The New Muslim


http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramberto/3023311845/in/photostream/By Muhammad Daniel

I was born from an act of idealism
To a world where ideals are sold

I looked for the way to be muslim
Got confused with what I was told

Each group claimed to be on the right path
Citing strong evidences to prove

But my heart found no peace with this conflict
So restless I started to move

From this one to that one I staggered
Nowhere did I seem to fit in

But in fear of the fire I kept searching
Wondering at the state we are in

Soon I grew tired of meetings
Of conferences, speeches and shows

I longed for some friends to be close to
As we lined up to pray in the rows

But the rows said salaam and dispersed
To the cultural lives whence they came

I went home to no group to be part of
Past the pubs looking warm in the rain

But Allah is my refuge my solace
He alone do I turn to to ask

That the muslims get out of their ghettos
To unite on their God-given task

And take in the wandering converts
For God surely will reward those

Who share the diamonds they’re hiding
In the peace of their family homes

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34 Comments

  1. Suma says:

    Dear Poet, salaams. A much needed gentle reminder, that I for one, need regularly! Thank you for sharing your sentiments – widely felt and experienced, even by muslims who are born into a muslim family, yet are still searching for the feeling of belonging. Thank you also for reminding the rest of us; yes we do exactly that…rush back home and carry on with life.

  2. Hadia says:

    Beautiful Mash’Allah! I pray that InshAllah all the Muslims can come together as one ummah and support one another.

  3. Paul Bartlett says:

    Salaam. Another saddening post which confirms yet again how often new Muslims are never really accepted into the community (in parts of North America, at least). It confirms yet again, sadly, my own experience of alienation from an indifferent ummah. I am not at all amazed that so many converts to Islam, who may have shaky faith to begin with, eventually leave, because seemingly no one cares (or often even notices). A lot of Muslims seem to be big on daw’ah but small on follow-up and nurturance of converts. We get sad and lonely and leave for something better (as it seems to be).

    • seema says:

      Dear Br. Paul
      Don’t be disheartened. The “ummah” is not your highway to jannah – your direct connection with Allah is! I am a born single female muslim from the subcontinent living in the US for the past 16 years, and still don’t feel accepted by even my own ethnic people because of various insecurities that other married women have towards me because of unstable marriages (including my own sister whose home I am unwelcome in and she lives 2 hrs away and did not even congratulate me on my hajj last year!!)as well as unmarried see me as competition for eligible men for marriage!
      So I have developed my own 1:1 relationship with Allah and do what I want to to get closer to Him, reading and researching myself. That is what Islam is – no one can hold our hands and do anything for us – that is why there is no hierarchical clergy as Allah wants no barriers b/w Him and us. So forget the dawah followups. You are answerable at the end of the day for your deeds and actions, not them. We all have come alone to this world and we will go alone.
      May you become strong in Islam, my muslim brother. Ameen.

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Thank you for your reply. Please see also the response I made to Jennifer a couple of days ago. One issue for me, as I suppose it could be as well for others, is that faith at all may be very weak to begin with and needs to be nurtured and supported by others. For some people, believe it or not, faith in Allah is a little stretched and abstract when they start out, especially if they are coming from a position far, far from Islam (such as atheism) to begin with.

        As Muhammad Daniel, the original poster, pointed out, like it or not the simple fact, unpalatable though it be to some, is that a lot of converts really do leave because of alienation from the community. Period. That is a blunt fact that has to be reckoned with.

        Many years ago, my father (now deceased) made a remark in relation to religious mission work — he was referring to Christian missionaries, but it could apply to Islamic “callers” as well — that the only way God dare appear to a hungry man is as a loaf of bread. Now to be sure, we must not take this too literally, but it does express a point, namely, that if people have needs (physical, psychological, social, whatever) which are not being met by real, flesh and human beings, then the religious message may not penetrate too far.

        For some people, the concept that all that matters is one’s relationship to Allah (swt) is a little too abstract to be very useful. Please remember that some people’s faith (iman) is tenuously weak, and without practical, real world nurturance, they are not likely to hang on very long.

