crosspost from www.islamwich.com

By Theresa Corbin

After many years of studying religion and coming to the conclusion that Islam was the only religion that made sense to my nature and who I wanted to be in the eyes of God, I converted to Islam. My life has changed drastically. And even though I took about three years to negotiate this decision and think about all the things in my life that I would leave behind and all the things I would incorporate, I had no idea how different my life would be. I had no idea… I have compiled a list of (some) things that I never expected.

#7  I didn't expect to love dressing modestly

I thought I would have to swaddle myself in hideously, un-creative clothing in order to observe hijab.  While I wanted to have the luxury of being in control of my sexuality and only showing my beauty to the people I chose, I didn't want to give up my style. Now, there is nothing wrong with looking bland if that is your thing, but it is not mine. I am in LOVE with color, and I am a highly creative girl with a love for fashion. I learned that I didn't have to give up my signature style just because I wanted to be modest. Modesty doesn't mean giving up style. I was very happy to discover that.

#6  I didn't expect there to be so many different brands of Islam

I didn't expect that every Muslim that I would meet would want me to subscribe to their special brand of Islam. It gets very confusing for brothers and sisters who convert. All you have to do is verify, verify, verify. Know! Your! Sources! The great thing about Islam is that everything is documented and verified. I learned this the hard way. When I first converted, I thought every Muslim knew better than me. And mostly they did, but there are also Muslims out there who feel very passionately about the brand of Islam their parents blindly took from their parents, and so on.  Muslims and non-Muslims alike – go to the source and ask your friendly neighborhood Muslims to verify the “Islamic facts” they are trying to sell you. If they become upset by this request, walk away. They have an issue with pride.

#5 I didn't expect to save so much time not fighting a daily battle with my hair

Before Islam, I would spend about 5 hours in total grooming my mane on a weekly basis. Over the 12-year period of wearing hijab, I devoted maybe only one hour a week to making my hair look nice for the hubby (ok, so maybe more like 30 mins, -sorry hubby-). I have saved approximately 4,000 years just in hair care time alone. (I am good at math!). Not to mention the whole ditching the extensive makeup program. That is awesome!

#4 I didn't expect to be expected to change my name

I have a perfectly fine name, thank you. “Theresa.” It means the one who reaps what she sows. How much more “Muslim” can you get? By the way, The Sahabah didn't change their names when they converted. Their names became Muslim names, and so did mine, and so can yours.

#3 I didn't expect attendance to be taken

shutterstock_167929001I did expect to be a part of a community. As a part of the majority in my country, community was not something I was familiar with. What I did not expect was that my attendance in that community would be monitored, questioned, and scrutinized. Where were you last Jumuah?  Why weren't you at the lectures every night and morning? Why don't you come out to the special Eid event? All well-meaning, but what they don't understand is that I am a lone wolf. However, I have learned that if you want people to like you and desire your presence, don't go, or at the very least be indifferent to showing up.

#2  I didn't think I would be expected to be an expert on Middle Eastern politics

I wasn't and I am still not, and have no desire to become such a thing. And most likely neither are you. Having strong opinions doesn't make one an expert, just so you know.

#1 I didn't expect to be loved

shutterstock_117157987

I didn't expect that perfect strangers in every small town and big city I visit would immediately love me just because we share a love of Allah. And I didn't expect to feel the same way for them.

 

43 Responses

  1. June

    Assalamu alaykum,
    #7 – I took to hijab right away but it definitely took me some time to find my style. Oh the embarrassingly horrible color combinations of my early days, lol.
    #6 – I’ve heard the advice before to get most of your information from just one source at the beginning. This can decrease confusion and being overwhelmed.
    #5 – In the beginning, I cared about my hair less since I figured no one would be seeing it anyway. But I realized I do need to look good for my husband and that hijab is not just about covering up a bad hair day.
    #4 – I can definitely relate. There is nothing un-Islamic about my name and it’s the name my father gave me. I feel I would break his heart if I changed it! And in fact, the most common first two sentences people have said to me throughout my entire life are “What’s your name” and “Oh, that’s such a beautiful name” (And I am absolutely serious about this. I’m not exaggerating when I say this happens about 90% of the time) Why on Earth do I need an Arabic name to be Muslim?
    #3 – This did not happen with me but I’ve heard similar stories from others.
    #2 – Once again, I can relate. I’m Muslim, not Arabic! I follow the news as best I can but I don’t know any more than most everyone else.
    #1 – Alhamdulillah. This is one of the best parts of being Muslim!

