'Islam is logical'
She grew up in a Christian home, where she was indoctrinated in Baptist and Seventh-day Adventist teachings, yet Winsome Williams, a resident of Old Harbour, St Catherine, says she has found no greater solace than that offered by Islam.
"It is much different from Christianity. Muslims pray five times a day, they read the Holy Quran, translate it in English and explain it, and it sounds so logical to me," said Williams, adding that she grew wary of the gloomy hellfire story offered by some Christian leaders, especially during altar calls.
"Ahmadiyya is different. It does not compel you to accept. They furnish you with knowledge, and the knowledge I get from them satisfies my intellect. So I'm just drawn to them," said a smiling Williams, whose Jamaican-themed dress drew admiration from many at the 51st staging of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jalsa Salana convention here in the United Kingdom.
Williams recalled her childhood days going to a Christian Sunday school, noting that even after reaching adulthood, the messages never compelled her to get baptised.
Two years ago, however, after visiting a mosque built across from the church in which she spent her childhood Sundays, Williams said she was captivated.
"At the mosque, the women are not mixed among the men. We do our own thing. Some people will say that because of that, they don't want to go there, but I'm fine with it," she chuckled, explaining that segregation of the sexes is aimed at minimising sexual distractions during worship.
She is also kosher with fully covering her body, and declining physical contact with strange men. And while the Muslim extremist stigma is pervasive in Jamaica, like the rest of the world, Williams said she is learning to live with the stares from members of the public.
"Our jihad (effort) is of love, mercy and compassion. Our jihad is of tolerance, justice and human sympathy. It is the faithfulness and the right of God Almighty ... . People look, but I know I am no terrorist," she smiled.
Though her family had little knowledge of Islam, Williams said they never berated her when she told them of her desire to join the faith. "They said there was one God and we all were serving the same God."
Jamaicans call her 'Muslim terrorist'
Dania Khan, a Muslim woman who moved to Jamaica from Canada two years ago, said there are several pros and cons to living in Jamaica.
"People there don't really understand Islam outside of what they see on TV; the violence caused by people who call themselves Islamists," said Khan.
"So walking down the street, you will hear people call out 'Muslim terrorist', but I don't pay no mind to them. I understand that they don't have enough information to have a rational understanding of Islam," offered Khan.