        • Lalarukh says:

          Paul,
          Take a look at the New Muslim Care program, they pair up New Muslims with Muslim Buddies. I got this off the New Muslim Care website: “The New Muslim Care program is an engaging program that creates a positive impact on the lives of those who accept Islam and begin a new life as Muslims. Our program nurtures new Muslims, helps prepare them to face the challenges ahead, empowers them through Islamic education, and facilitates healthy networking opportunities.”
          If you wish you can enroll into the MyMuslimBuddy program at http://www.newmuslimcare.com/mymuslimbuddy

    • Julie says:

      Salaam,
      Paul, where do you live? Do you have Muslim friends? Be strong.

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        I apologize that I did not respond to this earlier. Somehow I overlooked Julie’s questions when I was scanning the thread.

        As to where I live, I live in Virginia (USA), near Washington, DC. Muslims friends? No. Not a one. I never have had. That is part of the problem, a problem which many converts have expressed here and in other threads on this website.

        One grievous problem is that in many places (in the USA, at least), converts are NOT really accepted into the Muslim community. Period. Loud takbirs when someone pronounces the Shahadatayn, and then almost nothing. Go to the mosque time after time, as I did for months, and be virtually ignored, never greeted, never recognized. Invisible, because I speak nothing but English and am not a socially assertive person. (And I was/am no longer young, which may have made things worse.)

        The blunt fact is that many converts to Islam simply eventually leave. Estimates go as high as 50-75% in the USA. People will say that what is really important is the individual’s relationship with Allah (swt) and not the community, but the reality is that for many people, especially newcomers, if they are left to flounder, their relationship with Allah never really consolidates.

        In some places, individuals are allowed, even encouraged, to pronounce the Shahadatayn almost as an end in itself, with no one — not even the individual him/herself — really inquiring or knowing what the person believes or understands. Just repeat these magic Arabic words. Some people may actually be rather confused and mixed up. If they get nurturance and support, their understanding and faith might consolidate, without that nurturance and support, without the community, a lot of them are just going to drift away (or, in some cases, explicitly convert to a specifically non-Islamic religion, as I almost did several years ago; the people there were warm, friendly, and welcoming, which the Muslims were not).

        • nikhtah says:

          Salam Paul,

          I live in VA and inshaAllah I know a lot of people and have good friend circle. Do you have am email and I can help out inshaAllah!

  4. So on the screen as I write given a lap-top
    Is its light as bright as deep in a cave?
    So there you would have us,dear Prophet
    fulfilling the tasks of the brave.

    Modern life,so it seems,sets us one task
    how to work,how to live,how to pray
    My efforts at learning good arabic
    stem from these pages of clay.

    Istikhara,amaanah,Ta’ala
    I’ve learnt as I go along here
    In my room here in England, God willing
    the guidance from others will come clear.

    Let me say first about a small winter garden
    I encountered today on a walk’
    the walk turned to task as I noted
    there was hardly an unblemished stalk.

    So many had thrown there such bottles
    Of plastic & metal & glass
    You’d think it a shame for the flowers
    Let alone for the weeds and the grass

    Now we are taught to say praise for God’s mercy
    We are taught to show trust and to care,
    As I gathered these bottles and knelt
    Only the soil seemed to know I was there

    Fifty-two I counted
    So many acts of neglect
    And when I moved on to the riverbank
    You can guess what happened next

    Again a similar story
    Against a background of a most precious resourse
    rainwater that falls to make seeds grow
    Without which we all lost but of course.

    So who from the Ummah can tell me
    Why so many ignore or wont see Allah’s signs’
    It wouldn’t be politic to condemn them
    but a warning does surely come to mind.

    We are taught that there are tests aface us
    that we wont be given more than we can bear
    But if this is how riverbank and garden are treated
    then a believer’s life must be

  5. A wrong click,forgive me,I”ll try to finish the last verse.
    Stet.
    But if this is how riverbank & garden are treated
    then a believer’s life fain be lived elsewhere.

