8 Things You Should Understand About Converts


http://www.flickr.com/photos/stijnnieuwendijk/4676105607/in/photostream/By Alex Arrick 

1. A lot of things are running through our heads right now.

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”  (Qur’an, 2:155).

New converts to Islam have just made the biggest decision of their lives, and changed their religion to one that they are unfamiliar with in many ways. There are a lot of stimuli around us that we are not used to, being in the mosque, hanging out with Muslims, hearing foreign languages other than Spanish, etc. Often, new Muslims might look uncomfortable because they are not used to their surroundings. A big change has just occurred in the convert’s life, and each person will respond differently to these situations.

While we are learning the basics of Islam, either before or after our shahada (testimony of faith), we are constantly coming across new things that we’ve never heard of before. It takes a long time to be able to have a consistent foundation that’s strong enough to feel any amount of comfort in the religion. This process is similar to moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language, customs, or environment that surrounds us. We often have no idea about the origin of certain customs and whether they are from Islam or a person’s culture, and it takes time to be able to discern between the two.

2. Our family life is uncertain.

A man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): ‘What is the right of parents on their offspring?’ The Prophet replied: “They are your Paradise and your Hell.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

People who are born into Islam have the benefit of having a foundation with their parents and family. The Qur’an is on their bookshelf, Arabic words are mixed into conversation without needing definition, and there is an environment of tradition that provides a reference point for looking at the world. A convert is experiencing the total opposite. He or she doesn’t have any sort of religious connection with their family anymore, and there is sometimes backlash from parents and extended family about the decision to become a Muslim.

Even if there’s no significant backlash, there are no blood relatives to talk to about Islam, no one to clarify things, and no family support to be offered in the entire process. All of these things can cause an immense amount of stress and disillusionment. It’s common for converts to have moments of breakdown where they feel like nobody is on their side. For those who are lucky enough to have a close friend or mentor to help them in situations like this, it’s still not the same as having family help. Converts need an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in their community to feel empowered as Muslims. This doesn’t require a full-time therapist, but just people to make them feel at home.

3. Our friends are leaving us.

“A man follows the religion of his close friend, so each of you should be very careful about whom he takes as a close friend.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

Friends are known for being brutally honest. When a convert tells his friends that he or she just became Muslim, they are going to receive a wide range of reactions. Even if their friends are supportive, they will still be really puzzled and they will ask a million questions that most born Muslims would have trouble answering. And while most converts don’t get a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies before becoming Muslim, they’re going to sometimes feel pushed into a corner when tested by their friends.

Their friends might stick around for a while, but chances are their habits are not always what a new Muslim wants to be around. After you deny a few invitations to go to parties, they might stop calling all together. Friends who seem to have abandoned you can cause a lot of depression and loneliness, and it will always take a while to replace a decent group of friends with a good group of Muslim friends.

4. We don’t know how to spend our free time.

“Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression –even a thorn’s prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it.”  —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari, Muslim)

After the distance is created with friends and family, it’s hard to fill free time or stay busy enough to not start feeling down sometimes. Converts will notice a gap in their schedules that was previously filled with something else like hanging out with friends, going to concerts, or partying. This is especially hard to cope with in a smaller city where there isn’t much else to do and not enough Muslims to spend time with.

In this situation, there might be a desire to go back to old habits to feel “normal” again, or there will be an urge to stay alone and away from other people. While Islam doesn’t allow monasticism or hedonism, this causes a problem for converts to Islam when it’s a minority religion in the society. Eventually the situation will get easier and there won’t be any problem in staying busy, but initially it can be very hard to stay positive.

5. We don’t know what to learn and who to learn from.

“Make things easier, do not make things more difficult, spread the glad tidings, do not hate.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari)

Converts usually experience some trouble in the beginning with differences in fiqh (jurisprudence). Their background is usually from a religion with a narrower view of right or wrong. Often converts will think: “So do I raise my hands after bowing or not? Which one is right and which one is wrong?” The fact is there are many correct opinions regarding such issues in Islam. Converts will often find themselves in the dilemma of whether to take the easier opinion or the stronger one.

At the very best, this will cause only a small amount of confusion at first. Remember that converts don’t have a family to help form their opinions about these things, and they are getting information from all sides. A common decision converts will make is choosing between zabiha (ritually slaughtered) and non-zabiha meat. In reality it’s a fact that there is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding the meat of Ahl-al-Kitab (People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians), but converts can feel pressured to take one opinion over the other based on someone’s limited knowledge of the issue.

6. We don’t know when we’ll make another mistake.

“And whoever is patient and forgives – indeed that is of the matters [requiring] determination.” —The Holy Qur’an 42:43

Because they feel like they’re in a foreign country while in the mosque, a convert won’t know when someone will point out something they’re doing wrong. Often people come up to converts with a self-righteous attitude and give them harsh advice based on their own limited understanding. The convert is already dealing with differing opinions coming from every angle, and it’s very discouraging to have someone correct you in a harsh way.
The ideal way to correct a convert is the way of the Rasulullah ﷺ, with kindness and understanding. Remember all the sahaba (companions of the Prophet ﷺ) were converts and were constantly receiving guidance directly from the Messenger ﷺ. The sahaba didn’t feel chastised or discouraged when they were corrected, but uplifted. This is something that needs to be taken into deep consideration when advising a convert, who may be more sensitive to these things than a born-Muslim (who often needs just as much advice).

7. We don’t know what you actually think of us.

“Not one of you can believe if you do not want for your brother what you want for yourself.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari)

A lot of converts will get a lot of praise and helpful words from fellow Muslims, but there is sometimes an animosity towards converts that should be something alien to our ummah (Muslim community)—it resembles a pre-Islamic attitude of racism. As a convert, there is often a feeling of inferiority because “I’m not Arab” or “I’m not desi” that can sometimes lead the convert to acting like they are from a culture they are not, and that has nothing to do with Islam. This is something that needs to be resisted by converts who might have the urge to wear Pakistani clothes to “fit-in” around Muslims because they feel so different.

Let converts retain their culture in ways that don’t contradict Islam. They need to feel empowered and uplifted as Muslims and not reduced to the lowest common denominator. Converts have a lot they can bring to the table, and to take that ability away from them is a crime. Salman al-Farsi, a Persian companion of the Prophet ﷺ, was the one to recommend the battle strategy in the Battle of the Trench against the Quraysh. Salman’s Arab brothers in Islam took his opinion and used it to win the battle. If Salman had had an inferiority complex because of his Persian heritage, he might not have offered his opinion. Remember to make your convert brothers and sisters feel like they are a valued part of our community that links us to the culture around us.

8. We might be second-guessing our decision.

“If someone does not show mercy to people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” —The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Bukhari, Muslim)

In the worst-case scenario, converts might feel so discouraged that they second-guess their decision to convert.  With all the different problems that arise after conversion, there is a sense of desperation that can lead to apostasy. While some of it is unavoidable, there is much that our communities can do to help our converts feel welcomed and strong as Muslims. Most of it requires simple attitude changes like getting rid of the “back-home” mentality and having outrageous ideals that don’t reflect reality.

Research by Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus notes that 75% of American converts leave the religion after a few years. This is a tragedy that reflects the inability of American-Muslim communities to take care of their converts. With these statistics we should be asking ourselves: what can we do as individuals and as communities to help our convert brothers and sisters find comfort in Islam? This is a compassionate call to action for the born-Muslims to do what they can to understand, assist, and advise those who enter into Islam. Instead of alienation, we need to embrace with open arms.

 

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326 Comments

  1. Muslima says:

    I’m a convert but I converted many years ago in a Muslim country and have lived most of my life as a Muslim in a Muslim country. I have to say I cannot relate to these points as they were never issues for me. However, somehow recently I got into a group on Facebook for converts and to be perfectly honest it feels like being around a bunch of people wearing new shoes that are causing them blisters and making them irritable. They are suffering from these issues, but you know what, I’m not and I never was and so I really feel the need to leave the group as it just is throwing me into a lot of drama that is irrelevant and unfamiliar to me. And why do I need to throw myself into what is basically a foreign culture that has unhealthy hangups?

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Certainly in your own situation as you have lived it, the experiences of converts in western countries (Canada and USA especially) may well seem like a foreign culture. However, how can the experiences of those western-living converts be “unhealthy hangups”? They are struggling with issues in their own lives often in situations which to *them* are foreign cultures. They are struggling with what for many of them are major re-orientations of their entire lives, and often they are not getting any help. For some (I do not claim all) converts in the western countries, embracing Islam almost amounts to turning their lives upside down in ways that “born” Muslims (and perhaps people such as yourself) in or from traditional environments can scarcely grasp.

      Of course, the decision about the Facebook group is yours. If you derive nothing of positive value from it for yourself and think you have nothing positive to offer to others, certainly you are free to leave. But please understand that for so many western converts to Islam, it really, really is a struggle.

      • amna says:

        yes PAUL, IT IS.
        FOR MY PART, I AM LIVING IN A LITTLE TOWN IN SWITZERLAND AND I LOVE THAT PLACE AND I LOVE THE PEOPLE LIVING THERE BUT, SINCE I AM CONVERTED,, SINCE 7 years NOW. i am COMPLETELY ALONE WITH ALL MY INTERROGATIONS. AS LONG AS MY HUSBAND WAS ALIFE, I COULD TALK WITH HIM ABOUT MY FAITH AND I HAD THE JOY TO SHARE IT WITH HIM AS WE SHARED EVERYTHING.I LEARNED HOW TO PRAY IN A TUTORIAL IN THE NET AND SO I ALSO LEARNED TO DÉCLAME THEM IN ARABIC. FOR ME, IT WAS.. AND IT STILL IS.. IMPORTANT TO SHARE MY HAPPYNESS WITH HIM . I NEVER TRIED TO CONVERT HIM FOR, I THINK, THAT IT IS ALLAH WHO DÉCIDE ALSO THAT.
        THEN , HE BECAME ILL. A LEUKEMIA. AND SOME HOURS BEFORE HE DIED, WE CROSSED IN THE CORRIDOR OF THE HOSPITAL A CATHOLIC CHAPEL AND SO I ASKED HIM IF HE WISHED TO PRAY IN THERE. HE SAID NO BECAUSE.. HE SAID ” I AM A MUSLIM”
        THE OTHER DAY. SOME moments BEFORE HE FELT IN THE COMA, HE WANT ME TO SAY Kalmah . i DID. AND SOME OTHER hours, HE died LIKE THE ANGEL HE WAS DURING ALL HIS LIFE.
        SINCE THEN, THREE years ago, i am SOMETIMES COMPLETELY LOST.also IN MY FAITH. I AM REALLY ALONE WITH ALLAH AND MY FAITH . THÉRE IS no person, no community WHICH COULD support me. carry me, ALSO WHEN i HAVE doubths AND questions. or SIMPLY FÉEL THE NÉED TO SHARE ALSO MY joy WITH SOMEONE.
        MY FAMILY CANNOT FOLLOW MY CHOICE, MY BEST FRIENDS NEITHER..
        ACTUALLY, I LOST SO TWO OF MY BROTHERS, AN OLDER ONE AND MY TWINBROTHER. A COUSINE WITH WHOM I WROTE EVERY WEEK. AFTER A RAMADAN DURING WHICH I COULD NOT INVITE HER FOR DINNER, SHE DECLARED THAT I BECAME a kind OF a PARIAH for her , a Riff-Raff.
        MY SISTER i LOVE GREATLY, loves me, but hâtes Islam. SO I SURELY CAN NOT DISCUSS WITH HER ABOUT IT.
        YOU ARE RIGHT PAUL. IN OCCIDENT IS TO BE CONVERTED MEANS STRUGGLING
        ALLAH HAFIZ

        AMNA

        • Candy says:

          I’m sorry for your loss. Have you thought about reaching out to the online community for people to talk to?

        • muslimah says:

          salam alaikum, sister:)

          im so sorry for your loss, may Allah grant your husband jennah inshallah:)

          is there any masjid near your house?…well i could be your sister if you want….im from iraq btw:D

        • Houda says:

          Salam Amina, That’s a very moving story thank you for sharing it. I’m also from Switzerland and I kknow exactly what you are going through. I hope Allah eases your worries soon inshaAllah, in the mean time you can write to me at any time to talk about things :))

        • fareeda says:

          Salam Aman,
          your post really touched my heart. Im the daughter of a Scottish convert (Im 43 with 2children ) I have witnessed the challenges my mother went though so believe me when I say I understand what u have been through, I have also been though challenges being the child of a convert , if you would like a e-mail friend then I be delighted,
          My dua is with u
          Salam
          Fareeda

    • S says:

      As Salamu Alaikum,

      I suggest taking yourself out of the Facebook group (in fact, perhaps consider leaving Facebook altogether?). Too often, online forums are a waste of time, a place where people complain and keep complaining just for the sake of complaining – the process is addictive, and I believe initial complaints even get magnified by the process. Most often, neither the complainer nor the reader gets much real benefit.

      That being said, we should never belittle anyone’s real experiences. We never really know what someone is going through, unless we can see what is going on from their point of view.

      As the Prophet (s) said, we are all brothers and sisters in faith – we are all one body: if one part hurts, the entire body hurts.

      Also, as others have mentioned, the issues brought up in this article, although focused on converts, resonate more and more with young Muslims living in the West. I have family members, one who left the faith and one who is teetering on the edge, because they are struggling with similar issues.

      The ummah is really hurting – those of us who are doing well and not struggling should thank Allah we are not facing such challenges. We should be open to, at the minimum, listening to the struggles of our brothers and sisters with kind understanding, and provide what support we can.

      I speak to myself first and foremost here, as I know I don’t do nearly enough for the Muslim community. May Allah give me tawfiq to be better able to support my fellow sisters and brothers.

      May Allah help the entire ummah with all our struggles, whether small or big.

    • Sodstruggle says:

      Unfortunately, I’ve been discouraged of being a Muslim. I am a Hispanic 16 year state medalist wrestler, I’ve accomplish many things and am about to graduate early from high school. But the issue is that I tried to look for support and Tried to reach out-and talk to Muslims but they just don’t care. I don’t have any support from my parents either because they think am going to burn in hell because I refuse to worship statues. But what gets me the most is that the Muslims in my school talk bad about me because am phisicaly bless I love God but the way Muslims are nowadays it makes me sick I just want you all to know that the way you act can affect other people. But either way am burning in Hell .

      • Another convert says:

        Hermano, don’t despair, please. No matter what humans may have done to you or not done for you, God is constant. Turn to him, hold steady to him and to the right path. You will learn more in time. Humans come and go throughout our lives, but God is constant. Trust in him and know that he is far wiser. Your sister is thinking of you with kindness, and the greatest kindness is God’s.

      • Ismail says:

        In the name of Allah most merciful most gracious
        @sodstrugle in Islam everyone is responsible for his/her own deeds this means each of us is responsible for what ever we do. That aside u shd nt take urself as so bad than one man in the pht (PBUH) told us abt that kill 99 people n many people he asked if God wld forgive him n they said No but the pht(PBUH) reminded them the God is so forgiving n merciful n the man converted to Islam n died a forgive man n among the people of heaven. So u to don’t be discouraged by those who thk ur bad that ur to rotin hell u can be righteous n people’s attitude towards u will change n see u differently.
        The other thing is that in Islam we do everything to please Allah not humans. Convert for the will of Allah’s sake n u will not regret it. Allah knows best May Allah accept and make it easy for u to convert to Islam.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Dear Ismail,

          Salaam alaikum. Please understand that many people, especially those of us who are older, do not understand all the abbreviations some people use on the Internet. Standard English spelling (if you are posting in English) is better. In fact, I am not sure I understood all your post because of all the abbreviations. Thank you.

          All should please understand that many people are in many different situations. Not everyone is in a situation where he/she is well supported and able to withstand all the buffeting of life when they do not receive wholesome support from the Muslim community.

          This is sad, but true. The “dropout” rate of new Muslims is appalling high (I have read repeatedly estimates of 50-75%), and a major factor is often lack of acceptance into and support by the larger community. I wish this writer very well, but we must please understand that not everyone is a “spiritual hero,” and without strong support, sadly, many people will fall away.

      • mark says:

        I completely understand where you are coming from. I have posted about Hispanic Muslims and the mistreatment they get from Arab and Pakistani muslims in southern California. It’s hardcore racism. Mexican muslims have their own mosques in the Los Angeles area because they are not accepted into the “real muslim community”. It’s sad and disturbing at the same time. As I mentioned before it is sad that nationalism has replaced faith in God.

        • Naushad Omar says:

          Here in South Africa, we have many foreign Muslims like Pakistanis, Somalis and Nigerians, but local South African who cvoame from Indian and malaysian decent do not discriminate and we all mix in the same mosques.

        • iqbal says:

          In the name of Allah (Swt) – the most merciful and forgiving,
          Dear Brother Mark,
          I have been reading through the comments posted from my reverts brothers and sistrs until yours came to my attention that has surprised me as much it has saddened me. I am apalled by the behavior of those muslims whom you mentioned are very disrespectful and racist towards new converts. However, what has surprised me is that in my entire life I have never come accross any muslims especially of Arabs or Pakistani muslims to have acted or behaved racailly against fellow reverts brothers and sisters but on contrary I found completely opposite to say they are more hospitable towards the new converts even if it is acheived by ignoring our own born muslims fellow members. The reverts are always given the warmest welcome in our communities and even they are used as an example to follow in our families because they were blessed with this gift as a result of being consistent in seeking the truth. Having said that I am very sad and would like to extend apology on behalf of those whom you along side others reverts muslims were hurt. Racism in Islam is described as one of biggest sins so all muslims must refrain from it or face the anger of Allah (swt). May Allah protect us from all the major and minor sins and strengthen our faith in Him unil we meet the death, and protect us from hellfire in the life after death, Ameen.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. Experiences differ. My personal experience, going back twenty years, was one of being ignored, as if I were completely invisible. I am not an assertive person and was already of middle age when I professed myself a Muslim. Takbir! Then nothing.

