Through her meeting, Lecturer in the Islamic collage , London Rebecca Masterton speaks to Hussein revivalism magazine on her visiting to Holy karbala
I was born in the south of England, near the sea, in a small town, and grew up knowing nothing about Islam. I did not even know that Islam existed. However, as a child I had always felt a sense of detachment from this world. I felt as if I had just arrived here from another place, and I could not get used to being here. I have always had a naturally strong attachment to the unseen; the sense of a hidden place from where I have come, and to where I will return. My family were Christian in name, but not really Christian in belief. My mother rejected the idea of God as a Father. She brought me up telling me that God is a ‘force’, or a ‘power’. We never read the Bible, although we had a copy. Our Christian practice was very cultural. When I was a child we went to church on Sundays to socialise, rather than to think about the message of Nabi Isa (pbuh).
When I was eighteen I moved to London to study Japanese, and when I was nineteen, I went to Japan as part of my degree. I found a society that had become very materialistic, and again, for me, there was a sense of something missing. On my way back from Japan I visited Malaysia. This was the first Muslim country that I had ever been to. I journeyed to the northeast by train. When I got to the north, which is the most religious area of the country, I began to dress as the Muslim women do in that country, and told people I had just become Muslim – but I said this in order to protect myself. I stayed at a guest house where the owner asked me if I was learning about Islam. I said ‘no’, because I knew nothing about Islam at that time, so the owner taught me how to do ablution and how to pray, and took me to the mosque at (fajr) morning time. I spent only a few days in Malaysia, but I had a feeling of being at home and of being at peace in a way that I had not done for a long time.
When I came back to England, I continued with my studies. I rented a room from a Moroccan woman who was just two years old than me. We became like sisters, and spent all our time together. She introduced me to her family. I felt that she had something that I had lost: a purity and innocence. British culture encourages people to corrupt and harm themselves in the name of being free, and I was already very dissatisfied with the ‘free’ way of life here: for me it was shallow and meaningless
In 2002 I was asked to edit and proofread a translation of Jihad al-Nafs by al-Hurr al-Amili, and in this way I discovered who the Imams (pbuh) were. I then read Nahj al-Balagha and was shocked to encounter the personality of Imam Ali (pbuh) so closely. When I realised that the path of Ahl al-Bayt (pbuh) was the true path of knowledge, I had a dream in which a pious man told me ‘We will show you the Shi‘a path on condition that you use it for the purposes of peace.’ I took these instructions seriously, and I still do. We should not use the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbuh) to argue, or cause bad feeling, but with the aim of bringing people to an understanding
At first my family did not like it that I had converted to Islam. They were upset, and our relations became quite bad at one time, but now, more than ten years later, they show me respect and say that they are proud of me. I have to thank Allah (swt) from rescuing me from a false way life and bringing me to the true way of life where I can gain the knowledge that I was always seeking. Salutations to the Messenger and His Purified Progeny (pbuh)