Debbie Rogers, better known as Aisha, and her family was devout Christians. Her family were strict Christians with whom Rogers regularly attended Salvation Army meetings.
When all the other teenagers in Britain were kissing their George Michael posters goodnight, Rogers had pictures of Jesus up on her wall. And yet she found that Christianity was not enough; there were too many unanswered questions and she felt dissatisfied with the lack of disciplined structure for her beliefs. Aisha says: “There had to be more for me to obey God than just doing prayers when I felt like it.”
Aisha had first seen her future husband, Mohammad, when she was aged 10 years and is a regular costumer at their store, run by his family. She often saw him pray. Aisha recalls: “There is satisfaction and peace what he did. So I asked him about that. He said he was a Muslim. I said: What is a Muslim? Then with the help of Mohammed she began looking deeper into Islam.
She read Quran from beginning to end in a year
At the age of 17, she has read the entire Quran in Arabic. She made the decision to convert to Islam at the age of 16 years.
Despite her conversion however, Mohammed’s parents were against their marrying. They saw her as a western woman who would lead their eldest son astray and give the family a bad name.
Nevertheless, the couple married in the local mosque. Aisha wore a dress hand-sewn by Mohammeds’s mother and sisters who sneaked into the ceremony against the wishes of his father who refused to attend. Aisha’s parents, Michael and Marjory Rogers, though did attend the weeding, were more concern with the clothes their daughter was now wearing and what the neighbours would think.
Six years later, Aisha embarked on a mission to convert them and the rest of her family. She recalls: “My husband and I worked on my mum and dad, telling them about Islam and they saw the changes in me, like I stopped disrespecting and talking back!”
Her mother became a Muslim
Her mother soon followed in her footsteps. Marjory Rogers changed her name to Sumayyah and became a devout Muslim. Her mother soon followed in her footsteps. Marjory Rogers changed her name to Sumayyah and became a devout Muslim. She wore the hijab and did her prayers on time and nothing ever mattered to her except her connections with God.
Aisha’s father proved to be more difficult to convert, so he asked the help of her newly converted mother. My mum and I used to talk my father about Islam and we were sitting in the sofa in the kitchen one day and he said: “What are the words you say when you becoma a Muslim?”. We were overwhelmed with joy when he decided to become a Muslim. Three years later, Aisha’s brother converted, then his wife and children followed, followed by her sister’s son.
It didn’t stop there. Her family converted, Aisha turned her attention to her neighbours. Every Monday for the past 13 years, Aisha held classes in Islam for Scottish women. So far she has helped the convert over 30. The women come from different types of backgrounds. Trudy, a lecturer at the University of Glasgow and a former Catholic, attenden Aisha’s classes purely because she was commissioned to carry out some research. But after six months of classes she converted, deciding that Chirstianity was riddled with “logical inconsistencies”.
Her husband, Mohammed, does not seem so driven to convert Scottish lads to Muslim brothers. He occasionally helps out in the family restaurant, but his main aim in life is to ensure the couple’s five children grow up as Muslims.
Every hardship has an ease
“I can honestly say I never regreted it”, Aisha says of her conversion to Islam. “Every marriage has its ups an downs and sometimes you need something to pull you out of any hardship. But the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Every hardship has an ease.” So when you’re going through a difficult stage, you work fort hat ease to come.”
Mohammed is more romantic: “I feel we have known each other for centuries and must never part from one another. According to Islam you are not just partners for life, you can be partners in heaven as well, for ever. Its a beautiful thing.”
Editing: Mahmut C. Çakır