          A few times after the prayers, in the lobby of the mosque, someone or other would come up to me speaking I don’t know what language, apparently on the assumption that if I was there at all, I must speak his language. It would seem that those people did not think it needful to try to speak English here in the USA where Allah (swt) put me. When I would politely respond that I only speak English, they would often just walk away.

          Allah knows best, and it may be that I myself just had atypical experiences, but those experiences of being ignored in the midst of the crowd *were* my experiences, and the resulting alienation from the community (really, never having been accepted in the first place) was a significant factor in my more or less giving up on the practice of Islam at all. Some people can “make it” in isolation on their own, but some people cannot.

      • mm says:

        Assalam Alaikum, I hope you are well Brother! :D

        Please please do not be discouraged by the muslims in your school. They are not displaying nor showcasing the proper way of Islam! Islam forbids you from backbiting about anyone – whether they are muslim or non-muslim! Muslims nowadays often do not follow Islam as it should be followed! A friend of mine at university at reverted to Islam and I can assure you – us muslims have taken him in like family! And you will not burn in hell! No one has a right to decide who goes to hell or heaven other than god himself. I urge you to look into Islam yourself and not look at the way some muslims perceive and practise Islam.

        I wish you all the best,

        Your Muslim Sister all the way from the UK :D

      • Mariam says:

        Asalam alaikum,
        No don’t think like that, I do care, so does my husband and my sisters trust me. If u need to talk please contact me (if ur a brother my husband would be happy to speak to you inshAllah). Fb: Marion Bint Roturier.
        Wsalam

    • Ayla says:

      Hamdulillah I’m happy Allah has given you somewhere to find comfort.
      For myself however the web isn’t somewhere that feels like the real world. It bothers me deeply some of the attitudes that are permitted in Allahs house.
      Same as I must be responsible for how I use my mouth. The mean niseeha I see given out regularly should NOT be accepted.
      Has reached a point where yes I feel a need to be around physically around other muslims. As my life has become ice cold & have never felt more alone in my life.
      What is not Islamic about showing respect & kindess towards each other?
      It is my fault & something I pray Allah will help me over come.
      But I have a sense of dread & fear of other muslims & the very mean niseeha that is given out to freely.

  2. Ibrahim Long says:

    As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Alex,

    Thank you so much for your very frank and open advice. I believe this speaks to a general pattern in the Muslim community and underlining philosophy behind our general approach (that is, one which focuses on the initial education but not the services and attention required afterwards). I have often thought about how something like the model of the Ansar may be implemented in this regard by perhaps inviting families or members of the community to follow up with individual converts just to see to their needs.

    If I may, I would include one more point to the above: If you don’t invite a convert over for Eid, they may not have anywhere else to go. I have found Eid to be one of the lonliest days of the year as a convert. For my non-Muslim family it was like any other day. For this reason, I have always been grateful when Muslim families invited me to join in on their celebration. Alhumdulillah that I have now married into a beautiful Muslim family. However, my heart and thoughts still go out to converts on Muslim Holy Days.

    God bless.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Wa alaikumus salaam. “I have often thought about how something like the model of the Ansar may be implemented in this regard by perhaps inviting families or members of the community to follow up with individual converts just to see to their needs.”

      This is an excellent sentiment, similar to a Big Brother/Sister program found in a few places. Unfortunately, the problem is getting such a program started in the first place. I know from direct personal experience that in some mosques (particularly in large, bureaucratic, impersonal ones) the leadership seems to be either indifferent or oblivious to the needs of converts, especially if the leaders (and most of the attendees) are from “traditional” countries in which there is no real “population” of converts with their own distinctive needs to be aware of.

      • Sha says:

        I can honestly say being a Muslim Convert of two years now has been a beautiful, differcult, heartbreaking struggle filled with love of Allah swt and lonliness of human company.

        A marriage that failed and domestic violence has not put me off my Islam. Trying to fit into a new community as a single parent – so hard. Nobody trusts me or wants to get close to me.

        As the daruss I find some people avoid sitting next to me and think I am listening to their conversations or am interested in finding out or secretly meeting their husbands (simply not interested).Quiet, mean inuendos from ‘born muslims’. Foreign people, living in my country.

        Apart from having Allah swt in my life I feel so so alone and hurt by these comments or actions. They all have everything in life. I have no husband and there is no way I feel I will find one. I suppose they rejoice in that fact and hope something good will not happen to me so they can continue putting their darts into me. And of course, what can you do? You either stay home or go to these groups to get more knowledge?????

        I come home and cry myself to sleep. If anyone can offer any GOOD advice please communicate. If you are foreign please understand that Islam Converts are very important – I get treated like I know nothing about Islam. Stop shunning us away. This is like trying to send us to Hell Fire.

        • BintNuh says:

          Asalamu alaikum Sr Sha

          May Allah grant you patient and keep you steadfast.

          Is there anyway we can get in contact with you?

        • Imane says:

          Assalaamu alaikum
          I have had the same reactions as you, the only thing I can recommend to you is hold your head up high while walking down the street, be proud of who you are and let them come to you, I was always ignored for fear of being a) the hidden second wife..(why else would she of converted) or B) the future second wife to a poor defenceless sister. Just act as you are meant, to greet people as you are meant to, and tell your story to all who ask, as this alone will be circulated through out the community. Give them time and stay true to yourself and Islam, this is their weakness not yours, don’t let it poison your faith. It does get easier :) I still need more sisterhood but it is hard as I am 38 and everyone has family commitments. But as they say around here “chin up chuck” “Allah has a plan”. If you want to sound off my email is imanezia@muslim.com.

          Allah hafiz
          Imane

  3. mark says:

    A buddy of mine sent me this and I drew a connection to how American Muslim converts feel and the reality. Much of the advice is a band aid, not a solution. this piece of advice is the best solution to a real problem. read on:

    an ant can live in a segregated ant farm all by itself.
    But it wasn’t ‘designed’ to. The environment its
    best suited for is WITHIN it’s social collective. See? Humans too are not designed to live
    in a lonesome environment. We weren’t for the past 120,000 years living in a box. Our
    environment INCLUDED other humans and we adapted motivators to deal with others.
    So when you get these emotions, reason on HOW you can satiate them properly and with
    focus instead of detours and denials. Disciplined focus. Lonely? Good. build a plan.

  4. Muslimah says:

    From this thread, it seems that getting connected to Muslims is a challenge since the people you come across in mosques etc don’t easily open up to strangers.

    But there are many good brothers and sisters out there that want to help a revert but they just don’t know how to get connected to one.

    The brother/sister program sounds like a great idea. Ideal if there was something like this locally but what do you all think of an online initiative like this?

    Whereby reverts can buddy up with other Muslims, even if they be around the globe? From there eventually they can get connected to people locally but it would be s start.

    Would to love to here all your thoughts on this? As a revert, would you join in such program?

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam. A clarification, please. Are you referring to some sort of general discussion group, along the lines of some of the threads on this website but directed specifically for converts, or a means by which individuals could match up more on a one to one or one to a few basis with more private communication to deal with specific personal issues? In either case, what would be a proposed “mechanism” for putting such a program into place?

      For many people who are very isolated, either would certainly be better than nothing. I can testify from personal experience as a convert from many years ago (I was already older than many and am a lot older now) that isolation can be deadly. (A few years ago I very nearly threw everything overboard and almost embraced a non-Islamic religion: the people there were warm, welcoming, and friendly when the Muslims were not.) Of course, having the opportunity to sit down and discuss things (or even chat lightly) “over coffee” is more fulfilling, but sometimes we have to take what we can get.

      • Muslimah says:

        I am actually referring to a buddy system whereby you can be connected to a Muslim.

        It would be ideal to organise a face to face however the least, would be a Muslim friend online that can be your friend.

        The way it would work is that reverts and potential Muslim buddies can sign up online. After that the organisers can match people up according to age, background etc.

        What do you think of such idea?

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. I agree that face to face is best, but failing that, even a one to one online correspondence would be better than the isolation many converts experience. Setting up, taking the ongoing responsibility for, and managing such an exchange facility would take some doing and commitment. There are some groups online already, although my personal experience with them has not been the best.

        • Aminah says:

          I think that sounds like an Absolute great idea. I would love to help. you can contact me via email tonquinetta32@yahoo.com

        • alisha says:

          i want to be offering namaaz with my friend i will very very im very happy & said that i love you allah

        • Afroza says:

          Hi sister, I love your idea and I would be very happy to help with something like this, may I suggest using Google+ for the muslim buddy thing you suggests- its very easy to use. Please contact me about this either on Google+ (you can find me under the name Anni Afroza) or by replying to my comment on this website.
          May Allah help us all in being kind to our fellow muslim brothers and sisters – no matter what nationality they are or if they weren’t born muslim

  5. Reem Al-Atassi says:

    I would be more than happy to meet “over coffee” :) with female reverts in the Atlanta area! Feel free to message me on Facebook (just type my name in the search bar).

  6. SZ says:

    This article is spot on about everything. Most of the times its the close friends or acquaintances who lead you to Islam are the ones judging you after you convert. May Allah guide us all

  7. Vinod says:

    Salam ai laikum. I am newly converted Muslim and I am 19 years old. I converted because when i was in grade 8 i was told to say a verse and i had no idea of the meaning so i said itand few days later my heart felt as if i was a muslim. Few years later i met this girl who gave me a bigger view of islam and i liked this girl alot. Recently i have been having second guessing my decision because i was scared of losing my family specially my parents since they taught me life and all. And somehow i have a feeling that i unconsiously converted because of the girl. And i feel like thats a wrong thing to do. So i stopped praying and all. I would like some help from someone

    • Kms says:

      Assalamu alaikoum,
      Just know that shaytan will always try to get to you in one way or another and dont let him! Especially because you have already accepted Islam he will always try to find more ways. All you have to do is ask Allah SWT for forgiveness and refresh your intentions. Always try to keep in mind that Allah SWT is The Most Gracious and Most Merciful. He brought you to Islam because He loves you. Dont let shaytan take it away from you!
      May Allah SWT make it easy for all of us. Ameen.
      Please let me know if need my help in anything at all.

    • Anjali says:

      Assalam o alaikum Vinod,

      Belief is a very personal emotion. Your belief in Islam shouldn’t be because of someone, you should truly feel it in your heart. MashAllah you are young and was even younger when you felt the love of Islam in your heart, so why all of a sudden you are questioning your belief.
      This is just a personal opinion but i dont think one should change their religion for any person. Your belief is for you and your faith is between you and the God you trust. I am a convert too and can to some extent undertand the family pressure but Alhamdullilah my relation to Allah is much stronger than with my parents.

      Before you make any decisions, think for yourself to see what makes you happy , not others.

      Hope this helps.

  8. Khaleda Shumi says:

    I’m trying to get a person very close to me to convert to Islam, I need help??? I don’t know where to start from? please contact me via face book

    • mark says:

      khaleda, God brings people to faith. Don’t preach, don’t condemn, don’t talk about religion. Just live by example. actions speak louder than words. Over time the person will ask you about your faith. Most of all be confident in your faith in God. Let others see your joy and happiness in faith. Let others see your kindness. that speak volumes. Preaching turns people off.

    • AMuslimah says:

      Hey Khaleda, guidance is from Allah swt. You try your best and don’t forget to make dua for them.

      As for how to make dua, check out the resources here: http://missiondawah.com/

      • Khaleda says:

        The truth is I fell in love with a guy who was hindu, we wanted to get marry, but its against my religion ‘Islam’ but because of this I had to be strong and let him go, He did look into Islam for a while but because I wasn’t a practising Muslim I had no idea but I always did tell him we can start learning about Islam together, I didn’t want to preach what I don’t practise. It was just too much I still love to this day. Were both finding it hard to get over. I just hope Allah helps us both in each and every way, he may not be muslim but he was the one the most nicest people Ive ever known, to me his beliefs and understanding was almost Islamic etc

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam. Although I do not know your situation and the individual whom you hope to facilitate to come to Islam, I can only offer this suggestion: Be There for him/her. I came to Islam many years ago, but in the end my conversion did not “take” very well, and I have pretty much drifted away. (In fact, a few online activities like this are all the actual contact I have with Islam any more, and I do not pretend to practice.)

      One issue that has come up over and over in my life and over and over in comment threads on websites like this is lack of acceptance of converts by the Muslim community and subsequent alienation which leads to people just walking away. If you want to help someone come to Islam, you (and preferably others as well, of course) need to Be There. I can testify from personal experience how deadly isolation can be. Be There for the person and live your own Islam so that he/she can see it. A few people can come to Islam and live successfully is isolation. Many of us cannot. (And Allah swt knows best.)

      • Naushad Omar says:

        There is a solution to every problem. With pervasive electronic media and communication, you should organize a group of reverts and form a clan. Tribes, clans and families have for centuries been formed to solve problems of isolation.

      • Candy says:

        I am slipping more and more into the same situation. Here when my husband and I go for prayers we leave feeling sad. Don’t get me wrong—IT’S NOT THE MOSQUE! It’s the people. There is not much friendship there. The ladies have a nice prayer room upstairs but I get so stressed because I get the “stink eye” from older women who maybe figure I’m not doing it right. I was attending every Jumma but got so stressed that half my hair fell out. (yes I was covered, and yes, even that stressed me out). In Kosovo the women don’t cover, only when they go to pray. The people there always made me feel so welcome. Here I feel I am in “culture shock”. Even my husband, a born Muslim, doesn’t feel comfortable with the people there. Once they had food after prayers. There was no place to sit. Everyone just stood in their own little groups and eyed other people suspiciously. Once my husband waited for me outside and saw some stranger taking pictures of license plates. It freaked me out when he told me.

        • jeng says:

          I feel this is why Muslims have so many problems. Hunger, wars, humiliation, refugees; They are being pushed into different lands to humble them and learn true brotherhood.

  9. Mica says:

    100% accurate, I’m a revert, ethnicity half white German/half Jamaican, I have no idea what to wear at all, especially since eid is coming up, and the rest of the points are 100% also about family and stuff :( but I’m not and will never second guess myself!

    • mark says:

      @mica: wear your regular clothes. you don’t have to take Arab or Pakistani culture, clothing or food. Islam is not about culture it’s about faith in God and serving God. Don’t get caught up in the clothing game. Just wear what you wear.

    • Mustafa says:

      Though I am late to reply as i am seeing the question today. I cant but to say a few words by seeing the reply of mica’s qustion.
      In Eid, we are supposed to ware our best cloth! period.
      Then comes- if my clothing or covering style is allowed! You may choose dress from whatever culture you like- Eastern, western or middle eastern- the birth place of Islam. the focal point is- if you are a guy or lady, your body should be covered appropriately- socially aceptable and weather-wise. A men cant have a ladies dress, or vice versa. A lady should ware a dress that covers her body and doesn’t expose the adornments to non -related male, except hands, feet (below ankle) and face. There are women they cover their face as well-I respect their decision, but there are different opinions on that issue, if you want to know i can send you the materials. Thats upto you.
      Thanks again for your question.

  10. Happy Muslim says:

    Asalaam walaykum everyone,

    I just wanted to thank the author of this article as I think this awareness amongst is very much needed. Jazaakallahu khayran (may Allah reward you with good. I also would like to wish the same for Imaam Suhaib Webb for this place of informative, supportive and wise words.

    Here some personal words to those who need it – no matter how long we’re Muslims:
    As a reverted Muslim woman of two years and somewhat months, i must say that I was received very well and supported in many ways by all the Muslims I’ve met. Ofcourse here and there, there were some less friendly and open Muslim but it didnt take away the all beautiful people I did meet.

    I look back at my first year with tears in my eyes and say Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah) for all the tribulations, joys, doubt, questions (about & with myself and others) but mostly the assured feeling that no matter what, I’ve got Allah.. Those hectic difficulties after having converted brought me straight down to my knees in prostration to seek help and guidance from the One who created me and my path. It made me submit to Allah swt with all my might because i didnt have anyone else – the whole purpose of Islam, what we are created for and what is needed for a newly converted Muslim to shake of the ‘old you’… And as I submitted He started sending wonderful people my way who were kind, supportive and willing to stand me by whilst i travel on the Path.

    I had all sorts of questions, fears and most of all a determination to do everything right from now on. My slate was clean now, I was like a new-born baby – literally… Because now at an age of 28 years what was right now, what was wrong because I didnt know any better than where I came from – where what is right is Islamically mos wrong and the other way around. Plus the idea to not become an extremist because as a new Muslim without the right guidance you can tend to go overboard, demand too much of yourself. So I felt lost and my brains were numb. All I knew was that this was the Truth. But the One who sends guidance is Allah so my advice to those who are battling would be: ask for Allah for patience, for mercy, for eyes that see the good in people wherever you go, whatever they do to you but most importantly a heart and mind that forgives. Only with a cleansed heart will you truelly be free of need of people & things and will u feel a closeness to Allah. On top of that, its your key to Jannah, insha’Allah.

    One key advise I will always take me, ok maybe two, after leaving the country of residence and the community where I converted, that the lady who I did my Shahada with gave me was:
    Firstly, never hold grudges – keeps you away from remembring Allah and all the good He’s granted you and it blackens your heart when Islam is about ‘whitening’ the heart, in other words, purity of the heart.
    Secondly, travel gently on the Path with sweetness and love. In other words as I had read somewhere once, be patient with yourself, be patient with others and be patient with the Decree of your Creator.
    Oow yes, there’s a third one!!! When you feel low and have bad thoughts, do Dhikr – repeat La illaha illallaa – until u feel the weight being lifted from you.

