I wanted to write this post for a while and it's only until i found some inspiration that I am doing it now. I am a revert Muslim. I am white British and I decided to change my religion when I was 16. I am a Muslim. Here are some thing's which i'd like born Muslim's and older revert Muslim's to listen to and possible take note, inshallah.
NOTE: Personally I use 'revert' instead of 'convert', the reason being is that we are all born Muslim's, it's just that some of us get a little lost in life but revert back to the straight path. ('convert' would be used if it's something completely new) :)
It's a time in our lives where everything is flipped upside down. A moment where we enter into something completely new. There's a mix of emotion's and personal struggle's. We have decided to leave alot of what we once thought to be true behind. It's an epic moment in any revert's life. This is something a born Muslim will never experience, no matter how much they believe they think they know what it's like. Then on the other hand there are more mature revert's who have been a Muslim for a significant amount of time who may have been swayed by culture or bad habit's and try to influence a new revert.
Once I recited my shahada there was an unimaginable weight lifted from my shoulder's, it's like nothing i had ever experienced in my life. A new start. My slate wiped clean, ready to start on a journey I had no sight of ahead. One word which i use to describe that moment is euphoric. You will never get that moment back in your life. Freedom. Nothing's hanging over you. No worries. Bizarre. If I were to die at that point, it'd be a straight path to heaven. The highest peak of iman that i feel i will ever experience, although I am yet to perform Hajj so i'll get back to you on that one!
As an outsider, when you see/hear a person embrace Islam, do you help them? or hinder them?
You maybe blessed to work within a community or at the mosque, you may have get together's and have a wide social circle. You meet new revert's, or possibly "nearly" revert's (you know, the regular's at the dawah table who have a million question's but still haven't quite got every piece of the puzzle fixed together). How do you approach them? Do you speak to them? Offer them advice or Islamic information? Ignore them? Invite them to a family dinner? How about after they revert? are you still looking for the precious reward's from Allah whilst helping your new Brother or Sister? Do you ignore their call's now that they have reverted to Islam?
Here are a few thing's which i'd like to share (please note that these do not apply to everyone all of the time, it maybe that you do one, but if it sound's familar, have a little think on how to improve):
1. You act like you suddenly know everything and start trying to teach them.
Reality: You probably don’t even know how to pray Janazah, why don’t you just let the scholars educate them? If you do not know an answer - just be honest! Don't talk rubbish and waste both of our times. We know there's alot to learn, so much history, we aren't going to judge you because you can't answer one question. It's best to tell us straight than to mislead somebody, especially knowing that if you share falsities regarding Islam, Allah SWT or our Prophet SAW it is a sin. If you don't know, try sending them in the right direction, to ask an imam, let them borrow a book on whichever subject the question refer's or tell them about the local islamic bookshop.
2. You act all judgemental, like “Oh why do you still have a boyfriend”, “Oh why don’t you wear Hijab”, "Working there is haram bro".
Reality: You do realize that Islam came to Arabia gradually. The entire Quran wasn't revealed in one go. People didn’t suddenly drop alcohol, free all their slaves, and suddenly become The Ten Promised to paradise over night. Let the revert/convert learn Islam at their own pace. Only they know their situation, they may not be able to find another job for example, don't guilt trip them.
To be honest, we are all one way or another learning Islam at our own pace, so chill out. The best thing to do for any struggling Muslim is to make them dua. Insult's, condescending comment's, or just plain ignoring them isn't going to do anything productive, it won't help you or the revert. The other thing to do is advise them if they weren't already aware and then let them decide. You have then said your piece/done your duty, but it is now up to the revert who is more than capable or making that choice.
3. If they don’t follow your cultural habits, they aren’t fully Muslim.
Reality: No they don’t have to kiss your cheek when shaking hands. No they don’t have to eat Biryani with their hands. And no, they don’t have to have Qatayif in Ramadan. It doesn’t make them less of a Muslim. Islam is completely different from your culture from back home, you should probably know that by now. Choose Islam over culture, always. Think about what you say before you go all "Haram Police" on them too!
4. For God’s sake, stop treating them like they are Disabled people.
Reality: Even disabled people don’t want to be given accommodation, they just want to be treated like everyone else. I believe a fully bodied and capable Muslim revert is more than capable of making up their own mind. Unsolicited advice is not needed. They may have a clean slate of a newborn baby, but that doesn't mean they are the same age, you are still talking to an adult.
