I asked a very large pool of convert women of mixed races to tell me what mistakes they made and lessons they learned when seeking marriage.  The following are the four main responses I got and wanted to share with other convert Muslimahs.  This list isn't exhaustive, but is meant to highlight the four main pitfalls that converts seem to be most prone to when tying the knot.

Pitfall #1: The Incompetent/Useless Wali

Because a convert does not have a Muslim father, her wali, or male custodian, at the time of marriage often falls to someone with a leadership position in the local community.  This can be an imām, resident scholar, or respected male (usually middle-aged).  Often times this person is not born and raised in the convert's place of birth, as most Muslim males in their middle-age are still from the immigrant population.  Most women I talked to felt their wali was a “joke” or “didn't want anything to do with it, really” or “was just a token” in the process or “didn't make any effort to learn about me.”  Often times, as long as the suitor seems superficially good to the the wali (he's a nice, practicing brother), he will think it is a good match, without considering the conflicts of an intercultural marriage or visa-scam.

The sharī'ah requires a wali to protect the interests of the woman and prevent her from marrying a man who is not compatible with her, or will take advantage of her (two points that will come next).  However, one must wonder how someone who is not only a complete stranger, but also comes from a different culture and upbringing, is suited to look out for the best interests of the convert in this regard.

wali

Typically the role of wali goes to a woman's father, because he knows his daughter better than any male in her life and will naturally do as much background checking as needed before marrying his daughter to someone.  An American or European convert, however, may find her well-being placed in the hands of an older Arab or Desi man, who does not understand her disposition or cultural nuances, and who may not even feel entirely comfortable being around a non-mahram woman in the first place.  Some converts said that they felt like their walis were not even comfortable talking to them.  One must wonder how a woman who cannot even have a frank discussion about herself with her wali, can expect such a person to really be able to care for her personal interests or find someone compatible?  This discomfort for both parties has led to marriages with glaring conflicts that were arranged too quickly, or some in which the wali did not even speak to the woman except to give her the marriage contract, hoping she found a way learn more about her future husband through other channels.  Some imāms who may do a good job are so overtaxed with other duties they don't have ample time to dedicate to the process.

The Solution:

Though perhaps this requires further discussion by our local 'ulemā', is for the convert to choose her own wali.  In cases of born-Muslim women this is obviously objectionable, because the danger is she will choose a wali who will be a token-piece and allow her to marry someone clearly harmful to her.  With converts, however, it seems that the delegated walis are often already token-pieces by default.  A convert needs to select a wali that she is confident can understand her background, has the time to dedicate to the process, and one that is open to sufficient communication.  Obviously the best arrangement would be a man who is born and raised in her country, and one whose wife she can openly speak to and is also willing to be involved and act as a middle-man.  My own husband acted as wali for two women who asked him to do so, because being married to a convert, they were confident he would understand their situations best.  Arranging the marriage was really a team-effort for my husband and me, but it worked very well.

Of course the man should still be someone that can be vouched for and has a good reputation in the community.  Though it may be a slight turn from the books of fiqh that say, in a Muslim state, the wali-ship should go to the qāḍi or imām, in reality the spirit of the sharī'ah indicates that the wali-ship should go to a trusted individual who will best fulfill the requirements of the position, not someone who has a technical term of leadership attached to his name.  If a woman feels her chosen wali is not handling his position well, she should be able to find another without it backfiring on her reputation.  Communities would do well to have a number of wali references ready, especially if an imām knows he does not have the time or background to handle the job.

Pitfall #2: You Haven't been Muslim Long Enough

Let's be real, a lot of converts already have some amount of sexual experience, some of them even leaving relationships or dating upon accepting Islam.  For this reason many of them feel an especially strong need to satisfy their sexual desires.  Aside from rushing in on their own, the Muslim community may also pressure these young women into marriage in order to protect themselves not only from zina, but also from leaving Islam; a lot of Muslims think that a good Muslim husband is just what is needed to keep this new Muslimah from straying.  While those intentions are noble, they often backfire.

Intercultural marriages will come up next, but firstly a Muslimah needs time to “find herself” as a Muslim, to learn about her deen and grow into it before she selects a lifelong partner.  While we like to pretend there aren't different stripes of Islam that attract different types of people, in reality there are.  One convert may become a sūfi, another a salafi.  One may become attached to a particular madh-hab and yet another may just be content doing the bare minimum.  Different people will adopt different opinions.  This is reality, and instead of arguing the merits of this group or that, a convert needs time to learn and read and “settle” on what they believe is correct; it's ultimately what we all do.

Sometimes a convert is only exposed to one thing and believes it is Islam, only to move to another city and realize Muslims are not as homogenous as we said we were.  They may start attending a halaqa or class and familiarize themselves with an outlook that they decide to follow, nixing the old one.  This isn't to say that converts all need to try on different sects of Islam like hats on a rack, but a convert may only be exposed to the masjid of one ethnic group for example, then go to a conference and realize a lot of what they thought was correct was cultural or even wrong.

Many converts are also still sorting out painful issues with their families, some feeling isolated, despised, or even disowned.  While getting married into a Muslim family seems like a great idea at face-value, almost like a “replacement,” getting married when one is especially emotional, hurt, and vulnerable is not the best time.  Such a woman is liable to jump into a marriage, seeking comfort and validation, only to find out later that she isn't compatible with this person.  What she really needs is the support of good friends and time to sort out her problems.

Lastly, there are many women who convert because of boyfriends that, by American standards, seem like they are religious guys, but as she becomes genuinely interested in following the deen, she realizes this guy is barely practicing.  She may end up leaving him to find a practicing Muslim.  Pressuring a brother's girlfriend to convert just to marry him is another situation that has huge potential to backfire on the convert.

The Solution:

etalon

Focus on yourself and your personal/family issues first, and find good friends.  Besides just reading, go with a group of Muslimahs to conferences or classes in places other than the community you've converted in.  Yes there is the internet, but meet real people.  Just walking around an ISNA or ICNA conference can be an eye-opening experience for a convert, I know it was for me.  Just seeing all the different types of Muslims, seeing the different booths and spreads of books, can be a turning-point or “wow” moment, as is the exposure to different sheikhs and academics.  Find some good Muslim girls who are not groupies, hopefully a group that is a little diverse.  Find a shoulder to cry on or a convert support group.  It can be very hard to grapple with sexual desire, but try to get distracted with that new-Muslim “Iman-rush” and some bachelorette friends.  Take some classes.  If you see someone you're interested in, keep him in your little black book for now.

98 Responses

  1. Zaheer

    Salaamu ‘alaykum

    Firstly I want to say that this article brings up very important issues – and not all of them are restricted to converts – many of these issues crop up in ‘regular’ Muslim marriages as well, because not every Muslim family is connected to its larger community, so many time people marry ‘strangers’. It’s a fact that, in general, our communities are becoming more a collection of people who happen to live in the same neighbourhood and share the same religion, and less like the actual communities of the ‘old days’. May Allah change this condition of ours, but more importantly may He enable and help us to change ourselves first (as indicated by http://quran.com/13/11)

    However there are a few things which I would like to enquire about, and InshaAllah the author (or others) can address them:

    1. General tone:
    This article is written from as an advice piece for the Muslimah revert, born and raised in America (maybe Europe, too), probably Caucasian (but maybe also Black) who is intending on marrying a Muslim man, probably one who has been Muslim for most/all of his life, and who comes from a Muslim family.

    That being said (please correct the above if my analysis is incorrect), the general tone of the article is disparaging of…well many things. Our shuyukh are called ‘useless’ and ‘incompetent’. Now, I understand that the author may simply be quoting the women she spoke to regarding these issues; however, her article does nothing to contradict this and more-or-less supports this view. Of course, the article speaks nothing of trying to get the said shuyukh/waliy’s to give their side of the story. It may have been done but there is no report thereof.

    I understand that this is not the point of the article but let’s be honest – this article is based on the stories of these women but is written with a clear bias towards the opinion that their stories are not only true, but that their experience thereof is 100% accurate.

    Further examples of this: blanket assumption that shuyukh from a different background cannot understand the issues related to convert marriage. Non-western cultures having ‘hang ups’ about virginity. Various default assumptions that these cultures will either ‘fawn’ over your looks or want to ‘make’ you into one of their own women, unless proven otherwise. Muslim “groupie” girls (what does this even mean?).

    I’m aware that these things happen, that the author said they _may_ happen (not that they will, or always do), but I’m not sure whether these things are the norm, but the article certainly gives the impression. Others can comment on the ‘statistical reality’ of this, though I’d imagine such things would be hard to verify.

    Again, this analysis is based on the general tone of the article. Once again, I understand that a lot of the article is based on the respondent’s answers and anecdotes regarding their personal experience. However I feel the article isn’t structured to convey that well enough. It reads like an opinion piece. If this is its intention, then so be it, and my analysis is not correct.

    2. Fiqh issues:

    As the author herself admitted, there are certain pieces of advice which need to be checked against the various fiqh laws to see if they are in violation. Arguing for certain actions based on one’s interpretation of the ‘spirit of the sharī’ah’ is stepping into dangerous territory. I think the biggest issue is whether the laws relating to the waliy’ are being violated by the advice given in this article. I am not a scholar so will not say anything here – however I would appreciate anyone who can give some insight here.

    To be as fair and balanced as possible, I’d also like to point out things which I’m glad the author mentioned. These are mostly related to the things which every Muslim intending marriage should be aware of. Things I liked:

    1. General advice: do your homework!
    I especially liked that the author mentioned the scam artists. These are remarkably common, and can really affect any vulnerable party. The difficulty is that some of these are people are very crafty and can fool even the non-gullible. The key is not to get caught up in the ‘romance’ and ‘new-love flush’ of marriage. While I think these are important (especially for the female), it’s important for one to be thinking of people’s intentions. This is where family members, friends, and the community have a big role to play. The more isolated and vulnerable a person is, and more so the Muslimah revert, the easier it is to fall trap to this kind of thing.

    2. Converting purely for the sake of marriage
    I think this is a big issue because of its prevalence. It is definitely preferable that the love for the deen (and ultimately, Allah) precedes or is at least concomitant with the love for the person being married. Now, we know that in actuality, for most Muslims, revert or not, it takes a lifetime to achieve this true love, and the success stories are usually those who marry for the person, then later during their life truly discover the love for Islam, Allah, and his Rasul (SAWS).

    But I think it’s important that the reverts intending marriage keep in mind that the deen is greater, and that their marriage is simply an aid to gain closeness to Allah.

