Connect with us

Family and Community

7 Things I Didn’t Expect When I Converted to Islam

Guests
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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.

 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

132 Comments

132 Comments

  1. Avatar

    June

    June 16, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    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!

    • Avatar

      Shahma

      June 24, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      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.

      • Avatar

        cheryl

        October 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM

        Asalam alaikum! shahma y are we called reverts????

      • Avatar

        Chris

        June 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM

        Cheryl, you are a revert because faith in Allah is the natural state of all humans.

    • Avatar

      Chris

      June 16, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      no offense, but I’m pretty sure June is a VERY un-Islamic name.

      Juno was the wife of Jupiter, Queen of the Gods, and matriarch of the Roman pantheon.

      It’s a pagan name.

      • Avatar

        Danielle

        July 6, 2015 at 1:43 PM

        I don’t mean this comment to be rude but before someone gives a ruling on a name being pagan they should look at all sides. June may have come from Juno which Juno is pagan as you said. However, June also has a Latin meaning which is: young. So even if the original form was pagan the name isn’t the exact same and the Latin version has a completely different meaning. So to still rule the name unislamic a true knowledgeable Islamic scholar should be consulted before giving a fatwa on someones name if its not clear cut.

      • Avatar

        Mohammed

        July 17, 2015 at 4:05 AM

        It doesn’t really matter, it’s mostly the Sahaba who had names like “worshiper of ‘an idol'” are the ones who changed their names. (I remember one who’s name translates to ‘meat’)

      • Avatar

        Aissame

        July 19, 2015 at 5:46 PM

        So proud of you sisters :)

      • Avatar

        Ismael Mustafa Abdullah

        May 20, 2016 at 4:06 AM

        June is the name of a planet and that is it. You are the one creating a whole fantasy behind it brother. Take it easy.

    • Avatar

      Samina

      August 18, 2016 at 12:24 PM

      Assalam o Alaikum!
      I am in search of women who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
      I would be really grateful if you respond me.

      My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

      Best regards
      Samina

      • Avatar

        Amy

        September 8, 2016 at 8:58 PM

        Do you have specific questions sister Samina? I converted to Islam a little over a year ago and am happy to answer any questions you may have.

      • Avatar

        Sabine

        September 22, 2016 at 5:33 AM

        Hi i converted 2 years ago. it was the best decisions of my Life. my Life Changed much . the reason i converted was that i felt empty. i liked the waY of Life from Islam but i didnt understand nothing from it. i knew i wanted be Part of this Great Religion and i was curious about the Love to Allah. i was grown up in a Christian Family. very strict. i converted without telling my Family. They dont and didnt accept that i converted but Till the Day of converting I wanted to do things right for anybody. Converting was the First decisions in my life i took for myself. I think converting was One of the less things in Life i will never regret. I felt so different. the feeling when i felt Allah loved me was overhelming. Of course its difficult to understand some things but the Love God gives me makes me strong and i try my best to be a good muslima. I m Human, i make mistakes but iAllah Shows me All time his greatness and his kindness and he is Patient with me. I know i have to learn much again about Islam and being a good muslima but inshallah he will Guide me.

    • Avatar

      maimuna

      November 4, 2016 at 1:15 PM

      good sister mashaalah

    • Avatar

      Nuher

      November 13, 2016 at 10:59 AM

      I am a Muslim, who born Muslim. I believe covering my hair is a custom is a traditional custom in Middle East for both men and women even before Islam. The main goal is not to being attractive to a void getting harm from sick people. the other goal is to feel the purity inside of you. I don’t cover my hair, because there is no single word in Quran said I have to. I have to cover my hair when I am praying, but other that praying time I do it once in a while when I want to feel purity. when I am very sad and want to clear my heart, I put a simple plain shawl to clear my mind to feel I am closer to Allah. I don’t do hair style, I don’t use hair products and I look beautiful, without attraction. Since I don’t force people to look at me and grab their attention then I meet the goal. Yes, I don’t cover my hair because its custom, I do it only when I feel I need it. Honestly I don’t care if people see me beautiful or not, I know who I am, and I know my beauty. I have a self confidence., therefore, the only person who I choose and allow to see my beauty is my husband who adore me, because he worth it. if you look in the Middle East there are many women like me, they are Muslim who believes in Allah and follow his commands.

  2. Avatar

    umm habiba

    June 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    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

  3. Avatar

    Hyde

    June 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    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*

    • Avatar

      Danielle

      July 6, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      If you were about to make such a sarcastic comment about another convert story why bother reading her blog if muslim converts bother you so much? It seems there’s always at least one person who has to find especially muslim blogs or articles and has to troll it. If Islam offends you so much then perhaps you get your views from what the news only shows or anti-islamic websites. Why don’t you go straight to the source or a real islamic website before you judge someone else’s choice of faith. Salam alaikum.

      • Avatar

        Tmitc868

        November 19, 2016 at 12:21 PM

        Not liking Islam does not instantly mean you are ill informed. There’s are millions of people in The Who are not fans and have good reason. Perhaps it’s your gang mentalities? Idk. But as Christians and the best of people, we will welcome you to our lands for refuge. And pray for your guidance to happiness

  4. Avatar

    calwalks

    June 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I agree with point 1 wholeheartedly. I had an amazing experience of being a Muslim in Shanghai recently and I couldn’t help but write about it. You may read it here – http://serioustravelfrivolouslife.blogspot.in/2011/09/day-being-muslim-made-me-prouds.html

    • Avatar

      benson

      January 17, 2015 at 5:59 AM

      thank u . may Allah grant u janna coz i also converted to muslim after 26 years in complete ignorance just being deceived by Christians. Thank u Allah.

      • Avatar

        lina

        May 20, 2015 at 4:49 PM

        And how sure are you that you weren’t deceived this time?

      • Avatar

        Angela

        October 31, 2015 at 10:40 PM

        Hello sisters I’m a new convert as well I’m 42 and I want to thank u for your post u have wrote I felt the same way lied to all my life from the Christians thank u Allah peace be among u thank u for showing me the way to the light from utter darkness peace be with u sisters as well but before I go how do I go about receiving a new name? I had no idea of that

    • Avatar

      zun

      August 3, 2015 at 12:59 PM

      Your story makes me prouder to be a Muslim….

  5. Avatar

    tarikur

    June 16, 2014 at 11:29 AM

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

    • Avatar

      Hyde

      June 16, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      Do you want a medal ? A cupcake ? For being an ex-Muslim ? Or is that moniker used to issue a view point ? Was the ‘religion of peace’ not your cup of tea ? Good, Islam isn’t for every one and these days people go through religions like changing clothes. Enjoy your liberation.

      • Avatar

        tarikur

        June 16, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        I want to leave Islam in peace and that’s why all I want. No medal necessary. As of now, none of the my family members and friends know that I left Islam. If they knew, they will disown me and thus I have to live lonely and isolated life. Worst case scenario, they would kill me. According Quran and Hadith interpretations my most Muslim scholars, Muslim suppose to kill anyone that leave Islam. You can enter Islam but you can not leave Islam. Other words, Muslims would cry foul if countries prevent their citizens from accepting Islam but those same Muslim remain silent or encourage killing of ex-Muslim.

        So congrats to the new converts, you entered one way to Islam. Never leave Islam or you will be killed.

        I am an ex-Muslim and check out my sub-reddit (IslamicNewsAwareness) where I document Muslim world problem by collecting everyday news)

        • Avatar

          Noori Italian

          June 16, 2014 at 2:05 PM

          @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

          • Avatar

            Hyde

            June 16, 2014 at 2:25 PM

            Nicely said sister. Thanks!

        • Avatar

          Hyde

          June 16, 2014 at 2:21 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            June

            June 16, 2014 at 4:38 PM

            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.

          • Avatar

            Hyde

            June 17, 2014 at 9:36 AM

            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.

          • Avatar

            Mahmud

            June 17, 2014 at 3:14 PM

            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.

        • Avatar

          M

          June 16, 2014 at 2:32 PM

          @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.

          • Avatar

            Hyde

            June 16, 2014 at 3:01 PM

            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.

          • Avatar

            tarikur

            June 16, 2014 at 3:01 PM

            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.”

          • Avatar

            M

            June 16, 2014 at 4:27 PM

            @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.

        • Avatar

          June

          June 16, 2014 at 4:04 PM

          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.

          • Avatar

            chicagomc

            June 20, 2014 at 1:16 AM

            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.

      • Avatar

        shariff

        November 28, 2014 at 11:07 PM

        @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.

      • Avatar

        pas

        March 6, 2015 at 11:40 AM

        Wait, one person says that the Qur’an is the literal word Allah, but then we are asked to put certain texts into context as they were written when leaving Islam meant leaving the tribe. So does that mean Allah changed his mind, or is it possible that the Qur’an was written by insecure men who wanted to use religion to secure their positions of power?

        The institution of religion is dangerous, regardless of the brand. Religious texts were written so long ago, reconciling religion with logic is nearly impossible if you seek a literal connection to the texts. This makes doubt a harsh reality, and when people leave a religion it has a tendency to reinforce the doubts everybody else holds.

        All three of the Western monotheologies include some provision for killing non-believers and apostates. It just so happens that Islam is practiced by a higher percentage of under educated fundamentalists than other religions. Believe me, you’ve got some orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians who make the clowns who sign up with ISIS look reasonable. It’s just that the mainstream branches of those religions have distanced themselves from those violent religious texts to a greater degree than Islam has.

