Canadian sign language and English teacher Jenny Molendyk Divleli adopted Islam in 2006. She settled in Istanbul 9 years ago. Together with her 5 children she prepared some social media posts for the benefit of children. She was highly appreciated for her works.
Molendyk was born into a Canadian conservative Christian family as second child. Her father was a policeman, and mother a nurse. She lived a childhood and youth with a high religious sensitivity. Molendyk studied ‘Linguistics and American Sign Language Interpreting’ at the University of Manitoba and Red River College.
During her university years Molendyk embarked on a long-term quest to discover the "what is the meaning of life". At a time that Islamophobia was on the rise all over the world and she had no knowledge of Islam, she met a Muslim man and she made friendship with him and soshe had the opportunity to make long conversations with him on Islam.
Upon conducting many research Molendyk found the answers in Islam to all of his questions she was looking for so far. Then took the "most beautiful and biggest decision of her life" and became a Muslim on May 14th, 2006. Despite the hard reactions of her father and university professors, Molendyk did not change her decision. Then began to introduce Islam to the world in order to be useful for Islam. During this process she metSami Divieli and decided to marry him thensettled in Turkey in 2012.
On one hand, Molendyk continued to teach English, and on the other hand, shared both educational and informative issues for children through social media accounts with the participation of her 5 children. Molendyk both touchedon general issues and introducedIslam and our Prophet Muhammad -Pbuh- in her posts in Turkish and English languages.
"A new door of faith has opened"
Jenny Molendyk, while telling the story of her enlightenment journey from Canada to Istanbul, stated that after the death of her grandfather she started to question “the meaning of life” and she met Islam inthis period.
"I never knew who Muslims were, what they believed in. And I didn't know we followed the same prophets. Since I studied sign language interpretation,considering one day I might have to be as a translator at a mosque, I started to increase my Islamic information. So, I had a new opportunity on the way to being a better person. At that time, there
were many issues in the Christian faith that I was in difficulty to understand.Nevertheless, I've always had faith in God. One night I prayed sincerely to God ‘to direct me to the way for Christianity or Islam.’ After that, I met many faithful Muslims. I started going to the mosque regularly, I had manyMuslim friends. Then I began to notice that Islam is the right way."
Molendyk said "During my researches on Islam, I realized that if I convert to Islam, my lifestyle would change completely, and this situation caused me fear and anxiety."
Molendyk told that “In a seminar,a Muslim speaker gave satisfactory answers to my questions, whereas the day before I had visited a priest but I did not get enough answers for my same questions. Then I wrote a letter to Sami, a Muslim friend of mine, and informed him that I decided to become a Muslim. Fortunately he soon came to the city where I live. That day I became a Muslim and I wore a headscarf. I was previously thinking ‘Even if I am a Muslim one day I will not wear a headscarf. Because I had reservations about how people would take it.’ In my research on Islam, I realized that my lifestyle would change completely, and this situation caused me many fears and worries.But after becaming Muslim, I prayed to God that ‘I shall do whatever you want. I want to live for you. Make my job easier, help me.’"
"I went through a very difficult process after becoming a Muslim"
While talking in tears about the difficult process she had faced after becoming a Muslim, she continued as follows:
"I have a brother 4 years older than me. We get along very well, thank God. My brother accepted my decision right away, he supported me. My father wrote me a letter asking ‘Is Islam the best religion to enter?’ He sent me some superficial information he collected from some websites that denigrate Islam. He was very upset, I understood him too, but none of what he knew about Islam was real information, he knew only what he saw on TV or websites.
My mother was much more upset too. She was in misplaced fears such as 'You will never see your children, you will live in the basement, locked in a dark place'. My father's and mother's ideas overlapped."
Molendyk continued stating that she faced upsetting reactions in school and business life after covering her head, "Everyone around me was in shock. Moreover four of my professors at the university invited me to speak face to face in a private room and asked, 'What happened to you? We are very worried about you. What was the problem? Please tell us.' Such a questioning was a very strange situation for Canada. I was very sorry. If I had converted to another religion than Islam or if I had not worn a headscarf (they wouldn't notice) and they wouldn't say anything. The main problem was that I chose Islam.Even my manager at workplace was asking many questions such as ‘What happened? Why did you do this?' Then I quit that job.”
"It was hard to get used to, but I loved Istanbul and Turkey very much"
“Due to Sami Divleli’s staying in Canada for education and work, we got married in Canada. Of the members of our family, only my brother attended the marriage. Six months later, we went to Turkey and had held our wedding ceremony there. My mother also came to Turkey with us and attended our wedding. From that day on, my mother got used to me being a Muslim.
Our first child was born in Canada in 2008. We wanted our children to grow up in a Muslim country, to speak two languages and to hear the adhan. We wanted to realize it at least for preschool period. We weren't planning to settle in Turkey. After a year of trying, we would make our final decision. But thank God, we're still here." she said.
Jenny Molendyk, lived in Istanbul for 9 years, described what she experienced during this time as follows:
"My wife's family accepted me as their own daughter. Despite this, things were never easy at first. I couldn't speak Turkish. My husband's family couldn’t speak English either. My husband Sami's business was in Canada, so he was always coming and going there. At first I had no friends here. When I was in Canada everyone was staring at my hijab. I thought that no one would look at me after coming to Turkey. But things didn't happen like I thought before. A white-skinned, blue-eyed but Muslim. Everyone knew I was a stranger, they were curious, and they often stopped me on the street and asked questions. In spite of all this, I really love Istanbul and Turkey. We are very pleased. Now we have 5 children, thank God. Before I became a Muslim, I didn't want to get married or have children. But after I became a Muslim, I wanted to get married and to have a large family. Now our house is very crowded and noisy, we are having chirping and festive happy days. We want to raise children who are happy with Islam, love Islam and pattern themselves on our Prophet. That's the most important thing for me and my husband."
Translated by Özden Atukeren