Ternyata wanita ini menjadi selebriti karena pernah murtad. Makin hari memang makin banyak cerita2 macam ini. Cerita2 orang Islam datang ke negara kafir utk belajar, sambil mempraktekkan hobi dakwah ... ehhhh, tahunya mereka malah yg kena dakwah kafir.
Bagi FFI nggak masalah si murtad mau memeluk agama apa setelah Islam, yg penting adalah : meninggalkan Islam. Titik. Mau budha kek, hindu kek, atheis kek ... sebodo teing.
An Islamic Story
By Aghi Clovis with Joanna Bogle
I grew up in Tehran in what usually is called Iran, although we call it Persia. Persia is an Islamic country, but when I was growing up, because of the Shah’s policy of modernization, women felt free to choose the way they dressed in terms of hijab—the clothing that covers a woman from head to toe. Only a minority were strict about Muslim prayer and rituals.
Many women wore European-style clothing and make-up. Tehran was a rather glamorous city with a lively feel to it. Islamic education was taught in schools to children up to the age of nine, supported by the teaching of the Arabic language.
But for me, things were a bit different. In my late teens a teacher at my school asked if we’d like to meet after school for a religion class. Many of us accepted. It was inspiring—she introduced us to the idea of being really Islamic, and I was keen to do this. I began to wake before sunrise every morning—that’s when Muslims say the first prayers of the day—and go to the courtyard to do the ritual washing and then pray. It was a beautiful feeling, and I felt that I was living the right way.
Islam is meant to be something total, pervading your whole life, dictating what you wear and how you wash and what you eat. It’s a whole world, a whole way of thinking and being. Praying five times a day is central.
Then, when I was seventeen, the country changed. Suddenly (at least it seemed terribly sudden to me) there was a massive religious upsurge. The Shah was toppled and sent away with the whole royal family, and we were caught up in the Islamic Revolution.
Looking back, it’s only now that I see how extraordinarily fickle people are. The country had done very well under the Shah: People were prosperous and life was pretty good. My school, for example, was a magnificent building with all the latest equipment, great sliding doors and large airy rooms, a fabulous gym, and we were given free fruit every day and all sorts of other extras. When I later moved to Britain, I was amazed at how shabby and dreary most schools were.
But at the time of the Islamic Revolution, we were all caught up in it. I certainly was. I still have the stamp on my birth certificate showing that I voted to support the Revolution. I was very proud of that. Everyone now said that the Shah and the royal family were the lackeys of the Americans, that they were worse than dogs—that’s a terrible insult in Islam—and they denounced them in every way.
The physical manifestations of the Revolution were everywhere. The most obvious was women’s dress. We all began to wear long dresses and—this was a particular point—dark heavy stockings, usually black. Being caught wearing transparent stockings was one of the worst faults.
There were young Islamic police (they weren’t really police but teams of young men called the Guardians of the Revolution) who patrolled everywhere. If a woman was seen with a man, she had to produce evidence that he was her husband or a direct male relative. There were terrible penalties if a woman went out with any other man, even a cousin or a close family friend.
For us young people it seemed as though the solution to life’s questions had arrived: The world belonged to Islam. Islam rules how you should think and how all of life should be: for the whole community, the individual, and the family. I was caught up in it. I felt that the whole world MUST fall to Islam so that everyone would be happy and at peace. If we thought about the West, the non-Islamic world, we thought they wouldn’t be happy until they submitted to Islam. It didn’t seem possible that there was any other way of looking at things.
I had done well at school. My native language was Persian, of course, but I had studied English and liked it, although I didn’t speak it well. The question of my future came up. One of my uncles, a lawyer, was a fully qualified mullah (religious teacher). He had only sons and had wanted a daughter, so he was very generous with me. It was decided that I should go to the United States with him and his family and continue my studies there. Although he was a mullah, I think he saw Islam very much as a way of life, a formula that encompassed everything. He wanted to do well and to see his children well settled and secure.