    The moral of this reply is to just focus on relationship with Allah, see the hardships as Allah giving u the opportunity to rely on Him only – in the Quran He states (not sure about the exact Surah and Ayat) ‘surely Allah loves those who complain to Him, seek refuge in Him and rely solely on Him in prayer and steadfastness. Once you do that He shine Nut (light) on your face and people cannot help to be attracted to you and forget about whether you’re a convert, revert, divorced or whatever… If not, its on them and to Allah they’ll have to explain to Allah one day…

    Lastly, Allah says: I am what people think I am. So believe that Allah has got your back, He’s already in execution-mode, He will guide you the right company, He will have your family understand Islam; even for a little bit when He thinks is the best for you. Just ask and trust that He can and will do so. You just do your bit as the principles of our Deen and the Sunnah of our Prophet (peace be upon him, his family and companions) tells you to.

    Walaykum salaam wa rahmatu wa barakatu

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      “As a reverted Muslim woman of two years and somewhat months, i must say that I was received very well and supported in many ways by all the Muslims I’ve met. Ofcourse here and there, there were some less friendly and open Muslim but it didnt take away the all beautiful people I did meet.”

      You are very fortunate to have had these experiences with such people. Sadly, other converts (such as myself) have had almost the opposite experience: some loud takbirs when we pronounce the words of the Shahada in the prayer hall, and then very quickly almost nothing, near invisibility in the midst of a big crowd. Some of us did not meet a lot of “beautiful people,” only indifference by a lot of people who either could not or would not speak our language (right here in our own homeland where Allah swt put us), not even give a stranger salaams. It was very quickly very alienating. So much for Islamic brotherhood.

      From what I have been able to gather here and in other forums and experiences, this (i.e., the indifference and alienation) are so common that I am not surprised so many converts to Islam in North America sooner or later just walk out in sheer frustration and loneliness. They may say to themselves, well, these other people over here following this other (i.e., non-Islamic) religion at least are warm, friendly, and welcoming and make me feel wanted, which those Muslims are not and do not, so maybe I will at least look at what they have to offer (again, speaking from experience).

      • Mustafa says:

        Salam Paul!
        May I ask you a question?
        Where do you leave!

        I probably understood your situation. Problem is- we are human being- each and everybody has their own life and problems, if you dont tell to others what you need – how you will get help!
        I know -nobody likes solitude way of life. You have to try to make friends, some ( not all) Mosque has programs for the reverts, try to find one. well, if no avail, there are ways- online.
        Let me know your problem, I will try to help inshaAllah – whatever capacity i have.
        When i a feel lonely, I try to do Zikr- means – recite Allah’s name- remembering Allah – His bounties- here and hereafter. it might help you too.
        May Allah Help you for your situation and protect you from the temptation to blame others.
        Thank you for the opporunity to let me in.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. I live in the USA, in northern Virginia near Washington, DC. It may be that over the years my personal experiences with the Muslim community have been atypically bad, and others have not had those bad experiences, but those have been the unpleasant experiences that I have had with Muslims. After all this time I have become disillusioned. Several years ago I attended many gatherings of an explicitly non-Islamic religion, and the people there were warm, friendly, and welcoming, all of which the Muslims were not. I felt welcome and wanted there, in major contrast to the coldness and alienation in the only mosque I could get to with any frequency at all.

          For personal contact, I prefer not to make my primary email address open in the public at large, but I have a sort of “throwaway” address at slyphnoyde@yahoo.com . I can be contacted there for my “real” address.

  11. Happy Muslim says:

    ps. For clarification sake, not every new-Muslim becomes an extremist in the sense of bombing and terrorism, I mean that go too hard, too fast to change yourself into this new become person…

    Prophet Muhammad said, always choose the middle path on whatever occasion. Do not lack in ur actions, thus going to the far-right or go far-right and be extreem in what you do.

    I hope that which i tried to explain did come through…

    Salaam walaykum

  12. mark says:

    I have noticed something about this thread. No one wants to address the very real and very serious issue of Muslims from Muslim countries alienating converts from America. I agree with Paul, Muslims in America don’t greet converts. I went out to eat iftar with a friend and his sister (who is not muslim)the other night and no one greeted him,not a hello or a salam alaykum. They were downright rude. The muslim women pushed his sister and blatantly mocked her because she was not wearing a hijab. the poor girl was very upset and shaken. I was angry for him and her. I had warned him about the lack of community in Islam and that he would be walking a lonely walk. ( I walked that walk but there comes a point where you have to decide if you are the religion of one dude or simply looking like a guy who lost his mind. I decided it was time to slowly back away and take my life back). They were treated very badly. I actually piped up and made a few heads look down because I admonished them for how rude they were. ( you are not supposed to do this because muslims think this is bad form. but things don’t change unless you speak up). The sad thing is that no one wants to address these issues. Why? because in the end it is about culture and no one wants to seriously address that there is something seriously wrong with Arab and Pakistani muslims. I have met Chinese Muslims and eaten with them at Chinese Islamic Restaurants and never had those types of problems. I’ve eaten with bulgarian and albanian muslims and no problem at all. One of my closest friends is from Kosovo and that guy is totally respectful to everyone.
    The first companions of the prophet were converts. Therefore Islam from its very beginnings was a religion of converts. yet, today, converts are treated very badly.

    • Happy Muslim says:

      You are very fortunate to have had these experiences with such people. Sadly, other converts (such as myself) have had almost the opposite experience: some loud takbirs when we pronounce the words of the Shahada in the prayer hall, and then very quickly almost nothing, near invisibility in the midst of a big crowd.

      Firstly, maybe I was not clear enough in my previous reply. I am not denying the fact that this is not an occurring issue. That it doesn’t happen. It does and you are right; it’s sad because Islam stands for the opposite of what is being done. Passing ‘peace’ upon your fellow human being is what differentiates us from those who are not on the Path. And I get eyes looking down on me, all the time. Greetings that aren’t answered because I don’t fit the traditional Muslim script. It’s even worse –referring to Mark’s experience – when we don’t have the manners and adab (spiritual courtesy) to show the warmth and hospitality that Muslims should have like no other – as and for our Brothers and Sisters (convert or no convert) but ESPECIALLY in front of non-Muslims. But its on those who do this, not us. May Allah protect us all and guide us.

      After reading Paul’s reaction, I couldn’t stop thinking about something my Shaykh said once (something like), “being part of the Muslim Ummah is not about being part of a social club. Being Muslim isn’t about belonging to a community in order to make friends and have a great time. From the beginning, you must know why you want to become a Muslim because it might be that the very person or people you feel a connection with might disappoint you one day or who knows what and what will you then do”?

      In other words, it’s important to understand what your reason is for becoming Muslim. This is what I was trying to make clear in my response – busy yourself with what you came here for. Because people are people, we will disappoint you, we will fail at times. My personal way of dealing with such is that I don’t take it to heart – I’m here for Allah; I choose to give the positive reactions the upper hand. In addition, I wouldn’t be any different if I react with the same attitude or worse. I would just be the same doll but with a different issue.

      Our Prophet (pbuh) was maltreated and bullied to the extent of just humiliation but how did he react to such? Dedicating himself to Allah and waiting for His decree on the matter.
      And understand me well, this is not to take away your experience at all. It’s completely valid but what’s the solution? Act the same way? Distance yourself from the Deen? And then what? You missed out on what can elevate you to the highest and best of places plus you lost your unique tools to show how it should be done; your moment to be that mirror to others, about their actions.

      Coincidentally I came across this story today – just to give you a thought/understanding of where we are today and the reaction of the Imam – Duty to Allah continues regardless and people are put to think …
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151461872112470&set=a.10150897698772470.397606.121797092469&type=1&theater

      • mark says:

        I agree that people become muslims to serve God, but isolation is not healthy. there is supposed to be a community of believers not people that look down on converts, bad mouth converts and totally ignore converts. If I had wanted any of that I wouldn’t have to become muslims because I can get that from your average everyday Joe.
        The Koran admonishes the believers to help and support one another. Yet, that is completely ignored when it comes to converts.
        The funny thing is the majority of Muslims (90%) are from Indonesia and Malaysia. the Middle East is the minority yet I find it interesting that muslims from the Middle East think it is their religion. It’s seriously and odd dynamic.

        • Mary says:

          I have been studying Islam for over a year now. I am wanting to covert myself but there is a fear on how the Islamic community will except me and teach and share with me and a fear of my parents reaction. I am an Italian-American and they I know are not going to be happy parents. I just got out of an abusive marriage and I have children and the only thing that has kept me in good spirits was looking and studying islam on my computer of course and watching the Deen show. Your world as a nonmuslim can be upside down but watch the deen show and it tells you a lot and for a moment in time you are at peace just thinking of a world that is better than the one you are living in right now. I have no car no job nothing and living with my mother at the moment. But in time when I get that job and transportation, I am thinking of going to the Islamic community Center but I am a little scared. I do not think right now I can face rejection and humiliation and I hope and pray to Allah that they will except me and the children. I am also not sure if I want to be married ever again. I am afraid to be married again and can you be a muslim woman and not be married? Do you have to be married in islam? I look forward to your responses and may Allah bless you all!

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Salaam. We have to realize that people in reality come to Islam with various understandings and intentions. I have noticed myself that in places and at times, individuals may be allowed and even encouraged to make Shahada with almost no one — including the individuals themselves! — knowing what the they really understand about Islam. Just say these magic Arabic words (whether you understand them or not) as if they are an end in themselves, and all will be well.

        Except that not all is in fact well. To be blunt, there may be individuals who in all sincerity, honesty, and “good faith” (so to speak) pronounce the words of the Shahada genuinely, really, and truly thinking that they are doing the right and correct thing, but in fact they may be quite confused. Believe me, it happens! In some places and at some times, for some people there is little or even no real understanding of Islam. Nevertheless, they can be almost pushed into pronouncing these “magic” Arabic words.

        Now, if there is an embracing, welcoming, supportive community, some of these (literally) confused people might come to have genuine, sincere faith and develop as good Muslims. But that requires a supportive community, which often is not present.

        Certainly I do not have figures (Allah swt knows best), but I honestly speculate that a lot of converts to Islam may well not have understood what they were doing in the first place professing themselves as Muslims. Make no mistake: they *absolutely* were not hypocrites. They were just confused and not well informed, but nobody realized that (or cared). Again, with a supportive community they may have been “salvaged” (for lack of a better term) for Islam, but it didn’t happen. So when they confront the (rather sick) reality of the Ummah, they eventually leave.

    • Ann says:

      Assalam Alaikum Mark, as a newly practising muslimah myself I so agree with you and all the other experiences. It is very sad and makes one feel angry, frustrated and lonely at times. I am even but off going to mosque where I live simply because of the people I see and meet there. Where ever you go to it seems to be all about culture rather than Islam. But we have no option other than to be strong and steadfast and remember we are muslims for Allah alone and not for anything or anybody. May Allah subhanahu wa ta ala hear our cries and unite this Ummah insha’Allah. Wasalam Ann

      • Naushad Omar says:

        The native immigrants will behave like that since the countries they come from are very conservative and culture has replaced religion. Their children will behave better and be more acceptable of reverts since they will adopt american culture.

  13. Happy Muslim says:

    Ps. story doesn’t appear to be true but I guess there’s truth in it. But I shared it for the reason of reaction to certain behaviour…

    • mark says:

      Happy Muslim, you stated that the Prophet was mistreated and bullied.
      He was bullied by non-believers. So, from that when self proclaimed Muslims bully converts or non muslims are those self proclaimed Muslims “Muslims” or do they fall into the non believer category?
      I tend to believe that latter.

  14. Layla says:

    As a 17 year old girl looking to convert, this has been very helpful. I am looking forward to the day I can finally call myself a practicing muslim. Thank you for writing this as it gave me much encouragement and realization of what I need to do. May you be rewarded. Insha’ Allah. Alhamdulillah.

  15. UmmTaha says:

    Warm salams to all. I converted to Islam 36 years ago, and I – like Br. Paul – have seen so much goodness from brothers and sisters born into Muslim families in majority Muslim countries, as well as quite a bit of reprehensible behavior from the ‘born’ Muslims. I, like so many other converts, have been sorely tried and turned inside-out by what can only be described as the seriously misguided actions of many, many born Muslims. It can be extremely frustrating and demoralizing when, after you’ve found the TRUTH, you find yourself the object of belittlement, pandering patronization, and some downright aggressively inappropriate behavior.

    Even today, after having spent almost 30 years in the Middle East, having learned to read, write and speak Arabic, having taught Islamic Studies in Arabic and English (in the Middle East and the U.S.), having completed a doctorate and being a published author in my field, even now when I proposed a down-to-earth, comprehensive class about Islam for Muslim converts by this convert, I was forced to address the most incredible and inane comments and concerns of some ‘born’ Muslims who are in the board of directors for the masjid (i.e. What if one of the converts brings a non-Muslim, and he wants to argue with you?).

    There are two very important things I’ve come to realize as a result of my experiences and a life lived well.

    FIRST: We should not be too critical of the tendency of ‘born’ Muslims to gravitate towards and hang out with their own. If we’re being honest, as much as we enjoy mingling in the diversity of our Ummah, man! it really does feel good to chill with our homies!

    SECOND: ‘Born’ Muslims don’t get us! They can no more relate to the difficulties we face as converts than we can sincerely relate to their difficulties as immigrants in the U.S. We NEED grass roots organizations established by us, for us. We need to stop looking to the immigrant Muslim population for guidance and for support. To be sure, the sheikhs and imams offer much valuable guidance, but by and large, they are overwhelmed and virtually unapproachable for the average joe shmoe Muslim American.

    Some of you may be reading this and saying that this kind of thinking can only cause more division in our Ummah. To them I say: It’s a sad fact that we are already divided. In Dallas, we have masjids run by those of Arab origin, masjids run by those of Pakistani origin, and even a masjid run by African Americans. There is little cooperation among these groups, and – apart from the African Americans – no ongoing support program for new Muslims. I firmly believe that we will achieve greater unity among Muslims in the U.S. when Muslims of American descent are taken more seriously. I am very excited and hopeful about this. Becoming a Muslim in 1977 was a very lonely experience. Now we are blessed with homegrown, world recognized scholars like Imam Suhaib and Osama Canon. We are getting there, insha’ Allah. Alhamdu Lillah

    • mark says:

      @ummaTaha: you claim being a published author, then why hide it by not using your real name?
      using the word “homie” says quite a bit considering you are a PhD holder and published author. “Homie” is street gang language which has been embraced by the mainstream and turned into some cute vernacular. It’s not cute, it’s ridiculous to talk that way.

      you say we should not be critical of “born” muslims. But division is a sin. They claim being Muslim but treat converts very badly. I’ve seen it in LA, San Francisco and New York, Saudi Arabia (where I’ve seen stuff that will make you run) I believe I’ve seen a good cross section.
      You stated it clearly when you said there is very little cooperation between Arabs, Pakistanis, African Americans, etc. You basically admit it and defeat your own argument. Muslims are not supposed to treat each other that way. We are supposed to look past cultural divisions and embrace each other based on our faith in God. As one Arab Muslim told me once when I said that culture is not important in Islam he said “that’s a nice dream, you are not living in real life”. Apparently, that guy threw out parts of the Koran and Hadith that didn’t fit into his world view. It appears that you are accepting it in an apathetic manner.
      As the saying goes “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. The Muslim community as a whole is divided against itself and its all based on ego, pride, nationalism and arrogance. All of which are sins and not serving God.
      Another problem among muslims is the whole political correctness thing. problems and issues can never be solved as long as political correctness and the religion is used as a weapon to silence people that have are honest and forthright. There is a problem among muslims and no one wants to work to resolve it. I tried starting a grassroots organization, which included inter-faith outreach, and was condemned, vilified and verbally attacked by other muslims for it. Why? because who is a convert to tell “born” muslims how things should be and that “true” islam is about isolation from non believers. I have even read comments about Shuaib Webb on youtube and they are very ugly. Muslims calling him a kaffir. It’s ugly stuff.
      So, your concept of a grassroots organization may work for a short time but will ultimately fail because eventually you will have to compromise your values to appeal to a larger demographic of muslims. I had an imam in Los Angeles tell me that he is aware of the problems but cannot address them because he would lose much of his congregation and he needs donations for the mosque. that’s how it is.

      • UmmTaha says:

        As-salamu alaykum, Br. Mark. I hardly know where to begin in response to your comment! First, I did not comment to blow my own horn, and that is why I am using an pseudonymn. I only mentioned it to point out that I’m no wet-behind-the-ears, ignorant, shoot-from-the-hip, over-zealous Muslim American. I spoke from a sincere desire to raise awareness further concerning certain issues.

        I am an intellectual and an academic, but I’m no snob. I’m an American – a product of the rough, tough, honky-tonk Northeast of the United States. Our language is colorful, and I’m not going to affect some pseudo-snobbish vocabulary just because I have a DR in front of my name now. Most people I know appreciate that about me. (I’ve actually heard Br. Suhaib Webb use the term ‘homies’ too – gasp!)

        So, on to the other things you said. Before I begin, I’d like to apologize if some of what I wrote seemed to be contradictory. In my desire to be fair, giving credit where credit is due, it may have come across as confusing.

        About being critical of ‘born’ Muslims: What I said was that we should “not be TOO critical”. This means that I AM criticizing, but at the same time, I understand why they are doing the wrong thing that they are doing. It does NOT mean “we should not be critical”. OK? I can only 100% agree with you that the behavior of many born Muslims towards converts creates division. (I became a Muslim in Philly where I first exposed to the incorrect behavior of ‘born’ Muslims. Then I traveled to the Mid East to study, and later got married there. I lived for 30 years over there, in several countries (UAE, KSA, ARE, Syria, Palestine, Oman), so I guess I’ve also seen a good cross section as well.

