Saturday, November 12, 2005

Reverts to Islam: Lonely in a Crowd



Reverts to Islam: Lonely in a Crowd

-Amatullah Abdullah

When we hear that someone has entered Islam, we often ask .How did you accept Islam? . We also say Al hamdulilah (All praises are due to Allah alone) when someone says they have reverted to Islam, Right? These remarks show that we are heartened to see someone accepting the Truth!


Life is not easy for any believer. Life is a test!, a Jihad (struggle), for every believer whether you are a "born" Muslims or reverts to Islam.

As for reverts to Islam they undergo a great struggle. The moment they declare their faith (Islam), most of them lose their loved and dear ones. Their old friends refuse to accept their new lifestyle and new faith. Some of them tend to lose their family who are unable to digest the fact that they have embraced Islam. Whenever I hear a revert saying, "I love my parents so much… my family showered and lavished me with affection until I embraced Islam. My family’s attitude towards me is causing me much pain that sometimes I even think of leaving Islam, then Allah would shower His mercy on me that I would be reminded that this is a test and this World is just a temporary abode... and I would say 'I should not fail this test and Allah, The Most Merciful will shower His mercy and blessing on me and my family...'" The pain which, reverts to Islam undergo is something which cannot be felt unless we are in their shoes.


During this time it our duty as brothers and sisters in Islam to lush them with friendship, brotherhood, love, kindness, affection, etc. To the contrary we find some of our brothers and sisters in Islam (who are born into a Muslim family) cause our new brothers and sisters much ache in their heart, by being prejudiced, intolerant and proud.


I intended to write this essay after hearing about the treatment of our revert brothers and sisters in Islam by some of the "born" Muslims. I feel outraged to the core when I hear the spiteful attitude of these Muslims towards reverts to Islam. The new Muslims feel disheartened when they face this kind of behaviour.


I wonder how someone can neglect the brothers or sisters who reverted and consider them inferior.

Prophet [Salla Allaahu .alaihi wa sallam (May Allah peace and blessing be upon him)]
observed: Are you not aware of the fact that Islam wipes out all the previous (misdeeds)? Verily migration wipes out all the previous (misdeeds), and verily the pilgrimage wipes out all the (previous) misdeeds. [Collected by Muslim: Book 001, Number 0220]


I have heard and seen so many Muslims who are born into a Muslim family and raised as a Muslim collecting revert stories. When asked, "Why are you collecting these stories?" They would either reply, "We are curious to know how they found the truth and got the guidance?" and I have heard them saying, "Their reversion stories are truly inspirational and it helps us to boost our Iman (faith)..." The stories of reverts are published in Islamic magazines, Islamic newspapers, Islamic websites and sometimes a book is made out of these stories.

Why?
Because we know these brothers and sisters were not raised in a Muslim family and many would not have had met many Muslims before they reverted, yet they were still able to find the Truth and Guidance. This stirs curiosity in the minds of a raised Muslim or anyone, be it Muslim or non- Muslim, who is immersed and attracted to the "striking" lifestyle of the West. The influence of the west is so great on these Muslim that they tend to lose Islam. People become curious to know the reason why a person from the a non Islamic world, who was living in this "attractive" life of "freedom", suddenly is ready to forgo all his/her liberty and enter a religion which is considered to be irrational, extreme and oppressive. Thus, these revert stories (which are true life stories) act as a food to feed the curious mind.

---

Nobody is infallible except Allah (swt) and everybody would have committed some sins or the other knowingly or unknowingly in their lifetime. When Allah is ready to forgive, who are we judge anyone??


Mariam* 27 from Germany said, “ Seriously, I don't want to go to the Masjid. I find some Muslims are so intolerant towards us (reverts)..." She added, “I find them to be mean and spiteful. They are being so judgmental for the errors which I committed before I completely entered Islam...”


A renowned scholar, Sheikh Muhammad al-Jibaly said, “It is only to Allah to give final judgment in regard to any person. Anyone who takes it upon himself to do so would be overstepping his human boundaries, and may deserve Allah's punishment.”


