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16 For 2016: Muslim Athletes To Watch At The Rio Olympics

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Ummah Sports

Think about the typical advertising campaign for the Olympic Games.

More often than not, the focus is on finishing: Sticking the landing, crossing the finish line, scoring the gold-medal-winning goal, having one’s hand raised in victory.

For this summer’s Games of the XXXI Olympiad, more focus seems to be on simply getting things started.

In the seven years since the International Olympic Committee announced Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the host of the 2016 Olympics, the event has been plagued by health scares (Zika virus), safety concerns (three athletes have reportedly been kidnapped or robbed recently in Rio), performance-enhancing drugs (Russia’s track and field team has been banned for doping), unclean water, financial setbacks and construction roadblocks.

At this point, it will feel like a victory for Rio if the Opening Ceremony scheduled for August 5 actually happens. And if the Closing Ceremony set for August 21 manages to take place, that might be a borderline miracle.

Assuming these Olympics will get started and eventually come to a finish, here are 16 Muslim athletes to watch in Rio:

***** *****

 

 

Ayesha Al Balooshi

Ayesha Al Balooshi

AYESHA AL BALOOSHI
Weightlifting
United Arab Emirates

For the last couple of years, it was understandably assumed that if the United Arab Emirates qualified only one female weightlifter for the Rio Olympics, that one athlete would be Amna Al Haddad — the 26-year-old with Nike sponsorship who has gained global notoriety for breaking barriers by competing in hijab in a sport that only recently saw its international governing body allow women to do so.

But thanks in part to Al Haddad suffering a recent back injury, 24-year-old Al Balooshi was the one lifter (male or female) chosen to represent UAE in Rio. She is not unqualified for the honor. Al Balooshi scored higher marks than Al Haddad at this year’s Asian Championships, and she has been involved in the sport almost twice as long as the relative newcomer Al Haddad.

With reigning 58-kilogram (128-pound) world champion Boyanka Kostova of Azerbaijan out of these Olympics due to a PED suspension, Al Balooshi’s chances of landing on the medal stand automatically improve.

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Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

MUHAMMAD ALI
Boxing
Great Britain

Ali’s name carries a lot of weight in his sport, even if his body doesn’t. The 20-year-old flyweight (114 pounds / 52 kilograms) is fighting in a weight class in which his country hasn’t produced an Olympic medalist since 1968.

Ali brings an impressive amateur resume into the tournament, including a first-place finish at last year’s British Championships and a silver medal at the 2014 World Youth Championships.

But as long as he keeps his birth name he’ll inevitably be compared to the other Muhammad Ali, a.k.a. “The Greatest,” a.k.a. the former three-time world heavyweight champion and historic megastar who passed away earlier this year.

“He was a good human being,” the younger Ali said of his namesake in a recent interview. “He said what he believed in. And I really respect that about him. I have watched all his fights.”

***** *****

 

 

Al-Farouq Aminu (left)

Al-Farouq Aminu (left)

AL-FAROUQ AMINU
Basketball
Nigeria

The six-year NBA veteran swings between small forward and power forward for the Portland Trail Blazers, and is considered one of the league’s better defenders. His skills on that end of the court will be much-needed if Nigeria runs into Team USA superstars like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

Nigeria will need Aminu’s offense, too. He averaged a career-high 10.2 points per game this past regular season, then went off for 17.2 points per game while making 55 percent of his three-pointers in Portland’s second-round playoff series loss to the eventual Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors.

If Aminu keeps playing at that level, he could team with Detroit Pistons rookie Michael Gbinije and former NBA first-round draft pick Ike Diogu to lead Nigeria out of group play in the country’s second-ever Olympic basketball appearance.

(UPDATE: On the eve of the Olympics, Aminu left the Nigerian team due to a dispute over insurance for his NBA contract.)

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Sarah Attar

Sarah Attar

SARAH ATTAR
Track & Field
Saudi Arabia

Four years ago in London, Attar made history as part of the first-ever delegation of female athletes to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympics. She then received a standing ovation despite finishing in last place in her opening-round heat of the women’s 800-meter race.

At the time, Attar was a college student at Pepperdine University (Malibu, Calif.), where she ran on the track and cross country teams. Since then, the 23-year-old Attar has graduated from school and dedicated herself full-time to training. She has competed in marathons and improved her personal-best time in the 800 to a flat two minutes and 40 seconds.