      • Avatar

        Kridtine

        February 19, 2016 at 12:47 AM

        Why are you s ok ding her? This is her choice just like it is your choice to stay Muslim or believing islam is for you? This is why I am leaving islam, because of ignorance by people like you and such strictness .islam is not for everyone

      • Avatar

        Tmitc868

        November 19, 2016 at 12:25 PM

        Is this Islam? Your cruelty is astounding. Typical Muslims. Only nice when people are with your gang. But want acceptance from everyone else

    • Avatar

      June

      June 18, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      “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.

      • Avatar

        moh

        March 5, 2015 at 3:56 PM

        Sorry to say I felt he was never a Muslim Allah knows best

      • Avatar

        Muhammed

        June 27, 2015 at 11:39 AM

        @Tariku let me give you an example of how you see Islam in your view.

        3 blinds men heard that Elephant is the biggest animal in the earth and they wanted to know about it, they have been approach by an Elephant, the First one touch his noice and said the Elephan is like Hoose or a pipe the second one touch his leg and said it looks like a Barrel the third one touch his hears and said it is like soft cloths, that is there view of an Elephant but the reality isn’t like that.

        This is telling you don’t look islam in a very small issues but look how it helps to build societe and brought so many success to the societe. Muslim world was the cause of development of Western world.

        You have the right to choise which religion you want but at the end one will lead you to the right path.

      • Avatar

        sunny

        December 3, 2016 at 6:29 AM

        If were u june I just live my life and ingoner this people.be happy with u life:)

    • Avatar

      Ahmed

      March 24, 2015 at 5:34 PM

      What about Non Muslims ? I’ve heard Muslims despise people of other faith.

      • Avatar

        Sakinah

        August 8, 2015 at 4:20 PM

        We are taught to respect and have compassion for all mankind. If you follow the news, you’ll have seen Muslims come out together on more than one occasion with the Christian and Jewish/non-Muslim community to show solidarity. There are also numerous interfaith groups in existence nationally and internationally involving Muslims. What I have learned is that Islam teaches us to practice neighborliness, contribute to our community and show compassion to non-Muslims, EVEN if they do not do the same. Of course I will respectfully disagree with the beliefs of a Christian for example but with respect. In the time of the Prophet (saw) Christians and Jews practiced their own religions freely and were not under threat of harm or compulsion to convert. They shared a place of worship for a time. The Prophet (saw) did not despise or order harm to non-Muslims who degraded and injured him. In fact, he treated these non-Muslims with such politeness and respect that some were in awe of the faith that created his manners, eventually converting to Islam themselves. subhanallah. Just because SOME people who are Muslim act as though they despise non-Muslims, does not make this the teaching of Islam. Please study up on history and verify what you hear and see. God willing, you’ll find out the truth about interfaith relations and Islam. And God knows best. Peace!

      • Avatar

        Amber Sani

        August 19, 2016 at 12:51 AM

        No.. U heard it wrong.. Muslims love everybody.. Though there are exceptions in every society.. Islam teaches us to love every man kind without creating differences among muslims and non muslims.. Never ever judge islam by muslims.. Coz ISLAM is perfect muslims are not.. ???

    • Avatar

      Muslim

      April 30, 2015 at 6:41 PM

      Muslims don’t kill people. Killing is Haram(prohibited) in Islam. Your written things can stop people from becoming Muslim, you wrote white lies.Islam is a religion of Love and respect. it’s true that Islam is not for everyone because Allah stamped the hearts of many Non-Muslims

      • Avatar

        Jurgen

        November 17, 2015 at 6:38 AM

        Assalamualaikum about tarikur he maybe lost hidayah from Allah or misguiding

      • Avatar

        Amber Sani

        August 19, 2016 at 12:53 AM

        Yeah i totally agree.. Islam is the most perfect religion ever.. Who always guides us to love all muslims and non muslims even.. ?

    • Avatar

      Ammar

      November 30, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      Nah bro. You can stay or leave. I left Islam for like 5 years. I even changed my name to let people know that I left Islam. My family didn’t even verbally hurt me. And my father was an imam in my community. I left home for work and lived outside. Then I reverted back to Islam. Loneliness can teach you a lot. You see, there is no punishment for leaving Islam. Death penalty and such don’t exist in quran. Inventions!
      In fact, Allah says in quran you can leave if you want.
      2:256 – “La ikrau fiddeen”…..”” – There is no compulsion in religion
      http://quran.com/2/256

      And remember this is not just my case, I have few friends from India and Pakistan who left islam and reverted. The same story.

      • Avatar

        Zonaid

        February 4, 2016 at 8:45 PM

        Ammar I am glad you came back to the world of heavenly means,the world of allah p.s where are you from I am from Bangladesh but if you would like to communicate in other means I will be glad to I can speak Bengali Hindi Urdu and Arabic and English.

    • Avatar

      Tristan

      August 15, 2016 at 8:46 AM

      Tarikur, you are clearly a brave and honest man… I have many Muslim friends and acquaintances I’m fond of, and there are many good things promoted in Islam, along with the many lines of immature drivel one reads in the Quran and Hadith — we won’t argue about it, when one can just read thru it all and ask if a 14-year-old could have written better&self-consistently(&truer).

      The problem is that Muhammad (pbuh&e) built a heartspace and spirit that is most fundamentally based on an internal sense of power&structure, and kindness&love is secondary, instead of the other way around. The Abrahamic faiths also make Allah/God/Spirit seem “external to a large extent” instead of deep inside at our essence.

      The many moderates and nuanced thinkers in Islam are a blessing that keeps the religion from veering hopelessly towards inner power and the dark side. But ultimately, we are all together in this universe and so let’s gradually break free of religious mindtraps that our egos and insecurities so naturally feed on, and go forward together gently and kindly & in the honest and peaceful way in which you have done.

      Sadly for many of us, we feel bound to the paradigm of the Overlord God that our parents and community put in us, while the Source of Love, Kindness and Light that is at the heart of us all is so much forgotten. No matter what theology is laying claim on our minds, we can get down to what is real: living with a warm heart towards ourselves and everyone…

      • Avatar

        Tristan

        August 15, 2016 at 9:06 AM

        Truly hoping that my attempt to express sincerely wasn’t taken as condescending on anyone, because I don’t want to put up any barriers that needs to be attacked and brought down… I also feel deeply for those who rightly felt lied to by their original religious community and are seeking a home, whatever seems the best for the sense of belonging. What I’d like to add is that we live too much in reaction to ideas we are sold…

        When I was religious, a few non-believers stunned me with how big-hearted and genuine they were: they weren’t following any formula and one felt no barrier in their warmth&kindness… to all readers, I don’t know how few utterly genuine&kind people you’ve come across in your life, but please discover in yourself their secret, that goes so much deeper than any beliefs. May I replace the words “God/Allah/Spirit” with who is Real, not a set of religious/faith constructs, and let’s grow together guided by the Real Who… who fosters not personal ill-feeling/arguments, but joy&beauty? No more worrying about heaven if it extends to us already, and all it takes is some “quietspace” to see it…

      • Avatar

        Ana Maria Pardo

        November 27, 2016 at 1:18 PM

        Hello Tristan, I am not a Muslim nor looking to be, I am simply searching for Muslims with your understanding and where are they? Why is your voice not being heard meanwhile extremism is gaining so much force. My best friend is convinced Islam is evil and Allah is not the same God Christians worship. There is so much out there regarding the atrocities condoned under sharia law. Pakistan is a bed for extremist and so is northern Africa. What is going on? I feel good Muslims are simply silent by standers that look the other way instead of taking charge and fighting against all these atrocities done in the name of Islam. Can you direct me to credible resource of Progressive Muslims fighting earnestly against this dogmatic and hateful form of Islam. No, I am not going to go read the Koran or certain specific sura. I’m looking for credible news sources that actively post Muslims who are taking a stand against issues like child marriages, raping and beating your wife, honor killings, and the like. Imams actively speaking to the community and addressing these issues and making it known it will not be tolerated and that such actions are crimes and evil and deserving of the most severe punishment by Allah as well as those in authority here on earth.

  6. Avatar

    iffat sharif

    June 16, 2014 at 1:16 PM

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

  7. Avatar

    Noori Italian

    June 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    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!!!

    • Avatar

      Samina

      August 18, 2016 at 12:37 PM

      Assalam o Alaikum!
      I am in search of women who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
      I would be really grateful if you respond me.

      My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

      I hope you can help.

      Best regards
      Samina

  8. Pingback: 7 Things I Didn’t Expect When I Converted to Islam – MuslimMatters | Love and Blame

    • Avatar

      goodmuslim

      July 9, 2016 at 2:38 PM

      if get divorced with your ex huppy can you marry me

  9. Avatar

    Miss HaychEm

    June 16, 2014 at 9:09 PM

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

  10. Avatar

    Abu Asiyah

    June 17, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    #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

    • Avatar

      Samina

      August 18, 2016 at 12:35 PM

      Assalam o Alaikum!
      I am in search of people who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
      I would be really grateful if you respond me.

      My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

      Best regards
      Samina

  11. Avatar

    sam

    June 17, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    Good for you. keep it up.

  12. Avatar

    Gregory Pratt

    June 17, 2014 at 1:48 AM

    Did you expect that Islam would have a week like it just did? Tough to top, but I think that the Religion of Peace may just put its last 7 days’ labor to shame, someday soon.

    • Avatar

      Salmaan

      June 17, 2014 at 5:02 AM

      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.

      • Avatar

        mg

        June 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

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

  13. Pingback: 7 Things I Didn't Expect When I Converted to Islam | MuslimMatters.org | Follow the quran

    • Avatar

      Ron

      October 18, 2016 at 8:06 PM

      Is the name “Ronald” ok? It means mighty ruler , I think.
      I feel it may be because there is only one ruler..Allah

  14. Avatar

    Narayan Narasimhan

    June 17, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    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)?