        Then you said, “You stated it clearly when you said there is very little cooperation between Arabs, Pakistanis, African Americans, etc. You basically admit it and defeat your own argument. Muslims are not supposed to treat each other that way.” Your “it” is missing an antecedent. What “it” are you referring to? I could not agree with you more on that last bit: Muslims are sure not supposed to treat each other that way!!

        Brother, saying that culture is not important is a bit simplistic, because we should all be sharing a common Islamic culture. I think what you were referring to was ethnically defined culture (i.e. the ethnic cultures of ‘born’ Muslims). Coupled with nationalistic fervor, which tends to minimalize cross-cultural bonds of belief, the exclusivist behavior of certain cultural immigrant Muslim groups in the U.S. has not been in the best interest of the wider Muslim ummah. The “ugly stuff” you refer to is exactly what I referring to in my last two points. I also belong to an interfaith group, and I don’t really give a damn what the ‘born’ Muslims think about that. (I helped some of my former students with a college assignment to go to a place of worship other than their own. We attended a Methodist Sunday service – gasp!)

        And as far as your last comment is concerned – have faith, brother! There is no denying that there have been grassroots efforts which have failed, but that is only a reason to re-double our attempts. We have many examples of successful such organizations: Project Downtown, Umma Clinic in LA, Khan Academy, Ta’leef Collective, Muslims without Borders, etc. All homegrown and all continuing in their struggle to improve things.

        Part of our faith as Muslims is to never give up hope and to really believe that “inna maal uusri yusra” (sadaq Allahul Aatheem – this is the spoken truth of Allah). Try again, brother – try again!

        • mark says:

          @ummTaha: Islam is not a culture. Islam means submission to God, therefore following God’s commands and decrees. It is not culture night.
          Apparently, like others before you, you seem to be picking and choosing which hadith and which part of the Koran you want to follow. Muhammad said that before God we are all equal and the same. God doesn’t see us based on skin color and culture.
          We can share our ethnic foods, clothing, etc. but that has nothing to do with service to God. God could care less about that. We put too much emphasis on race and culture, which as Muslims we should ignore. treat people as human beings FIRST. That is what is missing among muslims, the idea of treating people as Human beings.
          Should I try? why? I can use my energy in far more positive ventures instead of dealing with all the nonsense. Yes, there have been grass roots efforts that have failed, but it is a different story when Muslims sabotage those efforts and make an effort to bad mouth an organization.
          The problem is apathy. People see the elephant in the room but refuse to talk about it because, well, it takes too much effort to work toward a solution. What you are doing is basically ignoring a problem that you “hope” will resolve itself over time. it never will, it will only get worse. If what Shuaib Webb cites is correct and 75% of converts leave Islam after a few years that’s seriously bad. it speaks volumes about the muslim community. Now, don’t you think that instead of ignoring the problem it is time people work to change it?

          by the way Khan Academy was not started as muslim organization and as far as I know it has nothing to do with Islam.

      • Faadiel says:

        Hi Mark.

        I know this is a late reply. I Just came across this article. This goes out to all those whose recently embrace Islam. I’m a born muslim from South Africa, Cape Town. As far as I know born muslims in most countries don’t treat new muslims bad. This is primarily a American muslim thing, and the muslims there need to work on solutions.
        Some immigrants obviously have a negative view of former non-muslims who mistreated them. . .and America is kinda leading with the whole anti-islam propaganda thing.

        Besides all that, we living in the End Times, as told by the Nabi Muhammad(saws) in the hadiths. So this chaos around the world is to be expected.

        But Islam is not what Most Muslims do (the ignorant ones). Its about what all Muslims are suppose to do. Some born muslims take being muslim for granted, ecspecially those from muslim countries. BUT understand, some arabs from saudi is wahabis which means they a group of muslims thats normally intolerant and conservative. So im not surprise.

        Unrealistic expectations, such as open arm welcomes and being hasty could backfire. Thats why sabr ( patience) is the best virtue a true muslim can have.

        Its just unfortunate that american converts got deal a tricky hand with arab and pakistani muslims, in the islamic world its common knowledge about those two cultures. . . Converts confuse cultural behaviour with religious tenets. . .arabs and pakistantis cant see the difference. Eitherway, bad muslims don’t mean Islam is bad. All faiths have good and bad people. Even the sahaba was tested at the beginning to see how sincere they are. Allah is testing, guiding, dropping you, raising you to strenghten your imaan (faith). For a muslim should be strong at the core and not waver. . So theres divine purpose behind both good and bad events. . .as for those not knowing where to learn. The MOSQUE must ALWAYS BE THE 1ST STOP. dont go there for the people. Go there to gain knowledge and understanding 1st. Never create a self fulfilling prophesy, by continuesly thinkng of yourselfs as new converts. Leave that mindset behind. Recite Ayatul kursi.(the verse of the throne). 2nd chapter, 255 ayat. Its a protection against calamity and harm and keep shaytan away. Begin everything with allahs name. And don’t stop making dua for its the weapon of the believer.

        American muslims are going thru a phase, a trial of sorts. Allah will guide you all to proper decent good muslims. But never blame the religion of the prophets , islam, because some born muslims is on edge in a western country, coming from muslim country. These people speak arabic all day long. Dont try to fit in. Be yourself. And finally. Dua, dua, dua and salaah. Guidance to beter conditions will surely come. Trust in Allah with patience and steadfastness. Over 80% of muslims in the world live in non-muslim countries. So everything of the best to you all. May Allah guide us all Insha Allah.

        Islamic sites free ebooks, videos, lectures, quran, hadith, audios. A fountain of islamic knowledge .

        http://www.kalamullah.com

        http://www.islamicline.com

        http://www.challengeyoursoul.com

        http://www.islamhouse.com

  16. UmmTaha says:

    Dear Brother,
    I have done my best to thoughtfully and respectfully answer your criticisms and comments, but you have not replied in kind. I strongly suggest that you carefully re-read my posts. Take your time while reading them. Try very hard to separate yourself from your apparent negativity and self-pity that seems to be affecting your ability to respond objectively. As a lifelong teacher, I would also strongly counsel you to use some kind of dictionary (Lots of people do; there is no shame in that), since you don’t really seem to understand the word ‘culture’. Jazak Allahu khayr at any rate for the exchange. I will not respond again. Was-salam

    • Amelia says:

      You know, I’m reading the comment exchange here and it looks like what is going on is exactly what UmmTaha mentioned:

      “I was forced to address the most incredible and inane comments and concerns of some ‘born’ Muslims…”

      Just adding my two cents:

      Point #1. We’re all made of clay and we were all born with fitra. This means that no born-Muslim is higher in rank nor is a convert; Allah knows best.

      Point #2. If Prophet Muhammad S were to read this, what would he say about the tone of this dialogue? Is this how a Muslim treats his brother?

      Point #3. Let go of your need to be right. A person with even a mustard seed’s worth of arrogance does not enter Paradise.

      These are reminders to me first and foremost. May Allah bless you both and may He guide all of us, ameen.

    • Naushad Omar says:

      I support your responses.

  17. Tauseef says:

    Mark has issues with how he sees Islam being practiced. Experienced Muslims live with the knowledge that Islam is a perfect religion carried in an imperfect vessel. Only God is perfect, every Muslim, no matter how knowledgeable, is imperfect. God could care less about food, language, clothing, etc? Allah said that he made us into different tribes so that we could recognize each other – He has created different cultures that accept Islam. Islam is not a lockstep march, it is an ongoing process of adaptation and interpretation to an everchanging world, in addition to the basic obedience to the main pillars of faith.Mark has a point, though. Non-western Muslim MUST MUST MUST learn to appreciate American culture as being a valid culture in which to practice Islam. Culturally American Muslims must never be made to feel inferior to any other culture, just like every other culture must be respected equally. Cultures are like people: equal, yet different. The Islam that people import from overseas is not automatically superior to American Islam. There is PLENTY of proof to support that.

  18. Leslie says:

    JAK for this article. As a middle aged woman who converted almost 9 years ago, I remember the isolation I felt, the confusion at all the Arabic words I heard in a khutbah, feeling like I didn’t “fit.” Sisters came up to me in the prayer hall and told me very directly how my clothing was wrong, too revealing, that I needed to do things differently. At first, I became angry (which alhamdulilah I didn’t show) but then I came to understand that in their way, they were trying to help me as a new Muslim. Born Muslims sometimes have trouble differentiating between what is from Islam and what is from their culture. It’s up to me to become familiar with what is from Islam so that I can make the proper choices.

    I read a ton those first few years, and I compared what I was hearing and experiencing with ahadeeth and information from trusted sources. As long as I was sticking to what I was coming to understand was a good middle path, I tried not to be influenced or saddened by negativity. Did I lose friends? Absolutely. Did I feel alone on Eids? Yup. Was I confused and lonely? Some. I adopted my own way of dressing that is modest but not Arab or Pakastani or Malaysian, because I’m not of those ethnic backgrounds.

    It was my dissatisfaction with my experience in the women’s prayer hall during Ramadan that helped me turn a corner. Due to the noise, I found myself unable to concentrate during tarawhih prayers, and I vowed to volunteer the following year to try to help keep it quiet in the prayer hall. The simple act of volunteering at the mosque exposed me to brothers and sisters who exhibited good adab, and I unconsciously started mirroring their behaviors. I started volunteering serving food at the iftars, and other sisters in our community came to know me better. I am shy by nature, so my difficulty in getting close to people is as much my fault as anyone else’s. The patience and kindness I learned from doing these things made me much more approachable.

    I think the one thing this article and much of the ensuing discussion has missed is we have to learn to feel comfortable with who we are before others will feel comfortable with us. Nobody can do that for us. If you’re going to be alone on Eid or Thanksgiving or whatever, reach out to someone. I bet you if you told a sister or brother what your situation was, you’d have 10 invitations. Our Muslim brothers and sisters can’t read minds any better than we can. If we need help, we need to ask for it. I know not every masjid is equally supportive, but if I was going to one that wasn’t after I had tried repeatedly to reach out, I would find another masjid that was.

    I think in the US we have what I would call and add water and stir approach to many things. We expect them to be easy, and sometimes they’re not. But thank God we get a bigger reward for our struggles. As a new Muslim just as in life, one will be tested many ways. Those experiences will insha’Allah make us stronger.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam. “Born Muslims sometimes have trouble differentiating between what is from Islam and what is from their culture. It’s up to me to become familiar with what is from Islam so that I can make the proper choices.”

      Yes, Sister, you have a very good point. But please understand that there are those “new” (i.e., converts not born to Muslim families in traditional societies) Muslims who may not be strong and who have difficulty making these “proper choices,” precisely because they are *not* strong. They may struggle because they have not have had experiences such as you had. Their iman may have been shaky from the beginning, no matter that they were absolutely, positively, totally, completely sincere in professing themselves Muslims.

      Sadly, in their shakiness and weak (but totally sincere) iman, they confront the sad condition of the ummah in North America with all the non-Islamic influences in the society, and they slip away.

      I really did, in all sincerity, profess myself a Muslim when I was already of middle age almost twenty years ago (so that I am now a “senior citizen”), but I have had my personal issues. Given that in the conditions in which I found myself, I was effectively isolated and ignored, so over the years I have pretty much slipped away, but almost no one seems to care, for the most part, I suppose, because I was effectively invisible to begin with, so no one noticed when I no longer came around any more.

      This is a sad fact of the situation of the Islamic community in North America today: Genuinely sincere people come to Islam but with weak and shaky faith, and no one helps them to consolidate their shakiness in the light of a non-Islamic society, so in their weakness they slip away.

  19. mark says:

    UmmTaha: telling me to use a dictionary is really backhanded. saying I am negative and self pitying is such an personal and false attack on me detracts from the real issue, which is how it is done to avoid avoid the real issue. the real issue is the mistreatment of converts by those who come from muslim countries. Example. I was at Downtown Disneyland tonight with friends. Two of them brought their wives and they were hijab. There were tons of Muslims at downtown Disney, yet not one said “salam”, not one even acknowledged existence of the other. My friends are converts and I have been trying to act as a sort of guide for them in order to surf the waters of stupidity. They are slowly getting deeply affected by the negativity of “born” muslims. Not me.
    It goes beyond just not saying “salam”. By not acknowledging those who share the same faith as you, what does it say? it marginalizes people. I have heard the racist comments against mexican converts. Mexican converts now have their own small mosque here because Arab Muslims and Pakistani Muslims don’t accept them. What does that say? Who is being negative?

    The Talmud teaches that one who oppresses a convert transgresses 36 commandments—some say 46 commandments. By mistreating converts you are making very big sins and being hypocrites. When Hamza Yusuf loses his patience during one of his sermons and talks about muslim immigrants and their behavior, you know something is wrong.

  20. mark says:

    Here is a post from another thread I came across on this topic. It is straight to the point

    The masajid are not equipped to deal with converts. Most of them have no plan or program for converts and just expect converts to figure it all out on their own.

    Muslims rejoice when someone says shahada, but after the excitement dies down and the convert is often alone. Many mosques are unfriendly — no one welcomes newcomers or greets people as they step into the mosque. Brothers and sisters dare not say salam to each other. No one goes out of their way to include a person who is there alone. A convert without any Muslim family may only come into contact with other Muslims at the mosque — and those Muslims may barely even talk to the convert.

    The convert gives up his non-halal activities — and with that often comes strained relationships with former friends. As the convert gets more and more into Islam, he/she often finds less and less in common with former friends until they are out of the picture altogether. Without having made good Muslim friends, the convert has no one to spend time with, no one to just hang with.

    When the convert is around Muslims, they often want to teach the convert about Islam. Their hearts are in the right place, but they don’t realize that this can become overwhelming for the convert who may just want to relax and enjoy people’s company without turning every meeting into a halaqa.

    Where do the convert spend the Eid holidays? With whom do they break fast during Ramadhan? If they haven’t made a close Muslim friend who takes them in, they do these things alone.

    I could go on and on… but you get the point.

  21. mark says:

    here is an interesting and thought provoking article, which I believe speaks to the experience American converts have had and this may explain some of the reasons.

    Mona Eltahawy, a columnist for Egypt’s Al Masry Al Youm and Qatar’s Al Arab, in her article for the New York Times entitled “Racism The Arab world’s dirty secret”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/10/opinion/10iht-edeltahawy.1.18556273.html

    She actually stated “”We love to cry ‘Islamophobia’ when we talk about the way Muslim minorities are treated in the West and yet we never stop to consider how we treat minorities and the most vulnerable among us.”

    These views date back to 1938 and seemingly have impacted Islam as a faith. Many people from Muslim countries carry these view, either through embracing them intentionally or simply growing up with them. I believe this is the dynamic we see occurring towards converts. It is a fear of embracing difference, which in many ways is based on racist ideology. But, that is my guess and there is much writing on this topic, which you can research.

  22. mark says:

    Three thought provoking statements that I would like to share with. Hopefully, reading them will push you to look inward as it did for me

    “Do not (simply) mimic what someone else does in order to avoid thinking it through. You MUST participate in your own evolution.”

    “Physical or spiritual progress is simple: you must want who or what you might become more than who you are or what you have right now.”

    “No matter how functional or specific the practice is, sooner or later, enough is enough and more of the same won’t help. Grow don’t stagnate.”

  23. Assuredly ye will be tried in your property and in your persons, and ye will hear much wrong from those who were given the Scripture before you, and from the idolaters. But if ye persevere and ward off (evil), then that is of the steadfast heart of things. (3.186)

  24. Evan says:

    I’ve been Muslim for 1 year and 4 months. I didn’t tell even my cloest friends until a few months later. My parents just found out and I was forced to go to church I made my cathloic conformation during this because I was so scared to tell them. So they found out and are not letting practice Islam at all. My mom told me she would punish me because I refused to eat pork. She also forced me to say some christian prayer. I have never been to the mosque ever in my life I have no one in my life to help me through this. And I hear some of you say you are having second thoughts about converting. To be honest you have to be kidding me please have some faith I get tormented in school get yelled at by my parents that I’m following a fundelmentilst (excuse my spelling) religion that feeds people bulls#$t

  25. Samha says:

    Assalaam alaikum,

    Thank you for the interesting article. I was born and raised as a Muslim, and this is just opening my eyes to how difficult a life of a new convert can be.

    Although, I am not american and do not live in USA, but now I feel a need to help, and offer my assistance to converts. Certainly, being raised as a Muslim from birth, you have a clear understanding about the fundamentals of the religion, even though you aren’t a scholar, which is something I’ve taken for granted most of my life, may Allah forgive me.

    I just had this idea, and wanted to share it, if you could share your opinions on whether it is relevant or not. What if there was an FB page/community to connect new converts to born muslims? this is the only thing I can think of, and furthermore I know several muslims who will be happy just to answer questions and share their faith, but we’re just as lost on how to connect with new converts

    Wa alaikumu salaam

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam. Your heart is in the right place. I suspect that many “born” Muslims in “traditional” societies, where most people are already Muslims and there are few, if any, “new” Muslims, may innocently not have a good understanding of the situations of new Muslims in western societies. As for the specific situation of this (apparently) young person Evan who has embraced Islam, unfortunately I cannot say, as my own situation was and is so very different. May Allah strengthen him.

      There are online forums for new Muslims, although my personal experience has not been the best at times. (Allah swt knows best, but perhaps I myself just happen to have had atypical unhappy experiences.) However, please be aware that not everyone (particularly us older people; I am a “senior citizen”) use all modern online social media. In some instances, a more personal, one on one contact may be more suitable and useful. However, your intention is a good one.

      Unfortunately, I am not sufficiently adept at modern computer media (I can use email and a web browser minimally) to be able to suggest how to set things up, particularly for more individual contact. However, as a convert myself who (like others) has had rather unhappy experiences with the Muslim community, I can understand the need.