    Notes: Work is work,one encounters this all the time in both urban and rural England.I noticed at he bridge over the river,(an older sandstone block 3 arched bridge, which made me think of how the workmen those several centuries ago would have put in the footings for the stonework and the butresses.) there was even more bottles et al deposited, reflecting such convenience.What a culture,what is it driven by? Not holiness that’s for sure.And please may I say that this, by our standards,is a famous river,the River Mersey,which has its estuary at the port of Liverpool. I’ve tried to write in verses in appreciation of the original comments in poem form and at least to add a contribution of some value.Praise be to All’ah. the beneficent,the merciful.May He show us the true path considering the world of nature upon which we so much depend.
    Brian Cokayne/ Stockport, England

  6. Laili says:

    The dilemma that a new convert faces would be overcome with a lot of support and good exemplary behaviors of those born Muslims…Praise to Allah the mighty for having given the path to our dear Poet.

  7. Jennifer says:

    We need to do a better job with youth programs and with support and programs for new Muslims. I’m so thankful I found good Muslim friends before I took my shahada. Many things need to change with the masajid to ensure they will be vibrant places for the community to gather in the future. I hope that we figure out a way to make those changes before it is too late.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      I know from my own observation and experience that at times and in places individuals are allowed and even encouraged to make Shahada almost “on the spot” as if doing so is an end in itself. Friends already? What do friends and support have to do with anything? Just recite these Arabic syllables — whether you know Arabic or not. A person may have very shaky faith at best, barely understanding what he/she is doing and why, but he/she is pushed forward. (Believe me, it happens.) With friendship and support, such an individual’s weak (possibly even confused) faith and practice might consolidate, but without that friendship and support — which is a very common occurrence for converts in many mosques and “Islamic centers” — people get discouraged, disillusioned, and alienated. Some of them simply give up and drift away. That was my experience, and I noticed beforehand that other converts would also eventually quit coming to the mosque which was the closest one I could get to at all with any frequency. Sometimes I wonder why I even look at some of these websites and message boards, considering that I have not been inside a mosque (or prayed) in years. It just wasn’t worth the trouble any more.

      • Farah says:

        Wow thank you so much for your comments Paul, they are really opening my eyes on mistakes I have made- I am also a convert but was blessed to be warmly welcomed by a group of wonderful sincere Muslims in Montreal Canada. However for many years because of family problems I was very shy to express myself about my Islam to people interested in Islam or even new converts.. I felt like I didn’t know enough to be an example and I was so used to being attacked about my Islam by non Muslims so I kept things to myself. Anyhow now I realize I was actually being stingy with people who sincerely were asking me for info or just wanted to spend time with me. I guess we all have something to give, even if we are not super knowledgable, just a friendly invitation and a caring heart is enough. I’m so touched by the article as well. Thank you

  8. Farhana says:

    JAK. I’m not a revert but can feel your pain none the less.

  9. Dena says:

    (: !سلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

    Mashaallah, great poem which raises a very important subject. It is very sad that this is the case today, and inshaallah with the blessing and guidance of allah we can try and do what we can both personally and as a community to prevent this from happening again.

  10. Muhammad Daniel says:

    Asalaamalekum

    Thanks all for your comments.

    I should say that alhamdulillah I have made many good muslim friends since becoming Muslim 14 yrs ago. The feeling of not belonging, however, is one that still surfaces, especially at Eid and other occasions like weddings etc.

    I have seen though, quite a few people over the years converting then leaving Islam simply because they feel lonely. I think to some degree what is needed is simply an awareness that what converts mainly need is a little honest friendship (i.e. not pity!)

    • seema says:

      Br. Daniel, even born muslims feel lonely, because they do not fit in with some of the duniya loving ummah. Trust me, I feel lonely too but don’t let that make me become a non believer!

  11. The Sabian says:

    Kudos. I couldn’t have said it better myself; but then, I’m being to believe that our state of vagrancy in the Muslim community might be better for us in the long run.

