From Judaism to Islam and back again

From Judaism to Islam an

By MATTHEW WAGNER
October 26, 2009 22:19
2 minute read.

 
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Sometimes embracing a faith is easier than living with the people who profess that faith. This was a lesson well-learned by "X," a young woman who was born a Jew, converted to Islam but last week stood before a rabbinical court in Jerusalem and declared her fidelity to Judaism. Once she had made the decision to embrace Islam, it was easy enough for X to make the shahada: "There is only one God and He is Allah and Muhammad is his messenger." But it was altogether a different story when it came to living with Muslims. The cultural differences were impossible to bridge. X refused to speak to the press for fear of retribution for accepting and then rejecting Islam - an act punishable by death according to Muslim law, as understood by the four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence. Her story was related by a rabbinical courts representative after all facts that could disclose X's identity were removed by X. She related how, as a young woman she had doubts about the Jewish faith. She went through a self-searching process that led her to Islam. X gathered information about Islam from the Internet, gradually educating herself about the basic tenets of the faith and learning the prayers. She remained at home with her traditional Jewish parents, living a double life. But after meeting a young Muslim at Jerusalem's central bus station, she took his advice and ran away. At first she moved in with the young man at his parents' house in Sur Bahir, in southeast Jerusalem. Ostensibly, the purpose was to learn more about Islam. But soon the young Muslim's parents demanded that X leave their home and return to her parents. Soon after returning home she met a Muslim man from Rahat in the Negev via the Internet. At first the man was not convinced of X's seriousness regarding her Islamic faith. But after being convinced, he urged X to run away from home and live with him in Rahat. X then converted to Islam to marry him. Immediately after the wedding, however, X discovered the great cultural divide between herself and her husband. She was unaccustomed to the subservient role she was expected to serve, and her husband was violent when X was uncooperative. Aware of her plight, X's mother contacted Yad L'Achim, a haredi anti-missionary organization, after the man from Rahat refused to allow X to leave. The organization managed to get X out of Rahat while her husband was at work. An attorney obtained a divorce from the man through the Shari'a Court in Beersheba. X spent the following three years studying Torah. This week X arrived at the rabbinical court in Jerusalem and asked to declare her faith to Judaism. Although Judaism does not recognize conversions to other religions and someone born a Jew remains Jew for life, X nevertheless wanted to be sure no doubts would be cast on her status. It was important to X to have her story publicized as a warning to other women who might be contemplating conversion to Islam. "Islam might be tempting," X reportedly said. "It seems spiritual and gives a person direction. But the cultural divide between Arabs and Jews is impossible to bridge."

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