    • Avatar

      choomm

      November 23, 2014 at 3:00 AM

      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. ..

    • Avatar

      Abu Ahzab

      March 4, 2015 at 6:19 AM

      Dear Narayana Narasimhan,
      To me a Religion should help people to respect others (humanity), and the whole planet in general.
      >>> What you need to realize is, respecting other human beings irrespective of their race, caste, religion is great teachings of many religions, though not all. And Islam is certainly one among them, neither hinduism, nor christianity can claim that specifically because, they don’t even their fellow colleagues to visit the place worship. You have Churches for the Black and Temples for the high caste.

      Secondly, respecting humanity as a whole is one of the many traits one religion should have it’s not the end in itself. A religion must address issues a human being face in this world and provide solutions to it.

  15. Avatar

    Halima

    June 17, 2014 at 9:56 PM

    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. :)

    • Avatar

      Halima

      June 17, 2014 at 9:58 PM

      Whoops. I meant number 7. :P

  16. Avatar

    Tony James

    June 18, 2014 at 2:29 AM

    All this is about the belief in imaginary invisible beings thought up by people in ancient times. Can it be true that people argue over which imaginary man is the best one? It’s absolutely incredible that these people then figure out ways to justify the killing of others that don’t believe in their imaginary overlord. They then believe that the imaginary man will love them and reward them for killing the creatures that this imaginary being created in the first place. It’s incredible because if you’re going to invent a way of life, at least invent one that makes some kind of sense.

    • Avatar

      Zonaid

      February 4, 2016 at 8:49 PM

      Tony I understand you are probably an atheist and I respect that but please do not shape our religion in to imaginary beings, we believe in our own religion and are welcom to share it but please do not share around hate.

      • Avatar

        Tmitc868

        November 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM

        If you can share your beliefs, why can he not share his?

  17. Pingback: Minaret of Freedom Weblog » (6/18/14) News and Analysis

  18. Avatar

    Susa

    June 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    LOOOVE this post!

  19. Avatar

    Shahma

    June 24, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    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.

  20. Avatar

    Muhammad

    August 14, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    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.

  21. Avatar

    Ummer Farooq

    August 27, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Qur’an 2:165.

  22. Avatar

    luke

    February 24, 2015 at 12:34 AM

    Have you actually read the Koran and hadith? If so why on earth did you convert to Islam?

    • Avatar

      moh

      March 5, 2015 at 4:04 PM

      Pray to Allah,Elohim,God,Dieu,Dius,Buh,Gott etc. by whatever name you know Him.
      Pray to your Creator, the Creator of the Universe and everything in it and in-between with sincerity ask Him to Guide You In Your Heart and in Your Mind to The Religion Of Truth and to make you pleased with it and you will find if you are sincere
      He will answer your Prayer and you will find the religion of truth enters your heart.

      So don’t trust me—trust Our Creator. Read the Quran, read books and study good websites. But whatever you do, get started, take it seriously, and Pray For Our Creator To Guide You.
      Your Life May Not Depend On It, But Your Soul Most Definitely Does.

      If you are among those who sincerely Seek For The One True God, please read, Contemplate And Ponder Upon The Authentic Words Of Allah. Let the following very enlightening concrete proofs from the Qur’an open your heart and mind to accept Allah as the Only True God who Alone deserves our sincere worship:

      Read The Last & Final Testament Of God The Quran On Line With An Open Mind

      Read about Jesus(Peace be upon him) Quran Chapter 3:33-84 Chapter 5:72-78 and Chapter 19 Surah Maryam

      http://dar-us-salam.com/TheNobleQuran/index.html
      http://www.islamhouse.com/344410/en/en/videos/Christ_in_Islam

      Read on line Books( Islam, Muhammad, Jesus, Mary etc.)
      http://www.islamhouse.com/pg/9661/books/1

  23. Avatar

    Kelly

    March 30, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    Philip I pray you get confident enough in your faith to not have to rely on bigoted websites to get information about Islam or Mohammed. I have Qur’an study every Sunday with a nun in attendance who quite gracefully sees the beauty in Islam, the similarities in the religion, and is capable of not harboring the disgusting feelings you harbor. I pray you reach this level of maturity in your faith so as to fairly assess other religions, to be able to have respectful dialog about other religions without resorting to name-calling & bashing regurgitating right-wing paranoid statements.

  24. Avatar

    Muslim

    April 3, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    I agree. Although I am a sinner, but the connection and love I feel immediately for a Muslim is indescribable! It’s like I can immeidately bond and trust them and I know exactly what they believe.

    • Avatar

      sjaak

      April 13, 2015 at 5:48 AM

      I feel very connected to other human beings as well. Are you saying you need Islam only to have some close friends you can trust?

  25. Avatar

    Christian

    May 4, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    I am amazed how little love is shown by most Muslims to Tarikur. I was curious to see the fruits of your faith and all I see is hate and condemnation. The one true God that we all seek does not approve such intolerance. He loves us and keeps giving us chances despite how short we fall of his glory. How can I be convinced that Islam is God inspired when many of its’ followers are everything God is not? I love you and respect you because that is what God wants me to do. It is a fundamental characteristic of God to show love and compassion or the earth would have been destroyed many times over if God had intolerance and hate many here have shown.

    • Avatar

      Abdul

      May 5, 2015 at 12:30 AM

      I am amazed how little love is shown by most Muslims to Tarikur. I was curious to see the fruits of your faith and all I see is hate and condemnation.
      >>> If your wear a Christian Media lense that’s what you would get to see, just change your glass, you can see the fruits.

      The one true God that we all seek does not approve such intolerance. He loves us and keeps giving us chances despite how short we fall of his glory. How can I be convinced that Islam is God inspired when many of its’ followers are everything God is not?
      >>> True, God does. But certainly not a God who sleeps, not a God who ask for help when put on cross, showing helplessness, not a God who eats like human being and not a God whose takes Birth in Human Womb and Noher impure for 40 days (all these as per Bible) .The Bible depiction of God is truely what God is not.

      I love you and respect you because that is what God wants me to do. It is a fundamental characteristic of God to show love and compassion or the earth would have been destroyed many times over if God had intolerance and hate many here have shown. >>>All religious people do.

  26. Avatar

    Sarah Tavano

    June 23, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    Thank you Theresa I am not a revert but I am contemplating it because I do think it makes most sense to me as well and I believe in 1 true God I share sum similar issues about the hijab that you did in your post I am afraid that I will look dumpy and stupid and not be able to keep my look and can u still wear make up? Or is that A no no?

  27. Avatar

    Danielle

    July 6, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    For those reading this wondering what I’m talking about, it’s in response to all the negative comments HYDE made towards the beginning of this blog (they are older comments but I had to response in fear this persons comments would discourage people)

    @Hyde … you posted: “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….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.”
    I completely agree with sister June who wrote: “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?”

    Your words Hyde indicate your knowledge far surpasses that of scholars (possibly a self-righteous attitude?) and apprently compassion is useless and Muslims shouldn’t bother to pray for or help those thinking to leave Islam. No one maybe “holding a noose around his neck” as you put it to stay in Islam but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to help the person before making that choice or to help them come back. And your other comment that this person will not come back and as if there’s no hope for him seems to express your I can’t be bothered with anyone except myself attitude … me, myself and I are important and if it doesn’t effect me who cares.
    Even your first comment I replied to, when you said “not another revert story”, shows it’s like you have a distain towards reverts and one revert story is all the same, boring … show your comments to any Imam or scholar and see their reaction to you. Hence my comment to that was replying to you as if you weren’t muslim and just trolling – apparently you are Muslim (so I apologize to think you weren’t) but you’re just a Muslim with a really poor attitude and some deep-seeded pride of being born muslim and find reverts annoying.

    As regards to your comments on reverts that you made “Hyde: Don’t congratulate the converts, but shy away from them, because they see a light that born Muslim never do and in your case, never will.” —–> How shameful! Who are you to say that he will never see the light … you’re not Allah so how do you know down the road he won’t see the correct path and come back to Islam stronger than ever. So you have a lot of assumption to say “He will never.”
    As regards to reverts not being congratulated and born-muslims (or already reverted Muslims) should shy away from them … you can deny it until you’re blue in the face but it’s pure UNNECESSARY jealousy that spews from your mouth. If a person reverts they need help to learn what a born-muslim may know from an early age. They come from a worldly life and need good examples/role models to help them and congratulating them is a way born-muslims or previous reverts shows the new revert that they are happy they have become Muslim, that they want to worship Allah in the correct way. It’s a joyous moment. You said born-muslims don’t see this light, so because reverts do see it, no need to congratulate them as if to say “well they already have something I don’t have and I’m jealous so ignore them. If I can’t have it no one can” is what your mentality comes across as being. And I feel sorry for you if you really feel this way because it shows instead of welcoming them and being happy that someone has come out of the world to Islam, your bittered and annoyed by the extra attention a new revert receives.
    There are born-muslims who practice their religion simply because their family does but have no real knowledge of their faith and one day they decide to learn about their faith to gain accurate knowledge of it and guess what, they need extra attention too from practicing knowledgeable Muslims so they get that light just as new reverts. No they may not get congratulation because they were already Muslim, but being Muslim itself is a light reverts don’t have as reverts weren’t raised worshipping Allah in the correct way and many of them led a worldly lifestyle prior to reverting. This is something born-muslims don’t experience unless they choose to leave Islam. So reverts and born-muslims have lights they see, just their lights are different.
    To conclude: `Amr ibn Al-`As was amazed by the special attention that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave him. He actually thought that he is the most beloved companion to the messenger of Allah, and asked him a direct question one day: “Oh Prophet of Allah, who is the most beloved person to you” and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “`A’ishah (the Prophet’s wife)”;
    – From the men?
    – Her father (Abu Bakr As-siddique)
    – Then who?
    – Then `Umar, ..
    In `Amr’s words: “After that, the Prophet started listing names and names of people, and this made me remain silent, fearing that he will place me at the end of the list…” (Al-Bukhari)
    The messenger of Allah had this gentle effect on all those around him, especially the new comers to Islam that made `Amr seriously think he is the best companion in the eyes of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
    @Hyde —> You aren’t an Islamic scholar (not that you claimed to be) to give a fatwa on how born-muslims or previous reverts should treat reverts and tell who has no hope when you aren’t anyone else’s judge and it’s really disheartening to see your comments are filled with crude bitter sarcasm and the attitude you portrait as if your negative opinion is correct and people should listen to your unscholarly ignorant advice.
    It’s not a judgement on you but a good reminder for anyone; the beautiful hadith: The Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “He who has in his heart the weight of an atom of pride shall not enter Paradise.” [Muslim]
    Reverts and Born-Muslims are ALL MUSLIMS.

