Celebrating her 28th birthday, this former model and “mermaid for hire” is now a Muslimah. By Lina Lewis.
That’s how Malaysian personality Felixia Yeap has described her conversion to Islam on July 3rd 2014.
Felixia has written on her blog about the challenges she faced while on the journey to becoming a Muslim. But despite all the flak and pressure she faced, she officially completed her conversion journey on the fifth day of Ramadan 2014.
The journey to embracing Islam has been understandably challenging for Felixia, who was born and raised in Malaysia, without a particular faith, to an ethnic Chinese family. The multi-racial country is majority-Muslim but has a large Chinese minority.
In May 2011 she stepped into the limelight when she became the first and only Playboy Bunny from Malaysia, after having scored a gig as a waitress at Macau’s swanky Playboy Club Macao.
Later, in August last year, came reports of Felixia offering her service as a “mermaid”, swimming around wearing a mermaid tail at events. She told Singapore tabloid The New Paper: “Since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by mermaids. I love watching The Little Mermaid cartoon.”
Felixia, who left her family home in the Malaysian state of Perak for the capital Kuala Lumpur in search of a modelling career, was also picked to be a ring girl of ONE Fighting Championship, Asia’s largest mixed martial arts organisation, last year.
But all the glamorous partying and modelling soon yielded to a life as a Muslim. Not long after the mermaid-for-hire reports, Felixia made regional headlines when she started wearing the hijab. She had not converted to Islam then, but was fulfilling her desire to don the hijab and cover her aurah.
In a blog entry in August 2013, Felixia mentions that she had always wanted to wear the hijab, but that she did jobs requiring her to bare her skin because she had to take care of her family’s expenses.
When Felixia started wearing the hijab, she received a lot of comments – from encouraging to downright disparaging. She was accused of being insincere about Islam and doing it for the sake of attracting attention. Despite the naysayers and critics, she persisted.
Malaysian news website Sinar Harian quoted her as saying: “Today is a historical day for me. It is like I am being reborn. I was even more thrilled when I found out that my birthday this year falls on 5th Ramadan and a Thursday – Prophet Muhammad’s favourite day.”
And now she’s a Muslimah, with full approval from her supportive mother. Shortly after her official conversion, Felixia posted on her Facebook page – which has almost 800,000 followers – how her mother gave her an angpow (packet containing money gift) as “good luck for you and for your new life”.
As Felixia wrote in her blog entry dated July 3rd 2014: “Today, I am finally home after searching for 28 years.”