The Prophet (saws) told that once a self-righteous man saw a sinner, he said: "By Allah, Allah will never forgive him. Allah then said, "Who are you who should dictate to Me what to do? Indeed, I have forgiven so-and so (the sinner), and demolished your deeds. "[Sahih Muslim no. 2621]

He (sheikh) further added: Righteous people are told to be merciful towards those who committed mistakes, even if their mistakes harmed them personally. During the fitnah of accusing ‘Aaishah (ra) with zinaa, one of those who transmitted the falsehood was a poor relative of Abu Bakr (ra) that Abu Bakr used to give sadaqah. When Allah declared ‘Aishah's (ra) innocence in His Book, Abu Bakr made an oath that he will never give any more help to that relative. He showed us a daleel (proof) from the Qur’an:

"Let not those of you with virtue and wealth swear not to give aid to the relatives, the needy, and the emigrants for Allah’s cause. Rather, let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.." [Soorat an-Noor 22]


As a Muslim, I love all my brothers and sister for the sake of Allah and it causes great pain to hear our brothers and sisters describing their experience as a Muslim after their reversion. Many reverts feel excluded and hurt by this kind of treatment.


One sister said, “I just don't feel lonely but excluded, when I am among Muslims. I would be sitting for hours listening to relatives talk in Urdu. They know I don't understand but still they continue to do that.”


I remember showing a sister an essay. It was an essay for the youth, which tells us that Allah is the Wali (Protector and Friend) to the believers. This essay was actually meant for the youth but this sister (revert) who is in her late thirties told me that this essay made her feel good Alhamdulilah! Why? Because she felt so lonely and barred after reverting and this essay made her realize that she should not accept anyone to be her friend and she is heartened to know that Allah is her Friend.


A brother who had accepted Islam few years’ back said, "I faced a lot of racism in Islam..." I wondered why he said that and then realized he said that because unfortunately the Muslims treated him that way. Then it was explained to him, "One cannot judge Islam based on Muslim's attitude. Because it looks like Muslims haven't submitted completely to the faith. We pick and choose what is convenient for us to follow and leave which is not convenient for us and our culture."


When Sr. Fathima* 42 from the USA was asked to describe the experience of her first
Ramadan, she said, "My first Ramadan was one of my most spiritual.... and was completed in the near total absence of Muslims. I hate to tell the story because I fear it sounds like bragging for having overcome some hardships, but I think it’s a sad commentary on where our community stands that the most spiritual Ramadan I had was done pretty much alone."

Sr. Lamina*, 26 from Chennai, a strong and bold new Muslimah says, "It is really sad to note that some Muslims are behaving like creeps. I started acquiring Islamic knowledge from the time I declared my faith. I witness so many unislamic cultural acts carried on by Muslim in the name of Islam. They tell me what I am doing is wrong and they know better because they are born Muslims. Just because I am new Muslim I have no right to voice the evils happening in the society in the name of Islam? She further ad," Didn’t the prophet say that everybody is born in state of fitrah (natural) and everybody are Muslims when they are born and it is only the way they are raised which makes him a person of another faith? ...Doesn't Islam insist on humility? "


Do these Muslims (who calls themselves born Muslims) know that almost all the Sahabah were reverts? Are they better than the Sahabah (reverts) in understanding and interpreting Islam (Qu’ran and Sunnah)? It is such a pitiful situation that some of these "born" Muslims are corrupting Islam with their shameful and horrible attitude, which has no place in Islam.


This kind of behaviour made many Muslims say "Alhamdulilah! We found Islam before we met any Muslim."


But I would say it is heartening to see there are still many brothers and sisters in Islam who are conscious of Allah. They are like a source of warmth and haven for our new brothers and sister in Islam. They are ready to shower them with love, kindness, encouragement and brotherhood!


Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and harmony but we see that this is lacking among us. It's so unfortunate that many reverts to Islam tend to leave Islam! Maybe if the community was more welcoming and supportive reverts to Islam would find it easier to stay on the straight path (Islam). These ugly stances by ignorant Muslims should be rejected and amended. Let us be conscious of behaviour towards anyone be it new Muslim, non-Muslim, children or servant. We will meet our Lord soon and let us strive to amend our ways before we meet our Lord.

*Names changed for privacy sake

************************************************

© Amatullah Abdullah 2005.

29 comments:

Sacred Sites said...

Hi Am ullah Abdullah,
I was just passing looking for Muslim links on the blogger site and found your Reverts to Islam: Lonely in a Crowd blog. Your blog was not quite what I was looking for, but I enjoyed my visit all the same.

HijabiApprentice said...

fabulous post. i am a revert myself and can relate to the loneliness of not fitting in to either group (muslim and non-muslim) neatly. alhamdulillah, for the most part my experiences since shahada have been positive.

Anonymous said...

As salamu aleikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I am a revert muslimah, and experienced that family can be a serious issue.
My father, a christian, took it so lightly, he even surprised me with abaya. My mother and my stepfather took it real hard and it was hurtful to keep their contact and be rebuked. The extended family does not want contact unless I take off my hijab (in their town, not just inside the house). I can not do that..I wear niqab. They say it is intolerant if I keep it on in their city.
My experiences with the muslim community are good, born muslims, revert muslims...We have a gruop of revert msulims meeting once a week to learn. Some born muslims are also with us.
It is a multi national group, asian sisters, european sisters, sisters from the arab world, masha Allah.
It is good for reverts to have their own "group" to see each otehr, build friendships and put sisterhod into action by simply being there for each other.
It's nice if such a "gruop" is multinational, if some people involved are born muslims as well.

Aaminah said...

Asalaamu alaikum. Thank you for this beautiful post! I do want to share with you from my own experience that the greatest racism, classism, nosiness, judgement, and intolerance I have personally experienced and seen many other converts experience in my city (and when I lived across the state I saw this there too when I first converted) has not come from born Muslims, but from other converts! It seems that for some brothers and sisters, after they convert they conveniently forget what their lifestyle was like before Islam, or what things they had to struggle with. They do not support others who convert. The Do's-N-Don'ts lists come primarily from converts, and the shaming and judgement comes as much from converts as from born Muslims. This is a sad thing because we should remember our own experience and strive to look out for new converts and give them the best treatment we appreciated getting, or the best treatment that we were hurt not to have received ourselves.

Amatullah said...

As Salaamu Alaikum Sr. Aminah,

Yes it is true that it such a sad plight that Muslims are living in today. When one is being judgemental ,he is over stepping the human boundaries cos Allah is the best Judge and we have no right to judge anyone.

Amatullah said...

As Salaamu Alaikum HijabiApprentice ,

I am glad you are able to stay strong in your iman inspite of all the struggles. May Allah reward you!

Anonymous said...

Assalamu Aleikon sister Amullah,
I enjoyed yous posts very much, particularly this one, because it touches my own experience. As a new revert, my only support comes from friends I have online. Sisters and Brothers, maily new reverts that had proved their faith helping me with answers I was seeking for my questions. I have been moving constantly and steady on my faith, and I can tell that up to now I could not count with the support muslims in my own community. At every attemp I was always treated with prejudice even in the Mosque. I learn not to fear that, because as your text express, Allah is my first and true friend.I am very for your initiative and brightness on wiriting it. May Allah bless your work,

Moe said...

Asslam

Have any of you visited www.MuslimsIn.com the site has a a group of members who are all reverts to islam and they help other reverts in several countries. Its the kind of thing new muslims are looking for.

Anonymous said...

Assalaam alaikum,

Masha Allah!
It is such a beautiful post.A reminder for both reverts and born muslims that our piety is what reaches Allah(swt), not our boasting...

I would just like to add that I like to collect revert stories and read them.Many of them bring tears to my eyes,because it is so beautiful the way Allah (swt)guides the most unlikely people to His light.
And it makes me realise what I had not seen in Islam when I was ignorant of what being a muslim is all about.
Now I know different and Insha Allah, I am working towards being a better muslim day by day.