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    • Shahma

      Assalamu ‘Alaikum sister Theresa and all the other sisters and brothers who might be reading this post. Firstly I would like to thank sister Theresa for sharing her unexpected findings after accepting islam. I personally find it quite intriguing to know how the perspectives of reverts develops/change. JazakALLAHu ahsanul jaza. Stay strong!!!

      I also feel compelled to bring to our sisters attention that our concept of hijab is being hijacked by people who couldn’t care less about the purpose of hijab. What am I trying to say? I am trying to say that hijab to many sisters now have become nothing more than a fashion statement (btw this is not in address to sister Theresa at all). I have found that sisters who are born in muslim families are more susceptible to this shortcoming than the sister who accept islam later on in their lives. Revert sisters are much more diligent in fulfilling the conditions of the hijab. There could be many reasons for this, but the most important of all is the ikhlaas (sincerity for ALLAH). I ask the sisters to take back the narrative and reclaim the Hijab, speak up in support of proper hijab.

      Be kind when advising but don’t let shaytan trick you into thinking that it is out of wisdom that you allow people to transgress without correcting them. Encourage the good and forbid the evil. Commend the sisters who adhere to proper hijab and with kindness encourage and correct the ones that don’t.

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  2. umm habiba

    As salaamualaikum sister Theresa
    That was a beautiful read! Especially when i came down to the last ” unexpected” thing.
    Yes we have an instant connect. Subhan Allah! Alhamdulillah! For that. I love u both, Theresa n June, n all my Muslim n the Innate Muslims(those whose souls are so beautiful n just waiting to be Muslim)brothers n sisters out there, for the sake of Allah!!
    May Allah ta aala unite us all in the beautiful abode.Ameen

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  3. Hyde

    I was about to make a sarcastic comment about yet another convert story but I stopped myself and realized ‘t’s Warlord Corbin…*humbly walks away*

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  4. tarikur

    I am an ex-Muslims (was Muslim by birth). Muslims are always nice and loving to new converts.

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    • Hyde

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

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      • tarikur

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

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      • Noori Italian

        @tarikur… I don’t think you get it man… Go ahead, go about your way, and take whatever action you desire to bring about your desired ends… No one is really affected by it, in the least. In fact, we will bear witness for you and your words down the road, and you can do the same for us. In the mean time, while you are so carefully taking Holy Quran out of context as yet another self-proclaimed authority on an alternative form of Islam, why not take a look at 61:9. Oh, and Surah 109 too. No ones gonna hurt you man, you seem to be doing just fine with that on your own. Insert 67:29,30. Peace

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      • Hyde

        I’m not going to go into the whole kill apostate nonsense here; plethora of intellectual discussions out there (on Theresa Corbin’s blog for example). It’s WRONG and pathetically min-misinterpreted. Half of the Sharia legislation can be only applied in an Islamic Sate, and of the 60 some donkey countries who call themselves Islamic are poor excuse both as an ‘Islamic country’ and ‘a country itself’.

        Many people leave Islam as they enter, lol that’s why the masjid always have to doors. Islam is not for everyone, nor is it easy. Two lies many Muslims like repeating like parrots. Apostasy is actually a wonderful way leave something you don’t want.

        These is NO compulsion in religion. Follow your own gods of desire.

        Personally I hope the pathway to apostasy becomes easier for everyone. I’d love to see many people leave Islam all together, then try to believe in something they don’t want.

