Zeinab (Elena) 55, converted to Islam 10 years ago

“It was in the late 90s. My husband and I traveled to Egypt as tourists. It was my first visit to a Muslim country. I saw people with a completely different mentality and attitude towards life. Having plunged into this culture, I became very interested in the Arab world, and I began to study the Koran.

When I was 40 years old, I told my husband that I wanted to convert to Islam. My husband and children understood and reacted calmly to my decision. But it did not go so smoothly with my mother. Basically, the problem was the headscarf. But the situation was resolved. Now my mother even buys me halal food. Within four years, my eldest daughter also converted to Islam.

Shortly after embracing Islam, I realized that I changed a lot and that I wasn’t Lena anymore. I then decided to take a Muslim name.

I worked as an English and German technical translator. When I put on the hijab, my co-workers began to treat me poorly. I was fired over a trivial matter. I was very upset, but two months later, I received an offer from a competing firm, which offered a similar job with a bigger salary. I told them that I wore a headscarf, but they said it did not matter what I looked like, as they needed my expertise.

I want to change society’s attitude to Islam by setting an example. People don’t want to listen to a long speech about Islam. They look at your deeds. A true Muslim is good to every single person, not just to fellow Muslims.”

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