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For Me is My Religion: Tales of Conversion Part 2


An Imam stands in front of a crowded Jumu‘ah congregation and gives a speech on coming together as a Muslim community. He talks about the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and how he would accept everyone, no matter their past, their color, or their social standing. After the Imam is done talking, it is time to stand for prayer. One man stands next to another, looks him up and down, taking in his skin color and dress, and making assumptions about who he might be. After this assessment the man decides that it is better not to stand next to this other man, after all… he does not quite look like he belongs.

There are a group of Middle Eastern men standing around talking after a prayer one day; they are all laughing and enjoying themselves. A man approaches the group to answer a question that he was emailed earlier in the day by one of the members of this group. Upon his approach, one of the group members looks him over…again, taking in his skin color and his dress, and making assumptions about who he might be. After his assessment, the man decides to make a very serious face, ignore any salams that are offered, and walk away.

A woman sits in her office diligently working, as always. A few coworkers approach her office and ask if she would want to attend a happy hour event with other team members. Sheepishly, she declines, and is then flooded with questions about why she never attends when her team goes to a bar?

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An American female convert makes the decision that she is going to start wearing a hijab. Immediately, she is bombarded with questions about why Muslims do this. Do you really not eat for a whole month? There was an Iranian man on the news last night talking about some social issues in Iran, what did he mean by his statements?

A married couple, one Arab the other an American convert, go to the mall. While they are shopping, they get looks of wonder and disgust from non-Muslims, which is far better than the Muslim women that boldly walk over to inspect the woman’s ring finger.

Two lifelong friends, both Muslim converts, sit together in a public area. The woman wears a hijab, while the man looks like any other American male in the area. They are approached by a Muslim who, in Arabic, begins to ask the woman what part of Alexandria, Egypt she is from. When the man offers his salams he is ignored.

I could go on and on with these scenarios, but I want to stop and ask, do any of them sound familiar? Have you been on either end of these situations?

They are all part of what I like to call the, “You ain’t from around here” syndrome.

As you know by now I am a Muslim convert, and if you didn’t know then go back and check out part 1 of this tale, “For Me is My Religion Part 1.” If you did read that post you know that my conversion was a bit of a social struggle. But now I have said la ilāha illa Allāh and everything is fine, no more struggles! Right? Isn’t that how this works?

As you can clearly see that is not what happened. I found out quickly that there were a whole new set of issues that I was going to have to face.

I get it. I am a Caucasian American. I am a U.S. Military Veteran. And, up until now, I didn’t spend my time around mosques or halal food establishments trying to figure out which one had the best kofta (which, for the record, is made by my mother-in-law). I am the new kid on the block and, thanks to TV shows like “Homeland” and government agencies planting FBI and CIA agents in mosques; I have to try harder than normal to fit in. But, when is enough enough?

I have been going to Jumu‘ah prayer with the same group of people now for many years. I am kind of a quiet person, so I go to Jumu‘ah and I go about my business. If I were a government agent wouldn’t I be forcing myself into conversations? Wouldn’t I be demanding that we “hang-out”? Since I am not engaging in that kind of behavior, can we all agree there is a large possibility that I am not trying to infiltrate this Jumu‘ah prayer?

So what about others that look at my skin tone, my eye color, or the way I talk, and judge me because I am not from the same geographic region as them?

Now is the moment where you can defend yourself by saying, “But that doesn’t happen!” I mean, after all, didn’t the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say in his last sermon:

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

So there it is, “Every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim,”and that is how we all act all of the time, right?

Sadly, this judgmental behavior goes on every day. Not only is it (in my understanding) haram, but it is hurtful and it drives a wedge into our communities. It pushes converts like me away. At first I thought this was a unique issue to converts, but it turns out that it affects American Muslims as well.  When I use the term American Muslims, I mean born, not converted, Muslims who were brought here at a young age or born here. Because their family wanted them to have more opportunities and a shot at the “American Dream,” they were raised here in the American culture. Now some of them are being turned on because they are too “American.”

When I started reaching out to people to see if I was the only one being treated this way, I found out that I was not. I heard people voicing their issues about trying to work in an American office and finding it hard to pray (I spoke to one convert that lost his job because of his conversion), about not being able to marry who they wanted to because the other person was from the wrong country, and about feeling tired of being the spokesperson for all of Islam and all Muslims. The list went on and on.