    • Avatar

      shahbaz khan

      January 9, 2016 at 8:06 AM

      wow theresa your writeup has elicited so maaany comments! in a world taken up by pretensions thugery deception and lies -the heart yearns for bliss and trust and a purpose for life. convert stories are such a wonder opening into the personal journey of an individual. in a world of no secrets where the furthest reaches of the planet are laid bare islam comes out as the new frontier , unexplored unknown and a mystery that was so distant and is still so close to everypersons inner being.
      theresa has stimulated people to talk and share their opinion and here there is no need of any fatwas to define the boundaries of this soul searching. juzakullah

    • Avatar

      Zonaid

      February 4, 2016 at 8:56 PM

      Subbhanalla inshalla I love your comment peace be upon you ya allah I as a born Muslim do in fact see many converts of Islam (my best friend) and they can’t even stop talking about your post آلة ةواقبر (Allah huakbar)

  28. Avatar

    Sidnie

    October 12, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    I’m a brand new Muslim, and I converted today, but it makes me really sad when some would say, “Muslims kills Christians”, or “Deserve to go to Hell”. I don’t know whats wrong with Christians, and I came from a Christian Family, however my faith was so confuse and very stress and I needed something to touch me, and I found this beautiful religion. I don’t know should I tell my parents, and will people turn away because I live in Toledo and there’s not much Muslims, can someone help me!!!

    • Avatar

      shahbaz khan

      January 10, 2016 at 12:18 PM

      hi sidnie – it is a momentous day in yore life indeed. change is the last thin g one wishes to do willingly. most changes happen of a sudden without any effort on yore part. they happen and take u along. its with time u realise the change was the best for u.
      dont bother with wat u hear or keep hearing. god is the most merciful and munificent and he has no wish to send people to hell.trust in god and he will show u the best way to let yore parents know u have changed. yore new life style and behavior will be yore ambassador to yore parents family and the world.a sidnie who is more responsible and caring more confident and strong will make yore path easier.if u move to an area with more muslim brothers and sisters or change yore work place, the companionship that this will provide will be a source of learning and strength for u . may god be yore guide

    • Avatar

      felix aliy

      February 24, 2016 at 9:16 AM

      please look for this books before you finally decide : ” who is this allah” and “the anatomy of Quaran” please google and read them my friend and God will bless you. The peace you are looking for you can find in Christ. Just accept Christ into your life and allow the Holy Spirit direct your affairs and all will be fine with and your family. if you need Him just contact me. God bless you

    • Avatar

      Samina

      August 18, 2016 at 12:31 PM

      Assalam o Alaikum!
      I am in search of women who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
      I would be really grateful if you respond me.

      My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

      Best regards
      Samina

    • Avatar

      Sammy

      December 27, 2016 at 11:49 AM

      Sidnie,

      God bless you for taking this important & righteous step.

  29. Avatar

    Abdullah Sameer

    October 24, 2015 at 11:13 PM

    I left Islam after 15 years. Science doesn’t seem to agree with the Quran. More details on my blog.

  30. Avatar

    Stephanie

    November 11, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    Seven things I didn’t expect when I encountered Islam:
    1. Intolerance (they simply do not like anyone who is not Muslim)
    2. Brutality (I have seen muslim women be cruel and ruthless with their children to the point where i have called the police).
    3. Violence (I have never seen such gross admiration and respect for violence against non-muslim peoples, especially christians).
    4. Slavery (I never imagined so many people, so many women, would support slavery, chiefly slavery of women).
    5. Rape (I was shocked and disgusted by the endemic rape culture of muslims; it seems that if a woman is not completely hidden from view–i.e. invisible–then she is a target for rape, even if she’s not a woman: even if she is just a child holding a doll).
    6. Hate (I have heard muslims speak publically about the need to “wipe jews off the face of the earth”
    7. Destruction (they hate science, they had progress, they hate prosperity–in short they seek destutition of all and the destruction of civilization).

    In the end it made me happy that I rejected religion when I was 5 and 1/2 years old. I saw it for what it was then: ridiculous stories about impossible deeds by invisible creatures. You can too.

    • Avatar

      Abu Ahzab

      November 11, 2015 at 11:46 PM

      To me people like “Stephanie” putting comments out of complete ignorance and baseless arguments continue to help me faithful to my Islamic faith post conversion. Such people are a great advantage to keep Muslims in their faith, as long as these type of people are propagating news far from truth. And Muslims tend follow Jesus than the Christians.

      1. Jesus Worship only one God and he always called others to worship only one God…….just like Muslims do
      2. Jesus used to have a beard just like all other prophets, even the picture that today’s Christians “imagine” for Jesus is for a man having a beard…….just like Muslim men do
      3. Jesus was circumcised…….just like Muslim men do
      4. The Mother of Jesus Mary was covering her hair, and all the pictures in today’s churches that they “think” that its for her is a picture of a woman with a scarf……..just like Muslim women do
      5. Jesus used to pray and prostrate…….just like Muslims do
      6. Jesus used to fast….just like Muslims do
      7. Jesus used to make ablution before prayer……..just like Muslims do
      8. Jesus didn’t eat pork………..Just like Muslims do

      • Avatar

        Casey

        November 15, 2015 at 11:58 PM

        You see the comparison of Jesus to the Muslim faith because
        the Muslim faith was established out of Catholism by Mohammad, through
        his mother who was a nun in a catholic convent. The catholic church (Jesuits) was losing converts after Christ rose from the grave and his believers went out and converted others to
        Jesus and not to ‘a church’. The catholic church then devised a religion that it felt would bring back people to the church because it existed on the wealth of it’s followers, and it wanted to maintain powers. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican33.htm Thus you have the similarities of text, the virgin mary etc. But the new religion didn’t work out well as it grew among the tribesmen, the nomads and spread. It was a false Christianity from a false church that turned into another religion. That is one of the reasons why many verses in the Koran are almost identical to Bible verses. The Bible was plagiarised to fit the ‘new religion’ with additives of other dictates, some very confusing. According to the direction of prayer was to be Mecca and Medina only, never to Jerusalum, so why the claim now of Jerusalem as a religious focus? You claim Jesus was similar but Jesus was a Jew so therefore could not all Muslims be of Jewish decent? I’d say yes because of similar practices that Jews and Muslims do such as circumcision One thing that all Muslims should know and never talk about is the faith and it’s association to a meteorite: http://www.islam-watch.org/Lennard/Islam-Sacred-Stone-of-Mecca.htm It is forbidden for muslims to worship this stone, yet it is the foundation of the religion. The stone sits in the Kaaba. I am neither a Jew nor a catholic, but feel that truth is truth, and if you all seriously want the truth and study of your faith then you should go back to the origin of where it all started before anyone converts, just as I would warn or direct anyone to check out scientology before they got involved. I wish you all the best and good luck in your search for truth and light, remembering God is light and in Him is no darkness to be found.

        • Avatar

          Kelly

          November 16, 2015 at 1:01 AM

          There is so much wrong with this statement.
          Mohammed’s mom was not that. The rock statement? Totally not part of the teachings. The kabaa is simply a place from Abraham, praying in unity.
          The reason the monotheistic teachings are so similar is because they are all teaching the same basic message via a series of Prophet’s & messengers. It’s a continuation over time from the same God but to different people of a different time or area.
          Please don’t introduce these conspiracy theories.

      • Avatar

        felix aliy

        February 24, 2016 at 9:20 AM

        you do not know Him (Jesus), The Jesus in your koran is different from Jesus in the bible. I know how the koran came about, how they copied some scriptures incorrectly from the bible.

    • Avatar

      Kelly

      November 16, 2015 at 1:04 AM

      Stephanie – it sounds like you were simply around a really bad crowd. It’s not fair to let those people represent the religion. That’s like letting gang bangers represent America and leaving the country and spouting all over the world how horrible Americans are. I’m sorry you had that experience with Muslims and hope you meet a better group of Muslims that better represent the teachings of Islam.

      • Avatar

        shahbaz khan

        January 10, 2016 at 12:23 PM

        how very correct

    • Avatar

      Ammar

      November 30, 2015 at 12:55 AM

      Dear, we are not. And how many Muslims did you really encounter. For me it seems like 0. Its the ahlak (good manners) brought me to Islam. If any of you said is true, I will leave Islam just now. I mean this religion is not a compulsion but a choice. Al-Quran(2:256) .
      Good luck sisi.

  31. Avatar

    Jemmy

    November 16, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    This religion treats non-muslims badly. I am a living witness. There is always a sinister smile on their faces. Well, am grateful to God for showing me the right way to peace, love, joy and Salvation of my soul.

