It was fourteen years ago that Huma converted from Christianity to Islam.

“In our [Christian] community it is common to hear how Muslim men marry Christian girls and convert them, only to either leave them right after or marry again after having children with their first wife. Before marrying Nasir I heard similar warnings from those who loved me but I used to think Nasir is different and it wouldn’t happen to me,” shared Huma.

Huma used to work at a beauty salon. It was here that she met Nasir, and they subsequently fell in love and decided to marry.

Narrating her conversion and marriage, Huma recalled the ceremony at Lahore’s historic Badshahi Mosque, and how the cleric officiating the conversion first asked if she was doing so of her own free will.

Having accepted Islam under the guidance of the cleric, and with a certificate to prove it, she was now a Muslim with the given name of Ayesha. The next day her and Nasir went to court and got married. As a newly-converted Muslim, Huma — or Ayesha — was devout in her practicing of Islam and even got help from a cleric to read the Holy Quran in Arabic.

Huma had not told anyone in her family of what had transpired. This remained the case for a while as Huma did not break the news — but once her family learned of what had happened they broke off all relations with her.

“My family was the first to leave me after learning of my Nikah. I was treated like an outcast. My brothers became my enemies. They would taunt me and say ‘go have the Muslim’s children now’. I was shunned away,” recalled Huma, adding how she hoped nevertheless to now live her new life at her new home in peace and love.

But this was not to be as her new family — Nasir’s parents in particular — refused to accept her as well. “They would say ‘how can we have a choori [slur used for Christian sanitation workers] as a daughter-in-law’.”

With Nasir failing to take a stand against his family, Huma had nowhere to go and thus rented her own place where she lived alone and subsequently had three children.

Meanwhile, she had also learned that Nasir’s family had forced him into marrying his second cousin. Thus what she had been warned of about becoming a first wife came true.

Not one to give up, and in order to raise her children, Huma decided to become financially independent and opened up her own salon, where she has employed around 40 women — both Christians and Muslims.

To this day, Huma is unsure about her religious identity, whether she is a Muslim or a Christian. She concludes by saying that she considers herself a human being first and foremost, for that is who we all are up until the day we are born.

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