I felt their pain; I had been there. In fact, I experienced it again last week! The spokesperson issue did speak the loudest to me. I am very active on social media; in fact I make my living by managing other people’s websites and social media profiles. But, when I converted, every day I would get hit with the same questions over and over again. Finally, out of exhaustion, I wrote a list of the questions I was being asked most often, and answered them in the form of a podcast. That way I had one central place to point to and say here are all your answers. To this day, that podcast gets downloads. In fact, you can click here and have a listen for yourself.

I stopped recording that podcast for personal reasons, but as I talked to people about these issues of exclusion, I felt moved to try and start my podcast again. Maybe I can be the voice that is needed to try and bring people together, maybe I can be the one to help people understand that these issues they are struggling with are not unique; and more importantly, they are not alone.

So as a start I would like to say…

To the Muslim Converts…you are not alone. We all feel like outsiders, we are all treated differently; we all get looked at by our friends, co-workers, and family. We all feel like we are some kind of spokesperson for Muslims worldwide.

To the American Muslims…you are not alone. We all get looks; we all struggle to pray in the workplace; we are all tired of feeling like spokespeople for a religion that has been demonized through propaganda.

We are Muslims…and we all have the same struggles; we all have the same needs; but mostly, we are all proud to say and believe la ilāha illa Allāh

For Me is My Religion: Tales of Conversion Part 1


Photo credit: Mesut Dogan /

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Carl Dodge, originally from New England, now lives in the Washington D.C. area where he runs his own consulting firm, Rose and Angel Productions Carl converted to Islam in 2009 after reading “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A’la Mawdudi.  Since his conversation he has been interviewed by RT T.V. for the special “Unlikely Converts” (  and had an Algerian State TV Ramadan special done on him ( Carl has been designing websites and dealing in social media for the last 15 years. He started building sites back when all the coding had to done in Microsoft Notepad. Since then he has kept up with the changes working with Wordpress, doing graphic design, and making sure that all sites are Web 2.0 compliant.  He can be found on Twitter at @BCDodge_me



  1. John Howard

    June 2, 2014 at 5:13 AM

    Very interesting I understand the converts point of view but the other bear in the room is what do muslims think of non muslims? it is very obvious from this events that muslims do not want to be associated with non muslims. There appears to be a very strong distrust of kaffers or those appearing to be kaffersThe fact this committed muslim is implying he is being classed as not a true muslim because of his background is there any wonder why we non muslims treat muslims with a great deal of suspicion?

    • B.C. Dodge

      June 2, 2014 at 5:56 AM

      John, Thank you for your comments.
      I have a few things I want to say to this, but first let me say that my comments are my own and they may not necessarily reflect those of Muslim Matters.
      As Muslims we are taught to respect all people of the books. This means that we need to respect all Christians and all Jews. Now due to some political situations does that always happen the way it should, maybe not; but I can’t speak for every Muslim world wide, and Allah knows best.
      As for the suspicion of Muslims on non-muslims and non-Muslims on Muslims, I feel that it is a situation that has been created through propaganda. It is well documented that some Government agencies have violated civil rights by going into places of worship and placing agents and badgering Muslims. It used to be that local and federal agents had to wait till you left a place of worship to question you or arrest you. But if it is mosque it is okay to overlook that small right? Are they placing agents in Catholic churches?
      And let’s be honest, in the 90’s did you even know what a Muslim was? My biggest exposure to Muslims prior to joining the Military was Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan in the 13th Warrior. Even after joining the Military we always shared our ports here in America with ships from Turkey; and those guys always seemed nice enough, never paid it a thought that they were Muslim… they were just sailors like us!
      There has been a lot of damage done on both sides over the last decade, and the only way to start to repair this damage and begin the healing process is to have open conversations with each other about topics like this.

      • Mahmud

        June 3, 2014 at 5:11 PM

        “As Muslims we are taught to respect all people of the books. This means that we need to respect all Christians and all Jews.”

        I’m curious. Where are we taught this?

        • B.C. Dodge

          June 4, 2014 at 11:38 AM

          Mahmud, thanks for your question.
          There are at least 2 times in the Quran where Allah says:

          “Indeed, those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [2:62]

          “Indeed, those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Sabians and the Christians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [5:69]

          We are also told not turn our back on People of the Book

          “And do not send away those who call upon their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not upon you is anything of their account and not upon them is anything of your account. So were you to send them away, you would [then] be of the wrongdoers.” [6:52]

          • Mahmud

            June 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM

            Let me explain:


            Salman told the Prophet ﷺ about those Christians and what he had seen of their works, and he replied, “They did not die upon Islam.” Salman said, “The whole earth darkened around me,” and he recounted their spiritual rigors. Then this verse was revealed, so the Prophet ﷺ summoned Salman and told him, “This verse has been revealed about your companions.” Then he added, “Whoever dies upon the religion of Jesus and in submission [literally. “upon Islam”] before he hears of me is in goodly state. But whoever hears of me today and does not believe in me has perished,” (Tabari, 1.323).

