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Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Oldest Muslim Revert in the World!



The 92-year-old Georgette Lepaulle from Berchem (Belgium) is the oldest Muslim convert in the world. She became Muslim last year. "The friendliness of the people especially attracted me; and Allah answered my prayers."

During the introduction, Georgette held her hands deep in the sleeves of her djellaba. She refused to outstretch them. "You should not take this personally, but since I am Muslim, I get no strangers anymore. I will only touch my husband. Not that I have wedding plans. What, should a widow of 92 still act a virgin?" she began laughing loudly. The huge laughter of Muhammad Maddah (Georgette's Neighbor standing next to her) followed.

Georgette and Maddah had remained neighbors for more than 40 years. She lived alone in the Antwerp region. Two years ago, her family decided to put her in a nursing home. Maddah suggested he be allowed to host her under his roof, so Georgette came to live with him and his family. It was not a problem because Maddah’s wife, son and two daughters had known Georgette all throughout their lives. Maddah had actually just lost his own mother. Georgette would fill her space.

"By coming to live here, I was pulled towards Islam", says Georgette. "I saw these people pray together. I saw how caring they interacted. How they talked to each other. How important family was to them. Totally different from my cold family. Since my conversion, I have not heard from my 72 year old daughter."

Last summer, Georgette accompanied Maddah for a family visit to Morocco. It was in Ramadan, the fasting month for the Muslims. "I knew what fasting is, because I’m Catholic. I was baptized, went to nun school, was twice married in church and gave my two husbands an ecclesiastical burial. During my work years, I worked as a maid in a Jewish family. But religion had never touched me. On the contrary, I lived quite apart from God. On my fifth, I smoked my first cigarette and my last on my 78th. On my seventh, drank my first glass of alcohol and before my conversion, I drank half a bottle of wine every day. That was a habit from my first marriage with an Italian fighter pilot who was killed in the war."

During Georgette's participation in Ramadan last year, a deep religious feeling awakened. It was shocking for her. She had never imagined experiencing such a completely new feeling so late in her life. For the first time, she had contact with something higher. With Allah. She felt His presence. His love. She asked Him for the healing of a friend and the rescue of a little boy who was on the wrong track. Her two supplications were answered. That was the sign for Georgette to convert to Islam.

Georgette talks of her experience after the ingress ritual. "They continued to kiss me. So glad they were because I was a sister of them. I’ve never been kissed so much – you know by women – as since entering Islam. I had to give up many things. Alcohol, tobacco, pork and – it is not easy for a woman – even makeup. Previously, I always put thick layers of makeup."

Back in Belgium, they went to the main masjid in Brussels for a certificate for Noor Islam – Georgette's new name. The masjid in Brussels reported the conversion of the then 91-year-old Belgian woman immediately to the masjid in Makkah, wherein they plunged into the archives but found no older converts. Immediately, the king of Saudi Arabia contacted them through an envoy to Berchem; sent with a gold watch for Georgette. She was invited to visit Makkah the following year at his expense. The Saudi television followed her. Every famous network turned in a report on her.

It’s a dirty question, but it must be asked: Had Georgette been paid something to convert to Islam? She looked very serious and yet again answered laughing loudly: "Money has nothing to do with it. I took this decision entirely voluntarily. Everyone is free to do so."

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