5. Stop holding their past against them.
Reality: The “are you a virgin?”, “did you get high before?”, “have you ever had a girl/boyfriend?” are completely irrelevant question's to today. They embraced Islam and were reborn again in the eyes of Allah SWT, if He can forgive them why can't you? If they bought up your past, would you be ok with it? or maybe feel embarrased as you will be judged for your's but Allah SWT has actually forgiven them for their's. "...For whosoever seeks out the fault of his Muslim brother, Allaah will seek out his faults. ..."
6. You make them feel like an outsider no matter what.
Reality: I am well aware of the cultural division Muslim's have where it’s “desi” vs “arab” vs “albanian” vs “sunni” vs “shi’a” vs “sufi” and it really is a pointless debate, so the converts/reverts always feel isolated as a result of that. Also we are still seen as "English" or "American" and not Muslim. First and foremost we are Muslim's.
7. You want to immediately hit on them.
Reality: A lot of our brown and tan brothers (arabs and desis) have this weird fetish with European's and how they are “easy” to get with sexually.
First off, you shouldn’t treat any woman that way or think of them as a sexual object.
Secondly, seeing she’s now your sister in Islam, you should probably treat her like your own blood related sister, with Dignity and respect. Never start chatting to her one on one, be a man and approach her male guardian.
This is actually really creepy, just because a woman revert's doesn't mean she will marry any random at the drop of a hat. Plus 'pervy' and 'makes skin crawl' isn't at the top of any woman's list of what she look's for in her future husband.
8. You overwhelm them with too much information.
Reality: Your discussions of Qiyas vs Ijma in Islamic Jurisprudence, it’s varying levels of importance in the four Math’habs, your criticism of the Battle of the Camel, and the certain orders of the Sufis is wayyy over the head of most Muslim's anyway.
So just stop overwhelming revert's, help them build the strongest of foundation's in order to help them build up more islamic knowledge once the basic's are learnt. Please. And don’t tell them “oh this is the only good sect/tariqah/math’hab they should follow.”
If they CHOSE Islam they are more than qualified of choosing their interpretation of it as well. Back off.
9. You want to revert them as fast as you can so you can get the next one in
Reality: Your first meeting with them is overly nice, you couldn't do more for them, but as soon as the shahada is uttered, you desert them. Not only is this disheartening for revert's it is shocking behaviour as a Muslim who is supposedly a good example of a Muslim. Leaving a person hanging once they change their life around just so you can put another mark on the tally chart is infuriating.
Yes, dawah is important, yes every Muslim need's to offer dawah. However this is not the way to go around doing it. Not only do these revert's/convert's who are left behind usually return to haram action's, they now have a tainted vision of Muslim's as a whole. We are not a pawn used for a 'Muslim's' gain's to rack up more reward's/rizaq. If anything, once a person has said their shahadah that is the most important point They are just setting out on a journey, if they don't have the right tool's they are going to run into trouble.
10. You take all credit for their reversion
Reality: You probably just made the biggest mistake. Taking credit for something Allah SWT made happen. Not only that how do you think the revert feels? It's really inconsiderate and you steal their thunder. Don't you think they would want to feel happy, proud of what they have achieved? As not everyone can take that leep in life. You are merely a helping hand in their chapter. They don't owe you anything so stop acting like they are forever in your debt.
Plus if you did have any part in somebody's reversion, shouldn't you keep that quiet, not letting your left hand know what your right hand has done?? Let Allah SWT reward you at the right time, the more you boast the more you decrease that reward. Ask yourself, if you were really guiding this person to Islam for the sake of Allah SWT, should you be yelling it from the rooftop's? It's one thing to enjoy the reversion within the community; a time of takbir's and tear's but other than that, please rethink your intention's.
Islam isn’t something you do on Fridays or on Eid. It’s a lifestyle, it’s a code of conduct, and it’s something we should try to enforce in our lives as much as possible. Even though you were born a Muslim, you still have more to learn, everyone does. Being a born/revert Muslim doesn't make you any better than the other. Remember that Allah SWT only look's at a person's level of piety.
What advice would you share if you could go back in time? Is there something that you want to let them know? Share in the comment's below!