Felixia Yeap, the former Playboy bunny who announced last Friday that she was embracing Islam, said she felt “born again” on her birthday yesterday, when her conversion was made official.
The 28-year-old, however, wants to fight to keep her Chinese name that’s been given by her mother.
“My Chinese name means tranquility and elegance,” said Yeap, who said she would perform the Islamic declaration of faith in front of family members and close friends.
“Today is not just my birthday, but also the day that I am born again. The day that I finally return after 28 years of finding the way home,” she wrote wrote in a soul-baring post yesterday morning.
She also mentioned that her conversion was the result of learning about Islam for seven months and after she started wearing the hijab, a decision which drew plenty of criticism from her fans.
“From the moment I pledged to wear the hijab, even though I was not a Muslim at heart, until this moment (July 3, 6am) where I am a Muslim at heart who only waits for the official pronouncement, I have gone through many trials and tribulations,” said the Ipoh-born former kindergarten teacher, who previously worked at The Playboy club in Macau.
Yeap said she had persevered months of insults and alienation because of this decision, but paid tribute to her mother who said she bravely endured sarcasm from their relatives.
“She did not object (to it), in fact she gave her blessings when I told her that I was learning about Islam and intended to embrace the faith.
“Many converts are disowned by their families for making the same decision. Some of them hide their identities as Muslims from their family members for fear of being alienated and disowned,” she wrote.
When she asked her mother why she supported her decision, her mother had replied in Cantonese, “Sang seng jor lor, dai gor nui la… kwai jor hou dor” (You are grown up already, more mature … a good girl).
“My mother smiled and I fought back my tears,” said Yeap, who also said the support and her own “stubbornness” helped her get through all the criticism.
“I admit, there were times I felt crushed and defeated.
“But I firmly stood my ground and did not take off my hijab. I continued my struggle.”
Many of her fans accused her of a publicity stunt when the story of her love for the Muslim hijab made headlines.
Some also said that she was doing it to marry “a rich Datuk”.
Of her past, Yeap said it made her realise how some considered hedonism and materialism as happiness.
“Most of the people around me judged their happiness based on their boyfriends’ wealth, the happening parties they went, or how they were happy as long as they got drunk, and how much money they could scalp from their boyfriends.
“Most hungered for wealth and they searched for it without caring for their dignity.
“But for me, that was not the wealth that I longed for. For what is the point of being wealthy when your life feels empty, meaningless and drowned in sin. That is not the happiness I seek.”
She started modelling in 2005 and had bagged top prizes in a number of contests and pageants.
She first broke the news of her conversion in front of some 2,000 people at an event ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Shah Alam, last Friday.
Good luck, Felixia!