Wa salaam

Anonymous said...

as salamu alaikum alhamdulillah someone is speaking out about this issue, i am so tired of being seen as a "novelty" muslims say welcome to islam sister subhanAllah u have been guided.

reality is that i spend every ramadam and iftar alone, every eid completely alone, i am not invited to peoples weddings,for almost 10 years now, and and there is no hope of me ever marrying as long as the born muslims insist that it is reccomended in Islam to marry from your own nationality merely because you share the same culture.

It has been a completely devestating experience after loosing my family, all my freinds, my job and i have nowhere now where i can go to socialise with other sisters.

I feel completely lost like i have no place in this world anymore and am of no importance to anyone i became a virtual recluse with no social life and all because i am rejected by the born muslims because i am not of the same nationality or race.

when muslims openly say welcome to Islam sister and then in the next breath they say oh but no we dont marry people like you, then dont expect me to beleive that you see me as your sister in Islam.I feel completely betrayed by such people because they make me feel like i am some kind of freak, and i am totally alone suffering abuse from non muslims for wearing hijab and unable to have any shelter amongst my own people .. the muslims.. because so many do not see me as truely one of their own people.

Amongst the first reverts to Islam,the sahabbah new muslims were never ever made to feel they were not an equal part of the ummah, nor were they exluded on the basis of their nationality which is ultimately where a persons culture comes from.

The prophet salAllahu alleyi wa salam said, whoever calls to asabiyyah dies a death of jahilyah...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Assalamulaikum to all brothers and sisters.
I felt I had to say something after reading all the above. Firstly what is a revert? somebody who returns to their natural state because its a fact that all babies are born a muslim. Its the doctrination by your carers to be who you are as you are growing up. I just want to say that anybody who reverts back to their natural state is called a revert.
I was born into a muslim family but this does not make me a muslim until i reach that God consiousness and submitted to Allah(swt). Now some people are fortunate to have that right guidance and reach this state but some muslims sadly do not have this God consiousness and so the Shahada is meaningless. Until you truely believe this statement and fully surrender to Allah it does not make you a muslim. The amazing thing is even though i have been born into a Muslim family I did not have any God consiousness until now which feels like that i have jus been born again and can call myself a revert because I have jus been united with my natural state. I too feel lonely and feel i dont belong to the group of people who call themselves Muslims ( but are in just name only ) and if I tried to explain dont understand and feel offended. I believe only God consiousness is given to a few of us. I can fully relate to a revert from a non muslim family through their God consiousness and the frustration they may go through. My advice is to be patient to all new reverts, be a true believer as Allah asks you to and have patience, committment and perseverance and never forget Allah guides whom He wills and has chosen you for a reason.So be proud my brothers and sisters and continue to seek the truth and share the truth. Alhamdulillah.

Faisal said...

Assalamu Alaikum to all,

First of all - ALL PRAISE to ALLAH who guided his chosen ones back to his deen.

Yes - reverting back to ISLAM is not EASY. There would be some who may not understand. But I would say - Hold on - Hold on tight. The Help and Victory of Allah is near.

May Allah give us all the patience and strength and also the understanding of his deen.

Anonymous said...

Asaslam Alaykum

Hmmmm I was shocked to see how Muslims to behave towrads Rerverts, by no means do we have the right to judge on what wrong one has done, sadly this is apprant in todays' society. For *ALL* you reverts may Allah (swt) bless each and everyone of you and grant you nothing but happiness. It is not easy like you mentioned families disown you, even your friends. I have also beeen through a similiar phase, even though I was born a mUslim, the ttime I strated to pratice was about 3 years ago, and my family/freinds didnt like that I took such a great interest in Islam. may Allah (swt) humble everyones hearts

And i apolgize for the sake of the muslims who have not treated you right, I would treat you with the upmost amount of respect as this is the way we would behave towards each other.

A great post!

Your Sister In Islam

Anonymous said...