***** *****

 

 

Mutaz Essa Barshim

Mutaz Essa Barshim

MUTAZ ESSA BARSHIM
Track & Field
Qatar

Even when he doesn’t win the men’s high jump competition, Barshim just looks like he’s jumping higher than everyone else. Tall, lanky, smooth and effortlessly bouncy, Barshim is track and field’s answer to NBA Slam Dunk champion Zach LaVine — except Barshim can get his entire body almost as high as an NBA rim while jumping backwards.

Barshim has collected handfuls of gold medals in Asian and Arab regional championships, as well as a gold medal from the 2014 World Indoor Championships. He has threatened to break the high jump world record; his personal best of 2.43 meters (7 feet, 11.5 inches) is the second-highest jump in history behind Cuban legend Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45-meter (8 feet, 0.25 inches) leap from 1993.

Barshim, however, is still reaching for the two highest prizes in his sport, that being Olympic and outdoor World Championship gold. He earned a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics and a silver at the outdoor 2013 World Championships.

***** *****

 

 

Mahama Cho

Mahama Cho

MAHAMA CHO
Taekwondo
Great Britain

The son of former African taekwondo champion Zakaia Cho, Mahama left his native Ivory Coast as a child to move to Europe, where he took up his father’s sport and represented France and later Great Britain on the international level.

The 26-year-old Cho is ranked No. 6 in the world in the men’s over-80-kilograms (176 pounds) division and finished in first place at the European Olympic qualifying tournament. He won a gold medal at the 2013 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, and a silver at the 2014 tournament.

“I promote my religion to the best of my ability through my sport,” Cho said in an Ummah Sports feature in 2014. “In my life, showing a good image and then letting people know that I am Muslim is why I think people end up attracted to me. They don’t concentrate on the negativity of Islam but the beauty of what I do as a professional through Islam.”

***** *****

 

 

Mo Farah

Mo Farah

MO FARAH
Track & Field
Great Britain

Farah, 33, is the world’s marquee name in distance running. And after Jamaican sprinting superstar Usain Bolt, Farah is perhaps the planet’s most famous active track and field athlete.

At the last three major outdoor championships — the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and the 2015 World Championships in Beijing — Farah hogged all of the gold by sweeping the men’s 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races.

Whether it’s his specialty races on the track, half-marathons and marathons on the road, or in cross country races through the woods, Farah is expected to win just about every time he steps to the starting line. Sometimes he has entire delegations of runners from other countries aiming to literally block him from finishing first. And still, most of the time Farah winds up doing his popular “Mo-Bot” victory celebration — before his customary sujood prostration to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) on the track.

***** *****

 

 

Habiba Ghribi

Habiba Ghribi

HABIBA GHRIBI
Track & Field
Tunisia

Ghribi came across the finish line in second place in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 World Championships, but was awarded the gold medals for both races earlier this year after first-place finisher Yulia Zaripova of Russia was retroactively disqualified for doping.

In Rio, Ghribi’s goal is to earn the gold in the old-fashioned way of beating everyone else on the track.

Last year, Ghribi ran the fourth-fastest time ever in her event at 9:05.36, an African record. This year, she is peaking at just the right time for an Olympic triumph, posting a season’s best 9:21.35 on July 23 in London.

***** *****

 

 

Jessica Houara-d'Hommeaux

Jessica Houara-d’Hommeaux

JESSICA HOUARA-D’HOMMEAUX
Soccer
France

One of the few women’s soccer teams with a realistic chance of upsetting the powerhouse U.S. squad for gold is France. Houara-d’Hommeaux has a track record of success against the Americans, scoring one of her three career international goals against them in a 2015 upset victory in a friendly match.

The 28-year-old midfielder plays professionally for Paris Saint-Germain in France’s Division 1 Feminine, where her teams have won the Coupe de France Feminine and finished second in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. She also helped France to a fourth-place finish at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Last year, Houara-d’Hommeaux posed for a photo in the French magazine Surface wearing a hoodie like a hijab headscarf and soccer netting over her face similar to a niqab. Wearing a niqab in public is illegal in France, a controversial and polarizing law that made Houara-d’Hommeaux’s photo a bold choice.

A Sports Illustrated article said: “Given Houara’s Algerian descent, the image does not seem to be about appropriating or parodying the veil. It is not a comment about the oppression of Muslim women. Instead, the portrait seems to be about quietly slaying some misconceptions. After all, it is not often that hijab is associated with athletic achievement and inclusiveness.”

