Reyyan Kılıç is a former pharmacist from the Philippines. She is married and has young sons. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, magazines and emails friends and spending time with her family.
How did you decide to embrace Islam? Is there any one incident you can specify?
For years I believed what I was told and just followed blindly. Whereas most of the people I knew were Catholics and the people who were non-Catholic Christians were looked upon with so much suspicion, to question the teachings of the church was taboo. But I suppose I can say that my conversion to Islam was meant to be.
I was exposed to anti-Catholic sentiments fairly early on, of course, without my very traditional family's knowledge. Later on, I learned a little about Marxist and socialists ideals. I also continued to listen to the teachings of other Christian sects. I was dissatisfied but unwilling to leave the religion of my birth. I procrastinated for years. The turning point was when I met an Australian who had converted to Islam. Based on the knowledge I had of Islam, which was extremely corrupted, I emphatically declared that I would never become a Muslim. But after reading the materials she gave me I knew Islam was, and is, the truth. But like the Filipino Catholic that I was I had to think of the consequences of the conversion, so I did not follow through.
When my son was nearly a year old I knew that my doubts and fear about converting to Islam were not groundless. But to avoid taking the final step to live the truth because of what my family and friends might say had become unacceptable. By this time I had also met other Filipinos who had gone through the same period of indecision and difficulties before converting to Islam. Knowing that I was not alone in this experience made me more decisive. I was able to deal with my fears with more confidence and converted to Islam straightaway. My regret was that I had allowed myself to fear what others might say and not what Allah would say. I could have had Allah in my life a lot sooner.
How can you compare the notion of prophethood in Christianity and in Islam?
To live a life based on the pleasure of God is without doubt a difficult, if not, an imposssible task. I could not comprehend this with Jesus Christ as a God. With the concept of Prophethood in Islam and the way Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived, I know it is an achievable goal.
What did you find most appealing in Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)?
I believe that the most appealing character of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is his trustworthiness. If there is trust everything else follows. Even in the most trying times when there seems to be no hope I know that what Allah has given through the Prophet is the truth and it is more than enough to sustain me. I feel comforted knowing that I can always rely on this fact.
How is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) perceived and received in the part of the world that you come from?
Twenty-five years ago, most of what Filipinos knew about Islam was provided by the news media reporting on the Muslim separatists who were waging a guerrilla-like war in Mindanao, the southern region of the Philippines. The negative impact of this was such that for a long time nobody knew anything positive about Muslims. And all that was known about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is that he is to the Muslims like Jesus Christ to the Christians.
Twenty-five years onward the Philippines actually have a special holiday for Ramadan. Filipino Muslims are given more opportunities for a successful life. However, knowledge and familiarity with regards to Prophet Muhammad or about Islam leave much to be desired. Unfortunately, with a Muslim minority and rebel groups still very much active in Mindanao, I am skeptical that this situation will soon change.