Aisha Dennis is a lady who found Islam 21
years ago. A former Silat martial arts instructor Aisha
now is a member of a convert support group, and gives
her time to help others who want to learn more about
Islam. She is also a woman who likes to dream big,
raising thousands of dollars for important school
What do you do?
I am a Teacher’s Aide at Runcorn Heights State school. I
am only working part time this year to concentrate more
on my deen, and my family. I am also the Community
Liaison Officer for the ESL (English as a Second
Language) unit which is the person that settles in new
families into the school. I also organise the different
parent cultural groups to meet regularly. Fundraising is
a big part of my community work at the school, raising
money for the ESL unit and our Harmony House project.
One of our major fundraising projects is our Harmony Day
Festival held every year. I also teach religion, and do
some English tutoring.
What is Harmony House?
Harmony House is a concept that my ESL boss and I came
up with 5years ago. We wanted to have a permanent space
where we could teach ESL and also have a space that the
community could have access to for e.g. parent or
community meeting room, prayer area, and multifaith
library. This would be a special place where students,
parents and the community could come together. With the
help of the local community, school fundraising and a
very generous person, an old Scouts Hall was donated to
the school. Unfortunately we have encountered some
planning problems, which have put a stop to the progress
of this project at the present time. It’s a great shame
but we are looking at other options at the moment.
How did you become a Muslim?
I was raised as a Catholic, but, but when I started
finding out about other religions and ways of life my
journey started. I studied other religions and found
Islam by the mercy and grace of Allah through the
knowledge given to me from my Silat martial arts
instructor and grand master. I read about the Prophet
Mohammed (pbuh) and started visiting the Mosque. One day
I received a sign, “literally” a gold figure appeared in
my mind. This was the sign I was looking for.
I looked into other religions, and found Islam through
my Martial Arts Grand Master. I started going to the
Mosque, and one day had this eerie vision that in the
end showed me that I finally found what I was looking
How did your family feel?
They were disappointed, and shocked at first. Nothing
much was known about Islam back then. They thought it
was a phase I was going through, but they were still
supportive. I still have a great relationship with them
today. My father said recently to me “your religion is
good for you”
Why did you feel you had to change your name?
I didn’t change my name, through respect for my parents,
I kept my name. You don’t have to change your name. But,
I did take up a Muslim name; I think it’s important to
have a good Muslim name with a good Islamic meaning.
Do you assist other converts?
I am a member of the Muslim Women Convert Support Group,
and we organise regular meetings for converts. I was
just recently involved in the organisation of a short
course on Islam for new Muslims. The course was run over
4 weeks and we had 40 participants doing the course,
about 26 men, and 14 ladies. We wanted to create a good
relaxed Islamic environment for the participants to
learn in. We had great learned Imams, and other
knowledgeable people come to speak. The course gave
information on praying, fasting, different aspects of
the religion including marriage. It was very rewarding
to be a part of such a successful course.
You didn’t have a match making service there as well?
Actually, we had a couple who did meet up through the
course, and I think they will be getting married shortly
What types of people are converting to Islam?
All different types of people are converting to Islam.
At one stage, it was the older female, who maybe had
been married to a Muslim, or had a troubled background.
But now the females are younger, stronger girls, well
educated, and knowledgeable. They come from a range of
occupations, nationalities, and ages. We had Chinese
girls, a lawyer, an Aboriginal, and an Irish girl in our
last group. In the last 12months we have had a lot of
younger people converting, ages between 18-25years.
Why is there a divide between reverts and born
Sometimes there is a divide. There is a barrier. Some
converts think they are better than born Muslim.
Personally I don’t believe that. We are all equal is the
eyes of Allah. I personally think sometimes some
converts feel pressure from born Muslims. Islam has so
much knowledge for us to learn. It’s a lifetime of
learning and converts have just started. We need to have
patience and diplomacy with our new Muslims and make
sure we are good examples for them. I think culture is
sometimes a problem, it can get mixed up with religion
and everything becomes a bit confusing. That’s one good
thing about being an Aussie convert we don’t have that
Is it revert or convert?
I like to say convert, because people who were from
another religion or way of thinking converted to Islam.
I personally don’t like the sound of Revert.
And what do you enjoy the most about Islam?
I enjoy the peace of Islam, the knowing there is an
answer for everything. The strong family unit is another
thing I enjoy about Islam. Doing everything together as
a family and everyone knowing what is expected of them.
1. Do you still enjoy the Christmas
2. If I have a spare hour I would love to...
3. I’m glad I taught my kids.... Respect
4. A job I had when I was younger was... a
5. My kids hate it when I.... talk to their
6. If someone had to play you in a movie who would you
like it to be ... Meg Ryan
7. Which reality TV show would you go on... The
8. What sport would you love to try... I’ve
tried lots, but maybe jet skiing
9. Do you take your environmental bags shopping..
No I always forget
10. I regret not learning how to.... speak another
11. It might be daggy but I love.... my slippers
12. If you found $10 in a shop would you keep it?