    3. Specific warning regarding the difficulty of inter-cultural marriage
    Now, while I criticized the perceived stereotyping of non-Western cultures above, I do agree that, in general, more work is required for inter-cultural marriages. This includes all the reasons the author has mentioned, but I think purely the issue of kuff (compatibility) becomes a lot more complex and hard to achieve for inter-cultural marriages. So one should be cognizant that this is an extra ‘hurdle’ one has to overcome to make a success of the marriage. This, of course, is a contentious issue, and many believe it makes no difference what ethnic and cultural background the two parties come from. I agree quite strongly with the author here. I do think she could have been kinder to the non-Western cultures, though:-)

    —————————————————————————————————————————–

    In the end, despite all our efforts, our success in any matter lies with Allah, so most importantly we should ensure that we obey him to our utmost, and seek his assistance in all of our affairs. May Allah guide us to what is correct, protect and keep us away from that which displeases Him, and assist us in all our affairs, Insha-Allah.

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    Reply
    • The Salafi Feminist

      Re: useless shaykhs/ walis

      My father has been an imam for over 20 years, and he is one of the first to recognize that many imams ARE incompetent and useless as walis. Having grown up in the West, he also recognizes that the vast majority of imams who were NOT raised in the West (it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been living there, if they haven’t grown up in that culture) are utterly incapable of understanding that the cultural background of converts (men as well as women!), let alone their emotional needs as relevant to the issue of marriage.

      Sadly, we don’t have many men in leadership positions who are able to take on the role of wali in an appropriate manner, and there are a lot of disastrous consequences as a result.

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      • Zaheer

        While I believe that certain religious scholars are not adequately trained, nor have the necessary background with the ‘extra’ issues associated with revert marriage to act as waliy’s, I do not believe throwing around words like ‘useless’ and ‘incompetent’ is appropriate, let alone when applied to our ‘ulama. Respect for the scholars is enshrined in our deen (they are “warathatul ambiya”, after all) and even if they take on a responsibility they cannot fulfill, or make a mistake, they should be treated with respect.

        Further, many times they do so because no one else is willing to do so. Many times they are the only independent parties who actually have the interests of the revert at heart, and at great personal sacrifice, in addition to their regular duties, undertake to assist reverts, and “regular” Muslims with marriage.

        The point of my comment was twofold:

        a) Respect for the scholars, and refraining from insulting them. Goes for anyone, really.

        b) Understanding that a lot of their mistakes are not intentional, and the success and failure of a marriage cannot be hinged entirely on a ‘useless’ waliy. Many times when people’s life-plans do not work out, they seek to blame external factors. A ‘useless’ waliy can be an easy scapegoat, along with a myriad of other factors. It’s good to keep perspective of this, especially when we are only seeing one side of the story.

        Your father, as an imam for 20 years, would fully agree with what I have said above, I think. At the same time, respect for the scholars is not mutually exclusive to the recognition of a lack of ability to handle the cases we are talking about. I don’t think my comments can be interpreted to mean that any scholar anywhere can be a good waliy’ for everybody. Nay indeed, many should not act as waliy’s to anybody, and some specifically not to certain categories of people.

        Wa ‘alaykum salaam

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      • The Salafi Feminist

        Such terms are, unfortunately, extremely apt when discussing this particular situation.

        And I agree, they often take on the role because no one else will do so sincerely (yet another depressing issue in this Ummah)… but that doesn’t mean that the role they play doesn’t end up being extremely harmful.

        In the case of many convert/ reverts’ situations, it’s not as simple as “people’s life-plans don’t work out and they blame external factors.” This isn’t just about four convert stories of failed marriages; this is about an EPIDEMIC of sisters who are NOT provided with competent walis, however well-intentioned they may be, and as a result, end up in some truly shocking and horrifying situations.

        Again, my father has witnessed first-hand the aftereffects of a marriage conducted without a competent wali… as the sister below shared her story, of a daughter who has left Islam because of what she witnessed from Muslims’ behaviour. Hers is simply one of MANY stories like that, which I for one also witnessed personally in what was a relatively small community in Canada, let alone in the bigger cities and urban centers of Canada, America, the UK, and so on.

        We aren’t insulting our ‘ulamaa; but we ARE holding those in a position of leadership accountable for how their behaviour – again, however well-intentioned – effects the lives of so many sisters who literally have NO ONE else to look out for them or have their best interests at heart. We really need to hold ourselves, our communities, accountable for this, and seek to implement positive change as much as possible… and awareness that the problem exists is merely the first step, inshaAllah.

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      • Zaheer

        As-Salaamu ‘alaykum,

        I will focus on the last sentence of your comment, because I like that it places the emphasis on us taking accountability as individuals and communities. Whether a waliy’ is not capable of acting with justice or not, and whether the failure of the marriage is solely/mainly due to this, is neither here nor there for me.

        The primary issue is that our communities are no longer that – communities. There are exceptions to this everywhere, alhamdulillah, but generally speaking we are a disunited people, even when we share everything – deen, culture, language, neighborhood. When this is not the case, it is generally an even bleaker situation, but again, exceptions do exist.

        The symptoms of this are problems like the one we are discussing, and many others.

        So, I think that should be our focus. Re-invigorating our sense of ummah, and community. And yes, awareness of the big issues we face. The revert marriage issue is part of the bigger marriage issues we as Muslims face. May Allah assist us with it, Insha-Allah

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    • American Female Convert

      Assalamu ‘Alaykum Brother Zaheer,

      Regarding your warning regarding the difficulty of intercultural marriage, I would like to draw your attention to Surah Al-Hujarat, Ayat 13, in which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:

      “O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

      Today, there are 7 billion people in the world, approximately 2 billion of whom are Muslim, ma sha Allah. How do you propose we get the remaining 5 billion to embrace Islam? Certainly, intercultural marriage is one of the means that Allah ‘Az wa Jal gave us.

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      • Zaheer

        Wa ‘alaykum salaam

        49:13 is an ayat which many people have interpreted to justify all sorts of things.

        The most conservative opinion of it is simply that it is an instruction that the various cultural groups should not believe themselves superior to the others based purely on ‘accident of birth’, but that ‘at-qaakum’ (itself a difficult phrase to translate into English), or righteousness/piety/(Allah)consciousness is the criterion by which Allah will place honour/nobility for some above others.

        Yes, some have focused very strongly on ‘li ta’aarafu’ – again, the most conservative opinion is simply that the tribes were made different so that they should acknowledge each other as different – not as superior or inferior. Really, you could argue this is actually against intercultural marriage because it erases differences between two unique groups, and we then are no longer able to ‘know’ one from the other.

        See – this kind of speculation leads nowhere, or into dangerous territory, making claims about Allah without knowledge, because it’s trying to read too much into the verse. Perhaps you didn’t mean what I thought you meant, and merely quoted the verse for some other reason.

        I do not think any of the above (my comment or yours) belies the fact that intercultural marriage has its own unique challenges. That’s all I (originally) said.

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    • Iffyib

      Brother Zaheer what is your REAL issue with the article? I have a feeling your objections have nothing to do with the “disparaging” remarks regarding the imams/community leaders. Really brother out with it. What’s really bothering you about this?

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      • Zaheer

        As-salaamu ‘alaykum,

        My issues with the article are those which I have mentioned. I am not sure what about my comments gives you the feeling that I actually have a hidden issue regarding it.

        I also think that it made some good points, and that on the whole it is a good reminder of this phenomenon, and has some good tips on how to avoid being entangled in this situation. I explicitly mentioned this, but of course, no one mentions this (cue boo-hoo cry-baby sounds for the poor misunderstood commenter :-)…

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    • A.

      Everything said in this article is completely honest and true. I know from my own personal experience and that of others. It might make you uncomfortable or the language used might offend you but it’s better to get this all out in the open so female converts are properly warned! I WISH I had read an article like this, it would have saved me some major headaches. I applaud the author for this incredibly insightful and helpful article.

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    • Candy

      Great advice in this article. one of the most salient points imho is “get to know yourself” – and there is a great course convert women should really take – by Anse Tamara Gray – called Project Lina. it has three elements – including know yourself, and establish independence…I highly recommend it as it is taught by an American convert woman who is mashaa-Allah a great role model to begin with, and it really hits home at points that Anse Tamara, being a convert herself, really “gets” check it out: http://rabata.org/classes/project-lina/ I think it is a great resource and she even talks about marriage in it and discusses many of the pitfalls including the intercultural issues…

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  2. American Female Convert

    Subhan Allah. This article was healing for me to read. Cathartic, I think is the term. I am a convert who married a Brother from one of the most respected Muslim families in the community. He had a long beard and constantly taught me about the Deen. For this, I will always be grateful and ask Allah to forgive him.

    Forgive him for what? Well, he divorced me on the grounds that he “wasn’t attracted” to me. I was wife number 5 and he moved on to wife number 6, who has now subsequently divorced him. Yes, I know. 4 wives ahead of me was a red flag, but I was already a Muslim convert desperate – yes, desperate – to find an Ummah. I had studied Islam on my own and converted by the Hidayah of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala first and myself second. I was beleaguered being a Muslim on my own in a sea of non-Muslims, and desperately – yes, desperately – wanted to raise my children among the Muslims and to be in sha Allah, among the best of their generation. (I divorced my first Muslim husband due to extreme domestic violence.) His family, by the way, was wonderful to me and my children and I consider them the best of Muslims, ma sha Allah.

    I digress. To go back to the point of this blog, prior to our marriage, this Brother hooked me up with a wham-bam-thank you Mam Wali, also with a very long beard. My interests were not represented and I was not counseled.

    In retrospect, had I not married him, I would not know nearly as much about the Deen as I do today, Alhamdulilah. Our marriage lasted 25 months and I was immersed in a Salafi environment during this time. I would like to say that I have forgiven the Brother, but it’s easier to forgive someone if they only hurt you. If they hurt your children and that pain still lingers, it is much harder. Both of my children fell for this Brother hook, line and sinker like I did. The younger one loved him deeply and then, after the divorce, she suffered a lot because she lost not only her Step-Dad, but her step-siblings and extended Muslim family. His family tried to be there for us, but without the marriage the connection just wasn’t there.

    Anyway, my daughter who is a teenager today wants nothing to do with the Deen, subhan Allah. She associates the behavior of Muslims (her father and ex-step-father primarily) with Islam, which, of course, we know is a mistake, but this is what she has internalized in her heart for now, subhan Allah. She was also bullied incessantly in Islamic school.

    The moral of the story: had I had a Wali who had truly counseled me, I probably would not have married this Brother. However, then I would probably have not learned so much about Islam as I know today. Nor, would my family and I have had the opportunity to live in a nearly pure Islamic environment. But, on the other hand, had I been counseled and assisted to marry a Brother would good intentions, then my daughter might be as deeply enthralled with the Deen today, as she was when she used to sit in her ex-step-father’s lap and listen to him tell her stories about Rasul Allah, sal Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam, and the Sahaba, radi Allahu ‘anhum.

    Allahu ‘alam.

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    • Melanie

      Speaking out about incompetent scholars/imams is not disrespectful….Not speaking is out is much more disrespectful!!!! When we point out weakness (perceived from us) they have a chance to learn assuming they are mature enough to take advice from the masses.

      Marriage is a risk…make istikhara, do your best and if it does not work ..Move on!! We are given this way out in a halal way. Alhamdulilah.

