A DUNDALK woman who converted to Islam has spoken about her conversion ahead of the annual Conference in the Islamic Cultural Centre on Saturday next.
Karimah Duffy, aged 31, was originally named Carol Concepta to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, the year she was born.
She grew up in a typical Irish Catholic household on a local-authority housing estate, and attended school in Dundalk.
Karimah later attended Sligo RTC (now Sligo IT) where she obtained a degree in economics. Karimah converted to Islam in the late 1990s while working as a quality controller in a food-processing plant in Co Monaghan.
There were a lot of Muslims working at the factory and one gave Karimah a copy of the Koran. Within three weeks, she had decided to convert (or ‘revert’ as it’s known in the Islamic tradition).
Muslims believe that everyone is born Muslim but sometimes it can take a while to find your way back to Islam.
Following her conversion, Karimah, which means “generous” in Islam, was so named by her friends in the mosque.
There is no obligation to change one’s name upon conversion, but she felt her baptismal name would be too “Catholic” for the Muslim faith
Already married to Algerian Muslim chef Ismail, Karimah is currently preparing for her upcoming civil marriage.
At the ceremony, the men and women - even the bride and groom - will divide into separate groups, and there will be no music or singing allowed.
However, Karimah said while the customs might seem strange to non-Muslims, she is as excited as any bride-to-be, and is looking forward to wearing a cream-and-gold wedding burka.
Karimah often finds herself addressing common misconceptions about polygamy, which allows men to have up to four wives.
She said that the financial demands of providing equally for multiple wives ensures this practice is not as widespread as people might think.
On the practice of arranged marriages, Karimah said that the parents get involved in choosing their children’s partners because they have the experience and wisdom that their children lack.
Karimah said that the only thing she misses from her old life is her mother’s belly-pork chops.