Saturday, November 12, 2005
Reverts to Islam: Lonely in a Crowd
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.
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.
Posted by Amatullah A at Saturday, November 12, 2005