Italian Silvia Romano went to Kenya to join voluntarily to a social aid organization called "Africa Milele" to help poor children in Africa.
Translation: Özden Atukeren
While working in the village of Chakama/Kenya she was kidnapped on 20 November 2018 by an illegal organization named Al Şhebab and imprisoned in Somali for months.
During the days in prison she researched and explored the Islamism, then concluded to choose it. And finally converted her religion into Islam and took the name "Ayşe".
After 18 months of captivity she was rescued on May 9, by the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT).
After returning to Italy she gave an interview in her country to the general director of the internet newspaper La Luce, Davide Piccardo.
"I was ignorant at the time"
Ayşe Romano described herself as a non-believer in her life before the kidnapping in Somali.
She stated that she was prejudiced on Islam before she chose it. "Now I can say that I was ignorant at that time and I was not aware of Islam. My close friend, who was a volunteer like me, was a Muslim but I was not affected by her.
But after I was kidnapped, I started asking myself some questions and said: ‘I came here voluntarily, I was doing something good. Why did this happen to me. What wrong I did. Why me and not someone else?’ I believe that these first questions unconsciously bring me closer to the God. He might punishing me for my sins for not believing in him.
Then my spiritual journey began. During this journey, I tried to understand whether there is luck or destiny in human life. I had no answers, but I had to find them.
I was very angry and sick because I could not find satisfactory answers to the questions I have asked myself in the first days following the kidnapping incident. I realized that there was something powerful that I could not define yet and there was a plan designed by someone.
In January, while I was sleeping in prison, there was suddenly an air strike by a drone and I was terrified very much. I started praying to God to rescue and to bring me together with my family again. This was the first time I’ve turned to him."
"Many verses hit me in the heart"
“I found no contradictions in the Qur'an. I first understood that the Qur'an guides you to the good of all. The Qur'an is not the word of the Shabab. I felt that it was a miracle. My spiritual searching continued and I became increasingly aware of the existence of God. At some point during this experience, I began to think that God was guiding me but I was free to follow him or not. As time went on, I had a strong feeling that only he could help me.
When I read the Qur’an for the first time, it took me two months to complete it until the end. When I read it for the second time, I tried to get a deeper understanding. I felt a stronger need to read every day until I embraced Islam. Many verses struck me in the heart. It's as if God is speaking directly to me. I also read the Bible. I learned about the commonalities between Christianity and Islam. After all, I found that the Qur'an is a sacred text with clear principles that can guide me towards God."
Verses that most influenced Ayşe Romano
When asked about the Qur'an verses which affected her the most; Romano said, "Before becoming a Muslim, I learned the 70th verse of the chapter of Anfal; 'O Prophet! Say to the captives in your hands; if God sees any improvement in your hearts, he will give you better than what has been taken from you, and he will forgive you. He is Forgiving and Merciful.’ At the same time, I learned the first chapter of the Quran, Fatiha. Even if I do not know how to do it correctly, I started praying to God."
Romano continued: "Another verses that impressed me so much were, the 28th verse of the chapter Al-Baqarah 'How can you deny God even though He gave you life when you were inanimate objects? Then He will put you to death, then He will bring you to life again, then to Him you will be returned’ and the 160th verse of the chapter Al-i Imran, ‘If Allah helps you, there is no one who can defeat you; if he leaves you without help, who can help you after him? Let the believers trust only in God.’ These verses seemed to speak directly to me.”
Ayşe Romano stated that “Before I chose Islam, I thought that Islam was the truest way to follow, but I was afraid how people would react. I often prayed to God to strengthen my faith”
Then continued “Muslims have always been persecuted. Because Islam opposes a system based on injustice, the power of money, corruption and lies. Consequently such systems will perceive Islam as a threat to themselves.”
Romano's reaction against those who underrate her headscarf
“When I came out of the house, people were looking at me in wonder. I didn't know if they are looking at me as if I was familiar with them or just because of my headscarf. But it didnt bother me. I felt that my soul was free and I was protected by God. For me, my headscarf was a symbol of freedom. I was sure that by covering my body, people would see my soul first. "
Upon the question about how she chose the name of ‘Ayşe’, she answered, "One night, I was in Italy in my dream. I was getting a metro card and it was written Ayşe on it.".
Ayşe Romano stated that she received messages of support and solidarity not only from Milan but from everywhere, feeling the Muslim community in Italy like her second family.