  12. Martin Tawfiq says:

    Very good mashaallah I never knew i sat next to poet like that. keep up the good work and in shaa Allah he will reward you for your efforts. Its not easy being a revert but its not easy being Muslim in the west

    • seema says:

      Brother Martin
      It is not easy being a muslim anywhere bec everyone is at a different level of practising Islam even in the same families. That is why it is a daily internal jihad/struggle against satan

  13. Muna Musa says:

    Beautiful poem and thought provoking. Support from good practicing friends is indeed important and has an impact on one’s religious path however, we can’t make it the excuse/reason for leaving Islam you can’t just give up i was born to a Muslim family and yes it’s a blessing Alhamdulillaah but it doesn’t make it easier either cause can’t take it for granted AT ALL i have to work even harder study well first read and follow the Sunnah and seek support but if you don’t find any to help strengthen your ‘Deen’ then turn to the Almighty make lots of du’aa as it’s test ‘Imtihan’ for your patience also when you go to different Masajids every day (see how the praying perform Salaah, hear what the Sheyookh call to in their Khutba…etc you’ll get to know really who’s following the right and who innovates.
    There’s no easy way to anything it takes time and efforts :-)
    May Allah keep us steadfast and on the straight path, no matter how the road may curve ahead. Ameen.

  14. Dew says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    I can only imagine how difficult it must for a revert but trust me even as a born Muslim when one becomes practicing its not easy. It takes time even to adjust to ones own Muslim family.Maybe one thing we don’t realise is that as more people are becoming practicing they are always willing to help and even consider a revert for marriage over a born Muslim because of their religious conviction (because reverts are unlike born Muslims-without cultural baggage). Insha Allah in the years to come things will change for better and those who are new to Islam can work togther to welcome those coming to Islam. Don’t forget the best of Muslims were reverts and they followed the Prophet (PBUH) when Makkan’s were hostile towards Prophet (PBUH) but they had firm belief in Allah and He gave them victory.

    I pray Allah makes it easy for our new revert brothers and sisters by putting them with good company. Ameen.

  15. Paul Bartlett says:

    A reply to Lalarukh (the comments section only allows replies a few levels deep):

    “Paul,
    Take a look at the New Muslim Care program, they pair up New Muslims with Muslim Buddies. I got this off the New Muslim Care website: …
    If you wish you can enroll into the MyMuslimBuddy program at http://www.newmuslimcare.com/mymuslimbuddy

    Salaam. Thank you for the information. I will take a look at their website. Sadly, I once contacted an organization who also indicated on a website they had a sort of “mentor” program for converts, but in the end no one ever contacted me, although I described my situation and location and gave two telephone numbers after an initial response they made, and my last email of inquiry was never answered. That has been my unfortunate experience with a lot of Muslim organizations: no follow-up despite the talk, so after all this long time, I am feeling a little burned out.

    • Muslimah says:

      Salams Paul, How did enrolling go with this Buddy Program?

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Wa alaikumus salaam. I did contact them. Much of their concentration is in Canada, understandably, and I am in the US (metro Washington, DC), so much of their activity is north of the border. Also, I suspect that many (most?) converts are much younger than I, so it can be difficult to find more mature individuals who speak good English (or French or Spanish, depending on where you are) and who are willing to take the time and effort to “buddy up” with someone.

        However, someone in my area did contact me. We have met twice and talked on the phone a few times. We haven’t really struck up a friendship (or whatever else you might want to call it), at least not yet, because our circumstances are much different. I am in my sixties, retired, alone (just a temperamental pet cat), with a lot of time on my hands. That brother is younger (although still mature) with a family and work responsibilities, so it is natural that he has less time available for others. However, I am grateful for the brief contacts we have had, as there have been almost none for many years. Whether there will be more remains to be seen.

        One issue for me, as for many others, I am sure, is that there are two needs, really. One is just simple human contact, the “meet over coffee” activity. The other is an opportunity to meet with (a) serious scholar(s) to hash out some things of belief. In addition to lack of simple human contact, I have almost given up any kind of meaningful belief in any kind of god at all, but I have no one available to talk to that I know of who 1) is a serious scholar; 2) speaks good English; 3) understands (which is not the same thing as accepts) westerners and their issues; and 4) can deal with western philosophical matters as well as traditional Islamic positions (for example, I have never come across a weighty English Islamic response to western philosophical atheism).

