The call to prayer
Islamic Awareness Week ends with converts sharing their experiences
To end Islamic Awareness Week, an event held at the University of Regina put on by the university’s Muslim Student Association, the group held an Open Mic night at the schools Shu-Box Theatre, where people who converted to be Muslim talked about their journey.
Lacey Tourney grew up in a Roman Catholic family, going to church regularly and celebrating all the Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter. But as she began to grow up, she started to question her faith.
“As I got older, I lost what the importance of what religion should be in a person’s life,” the University of Regina student explained to a small crowd in the Shu-Box Theatre. To cap off their Islamic Awareness Week, the campus’ Muslim Student Association held an open mic night for people who had converted to the Islamic faith. As a Muslim convert herself, Tourney was a perfect candidate.
“I had no desire to go to church,” she continued. “Basically went only on the holidays, mostly because I felt that that was the right thing to do. I wanted God in my life. I believed in God. I knew there was a God. I knew there was something higher that brought us everything we have. I just didn’t know how I wanted to follow that belief.
“It was about a year or so into university and I started to make lots of friends that were Muslim. I had no idea what Islam was about, what being Muslim was about. I was just as naive as the next person in terms of knowing the proper information about Islam
“Conversations piqued my interests. Based on what they were saying I sat back and said ‘It makes sense.’ Religion can make sense. I never knew that; I never knew religion can make sense. It’s a lifestyle change, it is completely different, and I wanted to know for sure what I wanted for myself.”
Then came the turning point in Tourney’s religious journey – to convert or not to convert.
“I did as much research and reading as I could do until you get to that point of either your going to convert to be a Muslim or you’re not,” she said.
“I was alone in my room and I just did it one night. I was in the most random place you could be when converting to a religion, but that fact was I was happy after I did that.”
As she divulged about her journey, her mother, Lisa Tourney, proudly watched..
Although Lisa has not converted herself, she stands by her daughter.
“At the end of the day [she is] choosing this,” Lisa said. “[She is] not drink[ing], or smoking, or being promiscuous. She is still going to school; she is just trying to be a better person. It’s not like she is doing anything bad, she is just trying to be a better person. Clearly, if she is happy in what she is doing, I fully support her.
“Through all of it, we have done things together and worked together. She has explained things to me and I have gone on the Internet and tried to get as educated as I could about it. She has had questions and friends provided information.”
Marla Davies is another person who spoke during the evening and has had a similar experience with her family as Tourney.
“My family is hit and miss with me being Muslim,” Davies said
“My dad is from the deep south of America. He is from Kansas and talks with a drawl. He is Republican, very conservative. I thought I would have a very negative response from him when I told him, but it was actually the exact opposite. My dad says that my uncles fought in World War II so we could keep freedom and these things and he believes everybody should have freedom of religion. My mom doesn’t really talk about it with me – life just goes on. So overall it’s been a positive experience.”
Davies also approached the issue of the perceived image of Muslim women as being oppressed.
“People say Islam is oppressive, but I would like to think that I am an open-minded-free-thinking women who has chosen a life for herself that she thinks is correct,” she said. “So for anyone who is not Muslim, please be careful of ethnocentrism. Please don’t assume that the way of life we all choose is right for everybody. Please give people the benefit of the doubt that they have a brain and they can choose for themselves.”