***** *****

 

 

Abdul Khalili

Abdul Khalili

ABDUL KHALILI
Soccer
Sweden

In his day job, Khalili plays midfielder for Mersin Idmanyurdu in Turkey’s Super Lig and has scored 17 goals in his professional career. In his spare time, he is a rising star in his native Sweden’s national team program.

Khalili helped the Swedish under-21 squad to a first-place finish at the 2015 UEFA European Championship for his age group, beating Portugal in the final match. This year, Khalili could help his country’s senior national team to its first Olympic medal since Sweden took bronze at the 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland.

***** *****

 

 

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Ibtihaj Muhammad

 

 

IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD
Fencing
United States

Muhammad, 30, will make history when she steps into Carioca Arena 3 for her first match in the women’s sabre fencing competition in Rio. She will become the first U.S. athlete in any sport to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab headscarf.

In the meantime, Muhammad has been catching up to former NBA superstar Hakeem Olajuwon as perhaps the most famous Muslim athlete to ever compete for Team USA in the Olympics. (Muhammad Ali was still going by his birth name, Cassius Clay, and had not yet converted to Islam when he boxed at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.) She has appeared on talk shows such as “Ellen” and been featured in magazines such as Elle. She has met with President Barack Obama at the White House. The clothing line she founded for women who want to dress modestly, called Louella, is gaining in popularity. She has over 51,000 followers on Instagram and over 14,000 followers on Twitter. TIME magazine named Muhammad one of their “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2016.

Muhammad is ranked No. 8 in the world by the International Fencing Federation and will have more eyes on her than any Olympic fencer in recent memory. But even if she doesn’t win a medal in Rio, she has already scored victories for Muslims all over the country and around the world.

***** *****

Adrien Niyonshuti

Adrien Niyonshuti

ADRIEN NIYONSHUTI
Cycling
Rwanda

There is not a more compelling “tragedy to triumph” story in these Olympics than that of Niyonshuti. When he was just seven years old, six of his brothers were killed in the infamous Rwandan genocide of 1994.

After learning how to ride a bicycle as a teenager, Niyonshuti was spotted by cycling legend Jonathan Boyer (the first American to compete in the Tour de France) during a charity mission to Rwanda and taken under his wing. Niyonshuti soon became the first Rwandan to compete on Europe’s professional cycling circuit and qualified for the 2012 Olympics in cross-country mountain biking. He was his country’s flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremony. After the Olympics, he opened the Adrian Niyonshuti Cycling Academy in Rwanda.

In Rio, the 29-year-old will compete in the men’s road race.

***** *****

 

 

Hassan Rahimi

Hassan Rahimi

HASSAN RAHIMI
Wrestling
Iran

Ranked No. 2 in the world in the 57-kilogram (126-pound) weight class in men’s freestyle wrestling, Rahimi was predicted to win the gold medal in this month’s Sports Illustrated Olympic preview issue. Of the four Iranian men’s freestyle wrestlers picked to medal, Rahimi was the only one picked to win gold. (Iran’s Hamid Souryan Reihanpour was predicted to win gold in the 59-kilo (130-pound) men’s Greco-Roman wrestling division.)

Rahimi, 27, will try to make up for a disappointing 2012 Olympics in which he finished eighth after losing his second-round match to India’s Amit Kumar. Since that letdown of a performance, Rahimi has won gold (2013), bronze (2014) and silver (2015) medals at the Wrestling World Championships.

***** *****

 

 

Siddikur Rahman

Siddikur Rahman

SIDDIKUR RAHMAN
Golf
Bangladesh

Golf is back in the Olympics for the first time since 1904. But due to fears over the Zika virus — and perhaps a little issue with a lack of adequate prize money — a lot of the world’s best golfers have turned down invitations to play in Rio.

But in the absence of big-name stars like Tiger Woods steps the man referred to as the “Tiger Woods of Bengal.” As an amateur, Rahman won 12 tournaments in Asia. Since turning pro in 2005, he has notched two wins on the Asian Tour — the first golfer from Bangladesh to win on the tour — and six wins on the Tour of India.

***** *****

 

 

Leila Rajabi

Leila Rajabi

LEILA RAJABI
Track & Field
Iran

After marrying Iranian sprinter Peyman Rajabi and becoming an Iranian citizen, Belarus native Leila Rajabi converted to Islam, changed her name, and quickly went about the business of becoming the best female shot-putter to ever represent Iran.

