Johannesburg – Islam is a religion for all. Some of us are born into Muslim families while others embark on a journey to find Islam. Everyone’s travels differ. Some find Islam at a young age while others find it in their golden years.
Nosipho Na’eemah Nyandeni found Islam at the young age of nineteen. At a time when most her age are experiencing a new life at campus and discovering the world, Na’eemah Nyandeni was discovering Islam.
“I remember my first encounter with a Muslim was at a fabric shop… There was a pamphlet there, bearing in mind that I was Catholic, and one of the questions was, ‘do you ever wonder why Mary the mother of Jesus is always portrayed wearing a headscarf’. The manager saw me looking at the poster and he called me.”
At first, she was scared to approach him, but it was this first encounter that introduced her to Islam.
“I ended up speaking to him and he offered me dates. He gave me a book which was titled Quizzes and Answers to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. That is how I learned about Islam. I left school and I just wanted to pursue Islam. I wanted to study at Darul-Uloom, and my parents were freaked out because this was the dawn of ISIS and all of that.”
Challenges of a revert
Being a new Muslim has its challenges. When Nyandeni accepted Islam she had to do what many new Muslims do, hide her Deen from her parents.
“At first I didn’t tell my parents that I’m a Muslim. It took me a while to tell them but slowly I started wearing more conservative clothing. I was wary of what I was eating. I was learning more but I already knew what Halaal and kosher was. I already had an idea of what Halaal was but I was doing more research on that.”
It took her three months before she spoke to her parents about it. Her mother seemed more accepting. Her father, however, was worried she might be making the wrong decision. At the time the world was on high alert with its attention on ISIS, her father believed she was being brainwashed into becoming a Muslim. Things went from bad to worse and eventually Nyandeni had to move out and live with her grandmother.
She eventually got married and had children. Having her children visit her parents was a challenge in itself as she had to make sure they were not eating anything Haraam.
“When my kids are visiting them, I would whisper to my brothers that please make sure they don’t eat pork. That’s the least you can do because I can’t force them to eat Halaal if they don’t live in a Halaal household.”
How Islam has changed her life
Becoming a Muslim means giving up things one might be accustomed to. Nyandeni had to give up her lifestyle of drinking and partying and hanging out with certain friends. The process of change in her eating, dressing and choice of friends has been a blessing in disguise for her, she says.
“It has changed my life for the better. I know who created me and I’m at peace. I feel like I’m at a place where I have all the answers. Islam is very simple. And Islam is very straightforward depending how you look at a lot of things. My life has changed for the better.”
Ten years on and her family is learning to accept what Islam is. Her nephew has also accepted Islam and she is determined to teach him all that she knows. Listen to Maryam Mkwanda and Na’eemah Nyandeni discuss her reversion to Islam.