Susan Carland on husband Waleed Aly: ‘I did not convert to Islam for him.’

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I’m a very lucky person for a lot of reasons; one of them is that I can digest gluten without a care in the world.

Another reason I feel lucky is that I get to spend my Friday nights on The Project with a number of my favourite people including Gorgi Coughlin, Lehmo and Waleed Aly.

Mamamia spoke to Susan Carland about how she felt the moment Waleed won the Gold Logie. You can read it here.

Waleed in particular is a joy to the rest of us, because we three all grew up Catholic, in regional Australia, in the 1970s and 80s where I’m pretty sure none of us had more than an inkling that Muslims even existed.

susan carland waleed aly
Meshel on The Project with Waleed, Gorgi and Lehmo

He laughs along graciously when we trade stories of teenage drunken idiocy, even though he’s never had a drink in his life, he answers our dumb questions and corrects our terrible pronunciation, he even taught us a crazy Egyptian hand-clap – or is he playing a very long game that will see us make complete fools of ourselves at an Egyptian event one day?

Susan on how never thought she’d end up with Waleed:

It’s hard to say because above all else, Waleed Aly is an hilarious goofball of epic proportions who loves more than anything, having the piss taken out of him.

I am very conscious though, that Waleed, his wife Susan Carland and their children live in a very different Australia to the one I live in.

susan carland waleed aly
Waleed Aly on the cover of this month’s Men’s Style magazine.

Those of us who can remember a world before September 11, 2001 know that everything changed that day, including our sense of what Islam was all about, if we even had a sense at all before that.

I think up until that point, if you’d asked me to describe Islam, I would have pictured a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie and the words “swords” and “monkeys” would have figured prominently.

That was long before words like jihad, caliphate and even Ramadan had entered the vocabulary of most Australians. Now the mention of Islam is enough to strike terror into the hearts of people the world over, so how do you raise a Muslim family in that environment?

susan carland waleed aly
Susan, Waleed and their children.

Well if you’re Susan Carland you do it spectacularly, under the radar, while rocking your own career as a University lecturer, media personality, speaker, writer and as of late 2015, PHD getter!

Mind you, Dr Susan Carland was raised in a similarly Christian, white bread, Anglo environment to mine, so how did she get from there to here? How did she become one half of Australia’s pre-eminent Muslim power couple? (Please don’t tell either of them I called them that,) and how did she end up married to Waleed, about whom she once said, “That guy? I wouldn’t marry him if he was the last man on earth.”

To hear more about that and lots of other things including why this celebrated Australian feminist chooses to wear the hijab, download this episode of The Nitty Gritty Committee.

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