Farmington–March 18–Islam has reached now into the families of the world’s leaders. Witness Lauren Booth, the journalist and sister-in-law of UK ex-PM Tony Blair, who converted to Islam less than two years ago.This Sunday she visited Farmington Michigan, attending and speaking at the Tawheed Center.
Ms. Booth mostly told stories about things she had witnessed in Palestine, including many of the things that influenced her to come to Islam.
After 9/11 she had asked to be assigned to go to Palestine, “for some strange reason,” although she had not covered Palestine for the paper, she was given permission to go to cover elections taking place in Palestine.
On arrival, she said that she was struck by the fact that her Muslim cab driver drove on pot-holed roads within sight of clean highways that he could not drive on because only Jews can drive on them. The driver and Booth came to a checkpoint and she was forced to change cabs because her driver could not go through the checkpoint.
She met Mahmoud Abbas and interviewed him, but lost sleep thinking about the circumstance of Israel’s separation into parallel countries.
Later she watched as ships from the Freedom Flotilla landed in Gaza, watching as Palestinian children waited 5 days for the ships to come and witnessing the first ships to deliver directly to Gaza in 41 years.
Ms. Booth focused on the tremendous generosity of the Palestinian people, saying how a girl who sat on the wreckage of her house after the Israeli army demolished it, yet still welcomed her with warm words “tafaddal,” and looked through the wreckage of her house to find a chair for Ms. Booth to sit on.
Once she visited a family of 12 whose house had been destroyed by the Israelis, living in one room. The mother of the family also welcomed Ms. Booth warmly “Salaam aleikum, tafaddal,” during Ramadan. When Ms. Booth asked her the reason for fasting Ramadan, the woman explained, “To see how the poor and hungry live.” How could a person in such a situation, poor by almost any definition, have the strength of character to see that others were poorer?
“If this is Islam,” she said, “then I am in.”
She began to wear her scarf in Palestine, and felt spiritually pulled to leave it on as she returned to her home country.
Ms. Booth explained that her children were happy with her decisions to leave drinking and revealing clothes; their only remaining concern was that she would still look after them, which of course she will.