    • Avatar

      Ammar

      November 30, 2015 at 1:00 AM

      Brother, I am sorry for what you feel. You have to talk to them.

  32. Avatar

    abu ahzab

    November 16, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    see the comparison of Jesus to the Muslim faith because the Muslim faith was established out of Catholism by Mohammad,
    >>> it’s partly true because Islam accepts all prophets before Mohammed (SA), such as Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Younus and so on. Unlike Christians they don’t consider these Prophets as God or Son of God and so on. And there is a fundamental teaching that is visible in all these prophets, i.e. to worship only one God.

    The catholic church then devised a religion that it felt would bring back people to the church because it existed on the wealth of it’s followers, and it wanted to maintain powers. bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican33.htm
    >>> That’s how they altered the original teaching of Jesus (AS) and no wonder my fellow Christians have bible verses that can’t even be read to their own children/family.

    Thus you have the similarities of text, the virgin mary etc. But the new religion didn’t work out well as it grew among the tribesmen, the nomads and spread. It was a false Christianity from a false church that turned into another religion. That is one of the reasons why many verses in the Koran are almost identical to Bible verses.
    >>>> As I said Muslims believe in the original teachings of the Bible and a Muslims can’t be a Muslim unless he/she believe in the teachings of the Prophets earlier to Muhammed (SA)

    The Bible was plagiarised to fit the ‘new religion’ with additives of other dictates, some very confusing.
    >>> There was no Bible in it’s original form available at that time, neither it exist today. And that’s why you have red letter bible and revisions after revisions and still can’t find any thing close to the original. When you don’t have original teachings of Jesus, how can you claim it was plagiarized?

    According to the direction of prayer was to be Mecca and Medina only, never to Jerusalem, so why the claim now of Jerusalem as a religious focus?
    >>> absolute ignorance, it was to Jerusalem until the Quranic verse to direct the prayers to Mecca was revealed. Secondly, as I said earlier all prophets are of great significance to Islamic faith and hence Jerusalem as well.

    You claim Jesus was similar but Jesus was a Jew so therefore could not all Muslims be of Jewish decent?
    >>> All I said is that we Muslims are more Christian than the so called Christians, because we follow Jesus original Teachings and abide by, such as Praying to One God, circumcision, keeping beard, women covering head, not eating pork and so on.

    I’d say yes because of similar practices that Jews and Muslims do such as circumcision One thing that all Muslims should know and never talk about is the faith and it’s association to a meteorite: islam-watch.org/Lennard/Islam-Sacred-Stone-of-Mecca.htm It is forbidden for muslims to worship this stone, yet it is the foundation of the religion. The stone sits in the Kaaba.
    >>>> You seems to be at complete ignorance and to the core, these are specifically straw man argument. No muslims worship Kaaba , nor the black stone in Mecca/Kaaba. If somebody does that he/she is outside of the Islamic faith.

    I am neither a Jew nor a catholic, but feel that truth is truth
    >>>There is not even iota of truth what you have just said, ignorance can’t be termed as truth. ask even an ignorant Muslims he would tell you that he/she is not worshipping Kaaba/Stone there. This is basics of Islam. Get your facts !

    , and if you all seriously want the truth and study of your faith then you should go back to the origin of where it all started before anyone converts, just as I would warn or direct anyone to check out scientology before they got involved.
    >>> Yes that’s the right things to do, and if you or anyone do it, he can’t help being a Muslim. simply because all prophets taught to worship only ONE God and not the father of God, Neither the Mother of God, nor the statue of Mother Mary and so on. it’s simple and straight forward truth. and you can’t help being a Muslim.

    I wish you all the best and good luck in your search for truth and light, remembering God is light and in Him is no darkness to be found.
    >>I wish you best of luck for your inquiry. and lastly, I’m yet to see a Christian who stand up to scrutiny of his Bible. All the time I get statements like, I’m neither a Christian nor Jew, but I’m just making statements – this is a clear case of weakness on you and your faith, so that you have all the freedom to change your goal post by not disclosing your source of argument. This is quite normal of many Christians and generally Catholics.

  33. Avatar

    Rahul

    December 14, 2015 at 8:00 AM

    What is islam? Would i get respect if i join islam?

    • Avatar

      solikin

      December 23, 2015 at 2:07 AM

      1. islam = dienul islam
      dienul = way of life / rule of life, islam = save , it mean who ever follow the rules of life they will be saved.

      • Avatar

        felix aliy

        February 24, 2016 at 9:22 AM

        Is their salvation for one’s soul in Islam? show me one place in Koran

  34. Avatar

    shahbaz khan

    January 14, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    wat rubbish people are capable of. wat a negative mind set.

  35. Avatar

    Hhhh

    January 31, 2016 at 2:32 PM

    Asalum-Ali-kum,
    I was reading this article and expectedly notice that all the 7 statements you mention will have to do with your physical appereaneces. What about your heart? I believe as a woman I can be wearing hijab all the time but what about lust that is in my heart. Question is, has your heart changed not your physical appearances?

  36. Avatar

    Umm Ayesha

    May 5, 2016 at 9:16 AM

    What a beautiful article, SubhanAllah.

  37. Avatar

    Misbah

    May 23, 2016 at 11:00 PM

    Very nice blog. Personally I was always a muslim but very astray (drugs&sex) faked prayer and many sins like that. Recently ive started reading the quran again, going masjid and reducing music to quran recitations. Alhamdulliah with ramadhan 15 days away ill become a better muslim. Please make dua for me.

  38. Avatar

    ossy

    June 10, 2016 at 4:45 PM

    The difference between the two religion is the third party , which is the holy spirit, More christians may convert to islam due to lack of the Holyghost. Hndingow can you tell me that a spirit filled fire brand daughter of zion will convert to islam. Go get born again and enjoy the peace that passes human uundersta

  39. Avatar

    L

    June 17, 2016 at 4:35 PM

    I don’t know where to begin or who to talk to about converting. I am also afraid about talking to people close to me on converting due to how in the US being a Muslim is a bad thing. Help please!

    • Avatar

      Saif

      June 25, 2016 at 4:21 AM

      As long as you believe in your heart “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last messenger of Allah”, You will take first step to be a Muslim. If you even die with this believe, you will go to paradise. But you really should talk to someone who is practicing Islam. He may show you the path of converting appropriate way.

    • Avatar

      Michael

      July 4, 2016 at 1:36 AM

      L, whatever you do, don’t become a muslim. They are told in the koran to kill those who leave, the nonsense about “that was for them back then, not us” is garbage, untold thousands of ex-muslims are in hiding from their families right now, to deny this total truth is insanity and an insult to their very hard reality of not knowing when a family member will finally find them. How horrible! Mohammed clearly married a 6 year old, consumated when she was 9, had many people killed and butchered, raided and looted innocent people in caravans, took wives from other people, including his adopted son, Jesus never did anything wrong at all and did tons of miracles, which He said proved that He was indeed, from God. He was with God from eternity past and was eternal with His Father, so He loved us and died for us on the cross, there is no other religion with anything even close to this purity and love and Glory of an Awesome and loving God! He is so incredible people!

  40. Avatar

    Ummu Ryan

    June 26, 2016 at 9:57 AM

    This blog is really interesting. Thanks sister Theresa

  41. Avatar

    April Rose

    July 25, 2016 at 6:37 PM

    I wanted to convert to Islam, i don’t know anyone in Beirut can help me find an Imam so that i can start converting. And to study the Qur’an.

    • Avatar

      Samina

      August 18, 2016 at 12:29 PM

      Assalam o Alaikum Rose!
      (I am commenting this considering you have accepted Islam until now. as you commented a month ago. If not, can I help you in anyway?)
      I am in search of women who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
      I would be really grateful if you respond me.

      My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

      Best regards
      Samina

  42. Avatar

    Samina

    August 18, 2016 at 12:26 PM

    Assalam o Alaikum Theresa!
    I am in search of women who reverted to Islam. I am doing a thesis. I would like to get your few minutes to have a short interview. Mostly, I would like to know why you embraced Islam.
    I would be really grateful if you respond me.

    My email address is saminakousar11@gmail.com

    Best regards
    Samina

  43. Avatar

    Miraz

    October 10, 2016 at 3:05 AM

    Hi… I’m a Muslim. I know theressa has a childish sense of humour.. I’m not proud of my religion bcz this religion has no good base. Only fed up by cruelty… Quran is a sin to human kind. It doesn’t contain any good thoughts about nature.. it only cares about human(specially those who believe in Islam) and you all people who are eager And happy with her conversion. This is so sad bcz theressa has silly reasons such about hair care… and other things… the Muslims who encouraged her conversions is not their fault as they follow Quran which is harram. There is no satisfaction in Islam. The people who follow doesnt have a good thoughts they are brain washed. And I request every one who are muslims to think, debate and criticise this cruel Islam. I’ll give an example… if Allah wanted her women followers to get fully covered from head to toe . he will provide every women with a shell like tortoise.. and if Allah have the power to punish people who do mischieves he could destroy the ottoman empire which was very cruel.. this prophet Muhammad tried to spread his writings (Quran) by saying it came from God Allah… and made many slaves In order to enjoy happy life… but muslims didn’t think about this. I wish this Nature to give them a good mind to think and think… what I said was not to hurt the beautiful souls… and by my thoughts please don’t convert to any religion… be yourself. May u all get a success and happy life…. I too won’t convert to other bcz I don’t want to disrespect this faithless imagination….

  44. Avatar

    Keneth Kittle

    October 15, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    My colleagues needed to fill out BINDT Form PSL 57B Issue 4 recently and came across an online service that hosts lots of sample forms . If you are interested in BINDT Form PSL 57B Issue 4 too , here’s a link “https://goo.gl/y6Hzhl“.