    • Ann says:

      Assalam Alaikum Samha, certainly a great idea as already mentioned by others but I would personally stay far away from facebook and co. and I wish muslims in general would think about what facebook is and does to many people and families which is certainly not good. But anyway excuse my rant about FB I know that’s not the topic :) Wasalam

    • Samha says:

      Assalaam alaikum

      Thank you, Paul and Ann for your comments.

      As mentioned, a website forum or even a more personal form of online communications might be a better idea. Unfortunately I’m not knowledgeable about setting up internet forums or websites either..

      I’m originally from a 100% muslim country, Maldives (its very small, you might not have heard of it). So, muslim converts are something i havent come across in my community.

      But, Im now living in Australia for my studies, away from my family and not much to do during my free time (how I stumbled here). This is the first time I’m living in a primarily non-muslim community, and its surprising how little people know about Islam. One classmate asked me about ramazan, and originally thought it was the name of fasting.

      The difference is overwhelming. I dont know where to start.

      Although, currently, Im not capable of opening a website, in sha Allah, I’ll try to become a more contributing member of the muslim society, one step at a time. May Allah guide us all to be better muslims.

      ps. Ann,i can understand ur views about fb not being the best platform. But since I live away from my family now, its the best way to keep in touch :)

      Waalaikumu salaam

  26. amaani says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Shukran for the article, it certainly sheds light on some of the things that we do not perceive when dealing with reverts. I have scanned through some of the comments and I think the article has done justice to the title. Let’s face it, there is alot that can be said about reverts that cannot be done in one article.

    As a non-revert, I often hear the word cultural baggage or people speaking about the barrier of ‘culture’ that creates obstacles when interacting with people. I don’t understand why this is so. I don’t believe any revert should be placed in a position where someone’s culture becomes an issue or where they are forced to follow and adopt these practices. However, I do not see anything wrong with people having certain cultural practices as long as they do not go against Islamic principles. Isn’t that the context of the verse where Allah says ‘…We have made you nations and tribes so you may know one another’. This verse in the Qur’an clearly acknowledges the fact that people are different in terms of culture, race etc. and whist these diversities exist, it does not set one person above another except in piety.

    So when a revert interacts with a non-revert for marriage for example, I believe that it is largely the outlook of the revert himself that can turn the culture of this person from being an obstacle into being something that forms part of their relationship and its development. My culture is based on certain ways and traditions that I was raised upon and its what great memories are made of. When marrying a revert from another ‘culture’, I expect there to be a certain degree of compromise and flexibility where both parties would be willing to experience where the next person has come from. As long as it does not go against Shari’ah and as long as it doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable, I don’t see why it should be regarded as an obstacle.

    Another thing I often come across is how reverts find it difficult approaching people with questions and assistance when going through life as a new revert. This is also something that should not exist. I’m sure that reverts often feel isolated and they do not want to become a nuisance. But I would advise them not to give up. Because while there may exist people who are not eager to assist, there are many out there who are seeking opportunities to assist reverts in whichever way possible.

    I believe that a revert can play a huge role in how he/she is accepted within a community. Often times people do not know how to deal with reverts and they do not want to place them in an uncomfortable position, so they maintain a certain safe distance. Reverts should confidently claim their position in the societies that they live in. Because they have just as much right to be there as any other muslim.

    ps: I have used ‘revert’ as a personal preference. What is outlined above are my personal thoughts and opinions and I hope I did not offend anyone in the process.

    Assalamu alaikum :)

  27. Sonni says:

    Asalam alaikum..
    I am a revert, and it is hard when you first revert..but if you are person of faith and believe this is the only true right path..as i do :)
    I do not think anyone should walk into anything blindly then ofcourse will be so overwhelming. .fortunately, i was not totally clueless when i reverted..i believed right away that had found what i was searching for my whole life.
    When i reverted i had a couple very good Muslim friends i could turn to if i was unsure of something, alhamdullillah ..
    I think its best before revert to find reputable sources to study and download some apps, read Quran. . ( i want to study to learn arabic ..however found a goodEnglish interpretation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali) i think new reverts or if thinking seriously to revert to find a mentor to askquestions and basically dont listen to thoae nit-picking at every tiny aspect..faith increases in time, but only realize Allah knows your heart and intentions and sometimes it might be best to stick out and ignore unhelpful pickings from those that do not understan. ..study, pray, make dua, ppractice alone maybe before integrating into to much public things..take time, strengthening knowledge and faith and trust in Allah (swt) for only he knwhat’s best :)

    • amaani says:

      Subhaanallah, that’s great Sonni. May Allah increase you in faith and grant you to grow closer to Him with every step you take :) ameen!

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Wa alaikumus salaam.

      You were/are fortunate in your experiences, but not all converts have/had similar experiences. Over the years, I myself have noted that some converts probably *are* more or less “clueless” when they declare themselves Muslims.

      I have noticed that some people in some places are allowed and even encouraged to make Shahada with no one really inquiring what their motives and understanding are. The individuals themselves may not fully understand things. Just repeat these magic Arabic words.

      That was my experience. I genuinely, truly thought I was doing the right thing. I had a few almost perfunctory talks with a “caller” (da’ee) at a mosque in which English was nearly a rare foreign language, had read the Qur’an years before on my own, went through a bit of literature which I may not have understood well, and that was that. Nobody asked me anything. Just recite these words. Now you are a Muslim.

      However, at that mosque, which at the time was the only one at all close enough to get to with any frequency, there was no one I felt comfortable talking to when I began running into problems. Not even that “caller,” who spoke reasonably good English but who seemed deep down not really to understand westerners and their issues (let alone psychiatric issues, which I had — but try to find a psychiatrist who is a practicing Muslim).

      The point is that many converts have widely differing experiences. Some have good resources available to them and fine quality, learned, helpful, understanding people to call on. Some have almost none of these and may literally be rather confused, with no one down the road to help them out. So eventually they fall away. (I have read estimates of 50-75% in North America.)

      • Sonni says:

        Yes, you are right, some do connvert revert.. for whatever reason, and i myself do not consider myself a convert..i did notchange from one religion to islam, i was searching my whole life, and now that i have learned more..i know in my heart..i have always been muslim, but had american parents who didn’t believe in God, but i did.. since was 2 years old i prayed to GOD..not any man or prophet, and wheChristians told me i must pray to jesus, may peace be upon him, i wss very confused.
        Anyway..in my case i say i am a revert.. or i reverted to Islam. because revert means “to turn to previous state” because their has been so many signs or habits i have aleays had, beliefs i always had..tjat i later found are all from islam.
        and all people are born muslim..but then it is up to parents to teach right way.. mine didnt know..
        Here is meanings to clarify ones that think all who became muslim later in life are converts..
        REVERT
        (Verb)
        1. revert, return, retrovert, regress, turn back go back to a previous state
        “I reverted to the old rules”

        CONVERT (noun)
        1. convert a person who has been converted to another religious or political belief

        convert
        verb
        1. convert, change over change from one system to another or to a new plan or policy
        “We converted from 220 to 110 Volt”
        2. convert change the nature, purpose, or function of something
        “convert lead into gold”
        “convert hotels into jails”
        “convert slaves to laborers”
        3. convert change religious beliefs, or adopt a religious belief
        “She converted to Buddhism”
        4. change, exchange, commute, convert exchange or replace with another, usually of the same kind or category
        “Could you convert my dollars into pounds?”
        “He changed his name”
        “convert centimeters into inches”
        “convert holdings into shares”
        5. convert cause to adopt a new or different faith
        “The missionaries converted the Indian population”
        6. convert score an extra point or points after touchdown by kicking the ball through the uprights or advancing the ball into the end zone
        7. convert complete successfully
        “score a penalty shot or free throw”
        8. convert score (a spare)
        9. convert, win over, convince make (someone) agree, understand, or realize the truth or validity of something

        Therefore..i reverted to my original state..where i am supost to be :)
        i only wish everyone’s change can be as easily as mine (in being conected easily and have no doubts..

      • Sonni says:

        Also..ibelieve it is our duty to seek knowledge. .so if someone “falls off”..they need to take responsiblity.. i do not read or speak arabic, i live in usa where Muslims are looked at in ignorance and judgment, so of course it is hard to find reliable materials,
        But there are translations, apps u can download with translations, quran in translation ..online courses that are free.. local masjids, books, organizations that reach out to new muslims…so
        I do not believe at al that those who “cant” find reputable information have the right to blame Allah, or other muslims, or countries…
        Even if someone cant ever pronouce something..Allah knows our hearts and intentions. .and it is our responsibility to seek him out and constantly learn.

  28. Candy says:

    I am a new convert. My first experience meeting Muslims was in Kosovo. The people there are very welcoming to Americans. The government is secular and the people have a different culture than Middle eastern Muslims. I mention this because of the freedom and friendliness I feel when visiting Kosovo. A few months after my Kosovar husband immigrated to America, we stopped in at a local mosque (my idea) and 3 days later I converted. I was hugged by all the sisters. It was a joyous occasion! But in time things just became quiet toward us there. My husband and I would go for Jumma and then just go home. We both feel most of the people there just aren’t friendly toward us. It is hard for me because I don’t know much about what to do. For instance, I didn’t know I was supposed to pray two times when entering the mosque. So I would sit down and feel uncomfortable as one elderly lady glared at me. This would happen every time, until I finally figured out what to do. I still don’t know the Arabic words. I try to read as much as I can but many times I get lost because the directions will say “do something something (then word in Arabic) and do (another word in Arabic)”. How am I supposed to figure it out?! I don’t know the Arabic words. Everything I read assumes I know them! My husband has a hard time helping me because he only knows those things in Albanian. We both feel immense peace when entering the mosque, but at the same time, we feel stress among the brothers and sisters.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      In a response above under an earlier date, Faadiel remarked, “I know this is a late reply. I Just came across this article. This goes out to all those whose recently embrace Islam. I’m a born muslim from South Africa, Cape Town. As far as I know born muslims in most countries don’t treat new muslims bad. This is primarily a American muslim thing, and the muslims there need to work on solutions.”

      I am beginning to wonder whether the frequently unpleasant experiences converts to Islam suffer may in fact be a particularly North American thing. (I could be wrong, but I suspect that there could be an issue in Canada as well as the USA, because the societies have similar cultures and somewhat similar, if not identical, immigration patterns.)

      In North America, there are large mixtures of Muslims from many different countries and cultures. Many of these immigrants come from societies which are conservative and in which most — in many cases all or nearly all — of the people they come into contact with are Muslim. They have no real experience in dealing with converts. They may have no realistic idea what it is like to try to embrace a way of life which is so different from the one a person grew up with. They may have no realization of what it is to come into Islam with little knowledge of traditional practices. It may almost be outside their mental horizon.

      Also, due to the mixture, I have noticed that many Muslims in N. America with “foreign” roots tend to club together out of a (possibly misguided) loyalty to the culture in the “old country,” so that here the notion of Islamic brotherhood becomes rather fragmented. They have difficulty differentiating their ancestral culture from genuine Islam.

      What happens in practice is that new Muslims may in fact tend to be excluded, not out of any conscious willfulness, but rather out of lack of awareness. Nevertheless, in practice many new Muslims in N. America *DO* feel excluded, and if they are not already strong in faith (as many are not, when they first enter Islam), they become isolated and alienated, so, sadly, many of them fall away.

      As Faadiel pointed out earlier, this may be especially a (North) American phenomenon, but still, it is real, and people do leave. Unfortunately, I myself do not have an answer to the problem. Allah (swt) knows best.

      • Mark says:

        Well, it isn’t strictly a North American dynamic. I have spent a great deal of time in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. As an American and foreigner you will be treated kindly at first, but once the honeymoon is over you will be relegated back to foreigner status and not treated well. Converts are perceived as not knowing much about the religion of Islam are still perceived as American. In Saudi Arabia, even if you are muslim, being a foreigner puts you beneath a Saudi. It is a hard truth and sad fact, but it’s fact. Sadly, people refuse to acknowledge these issues and work to change it. It is better and easier to sit back and allow other people to deal with it. Arrogance and not acknowledging other muslims is a sin. Large groups of self proclaimed muslims are not only sinning, but being hypocritical when they ignore and/or mistreat converts. Using culture and ethnicity as a justification for this behavior is a cheap excuse. Common courtesy and the common bond of faith are intended to bring people together not separate. But, as I was told by a good number of people in Morocco “American converts are still American and are not of us”. All you have to do is read all the anti Suhaib Webb nonsense. Arab and Pakistani muslims calling him an innovator and other dumb names. It’s disturbing stuff and it isn’t Americans bad mouthing him. Remaining silent on an issue doesn’t solve anything it only leads to apathy.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. My question is, how do we overcome this situation in North America? (The situations in “traditional” countries are not my concern here.) I honestly do not know. How can it come to be that new Muslims genuinely are accepted and welcomed, so that they genuinely feel part of the Islamic ummah? Again, I really don’t know. But it is a serious problem, and a lot of people are hurting and falling aware because of that lack of acceptance. Allah (swt) knows best, but we weak humans seem to need to do better.

      • mark says:

        Paul, I think the first thing we can do to fix it is to seriously start treating each other like human beings and as fellow travelers on the path of faith. We need to learn to respect each other and embrace differences. Sulking in factions never helps anything and never creates solutions. I agree that the situation in muslim countries is not your concern, but people from those countries that immigrate to the US bring those attitudes and social mores here. In turn it effects the community. Second, how muslims behave in muslim countries does impact muslims in the US. If you proclaim Islam and identify as a Muslim publicly you will be judged by the the actions of others, unfortunately. I strong believe that faith without action is a DEAD Faith. Sadly, post 9/11 Muslims are judged by Actions and not words. Muslims need to be more involved in their communities. Smile and extend a welcoming hand. Instead of talking about God and how to pray and all the rituals and stuff people need to let others see action. A person can pray five times a day following the ritualized form of prayer until the chickens come home, but if that individual isn’t greeting converts, non muslims and helping the poor and needy than it is a useless exercise in self delusion. As a Tibetan worker told me in Saudi Arabia after he was beaten mercilessly ( which I interjected myself to help him and got into hot water myself) by his Muslim employer “these people, they pray and pray, and have rules, but they don’t love life, they don’t live. Please, when you leave this place, don’t forget life and live.”
        Here in America, we have an opportunity to show the beauty and truth of Islam through actions. The problem is that the actions of a knuckleheads has caused a security nightmare for all Muslims in America and Europe. It is now an uphill battle to work to change that.

    • Naushad Omar says:

      If you cant pray in arabic, then pray in english. Its better to pray in english than not at all since Allah ubderstands all languages. In time u will learn arabic and can then start praying in arabic.

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Salaam. For individuals who come to Islam in mature years, this is unlikely. The older one is, the harder it is to deal with languages one does not already know. People differ, of course, in their particular abilities, but if one comes to Islam in one’s forties, fifties, sixties (although this is very rare, I would say from observation), it is unlikely that such a person will *ever* know Arabic well. If such an individual has difficulty holding meanings in mind at the same time as reciting the Arabic words, then the Islamic prayers become a sort of babbling. And again, mature people may not be able to learn Arabic (or anything else, for that matter) even over time, so they will never really begin to pray in that language. For them it is pray in their own language or not pray at all, but many people will then say that they are not praying at all.

        • Candy says:

          Noooo…you must adjust your comments. Didn’t you know “60 is the new 40″? I am 63, married to my second husband (a Muslim), and am learning his language (not Arabic). I don’t expect to know Arabic well, nor do I expect to know my husband’s language as well as native speakers, but I am learning enough to understand about 80% of his conversations with family. However, I will say this…I would be more comfortable praying in English.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. Please note that I said, “People differ, of course, in their particular abilities…. If such an individual has difficulty holding meanings in mind at the same time as reciting the Arabic words, then the Islamic prayers become a sort of babbling.” Some people can deal with new languages even when they are older (and I am older than Sr. Candy), but some cannot. Period.

          Capacities and abilities differ, which is my whole point, but there seem to be those who do not or are not willing to take into account that those capacities and abilities diminish for many people as they get older.

          There are a series of articles (I suppose they are still available) here on SuhaibWebb.com about whether prayers have to be said in Arabic. They seemed to me to be reasonable (whether I agree with every detail or not, and I am not a scholar), but if I understood correctly, all that is really obligatory in the ritual prayers (salaat) to be said in Arabic are the selections from the Qur’an. However, to someone with my background (I am sure this applies to many), even this much makes little sense and does not resonate, so to speak.

          Rightly or wrongly, the language issue was a significant contributing factor as to why I eventually quit praying at all. Allah (swt) knows best. I do not.

  29. Faadiel says:

    Why do people embrace Islam without first learning the basics? Islam is not just a believe system, its a living faith, a way of life in accordance with divine decree. Christains in South Africa convert to Islam, talk on Radio interviews etc. We welcome them, we got a Discover Islam center that teaches new converts the basics, like Salaah, arabic alphabet, quran recitation, common arabic words and greetings, expressions, there is english books on Islam. We a multi cultural society, many churches, many mosques, there’s hindus here, there’s jewish people here, some egyptian people, chinese, different whites, blacks, asains, coloured, you name it,. . .the point I was refering to was that in fact, just like you experience, some eastern countries like Saudi, Egypt etc, have religion and culture deeply rooted together. Your experience at first was Islamic with them, then afterwards there cultural part takes over. Like Shaykh Yusuf Estes (a former christian missionary) say; “Islam is not what most Muslims do, Islam is what ALL MUSLIMS are Supposed to DO.”

    Culture my friend, is not a excuse, but a sad reality for alota people. . .

    Look at it from there perspective, America is number 1 with anti-islam and so call muslim terror propaganda, over the last 10 years there lands have been invaded, bombs drop on them, civilians killed etc, but the media, international media is a non muslim stronghold, so the world get a one side story of muslims.

