By Ammar AlShukry
I had some fun writing this one. Purely fictional, no offense intended.
I met Ahmed, he was a dejected fellow,
I asked him why he was looking so mellow,
He told me, when I converted to Islam,
I was told that I was joining the brotherhood of man,
At the masjid I got hugs, felt so happy and serene,
It was the most beautiful gathering I'd ever seen,
For months they took me in, like a baby they would wean,
Then someone told me that marriage was half of my deen,
So off I went! Simple enough, when all the brothers loved me,
I felt my heart was one with my brothers, tied by the God above me,
I shyly walked up to the imam sat down and eloquently stated,
That I was doing well for myself, unattached and educated,
And ever since I accepted Islam I've gone through a lot,
Quite frankly this community here is now all the family I've got,
So I would appreciate his assistance in seeking out a better half,
Someone I could share a journey with, as well as a tear and a laugh,
His response was less warm than I had imagined in my mind,
Like he was burdened with locating someone impossible to find,
He said, “Brother Ahmed, I just want to alert you,
That this might take a while, so be easy, patience is a virtue”
I asked “How long ago was this?” Ahmed laughed and said, “BRO”
the conversation that I had with the imam was three years ago!”
I sat down next to him, wearing a painful grimace,
saying “so what was your experience, from start to finish!”
Ahmed leaned his head against the wall, to silently recollect,
And then looked at me and said, “This ummah isn't what you expect.
Side by side and feet to feet, we may gather at a plate to eat,
but all of that will just retreat, when his daughter is why you meet,
So after meeting more than my share of parents insanely selective,
I have my own breakdown of the Ummah from a converts perspective,”
I interrupted “Hold on Ahmed” the story bringing me to focus,
“I'll shout out the country, and you tell me your diagnosis”
“Sudan!” He said, “Y'all Sudanese have it rough..
“I thought we were all black but her father said I wasn't arab enough “
I LOLed at his jab, and then went to the next country,
“Palestine” he laughed and said, “Maybe if you have 20K for a dowry”
“What about the people of the Nile?” He said, “You wont believe it,
They asked me if I was willing to buy an apartment out in Egypt..
I approached a Pakistani family, and they were really nice,
They said, not a chance..but we hope that you make it to paradise,
There was a Somali family and they didn't hesitate to say no,
But said if only you were a WHITE convert, you would have been a go,
There was an Indian father who I still just wanna smack,
He said, “You are Muslim now, how do I know you will never go back?”
Like any of us really know, aren't we all quite possibly,
liable to be misguided or astray by deviance or apostasy,
Its just frustrating when you hear that, like theyre trying to say,
That Islam for them is more engrained in their hearts, blood or DNA
When I am the one who faced my family and cultures antagonism,
To jump into an Ummah made prison, not at all what I envisioned,
His head, still resting against the wall tilted towards the sky,
“I haven't given up on the Ummah, I just sit and wonder why?
Why is it that we can convert from our entire religion,
But all of these born Muslims can't convert from tradition.”

13 Responses

  1. Salma

    MashAllah! What an incredible piece and VERY on point. Although, I must admit I’m concerned that everyone will assume it is typical for Palestinian/Egyptian/Arab families to expect huge mahrs/apartments. I assure you this is atypical and many families (including mine) don’t care where the brother is from or about an excessive mahr as long as he is practicing, pious, and compatible.

    Yes, our ummah has a huge problem and isn’t what you would expect. InshAllah, I truly believe the next generation will bring with it a new mentality… where the lightness of your skin doesn’t correlate with marriageability. And where money isn’t priority while everything else is secondary. We shall overcome. InshAllah.

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  2. muslima

    I hear you brother, Alhamdulilah I married a long time ago.
    It must be much easier for the sisters.

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  3. Muna

    It’s not easier for the sisters and I have heard/read accounts where racism and convert discrimination very much affects women as well ie. black converst not being considered for marriage yet white converts first in line (both of which comes with its own set of problems). Racism is the very fabric of American society and Muslims are not immune to this reality. We can pay lip service of Islam’s teachings of equality, however race as well as socio – economic status divides the people in the masjid just as much as out of it. When it comes time to pray we physically come together, but unfortunately our spirituality and hearts are not connected. This is from personal experience and observation as well as some research on other’s experiences. How can change come when these things are not tacken seriously and brought to the forefront?

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  4. Mister Splinter

    This is definitely an issue that is not talked about enough. I’m happy you brought it up in this manner as opposed to just blatantly complaining about it. It sort of shows how beneficial and versatile poetry can be in that it can convey something in a softer tone.

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  5. Aseey/Nigeria

    jazakallah kayran for this beautiful post. Muslim all over the world have this problem of racial classification as the greatest threat to form a united ummah. May Allah assist the muslim in eliminating racism.

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  6. Khidr

    I don’t know whether to cry for the brother or to cry for this eloquent piece. Tell the brother there are others like him; me as well. Gift him a hug akhee. And Ammar, I would like to learn poetry with you! :)

    Like the brother, I am slightly the same,
    a lonely traveler on the journey,
    asking Allaah for a blessed name.
    A glimpse in my dreams, maybe?
    Making dua’ everyday,
    with the help of my mother’s plea.
    I, too, hope for a future with my half.
    Secretly hoping it won’t be long till I laugh
    or just smile to finally see
    the answer to my call,
    then to her sweet love
    I drop my heart to see it fall.

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  7. fathima Sumaiya

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Masha Allah. beautifully written…
    i went into lauhgter in the last bit.
    wat about a srilankans response..
    Alhamdullillah.Allah has blessed me to read this.

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  8. aaisha muzzamil

    ma shaa Allah.his poems are a breathof fresh air from the stupid songs that always recieve airplay.i jsu wish people would promote his work like they promote a celebs work.

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  9. Halima

    Wow, this poem was so real and good. I really feel for the brother, even though it’s all fictional. Yet, this is what a lot of converts go through in our community. Also would just like to point out these lines:

    “There was a Somali family and they didn’t hesitate to say no,
    But said if only you were a WHITE convert, you would have been a go”

    That’s actually far from the truth. Most Somali parents are very hesitant to allow their daughters to marry outside of Somali’s. Regardless of the suitor being black/white. Yet, some allow their daughters to marry them in the end. But in a way it’s sadly true, because Somali parents see white people so highly. If push came to shove they would rather their daughter marry a white man then black. Even they can be prejudice against black people. When they themselves are black. It’s ironic and sad.

    But good poem brother Ammar. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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  10. tauheedah

    Good poem my dear young brother. We “home growns” sit and chuckle (most times) about this topic. Speaking strictly from the point of view of a Muslim parent trying to be obedient to Allah (swt) and follow the Sunnah of His Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa salaam), if I or my husband ever turn down a marriage proposal for any of our children solely on the basis of race (or “culture” as some like to profess), I pray that our children will completely ignore us and get married anyway because that would surely be a sign that Allah (swt) has left their parents in misguidance. Aoudhu billah.

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