PRETTY thespian, Lizzy Anjorin has now fully embraced Islam. She is now Alhaja Aisha Anjorin, after returning from the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Badagry, Lagos born actress cum film maker opened up exclusively on this new development and much more in a phone interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly on Thursday, November 7, 2013…
The latest about you now is that you have converted to Islam, what informed the decision?
Actually, my conversion to Islam is not new, it’s only that people were not aware. I have been a Muslim for long. I even have a picture to support that. Although my name is Elizabeth, which is the Christian name my dad gave me because he was a Christian. Then, I also have a Muslim name, Aishat, given to me by my mother, who was a Muslim. Also, some from my mother’s family members also named me Sekinat. Even my daughter’s name is Rufaidat. So, I grew with the two religions. And being the only child of my parents, I was given so many names, including Egandogo, Omosolape, Akanke. My Badagry name is Yenukunmun, meaning Isoju ota ni nse maa se rere (I will excel in the presence of my enemies). In a nutshell, Islam has been in me for long. I only kept it to myself. It is my private life. Even during every Ramadan period, I give people food for fasting and also when they want to break the fast. I also fast. Not only that, I don’t normally expose my head during the period, but people don’t really read meanings to it, they always think my appearance has to do with a movie. I am the type that doesn’t like to kind of show-off. I don’t like flaunting anything about myself. Even people wouldn’t have known I have a daughter if not the issue that came up.
Does that mean you have not practiced Christianity before?
I have, of course. It’s my father’s religion. And like I told you, my name is Elizabeth, that’s where Lizzy was derived. I practiced it for long but now, I am a full blown Muslim. Since I started practicing Islam, I have only been doing it on my own, only those that are close to me understand I have embraced Islam fully. But that doesn’t mean I hate Christianity. I don’t discriminate. Both Christians and Muslims are one before God. If anybody from either of the two religions invites me to a function, I make sure I attend because I believe we’re all from the same God, which is called Allah in Islam.
Who do you cherish the most in Islam that perhaps might have motivated you to make it public now?
First, the love of it and the peace among Muslims. Islam is a religion of peace as against the impression by some people that it’s a blood shedding religion. I love Islam because there is no discrimination among the adherents of the faith. As a Muslim, you can enter any mosque and pray no matter where it’s located in the whole world. No one will ask you whether you’re from this denomination or that denomination. There is unity in Islam. And in praying to God, you don’t need anybody to lay his hands on you before your prayer is answered. Especially, if you know how to wake up at night and render personal supplications to God, He will surely give you the reward for doing so. You’re free to pray on your own and you have the confidence that your prayer is accepted so far you have good intentions. All these I do personally and I constantly enjoy the reward for doing them. Everybody is equal in the sight of Allah irrespective of whether you’re Mr. President or governor, whether you’re a billionaire or poor man. We’re all equal. I really cherish the religion, and there is no going back again.
But some people will think you’re a hypocrite for you to have waited till now before making it known to the public. Some will even think maybe you couldn’t find a man to marry you in Christianity and that’s why you suddenly shifted base to Islam.
(Cuts in) No, it’s because I don’t flaunt things just like I told you. It was my pilgrimage to Mecca that exposed the whole thing. You should know people must talk whether or not they are saying the correct thing about the person they are talking about. All I would say is that let Allah judge them according to their utterances and conscience.
How did you come about embarking on 2013 hajj?
I have been nursing the hope of going for Hajj ever before my mom died. So, it’s not a new thing but nobody knew about it. It has always been between me and my God. I hoped to go to Mecca then and pray for my mom when she was sick. I believed that doing so could have restored her health if Allah had wished. But I couldn’t till she passed on. I believed strongly that if I could get to Kaabah and pray for her there, she wouldn’t have died but Allah knows best.
How was the experience like in Mecca, Saudi Arabia?
It was a different experience entirely. It was also a very wonderful and lovely experience. If you’re the lazy type, you can’t survive the task. Mecca is not a place for fun, it’s for work in the cause of Allah and Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW). It’s not a disco party, it’s a holy land. You just have to bow to God when you see millions of people from different parts of the world, coming to praise Allah in one place and in the same way and language. It’s a fantastic experience. It’s a place to be for all Muslims.
What has changed in you since you came back from Mecca because it is believed that everybody who has observed pilgrimage to Mecca has become a new born baby?
Yes, I am. But I have never been a bad girl. I was born nobly, and I have undergone a lot of training that shaped my life. Also, having been to Mecca is an additional advantage for me to be closer to God than ever. Mecca is a place I would love to go again and again. You’re automatically a changed person if you have been faithful to God.
How were you able to adapt to all the rigours involved?
I am a very strong person, I am used to something like that, but the one in Mecca was tougher. It’s not a joke. A situation where you trek a long distance under heavy sun, pushing one another. And when you’re moving round the Kaabah with millions of people, it’s another task entirely. Also, throwing stones meant for the devil is also not easy. It has its own technique. Everything you do has its peculiar technique. I can’t tell it all, you just have to be there to experience it yourself.
But the tale in town even before you returned was that a man was responsible for the pilgrimage, what’s your reaction to this?
I look like a learner. People like taking rubbish anytime they see a woman doing something good which they don’t expect. When I got my new accommodation, they said it was a man that paid for it. Also, when I opened my shop, they said a man was also responsible for it. They also said a man bought my new jeep for me. Now, it’s Mecca issue, they are still saying one man sent me. If at all a man had sent me to Mecca, it should be a plus because it’s not a disco party. Let alone no man has surfaced that he was responsible for my pilgrimage to Mecca. I am not bothered, just like I said, Allah will judge everybody according to intention. Let Him also judge them according to their utterances.
With the new development in your life now, you have given us a direction that your fiancé is a Muslim.
(Cuts in) I don’t know yet. Maybe, maybe not.
Okay, what’s the next thing now that you’re back?
It’s about my movie, Kofo, the First Lady. It will soon be released. I am using this medium to inform all my fans that they should be getting ready to grab their copies.
Hope your new religious status is not going to affect your career?
It can’t. I will still be acting my roles. It doesn’t affect my identity as an actress.
How many days did you actually spend in Saudi Arabia?
I spent almost 30 days.
On a lighter too, can you recite Quranic verses now?
Yes, of course.
– TADE ASIFAT