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    • Sarah B.

      American Female Convert: My dear sister in Islam I am so sorry you have endured such pain. I will keep you and your family in my du’a insha’Allah. May Allah guide your daughter so she will see the true beauty of this Deen, Ameen.

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      • American Female Convert

        Ameen, Sister Sarah. Thumma Ameen. Jazaki Allahu khairan for your Duaa’.

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    • Zak

      I came upon this website at work today as I am bothered of not being ale to get married. I cried after reading the statements of all these revert/convert sisters. I am a born-muslim man who has uncles and aunts who are mixed-race and I have seen them discriminated by so-called pious people of the local community since my childhood. The problems that revert women face stated by the author of this article are so true and I agree with her to a great extent and that the scholars should make more effort in trying to help out reverts (men and women) However I don’t agree with calling them “incompetent”. To err is human. and that is what they will do. However, as scholars, they should be open to criticism so they can improve as leaders of the Muslim community as well. I wanted to mention that as a Muslim man who has seen his own mixed race uncles and aunts suffering discrimination, I felt always out of touch with my ethnic group. I went to a secondary school where there 55% students from the Indian-subcontinent background and 40% from a black background (Carribean and Africa) and the rest included a few white and other types of students. Anyway, I’v always enjoyed creating an environment around me where there is a strong sense of racial harmony but this is easily said than achieved. For this reason, I would never hesitate to interact with all types of students and learn about their cultures which is beautiful. I was also open to criticism when non-muslim students would mention negative aspects of current or contemporary Muslims. Because by accepting criticism a muslim’s character will improve. However, while growing up now, currently 24) after graduating and working now, I am not a rich or very financially well-off background but I intend to get married. I try to be as practising as I can however Imaan is such a thing that it is constantly fluctuating. I have always stayed away from women and alcohol and never engaged in gambling and things however I have had my fair share of experience as a mischievous youngster. I have always observed within the Muslim community now (in all ethnic muslim communities) that while the elderly members of a community encourage youngsters to get married to other Muslim women, they forget to mention ALLAH’S WORDS IN THE QURAN “MARRY FROM THE VIRGINS AND THE NON-VIRGINS”. Personalliy I couldn’t give a damn if my future-wife was a virgin or not as marriage is not only about sex. I think Muslim men get put off when marrying a non-virgin revert sister or the Muslim elders discourage muslim young men from marrying into non-virgin reverts because they feel a non-virgin revert sister would not be as coy and shy as a new bride is supposed to be within many Muslim cultures which is not Islamic. I have personally seen marriages where a new bride was being told off coz she could not force herself to cry on her wedding day just to maintain a non-Islamic tradition from her forefathers. Also, Muslim men tend to feel it is a matter of pride if the woman in a marriage is more sexually experienced. WHo cares ppl? Stop watching porn and believing that rubbish. Islam is so beautiful that one of the prophet’s wives even says that when nabi (SAW) was having a relationship with her, he would ask her before he entered her physically. Also, this is one strong aspect which reverts dont seem to catch-on. That is the reason why many Muslim families will give many different excuses why they don’t want their son to marry a certain revert woman because they don’t want to ask her if she is a virgin or not and they just believe she is so they don’t want to lose their respect in the community by having a more-sexually experienced woman as their daughter-in-law. STRANGE. So called Muslims today we forget that IT IS ALLAH WHO GIVES RESPECT AND SNATCHES AWAY RESPECT FROM PEOPLE. Islam is beautiful and accommodating. SO LEARN TO ACCOMMODATE REVERTS FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS. I dont want to make it sound like its all about the sex.

      Secondly, the muslims just think marriage is the only answer for reverts to learn about Islam. Its just like the case we Muslims are crazy for the entire world to accept Islam and mashallah shout takbeer in the masjids when Allah does grant hidaayah to a non-muslim. But its not about the quantity because a few weeks later or months later…this person does not receive any help from a single Muslim who was present during their shahaadah. When a certain Coptic Christian asked a Sahaabi in Syria how he could accept Islam. The sahaabi’s answer was. “Do not make this decision so hastily. Learn about Islam first and think about the reality of the changes in ur life you will have to make.” I am not discouraging poeple from accepting Islam but this is directed as Muslims. We must ensure that we educate non-muslims about the reality of Islam and the benefits of certain aspects of Islam which might seem inhumane externally. Also, i just see all these local Muslim men with daughters or women of age who can be married in their families are kept away in the store cupboard when they can offer these women to revert men and help them integrate into their family and provide them with an Islamic platform to learn about the deen while the revert doesn’t have to now worry as much about his own family disowning him and not having any place to stay. Also, inshllah I have mad efull intention just to get married to a revert woman if Allah wills as I find it lovely and it brings coolness to my eyes when I see revert sisters who practice Islam as Islam and not the Islam of born-Muslims today who mostly prioritise cultural practices (even though they might be originally from non-Muslim religions) above Islam. Also, when muslim brother approach muslim women to ask them if they are married or nor they act as though the brother has just asked them to strip in public. Many brothers are also discriminated for being open to women. I mean these brothers ask family to help them get married but the reply of family elders and local people are more about first “save up x amount of money, buy a fancy car, own property and etc”…This has been my own experience and my observation of the Muslim communities currently. I love revert women not for the colour of their skin but because the of the fact that by entering Islam and leaving a life that they so freely enjoyed and lived for many years is just like the sacrifice of the companions of the prophet Mohammad (SAW) as they left everything and had to even migrate. I really wish Allah removes this blindness from us born-Muslims today and grants us the understanding to help revert women and men so they can attain the highest stages in Jannah. Also, the sister who has written this article, has done a great favour for being very candid and frank mashallah. may Allah accept her family and herself.

      I’d also like to mention that brothers such as myself who try to stay as practising as we can but are always denied offers at marriage will eventually just turn to committing adultery.

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  3. Elena Porcelli

    All good points though some of the wording and tone slightly worried me about how a non-western non-convert would read into this. One more thing, as an American.convert in an intercultural marriage I would tell any Muslim woman, convert or no, not to neglect the allowances of the nikkah. Lets face it; its the inspiration for pre-nuptual agreements. We are allowed to request anything that isnt either against Islam or needlessly extravagant. While many born Muslims in Jordan, where I currently reside choose gold, cars, and materiak possessions, many converts choose to ask for nothing. Admirable but unrealistic. Our Imam in Irbid was very pleased with my practical choices.

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      I agree with you . Sunnah is to make the marriage easy . Which is why I asked my husband for a finger ring as my mahr or anything within his capacity .
      But he( husband)too did what is the sunnah of the prophet. He gave me as mahr as much as possible in gold .
      So after marriage , I had more wealth in savings than him . Lol . alhamdulillah .
      Our marriage was simple and inexpensive , but mahr wasn’t .

      Girls are naive , and ( some of us )we don’t ask for anything valuable as mahr . I believe it’s the responsibility of the girl’s wali to make sure the to-be groom gives as much as possible as mahr .

      Some people fear that the man would change his mind about marrying the girl if the mahr is expensive . So it’s the wali’s duty to find out about the financial circumstances of the groom and decide on the mahr accordingly .
      A convert sister aught to be honoured with a good mahr , like other respectable women .

      Instead of a lavish wedding , spend on the mahr ! Have the wedding in the masjid .

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      • Maqbool

        Yes….a good proportion mahr (enough to stretch the pockets but not ruin him financially and put him in debt) can be a sign of his commitment and intentions

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  4. Sarah B.

    As’salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu!
    My dear sister in Islam, I want to thank you for writing this article, Jazzak Allah Khair. This brings up a few of the big problems when converts try to marry. I can speak from experience that so much of this is spot on. Insha’Allah the born-Muslim communities will acknowledge this and try to be a little more helpful when it comes to converts in the community. Alhumdulillah there are many wonderful communities here in the US that are very helpful towards converts but there are some that have some catching up to do.

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  5. Rita

    Dear American Female Convert: you are not alone. Just as I couldn’t believe how similar ur story is to mine, I trust that there are hundreds if not thousands of Muslimah who can relate the same fate of their failed marriages for the same reasons. May Allah SWTA find u a deserving mate inshaAllah! Salaam.

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    • American Female Convert

      Ameen, Sister Rita. I love your Duaa’ for me. Jazaki Allahu khairan!

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  6. Tanja Zöberlein

    Hello, as I´ve read the Qur-an myself in order to better understand the people around me, I came to think about one thing: in Qur-an (I dont know the surat and line right now) I read about muslim man are allowed to marry christian women which then have to be the only wife to the man (in order to the revelation of Islam given to Issa, which tells christian women to be the only wife to her husband). Now in interest of good integration, the guardianship of the woman and also to test the intention of a husband, why cant the couple marry without convertion nowadays, when it´s being allowed? Another option could also be the marriage while the woman/man is still christian or jew and then convert, kind of like a spiritual growing in togetherness, not separated. I could imagine it would give much quality to the marriage, To be honest I never heard a word about that option before reading the Qur-an and was wondering wether I happened to know any true Muslim at all, in the end it was one amongst all of them knowing, the rest got angry or laughed at me. And by the way, I dont think I could ever truly understand an eastern background totally, how should it work reverse??

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      Sister,
      The article is about muslim converts who want to get married .

      The article is “not” about christian/jewish women who want to get married to a muslim man .

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    • Umm Yasa'ah

      Assalamu Alaikum

      You see sister, I don’t know much about Jews, but the Christians nowadays have strayed really far from their religion. Even farther than they were from it at the time of the Prophet (PBUH). Nowadays, I’ve noticed that my Christian acquaintances casually exchange atheism and christianity to refer to what they believe in according to the topic. I.e: Fornication=they’re atheists(meaning they’ll do “it”), abortion=they’re christian(meaning they wouldn’t abort the child). The Prophet (PBUH) allowed us to marry PRACTICING christians, however it’s nearly impossible to find a practicing christian girl/guy and if they are practicing by any chance, they’re interested in marrying another christian. So let’s just stick to our own Ummah Insha’Allah. :)

      Wassalam

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  7. maheen

    I am not a convert, but a Muslim woman born and raised in the West from a Muslim family. Personally, I think any woman born and/or raised in the West should generally avoid marrying a man from the East, regardless of the country. As the article states, there are so many great differences, especially relating to gender issues and sex-related issues, that I have rarely, if ever, seen a successful marriage where the woman is born or raised in the West and her husband is from overseas. There are good and bad people everywhere, but where you were raised has a huge impact on your worldview and understanding of Islam. I am all for intercultural marriage – provided both parties were raised in the same environment. That, I feel, is really the key. And Allah always knows best.

