. This sets Quran apart from other religions. Men wrote the Bible but Quran is the direct word of Allah SWT.
What was your religion before converting to Islam?
Southern Baptist – Christianity.
What was your feeling when you prayed for the first time? Wasn’t it hard for you to pray 5 times a day?
Many reverts will tell you a candy-coated story about how praying their first time was the most amazing and powerful experience, but the reality for a lot of us is that it’s not all sunshine and smiles.
When I prayed for the first time I was scared, because I wanted to pray correctly, I was frustrated because I had to read notes on a piece of paper on the ground to follow each step. I didn’t have anyone to show me so I was learning literally from a printed out paper with step by step instructions. After I finished my first prayer, I felt hopeful and excited but it was mostly stressful because it was new and I knew the importance of it and I wanted to learn it in the right way.
If you want to say some words about the beauty of Islam, the peace, the calmness you have found in this religion what do you say?
There are many beautiful things in Islam. One of the most beautiful things about Islam is prayer. It’s a chance to connect to Allah (SWT) all throughout the day and the evening. To talk to Allah (SWT) and to be thankful and to ask for forgiveness and knowing that if you pray to seek His forgiveness with a sincere intention, that by His will, you will be forgiven.
The intention is another beautiful thing about Islam because everything in Islam is based on intention. If you intend to do something good, with a sincere intention, even if you didn’t get to do it, it is counted as a good deed for you. Also, it keeps Muslims in a reality check which is healthy for our spiritual growth.
If we make a bad intention for something we know the results are not going to be good and that there is no Barakah in that thing. Yet again, if we make a bad intention and we don’t do it, it is not counted against us! SubhanAllah, that is so beautiful!
I have found so much peace and calmness in Islam, because when we pray or when we are alone with Allah (SWT) it is a time when everything around us stops and we know Allah (SWT) is right there, listening to us and knowing that Allah (SWT) is all Seeing and all Knowing and all Hearing, it makes us calm and peaceful because Allah (SWT) knows what is in our hearts even if we don’t know it for ourselves and know that Allah (SWT) in control, there is nothing more peaceful than that, if we have total faith in Allah (SWT) to guide us and keep us on the right path.
How do you analyze women’s right in Islam compared to what the West has propagated?
Non-believers have such twisted views about women’s rights in Islam because they have a lack of knowledge and understanding. They take what they see in the media or the movies and take it for the fact.
My mother thought I would marry a Muslim man and get beaten up or abused. However, my mother has met many Muslim men and their families and she has changed her views because it takes knowledge and it takes immersion or an experience to see the high status that women have in Islam. Ever since I reverted and started wearing hijab, I have been treated with much more respect by men than before I was a practicing Muslimah.
Which feature in Islam attracted you?
The Quran and the structure of Islam attracted me the most, along with the oneness of Allah (SWT).
Who/ what influenced your conversion to Islam?
As I mentioned earlier, it was a group of students from KSA who introduced Islam to me, gave me a Quran translated into English and taught me about Islam and answered all the questions I had. Also, before reverting, I had many Islamic dreams in which were clear signs from Allah SWT that He was guiding me, it wasn’t that I was choosing Islam it was that Allah SWT was guiding me and through these dreams, I knew this was the right religion.
As a convert, what way of inviting to Islam you believe is more effective on non-Muslims?
Everyone has a different approach to Dawah. I actively do Dawah and by the will of Allah (SWT) have brought people to Islam or re-energized born Muslims to get back to the Deen.
For me, I think the best method is being relatable. This is why Reverts play such an amazing role in DAWAH because many times we were in the shoes of the people we are giving Dawah too. We were a Christian or a Jew or an Atheist. So we know how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
When a non-believer sees a middle-eastern or Asian Muslim who was raised a Muslim, they don’t listen most of the time because they have nothing to relate to, but when they see a westerner who has reverted, they are more inclined to listen and when we can tell them, “yes I was a Christian too.” or “I understand, I used to believe like you believe.” they are more interested and willing to listen because we can relate to them and they can relate to us. Being relatable is the number one key to Dawah. It has shown to be a very successful approach and method to my Dawah efforts.
(Courtesy: Teesri Jung)