The Islamic Revolution was in its early stages, with lots of enthusiasm and vigor. Soon things got very repressive, and it became difficult to leave the country. But this was not the case initially, and I travelled with all my cousins to Britain without any difficulty. But unlike my uncle’s family, I did not have a U.S. visa and was delayed in London until I could obtain one. The family wanted me to be in a safe place, a suitable place for a girl, so my cousin arranged for me to stay at a Catholic hostel for overseas students.
The priest in charge, Fr. Hugh Thwaites, was to become a close friend. I laugh now when I think of my first meetings with him and the other Jesuit who worked with him, Fr. Lawson. I was convinced that I’d convert them to Islam! There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. My commitment to Islam was total, and I knew the rest of the world must fall to it and submit.
But Fr. Thwaites, a very gentle, prayerful man, was wise. He was very enthusiastic about the Legion of Mary, and it was thriving there. Among the members was Greg, my future husband, but that bit of the story comes later.
Fr. Thwaites got me a Persian New Testament. I was eighteen years old and thought I knew everything. I had my ritual prayers and assumed that God was part of that and there was nothing more I could know. But I had never encountered Christ. No one had told me about him, about the miracles he performed, about the things he said and taught, about his life and its message. I was amazed. I was shattered. How did this extraordinary person exist, and how was I kept in ignorance about him?
Facing the possibility that I had not been told the whole story—that there was a truth that had been kept from me—was shattering. It was like being stripped of everything. In considering the possibility of becoming a Christian, I felt as if every cell in my body was changing.
It is difficult to explain how total the Islamic idea is. It is a culture, a way of life, a way of thinking, and much more. It absorbs you totally. There isn’t room for any other vision of things.
Then I met Greg. He comes from a West Indian family from St. Lucia with a long Catholic tradition. He was a member of the Legion of Mary and a very active and committed Catholic. Greg offered me a challenge: If I could prove that the New Testament was false and the Qur’an true, he would convert to Islam. Of course, the other side was that if the Qur’an was false, I would become a Christian.
At this stage, there wasn’t a romantic side to our friendship at all—everything was too busy for that. I went to Legion of Mary meetings as part of the general social group, but of course there was a great deal that I didn’t understand. Meanwhile, I got busy with the Qur’an and started to study it in earnest.
I had never read the Qur’an properly before. It hadn’t been necessary. Islam is a matter of prayer, of keeping the law, of being immersed in the whole lifestyle. I was amazed at how dull I found the Qur’an and how the New Testament was an absolutely compelling read. The Qur’an seemed wordy and complicated. It didn’t ring true. I didn’t find the answers I was seeking. I found it lifeless. It was just text.
I had been praying and doing all the ritual things, but I thought of God as formidable and awesome. He was the master and I was the slave. He was the sun and I was a grain of sand. I quivered before him in my prayers.
At the monthly Legion meetings, a member would give a talk followed by questions and discussion. The talks were well-prepared and everyone took them seriously. I started to grasp the core of the Christian faith.
All my family was quite well-to-do, and most had been to Mecca on pilgrimage. And we had the sacrifice of the lamb, so I knew the principle of animal sacrifice. Now, suddenly, I was confronted with the real thing—Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, and his true sacrifice. This was the real sacrifice of the Lamb that reconciled man and God. When I grasped this truth, in all its hugeness and its love and its implications, that was my point of conversion. That was when I truly believed.
What happened next? I was unable to resolve my U.S. visa problem, and my temporary British visa was now due to expire. In my deep religious conversations with Greg I saw a chaste, kind, and intelligent person. In our time together, we had come to enjoy each other’s company. Almost out of the blue we decided to get engaged. But I wanted my parents’ permission, so I returned home to Tehran.
I was pleased to see my family. I was close to my mother and to my sister, and it was good to be with them again. There was still a question mark over my future. My father was not happy at my decision to marry a Christian, although my mother was supportive. In spite of my father’s objection, I decided to return to Britain. Shortly after I left, the borders were closed and everything changed. Western embassies were closed and no one could leave the country. I was fortunate to leave when I did.
