SYDNEY: The fiancée of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has spoken out about why she made the decision to convert from Catholicism to Islam.
Rachel McLellan, 22, from Brisbane, and her Muslim groom, 31, will tie the knot in what they describe as a big white wedding next month following the cricket season.
The 22-year-old from Brisbane had never met a Muslim before Khawaja and admits she had misconceptions about the religion. “I was very ignorant,” she told last night’s 60 Minutes. “I only listened to what I had heard on the news. All I read was … terrorists and awful things.”
She said she knew how important religion was to Khawaja and his family and began considering converting when her feelings for him grew.
Ms McLellan said she felt no pressure from Khawaja or his family.
“I told her I would prefer her to convert but she has to do it on her own. Unless it comes from you, comes from the heart, then there is no point doing it” Khawaja said.
The Pakistan-born batsman – who became the first Muslim to ever play cricket in Australia – said his faith has always come first in his life. And so it came as a surprise when he fell in love with the Catholic school girl.
In an exclusive 60 Minutes interview, the 31-year-old Pakistani-born batsman candidly spoke about the degrading verbal abuse he endured as a promising junior cricketer. “Some of the stuff could be pretty vulgar,” Khawaja said.