Saturday 12 July 2014     15 Ramadhan 1435
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Reverts: Is it better to live in a Muslim country?

Do you dream of living in a Muslim country?

Do you get tired of fighting with your family and friends to accept you as a Muslim?
Wish you to live in a land where you hear the beautiful sound of Adhan (call to prayer) five times a day, everybody welcomes you with salam aleikom and everybody is just tremendously happy that you chose the path of Islam instead of living in the West?
Well, I did. And I moved.
That is why I want to share my experiences with you, to let you know how I see life as a reverted Muslimah coming from the heart of Eastern-Europe and now living in the land of the Nile, in a city which never sleeps: in the adventurous Cairo.
After converting to Islam at the age of 16, I lived three years as a Muslimah in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, before Allah blessed me with the opportunity to study and live in Cairo. (Where I found my husband, so that is why I am living here now).
The Blessing of Praying on Time
I believe, there are huge differences between one western country and another. In my country, in Hungary, there are only just a few thousand of Muslims who mainly live in the capital city. In Budapest, we have only a few mosques which don’t even look like mosques from the outside; they are just apartments changed to be places of worship, and we have a couple of prayer rooms offered in some of the bigger Turkish restaurants.
So I can say it is pretty hard to find a proper place to pray; especially in winter, you really need to plan your day when and where you want to go out with your friends or your family. In summer, there are many parks where you can offer your prayer which makes it a lot easier, AlhamduliAllah.
In Cairo, there are mosques at every corner, smaller prayer rooms under many blocks of flats, you have place everywhere to make ablution and pray on time be in a shopping mall, in the school or at your workplace. Basically, there is no way to miss your prayer.
Facing Fitnah
In Hungary, just as in every western country, you face lots of fitnah (temptations) every day; couples in haram relationship kissing each other in public, the metro undergrounds and roads are full of ads of bikini models, the revealing and tight summer clothes, huge shelves of alcohol beverages at every small and big supermarket, drunk teenagers and adults on the streets, finding haram TV programs especially after 11pm while innocently changing the channels.
Well, fitnah is not absent in a Muslim country as well, as I first thought (well, let’s just say in Egypt as we can’t generalize that all Muslim countries are the same). In Egypt, many girls wear tight clothes too, even with hijab, there are specific shops and many restaurants which sell only alcohol, there are parties at night at specific places, and surely there are people in haram relationships. People are everywhere human beings committing sins and Muslim countries are no exception, BUT! I feel that AlhamduliAllah these things are not acceptable elements in the society and you don’t see them as openly as in the West.
It is still a shame for the whole family if a girl gets married and she is not a virgin, you can’t find bikini model ads on the street or at the metro stations, in most families you can’t just have a boyfriend, the parents interfere a lot in marriage and basically in every other issue, not like in the West.
In the cinemas and TV channels the haram parts are usually cut from the film and you can only hold your husband’s hand in public places with people around. Well, that’s how I see it, maybe an Egyptian would not agree with me on this.
In my country, as people don’t really know that I am actually a Muslim with the veil on my head and with my long clothes, I could easily find a job. But I know that many sisters (and brothers too) out there in the West suffer a lot from not finding any work.
In Egypt, I haven’t heard of any workplace where you couldn’t work with hijab, maybe only tourist places, hotels and restaurants. Niqab is a bit more problematic; not impossible but the opportunities are still more limited than with hijab. So on one hand, if we look at Islam, naturally, being a Muslim in a Muslim country seems easier, but there are many other things which you need to take into consideration before you would decide to pack and start a new life in Muslim land.
You Were and Will be a Stranger
In Hungary, people usually stare at me because of my hijab, my “weird” clothes and wondering how I speak the Hungarian language that fluent without any accent or mistake which can be really annoying, but let’s be honest: don’t you look at someone who is different?
I mean here in my country I realized that we actually give a long look to anyone who is different: we stare at the punk teenagers, anyone who speaks a different language or has a different skin color, simply out of curiosity.
So don’t think in a Muslim country this phenomenon does not exist just because you are a Muslim and they are Muslims, too. You are still a foreigner and you will grab people’s attention when you get on a bus or the metro and I tell you: it will annoy you as much as the stare of the non-Muslim people in your country annoys you.