“Alexander Luo” and “Tanya Gates”, a German couple converted to Shia Islam


We became Shia because there was no mention of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them) in the Sunni religion

* First, introduce yourself briefly.

– I am Tanya Gates, after converting to Islam, I chose the name Maryam for myself. I am happy to be in Iran during the holy month of Ramadan. I was a Christian and had a religious family. When I was a student, I met students who were Muslim, and some of their special behaviors, such as hijab or girls not shaking hands with boys, were strange to me. I was provoked many times to go to them and ask the reason for their actions until I finally got in touch with a Moroccan girl and after a while, we became very close and friends. His kindness, forgiveness and good manners brought me closer to him, and little by little I got to know Islam through him.

* So, did you convert to Islam in this way?

– Yes, we used to talk about Islam every day and I was attracted to Islam and because of my friend who was a Sunni, I also became a Sunni and now I have been a proud Muslim for 14 years.

* Mr. Ali Iskandar, how did you meet Mrs. Gates?

– I have been a Muslim for 12 years and I was looking for a Muslim girl and I met her through my friends and we got married, that time it was difficult for me to find a Muslim girl.

* Mrs. Gates, how did you get to know the Shia religion?

– A few years ago, my husband met Muslims who were Shiites. One day my husband came to me and talked about his conversion to Shia. In the beginning, I used to argue a lot with him and his friends, and it was not acceptable for me to accept Shi’ism until I converted to Shi’ism after many discussions and under the influence of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his family) family, who had no role in the Sunni religion. I saw the Shia religion as rational and I found all its teachings to be rational teachings that gave me a new spirit and now I have been Shia with my husband for about a year.

* Mrs. Gates, how did you inform your family about your conversion to Islam?

– When I announced my decision to convert to Islam to my family, they treated me harshly, and I was even threatened with rejection by them. And my explanation made the situation better.

* Mr. Alexander, how did you announce to the family?

– My parents were also strict, but the story in our house was the opposite of my wife’s story, and my father was more tough with me. They said that my conversion to Islam shocked them. Eating pork at home had become a big problem, and while respecting them, I always prevented them from preparing pork, but now our situation is good and my mother respects my opinions and they don’t even use pork anymore.

* What was attractive about Islam that made you determined to adhere to it?

– Alexander: When I met this lady, we became more committed to Islam together. I always had the feeling that God himself invited me to Islam. God was looking for me, and that’s why the verse I read from his words in the Quran was attractive to me, and as soon as I read the verses, I immediately accepted those verses with all my heart and soul. I have not believed once, but I have believed in the path I have been on thousands of times. All the verses of the Qur’an are as clear as day to me, and their rationality is the main reason for my faith in God and their words.

* Mrs. Gates, how did you cope with difficulties?

– It was very difficult, but the voice of God and the spirit of the Lord always screamed inside me. A feeling always pulled me towards it and did not leave me at ease, I always became more and more enthusiastic and this enthusiasm made me more determined every day to stand in front of difficulties. Wearing hijab in our living environment had created a heavy space for me, but with the passion I had, it gained more influence in my beliefs every day.

* What problems are you facing in Germany?

– Maryam: If we want to pray and read the Quran only in our country and do our individual duties to that extent, there is no danger or problem for us, but if we want to talk about Islam and its other teachings this religion in the community, it will cause many problems for us. In Germany, no one has a problem with the name of religions, and the title of Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc. does not matter to them as long as they are personal and individual, but if they enter into social issues, they will all be reprimanded in some way.

* What is the reason for your trip to Iran?

– Maryam: We traveled to Iran with the intention of visiting Imam Reza (peace be upon him) and although I have never visited this great Imam, now I feel very good about visiting him and I hope that I will soon be able to visit my Imam in peace and life.

– Ali Iskandar: I always wanted to know more about Iran and I knew that in Iran I could learn more about Shiism, because Iran is the only source of Shiism in the world.

* Which one of the imams impresses you the most?

– Maryam: I have a special feeling towards Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) and his mother Hazrat Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her) and I always remember them in my solitude.

– Ali Iskandar: Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) gives me another soul. The Islam that I got to know from him does not leave me at ease and always puts me in a loving frenzy, Hossein’s Islam has a different purity.

* Finally, tell us about this necklace.

– This Zulfiqar necklace is the sword of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), which gives me a special comfort and I always carry it with me.

Thank you for your valuable time.