  16. Taheerah says:

    Asalaam Alaikum WRWB,

    I recently took my Shahada last June. Islam wasn’t “foreign” to me because my aunt was a practicing Muslim when I was young. I was familiar with the masjid and the greetings and “Allah.” However, I, myself was not a Muslim until last year while being fed up with the disparities in the public education system. I started seeking better education and I knew I would never put my children in catholic of Christian schools, I found an Islamic school and through that journey Allah swt guided me to Islam. Alhumdulillah!!

    I have met some Muslims sisters and they are amazing Masha’Allah but it stops there. I have tried to set up “play dates” for my children with muslim children for TWO YEARS and I have yet to have a mother give me the “ok.” It hurts to try to explain to my children certain things without being too honest. The honest truth is they don’t want their children to associate with you.

    If people think being a new Muslim is hard try being a Muslim who is BLACK!!! Please don’t pretend on this thread that it does not exist because it does. Blacks face do much stereotypes in America as it is and the “cultural” muslims have adopted many of those sane stereotypes about blacks. Many black children in Muslim schools are very few and are faced with racism there as well. It is PAINFUL to think that you believe you made a better choice by placing your children in Islamic schools and away from dunya but the fact of the matter is, you are not they get dunya there and racism. My nephew who attends a different school than my children was being called “fried chicken” by his classmates and he is in 4th grade. I do a lot if research (hence how I found this forum), and I know the Prophet (saw) spoke vehemently against racism in Islam. However many cultural or “born” muslims in America spend so much time trying to be “American” and gain acceptance from the disbelievers that they dismiss and disrespect their brothers and dusters in Islam. This is HEARTBREAKING when you realize, and I have realized that every time I go to a masjid. Last year was my first Ramadan SubhanAllah, and I said that I was going to break my fast at the masjid everyday especially since there were 2 masjid in walking distance. I was so disturbed and disgusted by how the sisters acted and separated themselves from me me and their children from mine I could not go back. I went 3xs to give the benefit of the doubt and I NEVER went back.

    My husband was not muslim and took shahada because he respected the ruling on women being married to non muslims. However, he is facing difficulty as well especially witnessing what my children encountered in school and the overall unwelcome feeling amongst muslims. All we have is each other and that can be hard for me because I want him to get Islam from brothers but alhumdulillah I will continue to teach him as many women did in the Prophet’s (saw) time.

    Insha’Allah we are moving to Houston where I read there are a lot if muslims. However, I honestly don’t feel like just because there are a lot of muslims my family and I will be embraced by the ummah there. Shameful but truthfully, I made a duaa asking Allah swt that my children are not met with cultural racism by MUSLIMS astafirgillah. My goal is to start a support group for NEW MUSLIMS ONLY. Many born muslims and converts who have been muslims longer than 10 yrs will probably frown on this but st this point I don’t care. All of my muslim friends have been muslims got longer than 8 or 10 yrs do they approach Islam wuth a different set if eyes than me. For example my friends just “assume” I know things like during Ramadan initially I had no idea that the suhoor must be consumed BEFORE fajr, i thought it was before sunrise just like the actual prayer. Not to ramble but insha’Allah I have made my point and it is understood and if not understood at least respected. Allahu Alim

    • Sabian says:

      Asalaam Alaikum Sister,

      I also happen to be a Black convert of about eight years or so and I’ve noticed much of what you’ve described. For whatever reason – and I can most certainly speculate a few – Black converts are even more socially isolated and routinely discriminated against in the broader Muslim community, DESPITE championed notions of racial egalitarianism. For most, if not all, of my eight years as a Muslim, I’ve felt like a pariah, like an Untouchable, as if we were subject to the Hindu caste. I seldom frequent the masjid when people are present, because I feel my presence isn’t welcome, and I often feel like an Outsider at MSA gathers. The unfortunate reality is that although the Prophet did indeed set the record straight concerning skin color and although the best generation of Muslims ever to walk the face of the God’s green and blue earth – the ones responsible for spreading Islam to the corners of the globe in the first instance – were in fact converts to Islam, many Muslims apparently lack the reflectiveness and wisdom needed to see the hypocrisy and stupidity of the presumptions they have concerning Blacks or converts, be they cultural or otherwise: a dark and twisted irony: converts brought them their religion, and now, they, after having forgot this fact over the centuries, eschew other converts. Subhan’Allah.