Rajabi owns the national record in the shot put at 18.18 meters (59 feet, 7 inches). She has won gold medals at the Asian Indoor Games and the Asian Indoor Championships, as well as silver at the Asian Games (outdoor) and the Asian Championships.

***** *****

 

 

Elif Yale Yesilirmak

Elif Yale Yesilirmak

 

 

 

ELIF JALE YESILIRMAK
Wrestling
Turkey

Yesilirmak is a two-time bronze medalist in the 58-kilogram (128-pound) women’s freestyle division at the Wrestling World Championships, a two-time bronze medalist at the European Championships, and a gold medalist at the 2013 Mediterranean Championships.

Yesilirmak converted to Islam after moving to Turkey from her native Russia. In 2012, she became the first female wrestler to represent Turkey in the Olympics. She failed to reach the medal stand in London, but has won medals at four major wrestling meets since then. Yesilirmak has also been a prominent figure in the growth of women’s wrestling in Turkey; the country is bringing five female wrestlers to the Rio Olympics.

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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.

Amaar Abdul-Nasir was born and raised in Seattle, Wash., and received his B.A. in Journalism from Seattle University. A sports writer and editor by trade, Amaar founded UmmahSports.net, which focuses on Muslim athletes and health and fitness in the Muslim community, following his conversion to Islam in 2013.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Eman

    August 3, 2016 at 6:17 AM

    There are actually far more Muslims from African countries who actually have greater chance to win medals! Like athletes from Sudan and Ethiopia.

    • Avatar

      Amaar

      August 3, 2016 at 6:49 AM

      This list is just a sampling. But feel free to name any other Muslim Olympians you’re aware of so we can all know who else to watch for…

      • Avatar

        Saima Khwaja

        August 5, 2016 at 7:59 PM

        There is a syrian swimmer named Isra as well. She was a refugee now living in Germany.

  2. Avatar

    Abdullah

    August 3, 2016 at 9:54 PM

    With all due respect – I do question the wisdom of any Muslim support of the Olympics – particularly the Rio Olympics.

    Firstly, watching or going to the Olympics while taking into account the preponderance of political strife in Rio, the extent of prostitution and the growth in the ‘sex trade’ due to the influx of tourists and the un-payed police – all while the Brazilian government spends ludicrous amounts on facilitating this ancient Greek show of strength is unethical for any person, let alone a Muslim who has knowledge of way of the Prophet. How can one watch such blatant hypocrisy – instead of tax money being spent to help locals or give them their most basic rights in the short term such as adequate housing and safety, it is spent on this nonsense. How can one bring themselves to even watch this? The argument that the Olympics brings in money to the country is fallacious and does not justify the misery that the people have faced to reach such an end.

    Secondly, it is agreed upon that it is impermissible for a female to do sports in front of male audiences and the four schools agree that it is impermissible for a man to look at a woman that is attractive to him. Perhaps the author thinks that highlighting the presence of Muslims in the Olympics will bring some respite to the Islamophobia experienced by Muslims, often accused of not fully participating on the world stage – however the true safety from all evil is in trusting in God and holding firmly to the last rope that has yet to be severed – The blessed Sunnah of the Prophet.

    and Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Amaar

      August 4, 2016 at 3:54 AM

      At some point, though, shouldn’t some responsibility fall on us as Muslim brothers to not view everything our sisters do as alluring or sexual in some way? I grew up watching women’s basketball, track and field, soccer, etc. And I can still today watch these sports and look at these female athletes not as objects of desire but as competitors — just like I’d watch men’s sports.

      • Avatar

        Abdullah

        August 4, 2016 at 9:45 PM

        I suggest you refer this question to a scholar brother. It is important not to project our own cultural experiences onto absolute rules.

        Apologies if I caused any offence, may Allah grant you every success.

      • Avatar

        L Squire

        August 7, 2016 at 7:50 PM

        Right on, brother!

      • Avatar

        Nik Mohamed

        August 11, 2016 at 3:32 AM

        I absolutely agree!
        Muslims around the world still view female participants as an object of “awra”, instead of who they are as an individual.

    • Avatar

      D'arcy

      August 6, 2016 at 11:14 PM

      Abdullah…..get a life.

    • Avatar

      g. mcmillian

      August 7, 2016 at 6:12 PM

      While I have contemporary for Islam and followers of the depraved muhammed, you are among the worst. It is your radical attitude that promotes and helps my attitude flouish. Shame on you. This why Islam must be extenguished.

      • Avatar

        Abdullah

        August 7, 2016 at 8:42 PM

        Let’s not conflate orthodoxy with radicalism.