  45. Avatar

    Angello

    November 3, 2016 at 1:02 AM

    Hi I am a non-muslim individual and I seek for advice. By no means this is intended to offend anyone despite our differences, as everything can be taken in different interpretations nowadays. I have always been interested in this beautiful culture and lifestyle. I am fully aware that I am not perfect, since we all make mistakes, which is exactly what make us humans. Despite my age, I consider myself as a thinker and I invest time in finding my own answers after analyzing a situation from different perspectives. Where I go with this? I have seen other religions and so-called good practitioners speaking about god and good practices, some of them even force their beliefs to supposed non-believers just because they aren’t part of their religion, yet his actions are negative and repulsive contrary to their own teachings making them look like hypocrites. In essence they don’t lead or predict by example. This is the worst thing you can do as a human being. You just don’t lie to a higher self but to yourself. This makes me conclude that there will always be good and bad practitioners no matter the religion or belief. The hate is everywhere and it welcomes ignorance.

    I met a muslim a few months ago, though I haven’t had a chance to touch base about these topics. I am not saying I want to become a Muslim right now, but I want to learn more about this culture as my love to it started a few years ago, but I don’t know where to start.

    I live in a country where the majority of the citizens are either Christians, Catholics or something else making this task or journey for wisdom and knowledge more harder than it looks.
    Today I wanted to look for answers and information. I came across a couple of websites and end up here for mere coincidence.

    I have heard before that you cannot convert to this religion because you are borned into it. Is this true? It may look like a stupid question considering the nature of this article, nevertheless I need to be sure to clear my doubts. I can’t embrace, crictize nor accept something if I don’t fully understand it, and no one should.

    Better then, Are there trustworthy sources to gather knowledge?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Society

Black Youth Matter: Stopping the Cycle of Racial Inequality in Our Ranks

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

As we joined the rest of America in celebrating Black History Month and commemorating the legacy of the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., with tweets, infographics, and sharing famous quotes, racism and colorism continue to plague the Muslim community. 

When we hear of a weekend course about the illustrious muadhin of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Bilal Ibn Raba’ah, may Allah be pleased with him, or a whitewashed cartoon movie based loosely on his life, we flock to the location. When the imam retells his story during a Friday sermon, we listen intently and feel inspired, we smile in awe upon hearing about his fortitude in the face of incessant torture. We cry while reliving the part where he enters the city of Makkah alongside the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) victorious, and calls the adhan atop the Ka’aba. 

Then, we leave. 

We return to our homes and all but forget about it until the next time he is brought up— unless we are Black Muslims. Like King, his impact comes in waves, maybe once a year like MLK Day or like Black History Month, for many of us. Yet, there were more Black companions and renowned Black Muslims in our history, just as there were countless civil rights leaders who fought for racial equality in America. For many of us who are not American of African descent, we live our lives unperturbed by the implications of ignoring the racial disparities that exist within our own places of worship.

However, it is our youth that bear the brunt of this injustice. 

A few weeks ago, I witnessed an incident that made me reflect deeply on the effects of racism and fear on our youth and the Muslim community. After picking up my son from middle school in Baltimore County, I drove to a nearby 7-Eleven for some snacks. While I was standing in line to pay for my groceries, I noticed that the man behind the counter was Muslim. From his outward appearance, accent, and name tag, I guessed he was South Asian. We greeted each other with salaam, a smile, and a head nod of camaraderie.

As he was ringing up my items, a group of chattery students still in school uniforms, approached the entrance of the convenience store. The cashier looked up horrified, and in mid transaction swung his arm back and forth as if swatting a fly. I turned to look at who he was gesturing to and saw the children were swinging the door open to enter. They were about 6 African American children from the same public middle school as my son. In his school, each grade level wears a different color polo with khaki pants as part of their uniform, so I could tell that most of them were in his same grade level.

“No! No! No!” the cashier cried harshly, “Out!”

I turned to him grimacing in disbelief, surprised at his reaction to the kids and then I noticed his expression. He had a look on his face of fear coupled with disgust.

One child cheerfully told him, “I got money, man!” My head turned back and forth from the students to the cashier. He reluctantly said, “Fine,” but as more students followed, he added sternly, “Three at a time!” I wondered if this was a rule when one of the girls in the group said, “Yeah, three at a time y’all,” and the majority stayed back, as if they were familiar with the routine. Some of them rolled their eyes, others laughed, but they remained outside the door. The cashier followed the ones who entered with his eyes intently as he finished bagging my items. He looked genuinely concerned. I tried to make light of the situation and get his attention away from the children, asking, “The kids give you a hard time, huh?” He smiled and nodded nervously, but I was not satisfied with his answer. 

As I swiped my debit card to pay, I felt troubled. My maternal instincts were telling me that I should defend these children. I felt anger and helplessness at the same time. These kids were tweens or barely 13 years old, yet they were being judged because of the color of their skin. There was no other logical explanation. They were not rowdy or reckless, not any more than any other child their age. They did not look menacing; in fact, they were all smiling and joking with one another.

Yet, this cashier, my Muslim brother, was looking at them as if they were a threat. The same way some white American may look at a Muslim sporting a beard and thobe boarding a plane.  

I tried to find excuses for his behavior. Perhaps he had a bad experience, or he was having a bad day. Could some of the kids from the middle school have stolen something before and this prompted his apprehension? There is some crime in this neighborhood located in the southwestern part of Baltimore County, on the outskirts of the City. Could he have suffered from some type of trauma that led to his anxiety? Maybe there was a fight in his store one day? Yet, even if any of these assumptions were true, I still felt like he was overreacting.

After all, these were just kids.

In Dr. Joy Degruy’s book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, she mentions that policing continues to represent one of the most pervasive and obvious examples of racial inequality; one that even the youth are unable to avoid. She cites an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, highlighting a study by UCLA, the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Boston, Massachusetts, Penn State, and University of Pennsylvania that investigated how black boys were perceived as it related to childhood innocence. They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. 

They found, “converging evidence that black boys are seen as older and less innocent and that they prompt a less essential conception of childhood than do their white same-age peers.” Consequently, African American youth are often unfairly singled out as troublemakers. Click To Tweet

On November 22, 2014, a 12-year-old African American child, like my son and his middle school peers, was fatally shot by police while he played with a toy gun in a playground. The child, Tamir Rice, was just a young boy playing cheerfully outdoors, but police officers regarded him a threat, demonstrating the ghastly reality of the above-mentioned study. After hearing about this atrocity, I remember telling my own children that they can never play outside with nerf guns or water pistols, out of fear of this happening to them. This is the type of world our children are living in. As Muslims, why do we choose to be part of the problem and not its solution?

Black youth

Junior football team huddling together

As I walked through the door and past the group in front of the 7-Eleven, all I could think about is that the kids were no different than my son who was sitting in the car, hungry, waiting for me to bring him some food. The only difference was that I was there to defend him, if need be. The children did not have an adult to stand up for them against the discrimination to which they were being subjected. I felt guilty for not saying more. I also remembered an incident where a group of African American youth were turned away from the tarawih prayers at a local mosque, not too far from the 7-Eleven, during the month of Ramadan, because they were perceived to be “too rowdy.” This prompted me to write about this incident; to speak up for them now, and to remind myself and other Muslims that the Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us compassion. 

He said, “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Even when a bedouin came into the masjid, the House of Allah – a place much more sacred than any convenience store – and urinated, yes urinated there, he still treated him with dignity. (Muslim)

The students standing at the door of the 7-Eleven were just going in for a snack. Even if they had been misbehaving, the gentleman at the counter could have addressed them with kindness. Similarly, the youth at the local mosque just wanted to pray tarawih. Now imagine the impact it had on them to be turned away from praying with their brethren during the month of Ramadan. 

I sat in the car where my son was waiting and found him looking out the window, unaware of what was happening. We were parked far from the entrance.

“Do you know any of those kids?” I asked him. “Yeah, the girl on the right is in my gym class,” he said.

My heart sank more and as we sat in the car, I wondered, what would have been the cashier’s reaction if the kids had been white? More than likely, he would not have treated them the same way. This racial profiling leads to devastating consequences. A recent news report by WUSA9 revealed that the state of Maryland leads the nation in incarcerating young black men, according to experts at the Justice Policy Institute. Their November Policy Briefs for 2019 entitled, Rethinking Approaches to Over Incarceration of Black Young Adults in Maryland, revealed that disparity is most pronounced among emerging adults, or youth ages 18-24, where, “Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.”

“Nearly eight in 10 people who were sentenced as emerging adults and have served 10 or more years in a Maryland prison are black. This is the highest rate of any state in the country.” Click To Tweet

What was most troubling about the incident at the 7-Eleven was that the students had been conditioned; they were already used to being treated that way. It was routine for them and business as usual for the Muslim cashier. While he may believe that he is doing the right thing, by averting a potential “problem,” the harm that he is causing has greater ramifications. He is adding to the trauma these children are already experiencing being black in America. Black students in Baltimore County were not even allowed by law to earn an education past 5th grade in 1935, and 65 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, the county’s schools are still highly segregated. Local and federal leadership in America have continuously failed African Americans, and it is disheartening to think that the immigrant Muslim community is headed in the same direction. 