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    • Elena Porcelli

      Sister, what precisely did you mean by “intercultural marriage– both raised in the same environment”? Doesn’t that statement by virtue of its starting word indicate difference from the get-go? Unless you mean raised in a similar manner. For instance, my own intercultural marriage, between myself and my Jordanian husband, is one that is already strange to both our cultures. He was born and raised in Moscow for 8 years to Arab parents, 1st cousins, who were studying medicine and law respectively, from a community that was very conservative and still somewhat isolated from and suspicious of the West. His brothers both now study in Russia, and he is the eldest son and first to marry. While his family was cautious about him marrying outside the culture/ethnicity, they were supportive of his decision. My family raised me without religion but exposed to many, parents while not well traveled were very worldly. Our differences were still very similar. Am I close to your assertion?

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    • Liza

      Salam,

      I am Hispanic my husband Pakistani. He was raised here since the age if 4 I was born and raised here. We both were brought up with our own cultures with only a few influence if the American.. One thing that I discovered about Islam and marriage is if you love and respect each other you make it work. I didn’t have a wail and I’m happy… My husband and I were introduced by American friends. Allah (SWT) forgive me if we did it wrong. I think in the end Allah (SWT) will forgive it not out decisions.. Living Islam doesn’t mean not to have common sense… If you keep common sense you can still find a spouse that Insha’allah will respect and love you.

      I apologize if I offended anyone but this is my humble opinion, May Allah (SWT) forgive if I did.

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    • Hena

      Assalamalaykum wa rahmatulah Maheen,
      I have to disagree with your generalization. This mentality is why we have a marriage crisis where sisters will reject good, pious non-misogynist men *just* because they were born and raised in a country not in the West. Olivia’s article was addressing certain men who behave the way they do. She never expressed that all men raised in countries other than the West were like that.
      It maybe your experience that you have not seen marriages between women raised in the West not work out with men raised overseas, but in my personal experience and in the experience of many women I know, many such marriages *have* not only worked but are flourishing.

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  8. Rita

    Dear Olivia;
    Allow me to commend you on such a relevant piece of work. It is through these articles that many can gain insight on what’s really happening within our Ummah. My personal story seems to have been taken STRAIGHT out of ur article, I shall save you the painful details, but suffice it to say that I fell prey to each and every “pitfall” listed therein. The useless, ignorant, and in my case, CORRUPT “imam” that officiated my nikah actually asked me to be a second wife to him only TWO DAYS after saying my shahada. I too agree with the sister that posted above that this issue is at EPIDEMIC proportions, and most troubling to me is the indifference of the Ummah to these problems and a refusal by most Islamic “leaders” to condemn them.
    To MAHMOUD I say the following: YOU are what is meant by the phrase; ” I’m glad I met Islam BEFORE I met the Muslim”. If men that think like you become the posters of what Islam really means—-then no one would become Muslim. Fortunately for me, I met my faith first and not the likes of you. You and your unfortunate misguidance Mahmoud, are part of the problem.
    Fortunately for you Olivia, you become part of the solution by voicing the truth.
    May you always “write” among the ranks of those that never remain silent.—Rita Hassan

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  9. Sumaya

    I’m sorry, but I truly really didn’t like this article. I am a white American female convert and this article spoke nothing to me. It seems that the author or interviewees had huge chips on their shoulders. The whole article just came off as a rant. I am not saying that these things don’t happen, but really let’s have some more respect and trust in our brothers overseas. News flash: most could care less about your Amrrican citizenship and blue eyes. I even thought mentioning that in the article was rude, especially seeing that most American converts are African-American or Latina. Well, I knew this article was going to be filled with stereotypes and generalizations from the first sentence that makes the claim that covert women do not have Muslim fathers… probably should have said “may” not have Muslim fathers. Overall, I am very disappointed with this article and the way it has painted our non-Western brothers.

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    • Rita

      Dear Sumaya:
      while your defense of the non-Western brothers is noble and surely well intended, the fact that this article is relevant simply cannot be denied. Please note that NO BROTHER that leaves a convert ex wife for any of the reasons listed by the article: I.e. Green card/ scams, etc actually portrays himself as a scammer AFTER the fact. Most of them turn to their families and their mosques as ” good Muslim brothers” in search of ” the RIGHT, PIOUS Muslim woman conveniently after adjusting their status in this country and improving their financial situation often times with the financial help of their EX WIFE. No, Sumaya, I disagree with u that most could care less about a VISA, my ex certainly did and thousands of male applicants for a VISA through marriage would also disagree with u. It is a known fact that mosques DO CONDONE marriage to Western women as it is certainly not Haram, but few if any, take the necessary steps to hold the husbands accountable for the contracts that they should be entrusted with. THIS duty is usually only reserved for the Virgin, “good Muslimahs” from back home. Ask around your neighborhood, REALLY inquire, and u will find this article is not only accurately reflecting a current trend, but also voicing the frustrations of many otherwise silent victims. Salaam.

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    • Abu Abdillah

      Sumaya,

      I can’t help but assume that your dissatisfaction with this article has to do with your being married to a Saudi.

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      • Sumaya

        Abu Abdillah: What?? Not sure what this even means, or the point of it. I know men love to feel that women’s opinions are influenced by the men in their life… but sadly for you, no, my opinions are my own and have no influence from who I may or may not be married to. I am not married to a Saudi, which btw, is none of your business. … Or was your point to further rat on our overseas brothers by picking an easy target? Well, let me tell you this: I too spent many years with contempt against Saudis, for their politics and what I viewed as harsh customs and laws. Then, I went to Hajj last year and saw the most beautiful, kind, helpful, caring and loving people.

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    • The Salafi Feminist

      Just because you’re a female American convert and haven’t had this experience (alHamdulillah) doesn’t mean that many, many, many other sisters haven’t had that experience.

      Rather than trying to de-legitimize the author’s points or write them off because it didn’t happen to you, why not just be grateful that alHamdulillah you haven’t had to go through this? There’s no need to tell other women that their experiences are invalid simply because you haven’t faced them.

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  10. Olga

    Salam alekum warahmatullah wabarakatu. Olivia thank you for posting this most informative and helpful article! Although I myself was blessed with marrying a Muslim man of Palestinian descent who introduced me to Islam, and we are going on 26 years of marriage alhamdilulah, I have seen in my community first hand how many men from the Middle East have used American women to get their green cards and then divorce them and return to their countries to marry women from there. I am originally from Cuba and was raised in the US and did not convert to Islam until 6 years after we were married. Alhamdilulah my husband was very patient with me and encouraged me to learn before converting. We have a son who speaks Arabic and Spanish and who adjusts to both cultures. My husbands family although very religious accepted and welcomed me even though I do not wear hijab and have always shown me a lot of love. However, stories like mine are few; at least in the community where I live. So thanks again Olivia JAK for this article, I plan on sharing it with my Friday night halaka group of converts.

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    • Daylan El Naamani

      Yay another Cuban convert!! (Revert) this is my story almost exactly! Married a Lebanese man, converted a few years AFTER we married, we have a baby girl. Also have to agree that, sadly, my experience is a rarity. I’ve never EVER met anyone else with a similar background :-( as for the visa problem, it is all too common, I know several people “marrying” for papers, usually to the detriment of the “wife” astafirghullah

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  11. Em Hamzah

    Assalamu alaikum, Bismilllah
    May Allah reward you for this. I am a revert for 6 years, married 5 years with three kids alhamdulillah. I have had no obstacles, or have been tested in my faith through marriage. I have witnessed sisters who have been tested by this with incompetent imams and lies, visas and so forth.

    My wali (the imam)probably wasn’t the best for doing marriage contracts. He told my husband to go out for dinner with me while we waited to get married.

    One thing I want to emphasize is Learn and pray istikhara before considering a brother. Without a good wali, brothers can easily weasel their way into a sister’s heart. By then, it is too late.

    Other thing is my husband is 12 years older than me. I was raised in Michigan. While, my husband is born and raised in the middle east. The

    cultural difference is hard to deal with at times. Work with it. Say assalamu alaikum and smile when situations get tense before arguments and fighting ensues.

    Don’t be afraid to evaluate your Islam after having been tested in your marriage. Ask Allah for guidance. I have seen too many sisters get so down about a divorce, they stop observing hijab, modesty and prayer. They give up hope in the mercy and help of Allah.

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  12. churayl

    I’m slightly appalled such an Orientalizing and racist article was published in the first place. The author desexualizes brown and black Muslim men, saying they’re uncomfortable around non-mahram women, and posits prior experiences of white convert female sexuality exclusive to only white converts themselves. The author even relies on Orientalist imagery, “Such men will make all sorts of lofty promises from under their dark lashes”, dark lashes correlating with dishonesty and even seduction. The theme of “culture, not Islam” is rampant, as if there is something shameful about nonwestern cultures; this is clearly cultural racism. It’s only amended on the second page, where the author clarifies that the Prophet (saw) praised parts of Roman and pre-Islamic cultures, but this is only mentioned to validate Western/European culture:” Just because a country is Muslim, it does not mean that all aspects of its culture are Islamic, and likewise, just because a country is not Muslim, it does not mean that all aspects of its culture are evil.” So, western culture isn’t evil, but aspects of nonwestern cultures that have incorporated Islam for centuries and have rich Islamic histories are non-Muslim and evil/bad/negative? This is further enforced with, “The very person (the husband) who it was assumed would protect her from the vices of her American/European upbringing actually ends up driving her away because of his own cultural vices.” The misogyny of the husband, his and his family’s alienating and abusive tendency are attributed to their culture, rather than the general problem of misogyny and neglect that informs all marriages of every culture/country/ethnicity. They manifest in nuanced ways.

    The pedestaling of fair skin/light eyes is constantly mentioned and framed as a male fetish without interrogating the specifically white supremacist history behind it. The white Muslim woman’s own fetishes are conveniently ignored (“the tall, dark, handsome one”). The article exhibits racialized misogyny with this part, “He may try to make her into a “good” Arab/Desi/Malay/African/Afghani woman, not realizing his own impositions are not as Islamic as they are cultural.” This reduces all women of color to a flat, reductive stereotype; women of color that already struggle against the misogyny of their own communities and the white supremacy and racialized misogyny of the Western world which people of their community come to internalize. The author dichotomizes women and constructs white women as being the only people who face misogyny. She affirms misogyny against nonwhite Muslim women as a natural, a given; she normalizes it. White women are–as always–prioritized over nonwhite women. I will also have to critique the employed terminology. “Afghani” is currency, “Afghan” is the nationality (or ethnicity). “Desi” isn’t universal as many South Asians do not even identify as Desi (it is a diasporic identity and the word isn’t even present in all South Asian languages), and it’s often employed to homogenize people of disparate ethnic, linguistic and national backgrounds. The same can be said of “African”, which can mean African American to African Latin@ to from the continent Africa. And if it’s the latter, then Africa is a continent with multiple ethnic groups and nationalities, not a country or region.

    I understood that your article did not genuinely care for the well-being of woman converts and catered to a specific audience with this section, “In fact, marriage bandits are common in the African-American convert community too, as are carousel/fly by night marriages where the woman is passed around the community.” African Americans face not only the perception that they are “lesser” Muslims for being converts and ambiguously Western, but they also face antiblack racism. This article makes sweeping generalizations (these practices are “common”) and characterizes African American Muslims as deviant and criminal with regards to ‘marriage bandit’. This fits in with antiblack constructions of African American men as rapists of specifically white women, which was used to jail, abuse and lynch them.

