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Rowena Wallace spills: ‘Religion saved my life’

The veteran actress gets candid about her faith.
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Whenever Rowena Wallace gets talking, there’s no telling where the conversation might lead – and this time around is no exception.

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In her habitually candid way, Rowena tells New Idea that, after an ongoing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, she turned to Islam to save her life.   “I study a spiritual path which keeps me and my head above water,” explains the star. 

Rowena Wallace
Rowena said that after an ongoing battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, she turned to Islam to save her life (Credit: Getty)

With a chuckle, she adds, “It keeps me vaguely sane, only vaguely, and my heart pumping.”

Specifically, Rowena , 73, says she practises Sufism, which she explains is “an esoteric side of Islam”.

While Rowena is the first to admit she often has trouble remembering details and can lose her train of thought mid-sentence, when she begins explaining the religious practice, there’s no mincing her words.

“It’s not something…” she pauses, “I’m not a Muslim – but the path that I follow, ‘the Sufi path’, it’s a side path of Islam.

Rowena Wallace
Rowena , 73, says she practises Sufism, which she explains is “an esoteric side of Islam” (Credit: New Idea/ David Hahn)

“It’s the path of love. It’s about the intensity of love that one has for God,” she continues. “It’s difficult to understand in words”.

The TV Week Gold Logie Award winner says she stumbled into the religion many years ago through her good friend, Australian actress Diane Cilento, who was once married to James Bond heart-throb Sean Connery.  

“She herself, was a Sufi and she became my guide through this all. Through Diane I came to understand what it all meant. It actually saved my life,” she confesses, noting she was always searching for “the way”, but was never inclined to join an organised religion.  

Rowena Wallace
The TV Week Gold Logie Award winner says she stumbled into the religion many years ago through her good friend, Australian actress Diane Cilento (Credit: Getty)

Rowena, who has enjoyed a 50-year TV career, describes the moment she discovered Sufism, which is defined as  “the inward dimension of Islam”, as a situation where she was thirsty and dry “and Sufism filled me up”. 

“I had an empty feeling inside myself for years and I could never understand it, but I knew it had something to do with the spirit and this filled me – it was extraordinary,” she says, insisting while she’s read the Quran, Sufism is about action.

“Meditation, prayers … it’s about living your life in a certain way,” she explains. “It’s all about living your life through universal love!”  

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