I was haunted by this incident and returned to the 7-Eleven a week later to ask the cashier or the owner of the store about their (mis)treatment of the middle schoolers. I parked directly in front of the glass doors of the entrance and it was there where I saw a sign typed in regular white computer paper that read, “AT A TIME NO MORE THAN THREE (3) SCHOOL KIDS ARE ALLOWED IN THE STORE & please do not bring bags inside the store. Thanks.” I had not seen the sign before, maybe I overlooked it the day of the occurrence. Nevertheless, I went inside and spoke with the owner of the franchise, a Muslim gentleman who greeted me with salaam. I asked him about the sign outside the door and the reason why the middle schoolers were treated like would-be criminals. He explained that students from local schools have stolen goods from the convenience store on many occasions. To prevent this, they established a rule that only three unaccompanied school children could enter at a time and they were not allowed to bring their backpacks. The owner further added that crime and vandalism were prevalent in the area. Unfortunately, because this side of town is predominately African American, the blame falls disproportionately on this group. 

Nevertheless, patrolling and intimidating the African American youth in the area is not the solution. As Dr. Degruy stated in her book, “The powerful oppress the less powerful, who in turn oppress those even less powerful than they. These cycles of oppression leave scars on the victims and victors alike, scars that embed themselves in our collective psyches and are passed down through generations, robbing us of our humanity.”

A thirty-four-year veteran police officer named Norm Stamper wrote a book about racism in the criminal justice system entitled, Breaking Rank, (2005) and he mentioned that, “It is not hard to understand why people of color, the poor, and younger Americans did not, and do not, look upon the police as ‘theirs’… Do the police protect ‘the weak against oppression or intimidation’ or do they oppress and intimidate the very people they’ve sworn to protect?” Likewise, this young generation will begin to see Muslims of all colors as no different, if we take the role of the oppressor. 

When Abu Dharr insulted Bilal ibn Rabah, may Allah be pleased with them, by calling him, “O son of a black woman!” and the Prophet, peace be upon him heard of this, he rebuked Abu Dharr and said to him, “By the One who revealed the Book to Muhammad, no one is better than another except by righteous deeds. You have nothing but an insignificant amount.” We may have read or heard this and other narrations before, however, we fall short in implementing these teachings.

In Malcolm X’s Letter from Mecca, he said, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Yet, as Muslims living in America, we are not fulfilling our role in eradicating racism from our own ranks. We are making race our problem. With so much injustice plaguing the world, the time is now to embrace the youth, celebrate their diversity, and let them know there is a place for them in Islam.

Sometimes it takes one person to stand up and point out the wrong to set the right tone. The sign at the 7-Eleven in my neighborhood has been taken down.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Society

No-Nuptial Agreements: Maybe Next Time, Don’t Get Married

marriage
Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

 “Nikah is part of my sunnah, and whoever does not follow my sunnah has nothing to do with me.”

–Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Narrated by Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)

Many Muslims have experienced marriage, then suffered a subsequent divorce as a financial, emotional, and social meat grinder. Some critics have noted the divorce system seemingly exists primarily to benefit itself; the lawyers: mental health experts, investigators, forensic accountants.

They form an entire industry dedicated to extracting the wealth of a disintegrating family, often forcing the middle class or working class into poverty and bankruptcy. All of this happens without any noticeable benefit to society. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

For many, divorce happens multiple times. A divorced person who gets remarried is more likely to get divorced again.

While men often complain about how the “family court” system is against them, the reality is that women often bear the financial brunt of divorce. Divorce is more likely to drive women to bankruptcy than men.

After one or two divorces and a few lost years of retirement savings or a decade or more of home equity, another “marriage” starts to look downright irrational. My advice to such people: stop getting married, at least under state law. Get a nikah and a “no-nuptial agreement” instead. Allow me to explain.

Fun with Words

It is impossible to have a meaningful conversation about virtually anything unless we have a common understanding of the meaning of words we are using.

In law, even ordinary words have definitions that defy conventional understanding or even common sense. Basic familial terms like “son,” “daughter,” “father,” and “mother” have state law definitions that are different from what those words mean in Islam or our understanding. Under state law, “parents” can adopt adult “children” a similar age to them or even older, and have the same status as a biological child. In Islam, an adopted child is not the same as a biological child and does not have rights to inheritance in Islam.

In law, even words like “life” and “death” don’t always mean what you think they mean. A living person can go to court to dispute his death, demonstrate he is living, breathing, speaking, and everyone agrees he is the “dead person” in question, yet, he is ruled legally dead. Famously, corporations are legally people and are immortal.

Law is not the same thing as truth.

Similarly, it is folly to conflate nikah, the thing that exists in Islam, with marriage under state law. In different states, rules for who and under what circumstances people can get married can vary. One thing that all the state law definitions have in common is that they are not marriage in Islam.

What is Marriage?

For marriage, there is a state law definition, there is an Islamic definition, and there is the definition that the individual married couple has. Under state law, two men can be married to each other, but three men cannot be. In Islam, marriage (let’s call it nikah to be more precise) is a halal social and sexual relationship, and there are rules in the fiqh that are different from state law.

Under some state laws, “secret marriages” with no witnesses or publicly available registration are part of the law and commonly used. In Islam, there is a witness requirement for nikah. None of the rules in Islam require the state’s approval for nikah.

The third definition is how each couple sees their marriage. It is a flexible institution. To the extent it is an economic, social or familial partnership can vary widely. Couples may live together or apart. They may have one income or two.  They may share the same social circles or share none of them. The variations are endless.

Domestic Partnerships

For most of the history of legal marriage in the United States, marriage can only be between one man and one woman. States started allowing for “domestic partnerships” to give some “benefits” of marriage to same-sex couples, like employer health benefits and hospital visitation.

In many instances, these were available almost exclusively to same-sex couples, even after same-sex marriage became part of the law in all states. However, as of January 2020, California opened up domestic partnerships to everyone, including different-sex couples.

As a practical matter, domestic partnerships are simply state-sanctioned marriage by another name. It is notable though some jurisdictions may have limited domestic partnerships that are something less than marriage. In most states that have it, the same family law system, for good or ill, that comes with marriage under state law is also true of domestic partnerships.

While domestic partnership combined with a nikah is available to Muslims in states where it exists, there is no real advantage to using it.

No-Nuptial Agreements

For decades now, in the United States, there has been no taboo against men and women openly having sexual relationships with each other, living and raising families together outside marriage. Courts have long recognized these people should have contractual rights with each other.

When a man and women live together, those involved may be gaining something and giving something up. So if a man promises a woman something, and the agreement is not founded merely on sexual services, the state should enforce those promises, not in family court but civil court.

Marvin started it all

The principle case that established this is the California case of Marvin v. Marvin in 1976. A couple broke up, but the woman wanted to enforce promises made to her by the man. The man felt such a commitment should not be enforceable because, among other reasons, he was legally married to a completely different woman when this non-marital relationship started. Under California law, at the time (abolished by the time the case got to the court), this was criminal adultery.

No-nuptial agreements (sometimes called cohabitation agreements or Marvin agreements) can be used by couples when they want to have enforceable contracts but do not want to subject themselves to the family court system or the family code. They can include provisions of mahar, sharing expenses, equity as well as dispute resolution processes like arbitration and mediation.

The couple can also document limits on what they agreed to to what is in writing. For example, during a breakup, one party may be able to claim an oral promise the other party never made and potentially have it enforced in court. A written agreement protects both parties and the understanding they had when they entered into the relationship.

These agreements have a broad utility for many different kinds of couples. However, for some couples, the main benefit would be documentation that nobody is under the illusion that this is a marriage under state law. It is a private contract between two individuals.

Example of a No-Nuptial Agreement

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren. Both want to put their adult children at ease that this relationship does not exist for predatory financial reasons – a common fear when parents marry later in life.

Salma, 58, does a nikah with Sheher Ali, 62. They also create a no-nuptial agreement. Sheher Ali is a widower, and Salma is a divorcee. They both have their separate assets, including their own homes. Each has adult children and young grandchildren.Click To Tweet

Salma and Sheher Ali do not plan to live together, which is common for couples their age. They mostly pay for their expenses themselves. They may spend the night at each other’s homes whenever they want but will split time with their separate children, grandchildren and social circles. Sheher Ali pays for joint vacations and outings. He agreed to a mahar. Both agree in writing they did not marry under state law.

Sheher Ali and Salma can still call each other husband and wife, since that is true for them and everyone they know. Both keep all of their finances separate, and each does their independent estate planning where they name each other as partial beneficiaries of their estates as required in Islam. The two also complete HIPAA forms allowing each to see the other’s private medical information and name each other in Advance Healthcare Directives so they can make healthcare decisions for each other.

Legal Strangers

Unmarried couples are “legal strangers.” Doctors won’t share healthcare information. Islamic spouses don’t get an inheritance from a no-nuptial agreement spouse by default. They don’t get things like tenancy by the entirety, community property, or elective shares in places where such things exist. As I described above, though, this can be remedied. However, as I described in the example above, the “legal stranger” aspect of the relationship may be more of a benefit than a downside in some cases.

Some “benefits” of marriage under state law are against Islamic principles.  For example, some state laws that provide for “elective shares” are diametrically opposed to the Quran’s share of inheritance.  Muslims must follow Islamic rules of inheritance anyway, which are different from default state rules, so being under state law is no special advantage. Even with proper planning, the downsides of the “legal stranger” problem still may come up in extraordinary contexts, however, such as lawsuits.

Immigration and Taxes

Another concern is that employee benefits to spouses and dependents don’t generally extend to those with no-nuptial agreements. Immigration law does not allow a path to the United States through the “family unification ” process for those with a no-nuptial contract. Marriage under state law (or the law of a foreign country recognized in the United States) may be the most practical solution in such cases.