    They land in mommy America, 1st things they experience is insults, hostility, mocking etc. . .they contact their family back home, the family is shocked and all. . . So theres is a TRUSTING issue, a SINCERITY issue, even a EYE FOR AN EYE issue for some them, but not all. They wondering, ‘are you genuine?, are you an american spy? No really, they been there before, did this person convert for the right reasons? Etc.

    Its a culture clash, they don’t TRUST AMERICANS. THAT might seem harsh, but the world have skewed views of citizens based on the deeds of its government. . .so its fueled by many things, you must be open minded. Start genuine connections with people, a casual thing wont get you far.

    So again. Taking all the above in account, america got very little muslims and the muslim communities is very young and inexperience. American muslims is at a disadvantage, but also at an advantage if you know where to look. You seeking companionship, a place to belong, to be a part of. All humans need that. So why not start laying the foundations the way other new american muslims are doing?

    New muslims must be told before or after the ‘kalimah shahadah (Declaration of Faith)”, that they need to attend classes etc, and should not be hasty in running of to a mosque for salaah without knowing all the principles etc. Thats just common sense. You wont fly a jumbo jet without passing pilot training etc would you? Same thing for Islam, Its mind, body and soul. It takes time etc. Again, make dua(supplication), and have faith that god will help. God loves those that put their trust in him. There are many good american muslims, seek them out, connect with people, dont be needy, learn from Dr. BILAL PHILLIPS, or Shaykh Khalid Yasin, Shaykh Yusuf Estes etc. ALL former Christians who are now leading the way the world over. They not unhappy, comon sense and being realistic, open minded and importantly, BEING PATIENCE is vital. The american muslims is living in the heart of islamaphobia land. Its your challenge, its your Jihad( struggle or enduring in the way of God).

    N. America pose many challenges, in the future Insha Allah, i want to start a website and foundation for helping new converts and also to teach the truth of islam to less knowledgeble muslims and non muslims Insha Allah (GOD willing). Never despair, study the quran, and the sunnah. Theres a good book called. DON’T BE SAD, excellent practical advice from quran and sunnah for to deal with many things in life, its a free download from http://www.kalamullah.com just search there. Even a google with the keywords ‘Dont be sad kalamullah pdf’ should get you the link. Theres much excellent content on the site, books, lectures, video, quran reciting etc. I can list some resources if any here are interested. Only correct knowledge can shine light in our paths.

    Asaluma Alaykum to all. Insha allah, all shall be well.

    “we sent messengers before you (prophet) to many communities and afflicted their people with suffering and hardship, so that they might humble themselves.” al-quran (6: 42)

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      “Why do people embrace Islam without first learning the basics? Islam is not just a believe system, its a living faith, a way of life in accordance with divine decree. … New muslims must be told before or after the ‘kalimah shahadah (Declaration of Faith)”, that they need to attend classes etc, and should not be hasty in running of to a mosque for salaah without knowing all the principles etc. Thats just common sense.”

      Salaam alaikum. However, in actual fact, in the USA, at least, some people are allowed and actually encouraged to pronounce the words of the Shahadah and declare themselves Muslims almost “on the spot,” as if pronouncing these Arabic words is almost a sort of magic spell. Please, I am not being flippant here. I am speaking from personal observation and experience. People are permitted / encouraged to declare themselves Muslims with no one really inquiring or discerning — not even the individuals themselves! — what they know or understand about Islam. Just repeat these words. Alhamdulillah, now you are a Muslim. That is all, for some people. They may not even realize that there are so many things about Islamic belief and (especially) practice they just do not know. They are lacking in knowledge and awareness, but other Muslims do not reach out to help them. Just repeat these words.

      The first time I went to join the community in prayer, I had a vague notion that I was supposed to perform an ablution, but I did not know the procedure. If I had not already been aware, I would simply have walked into the prayer hall without the ablution. I had to take the initiative myself and ask someone how to do it. That is the way it is for some people here. They may be told very little, and then they are looked down on if they do not somehow absorb these matters out of the thin air, figuratively speaking. If there is some instruction, often it is offered by someone who speaks broken English (or French or Spanish) and who has little understanding of western culture and the particular issues western converts face. I am referring to the reality of the situation here, not what some people think more opportune.

      • Sonni says:

        Did you really just refer to the sacred testimony of faith as a magic spell” ???
        And this unfortunatel is your experience. .not something common..
        Who would ask u to take the testimony of faith and thrn tell u .. are muslin..ok, bye..
        Idk,
        When reverted.. there was so many strangers reaching out to me and helping guide me, and that was overwhelming for me because do much at once.. but all Muslims are not perfect. ..ISLAM is .. you cant place a bad experience and say its the fault of Islam.
        Im sorry u did not recieve the welcome i did..but i do not believe this is typical at all..it is justunfortunate r

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam alaikum. Apparently our experiences have been very, very different. In my experience, for some people the words of the Shahada *have* almost been a sort of magic spell. Obviously your experiences were nowhere the same as mine. My experiences with the Islamic community were seriously difficult and even painful, to the point that I, already a middle aged person with significant issues with no support or understanding, almost (not quite, but almost) have given up on Islam as a sort of “bad deal.” If one reads other comments here on SuhaibWebb and attends to other websites, it becomes clear that there are serious problems within the Islamic community in North America (and Allah know best).

      • Marta says:

        Again Paul, I really understand where you are coming from when it comes to shahada and other Muslim rites so to say.
        The real problem with Islam these days (and i’m not talking here about attitude towards Muslims only but every aspect of life) is that people over the centuries hijacked the real meaning of what Islam really meant. It means ‘submission to the Only GOD’, obviosly, prophet Moses or prophet Abraham or even prophet Muhammad didn’t have to say Shahada in the form Muslims say today to be Submitters in the eyes of God (Can you imagine prophet Mohammad witnessing for himself that he is a Prophet? No, he was chosen by God for it and it was clear to him).

        When I converted 1 year ago to Islam I thought that I should marry someone born to Islam because he would know better and teach me better to perform all the rituals that Muslims claim are part of faith. Still I’m not married but I learned that just because someone was born to Islam doesn’t mean they know better what is correct and what is not. Actually, most of them follow assumptions and take a lot of rituals as something obvious forgetting that actually Quran doesn’t mention it or is more flexible about it.

        As for the cultural clash and stuff. It is true, sad and dramatic indeed that most of immigrant Muslims come to America and Europe with deeply ingrained hatred, feel of being discriminated, judgmental attitude towards the western culture, feeling of spiritual and religious superiority and in extreeme cases, urge to revenge the injustices the experienced from America. While this all is obviously hard to relate for many of us, converts, this feeling of infamiliarity and mistrust throws immigrants into the closed religious circles and perpetuates this victim mentality. From such, it is really not far from extremism and lets say ‘victimised racism’ (my working definition of a victim who was bullied racially and this experience justifies him of bullying racially or treating with superiority others, weaker than him or just innocent people, say converts).
        The very deep problem that we deal with is a broken psyche that some (based on my observation it is quite many and its scary) migrant Muslims have. I have recently had controversial conversation with my migrant Muslim friend from Middle East and his attitude scared me. I asked him what does Quran (not hadith) say about treating people who desacrate Holy Quran. He said: you should kill them!! You know what, I would say 99% of Muslims who call themselves as peaceful would do it!! And when I said I would never do it he asked what kind of Muslim I am? I told him: Quran says that whoever disrespects God will get their punishemnt in the Hereafter, Muslims are advised to be patient with disbelievers. Killing a human being is a great sin and who are we to judge that such person should be killed? If you killed him now, it might be just what happened with Kain who killed Abel, he took his own and his brothers sins on his shoulders. Who knows, maybe this disbeliever, if left in peace, after few years would regret what he did and become even better believer than you are? Muslims are so quick to judge harshly others forgetting that they are also those who will need BADLY mercy of GOD after all…

    • mark says:

      Mommy America? you have the wrong idea and you are definitely wrong that muslims are insulted when they land in America. Muslims have been in America since the founding of the country. Islam was here without any problem. 9/11 changed everything for Muslims and Islam. Unfortunately, arab nationalism has infected the faith the Islam and much of what you see passed off as Islam is nothing more than culture.

  30. Faadiel says:

    @CANDY.

    Dear Sister, I can understand your frustration with the arabic language, so here’s a beginner arabic book for english speakers to download free. Just go to http://www.kalamullah.com , on the left side just click on learning arabic link, the whole page got many excellent popular arabic material for english speakers. The books I highly recommend is “Gateway to Arabic ” its 3 books, with audio cd, got pictures and alphabet explanations, writing arabic and reading and speaking. You can download all 3 books from the site free with the supporting audio files you must just unzip with free winrar or peazip software.

    You can purchase the books also, but the site gives a free download. Enjoy, hope it helps. As for salaah, theres even a DVD entitle on some sites “PRAY THE WAY YOU SAW ME PRAY”. The words of prophet muhammad (pbuh). Its a free download also. . . Just google “free pray as you saw me pray vid download ” . You should get a list of islamic sites with the educational dvd. I think kalamullah.com got it under video section, not sure thou. . . But USA don’t have many centers or madrassahs(schools etc.) that teach islam for beginners, but Let me know what you struggling with, I might be able to point you in the right direction. Everything of the best Insha Allah ( God Willing).

    Salaam (peace) sister. Take Care.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam alaikum. Allah (swt) forgive if I am wrong, but I have long had trouble with what I have come to consider the tyranny of the Arabic language in Islam.

      Please consider. The Noble Qur’an itself says that it was revealed in Qurayshi Arabic so that Quraysh themselves could understand it. Suppose it had been revealed in Quechua, Swahili, Mongolian, Anglo-Saxon, Mandarin, or whatever. Might not the Quraysh have complained, because it was revealed in a language incomprehensible to them?

      Nevertheless, many (most?) Muslims today want to bottle up the Qur’an in this archaic language and not make it available to others. Quraysh received the Noble Qur’an in their language, but others may not receive it in theirs.

      In the message of the Noble Qur’an a message for all of humanity? It it is, then it can be understood at least minimally in every human language on earth. If it cannot be understood at least minimally in every human language on earth, then the message of the Noble Qur’an is not a message of all of humanity.

      That is why I personally object so much to the tyranny of Arabic. Cannot Allah (swt) understand every human language on earth which He Himself(!) created? Is He so incompetent? May He protect us from such blasphemy!!

      We read over and over in the Noble Qur’an that Allah (swt) is Compassionate and Merciful, but in all sincerity I wonder about many Muslims. What about us older people who are no longer capable of learning other languages, so that muttering syllables of what is to us an incomprehensible foreign tongue and supposedly calling it “prayer” is little more than babbling. We might as well be babbling a foreign telephone directory in some alien language.

      Please, I am not trying to be offensive here. But I do sincerely think that many “born” Muslims honestly do not understand the barrier that language presents to new Muslims.

      And Allah (swt) knows best.

      • amaani says:

        Assalamu alaikum,

        I have been receiving notifications about new comments but I have not gone through all to be honest.

        I only read the latest response by brother Paul Bartlett and with all respect, this is what I have to say.

        Paul…

        I believe that every person has the right to air their views and opinions and people should not be offended when they do so in a befitting manner. However, I should express my sincere concern with your expression and choice of words. If you believe that the Qur’an being revealed in Arabic is ‘tyrannic’, does that not create a direct attribution of tyranny to The One Who chose to reveal the Qur’an in this language? He said “[It is] an Arabic Qur’an, without any deviance that they might become righteous” (39:9)

        Please compare the population of Arabic-speaking muslims to those of non-Arab tongue. I am ‘born muslim’ (for lack of a better phrase), and people of my culture/ethnicity learn the Arabic language from scratch and struggle to do so. How about born muslims from China, Indonesia, Turkey and just about every other non-Arab country? People in my country send their kids to Islamic schools in the afternoons to learn how to read the Qur’an. Those who have not had the privilege to do so at a young age would attend classes at old age and learn letter by letter in the Masajid to be able to read the Qur’an. And yes, these people are born muslims. However, it is something they decide to do in return for great reward. Many people would be amazed at how these people can fluently recite the Qur’an, yet they do not understand the Arabic language. But for them, to be able to read it in its revealed language may be seen as a means of growing closer to the One Who revealed it in this way. And with that frame of mind, no matter how hard they struggle, it is always worthwhile.

        When Allah reveals a clear verse like the one quoted above, we as muslims should have no objection to the significance of it and we should believe it to be the Divinely chosen language through the wisdom of Allah which we know nothing of. What would have made any other language more universal? Would the English language, for example, have been that universal if it hadn’t been for the many invasions and colonizations of land by the English throughout history?

        The reality of the matter is that the Qur’an and all of its teachings is accessible to every person of every language. There is also no restriction on the language that one uses to pray to Allah. The fact that a person prays to Allah in the Arabic language doesn’t make his prayer more acceptable than one who prays in any other language.

        One difference between reverts and non-reverts may be the fact that non-reverts do not question Islam as much as reverts do. While questioning is the only way to learn, once a person ACCEPTS Islam, I don’t see why such a person should object to certain core features of Islam. So while some differences may exist between reverts and non-reverts, the ‘tyranny’ of the Arabic language (as you put it) is not one of them. That is a difference that you only share with the Arab muslims of this world…

        Peace :)

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam alaikum. Please understand that I am NOT referring to the actions of Allah (swt). I am referring to the *interpretations* of some of those who came after Prophet Muhammad (saws).

          I suspect that there are those (not all) who genuinely but sincerely literally do not comprehend the situations of those who come to Islam in mature age (as I did) in western countries. I was raised as a Protestant Christian in the USA in the 1940s and 1950s. In that environment, there simply was no question of language. It was simply Part of the Reality of the Nature of the Universe Itself that one prayed to and worshiped God, and read the Holy Book, in one’s own language. Period. This was reality itself. Long before the Second Vatican Council, in the 1950s, I remember in my Protestant environment serious condemnations of the Roman Catholic Church for continuing to worship and conduct their rituals in Latin, which was no longer anyone’s native language. In the environment in which I grew up, it was condemned as **WRONG**!!!!! to expect anyone to pray / worship in any incomprehensible alien tongue.

          That is the environment in which I grew up as a small child, and what you grow up with may influence you for the rest of your life, so it becomes exceedingly difficult to shake off that early childhood conditioning. There may be many (I do not say all) Muslims who simply do not comprehend this issue.

          I am not talking about some abstract theory here. I am referring to the real world difficulties of mature converts to Islam who were raised with what we might call a severely non-Islamic mentality. Allah (swt) knows best, but I assert that in the overwhelming majority of instances of those who are allowed and even encouraged or cajoled to pronounce the words of the Shahada without understanding — believe me, it happens! — who have grown up with these non-Islamic frames of mind, then not far down the road, if they do not receive support, friendship, brotherhood, and especially nurturance, as many do not, then many of them will fall away, and I for one (again, Allah knows best) do not blame them.

        • Marta says:

          Salaam,

          To strat with, I do apologise if whoever feels uncmfortable with what you say, I do not inted to offend anyone, but I follow what God tells us to do: advice each other to the right path..

          it’s a very interesting point you are raising amaani: ‘once a person ACCEPTS Islam, I do not see why such a person should object to certain core features of Islam’. Have you ever wondered why reverts question Islam while non reverts do not?

          Because reverts, before reverting to Islam had to question and reject the very core of the beliefs they used (or their community) used to believe as sacred. The understood that the TRUTH is somewhere else, they found it and they embraced the change even thouth it meant being ostracized or in mild case scenario misunderstood by the others and felt lonely. But once you start searching for the TRUTH, you are more ready to use logic, reason and analysis when you see or feel deep in your heart that something doesn’t really makes sense. When you see that something doesn’t make sense, searcher for the TRUTH searches further and further and then either he understands its logic or, if it’s not logical, he rejects it because as I sametimes say: ‘We converts have more practice in questioning truths that are not so sacred while others treat them as sacred’. I questioned all my way through the journey in Islam (wearing hijab,why menstruating women shouldn’t pray, reciting prayer in Arabic, what direction should we pray, to Jerusalem or to Mekkah, why women always are not advised to go to mosque, why I can’t find a single scholar with whom I could agree 100%, why in some translations of Quran to English transltors mistranslate words, why there is so much hatred between Muslims, why some of them hate Israel so much that they consider visiting Temple Mount as ‘haraam’ and as supporrting Zionizm etc etc.) and what I learned is that I can only trust and relate to Quran as it comes from GOD, nothing else, no hadiths, no scholars.

          The problem with born to Islam is that they NEVER QUESTION ANYTHING. They listen blindly half educated imaams, the are afraid to ask questions and search for the TRUTH. Why, because it’s easier not to ask, to be ignorant and happy whatever we were told to do. Many Muslim traditions are just assumptions based on unfounded hadiths… Please search for yourself… TRUTH is really painful and searching for it takes courage and can strip you off your shell of ignorant security, it can turn your life upside down. Only now I understood the reason why ‘those who advice others to the truth’ (sura Al Asr) are the ones who will deserve Paradise. Truth is really painfull.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. Because replies can only be nested a few levels deep, there could be confusion as to which post I am replying to.

          On January 12, 2014, Marta wrote, “it’s a very interesting point you are raising amaani: ‘once a person ACCEPTS Islam, I do not see why such a person should object to certain core features of Islam’. Have you ever wondered why reverts question Islam while non reverts do not?”

          The point I have been trying to make in several posts in this thread is that some people profess themselves Muslims literally almost without questioning and without investigation. Some people are allowed, encouraged, almost pressured into pronouncing the words of the Shahada with no one inquiring into what they understand or why they are responding. Believe me, that was my personal experience. Just pronounce these Arabic words, whether you understand them or not, whether you really understand what you are doing or not. Just do it. Alhamdulillah, now you are Muslim. Believe me, it happens!! That is what happened to me. Really.