            There are a number of ahadith on this, and I advice you to check it out.

            As Ibn Kathir explains:

            “`Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn `Abbas, about,

            ﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَـرَى وَالصَّـبِئِينَ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ﴾

            (Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day) that Allah revealed the following Ayah afterwards,

            ﴿وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلَـمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِى الاٌّخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَـسِرِينَ ﴾

            (And whoever seeks religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers) (3:85).

            This statement by Ibn `Abbas indicates that Allah does not accept any deed or work from anyone, unless it conforms to the Law of Muhammad that is, after Allah sent Muhammad . Before that, every person who followed the guidance of his own Prophet was on the correct path, following the correct guidance and was saved.”

            Therefore, as Allah and His Messenger have explained, Islam is the ONLY way to Paradise. 2:62 refers to the Jews and Christians BEFORE the final Messenger of Allah SAW.

            *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

          • Mahmud

            June 6, 2014 at 9:22 PM

            Do realize that as an-Nawawi RH explained, it’s kufr by consensus to not accept that the Jews, Christians and rest of the mushrikeen are disbelievers. I say this because I don’t want you and Call me Ismail to be disbelievers. We Muslims judge by what is apparent. I don’t mean to be harsh, and Aly, if you have a problem with my method go ahead and give me advice.

          • Aly Balagamwala

            June 7, 2014 at 3:36 AM


            As I have advised earlier also, harshness spoils dawah. I am not saying we should not talk about punishment and the Fire and the Wrath of Allah, I’m just saying that there is a way of conveying.

            On a general note, my teachers have taught me this:

            Condemn the action, not the one doing it. It is ok for the lay man to condemn an action as kufr based on the rule, but takfir (calling someone a kafir) is best left to the ulema.

            I also love how Shaykh Hussain Yee used the term not-yet-muslim. Even the worst of enemies of Islam (Khalid bin Waleed, Ikramah bin Abu Jahl) can turn towards Islam and be some of the best of muslims.

            Best Regards

            *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

          • Mahmud

            June 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM

            Ok, I meant currently because I don’t feel like I’m being very harsh at all.

            As for takfir, I couldn’t even come close to making it on this place and I wouldn’t. There is a wide level of excuses for ignorance in this deen for Muslim because someone might not know the truth because he didn’t have the evidences presented to him.

            What I am warning about is that it IS kufr to have the belief that kufr is also acceptable alongside Islam when it is not. Islam is the only way to Jannah. Now this is a consensus and a general statement. Like if I were to tell a Qadyani “I’m warning you, believing in another Prophet and the final Messenger SAW us kufr”

            As for Hussein Yee-you can love the man. I hardly know him but in any case, the Sahaba RA called the disbelievers disbelievers and they did not call them not yet Muslims. Therefore I think I’ll follow the ways of the most guided of humanity.

          • Mahmud

            June 11, 2014 at 12:30 AM

            Furthermore, where on earth is your proof 6:52 has anything to do with the people of the book?

        • The Salafi Feminist

          June 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

          Mahmud – you mean you weren’t taught basic adab towards *all* human beings? Oh dear.
          Here’s a suggestion – quick look at the seerah to check out how RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Sahabah dealt with non-Muslims. Shocker, you may discover that their interactions included honesty and basic respect and decency.

          • Mahmud

            June 11, 2014 at 12:23 AM

            Salafi-what a horrid thing to say. SubhanAllah. Keep your slander to yourself. I haven’t been dishonest or indecent to anyone.

          • Mahmud

            June 11, 2014 at 12:26 AM

            And my comment was towards specifics. It almost seemed like he was suggesting we were to be specifically respectful to Jews and Christians.

            Keep your attitude to yourself. Ironic that you lecture me about honesty, basic respect and decency and in the very same post fail in all three.