I can see God’s loving care of me, his providence, in the things that happened. If I had gone to America with my uncle and cousins everything would have been different. I would have been caught up in their lifestyle and met and married someone very different from Greg.
As things were, I returned to London. My life was changing. I had found the truth. I was young, and the future was calling me, fresh and vigorous. I converted to Christianity without telling my family. To my shame, I gave them to understand that Greg converted to Islam when he married me. I simply couldn’t tell them about my conversion or that Greg and I were to have a Catholic marriage and a Catholic family life together. For them, to be a Christian is to be less than human. It is to be a dog, something vile, something filthy, the lowest of the low. I did tell them later, and I was happy to hear that my youngest brother had converted to Christianity six years after I had.
My conversion was in February. Meanwhile my friendship with Greg had grown and developed. We talked and talked and shared our ideas. We both knew that our future was bound up with one another. I was learning more about the faith every day and growing and changing as a person. We set our wedding date for April, rather sooner than we would have liked, but my visa was running out and we had to make decisions. We had a beautiful wedding, but none of my family was able to come, as Iran’s borders had been closed and no one could enter or leave in the ordinary way.
In marrying Greg, I discovered the great joy and happiness of a Catholic marriage: true companionship, a partnership on equal terms, and the delight of talking everything through together and building up our home. I think his family had mixed feelings about it, imagining I married him to stay in Britain. (I certainly hadn’t. The conversion to Christianity was what preceded it, and that was the most important thing in my life up to that time.)
There were times when I felt very lonely and missed my mother very much. This was especially the case when I had my first baby, and all the other women on the maternity ward were getting visits from their mothers, while I was all alone. But in our home life together, Greg and I were, and are, so very happy. Raising a family together has been so absorbing and so full of merriment and adventures. In the early years, there wasn’t time to sit and ponder, because life was so hectic with small children and the time flew.
There were issues we had to confront, among them contraception. In Islam, it is accepted. Some people may oppose it, but the truth is that it is widely used. Greg and I had to talk about this, because we understood that the Church forbids it. Learning about the reasons behind this teaching became very important for us, and discovering natural family planning gave us new insights into marriage and its true meaning. We have a big family and have been criticized for it. People told us that we would not be able to keep the children well-dressed and give them all they needed, but this has not been the case. With hard work and the support and encouragement of other families who share our values, we have found it a joyful and happy experience.
Perhaps because my family was far away, we found that having friends of our own age meant a great deal, and we have forged deep and lasting friendships with a number of Catholic families. Some of the friendships go back to our student days. This was crucial to us, especially in the first years of our marriage.
I found great consolation in devotion to our Lady. She became something very important in my life, and I prayed to her, missing my own mother.
The years have gone by, and while my youngest has just started school, our second oldest son is married. The other day he brought us the glad news that we are to be grandparents. We can hardly contain our joy. We keep beaming at one another and laughing and finding it all just so wonderful!
I must emphasize this point about marriage: In Islam, your husband is your lord. Bluntly, some men become bullies. They can have up to four wives. There is no idea of a real personal companionship between husband and wife in the way that Christianity teaches. For me, the discovery of this dear companionship, this mutual bond that creates a home, was a wonderful thing.
Now that things have changed again in Iran, I have been home on visits. My sister, two years older than me, is married and lives in the traditional Islamic way. When I go home, I wear Islamic clothing, including the full veil. Anything else would be regarded as quite horrible and wrong and would mean I couldn’t relax with my family, so I don’t mind doing it. I see the whole lifestyle of Islam, including its aspects of real belief and response to the great idea of God.
Last time I was home, it was the month of Moharam, a great Islamic religious season. Men wear black and beat their breasts in mourning and repeat the name "Hussein! Hussein!" (Hussein was an Islamic martyr who died in battle 1,300 years ago, and the special month of Moharam is dedicated to him.) They stand in the streets, and the whole month carries a sense of awe and solemnity. I watched them and thought: "If they only knew Christ! If they knew him, what hearts they could give him!"
Aghi Clovis writes from England. She told her story to Joanna Bogle, who prepared it for This Rock.