Iranian-born former mini-skirt wearing American model, feminist, real estate mogul, and now Islamic scholar, and human-rights activist, Raya Shokatfard, 68, had walked thru Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity before returning to Islam that was despised by her being fascinated by the Western myth of “secularism, lavish life-style, feminism, and the civilized society”.
Raya’s family migrated to California in 1969 when she was 20 years old. she drove a Rolls Royce and spent her time at a beach house, religion and modesty, so central to Islam were far from her mind. At some point, these luxuries grew old. “I have everything but I’m really empty,” she remembers realizing.
Divorced with two children Shokatfard retreated to the mountains of northern California to home school her children in Islam and lead a more peaceful life. As her understanding of Islam deepened so did her desire to share and combat misconceptions about the religion.
Raya spent 16 years speaking in schools, churches and wherever she was welcomed about Islam. At the same time she operated as a highly successful real-estate agent.
She explored Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity before finding peace in the religion of her birth.
“I was giving public presentations about Islam to try to bring a better understanding of Islam to people,” she said. “People were really, really receptive.”
Raya has studied in Egypt and Malaysia. Currently she lives at Langkawi Island, Malaysia.
Recently, Catherine Shakdam, the Director of Program for the Shafaqna Institute interviewed Raya Shokatfard. Catherine Shakdam, an independent journalist with interests in the Muslim East, is herself a convert to Islam.