(MENAFN - Arab News) In Tent No. 27 in northeastern Mina, a Swedish woman was teaching the basics of reciting the Holy Qur'an to a number of European women, seated in a semicircle around her.
While teaching, the 48-year-old Katya also encourages her students to reflect about the wonderful verses in the holy book.
"I belonged to a devout Catholic family that regularly attended Church, and were very particular about religion," said Katya, who performed Haj with the Muslim World League for newcomers to Islam, reported Asharq Al-Awsat.
"I was familiar with many of the Islamic values and beliefs even before converting, such as life after death, destiny, rewards and punishments," Katya said, speaking about the circumstances that led her to embrace Islam.
"I had many questions, for which none, including our priests, gave satisfactory answers. It was around that time that I found a Muslim woman in hijab at a grocery close to my house. Though surprised a little initially, she invited me to her house when I told her I wanted to talk with her.
She introduced me to her friends and I asked them many questions about Islam. They also took me to attend some classes with them and helped me find satisfactory answers to many questions I had about the Creator and life after death, with the help of the Holy Qur'an," she said.
Katya further revealed that when she learned more about Islam, she realized that the principles of Islam reverberated deeply within her and struck a chord.
The turning point in her conversion to Islam was when she read the translated verses of the Holy Qur'an describing the gradual development of the human embryo.
"I felt Allah was addressing me through those verses and I felt like I was being washed over by strong faith in the Divine Creator.
The feeling was empowering, and filled me with strength and courage. I could not hesitate any more and embraced Islam instantly," she said.
She said Islam rescued her, as she was on the brink of falling into the same lifestyle many of her friends lived, involving drugs and other bad habits.
"Islam gave my husband, children and I a dignified life," she said.
She added that she loved to teach the Holy Qur'an because it was the holy book that paved the way for her to discover Islam. So the first thing she did after converting to Islam was to study the Qur'an, including the principles of reciting the Qur'an.
"Whenever I recite the Holy Qur'an, I feel a kind of light emitting from its letters," she said.
In another development, John Kami Yama, 60, told Al-Hayat newspaper that he embraced Islam because after 40 years of studying various religions, he realized that Islam answered many of the questions that lingered within him, and left him with a feeling of inner peace.
He said he felt like a newborn baby after converting to Islam eight months ago. He changed his name from Yama to Salman Al-Farsi because he believed that his search for the right faith was identical to a great extent with that of the Companion of the Prophet, Salman Al-Farsi, may Allah be pleased with him, who renounced the Zoroastrian faith to become a follower of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
Kami, who is a math teacher in Japan, said he was sorry that his father, mother and younger sister died, before embracing Islam.