            *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  2. Bilk is

    June 2, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    SubhanAllah! So true!. I’m an immigrant from Africa and I like blending with Muslims from all over the globe. Unfortunately muslims from all over the globe do not see us as one umma and do not like mixing with muslim from another country. Years back my husband and I enrolled our 2 children to a private Islamic sectarian school in NY, and after just 2 years we transferred them to a public because of the segregation. Even to buy the school uniform, which you could only get from the school, was a problem. The majority group always get to know when uniforms became available and make their selections, by the time others like my children get to know about it, they’ve run out. From the beginning, we were only allowed to buy 2 uniforms per student, and those 2 were the only ones each of my children used for the 2 years. To register for summer camp was the same, “oh we are full, or registeration is closed” even though they just sent the flyers. After scoll activities was the same. When we got fed up with the discrimination, we transfered our children to a public school. Nobody from the school ask why we were transfering them. For myself, I registered in an Islamic school in NYC. I quit after 2 months because of the the same discrimination. The teacher and most of the students, maybe up to 95% of them, never knew my name. Nobody ever enquire about why I stopped coming. If you meet a sister with different skin color outside and you say the salam, she looks at you in a certain way. It’s a big shame to us, muslims. The message from the prophet’s last sermon means nothing to most of us, Muslims, I guess. As i always say, I continue to be a muslim because of islam, and not because of my fellow Muslims.

    • John Howard

      June 3, 2014 at 7:57 PM

      Just a follow up on your comments regarding placing of FBI agents in catholic churches. I would say that when the Catholics start preaching sedition against the USA and flying planes into buildings, planting bombs at marathons etc I would very much expect and demand that they do that. Here in the UK we have had a great deal of experience of mosques preaching violence and hate against the state and non muslims. The Finsbury Park mosque in London comes to mind with the “underpants bomber” as one their proud offspring. I keep hearing the scream about “civil rights” over here its called “human rights” well ask the families of the dead who were murdered by terrorist bombs in London Madrid Bali Mumbai Nairobi Nigeria and not forgetting New York what happened to their “civil/human rights” There is a lot of blood in the water I know the claim that hundreds of thousands of muslims have been killed with western help But be honest with yourself how many of those people have been murdered by their own fellow muslims? I can guarantee that for every civilian killed by Americans Brits and Australian etc a hundred have been killed by their own faith. As what started this discourse in the first place tribalism among muslims is still as integral to their psyche today as ever . You as a convert have seen it it the manner you have been treated. You live in a civilised country compared to the majority of muslims The veneer of civilised actions disappears very quickly as evidenced in the actions of these terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria Yemen and and Egypt. What ever you may think of western armies and policies our soldiers in the vast vast majority have behaved to the best in pretty diabolical situations. The fact that muslims here all over the west have been able to practice their religion work and collect benefits(a major thing here and in Europe) and have exactly the same rights and protection as other citizens says more about us non believers than you would have us believe I would suggest sir it says more about you

      • B.C. Dodge

        June 4, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        John, maybe I am wrong here but I feel like you are throwing a lot of things together to make generalized statements about groups of people.
        I would not argue the fact that the actions of a few have brought attention to the many.
        By your logic we should have Government agents in churches. There was the Spanish Inquisition, the Christian Crusades, and other acts of violence.
        We should also have agents spying full time on Germany, I mean after all didn’t they start 2 world wars, during one of which they tried to exterminate groups of people?
        (For clarification I say “groups of people” because they tried to exterminate Jews, special needs, people of African descent, and many other groups.)
        At the end of the day we can spend the next 200 years pointing fingers at each other and saying what about this and you did that, but that gets us no where.
        The conversation we should be having is what can we do to continue living together and helping those around us in need.
        We can sit here for the next few months saying what about this or what about that, but how does that help the bullied teen who is thinking about murder or suicide? How does that help the homeless person that hasn’t eaten in 2 days?
        What will help them is us talking about how we can come together to work past these issues and move on to real issues.

        • John Howard

          June 4, 2014 at 5:51 PM

          I am afraid that using historical events such as the inquisition and the crusades and even nazism as arguments is more than a little ludicrous For a start the christian acts were at hundreds of years ago and as for the vile nazis the US and Britain in the 30’s when this regime rose to power were in the midst of the Great Depression and for the most part were probably trying to manage their own countries without going into anothers problems. As my father often said to me at that time you were either a communist or a nazi (he was a red) such was the despair. The fact that both nations came out as they have gives great credit to both nations.
          What we are discussing is NOW not the past but NOW ! If muslim attitudes today are what they are how do we move on as you say. I am not a christian but to compare the raving fanatic of those eras to today’s christians is an extremely long bow don’t you think. Charity to our fellow man is not just a muslim trait it is common among all peoples it is a human trait no faith race or nation has that as a unique factor in their make up.