In some cases, state-sanctioned marriage may lead to lower taxes. Other legally married couples may experience the so-called “marriage penalty” and pay higher taxes than couples with a no-nuptial agreement. Couples may often find they will pay less in taxes with a no-nuptial agreement than they would if they were married under state law.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

One may wonder, to avoid the “meat grinder” of the family court system, why not just get a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement? It’s accurate that in general, having such arrangements are superior to not having them. These agreements offer greater certainty, though by no means total confidence, on how a divorce would end. There are disadvantages to such an agreement over no-nuptial agreements, however. A big one is that divorce is still in the family court system.

Many Muslim men, especially immigrants, may perceive cultural biases cause a stacked deck against them in family court. The nature of these agreements may make this perception worse. Sometimes, courts treat prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with a presumption of coercion. It is different from an ordinary contract. The family court system is often free to be more paternalistic and make a husband prove he did not force his wife to sign a document.

The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which will be worded differently in the different states that adopted it, provides for a process to make these marital agreements harder to defeat. However, the process is perhaps arguably more expensive, cumbersome, and awkward for a couple than a no-nuptial contract. Talking about a prenuptial agreement with a fiancé may be more uncomfortable than bringing up a no-nuptial arrangement and nikah. Without a state-sanctioned marriage, a written agreement is essential. Many people perceive the pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements as both optional and, perhaps unfairly, as a sign of mistrust.

Custody and Child Support

Unfortunately, there is no agreement you can come up with that will pre-settle child support and custody. A judge will decide those things.

It does not matter if you have a “plain vanilla” marriage governed entirely by your state’s family code, a prenuptial agreement, or a no-nuptial agreement. Children are not parties to such a contract. No court anywhere will subject a child’s care and welfare to such things.

For custody and child support, courts in family court will use the sometimes hard to define standard of “best interests of the child.” One Massachusetts family law attorney in a popular divorce documentary cryptically joked that she called children in the system  “little bags of money.” They are often a significant reason family law cases are so profitable for lawyers, mental health professionals, investigators, and everyone else.

No Protection for Poor Life Choices

A good rule to follow is never to do nikah with a person capable of having children unless you are sure she or he can be trusted to raise your future children, and you have made peace with making child support payments to this individual if your relationship ends. If you have a child, you may be suck with a child support order. There is no getting out of this one.

As an Islamic estate planning lawyer, the most important advice I can ever give anyone is not to get a proper estate plan. It is not to get a good lawyer. Of course those things are good, indeed no-brainers, but they have limits. The most important advice is to choose a spouse wisely. If you fail here, there is no law, no lawyer or document in existence that can turn back the clock. A no-nuptial agreement may make a future breakup easier than a family court divorce. There is still no guarantee it won’t be a complete mess anyway. Good documents are never a substitute for poor life choices.

“The Law of the Land”

Islamic institutions like masajid are conservative don’t like taking needless risks, as they should be. Many will not officiate a nikah unless there is a marriage license. They usually will not officiate bigamous marriages, on account of it being illegal.  Of course bigamy, like marriage, has a specific legal definition under state law. One almost universal refrain is that as Muslims we need to follow “the law of the land.”

No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the 'law of the land.' It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is. Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam.Click To Tweet

But what if that term did not mean what you think it means? No-nuptial agreements are in full conformity with the “law of the land.” It is not a marriage under state law. Nobody is claiming that it is.  Limiting nikah to marriage under state law not based on Islam. Recently, the Islamic Institute of Orange County, a large masjid in the Los Angeles area, changed its nikah officiating policy. Instead of always requiring marriage certificates, they will also recognize no-nuptial agreements.

Masajid Should Welcome No-Nuptial Agreements

Masajid should have standardized policies and procedures in place. Every masjid should have carefully considered policies to protect the vulnerable and the institution. No masjid wants to open themselves up to a “drive-by nikah” or other nonsense. One policy may well include mandating a no-nuptial agreement when there is no marriage certificate. There is no reason to believe one protects people and institutions better than the other.

Nikah is a vital sunnah for us. It is not something that should be in the shadows, secret, or something shameful. It is fundamental to how we organize our families and communities. When it’s done right, it helps us strengthen our iman, bring us closer to our communities and our loved ones. State definitions of words should not always be your guide to right and wrong.

It is appropriate that Muslims want to do the sunnah of nikah at the masjid, publicly and with friends and family watching.  We should recognize and celebrate every new couple that has done a nikah in our communities. Never mind the state has not sanctioned it.

The state statute book has its definition, we have ours.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Society

The Culture Debt of Islamic Institutions

The reality across America is that too many people have used the masjid to serve their own egos, fulfill their desires for power, and give themselves a big building as something to point at and say, “I built that.” Too few have created a vision for the spiritual upliftment of a community and then worked to serve it.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Our community institutions are in debt – cultural debt. And the bill is due.

There are major consequences when the bill comes due on a debt you owe. Personal debt can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure and the loss of your home.

If paid off before the bill comes due, debt can be a tool. Many communities in North America have utilized the qardh hasanah (goodly loan) as a way to expedite construction projects and then pay people back over time. When businesses fail to pay debt back, they are forced to liquidate and go out of business to satisfy their creditors. In extreme cases, like the economic crisis of a few years ago, major institutions repeatedly utilizing debt as a tool became over-leveraged, creating a rippling collapse.

Financial debt is not the only type of debt an organization carries. Every decision made by an organization adds to a balance sheet of sorts. Other types of debt can be technical, or even cultural.

Consider a new company that keeps making the decision to cut corners with their technology infrastructure – creating ‘technical’ debt. At a certain point, the infrastructure will need to be replaced. If not properly planned for, the cost to fix it could cripple the company.

Put another way, impatience and short-term decision making create (non-financial) debts that can destroy an organization.

The cultural debt for an organization, especially Islamic organizations, can be the most devastating.

These decisions may appear rational or well-intentioned compromises, but they come at a cost.

For example, if a community prioritizes money into a construction project instead of an imam or youth director, what is the cost of the compromise? A 5-year construction project means an entire segment of youth who will be aged anywhere between 13 and 18 risk being disconnected from the masjid.

What about the cost of marginalizing the one sister on the board multiple times such that other sisters become disenchanted and unengaged. Or what if the marginalized board member is a youth, or a convert, or a person of color? How is the collateral damage to those segments of the community assessed?

What about when the same 2 or 3 people (even without an official title) remain in charge of a masjid and aggressively push out people not in line with their agendas? Dedicated and hard-working volunteers will end up leaving and going to other communities.

What about when a few people are responsible for creating an environment so toxic and exhausting that volunteers don’t want to come to the masjid anymore? And they get so burned out that they refuse to get involved in a masjid again? Who is going to pay the bill for all the talent that’s been driven away?

What is the spiritual debt on a community that refuses to invest in an Imam or scholar for over 10 years? An entire generation will grow up in that masjid without a local resource to take guidance from. What is the impact on those kids when they grow up to get married and have their own children?

What is the cost of having overly-aggressive daily congregants who yell at people, make people feel uncomfortable, and ultimately make them want to stay away from the masjid?

Will the construction committee that decided to build a customized dome instead of a more adequate women’s prayer space ever make it up to them?

What is the cost on a community of building a massive albatross of a school that can’t cover its own overhead – and yet services less than 5% of a community’s children?

What is the cost on a congregation when the Friday khutbah becomes associated entirely with fundraising instead of spiritual development?

Did anyone plan to repay this cultural debt when they were making decisions on behalf of the community? Who is paying attention to it?

Some communities are able to shift, and make strides. Some communities are able to recognize a larger vision for growing and developing a community spiritually.

For other communities, they are now over-leveraged. The culture debt is due. To continue the financial analogy, they’re at the point of declaring bankruptcy.

These are the masjids that are empty. These are the ones where, pardon the crassness, after a few people die off, the masjid will most likely die out as well because there is no community left to take over.

These are the communities that people avoid, where they refuse to volunteer, and eventually where people stop donating.

The culture debt of the community is that people no longer feel a part of the community, and therefore the infrastructure they worked so hard to build will crumble.

Cultural bankruptcy is the loss of people.

Can the culture debt be repaid? Is there a way out? How do you undo the loss of people?

I was really hoping to have a nice and tidy 5-step action plan to fix this. The reality is, it’s not going to be easy. People don’t realize the collateral damage they’ve caused over the course of 10-20 years despite the good intentions they had.

How do you get them to accept responsibility, much less change?

It’s not going to happen. The change will be outside the masjid. This means there will be a continued rise in third spaces. Parents are using online tutors instead of Sunday schools, making their children even less attached to the masjid. There will be an increase in small groups of families getting together in their homes instead of the masjid to try and build a sense of community. There will be an entire generation of new adults who will not even desire an attachment to the masjid beyond the Friday and funeral prayers.

People will replace the local community with online communities (and sometimes the dubious online personalities leading them)

People will replace the local community with online communities (and sometimes the dubious online personalities leading them).Click To Tweet

We all see the masjids in our community that have been hit hardest by this culture debt. They’re the ones that used to be full and are now empty – while the same 2 or 3 people remain in charge for literally decades. They’re the ones that we fear will eventually close down or be sold off due to a lack of any real community – because the community was never invested in to begin with.

Those in positions of influence should seriously take account of the consequences of their actions on the community. Recognize the wrongs that were done and do your best to rectify them. At the least, seek forgiveness for the ramifications of your actions.

We can no longer make the excuse of having to do what we had to do in order to get institutions up and running from scratch. As the saying goes – what got you here won’t get you there. The reality across America is that too many people have used the masjid to serve their own egos, fulfill their desires for power, and give themselves a big building as something to point at and say, “I built that.” Too few have created a vision for the spiritual upliftment of a community and then worked to serve it.

And now we see the consequences of those decisions. The culture debt is due, and we might not be able to pay it back.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

Trending