Reflections of a Muslim Mind

Reflections on Islam, Current Affairs, Politics, Books, Life in London and anything else of interest.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Problems facing converts

I recently had a very interesting conversation with my wife about why she converted to Islam and some of the issues she faced after becoming a Muslim.

What was interesting from my perspective (having heard my wife’s conversion story quite a few times before, but, I still find it fascinating.) was how directly the Quran affected her heart to make her change the direction of her life. Her conversation wasn’t based on dawa by any Muslims as such, although she did have a number of Muslim friends, who although not fully practicing fasted during Ramadan and were proud to be Muslims.

Unfortunately what she had read about Islam didn’t reflect the reality of the state of Muslims and I think this is an issue that faces all converts to Islam. The initial problem was finding anyone with any deeper understanding of Islam, from its practices to its sciences. Unfortunately groups like HT and Al Muhajiroon are good at exploiting this problem and will in many cases entice new converts to their ranks. What we need is a support structure to help new converts. They face many issues from problems at home because of their conversion to confusion over how to practice Islam, our communities need to be more inclusive and embrace newcomers to Islam, in many respects converts to Islam have much to teach those who are ‘born’ into Muslim families and simply take this for granted. Islam isn’t a passive religion but an active one, active in dhikr and active in jihad against ones nafs and active in helping others.

One horror story that I was told about concerned a young woman who had gone to the local mosque make her declaration as a Muslim public. Unfortunately she was turned away by someone at the mosque as she didn’t come across as ‘sincere’ in her conversion, as if the person at the mosque had somehow looked into her heart to test her sincerity. Unfortunately this type of narrow thinking is indicative of the ‘tribal Islam’ that seems to have taken root in our communities.

However as the recent Quran desecration episode illustrates; the more that someone tries to suppress Islam the more Allah will make it flourish. We need to stop being complacent and actively help newcomers into our communities.

13 Comments:

  • At 8:41 pm, Blogger isla said…

    There have been so many of these stories repeated up and down the country. It's amazing people convert in the first place with the way Muslims treat them!

     
  • At 10:59 am, Blogger Noufal said…

    I live in South India and the areas around here have a somewhat strong muslim population. I haven't seen too many converts. I've heard about the power of the Quran to affect hearts a lot of times though. A lot of Shaykhs say that that's the main miracle of the Quran. It's really wonderful.

    I'm happy for your wife. Al hamdu lillah that Allah guided her to the path of Islam

     
  • At 6:03 pm, Blogger kaleidomuslima said…

    thanks for sharing...even though every convert's experience is unique...many face the same issues as you've pointed out. i was even a little offended at my shahada because they made me state something along the lines that "i do not believe jesus is god and savior," which i never really did in the first place! they only assumed that i did because i came from a "christian" background.

    there's way too much misunderstanding and miscommunication issues in the ummah right now. it's a clash of immigrants versus american-born muslims a lot of the time.

     
  • At 10:19 pm, Blogger Ann said…

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    When I took my shahada, they also had me say something about not believing that Jesus was God. Actually, I had considered myself an atheist for the previous 20 years, but I wasn't offended. I just figured that they wanted to make sure I understood that; it is a pretty important point, after all.

     
  • At 11:11 pm, Anonymous Yusuf Smith said…

    As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    Re Ann's comment. This business of "extended shahadas" is something I've seen at least twice; my own conversion included. The shahada is so well-known that it beggars belief that people are requiring converts to testify to things which are implicit in the well-known shahada - particularly in a language they don't understand!

    Also, one thing I got when I converted was Pakistani men lecturing me about the differences between Islam and religions I'd never been part of, like Hinduism and Qadianism. I'm not sure why they thought this necessary.