    Overall, this article uses a vilification of brown, black and generally nonwhite masculinity to make its point. The infamous caricature of the Muslim, nonwhite mother-in-law makes an appearance too. I do not mean to discount the denigrating misogyny, exploitation, disdain and hurt that my white sisters in Islam have sustained, but if intercultural marriages are to be analyzed, racism and white supremacy must be addressed. At the very least, culture and inherently nonwhite/brown/black masculinity should not be scapegoated as the primary cause of this abuse than male-ness and the misogyny it produces, culture shock and assimilation (which requires a more nuanced discussion). Every single demographic mentioned has endured and even continues to endure slavery, colonialism, and/or imperialism at the hands of white people and Western forces. Nonwhite Muslim women suffer dual strands of oppression: misogyny and racism, sometimes both, which white women can enact on them as well. Until my white sisters and brothers in faith realize this, cultural friction will persist.

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    • Sumaya

      Boom!!!! My sister (or brother? ) laid it down. Thank you for this comment. It says everything I was feeling but didn’t have the eloquence to express. #TellitLikeItIs

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    • Zaheer

      Salaamu ‘alaykum,

      While I think you make some fair points, I do believe you have gone to the extreme in castigating the article. Specifically, I think you are claiming the article is anti-non-white, and this is not true. .

      While the author did employ some orientalist language in her article, I actually believe it wasn’t meant to convey anything sinister – it may have been a lighthearted reference to the phenomenon of our obsession with the exotic – both the revert Muslima (who yes, is probably white), and the born Muslim (who yes, is probably from the Middle East or South Asia).

      I do agree that some things were stated with less tact than they could have been, and some stereotypical language could have been avoided. As brother ZAI mentions below, the article didn’t actually stereotype or generalize – it didn’t _not_ stereotype or generalize either, however it did point out a phenomenon which is a disturbing reality, but a reality no less. And something we have to deal with.

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    • The Salafi Feminist

      That sounded like someone was trying hard to over-analyze a piece written by a white female convert and to accuse her of inherent racism simply because she chose to focus on the REAL demographic of ‘Eastern’ men who do target female converts in the ways she described.

      She’s not fetishizing brown men, she’s pointing out that in Western culture the “tall, dark and handsome” guy is the one women are taught to swoon over. Is she solely responsible for this? Is she perpetuating some kind of racist ideal? No, she’s speaking in real talk, as someone who operates in the real world and not in some kind of intellectual bubble where one must tiptoe through politically correct phrases and one misstep is enough to label you as a cog in the colonialist machine.

      The author didn’t waste her time speaking hypothetically or deliberately trying to smear, fetishize, desexualize, or do anything else to brown and black Muslim men; she’s talking about the REALITY that female converts (white and non-white alike) face when it comes to marriage in the Muslim community.

      Also, you chose to focus on 2 points out of her article (intercultural marriage and driveby marriages) to ‘prove’ how racist and colonialist she’s being; and ignored the other two (first) points (incompetent walis and strengthening one’s own faith before jumping into marriage).

      Instead of wasting *your* time trying to deconstruct what you perceive to be racist and colonialist, why not realize that the struggles of white female converts (who btw are not the ONLY ones being addressed in this article, as the same/ similar experiences can be and are shared by women of colour as well) do not take away from the struggles of non-white women?

      They can all be shared, discussed, and recognized as valid and legitimate without one taking away from the other.
      If we as an Ummah truly want to work on eliminating racism within our communities and our individual attitudes, then it may be helpful to not automatically accuse someone of one race of being racist towards another.

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      • American Female Convert

        Yes. Thank you for eloquently responding to the false, misguided comments both denying a real social problem and accusing the author of racist and colonialist sentiments. These accusations and the direction this discussion has turned are starting to scare me. How can we as an Ummah cling firmly to the Straight Path if we are in denial of social problems and then castigate the messenger shedding light on the problems?

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    • siraaj

      Read your comment, would advise re-reading the first paragraph which states these are the experiences of numerous Muslim women of mixed races.

      BTW, I’m her brown husband, hopefully you won’t accuse her of tolkenizing me ;)

      Siraaj

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      • Sumaya

        Thanks, Siraaj for vouching that you’re her husband. .. now we know she most certainly can’t be prejudiced, since she loves a brown man and all. Hey, btw, my gardener and my maid are Mexican. I even eat tacos sometimes because I looooveeee me some spicy food. Ole! Wait, where is that sombrero pf mine? I love Spanish people. (Insert some cheeky sarcasm here)… Well, from experience it is sometimes those who think they are the most liberal and accepting who hold the most dangerous of prejudice because they don’t even realize what they say is offensive, BTW, I am not accusing the author of being racist, but I was offended by the article in many ways and fear it will do more harm perpetuating these stereotypes than any good it is trying to acieve. I also know Allah judges on intentions, and the author had the best of them, I’m sure.

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      • siraaj

        Lol, you literally did what I jokingly asked churayl not to do for me.

        I think the two of you are the exception in this discussion – most people, if they had issues with the article, was not on racism (again, the first paragraph of the article makes clear this isn’t only white converts reporting all this).

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  13. ZAI

    I dunno where the sister who wrote the article has trashed all men of Eastern Muslim
    background? She is talking about a certain group of men, many… if not most of whom, ARE defined
    by the various things she outlines and warns the women to watch out for THEM and those signs. If this article was about the brother’s who are doing right, it would be moot and unneeded.

    A lot of our Muslim men, and since most of the Muslim population in the West is Eastern, EASTERN MUSLIM men, ARE doing these things. Forget marriage…a lot of our Muslim men are scumbags who think Christian, Jewish, Hindu or whatever else women are playthings before marriage because they don’t deserve the respect that Muslim girls do. Is this Islam? Where in the Quran or hadith does it say it’s okay to treat non-Muslim women like throw away playthings? Aren’t they human beings who deserve the same respect and honor from Muslims, that our Muslims do? Wouldn’t THAT make them interested in Islam and spread the deen?

    I’m sorry, but a LOT of Eastern Muslim men ARE doing these things and I find it really disingenuous to accost the author of the article for presenting reality rather than fantasy-land, because she didn’t “balance” the article talking about the evil of non Eastern cultures, or White Europeans or the moon landing or whatever…The article is about those particular eastern men who are not truly practicing Muslims, most of whom are demographically of Eastern origin and/or problems particular to converts(such as lack of proper walis, community isolation, etc.). That is the context. Article presented it within that context succinctly in two pages. I thought it was pretty obvious it was understood that the article is not about ALL Eastern Muslim men or the perfection of Western men/women.

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  14. aisha

    Very good article, mashallah. I’m a black american revert. I wish I’d seen an article like this before i chose my husband 5 years ago. Before we married he told me he wanted to live in the middle east and had no interest in living in the states. After our wedding, he started being more honest, revealing his fascination with america, often calling it ‘the greatest country in the world’. He smoked, he drank. He rarely did salaah, but he pretended to be the complete opposite in order to marry me. He even had a long beard which he shaved off clean a year after we got married. He was very abusive (kicking, biting, etc) and forced me to assimilate to his desi culture 100%. I just assumed all muslim men were good husbands, like the prophet (pbuh) ….that was a foolish assumption. He gave me talaaq a few weeks ago because he found a more attractive lady who didnt want to be a co-wife… now I have 2 sad toddlers. And he never paid my dowry beyond the initial installment the day of our nikkah!
    To be honest I dont know of a single revert who didnt end up getting divorced from her first muslim husband for (abuse, cultural insensitvity, using her for her skin color or nationality, etc) subhanallah.

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  15. Teresa

    Salaam Alaikum
    While I do agree with the main points in this article. I also feel it was written with negative connotations. It felt like I was sitting in a group of very bitter divorcees of any religion.

    As far as inter cultural marriage. Way off Sister. Before I embraced Islam I was happily married to an African-American man. We have a gorgeous awesome son too. I am still a huge part of his family (he sadly passed away years ago) and I was introduced to my current spouse after I converted. We knew each other two months and were married. And Alhamdulillah we are going on 10 years together. And he is African from Africa. LoL

    Yes there are some things I wished I had known, like how his culture has week long wedding celebrations. I felt totally lost out on that one. But it was second marriages for both of us. And it hast been easy, but Allah SWT makes it work for us and we love each other more each year.

    Lastly, the Brothers who are talking smack about us converts…. Ummmm hello, news alert. Some so us were raised in strict Christian families and …. Hold on…. You ready? Sex before marriage is not allowed in Christian families either.

    Good points though in the article.

    Sr T

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  16. Olivia

    Jazakallahu khairun for all the feedback and responses. It’s nice to see such a lively discussion ;)

    I find it interesting that the past two articles, which I wrote for converts based on the convert experience, I have been immediately accused of being a white supremacist. Its fascinating but, may Allah protect me, I am not a racist at all and have chosen to surround myself in my closest relationships with people of color, including my spouse and other such close individuals ;) (I actually have a strong preference for desis).

    It’s fascinating that when a white person speaks honestly about the white experience in the Muslim community, in which WE are the minority, and we speak about the “racism” (i use that word lightly, but I mean judgments, assumptions, attitudes, even if its not racism that calls us lesser because of our skin color) we face being white in a majority non-white Muslim world, somehow I am pigeon-holed as a racist myself for calling out this stuff and people nit-pick the language I use as evidence of it.

    I can’t speak to the African American convert experience, for example, which has a longer and different history in the US than the white convert in many cases. In no way am I trying to denigrate or being a racial supremacist, I just really just don’t know enough about it bc my demographic is that of many white converts who are minority white in a desi or arab based Muslim community in the US.

    Really, I’m not sure why everyone feels so threatened to hear me say that white people face racial/ethnic challenges in the Muslim community and are, unfortunately, taken advantage of when seeking a spouse. This isn’t the same thing as your Fox News anchor complaining about racism against whites. I married a brown guy, I love him, so I’m not even speaking personally or have a chip on my shoulder, but I’m speaking to the experiences of many women who were not as blessed as I and whose many stories have the same running themes. Even I brushed shoulders with some of them but alhamdulillah never had to face the reality many do. If anyone thought I was bitter, the same way they thought I was racist against the south asian or arab man, trust me I’m not but thanks for the judgment ;)

    The comment about converts being zanees is absurd. Many of us didn’t have sex before marriage anyways, but if you really believe something like that I’m happy you wont marry a convert. Thank you for doing all converts a favor. Purity hang-up point proven.

    Equally absurd is that I’m saying this about all men of color or people from overseas. Come on, guys. Be real. I’m trying to be.

