Had to fast while in different time zones

NEW FAITH: Former air stewardess Nur Sumiaya Tan, who converted to Islam last April is now a Befriender at Darul Arqam where she helps guide new converts going through Ramadan for the first time.

Last year, Miss Nur Sumiaya Tan, 28, embraced Islam and experienced a taste of fasting and praying for the first time.

Now, she is keen to share her experience with other new converts.

The retail supervisor - who became a Muslim in April last year - is one of the Befrienders at Darul Arqam.

Introduced in 1996, the programme aims to help ease the new converts' journey towards understanding Islam better.

Miss Nur, who is single, said: "The aim is to get to know them and see if they have any hardships going into the religion. We are also here just in case they have any questions or doubts while fulfilling the religious obligations."

Her own journey into Islam began several years ago.

As someone who was "always surrounded by Malay friends", Miss Nur said she was always "curious about Islam", and she eventually went to Darul Arqam to learn about the religion last January.

And even though she grew up in a Christian household, she said her 70-year-old mother never objected to her converting.

Miss Nur still lives with her mother and her 33-year-old brother in a four-room flat in the Bedok Reservoir area.

"I was a free thinker previously but my mother told me she didn't mind because I was old enough to make my own decisions in life," she added.

But her previous career as an air stewardess with Japan Airlines presented its own set of problems, especially during Ramadan.

She said: "I had no problems with the fasting, I only had problems coping with the different time zones because of the travelling.

"I left that job in April, so I am looking forwarding to fasting the full month this year."

Another thing she is looking forward to is the "bonding" that comes after a whole day of fasting.

Said Miss Nur: "Apart from the praying and fasting, breaking fast together also brings me closer to my friends. It is like a reunion dinner, except this one you do it every day for a whole month."