Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kristiane Backer: From MTV to Mecca.

Finally another one! Finding about people, especially the inspiring ones isn't an easy job but thankfully I was able to come across one more, an inspiring personality and an example for all of us.

Kristiane Backer is a German television presenter, television journalist and author residing in London. She was born on the 13th of December, 1965 in Hamburg, Germany. She converted to Islam and left the lavish life in the year 1995 when she was one of the most famous in her profession.

From 1987 to 1989 she worked as a trainee for the private radio station Radio Hamburg. In 1989 became the first German presenter (video jockey) for what was then an English-only pan-European Music TV channel, MTV Europe where she presented a variety of shows till 1996.

In the early 1990s, Kristiane Backer became one of the very first presenters on MTV Europe. For years she lived and breathed the international music scene, quickly gaining a cult following amongst viewers and becoming a darling of the European press. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mick Jagger, Bono, Bob Geldof, Jim Kerr, Take That and Cat Stevens, Kristiane was catapulted to the forefront of popular culture.

She created and hosted from 1992 to 1995 a youth program on Bravo TV. For her television work Backer was awarded with the Golden Camera and two Golden Otto awards.

At MTV, Kristiane hosted the Coca-Cola Report, the European Top 20, Awake on the Wild Side, Headbangers Ball and Party-Zone. After 1996, she worked two years on NBC Europe for the daily culture show, The Ticket NBC.

After many year's break from the television business Backer hosted again in 2009, including the travel programs for the Travel Channel, and the inter-faith program Matters of Faith for the international channel Ebru TV. She also hosts European business presentations, conferences, galas and award ceremonies.

Through a fateful meeting with the famous cricketer Imran Khan, Kristiane travelled to Pakistan, where she encountered a completely different world to the one she knew: the religion and culture of Islam. She was drawn to this way of life which was dominated by a love of God and began to read the Quran and to study books about the Faith. The more she immersed herself in the world of Islam, the more she found herself dissatisfied with her own life. With the support of friends she met through Imran Khan, Kristiane began to learn the true values of the religion and, in 1995, decided to become a Muslim.

Story in her own words.

"Well, we don't have much of a conception; you don't hear much about Pakistan, except for negative news, so I loved it from the moment I got there. It's such a beautiful country with a very stunning landscape and mountains and lush green fields and deserts. People were very friendly and enormously generous, offering us their last bits and pieces, even in the poor mountainous areas… My trips put a lot of things in perspective and really made me think.

I was shuttling between the two worlds for a few years and really had key moments. In the West, time is money, and people don't have time for each other anymore because there are so many pressures. Also the sacred is completely lacking from people's lives here. Faith is pretty much marginalized, unfortunately, in the West, and with my book I am also trying to put faith back onto the map. So yes, in Pakistan God was everywhere, everybody did everything in the name of God, and also sacrificed themselves for others and for the sake of God, to please God. "

I was introduced to Islam in 1992, by none other than handsome sportsman Imran Khan, not an imam with a long beard. He was cricket captain at that time and just had won the World Cup, but I knew nothing about cricket, so he didn't mean anything to me. But he became my first teacher of Islam, so I studied for three years, I read a lot of books, I traveled to Pakistan many times, I asked scholars so many questions, as well as ordinary people in London and Pakistan. I studied for three years and then I converted, for myself, not for anybody else.

From MTV to Mecca, The Book.

From MTV to Mecca takes the reader on a spiritual and cultural journey across the globe – from Pakistan to Bosnia, LA to London, Hamburg to Saudi Arabia – that will inspire Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Encountering Islamic academics, musicians and fellow converts, Kristiane finds the spiritual path of Sufism and embarks on the ultimate journey – the pilgrimage to Mecca. We share Kristiane’s highs and lows as she adopts Islam; from the difficulties of finding love, to embracing Islamic practices in day-to-day life, to dealing with prejudices, misconceptions and professional struggles, and she speaks with startling honesty of what it truly means to be a practising Muslim in Western society.

Imran Khan's words.

‘I am glad I had the chance to introduce Kristiane to the culture and religion of Islam. She not only loved the sacred music and the desi food but had an open mind to study and look beyond the headlines. I admire the sincerity with which she continued to discover the faith for herself and her steadfastness in practicing. This book will inspire Muslims and non- Muslims alike. May Allah bless her and give her all success’ Imran Khan

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