      I hope the next generation of converts, assuming there will be such, will not have to endure the terrible spells of loneliness and isolation that many of us have had to cope with. I maintain, with much fervor, that Black Muslims, especially Black converts, are by large akin to second class citizens in the American Muslim community. If you manage to get your support group off the ground, I’ll certainly join the bandwagon.

  17. Taheerah says:

    Asa, I also wanted to clarify why my support group will only be for New Muslims. People who have been in Islam fir many years sometimes innocently expect new muslims to know certain things. For instance say I took my shahada today. Who’s going to show me proper ablution? Proper salah? Show me the difference in all of the 5 prayers-is it done silent or out loud?the tashahhud? I had to research and learn about the tashahhud which is a part of salah. Who will tell me it is Sunnah to offer 2 rakats upon entering n leaving the masjid? Who will? Youtube? Because that is where I learned -from YouTube and books and although subhan’Allah those tools were helpful it is sad I had to use them and not people on my right and left in the masjid. I had no idea about ghusl bath after relations with my husband or my menstruated cycle until reading and researching. These are things that new muslims simply DO NOT KNOW!!! Most people are not like me and won’t research for themselves and learn salah from YouTube or even worse illustrations in books. I want new muslims to be able to be in a comfortable environment with “newbies” like them and feel free to ask any questions without judgement. Maybe sisters want hijab tutorials or new halal recipes etc. Often times “old” muslims look at new muslims like we have 4 heads if we ask certain questions or do not know how to pray or make duaa. The most bizarre thing I heard from my “old” Muslim friend when I asked her opinion was “make instakhara” like I knew what that was at that time but AllahuAlim

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      Salaam, Sister. I made Shahada over nineteen years ago, but it did not “take” very well, in that my experiences were so like yours. I, also, had to find out things on my own from books (no YouTube then, and as an older person I scarcely know how to use it). Nineteen years or not, I quit practicing Islam for such a long time that I could still be considered a “new Muslim,” one just barely hanging on. It is sad that so many of us converts have to try to “club together” among ourselves (when that is even feasible, depending on different circumstances) after the loud takbirs fade away. Such is the sorry state of the ummah today, I guess.

  18. Ameen says:

    Assalamu alaikkum

  19. Seth says:

    Salam, I dream of a mosque close enough to commute to. I’d gladly accept the “cold shoulder” as a new member.
    At least I would have the opportunity to overcome the barriers that may exist. Giving a helping hand, sincerity and respect helps break the ice. Yes, I know racism and excluding others is wrong, and it isn’t my intent to belittle it.
    My community is hostile to the Muslim faith. So, I’ve had to study Islam on my own.
    I greatly appreciate web sites like this one.

  20. binte yousuf says:

    Salam wrwb dear all revert Muslim brothers and sisters.(Brother Paul Bartlett,Sister Taheerah,Sabian,Brother Muhammad Daniel and anyone else i have missed out)

    i feel very sorry after reading your posts and comments and i really wish i could be of some help to you all. i would really recommend you to visit http://www.sacredlearning.org, and contact that vibrant Muslim community in America by using the contact form on the site. Dr Husain Abdul Sattar lives in Chicago and masha’Allah benefitting the Muslim Comuunity there immensely. I myself, despite living in a land far off(Pakistan) have benefited from his works immensely. Masha’Allah they are one of the most sincere Muslim communities i know of and i have trust they wont let you down. They must know of some muslim or other near your areas who could help you out insha’Allah.
    I acknowledge the spiritually weak state of Ummah, but believe me there are still individuals out there who are down to earth Muslims, striving day and night to serve the Ummah(without the distinction of black and white,born muslim or revert).
    May Allah Ta’Ala also Enable you to find such hidden gems and benefit from. My duas are with you.
    Please dont give up, Allah All Mighty will certainly Reward any difficulty you undertake to preserve this faith!

    And certainly, i very much agree that we all need some company, some community to grow spiritually. So insha’Allah do visit and contact the brothers at that website. may Allah Ta’Ala Make it easy for you and all other reverts out there!
    Let me know if i could help you in any way.

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