        Islam does not need you nor are you a superstar for being a Muslim or not being a Muslim.

        For you to come on a Muslim site to show your “intelligence” and your “woeful plea” is ignorant, embarrassing and quite disingenuous.

        Ex-Catholics don;t show up in the front of Church to malign and cajole Catholics, but let’s be brutally honest, being an ex-Muslim is a sort of a superstar, a glittering sugarball for the Western Press. .
        “Ex-Muslim” is a money making machine. It further helps if your a woman and or a “sexual alternative”.

        I, too would be weary of your parents, because of the way they raised you, I would be surprised that if their cultural supremacy does not upscale any Islamic identity they have.

        Yours is a way of the future though they will always be Muslims, like Sister Corbin around. Don’t congratulate the converts, but shy away from them, because they see a light that born Muslim never do and in your case case, never will.

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      • June

        I am perplexed. You compliment one comment that mentions Qur’anic verses, yet criticize the comment suggesting tarikur seek clarification from a scholar. Are you Muslim? If so, why all the hate? If not you can disregard what I say next since it is said under the assumption that you are Muslim.

        It’s because of comments like yours that people fear approaching anyone if they have doubts and wind up wanting to leave Islam. To say “May Allah guide you” or suggesting to read the Qur’an is not condescending. If making dua for someone’s guidance is too much to ask from you and instead you say “Islam does not need you” then you are the one coming across as condescending. Since the Qur’an is the literal word of Allah, suggesting that those who seem lost take the time to read and understand it is in the hopes they may find guidance.

        I ask Allah to allow tarikur to find someone who may clarify any of his/her doubts and misunderstandings.

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      • Hyde

        You got your answer down below. He can quote form sources , wow..*retarded golf clap*. My Islamic knowledge is not munificent because I am not holding a noose over his neck.

        Cherry pickers.

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      • Mahmud

        Imam Abdullah Hasan(who writes for this website Muslim Matters) explained the consensus ruling on apostasy.

        It is in our deen and there is no changing it. it does not contradict la ikraha fid deen. In that very same Surah the non-apostates who didn’t worship the Golden Calf from Bani Israel were commanded to attack the ones that did apostate(by worshipping the Calf.)

        Furthermore, we have the examples of the Sahaba RA who did kill apostates even when they were not violent rebels against the Islamic State.

        So, freedom of religion needs to be understood in an Islamic context.

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      • M

        @tarikur, May Allah guide you. If you have any doubts about Islam you should clarify them. You have a right to clarify your doubts about theology or laws or anything else. Go to a scholar and talk to him. But that totally depends upon where you live right now. If you are living in one of those so-called “Muslim” countries, there might be a problem finding that scholar.

        And just because there are problems in Muslim countries that doesn’t Islam is bad, most Muslim countries do not follow the the Islamic laws as they should be followed. In fact there was a recent article in The Telegraph that said western countries follow Islam more properly than “Muslim” countries do. Here’s the link.
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/10888707/Ireland-leads-the-world-in-Islamic-values-as-Muslim-states-lag.html

        I also suggest that you reread the Holy Quran, because you clearly haven’t read it properly.

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      • Hyde

        Gawd!!! This is the exact niceties if have to STOP with it. There is no coming back fro him; if he chooses to do so, then be it, if not then be it so. Telling people to go read the Quran or “Allah will guide them” [of course God guides who he does]. It’s probably condescending to them.

        Time to be frank and open. Those that want to leave let them go.

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      • tarikur

        You lack knowledge of true Islam. Who knows more about Islam you or Islamic scholar, who studied more than 10 years? All Islamic scholar agree that you supposed to kill ex-Muslim. That’s why Saudi Arabia, Iran, Taliban and all the religious groups that follow Sharia law kills anyone that Islam. Here are some example hadiths. There are so many hadiths

        Bukhari Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:
        Narrated ‘Ikrima:
        Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”

        Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”

        Quran (4:89) – “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”

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      • M

        @hyde. Maybe this person has had a bad experience with Muslims. Maybe nobody told him to actually read the Quran or ask Allah directly for help. If Allah guides him through us we have nothing to loose, so why not at least try.

