A young woman in her 20s and an English teacher from London have been traveling to the Middle East in search of Islam.
In the past month, they have travelled to Mecca, Medina, and the Islamic holy city of Medina, the most revered sites in the world.
In this first of a two-part series, I spoke to the two women about their journey and their thoughts on life in the Middle Eastern country.
How did you end up here?
I came to the United States from England in December 2014.
I had been living in London for three years, and was working as a receptionist.
I was also taking English language classes at an Islamic school, but I didn’t want to do any of those things.
So I was looking for something to do in the United Kingdom, so I joined the American Airlines program.
I have never been to a country where I feel like I belong.
I feel comfortable with my identity, I feel very comfortable in the U.K. And when I come here, I want to feel that same kind of freedom.
Q: How did the experience of living in the Muslim world compare to the one you grew up in?
A: The Muslims here are like brothers and sisters.
I am very much like my parents.
I grew up with my father, my mother, and my grandmother.
I love my grandmother dearly, so we had a good relationship, and I would go to her house often.
She is the one who introduced me to Islam, and it’s always the same thing: “If you come here and you don’t follow the rules, don’t drink alcohol, don