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
I 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
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.