          There are some converts (I personally do not like the word “revert” and do not use it) who really may be quite ignorant of Islam when they pronounce the words of the Shahada. I am not kidding here. They may be totally, absolutely, completely, entirely sincere, so they cannot and must not be charged with hypocrisy. They simply may not understand what they are doing, but they have been encouraged anyway.

          Given enough time, kindness, support, acceptance, understanding, education, and genuine friendship, they might come to deepening and genuine faith and practice. Sadly, some of them do not receive these things, so sooner or later (and often it may be sooner) when they confront the reality of the Muslim community in (North) America, they become confused, discouraged, even distressed, and so they fall away.

          Even mere “book learning” in the sense of having acquired some of the “data” of Muslim beliefs (which I myself probably already had enough of) is not sufficient. They are real human beings with real lives (some of whom might actually be quite emotionally or mentally troubled) who did not and have not received genuine nurturance through no fault of their own, so they leave. I speculate that this is a factor in why an estimated half to three quarters of converts to Islam in (N.) America leave Islam. They were never really well grounded in the first place, and they were not adequately received and nurtured.

          And Allah (swt) knows best.

      • mark says:

        Paul, I fully understand where you are coming from. I was raised catholic and then left catholicism for protestantism. Then I left all religion behind for over 20 years until I realized my issue was not with God but with the institutions of religion and people that join their little religion gangs. I had begun reading the Bible when I came across the Koran and started reading, which led to my embracing Islam. From day one I questioned the notion of having to learn Arabic. Further research allowed for me to discover that with the advent of Arab Nationalist movement which began in the mid 1800′s and peaked after World War 2. Michel Aflaq (a christian nonetheless), established Islam as the religion of the Arabs and “Islam was seen as a universal message as well as an expression of secular genius on the part of the Arab peoples”. The arab nationalist movement pushed the learning of Arabic in relation to Islam. Unfortunately, what we see today is the remnants of these viewpoints within Islam and verbalized by muslims. Sad, but true. I recently met a guy from Africa, Kenya, we talked and he said “you don’t have to take Arab culture to be a Muslim, be you, Islam is for all cultures.” It was an interesting conversation because I have been reading about Chinese Muslims (Hui), who practice Islam without erasing their own culture. If you get the chance I highly recommend reading about the Hui muslims. Fascinating history about Islam in China. Japan also had an introduction to Islam in the 1800′s, something not many people are aware of. But, I digress, I understand your frustration Paul. You are far more diplomatic than me in how you address these issues.

        • Dini says:

          Assalamu alaykum, brother Mark.

          I am so impressed by your knowledge about Islam introduction to several countries including Asia, e.g. China and Japan yet just wanted to add a little information about Japan (my major is Japanese Studies) that Japan is quite later than other Asian countries in terms of introduction to Islam. Islam actually entered to Japan in the end of 19th century but first Islamic country (Turkey) people come to Japan in 1890 (based on reference from a history article written by Prof. Sarif Mahdi AlSamaray, 2009).

          WAllahu alam. Wassalamu alaykum.

      • amaani says:

        Assalamu alaikum,

        While I understand your point Marta regarding reverts coming from a background where they questioned everything. I have to also disagree with the fact that born muslims do not question Islam all the time. Many muslims don’t, I agree. But today more and more are questioning Islam.

        But the issue I wish to raise is the mode of questioning. With reverts it tends to take on a different approach. So many reverts seem to think that they can do their own ijtihaad in matters. That they can search and change approaches and sometimes even rulings. And because they are new to Islam, they often do not know enough to be able to do such a thing. The issue isn’t that born muslims do not question Islam, but they have a better understanding of the foundations within Islam that was provided to us in an understandable way by classical scholars who memorized thousands of ahadeeth to be able to reach such conclusions. So when we search, we usually go back to classical texts and issues where scholars made ijtihaad and we accept that. This is not blind following, but the fact that the layman cannot derive rulings and give fatwas is acknowledged.

        What reverts need to understand is that part of what makes Islam this perfect and beautiful religion is the systematic approach of preservation. Reverts face so many challenges today with sects and different schools of thought, what still if from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), every person took the Deen into his own hands and did what ‘they thought’ was right based on limited knowledge. This is what needs to be acknowledged. It is often reverts who also strongly oppose the following of a teacher because ‘he is just human’. That is understandable, we are all human and we all make mistakes. But the issue of scholarship in Islam is also a sacred one. That is why the verse in the Qur’an clearly states that it is Allah who taught the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It stresses the importance of having a teacher, someone who does not only have knowledge of the Deen but also acts upon it. I have no issue with someone doing ijtihaad when they are equipped to do so. Until then, we need to play our role towards preserving the teachings of this Deen for those to come.

        What I have mentioned above is based on my experience with some reverts. It is in no way generalizing, nor an attack on reverts. But I feel that perhaps some of these issues should be mentioned in a bid to understand all sides of the argument. So while the approaches of reverts is largely attributed to a per-disposed way of thinking, they cannot be fully blamed…but this is also not always the case. I have come to know so many reverts who have taken the time to sit at the feet of great scholars from all different schools of thought. And amazingly, I have never seen these people question fundamental principles of Islam or even other matters. Because with knowledge, comes enlightenment.

        And Allah knows best.

        Wassalamu alaikum

        • Candy says:

          Please tell me what “ijtihaad” is. It would be nice if the English definition could be included so I can understand exactly what you are talking about.

        • amaani says:

          My apologies, that was an oversight…

          Ijtihaad is an Islamic legal term referring to the process of independent reasoning by an individual to arrive at an Islamic ruling not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadeeth.

    • Candy says:

      Thank you, I will check out the website link. An update—I am taking classes now. We have a wonderful teacher. There are 5 ladies in the class now, 4 of us are former Christians. We are learning so much and we enjoy the lively discussions.

  31. Marta says:

    Salaam,

    I have converted exactly one year ago (wow, time is passing fast) while I have been living in Afghanistan and overall, this year has been a beautiful and challenging path. I can completely relate to the article and comments but recently I opened my eyes to something important: most of the frustration of converts derives from them trying too hard to change external look and environment too much and honestly, this really hurts. Quran doesn’t ask you to make revolution in your wardrobe, change your personality, family and friends. It’s a lifetime process that requires you to love Allah, be kind to others, but also..too yourself.

    Many converts complain about lonelines. Simple question: what happened to your families and sweet friends from before you became Muslims? Did you neglect them? Became more harsh on them? More judgemental? Please do not abandon those who are kind for you no matter what is their creed, they are creations of Allah too.

    Now about changing life and personalities. We should remember that we are all created by Allah with different personalities and goals and we should listen to our hearts more rather than what others tell you, if your heart is close to Allah you will not stray away no matter what other ‘Muslims’ say. In the beginning I worried that I shouldn’t travel anywhere without mahram. As I am a single Sister, it would mean stopping myself from what I love and quickly I rejected this advice as not based on Quran, only on some ‘who-knows-how-strong-or-weak-Hadith. Later, I wanted to travel toIsrael and visit al Aqsa and some of ‘Muslims’ criticised me a lot, judged me very harsly and clearly said this is wrong. Because my Islamic research and heart revealed that it is not wrong, it’s even good, I went there with my close friend: a female Christian. And it was really amazing experience and I thank Allah for letting me go to Jerusalem and take the right decision as this enriched my imaan and cultural awareness immensely.

    What I am trying to say by this is: Allah really doesn’t make it hard for us to enjoy our life as Muslims, it is the misunderstanding of many born to Islam Muslims and their traditions that make Islam look so rigid for Western converts. My only advise is: follow what you feel is right, not what other says that ‘sunna’ or ‘hadith’ say as your heart is inclined towards Quran. Love Allah, be kind to yourself and to others..

    No

  32. mark says:

    WOW!!! Marta puts the blame and burden of friends and family abandoning converts on the convert. Much like the victim of a crime being blamed for the crime. What Marta fails to acknowledge is that Islam is seen as a violent, twisted faith. Marta missed the part where converts have been saying that fellow muslims have mistreated and ignored them. So, the convert is frowned upon by his/her family and at the same time mistreated by fellow muslims. The American convert(who is practicing diligently) is marginalized. They are not good enough to be accepted by fellow muslims (or seen as too serious about faith in God) and are looked at with suspicion by their family and friends (many of who distance themselves from the convert. I experienced this when I converted).
    I know of more than a handful of converts that lost jobs (and they were top workers with glowing reviews).
    It appears that with the marginalization of American converts to Islam that a new faith may arise or a new branch of Islam. It is inevitable even though it will take time.
    Just came across an interesting article about American muslims getting tired of the “culture and language” issues found in Mosques. The article identifies the issues I have posted about here, which some people have boo hooed me about. Fact is Fact and it appears more and more people are speaking out about how Islam has become a front for promoting culture and language as opposed to faith in God.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/unmosqued-muslim-millenials_n_4394588.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

    • Marta says:

      Mark,

      your post requires some feedback from my side.

      First of all, I never said I blame converts for anything and I believe you might have misinterpreted my post. Moreover, I would be very careful with such harsh interpretation of my intent. Comparing dynamics of converts relations with wider society to blaming victim for committed crime should never be done: comparing good action to a bad action may be deceptive and might bring negativity to discussion that we do not really need.

      Secondly, I am also a convert born and living in western society and I also can relate to all the points mentioned in the article and many comments of the readers. I can assure you that I also have my fair share of disappointment with the Muslim community, stopped visiting mosque altogether as I didn’t find there the spirituality I was looking for, instead I found ladies wearing ethnic clothes and talking loudly in foreign language.
      But my beliefs in Islam are far from being weak. In fact, a year of being convert let me to find the answers to all the questions I had, all doubts. these answers made my faith clear and strong, InshaAllah will give me a lasting feeling of peace and balance.

      Secondly, I ‘do not fail to acknowledge that Islam is seen as a violent religion’. You clearly do not know my life experience, this is why you made such an assumption just because I didn’t repeat what was already covered in previous comments. I can assure you that during my journey to becoming Muslim I have probably seen more of such a kind of violence and twisted use of faith than many other converts. While working in Afghanistan for an ngo, I have been threatened and almost fall victim of being kidnapped by some twisted half criminal half taliban guys greedy for ransom and telling that I am trying to convert people to Christianity (I was already Muslim at this time…). Mark I really know how much people twisted Islam for their own purposes and made it look like some dark, medieval old wives tales. But I also searched for answers to explain it and I got them.

      I would like to point out that I didn’t miss any part of converts stuggle, I acknowledge that it is a struggle but because most of previous comments already covered this subject nicely and extensively, I thought that instead I would rather add refreshing comment looking at a very important aspect: the fact that converts are active members of the community, not passive victims of judgements, stereotypes and ignorance and they have equal responsibility in bringing positive change in the attitudes on Islam of the society, American, European, anywhere they live.
      The biggest challenges, in my opinion, for Muslim convert is to know what to believe and how to really follow in Islam as there is way too much confusion in what is haraam, halaal, right of wrong and proliferetion of hadiths didn’t help neither. Many unauthorised assumptions that do not have any place in the Holy Quran entered the belief system of Muslims through hadiths, often confusing converts and born to Islam alike. Converts are ‘indoctrinated’ into doing things that only make them ostracized from the community, risking losing friends and jobs (wearing hijab, visiting parents for Christamas or listening to music for example). This is why converst should be on the guard and always analysing matters from various perspectives before taking for granted advice of their fellow Muslims: Quran verses on it, cultural, historical and social perspective, even climate etc. We should balance knowledge wisely and never let others tell us into doing something without open debate and questioning its relevance or logic.
      Moreover, there is an issue of Identity and belonging to community. I think that if converts are not too harsh on themselves and their families, they should not face too many problems. We should always be kind to our families and friends, helping them and not separating from them because of our conversion. I come from a very conservative Catholic family and my conversion was a real shock to them as well. Of course, if I started wearing strange things like hijab or abayas, nagging them about getting converted to Islam otherwise they would end up in hell and not visiting them for Christmas, our relations would be very painful for all of us. I didn’t do those things, instead I was always loving and trying to be a better daughter than before and I think they don’t freak out about me being Muslim anymore as they are not afraid that they would lose their daughter to ‘strange religion’.

      To sum up Mark, i was trying to clarify some issues and bring examples from my life so that you know that I experience exactly the same feelings and dilemmas as all of you. However, I believe it is not the fact of experiencing challenges or not that matters for converts but how they really handle doctrinal confusion seen in other Muslims and how they really balance their life so that they still feel that they enjoy it and they don’t miss out on happiness just because they are Muslims now.

      I would be quite interested to hearing how you all are trying to balance your life with your old and new communities now??
      Salaam

  33. Muhammad Azwin says:

    Assalaamu’alaikum Warahmatullaahi Wabarakaatuh.

    -By time,
    -Indeed, mankind is in loss,
    -Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

  34. Very good blog post. I definitely love this website.

    Keep it up!

  35. Dini says:

    Assalamu alaykum.

    Thank you very much for this great article to remind us, all muslims to always care, support, and being helping hand to each other.

    Yet, I just want to remind myself and all my brothers and sisters who come back to Islam that all of us, including born muslims have similar calamities as well in keeping and maintaining our deen either who live in muslim country or not, because Allah SWT says in Quran:

    “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” [Quran, Al-Ankaboot, 29:2-3]

    “Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones)?” [Quran, Al-Imran, 3:142]

    “You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah, but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious ) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters.” [Quran, Al-Imran, 3:186]

    “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) ……”[Quran, Al-Baqarah, 2:155]

    “Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned.……”[Quran, Al-Anbiya, 21:35]

    But, remember whenever we are in the middle of a calamity we should always remember Allah SWT will not burden us with more than we have the strength to bear:

    But those who believe and work righteousness,- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear,- they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (for ever). [Quran, Al-Araf, 7:42]

    Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned. [Quran, Al-Baqarah, 2:286]

    So, let us do as best as we can do to stay istiqamah in this true path by having faith in Allah SWT, remembering Him always, being patient, and asking him to always guide us all the way in this life.

    In addition, prophet Yacob AS said to his sons:

    “……..and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Quran, Yusuf, 12:87]

    May Allah SWT makes it easier for all of us, aameen yaa Rabbal aalaamiin.

    P.S.: Be happy and super proud to become a muslim because Allah SWT has especially chosen you to have this bless :) (some people aren’t as lucky as us)

    Wassalamu alaykum.

    • mark says:

      Dini, arigato gozaimasu!! genki desu ka? actually, Islam was introduced to Japan by General Lan Yu during the Ming Dynasty (14the century). And the first recorded Japanese contact with arab muslims is in the Mid 1500′s due to Portuguese traders that had arab passengers. In the late 1870′s a biography of the Prophet Muhammad was translated into Japanese.
      The earliest records of Japan can be found in the writings of Muslim cartographer Ibn Khordadbeh, clearly mentions Japan as the “lands of Waqwaq” twice: East of China are the lands of Waqwaq, which are so rich in gold that the inhabitants make the chains for their dogs and the collars for their monkeys of this metal. They manufacture tunics woven with gold. Excellent ebony wood is found there.” And again: “Gold and ebony are exported from Waqwaq.

      Thank you for the compliment, I do my homework, read and investigate. knowledge truly is self improvement and power. That is why I demand so much from my fellow muslims. there is no excuse for ignorance. best of luck in your study of Japanese. I studied Japanese for five years. I really loved Kanji. Ganbatte Kudasai!!!

  36. Hisham says:

    I was Ben a Muslims, and I’ve lived in America. Being a stranger ca. Break you down the same as beng a new Muslims.
    Dear brothers and sisters I’m not a scholar, but I don’t mind chatting with any of you if you need I will do my best to help with what I know . Love you All
    @hishamusa
    Or Facebook me Hisham616

  37. Marta says:

    (Salaam, I refer to the comment left by Paul Bartlett
    January 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Salaam. Because replies can only be nested a few levels deep, there could be confusion as to which post I am replying to.

    On January 12, 2014, Marta wrote, “it’s a very interesting point you are raising amaani: )

    Dear Paul, I can really understand your frustration with situation of converts/reverts to Islam. I can understand that most of converts are absolutely genuine in their intentions, however, they need a LOTTTTT of guidance while they do not get it at all for mainstream Muslim community or in they way that diacourages them. I would like to make few points, which, inshaAllah will bring more peace to your heart.

    1. Converts shouldn’t assume that born Muslims ‘know better’. This is the main mistake converts do. They shouldn’t assume that just because born Muslims are born to Islam, they are better guided than others. From my observation, they actually may be less willing to engage into debate on controversial issues always citing dubious sources (mostly hadiths and misinterpreted verses of Quran) without even understanding the very topic they talk about. And yes, they might know a lot of ‘data’ as you called it, but still, most of the time people do not understand the very essence and meaning of why are we all here because:

    ‘If thou obeyedst most of those on earth they would mislead thee far from Allah’s way. They follow naught but an opinion, and they do but guess’ (6:116) Because God says that ‘most of those on earth’ would mislead you, it means that even between Muslims, you can’t be really sure that the follow God, as most of them ‘folow naught but an opinion.

    For this reason, I think if you are not too comfortable with the data you acquired from mainstream Muslims, give yourself a break and go to the point 2:

    2. Search the truth for yourself.
    You have a great deal of knowledge and awareness and seems that you like searching for knowledge, keep doing it. I would be actually happy to talk with you and share results of my research so if you would like to, give me your email address and I will share whatever I discovered.
    Anyway, do your search and don’t be afraid to question every single thing until you find logical and acceptable arguments for. On almost every single page of Quran God asks’Do they use no reason’, ‘This signs are for those who reflect’, why then in our times Muslims do not use reason, logic and intellect, why they are afraid to question and search for the truth??