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    • Javeed

      @Olivia
      Writing an article discussing the vices in different cultures be it Desi/Arab/African/West is not an easy job. You gotta expect a lot of heat. But as long as its written with pure intention the people of wisdom will get your message insha Allah. While some people genuinely misread others are filled with Qaumiyyah(pride for their community) which they feel is getting threatened.

      There is an amazing story of my favourite sahaba Umar R.A before he became muslim. He had so much love for his Arab community that he didn’t wanted anything to challenge its identity and unity. He initially resisted Islam which he thought was trying to challenge the order of pagan arabs, its culture and identity. But later on, this man finds the beauty of Islam and went on to become one of the best companion and the ruler of muslim world. It was his justice which people revered and he wouldn’t shy away from punishing his own people(race/tribe) if they were commit something immoral. Once a non-muslim egyptian came complaining to Umar that he was beaten up by the son of the Governor Amr ibn Aas. Umar called the governor and his son and gave the non-muslim egyptian the chance to beat and take the revenge from muslim governor’s son. Such was the justice of Habibi Umar r.a. It was this justice due to which people entered Islam in large crowds. Because this justice do not favours fellow member of race/tribe/culture if they were to err.

      We as just muslims need to recognize the evil that exists in our cultures and need to openly despise it and shouldn’t be ashamed of admitting it. Since our honour is not attached to our race/culture but our honour is attached with Islam. It is the duty of muslims especially those in positions of authority to protect and shield those who are weak and vulnerable. I’m not saying convert muslims are weak but they are surely vulnerable to the evil that exist in all the cultures. I have heard cases of convert muslim women who got married to Ahmediyyah(Qadiani) thinking they were muslims only to realize later that this group is outside the fold of Islam. May Allah protect our innocent sisters. My advice to my convert sisters is, Research Islam enough and know what are your rights in Islam. Then chose your life partner who is practicing Islam in true essence. Do not chose a person who favours his cultural values over Islam even if the person comes from same race/tribe as yours! Chose Akhlaaq and Deen over everything else! And don’t rush. Good things comes with patience.

      Lastly there is amazing verse in the Quran which will help people crush their pride which they take in their culture/race/tribe.

      “Among us are those who are obedient to Allah, and among us are those who are disobedient to Allah. We follow divided ways.”

      [Surah Jinn 72:11]

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  17. Olivia

    and all copyrights of the term “marriage bandits” belong to the Salafi Feminist aka former MM writer Anonymouse, who wrote a great article on the subject ;)

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  18. American Female Convert

    Well said, Sister Olivia. I do believe, as a white, hijab-wearing Muslimah, that our demographic is one of the country’s smallest and most embracing-of-diversity minorities,ma sha Allah. Being so different and often rejected by our communities of birth, I think we learn compassion, appreciation and solidarity for minorities and people falsely judged and misunderstood everywhere. To be white, American, Muslim and wear hijab is very difficult to do and it is incumbent upon our Ummah to defend and protect these sisters – myself included :)

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    • chaudhry ahamd

      sister, i am looking for a practicing muslimah to merry.lets have a discussion or exchange of ideas and see how it goes.

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  19. asiahkelley

    Who knew this article would cause such a “debate.” Ha.

    I was so happy to see another article by Olivia. I love your stuff. I can def relate and know COUNTLESS others who can too.

    As for the non-white convert experience not being as represented in your writing, perhaps that makes sense as you are white. And I look forward to perhaps some of those concerned taking up the mantle, and writing their own articles which I think would be enlightening.

    Until then I guess everyone will just be happy to write comments attacking and criticizing the work others have done instead of doing work themselves. Sigh.

    Thanks again! May Allah reward you and preserve you, ameen.

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  20. churayl

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Zaheer

      As-salaamu ‘alaykum churayl,

      I’m going to have to disagree again here. You are exaggerating the extent to which the article used the language you are accusing it of using. It is fallacious to say that the article ‘literally promote[s] misogyny against nonwhite Muslim women’. This is simply not true. Similarly with many of the accusations you’ve levelled at the author.

      I now regret having posted my reservations about the article because it seems it has not only been taken completely out of context, but the ‘floodgates’ for criticism have now been flung wide open. As is unfortunately too often the case, especially for a site with a mostly Muslim readership, the comments section now resembles a war-zone and I fear the phenomenon the author was trying to raise awareness about is being ignored in favour of the soap opera happening in the comments.

      This is unfortunate in the extreme.

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      • churayl

        The author dichotomizes nonwhite Muslim women as good virginal girls, which also enforces desexualization, a common trope leveled against brown and nonwhite women. This is extremely dehumanizing and contributes to racial misogyny against brown women. As a second generation Pakistani American woman, this article and the ensuing comments support the racism I and other people of my community and contingent communities face daily.

        Olivia, you tokenize your brown husband and characterize this as an attempted silencing of white Muslim opinion. Tokenization to say “I’m not racist” is racist. You’re not part of the AA Muslim community and yet you have no problem with characterize AA men as marriage bandits. I need not repeat the history of black men in North America esp. when it comes to white women, but needless to say its a horrifying and racist one.

        Marginalization and rejection of white converts needs to be addressed and contextualized. White converts exhibit a dual role as people not fitting in with both parts of their community, but when Asian and African Muslims don’t trust or accept white Muslims its on account of their whiteness; their whiteness that has been used to colonize, imperialism, violence and abuse them. Ignoring this is extremely disingenuous.

        In your article, you say “cultural vices” as if its up to you to judge what is c vice or immoral in a culture you don’t even exclusively belong to or if you assimilate in this culture it’s w/ the white, Orientalist gaze. Many Muslims become self-hating and discard their culture bc they think there’s something lowly and wrong with it; in the West they are actively discriminated against for expressing their culture. Muslims are even beginning to leave or dilute their culture in the name of Islam, this is exhibited in the “it’s culture not Islam” argument. This is merely a reiteration of that.

        I deeply appreciate your intentions with this article, and I agree that we need to speak more about the condition of white converts–their marginalization and their wider privilege–but it’s really hard to do that w/o cultural sensitivity and analysis of power disparities based both in gender and race. Olivia I can even help you out w/ this if you’re good w/ communicating via email.

        And Desi Muslim Guy, Ahmadis aren’t Muslim and are evil, SERIOUSLY? Ahmadi are currently denied passports in Pakistan, have hard access to citizenship, are being target killed and bombed and have no political party that protects them and your response is to perpetuate further sectarianism against an already persecuted people?

        It’s apparent that most people in this forum care more about protecting ingrained societal structures that produce oppression than protecting minorities and maligned, disenfranchised, suffering people. That is all I need to know about the accepted morality.

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      • Siraaj

        So predictable, I just told you up above in my comment not to say my wife is tokenizing me, and that’s exactly what you did, lol.

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      • American Female Convert

        Assalamu ‘Alaykum Brother Siraaj and Sister Olivia,

        STOP ENGAGING. You have made your wonderful points and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and most of us reading this thread know that your intentions are noble.

        Jazakum Allahu khairan for trying to shed light on a social problem plaguing this Ummah in general, and the newest and weakest additions to it in particular.

        May Allah subhanahu wa’ala guide, bless and forgive us all.

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      • Aly Balagamwala

        Dear “American Female Convert”

        Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

        Best Regards
        Comments Team

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      • churayl

        I forgot to mention s/t.
        essentially I don’t think you’re going to get through to anyone by essentializing misogyny w. their culture or even as this article did group all nonwhite nonwestern men in the same group as abusers of white women. there are much better and not Orientalist, racist ways to write about this and raise awareness of it in the community. in any case, there’s no way to talk about intercultural marriage w/o talking about white privilege.

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      • JoAnna Boudreaux

        I understand you. I appreciate many of the points that the author has raised, however I could not get over the author’s sense of self-importance as a fetishized white woman.

        Minority converts who marry foreign men ARE marginalized in this article… actually ignored completely. Which is fine if the article is framed in a way that makes it clear that it speaks to the experience of white female converts. Yet, it is pretending to speak to the experience of women of “mixed” races. Non-white women are not sought after for our “white-girl” good looks. The experience of minority woman married to foreigners is not even alluded to, yet “white girls” are several times. This is framing the article from the persepective of someone enjoying her white privilege.

        However, churayl, remember that one aspect of privilege is that those who hold it do not see it. I am certain the author had no intention of being offensive.

        The most problematic aspect of the article for me is the line about converts rushing into marriage because prior sexual experience makes them rush to fulfill sexual desire. There is no connection between prior sexual experience and increased libido. In fact, on aspect of Islam that is appealing to some convert woman is that it is viewed as a sense of safety in a culture that sexually abuses and exploits women.

        However, this is not New York Times Journalism and these subjects are sensitive to write about. I hope the article keeps writing. Although somethings bother me, it is an important topic to bring out in the open. The part about walis was spot on and white women are exploited and fetishized.

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      • Hena

        Sometimes we are so afraid of being critiqued that issues like this never get addressed. We as Muslims cannot ignore the perpetration of zulm against any new Muslims and those who are white just because their ancestors have subjugated our races, which as you rightly point out has indeed led to the colorism and the idealized vision of beauty in many parts of the world (the light skinned/light eyes) that I know I certainly have been exposed to.

        White privilege cannot be ignored, but neither can the New Muslim sisters who have suffered because of the pitfalls mentioned in the article, who have given up their own families and communities and deserve to be warned ahead of time so they don’t lose their Islam. That was the focus of the piece.

        I appreciate some of your contribution to the discussion; issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity, and culture are always complex. Sr. Churayl, I do not want you to feel like your voice is being stifled, but I am going to step in here and reply as one of Olivia’s two Pakistani-American editors as you have accused her of propagating the criminalblackman myth. We added the line about marriage bandits also being at work (which is a term coined by the Salafi Feminist) in the African American Muslim community, as this is a common phenomena reported by *African American* sisters who face this within their community. Olivia told us that she did not have extensive experience with this demographic, but we chose to included it to make sure to let our audience know that that this was happening to African American sisters as well, in a piece about the convert women’s experience. The intent was to include, not exclude.

        To be fair to Olivia, when writers write from their own lens and experience they are judged as being self centered and are accused of marginalizing. If they don’t, they are accused of speaking for others, which is termed arrogant and unethical. It’s a tough corner to be speaking from.

        I welcome any Black or Latina or any other group of new Muslim sister to add their voice and speak of their experience; instead of speaking for the marginalized, let them speak for themselves. My email address is hena.z@muslimmatters.org.

        You both seem to be individuals seeking to make a socially just and fulfilling life for everyone; I know Olivia is.

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      • ZAI

        Agree with Br.Zaheer.
        Whole point of the article is being subverted with tangents in the commenting.
        It is a real shame as the article deals with legitimate issues affecting the Muslim community…but also perfectly predictable because this seems to be the preferred method of burying discussion among Muslims: bring up a million different tangents, muddy the waters of discussion, discussion buried. Mission accomplished.

        Qur’an says the believers speak truth, even if it is against themselves.
        But seems many Muslims are not able to do that. We personalize issues and take offense at every turn.No surprise we have been going in circles as a community for decades or centuries.

