Fidelma O’Leary, an Irish-born Muslim, said she never regretted abandoning her Catholic religion for Islam.

“I wasn’t born in Islam. I chose Islam,” O’Leary said.

The neuroscientist professor at St. Edward’s University gave a testimonial last Friday about her life as a convert to Islam. O’Leary received disapproval from her Catholic family back in Ireland for converting, but is still confident she made the right choice.

“I changed my religion. I like to think that Islam was a part of my development,” she said.

O’Leary was one of four Islamic speakers last Friday for a lecture entitled “What is Wrong with Islam?” hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA). . .

The other three speakers aside from O’Leary were Mufti Mohammed-Umer Esmail, an Islamic preacher; Abbas Bandali, an Islamic expert from Austin; and Sarwat Hussain, head of the Counsel of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for the San Antonio chapter. . .

Sarwat Hussain, leader of the San Antonio chapter of CAIR, called herself a born again Muslim and was proud to wrap her head in the traditional Islamic woman’s headscarf known as the hijab.

“The Islamic women are the most misunderstood women in the world,” Hussain said.

Hussain lectured mostly on women within Islam and her time as a Muslim woman in the United States. She felt privileged to be a part of a religion that gave so many rights to its women.

“The fight for feminism in the West has been done already for Muslim women in Islam,” Hussain said.

She discussed how women were oppressed throughout history all across the world, from the lack of property rights in Greece to American women receiving their right to vote only within the last 100 years.

“All those rights were given to women 1,400 years ago [in Islam],” Hussain said.

Hussain also praised the institution of marriage as a vital part of Islam and the rest of society.

“In Islam, men and women, husband and wife, complement each other,” she said.

As the leader of CAIR in San Antonio, Hussain volunteers to stand up against injustices locally, just so a Muslim voice has a say in the matter.

CAIR provides legal assistance to Muslims who are discriminated against. Hussain says this assistance is also available for non-Muslims who feel their rights as citizens are being undermined.


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