  3. Yasmin

    June 2, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    as salaam alaikum,

    I became Muslim while halfway through my bachelor’s degree in anthropology, and because people kept asking me questions (due to wearing hijab in public), I actually minored in Middle Eastern studies.

    Let me tell you, even when you have the correct answer to all these intrusive questions (why women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, what Iranians believe, what is jihad, etc) doesn’t mean people want to hear the right answer! Most of them just want you to support whatever beliefs they have, and even if you can site several sources to prove that your answer is the most accepted academic answer THEY ARE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE YOU.

    So yeah. I gave up trying to explain to people.

    • Call Me Ismail

      June 2, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      This reminds me of a Facebook post made by one of my friends yesterday: “There’s no point trying to explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.”

      It’s called “confirmation bias,” and it’s among the most prevalent of fallacies, arising as it does from a defense mechanism that seeks to prevent cognitive dissonance between what we’ve invested ourselves in believing and new information that conflicts with it.

      Is there a solution? I’m not sure, but if there is, it probably relies on the passing of time, generations and old, mistaken ways of thinking. And, yes, meanwhile we will all have to continue to explain ourselves anyway, and suffer intentional misunderstanding after deliberate misinterpretation after willful misprision until sheer attrition finally erodes popular resistance to reality.

      I am not sanguine (at least in anything resembling the short term), but I am resolute.

  4. Razan

    June 2, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Just a quick correction, please. The Prophet’s Sermon is incorrectly quoted from the unfortunately popular translation. The better translation simply reads:

    “O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam was from the ground. The noblest of you in Allah’s sight is the most godfearing: Arab has no merit over non-Arab other than godfearingness.”

    Thank you!

  5. haf

    June 2, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Salam alakyum. I would just like to say that one of my greatest wishes is to have Muslim converts as friends since the place I belong to has primarily seen cultural Islam where Muslims are just Muslims for the sake of it; Ieman has become something stagnant , cultural and unimportant, whereas the Ieman that is valuable is one that’s alive . Im sorry that such inspiring people have to face discrimination by ignorant us.

    • Call Me Ismail

      June 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Merely by saying this, you make it clear that you personally are not part of this problem. It is too bad that you feel you need to apologize for the behavior of others, which implies a sort of guilt by association.

      If only your welcome to converts were universal, it would be far less difficult to become a new Muslim, particularly one belonging to a cultural tradition outside of the Middle East. Islam, unlike some other faiths, is meant for all of us; let us erect no walls within it to keep away those who do not appear to be like us in some way, for surely that is not what Allah has in mind for our global umma.

    • B.C. Dodge

      June 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Haf, it is very true that “Cultural Islam” is a very big issue. Education and conversation are one of the only ways to address and correct that issue.

  6. John Howard

    June 2, 2014 at 5:22 PM

    Again your respondents confirm the internal racial profiling by muslims who consider they are the”superior” muslims. But again other than Mr Dodge’s reply to my comments regarding the other bear in the room regarding attitudes to kaffers ( a term I find rather offensive by the way) there is no recognition of the attitude towards us the non believers. Muslims still have a great disdain for us whether you agree or not it is the perception and perception is reality. The fact is muslims are a relatively new phenomenon in the west and unlike other immigrants have made no real attempt to integrate or adapt to their host countries. You may disagree but again that is the perception by the majority there as numerous polls have shown. If muslims are to ever be accepted or be seen as citizens and not as expatriates from their countries of origin there needs to be a very large change in attitude to the indigenous populations, their laws and their culture. Just remember muslims have come to the west because the west offers and will continue to offer for a long time yet the best opportunities to be free, safe and to have a good life for all . That is something that few if any muslim country can offer now or in the future. Finally just understand muslims need the west, the west does not necessarily muslims. That may sound harsh but it is reality

    • B.C. Dodge

      June 3, 2014 at 6:34 AM

      Can you define what a kaffer is, based on your understanding of the word?

      • John Howard

        June 3, 2014 at 6:52 AM

        The claim made by muslims is that it refers to non believers but having a wife who is South African the word “kafir” which is a very similar term in her country refers to black people and it is a very derogatory term on a par with that very offensive word “n*****”. So yes I do understand the meaning but many non muslims find the term as offensive especially when a piece of work called anjem choudhary in the UK sneeringly describes non believers as kaffers Just as the word gay has come to denote homosexuals kaffer has become a word to put down non muslims. I have said a number of times that perception is reality and that is happening here. You say you want to be treated equally in the west with everyone else then please don’t use such words as this

        • B.C. Dodge

          June 4, 2014 at 1:27 PM

          John I am truly sorry that your wife had those experiences.