Asalaamu Alaikum,

Wow this is absolutely wonderfully written and sadly so very true :( I don't go to the masjid any longer b/c I don't fit in. Everyone there belongs to a clique and there are no revert cliques b/c most of them feel like I do. Thank you for this post! May Allah Reward You, ameen.

Anonymous said...

Assalaam Alaikum Wa Ramatullahi Wa Barakatuhu.

Alhamdulillah. May Allah accept your reversion and bestow his mercy and guide you the right path. I do feel very sorry for those who neglect the brothers or sisters who reverted. Dont think that you are lonely in Islamic world. Allah is always with there. This world for born/reverted muslims is a test for the eternity.

Yusuf Muhissin said...

Asalam walekom

I too am a revert, and i´ve seen both sides of Muslims... i still see, although i live in a country where there might be less than 5% Muslim...

I feel that mostly we are not united, and we fear to say the truth to others... and that too, makes me feel "lonely in the crowd".

We should not be scared to fight oppression, but sometimes we feel despair, because there is no help... (well we think so) but we always hope in Allah untill our end...

I hope us muslims get stronger in faith, so we can help each other...

Ma salama

Anonymous said...

I found this blog through a google search... trying to find some advice to new Muslims on how to deal with loneliness and the judgemental, hypocritical attitudes of many born Muslims. yes, some have been very supportive to me, but the majority seem to never tire of telling me I'm doing it all wrong. In my heart I know only Allah can judge, and I try to ignore these people... but I can't help but be hurt by these comments. I am judged so harshly for my past too... Allah forgave me for my sins when I became a Muslim, but seems that most Muslims are unwilling to do so. I see a very lonely future for myself, I worry that I won't be able to marry, and that Muslims will never perceive that I've "got it right". I wish people were more tolerant...

Anonymous said...

This blog is full of good advice and good ideas.
I disagree with some things that reverts do, and perhaps that makes me judgemental, but it's something I am trying to get over for the sake of unity.

Abu Abdullah said...

As Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
Well said Sister Amatullah...
May Allah bless you and your eemaan.
I am also facing similar issues, though i am a born muslim, but i plan to marry a revert muslimah.
And guess what i am facing tough opposition from my family, the reasons i hear are flimsy non islamic, like family, culture, blood line, nationality, skin color etc.
But being a guy i am able to push through some how...
But i feel disgusted at the behavior of our so called born Muslims.
Inshallah i am sure these revert would be rewarded for the same and Allah does justice indeed...

Layla said...

I want to run/scream/hide
i want people to stop and ask me why
but alas my screams are silents
i'm breaking inside
but on the surface there is hardly a crack

all around me everything keeps changing
people moving on, the world keeps turning
i'm stuck in a rut, theres no where to move
all the doors i see stay firmly shut

Its like I'm stuck in a bubble and it just won't burst
the sharpest shard of glass, cant perforate this world

I try and talk about it
they hear and sympathise
but 5 minutes later it back to their own lives
i sit there listening, smiling, agreeing and advising
yet inside everything is churning and screaming
i wonder if they realise how hard it is for me to be there
or maybe they are all too busy to think of me for too long

When will it be my turn
when will i get lucky
i know i'm loved, but help is only something i can do
i dont know how, but im sure my lord will see me through

hope and faith is all that keeps me going
without it i'd be drowning
drowning in my misery, drowning in my fears

i won't let that happen, i'll get high on faith
on hope
on prayers
and inshallah one day....

Sohail said...

Salam Brothers and sisters!!
I congratulate all the brothers and sisters reverted to Islam. May Allah make it easier for us muslims to Follow islam. I love every muslim for the sake of Allah swt
Salam

Anonymous said...

This honestly isn't a Spam, but I was deeply moved by your blog post and by a poem in the comments.

I'm a revert and have experienced the loneliness and identity crisis that is common to reverts.

After watching some Jeffrey Lang vids outlining the challenges faced by converts I decided to create a forum for converts...

Any converts reading please join and invite others...

www.convertstoislam.myfreeforum.org

Godisuno said...