     
  • At 7:40 pm, Blogger cncz said…

    as a convert, i think the convert issue is a by-product of the ethnicization of most of the mosques i have been to in that we're judged by cultural rather than religious standards. i would love to see my generation of converts become "whole Muslims" without trying to attach themselves or trying to be attached by others to a particular ethnicity.

    my sincerity was and is still doubted, five years on. You would not believe how often i get the, "oh she converted for her husband" and, 'convert for five years? but she doesn't do anything'.

    salam

     
  • At 10:06 am, Blogger MK said…

    WHat is clear from all the comments above is that all converts face similar problems. Granted some people will have better experiences than others but I do feel that as has been rightly pointed out, many mosques are run on mainly ethnic grounds and not completely Islamic grounds. I don't want to be completely negative though, we are getting better but I think there is a long way to go.

     
  • At 8:28 am, Blogger JD said…

    "What we need is a support structure to help new converts."

    I whole-heartedly agree with this thought. Here in Singapore, we do have such a support structure in the form of Darul Arqam, The Muslim Converts Association of Singapore. If more of these associations could be started around the world, I think it would be of great benefit to both born Muslims and us converts.

     
  • At 5:10 am, Blogger shailesh kumar said…

    Asalaamu alayeukum,wa rehmatulla wa barkatuhu

    Dear sir,
    My name is mhd.yaseen shaikh.I was non-muslim few months before.Everything was fine till now by the grace of almighty Allah,but now my family has seprated me from my home and bussiness.I don't have a house to provide shelter to my aaliya(wife).I request you all Muslim foundations to plz help me in making a shelter for my family.I am a service man and i cannot afford a house of my own.

    Please help me in recreation of my life.I have heard that Muslim foundations are helping new muslims to settle down.With hope in Allah and all our muslim community I request you all to please help me

    Thanking You,
    Mhd.Yaseen Shaikh
    email: mhd.yaseenshaikh@yahoo.in

     
  • At 5:10 am, Blogger shailesh kumar said…

    Asalaamu alayeukum,wa rehmatulla wa barkatuhu

    Dear sir,
    My name is mhd.yaseen shaikh.I was non-muslim few months before.Everything was fine till now by the grace of almighty Allah,but now my family has seprated me from my home and bussiness.I don't have a house to provide shelter to my aaliya(wife).I request you all Muslim foundations to plz help me in making a shelter for my family.I am a service man and i cannot afford a house of my own.

    Please help me in recreation of my life.I have heard that Muslim foundations are helping new muslims to settle down.With hope in Allah and all our muslim community I request you all to please help me

    Thanking You,
    Mhd.Yaseen Shaikh
    email: mhd.yaseenshaikh@yahoo.in

     
  • At 2:35 am, Anonymous arif fitzsimon said…

    As salaamu Alaikum Br. It is true many people who convert to Islam face obstacles and there needs to be a support system. Alhamdullilah when I embraced Islam 22 years ago I had a group of brothers who gave me alot of support. I know from my contacts that this doesn't happen for alot of people, as a result sometimes they become isolated from the Muslim community or as you point out are attracted to extremism. There are organisations that address this issue but alot more needs to be done on the community level.

     
  • At 3:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i want to be a muslim but hera in my contry that is inposible what i do pls help me viktormk2010@live.com

     
  • At 8:00 pm, Blogger Shaikh and Roy said…

    Good Evening Sir,

    I consider myself extremely lucky to write to you today. After a lot of deliberations, I decided to pen this letter to you.

    I am from India, and a Hindu by birth. As destiny would have liked it, I came to study at an Islamic Institution in Pune, India. Having spent five years of my life midst so many wonderful people around me, I too realize I have an enchanting connection with Islam and Allah.

    By the grace of Allah, I wish to accept the religion wholeheartedly. But my question arise here. I am the only son of my loving parents, and as Islam teaches, I love them dearly, Having lost my brother this year... they are left only with me. My question is: if I embrace Islam, will I be able to perform the last rites (death rituals) of my parents according to the Hindu custom and belief, since it is the obligation of the son to pay his last respects compulsorily. If I am not able to perform this, I am afraid I will have to remain away from Islam, which i don't want to, and neither can I turn away from the most important responsibility I have towards my parents. Else, than this they are comfortable with my decision as well.

    I seek your earnest reply and a little thought and time to this query of mine. I shall remain indebted to you forever for guiding me on the path of truth and righteousness.

    May Allah Bless You.


    India

     

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