          I will also say that I think we are on two different pages here…I had to look this up to confirm it, but in South Africa the word Kaffir has a totally different meaning, than what I read in the Quran. I am not sure the root of it or how it came to used this way, but it seems that the word is applied to black people in a derogatory way. So I could understand how you and other people could be offended by the word Kaffir.

          As for the use of that word towards non Muslims, I will say that I have always been taught that we shouldn’t use the word Kafir because we don’t know what is in that person’s heart, and judgment belongs to Allah alone, and no one else. Now some Muslims might argue with me, and that is fine. But until you sit with every person and ask them Have you read the Quran? What knowledge of Islam do you have? Did you get that knowledge from some place else besides CNN or Fox News? Then we can’t say what is in your heart.

      • Mahmud

        June 3, 2014 at 5:18 PM

        I’ll define it-a kaffir is a non-believer who rejects Islam after it came to him. Some disbelievers are open disbelievers, others claim to be Muslim but they can be labeled kuffar and others yet are hypocrites and are capable of hiding their disbelief.

        Some kaffirs know Islam is the truth and still reject it, other kaffirs are deluded into thinking Islam is wrong and so they reject it.

        There are numerous darknesses but there is only one light.

        John, we absolutely, 100%, unequivocally do NOT need you. Your ways are inferior to the ways of the earliest Muslims and a kaffir and Muslim are certainly not the same. One cannot compare someone who will remain in a torture chamber forever to one who will sooner or later enter the lush gardens of Paradise.

        That may sound harsh but it is the reality. Do enter Islam so you can avoid such a horrific, humiliating fate. The day when you won’t even be begging for a visa to Jannah, you’ll be begging the the Muslims for any provision or just for water to be poured down-

        وَنَادَىٰ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ أَنْ أَفِيضُوا عَلَيْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ أَوْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ حَرَّمَهُمَا عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ

        -And the companions of the Fire will call to the companions of Paradise, “Pour upon us some water or from whatever Allah has provided you.” They will say, “Indeed, Allah has forbidden them both to the disbelievers.”

        Don’t come begging when it’s too late.

        • B.C. Dodge

          June 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM


          Let me start by saying that we have to play nice. You read my reply above where I quoted:

          “And do not send away those who call upon their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not upon you is anything of their account and not upon them is anything of your account. So were you to send them away, you would [then] be of the wrongdoers.” [6:52]

          So we can’t say things like “we absolutely, 100%, unequivocally do NOT need you.” You don’t know Allah’s plan for John, or me, or even for yourself; you don’t know John’s religious views. Only Allah knows.

          You said “a kaffir is a non-believer who rejects Islam after it came to him,” we don’t know what he has read or what he has been exposed to. Maybe, much like me 20 years ago, his only exposure to Islam is Sky/Fox News. Which as everyone knows always shines a positive light on all Muslims! And if we go around telling people accept Islam or burn in Hell, how does that set us apart from other groups that do the same thing? It doesn’t, yet I would guess you feel the right to complain about them; I could be wrong. However, I think that is fair assumption.

          Lastly, you can’t decide who is going to Hell and who isn’t. That is all on Allah. He is the Judgment.

          “Indeed, those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [2:62]

          I feel compelled to say my mom always taught me 2 things in life (well more than that, but 2 that come to mind here) “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

          Why don’t we start a dialogue with people that rather than condemn them? Start with something like “What level of Islam do you have? What have you personally read in regards to the Quran or Hadith? What are your current religious views?” I would bet that would work better, and create a teaching moment, as opposed to you’re going to Hell.