        Take heart Sr. Olivia.
        You did a service for many Muslims and in the end it’s all dependent
        on tawfiq from Allah. The Muslims he wants to benefit and learn from
        what you’ve written will do so and those who don’t, won’t. Your intentions
        were good and you did your part.

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  21. Olga

    Well said Olivia, Asiahkelly and Zaheer. I really did not see anything in the article that could be labeled as “racist”. Olivia was reporting on what she has either seen in her community or from what converts have reported to her. I don’t know where Olivia lives but I live in northeast of the United States and I have seen many converts go through what she described in the article. The article gave some EXCELLENT advice that converts/reverts should consider when considering marriage no matter the color of their skin. May Allah bless Olivia and her family and may he unite us Muslims and help us increase our knowledge about our beautiful religion.

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  22. Saliha

    It’s interesting to read comments on how this article “perpetuating” racism and especially white superiority. If anything, the article points out racism and how having certain physical features gives people a “pass” in some Muslims communities. So if there’s anything this being singled out, it’s racist discourse exoticizes light skin and hair. It’s not saying “please respect because I’m white” but “please don’t fetishize me because I’m white.” There’s a clear difference, so read the article again.
    Also, using terms like “incompetent” *may* seem harsh, but I think most of us would agree that if we were put in a situation where we ended up with someone who used us for our citizenship, novelty, or for fun, and we trusted the person who was doing this for us, we’d be say something much harsher than that :-). It’s true Imaams do have a lot on their plate, and that expecting them to find the right spouse is asking them to do what even parents are having a hard time doing for their daughters but that’s where being an ummah comes in and as we step up as a people.

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  23. Sumaya

    Sister Olivia, I am not sure why you felt the need to insult me. May Allah forgive us and guide us. My issue was never with the truth of the content. In fact no one has argued that these things don’t happen or that our sisters who become victims are in need of our support. My issue with the article was always in how it was written. Like I said it was filled with stereotypes and generalizations and written like a rant session, which is unproductive in my opinion. It reminded me of the movie “Not without my daughter?” Do these things happen? Yes. Are they the norm? No. Does the movie do more harm than good in trying to promote awareness? In my opinion yes. There is a way that this subject could be discussed with much more tact, is all I’m saying. Further, I just have one final question. Can you amend your article that claims that most converts have had sexual experience prior and therefore have a strong need to fulfill sexual desires? As you said yourself in the comments that many converts have not had sexual experience prior to marriage? May Allah bless you sister and open our eyes to the truth. Salam Alaikum.

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    • The Salafi Feminist

      There’s a big difference between movies like “Not Without My Daughter,” which are deliberately used to portray Muslims in an ignorant (and harmful) fashion; and articles like this, which directly address relevant issues in the Muslim community, and which are being shared on a platform that caters to Muslims who are affected by these issues, or can (inshaAllah) do something about them.

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    • Daylan El Naamani

      Haha my mother called me during my first visit to the mid east in tears after watching this movie, asking me if I was ok and if anything had happened, etc etc. All I could do was laugh.

      But Joanna, even if what you say about the correlation is true, wouldn’t you agree that a sexually “learned” person would be more inclined to continue with a sexual lifestyle (for lack of better term) than one who is ignorant of it? Especially if you’re young.

      I agree with all the other posters about intentions- this article is about HELPING other Muslimahs, not marginalizing or belittling this race or that. Although it could have been written better, the point is that it’s relevant. Loved the comment about Muslims speaking the truth, even against yourself.

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  24. JoAnna Boudreaux

    “Let’s be real, a lot of converts already have some amount of sexual experience, some of them even leaving relationships or dating upon accepting Islam. For this reason many of them feel an especially strong need to satisfy their sexual desires.”…..

    There is no correlation between prior sexual experience and sexual libido. This is an irresponsible thing to say. American women are already stereotyped as being inclined toward promiscuous behavior. on what do you base this on?

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  25. remee

    what about a born-Muslim woman marrying a convert man? when the marriage is arranged by a local imam (again, it’s not just the revert sisters who do may not have a wali)…but he may not know a lot about either side. how should she go about seeing if the brother is a fit for her or not?

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  26. Inqiyaad

    As salaamu ‘alaikum,
    Mahmoud needs to be sent to an ‘Islamic education and comportment boot camp’.

    Now, let us get to the article. The tone, stereotyping, and lopsided and fallacious presumptions in the article did bother me.

    The article starts with the presumption that the narratives offered by acquaintances were complete and accurate accounts/reflections of the real problems within their marriages. I understand that this is not arbitration. Nevertheless, opinions formed with incomplete information are jejune. As such, it is extremely imprudent to offer advice based on these unripe opinions.

    I have been asked, at least once, to suggest potential matches that would facilitate ‘paper work’ for the aforementioned seeker. Having said that, I have come across far more immigrants, who have expressed aversion to the idea of marrying ‘born Muslim citizens’, leave alone converts. One of their primary reasons being the possibility of being reminded for life of the ultimate grant i.e the gift of citizenship at the drop of the Hijab, literally. Another concern is of course the virginity of their potential spouses. What is wrong with having this later expectation? I have heard shaykh Waleed Basayouni say that in Islam it is encouraged to marry virgins (both for men and women). The reasoning behind this is beyond the scope and space afforded to me in the comments section. Suffices to say that it has implications beyond plugged ideas. The idea that past relationships increase libido is not only ridiculous, as rightly pointed out by sister JoAnna, but also another instance of stereotyping in this article. True, you didn’t say all converts/immigrants are as described and for that I wish for you a meeting with Obama. But I will tell you just this, if you are allergic to watermelon, let Obama know before you visit him. Allergies are fatal.

    My biggest problem with the article is the discussion surrounding pitfall #3. While problematic, it is also indicative of the author’s bias at worst or slapdash approach at best. For example, there are women whose expectations of finding an ideal Muslim husband are shattered upon discovering an immigrant dipped in alien, back home culture trying to rub off his curry scent onto them. Then there are couples that disagree about dinner. But then, there are no women who want to blow barbeque smoke in your face.

    I wish that another version of this article be written from the perspective of immigrants who faced unsuccessful marriages. I can offer some punch lines.
    For pitfall #2, “while your intentions to accept a new Muslimah into not only the Ummah but also your immediate family, are noble, they can backfire.” For pitfall #3, “While you might be willing to give her time to learn and grow with you, you may be disappointed to learn that she still has serious hang-ups about issues you thought were settled (for example, hijab, interactions with cousins etc). She could leave you or worse still, even Islam and then blame you for her turning back, while you might have just demanded that bare minimum expectations be met.”

    The above wish is just for demonstrative purposes and is not really my wish. What I really wish is that the people who have commented about their successful intercultural marriages share their ideas about struggles (right from courting) and how they overcame them to make their marriages work. This will be a more positive and forward-looking approach.

    Again, I will cite Shaykh Waleed Basayouni who suggested that people who have undergone divorce not be retained for any marital counseling of couples facing problems (because, they will bring the baggage of their own experiences). This does not mean that we discount any lessons that can be learned from their experiences. Just that we cannot design our entire approach based on bitter experiences.

    A middle ground between toxic pragmatism and fluffy idealism is needed. It can be achieved by discarding both toxicity and fluffiness.

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    • Em Hamzah

      Assalamu alaikum. I would like to point out that at least the author expresses emotions and feelings that other people would be embarrassed to share in their article. You seem to be enraged at something. Especially towards reverts who have emotions and had previous relations before Islam. It is hard enough coming to a totally foreign religion which opposes western lifestyle completely. If we can start being honest as the author is (about this common issue) then we can move on and live our lives. I am pretty sure we don’t need a reenactment of the guilt a lot of us experienced coming from certain catholic faiths and what not. I don’t know why you and others are making such a fuss. There is a larger sin after fornicating and that is shirk. There is no sin after shirk. Besides, whoever Allah decrees a person to marry, they will. Regardless of the times they had before Islam. Allah is the most forgiving.

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      • Fritz

        I think Inqiyaad’s issue is with some of the undertones of the article.

        “Dirty brown immigrant lusting over pretty white girl” (almost in a “a passage to India” stereocut)

        And of course the article will be tilted to one side; the opinions are drawn female converts. But most of us probably recognise or have witnessed the scenarios involved so….

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      • Inqiyaad

        Sister Em Hamzah,
        Jazaki Allahu khairan for your response. I am not enraged. Neither do I have anything against converts or their emotions. I truly believe that many of them are far ahead of me, regardless of their quality of life before Islam. I have a lot of catching up to do. Most importantly, I am not denying that the four pitfalls addressed in the article do not exist in our society. Then what is (are) my problem(s) with the article? Let me list them,

        1. Divorces or problematic marriages are traumatic. Regardless of whether they involve Converts/born-Muslims/Immigrants/Citizens/ or even non-Muslims. Majority of divorces are not pretty if not downright ugly. As such, depending on the party you ask, you will get a list of their rights that they felt were violated that led to the divorce. Formulating an argument/advice based solely on this list reduces the advice to the lowest common denominator.
        2. This advice is rendered even more moot when it is based on one party’s perceptions. No marriage is successful based solely on the ability of one partner to ensure all his/her rights. More importantly, such advice will not go a long way in promoting healthy marriages when taken in isolation.
        3. The above 2 problems with the approach are exacerbated by drawing on base fears, stereotypes, and superfluous rhetoric. In addition to the above article, my last post is a good example of the crux of the argument being lost upon drawing on one of these elements.
        Some elements in my last post were deliberately intended to demonstrate a fallacious argument from the other perspective.

        Before I conclude, I must clarify my position on the ‘virginity’ aspect. I believe the last post did not turn out as I had intended. Once one enters Islam, all sins are forgiven. Anyone who puts down the other based on sins before Islam or even after one has entered Islam, by calling names is not following the Sunnah and is quite ignorant. Nevertheless, if someone prefers not to marry a person who has been in a previous relationship (it doesn’t have to be a sinful relationship) is well within his rights to choose. Not just that, if you have been single all your life, it might even be encouraged to seek out other people who have been single also, and this goes for both men and women.
        I also wanted to demonstrate the craziness that ensues when someone takes these preferences/fears to unreasonable levels. Like I shared before, there are some people who doubt the characters of Muslim women who are born Muslim. For such imaginations, it is not too difficult to come to conclusions about converts. But then, I also took issue with the author stating that most converts have had sexual experiences. Many convert sisters have pointed out that this is a false stereotype, and I agree.

        And, I completely agree with you that Allah takes care of every aspect of our life, including the partners we are destined to marry.
        Wa salaamu ‘alaikum

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  27. Inqiyaad

    Good, your kind of hunger is what we need for successful intercultural marriages. I don’t know what caused confusion. Maybe, you were not introduced to figures of speech or typecasts. It’s never too late to start learning.

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  28. Inqiyaad

    Good, your kind of hunger is what we need for successful intercultural marriages. I don’t know what caused confusion. Maybe, you were not introduced to figures of speech or typecasts. It’s never too late to start learning.