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahiwabarokatuh,

First of all, congratulation because you are chosen to be a moslem. I am a "born" moslem and still trying to be a true moslem. sometimes, i envy those who were not moslems but then have the courage to be moslems. they have been chosen by Allah while most of the "born" moslems take for granted being moslems and do not spend enough time to study what islam is actually is. You are lucky to be guided by Allah to accept him honestly. Please be patient with the "born" moslem and the non moslems. As Allah said in surah An-Nas - the temptation to do wrong things are caused by satan, Jinn and human (including "born" moslems). I just hope that you will be forever a "true" moslem.

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah hiwabarokatuh.

Anonymous said...

I really do feel for you brothers and sisters,I really love you all. I think that you should set up an organization for reverts in which you express your feelings and be a sort of comfort and support to one another. I am not a revert,I am a born muslim but i consider myself a revert because my familly and friends are non practising and they have started giving me all kind of trouble and hardship since i've started practising. They tell me just believe that Allah is there and that's all. Guys know what you have done you are an inspiration,you've inspired me. Allah will boost with you guys on the day of judgment.Lot of muslims give in with the slightest wind. I experience the same in the masjid most muslims don't speak to me because i don't belong to their community. They only talk in order to judge or point out my mistakes. It is very hard and overwhelming and when i try to tell people how i feel they believe i am being too dramatic.But it's you guys who give me hope and determination. so let's hold on to the truth. I've spent so many years,hours and days looking for it and here it is. Allah keep our Iman strong.ameen

Anonymous said...

asalamu alaikum,

as a born muslim i wanna apologise to all the reverts brothers and sisters in islam who had suffered from fellow muslims. i would like to say if they cant accept you then hell with them. if you go to the masjid and feel you are left out just ignore them you are here to worship Allah(swt) you dont go to the masjid looking for friends, buddys, groupies etc.

if people judge you and they get arrogant just ignore them.

when Allah(swt) created adam(as) he told all the angel to bow down to adam they all did except iblis(satan) and what did iblis say? you created him from mud, clay and i was created from fire therefore i am better than him.
because of his arrogance led him towards hell fire.

so brothers and sisters grieve not theres always a black sheep in every religion.

i know revert sister have a hard time finding a brother for marriage. but i also have hard time finding a revert sister for marriage. they dont accept me.

within this big muslim ummah there are alot of good muslims out there.

i pray Alla(swt) makes thinks easy for you.

Abdul
ma salama

Anonymous said...

assalam alaikum to all brothers and sisters ,converts ,reverts ,and born again Muslims
Yes born again Muslims
I live in America ( more than 22 years )originally from Morocco believe me I am treated as stranger when I visit my extended family there
The only reason is because I am a born again Muslim
Brothers and sisters ,most of Muslims who frequent the Islamic centers are still on the path of their cultural backgrounds
Islam is the truth ,culture. Traditions are most of the time jahiliah( ignorance)
Please choose carefully your friends and family
Oh Allah show us the truth and make us follow it
And show us the falsehood and make us avoid it
AMEEN

Anonymous said...

Alsalamu Alaikum,

I agree that there is prejudice in the masjid between different ethnic groups but this is not an excuse to leave the deen. Consider the Ayat from Quran:

Allah the Almighty stated:

"Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided."
(28:56)

The people in the mosque being kind or not has nothing to do with losing the deen. It is sad. It makes me sad. Maybe, insha Allah, this is part of our struggle. If people are converting back, this is Allah (swt) will. Even the Prophet (pbuh) could not save his uncle Abu Talib ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Salam

Anonymous said...

Asalaam alykum

I too feel the same way as other posters here. I have struggled with it myself. I live in America, I too fear I will remain single and unmarried as well.. and worry that any man interested in me just wants a green card.. as I have heard other muslims being taken advantage like this as well.It would be nice if born Muslims were more understanding .. but I have found not putting them on a pedastool helps, accepting they are also human too...but I will say my heart did break to see how some of then snubbed me and were so rude..