        • John Howard

          June 4, 2014 at 6:12 PM

          Mahmud has just given absolute justification to why non believers should have a great distrust of muslims. Mr Dodge spoke of the crusades and the inquisition well I would put Mahmud’s comments along side those fanatics of yesteryear. It is this fanatical belief to the extreme that repulses so many people who may believe either in a god or no god. You have no understanding of others beliefs and have no respect for those beliefs and mahmud in my eyes that makes you a fanatic.
          My statement about muslims re the west is absolute 100% fact (your term) Your religion has migrated to the west with your people who have come because their own nations have such a terrible history of repression and standards You have come because the west offers you hope and freedom My comments were in that context By your statement you seem to reject us but you would still want what we have I would suggest then that you return or go to a muslim dominated society if you are as Mr Dodge a convert then go and try to help them see the “light” that has made the west such an alluring place for tens of millions of muslims.
          People like Mahmud are what we see almost daily in out streets demanding more and more muslim “freedoms and rights” at the expense of their hosts. Muslim areas Sharia law, no go areas for non muslims even as extreme as forced marriages and honour killings by some fanatics – not all but some This is the 21st century perhaps the quaran should start to reflect that because until then the suspicion and fear by non muslims will continue to escalate.
          What we are seeing now in the arab world could happen here if that is the case That is an extreme extension you may think but here ine Britain and Europe the right is growing and it is now more than 25% of the population who have those views who openly state them let alone those who quietly acquiesce the same. Do the maths 50 million muslims in a population of 600 million Those are not very good odds. I have faith Europe will not go down that path but if Mahmud’s views become the standard for muslims then I am not sure what the future will be. It is not a pleasant thing to think about.

          • Dr. C

            June 5, 2014 at 6:22 PM

            Mr. Howard, I can assure you that you will have a better understanding of Islam and its peaceful teaching if you read the Quran with an open mind. Also, make sure your read the entire Quran with explanations to understand the context of the revealed verses. There’s a reason why so many people like Doge are converting; they are inspired by the Quran and its teaching, they are not judging the entire religion based on the action of its imperfect followers.
            Dr. C

        • Call Me Ismail

          June 5, 2014 at 9:11 PM

          I am a Muslim myself, but I will not be so arrogant as to say, “Follow the same path as I, or spend eternity in the Fire.”

          Allah is great–far greater than perhaps we give credit for. He manifests in perhaps as many forms as there are believers, depending upon the tradition in which they were raised: He may present himself as Jesus to Christians, as Buddha Gautama to Buddhists, as Hanuman and Ganesh to Hindus, as Bridget and Cernunnos to Wiccans: whatever form will best communicate his message.

          Ultimately I think all of these manifestations resolve to one entity: one God who can wear whatever face the believer will best acknowledge.

          I respect every path to Allah–as long as it is a good path. And what determines a good path?

          As with Allah, all things ultimately resolve to one. There is a single moral principle from which all others flow, and it is Reciprocity. In its clearest form–the one presented by Confucius around 500 BCE–it is no more than this: “What you do not want done to you, do not do to others.” Remember only this, and I think you need fear no judgment, and for you the afterlife should hold no terrors. In one form or another, this is a foundational ethic of every religion I named, and many more that I have not.

          (But make no mistake: Genuinely to live by this principle demands an almost superhuman effort. One must rededicate oneself to it every day, and even then one will slip. But Allah’s mercy is infinite; an honest and consistent effort, founded on meritorious rather than meretricious intentions, will suffice for deliverance from Jahannam.)

          Does this imply that one ought to show no gratitude to him who ordained the universe? Far from it. Whether one be rewarded for it or not should not be the question; gratitude is right because it is right. Therefore pray and praise, and have faith; for Allah provides.

          • Mahmud

            June 11, 2014 at 12:29 AM

            Islam is the only way to Paradise. Learn Islam.

