Amie Kanshlo began following the Islamic faith three years ago. She's active in many campaigns and social events held throughout Melbourne, including the program I'll Fast with You for people who don't have friends or family around the city to fast with. She spoke with Australia Plus' Erwin Renaldi about her journey.
Why did you choose to become a Muslim?
I consider myself a bit of feminist, and hearing that the religion is so oppressive towards women in the media I questioned why there are a billion people who follow this religion.
So I started doing research and I met my husband who is Muslim, and I started asking a million questions. I started going to classes and I was like "Oh, Islam is actually pretty cool and it's actually pro-women, not anti-women."
Why is it important to have religious beliefs?
I think it is very important because it gives meaning to everything, regardless if it's good or bad. God really helps to see the bigger picture, because God is much bigger than yourself.
What kinds of questions do non-Muslims ask you about Ramadan?
"You cannot even drink water?" is the most frequently asked question.
People also ask a lot about fasting: ... why we fast, why we let ourselves starve etc. But I tell them this is a spiritual journey, and each person has their own reasons for following Islam.
What is it like being part of a minority population in Australia?
Being Muslim in Australia is actually empowering, but it is difficult as well. A lot of what people hear about Muslims is negative. But now in the media there is a push to show the more diverse stories.
Do you feel the Muslim community in Melbourne welcomes new converts?
The best part about the convert community is we find support in other places and help each other out.
Sometimes some groups really don't quite understand how and what a convert goes through, and they think you still need to learn about Islam, and that you're doing things wrong and can be just a bit judgemental. I think sometimes the converts are kind of left out, which can become quite isolating.
What makes you happy to be a Muslim?
I've met many remarkable and inspiring women, who do a lot of amazing things. Not because they are Muslims, but because we have the same faith. I am inspired by them to do many things for the Muslim community.
This article originally appeared in Indonesian here.