The Muslims I met touched me profoundly through their generosity, dignity and readiness to sacrifice for others. The more I read, the more Islam attracted me.
Kristiane Backer, 55, is a former TV presenter for whom Islam played a vital role in enriching her life. This is her story.
(Photo credit : alamy)
I grew up in Germany in a Protestant but not terribly religious family, then in 1989 moved to London to present on MTV Europe. I interviewed everyone from Bob Geldof to David Bowie, worked hard and partied hard, but something was missing.
At a moment of crisis, I was introduced to the cricketer Imran Khan. He gave me books on Islam and invited me to travel with him through Pakistan. Those trips opened a new dimension in my life, an awareness of spirituality. The Muslims I met touched me profoundly through their generosity, dignity and readiness to sacrifice for others. The more I read, the more Islam attracted me. I converted in 1995.
When the German media found out, a negative press campaign followed and within no time my contract was terminated. It was the end of my entertainment career. It has been a challenge transforming my TV work in line with my new-found values, but I am working on a Muslim culture and lifestyle show. I feel I have a bridging role to play between the Muslim heritage community and society at large.
Most Muslims marry young, often with the help of their families, but I converted at 30. When I was still single 10 years later, I decided to look online. There, I met and fell in love with a charming, Muslim-born TV producer from Morocco who lived in the US. We had a lot in common and married in 2006.
But his interpretation of Islam became a way of controlling me: I was expected to give up my work, couldn't talk to men and even had to cut men out of old photographs. I should have stood up to him, because a lot of what he asked of me was not Islamic but cultural, but I wanted to make the marriage work. Insha Allah my future husband will be more trusting and focused on the inner values of Islam, rather than on outward restrictions.
I have no regrets. On the contrary: my life now has meaning and the void that I used to feel is filled with God, and that is priceless.
Kristiane now works as an art dealer. Despite the difficulties she has faced, she still holds Islam close to her heart, and finds comfort and meaning from its teachings.
Source : The Guardian, article by Veronique Mistiaen