Lacey Tourney, 22, converted to Islam after studying Middle Eastern religions at the University of Regina in 2010 and meeting many other devoted Muslims.
Photograph by Don Healy, Leader-Post, Leader-Post
BY SHINOAH YOUNG, LEADER-POST JULY 25, 2013
As a practising Catholic, Lacey Tourney always felt a spiritual disconnect which led to a curiosity to explore the cultural horizons.
“I knew faith was important and I wanted to have a faith base in my life but I wasn’t happy,” she said.
So the Regina woman enrolled in a Middle Eastern religious studies course in 2010 at the University of Regina and began delving into the practices of Islam.
Not long after she converted to Islam.
“Going to university I met a lot of individuals that were Muslim. We would sit and talk for hours and they would tell me about their culture and way of life. I just thought: ‘This all makes a lot of sense, something just clicked. Islam just seemed to mesh a lot more in what I believe in,’ ” said Tourney.
Since the conversion, the fourth-year arts education student has made life changes. In December, she decided to wear the hijab, which is a cloth that covers the hair, neck and chest from the public eye.
“I wanted everything to be gradual because it’s a lifestyle change that (affects) your everyday actions,” she said. “Being a convert, you need to find the reasoning behind everything. And the reasoning behind Muslim faith is to make your life more healthy, more fulfilling (and) to make you care more about other people and concentrate on helping them.”
This time of year is significant for the Muslim community, as the tradition of Ramadan – eating little food and drinking no water – is carried out.
It will be Tourney’s third year participating in the special occasion.
The 22-year-old will “break the fast” each evening at sundown and partake in a joyous gathering that takes place at friend’s and family homes.
Debra Schubert, a close friend of Tourney’s who also converted to Islam in 2002 said, “Lacey put on the hijab as a testimony of faith.”
There are five pillars of faith in Islam, said Schubert, including testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, a pilgrimage to Mecca and charity.
Ramadan is a way of purifying the mind and spirit, while gaining compassion for those who are less fortunate, said Schubert. Each evening there is prayer, accompanied with eating small amounts of dates and drinking water.
“You’re going to feel a heightened sense of emotions and awareness, you notice things about others you normally wouldn’t,” she said. “In other parts of the world, others do not have the luxury of eating in the evening during Ramadan. It really puts things into perspective. It’s intense.” “Ramadan prayer day” officially began July 9, while the Ramadan fasting began July 10.
The word Ramadan means baked Earth in Hindi. The first Ramadan was during the hottest months in the Middle East.
Tourney hopes to teach at the Regina Huda School after convocation next spring. “She’s just a fun-loving person,” said Schubert. “Everything in this religion is between yourself and your creator. (Lacy) is able to be herself but now she also prays and wears hijab.”