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Saturday, 29 June 2013

From MTV To Makkah

Kristiane Backer, 45, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led a liberal Western-style life, turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? - "The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void."

The turning point for Kristiane came when she travelled to Pakistan in 1992 during the height of her career. She says she was immediately touched by spirituality and the warmth of the people.

Kristiane says: ‘I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’

‘In the West, we are stressed for superficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system.’

‘Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realized how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one God makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.’

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realized that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’

‘In Germany, there is Islamophobia. I lost my job when I converted. There was a Press campaign against me with insinuations about all Muslims supporting ­terrorists — I was vilified. Now, I am a ­presenter on NBC Europe.’

‘I call myself a European Muslim, which is different to the ‘born’ Muslim. I was ­married to one, a Moroccan, but it didn’t work because he placed restrictions on me because of how he’d been brought up. As a European Muslim, I question ­everything — I don’t accept blindly.’

‘But what I love is the hospitality and the warmth of the Muslim community. London is the best place in Europe for Muslims, there is wonderful Islamic ­culture here and I am very happy.’

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey, called From MTV To Makkah, believes the new breed of modern, independent Muslims can band together to show the world how much stress the faith of Islam lays on the rights of women.

‘I know women born Muslims who became disillusioned and rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against, but the culture.’

‘Rules like marrying within the same sect or caste and education being less important for girls, as they should get married anyway —– where does it say that in the Quran? It doesn’t.’

‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’

She writes about her spiritual journey to Islam in her book "Der Islam als Weg des Herzens: Warum ich Muslima bin." Backer discusses her high-flying media life, where she hosted many live music shows in Europe with acts like the Backstreet Boys and Lenny Kravitz, and was cheered by thousands of screaming fans. She met many people in the business who were wealthy and "took drugs or drank a lot" but were not really happy. She says she used to drink champagne at parties every night, but now that she is a Muslim and doesn't touch alcohol she is happier, and her happiness comes from within.

Backer performed Hajj in the year 2006. She called the pilgrimage a serene experience "so holy, On Hajj the whole universe is gathered, a king prays next to a servant, a black next to a white. You realize in front of God nothing counts but what is in people's hearts and their actions."

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