        Of course, if he’s doing it despite the nice people around him, then… well… he can go do whatever he wants. But our job is to pray for others not send them to hell.

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      • June

        The question is why do you want to leave Islam? Is it because of the actions and words of your parents or others around you? Was it because they claimed those words or actions came from Islam? I am genuinely curious.

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      • chicagomc

        Tarikur – the killing of ex-Muslims clearly refers back to the time when becoming Muslim meant they were leaving their tribe, and the protection of their tribe, and became enemies of their tribe, and that Muslims became their new source of protection. If you left Islam, you left this group of Muslims, and therefore went to a group that was an enemy of the Muslims. This gives permission to kill those who were once Muslim, and of course all the rules of law apply (do not instigate). Any scholar should know this context, and if they are ignoring this context then they are feeding off their emotional issues. If they need further evidence – there are no stories of the Prophet (pbuh) seeking out Muslims who left Islam to kill them because they left Islam. There are no stories of the Prophet (pbuh) standing over someone who left Islam and saying “because you left Islam, I’m killing you”. It’s an approach of sadness of having to fight back in war against those who were once friends. Not seeking out to kill them, or having this crazed mission to kill those who left Islam. So people choosing to ignore how the Prophet (pbuh) actually treated people who left Islam is pretty bad. And ignoring the context of these passages is pretty bad.

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      • shariff

        @tarikur

        Why would you want to leave islam?? This demonstrates to me that you have not read the Holy Quran in a language that you understand.

        You can’t leave islam anyway as truth cannot be denied and falsehood is temporary so where are you planning on going to after your new life that you want to lead becomes futile and hollow, which it will, as there is no happiness or contention in deception.

        You mean to tell me you want to be further away then you currently are from Allah (Al-mighty)? You disown the holy prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) you want to reneg on the favour conferred upon you by the only one true creator? You should open your eyes and your Quran and ask Allah to show you the way. You are lost halfway between Jannah and Jahanam and it’s your decision which way you want to go!!

        And regarding being an apostate the reason why someone may be prosecuted in sharia law court is because leaving islam is considered treason, and in most countries treason can be severely prosecuted. However the Quran states that there is no compulsion in Islam so it cannot be forced on to you.

        We are living in the time of Dajjal, deception is in the air, evil is widespread and truth is diminished. The only thing left in this world that has been preserved and will never be corrupted is the Quran so hold on to it like Allah has held on to you.

        I wish all the Muslims peace and blessings and inshallah may Allah bestow upon us all his blessings and mercy. May he reward us all Jannat’al Firdous – the highest level of Paradise, Amen.

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    • June

      “You lack knowledge of true Islam. Who knows more about Islam you or Islamic scholar, who studied more than 10 years? etc…” I would have replied to this comment directly but if seems this commenting system only allows for replying twice before turning it off.

      The question still remains, why do you want (or why did you decide) to leave Islam? Is it because Islam dictates that those who leave Islam must be killed that you want to leave? Is it because you sought Islamic knowledge from news media sources instead of scholars? There is a reason for the way your are feeling and you have a justification for your decision. I ask because I want to offer the chance to have any doubts and misunderstanding removed.

      Just as much as we are accused of “cherry picking” for offering you peace, you are as guilty of “cherry picking” for accusing us of war. I want to know why your feel so hurt by Islam. What has made you so angry at Allah?

      While I am not a scholar, I can seek the advice of one for any questions you may have. Obviously a scholar knows more about Islam than I. Are you a scholar of Islam? Have you studied Qur’an, Hadith, Seerah, and Islamic history for the past 10 years or more? If not, why do you seek the advice from scholars only about apostasy and anything else you see as negative? Why do you not ask them about the positives? Before any questions can be answered though it must be understood what caused you to want to become ex-Muslim in the first place.