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  29. Arbab Shazan

    From practical experience!

    1. marriage between by birth muslimah and convert muslim (especially westerner) generally goes well and the chances of successful marriage are high. Problems in such marriage arise when/if the sister realize that the convert brother is not practicing muslim. Therefore in this case the sister should ensure beforehand that the brother is not converted only for the sake of marriage.

    2. marriages between by birth muslims and convert sisters (especially westerner) have mixed results in general. That is the case where there is a need for counseling before marriage. The chance of a successful marriage in the 2nd type are somewhat less than the 1st one.

    I don’t know the reasons behind such results!

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  30. Desi Muslim Man

    *Message To Moderators*

    Salaamu alaykum. I posted a comment right below Olivia’s comment under a pseudonym, “Desi Muslim Man”. I’m surprised to see someone manipulate my name and reveal my real identity extracting it from my email address. If you have any problem with the content of my comments, you have the right to edit it as you like. But I do not appreciate people reveal my personal info without my consent in the public domain. Please respect the amanah(privacy) of fellow muslims. Jazakallahu khayr.

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    • Aly Balagamwala

      Dear Brother

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product. We do not think your first name would violate your privacy.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

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      • Desi Muslim Man

        “Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting.”

        Subhana Allah OK. I see a lot of pseudonym allowed on this article and others. To name a few “The Salafi Feminist”, “American Female Convert” and many others. So I hope you will enforce your real name policy more justly. Jazakallahu khayr.

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      • Aly Balagamwala

        American Female Convert has been asked to use her real name, her email address didn’t have a name. The Salafi Feminist is a valid blog handle linked to a real blog and valid email address and complies with that part of our name policy. We try our best to enforce this to the extent we can especially for people who comment frequently.

        Best Regards
        Aly

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      • American Female Convert

        Assalamu ‘Alaykum Dear Comment Team,

        I chose to post annonymously to protect the identities of myself, my children and ex-husband. To reveal my name would cause Fitnah, as it may have done in the case of Desi Muslim Man. If I were required to reveal my name, I would not have posted. Had Muslim Matters revealed my name without my permission, that would have been irresponsible and unjust. It would be better if the Comment Team’s intentions and actions were to contact me off-line and ask me if I prefer to provide my real name or a Kunya, or have my posts deleted. In this case, I would choose to have my comments deleted.

        Jazakum Allahu khairan for considering the subtleties and nuances of what I am saying in effort to enjoy good and forbid evil. Kindly post posting policies clearly at the top of the blog.

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      • Amel

        As-salamu Alaykum,
        I actually do think that extracting one’s name from an e-mail address and posting it publicly is a violation of privacy. Had that individual wanted to provide his name, he would have done so. Although this issue does not affect me in any way whatsoever since I am generally okay with posting my name, I find it odd that MM finds the need to chase after people in order to tell them their user names are not acceptable…and a lot of people, especially non-Muslims, would not even know what a kunyah is. I understand that MM is perhaps trying to avoid the problem of trolls or people who post under multiple or duplicate names…but the way you are going about it might make people feel uncomfortable, especially when they have posted anonymously due to the sensitive nature of a particular topic. Even as a reader, I feel uncomfortable when I see someone posting something sensitive and personal and then being warned about their name. I think you can solve this whole issue by simply having people register for the site using the names they choose. They can then confirm their registration via e-mail and use the same name each time they post. It really does not have to be more complicated than that.

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      • Aly Balagamwala

        AssalamuAlaikum:

        Jazakillahu Khairin for the suggestion. At the moment we do not have a way to provide a solution like you recommend. However, we will keep your suggestion in mind.

        WasSalamuAlaikum
        Aly

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  31. Ren - Muslim WOC

    Hmm, interesting. Although I do agree that the author raises very valid points and writes with good intentions, I also agree with above commenters (such as JoAnna and Sumaya) on the perpetuation of (underlying) racist/white supremacist themes.
    Please note: one need not be racist to perpetuate racism. Society is such that it allows this to happen.
    My main problem with this article is the generalisations used. Sr. Olivia, please understand that racial and cultural matters are very delicate (due to things that have happened in the past and continue to happen). If a POC calls you out, you should take it very seriously.
    I think another issue is that of white people (Muslim or not,) not acknowledging their white privilege. (here is a brief illustration of white privilege: http://thisiswhiteprivilege.tumblr.com/post/72944079248/ill-meet-you-half-way-fact-you-arent-a)
    I intend not to offend or hurt, so may Allah forgive me if I have done so, or have said anything wrong. But please, please, do tread carefully; as mentioned above, racial and cultural matters should be treated very sensitively.

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    • Aly Balagamwala

      Dear Ren – Muslim WOC

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

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  32. Nisi

    I think this is a good article articulating a viewpoint that everyone needs to hear. The voices of muslim women, let alone convert muslim women, is underrepresented so I appreciate someone taking the time to bring up these issues.
    But I am wondering, where does the responsibility of the convert woman come into play regarding her marriage decisions? Many women get taken advantage of, convert or not. I know and respect that a convert has other hurdles, but part of it might be the individual’s personality that makes them more prone to jumping into a marriage or being easily manipulated. Maybe it’s immaturity or a strong feeling of needing to be validated by others. They likely might have faced the same problems with men whether or not they became Muslim.
    I agree the Wali’s need to provide guidance but it’s your life, and at the end it’s your decision. Even if your wali is your own father, brother, uncle, etc. no one can care about you more than your own self. I think blaming others kind of makes women look helpless and not intelligent enough to make their own decisions. A Wali’s opinion/effort is not a substitute for your own.

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    • aisha

      So reverts are immature? Wow. Did it ever occur to you that maybe reverts are just very trusting in the ummah? That we just believe that since islam is the perfect religion, men who were brought up in muslim families would be honest and decent men? And that after reverting and being disowned by a lot of our relatives and friends, we desperately want to have a muslim family and live in a muslim household?Not to mention we know muslims don’t date…so if a brother tells a lady he is a regular at the mosque and he has a long beard and he tells her he did istikhara and believes Allah swt wants him to marry her. How is she as a new muslim to know that guy was lying and only grew a beard so he could marry her? That is what happened to me 5 1/2 years ago. (He even admitted last year that he’d never done istikhara in his life smh) And when he told me he studied women’s rights in islam and planned to fulfill his future wife’s rights, what was I supposed to have thought? How could I have known he’d be a very abusive husband (biting, kicking, etc) who would eventually leave me with two kids so he could marry a sister who barely even wears clothes? Subhanallah. Maybe reverts do have too much faith in the ummah but that doesn’t make us immature.

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      • Nisi

        Wow, you totally misunderstood what I was saying. Where did I say all converts are immature? I am really sorry that you went through a bad situation, but it seems like you are projecting your emotions onto me.

        What I was saying is that some of the convert women might have other issues that make them more likely to be manipulated by a man and that might stem from immaturity and unrelated to being a convert…I never said this was true for all converts. Just like some women have personalities that make them more likely to fall into bad relationships with men because of low self esteem/immaturityand the strong need to be accepted/validated. It doesn’t minimize the blame on the part of the man either. With time and age, we all realize that a perfect religion does not equal perfect/good people or men.

        And like I said, I understand converts have other hurdles to deal with and I do sympathize.

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  33. Deen

    Muslims of different cultures, race, color etc have been marrying each other through centuries and that’s one of the reason Islam has spread. Inter cultural marriage is nothing new in the ummah. I find this article to be biased. The author talks about fair skin western beauty, beauty is in every culture and race. There are black beauties, brown beauties, yellow beauties etc. There are many people who like white beauties while there are many who don’t like white beauties. By the way in desi and arab people you have black, brown, white all kind of people mixed in their families unlike in European communities.

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  34. Deen

    I liked the article though. It was really beneficial and thanks for letting the community know. Next time try to be open minded. May Allah help our revert sisters and strengthen them.

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  35. samiaelmoslimany

    After reading pitfall #1 and solution with dismay, I couldn’t bring myself to read the rest of this article.

    The concept that a woman requires a wali is obsolete, outdated and sexist. I don’t deny that it served a purpose during the barbary of Arabia at the time of the Prophet, pbuh, but the continuance of the institution implies that a woman, simply by being a woman is not capable of rationally making a decision as to whether she is “marrying a man who is not compatible with her, or will take advantage of her.” The suggestion that the danger of a Muslim-raised woman replacing her “divinely designated” wali with a wali of her choice, will result in her choosing “a wali who will be a token-piece and allow her to marry someone clearly harmful to her,” is unbelievably patronizing and continues to promote the warped idea among many Muslims that a woman remains a minor, incapable of making major decisions for herself for her entire life by virtue of her not possessing a penis.

    I was raised a Muslim in the United States and spent my entire adult life in Saudi Arabia as a wedding photographer, having witnessed more than a thousand weddings where 100% of the time a woman is married only with the consent of her “wali.” Marriages in Saudi Arabia actually fail at a higher rate than they do in the US. I have seen cousins married to each other where the husband has turned out to be a sexually promiscuous playboy. I have witnessed tens of fathers who prevented their daughters from marrying, simply because they could, resulting in their daughters never marrying.

    Consultation by both a man or a woman wishing to marry with wiser, more experienced individuals, both men and women about a major life decision is only prudent, but to continue to promote the premise that an Islamic marriage is not valid if a woman does not have or designate a wali is wrong and oppressive.

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  36. MSS

    As a muslim from Pakistan, born and bought up in the UK, male, with a failed marriage to a Pakistani girl as all she was interested in was money and gold, I felt i’d rather marry a convert/revert. Reading some comments about getting the wali to get as many material items in the mahr just made me think, I’d be no better efbhfhg getting screwed over by a Pakistani girl again!

    For me it seems marrying a Muslim girl of any kind, will be the same. Sad to say I’m even contemplating marrying a non Muslim. Why marry a Muslim women? I have to also say I’m sick of Muslim women making men out to be the bad guys. Go on a Muslim matrimonial site and see what Muslim women really want. Read their profiles.

    What kind of ummah are we? We can’t get along on so many fronts. Why marry a non Muslim? Well there are many non Muslims who are a lot less judgemental than Muslims, less materialistic, value the person for what they are and accepting of differences. I never talk about the things I do as I try to do whatever I do for the sake of Allah. I pray regularly, help strangers in the street irrespective of background, do the Azan at the masjid, help mosques with finances and skills All for the sake of my Akhira. I’m no saint and need Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

    This article bought tears to my eyes as it shattered my last hope of what I thought I could attain by marrying a convert. It shows I was wrong. Same old nonesense. All this stuff about brothers with beards leading a hypocritical life. What about the hypocritical hijabis? Or can we not talk about them?

    I don’t want to commit zina or marry a non Muslim. But from reading sisters comments especially, I cannot see any hope for a Muslim male unless he is loaded with money.

    Allah have mercy on us all. Ameen.

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