Janet South speaks of her conversion to Islam
OLD HARBOUR, St Catherine:
Growing up in one of Kingston's inner city communities, Janet South was just another typical Jamaican child with Christian principles, participating in church and Sunday schools. As she got older, she gradually immersed herself into the party lifestyle, imbuing herself with alcohol and puffing on cigarettes and ganja. Before long, her locks were flowing.
But according to the mother of six, her life then was still missing a critical piece. In her quest to find that important component, she turned to several denominations and various online Bible study courses, without any success.
However, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine herself converting to Islam and/or rising to the pinnacle of a major national Muslim women's movement, giving spiritual and moral guidance to females newly converted to Islam.
In a divine intervention in 1996, South found a discarded advertisement that led her to Portmore, St Catherine, where she met a fledgling Muslim community. Her conversion was swift, likewise her entire life, which took a turn. The party girl from the ghetto had found Allah ... her life's missing piece.
"Yes, I grew up like any other Jamaican child ... in a Christian home, Sunday school was a must. As I grew older, you know, the partying, drinking and smoking were part of my life ... I loved Stone Love dances," South, who is the head of the Old Harbour-based Ahmadiya Muslim Jama'at Women's Movement told Family and Religion.
"However, amid all the supposedly fun, I still felt something was missing from my life, so I indulged myself into numerous religious endeavours, but it wasn't until 1996 that I felt that fulfilment after my conversion," the devoted Ahmadiya Muslim women's leader told Family and Religion.
TARGET OF RIDICULE
Nonetheless, a conversion to Islam was not smooth sailing. Life still had its ups and downs. Her new-found faith quickly became the target of ridicule and crude jokes from her community, associates and family members who saw Islam as a wicked, alien religion.
South, whose roles as the head of the women's movement include dispensing spiritual and moral guidance to new female converts, says, through it all, she held firmly to what she called 'a vision through faith', and grew immensely spiritually.
She said while she was not intent on becoming a Muslim, the conversion to the religion was not a surprise based on a vision she had earlier in her life. She noted that her new-found faith has preserved and stabilised her life.