      You do not have to change you mind, I only want to understand why you dislike Islam as much as I want you to understand why I love it.

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  5. iffat sharif

    I smiled at #4 coz it is awesome I loved #1 coz its true!!! Amazing amazing article

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  6. Noori Italian

    What an awesome article that so correctly and beautifully shows the experience of the fastest growing group of Muslim converts: women (even more so for Caucasian women, though I don’t mean to assume)! May your efforts, intentions, and honor be increased and protected forever! I had to send this to my Mother and grandmother (who are not Muslim)! This is exactly the type of info I tweet from @NooriItalian to help dispel the falsehood surrounding converts and the deen in general! Much info on politics, deen, etc is available, and more will be made so. Please follow for more articles like this. God bless!!!

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  7. Miss HaychEm

    I always enjoy reading your articles, they have a feel good factor to them. JazakaAllah Khair :)

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  8. Abu Asiyah

    #1 – subhanAllah, one of the most beautiful things out about the ummah. I’m a convert and that’s definitely up there for me as well.

    Beautiful article, barakAllahu feeki ya ukhtee

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  9. Gregory Pratt

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

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    • Salmaan

      Totally unrelated to anything in this article. But well done, I admire someone who can differentiate between a Muslim and Islam. Ya Allah, guide us.

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      • mg

        Salmaan,This is exactly the point..We have plenty of well educated people who misrepresent Islam.People are imperfect.

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  10. Narayan Narasimhan

    Theresa,
    To me a Religion should help people to respect others (humanity), and the whole planet in general. Can you explain how could you do this with Islam and your previous religion couldn’t (from your perspective)?

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    • choomm

      Its the usual story for these western converts.. they walk around in skimpy clothes and then suddenly see the light become muslims and coverup in hijab and burkha and are surprised that is actually possible. For them its a physical change in clothing and also into a more subdued lifestyle nstead of the all night partying they are used to. ..

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  11. Halima

    5 is my favorite. You are spared all the extra hair care when you’re a Muslim woman. It is also gives you this carefree attitude about your hair. I can’t help but smile real big when I see Non-Muslim women in public bathrooms obsessively grooming their hair. Although I don’t agree with your comment in 1. Dressing bland is something highly encouraged in Islam for Muslim women. The whole point is to not draw attention to yourself, and attract attention. I’ve noticed dressing brightly and flamboyantly can bring on a lot of attention to yourself. That’s why I love my abaaya. Good post overall. :)

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  12. Tony James

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

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  13. Shahma

    Assalamu ‘Alaikum sister Theresa and all the other sisters and brothers who might be reading this post. Firstly I would like to thank sister Theresa for sharing her unexpected findings after accepting islam. I personally find it quite intriguing to know how the perspectives of reverts develops/change. JazakALLAHu ahsanul jaza. Stay strong!!!

    I also feel compelled to bring to our sisters attention that our concept of hijab is being hijacked by people who couldn’t care less about the purpose of hijab. What am I trying to say? I am trying to say that hijab to many sisters now have become nothing more than a fashion statement (btw this is not in address to sister Theresa at all). I have found that sisters who are born in muslim families are more susceptible to this shortcoming than the sister who accept islam later on in their lives. Revert sisters are much more diligent in fulfilling the conditions of the hijab. There could be many reasons for this, but the most important of all is the ikhlaas (sincerity for ALLAH). I ask the sisters to take back the narrative and reclaim the Hijab, speak up in support of proper hijab.

    Be kind when advising but don’t let shaytan trick you into thinking that it is out of wisdom that you allow people to transgress without correcting them. Encourage the good and forbid the evil. Commend the sisters who adhere to proper hijab and with kindness encourage and correct the ones that don’t.

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  14. Muhammad

    This is wonderful. And yes one does instantly fall inlove with strangers when they talk about Allah. May Allah help and guide us all. Hope you do have a wonderful day everyone.

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