    3. Never get too much sectarian, do not expect to feel better with Muslims just beacuse they are Muslims, enjoy company of all peaple regardless of their creed
    Despite being Muslim for over 1 year, my greates friends are the same as before: Christians, Muslim convert, I also share flat with Buddist and have few friends who are atheists. Although I have a lot to do with Muslims at my workplace, and I get on well with my colleagues, I do not try to change my identity and become ‘one of them’, I am happy as a Muslim, European, Polish and do not need to eat like them and think like them. I am myself.

    4. Remember that you believe in God for God (not for people). Do not get offended on God just because people you used to think were closer to Him didn’t live up to your expectations. If someone said something about God or HIs System you don’t like, check, maybe they have no idea, just follow assumptions. Do whatever you feel is right for God. DO not give up prayer just because of bad experiences. But by prayer I mean a real and genuine conversation with God, in language that you feel comfortable about- English. Sometimes I feel that it is Satan who made people create so many stiff protocols in prayers that it only pulled people away from praying.. BTW doesn;t it ring a bell of praying in Latin in Christianity in dark, medieval ages? It feels to me that forcing other to pray in foreign language is a strategy to control the message and discouraging people from reflecting…

  38. Paul Bartlett says:

    Salaam alaikum. “I would be actually happy to talk with you and share results of my research so if you would like to, give me your email address and I will share whatever I discovered.” A secondary email address at which I can be reached is slyphnoyde@yahoo.com . From this I can provide my primary email address, which I prefer not to broadcast publicly.

    Yes, many of us do have difficulties, not only with the Muslim community here in (North) America, but also with faith itself. As I have mentioned in prior comments, some of us have been encouraged, almost pressured, to pronounce the words of the Shahada with literally no one inquiring as to what we understand or why we are doing it. Just say these words. OK, alhamdulillah. Now you are a Muslim. That happened to me. Seriously, really.

    After many years (very soon be twenty), I have had no doubt of my own sincerity, but I have often wondered why I did what I did. Don’t question, you’re wasting your time, just say these words. Again, I am not kidding. It really does happen. It happened to me. A “personal search into the truth” had little to do with it. Just say these words.

    For a long, long time I have been on the ragged edge of actual atheism (really), but it is only an unexplainable (to me) sort of vague inner “resonance” (for lack of a better term) toward Islam that keeps me around at all. I suspect that many people simply do not understand or comprehend what it means for lonely, even disturbed, older individuals to speak the words and then to be left in effectively nowhere, so they flounder and (in many cases) eventually fall away.

  39. greenleaf says:

    Assalamu Alaykum Brothers Paul and Mark,

    I’ve never been so inclined to keep up with a comments thread. As i read your comments, i felt so sad. I was not at all surprised, just saddened by your experiences.

    You pushed me to engage more in the concerns of new Muslims/reverts, and for that I thank you both.

    I know there are many more Muslims who feel the way you each feel and have had similar experiences. This is definitely a big issue the Muslims face at large. Because this is not just a revert problem. This is a Muslim problem and must be treated as such. Because for a revert to be untaken care of as you need to be is not only a wrong and an injustice committed toward the revert, but is also something that effects the “older” Muslimm, as any wronging of others is ultimately a wronging of the self.

    It’s no secret that Muslims do not all nor always reflect true Islam, in it’s core principles, in it’s laws, and in its social and relationship guidelines. In fact, the suffering and challenges I hear in your words remind me of the many different challenges faced in marriages between husband and wife, deep emotional issues Muslim youth face because of lack of involvement(or too much messed up involvement) on the parents’ end, mistreatment of girls and too much flexibility with boys as seen in many Arab communities, drugs, alcohol, illegitimate relationships, depression, loss of faith, choosing culture over religion especially when convenient, and the list goes on. Any person suffering from any of the above mentioned or any other challenge faced by Muslims because of the flaws of the Muslim population can focus so much on their issue, forget about the big picture and the rest of the Ummah, and in turn, pull away from Allah.

    Our collective flaws are not worth any Muslim moving away from the truth. Allah is still one He still created the universe and everything in it. The trees He created still die every year and come back to life every spring as a reminder of our own cycle. No matter how off Muslims are, the Creator never changes. The reality of Muhammad (saw) never changes, nor that of Issa(as), Musa(as), Ibrahim(as) and all the prophets who were ever sent. These are all constant as they are meant to be, as we humans need them to be…our base for when things get chaotic and for our stable growth and development.

    Brother Paul and Brother Mark, by no means to I mean to play down your experiences. I mean only to agree with you that the Muslim community is flawed in the area of helping to nurture a new Muslim. But also to remind you to disallow such an imperfection to dictate your connection with Allah. Re-focus. The thing that brought you to Islam is still there and always will be. The Prophet(s) tells us that if we see a wrong to fix it with our hand, and if we are unable, to fix it with our tongue, and if unable, to acknowledge in your heart that it is wrong and this is the weakest of faith. Each choice reflects faith. He does not give us the option to be overwhelmed and abandon what’s rightfully ours…our iman (faith).

    Tony Robbins said something really interesting: we are unhappy with our lives when our lives do not match the blueprint we have in our minds of what our life should be like. Unless we seek out different ways to fulfill that vision OR adjust our blueprint to match the conditions of our life, we will not be satisfied and will experience (unnecessary) pain.

    Brother Paul, loneliness can create an emotional atmosphere that halts growth in any direction, particularly in the area of spirituality. Some loneliness can also be very healthy when taken advantage of through reflection and deep thought and planning. And as someone told me at a time when I felt a deep loneliness, which lasted for a good amount of time, “alone-ness” does not have to mean loneliness. Furthermore, as someone mentioned many replies ago, humans are meant to be with other humans. If you can’t find the social outlet and support you need by looking in place A, go to place B. If not B, then C. If you complete the alphabet and you still have not found what you need, jump to the alphabet of another language :). And there are many out there. There HAS to be a way. Allah does not leave us without solutions. He can however challenge us in finding them. IN the process, however busy yourself with further spiritual enrichment. Maybe you’re bored of the average Muslim level of knowledge. Maybe your soul requires something deeper, more engaging.

    Brother Mark, I think the Muslim Ummah needs you more than you need it. You’re smart, reflective and have a lot of drive. Get out of the passenger seat, get into the driver’s seat and work it.

  40. mark says:

    Ok, so I gave it a go. I tried. I really REALLY tried. I went to the mosque last week due to a death of a friend who was muslim. My intention was to make prayer and invite to Imam to speak at a memorial service. It was quite hot here in Southern California last week. I was wearing pants and a coolmax shirt with cut off sleeves (there were stitched, not those home made cut offs). I prayed and then was approaced by a fellow muslim who decided he wanted to lecture me on how I was dressed inappropriately. He told me “you are insulting God and the Mosque by dressing this way”. I jumped in this guys face and told him to show me where in the Koran that God wants to check out our clothes. He told me “you have obviously have never been to the middle east and have no idea about the muslim world because there is a way that things are done there”. I told him this is not the middle east, this is SoCal 2014. wake up. God wants out hearts not the latest fashion. I then told him there is no place in the Koran that states that I have to take Arab culture or language and that SoCal is multi-cultural and diverse. Embrace it don’t run from it. no one, but no one tells me what I can and cannot wear. This guy is a convert as well. Can you believe it? This guy drank the Kool Aid and was more than willing to imbibe. I spoke with the imam when he arrived and after he spent some time whispering with the guy I had the verbal argument with, I invited the imam to the memorial service, which he refused, I then invited him to the house for an after memorial service and he refused. There is a hadith that says a muslim is supposed to accept an invitation. I guess this guy missed that part. I guess when a convert muslim dies she is not as important as an Arab or Pakistani.
    The imam never called me back. This was the same imam that told me some time back that he was fully aware that converts are mistreated, but he didn’t want to address the issue because he would lose congregants and money for the mosque. I guess standing out for justice means you still get paid otherwise forget it. I love God and I love my faith in God, but I am seriously done with the circus. Islam has become nothing more than culture night. And one more thing, by promoting Arab or Pakistani culture as Islam that is Bid’ah (innovation) and a big sin. Islam is for everyone. I guess Mexican American muslims have to stay behind the fence even among so called “true muslims”

  41. Cali Muslim says:

    Salaam alaykum,

    There were a lot of point here I could relate to when I first converted. I was not as confident or assertive as now. If I had postponed marriage for a while I think many of the stated issues would not have been so impacting. To clarify, I coverted of my own will before getting married, and my husband is a good person.

    Lol, I think there are 2 more things to add to the list. Brothers and sisters in Islam PLEASE:

    1)Don’t ask the american (or any other ethnicity) convert if they converted because of marriage.
    This is rather insulting. Though I’ve learned to smile and envision the questioner with the best intention, it still makes me shake my head.

    2) Please stop asking “where are you from?”.

    I get this all the time as a conversation starter from sisters. I understand to a degree. A lot of sisters I talk to come from lovely places in the middle East, or else where and want to see if I identify.
    I hardly ever get asked this by non Muslim women I talk to though, and usually end up having deeper conversations on wider variety of topics. So my point is that there is more to talk about. And while ethnicity is special, and OK to talk about- IT doesn’t have to be at the helm of conversation.
    I would love a sister to come up and say “salaam alaykum, my name is so-in-so, let’s talk Quran! What’s your favorite iyyat?” Or simply “what do you like to do for fun?”

    Sharing this is in hopes to benefit not offend, and if I have offended please forgive me, pray Allah (SWA) forgive me too. Praying for all my sisters and brothers in Islam, peace and closeness with Allah(SWA).

    • New Muslimah says:

      I’ve experienced this myself with Muslim sisters. I am from California too! :) may the blessings of Allah swt be upon you!

  42. Abdul says:

    asalamu alaikum,

    just remember Islam is the religion and Muslims are the people. just because they claim to be a Muslim does not mean they are actually following the sunnah of our prophet Muhammad(pbuh). sadly vast majority of the Muslims have no clue about Islam, they only know what their parents taught them, who learnt it from back home.

    ma salama..

  43. Another Paul says:

    Asalamu Alakum,

    I wanted to offer a slightly different take than that offered by Paul Bartlett, above. I came to Islam tweleve years ago this (Gregorian) month, after having studied the Qur’an and some Hadith myself for two years previous. Unlike Paul B., a brother from my local Muslim Students Association came to my house several times to show me the basics of Wudu, Salat etc., we also had several discussions regarding the articles of faith etc. Despite this background I had fallen away from Islam within six months of making my Shahada, as I did not feel welcome at the masjid where I knew one person, and my faith was somewhat lazy as regards keeping up with salat. Following a decade returning to the barely-Christian liberal protestantism of my youth; I decided to re-embrace Islam last year.

    I’m much more mature both as a person and in approach to our din, so even if I don’t make any friends at the masjid (and brothers do at least return my salams) I know that I have the strength to follow this path even if I have to do it with minimal support. I would encourage Paul B. to remember that this life really is just a test, and if we do our very best with what Allah (SWT) has given us we will be rewarded. I’m the only convert I have ever met who left Islam only to return.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam. “I would encourage Paul B. to remember that this life really is just a test, and if we do our very best with what Allah (SWT) has given us we will be rewarded. I’m the only convert I have ever met who left Islam only to return.”

      Well, I never “left Islam” in the sense that I never embraced a non-Islamic religion, although I came very, very, very close to doing so among some people who were warm, friendly, welcoming, and accepting, all the things that Muslims were not.

      Please be aware that some people are weak, elderly, and troubled, and the blunt fact is that without adequate community support they will not “make it.” It is all very fine and nice to talk about strong faith in Allah, but in fact some people, especially converts who were never really accepted in the first place, are just barely holding on, and if in reality they do not get support, they slip away in their weakness. Believe me, it happens.

      It is all very fine and nice to talk glibly about this life being a test, but the reality is that some weak people cannot succeed. Are they just to be abandoned? What about the hadith (paraphrasing), “None of you believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”? Are the weak and hurting simply to be abandoned because they do not meet other people’s standards?

      We do not need theological abstractions about “holding on to the rope of Allah.” We need real, live communities who will cherish the weak, sick, hurting, and elderly. If those communities are not there, such people will fall away. Period.

  44. Another Paul says:

    Asalamu Alakum br. Paul,

    The following is offered in the spirit of constructive criticism. Have you considered re-starting daily salat and trying out as many mesajid for a few months., Or at least visiting for Ede in the summertime.

    I can relate to your feelings of isolation, but why did this cause you to give up salat?

    PS: please excuse any misspellings (it’s hard to edit on an iPhone.)

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      I have considered, on my own, several of your suggestions honestly made. However, I have not followed up on them. As for going to as many mosques as I could for a few months, there are only a few of them anywhere near me that I could get to on any sort of a regular basis. I am not as mobile as I used to be. Also, the last time I ever attended any of them, my impression was that someone like myself would continue to be more or less invisible, as I was in the past. Around here nobody seems to care about an old guy who speaks nothing but English and has personal issues.

      Eid I only ever attended once. It was just a huge, anonymous crowd with the prayers conducted in an incomprehensible (to me) language and no conversations in English afterward that I could hear.

      Salaat? I gave up on that a long time ago. I personally — I speak for no one but myself — was never able to get over the tyranny of Arabic. To me, just babbling syllables in a language I do not understand and probably never will understand is not prayer. It is just babbling. I might as well be reciting the Paris telephone directory in Swahili. Yes, I know that there may be some who will take offense at my words, but at the same time, I think there are many who genuinely do not comprehend the barrier “praying” in an unknown language is. To me, if I do not understand it, it is simply not prayer. Also, I was never able to hold in mind the meanings of the Arabic syllables at the time I was reciting them (and at my age do not expect ever to be able to do so), so eventually just gave it up out of sheer frustration.

      • Another Paul says:

        Asalamu Alakum Br. Paul,

        As someone who repeated Spanish I twice and Spanish II three times in order to receive a passing grade in college (I eventually ended up with a law degree) I can relate on some level to where your coming from.

        But I would point out to you that Allah (SWT) awards perserverence, and even if all you can ever learn are the sunnah and wajib acts of salat and al-fatiha then your at least trying to follow the din.

        If not, there are several surahs (and parts thereof) about what becomes of people who don’t at least try.

        My salat is far from perfect, but I’m always striving to do better.

  45. Yusuf says:

    Bismillahi Rahmanir Rahim
    Alhamdulillahi ..Asaalam Aleikum Wabarakatuh my Brothers and Sisters in Islam My name is Yusuf 22years Of AGE
    This website has encouraged me, I am A revert ..accepted islam 2weeks Ago so Far I have lost 2close Pals ,
    I need some brothers and Sisters here who Can teach me More About islam , about Halal and Haram things ..basically since Am new in this TRUE religion My fellow musliminas kindly encourage Me it hasn’t been Easy ..I haven’t opened up To My mum I Fear she might even Disown me ..i have been A christian since Birth ..
    But InshaAllah through DUA from you Brothers and Sister and ME too .
    We shall be stronger..
    MashaAllah // for your replies i Will Be Humbled.
    Thanks
    InshaAllah

    • Abdul says:

      asalamua alakium brother Yusuf,

      welcome brother to Islam. if you have any questions let me know, if I can help will do so Inshallah. also don’t rush nor over burden yourself to learn everything overnight. slowly but surely. but remember its hard to be a Muslim, no matter what happens try to stay firm. I will pray for you, may Allah(swt) make things easy for you.

      ma salama..

  46. Chanel J says:

    Hello.. I’m a 25 year old female really wanting to revert to islam insha allah although I must say here in Australia (Victoria). I stuggle to find assistance and guidance from fellow Muslim sisters! I have been with my partner for 7 years who is Lebanese Muslim and he has taught me a lot and constantly helps to broden my thoughts and knowledge about islam which is great.. Although I would really appreciate some guidance from female Muslims to teach me more about the females role as a muslium but really stuggle trying to find support groups for reverts or even going to a mosque would be hard to do on my own.

    If there is any females from australia I would really love to hear from you’
    Or if you could direct me in the right direction as to how to address my above Barriers I would really appreciate it!

  47. Josie says:

    Hi Chanel,
    I am I Australia too.
    I’m 28 year old woman in Tasmania.
    Email me if you like, would be nice to talk through our barriers etc!
    josie0606@gmail.com
    Josie :)

  48. Sana says:

    Salam alaykum,

    I have been muslim for 12 years now but at the moment I am really confused as I lived only bad experience with muslims. Never treated me as muslim as I am white and from Europe. I have been married a first time and lived domestic violence, lies and cheated. That was not the life I expected marrying a muslim. I had a daughter from him but after 7 years we divorced. I have been alone for long time till I met my second husband and I moved to the Uk for him coz he showed me to be a respectful muslim. After 3 months problems started. He was not the person he showed at the beginning. He did not pray but smoked drugs and too much jealous of my daughter. I asked his family or friends to help him without results. One day he just left coz he said he could not live with someone else daughter and he wanted to enjoy his life. He asked me several times to send back my daughter to her family and I always suffered to hear that.
    Here in Uk I am completely alone, no friends and no family. At the moment I wonder if years ago I made the right decision. I love Islam but from the time I became muslim and tried to have a muslim family I had only problems…

    • Muhammad Talut says:

      ASA, that is absolutely Tear jerking journey. may Allah give you contentment and ease your trials. Certainly such trials elates the status of Muslim in here after.

      why dont you reach Solace for revert sisters @ http://www.solaceuk.org

      this is totally meant for Convert Muslims women

      I hope u find this place and organization a complete solution for your concerns.

    • Abdul says:

      asalamu alaikum,

      im sad to hear that. you have to realize, Islam is the religion and Muslims are the people. just because they claim to be a Muslims this doesn’t mean they’re actually practicing true Islam.

      I hope things be easy for you..

  49. Sana says:

    Thanks brothers for your words.
    I will call Solace this week.

    Sana

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