      • Jeremy Boulter

        March 1, 2016 at 10:17 AM

        Mahmud, and anyone else who is interested. There is a relationship between the word “kaffir” and the word “cover” or even “coffer”. In fact, there may be an etymological connection, even though in the dictionary it is traced back to kophinos (Greek for a closed basket) through the French word “coffre”. The fact that the Franks were in direct contact with the Moors in Andalus (Andalucia) and were those who comprised the majority of Crusaders (and were therefore in direct contact with Arabs and Turks in the Middle East from the earliest times) means it is quite possible the word is derived from Arabic during the dark ages, rather than from Greek through Latin during the Renascence). On the other hand, “coffin” is clearly connected to the Greek, and has a much clearer lineage than “coffer”. “Coffre” actually is related to “couvre”, which has a variety of meanings including cover ; cover up ; protect ; fence off ; fence in ; lock up ; arch over ; roof in ; conceal ; mask ; mantle ; camouflage ; blur ; wrap ; envelop ; veil ; shroud ; swathe ; package ; pack ; wrap up ; bale ; crate ; board ; blind ; armour ; armor. In Arabic, V and F are the same letter. There is no separate sign for either sound, and Arabs have difficulty in recognizing the difference between the voiced and unvoiced versions of the consonant (same problem with B and P). So Cfr and Cvr are essentially the same word. KFR shares many of these connotations. In the Quran, those who disbelieve are compared to herd animals who are def, dumb and blind to the signs (verses) of the Quran. It makes do difference if you tell them or do not tell them, they will not hear. On their hearts is a wrapping. (KFR)
        A disbeliever is one who will not believe (wills not to believe) because their hearts are covered. The true repentant believer has a heart that is white and pure, but each time a person sins (and in hadeeth, the prophet said that a sinner, while he is sinning, is disbelieving) a black patch covers a portion of the heart. Repentance (turning back to belief) cleans the heart. But persistence in disbelief adds black patches until the heart is entirely encased. At this point, it is armoured against the Truth, and rejects any signs contrary to its disbelief. Thus, Kufr is the state of being entirely armoured against belief. The heart is in a locked box, a box only Allah can penetrate if there is any redemption left inside.
        To say kufr means disbelief hides the fact that every one of the Sahaba, except maybe those who were hanif before the advent of revelation (like the Prophet himself, his father, Abu Bakr, and a few others) were mislead, and infected with kufr. I was infected with kufr before embracing Islam. Mr. Dodge was. Perhaps many Muslims who scoff at pious Muslims are (how many Muslims who, when teenagers, disregarded their religion and only in their twenties “found” religion again? How many Muslims don’t pray, never go to the Masjid, even watch their mothers or fathers pray and are not motivated to follow suit, and carry that through to their adulthood? They are “Muslim” in name, but not in fact. How many nominally Christian worshippers see beyond Jesus to the higher power and address their pleas to God, just as Jesus did? Are they not better than the Muslim who rejects faith. Does not the wrapping on their hearts have gaping gaps? Can you call them Kaffirs? In the Quran, Qasas 28:52-55, Allah talks of those people of the book who, when they hear the Quran recited (and I bear witness, even if it is recited in a language other than Arabic) believe in it and say, “Surely this is from our Lord. We believe in it, and why should we not believe int it? Even before we hearing it we were MUSLIMS.”
        These will be rewarded twice because they gave in Charity, and when people spoke slander and vice, they turned away, saying, “Peace be upon you. We are not from the ignorant.”
        These are people who never made the Shahada, or Shahadatayn. Yet they were Muslims. A believer needs to believe in two things, down the ages: God (Allah) – there is nothing that He shares our worship of Him with, and the Day that he will resurrect us and call us to account for what we did in this world. Those who believe will have no fear. Those who pretend to believe and shout “Kaffir” at anyone who is not of his or her own cult (read madhab or non-Muslim or, from the point of view of the jury of the congregation Mr. Dodge faced down in his trial, Mohammedan or non-Christian) because they do not ant their own hearts to be examined too closely, those are the ones who fear death and love life and themselves more than others (do not give in charity) or their Prophet (and therefore obey him).
        Kaffir is a loaded word, and one should be careful how you use it. Even the Prophet, who knew the kufr of the hypocrites, did not raise his hand against them as they prayed with the congregation, their recital of the Quran only a bleating from their lips.

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  8. Aly Balagamwala

    June 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    “It ain’t easy being green.” – Kermit The Frog

  9. Happy

    June 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum,
    Really interesting article. It was especially eye-opening when you gave the example of a couple walking in a mall. This reminded me of a friend’s experience. She was married to a revert who during masjid social events, would often prefer to eat inside his car because of the amount of questions and looks he’d get. She also had a lot of ‘explaining’ to do since some people wanted to know if he was a ‘real’ Muslim.

  10. Aly Balagamwala

    June 6, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Dear John, Mahmud & Carl

    The conversation going on here could go on indefinitely between you.

    John has a valid point on the attitude of Muslims towards others in society, and Carl is trying to say that a softer approach would be better in showing not-yet-Muslims the way to Islam.

    Our brother Mahmud, has valid points on the topic (though his way seems a bit harsh to us all).

    I would like to redirect all to opinion of a scholar Dr Yasir Qadhi instead of giving my opinion.

    Please consider this thread closed for further comments from the Comments Team.

    Best Regards

  11. Bibi

    June 10, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Salaam. Having been born and raised as a muslim, I am also perplexed by the treatment of Muslims to each other. Maybe I am naive, but I feel there are so much judgement among us. Worse is how some sisters feel they are at a higher level since they are more conservatively dressed. And the shocker is the horrible words out of their mouths. May Allah guide us to be more respectful and kind to each other.

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