        My first argument was purely secular in logic and humanitarian.

        The second was an Orthodox view based on respect for women that is shared by the 3 Abrahamic faiths – and praise be to God is still practiced by many Muslims, orthodox Jews and eastern-Christian churches.

        It is in fact your bigotry, blanketing and projecting prejudiced notions onto other people you have never met that needs to be distinguished.

        Good day.

      • Avatar

        Abdullah

        August 7, 2016 at 8:44 PM

        *extinguished…………………….

    • Avatar

      Jiptar

      August 10, 2016 at 12:59 AM

      Have you read the Quran? Full of love and inspiration isn’t it? http://www.clearquran.com/#

    • Avatar

      Gouk

      August 10, 2016 at 2:30 PM

      A muslim woman has as much rights to complete in the olympics as any muslim man. Iam thankful times are changing in favour for muslim woman after all it is 2016 ha ha

    • Avatar

      Go uk

      August 10, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      I am so proud that there are muslim woman competing in the olympics. I hope they all do very well. I am not a muslim woman myself so why am i proud?? Because they have as much right as any other woman has to be in the olympics. Good luck to them all

    • Avatar

      Nayeem

      August 10, 2016 at 9:09 PM

      Also, didn’t the Olympics originate as a competition in honor of false gods? How can it be permissible for any Muslim to ever take part in it?

    • Avatar

      Mohammad

      August 10, 2016 at 9:19 PM

      Agreed with brother abdullah

    • Avatar

      Dosa

      August 13, 2016 at 7:03 AM

      As a Muslim woman I am so tired of the Muslim man being our first enemy when it comes to achieving anything. I would understand if you were talking about wearing bikini’s and all that which is clearly against Islamic belief’s ( but Muslims who want to do that can and its between them and God and don’t need u to be demeaning them) but those who have bothered to find ways of wearing a scarf and dressing as modestly as they can deserve to be recognized. The belief of women not being something else other than a pretty face locked in a house having kids idea does not come from Islam, it came befre religion existed so that is nothing but culture and not Islam since Islam honors women and empowers them also most of our hadith’s come from a WOMAN who knew our prophet pbh best. Maybe men need to learn to stop objectifying women because that is the real problem here, ur argument could also been about why men should not be in the olympics to since men’s awrah is between their belly button and their knees but clearly they are all not adhering to that. Wonder why u failed to mention that and took it upon urself on telling us just about the women.

    • Avatar

      Brian

      August 23, 2016 at 7:06 PM

      Allah does know best. Who teaches it is not permitted for a women to compete in front of a man? That is culture, not Islam. Women should be treated with equality and respect. That is Islam. And this is an opportunity for Muslims to show the world we exist outside radical crazy groups like ISIS, The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Boko Harram, etc.
      If you don’t want to see a women compete because you feel it is against your Islam, don’t watch. But don’t denigrate the women who are representing their nations and our faith properly and respectfully.

  3. Avatar

    Mohammed

    August 4, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    Please also list all the catholic and jewish olympic participants so we can also know who to watch for

  4. Avatar

    Zubair

    August 4, 2016 at 9:35 PM

    You missed out Sania Mirza from India. She is WTA No. 1 Doubles Players. She recently Won Australian Open along with Martina Hingis too.

  5. Avatar

    Zain

    August 5, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    MashAllah. .Good to see Muslims Athletes performing is 2016 Olympics.

  6. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    August 6, 2016 at 10:03 AM

    peace….lets pray, islam one way or the other is seen..censored or not….our honour and the rest is a gift to Him…Allah the One and only….

    May Allah be with all the Olympians m u s l i m or not……john, as a child said he was not created to…!

    it began along time ago, even before that….No matter what God loves us all…..

    may be here in the world, but Jannah has the best of us..may we get there…..ameeeeen…..

  7. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    August 6, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    devoid of love..sorry…that me…future is history..already but we all know not….as to that day….the Beloved is truly laha….

    Allah’s mercy comes before the other….because the latter may have some to to do with what is darkness on that day….

    ya sattar…ya ghaffar….ya malik al-mulk…..O’ Allah, it always has been YOU…THE FIRST THE LAST…..let us pass this test….eyes ears and……? we all responsible….decision decisions….

    peace unto you me and all

  8. Avatar

    Muslim from Russia

    August 6, 2016 at 8:08 PM

    No Russian athletes? Really? There’s plenty of Muslims in Russia and consequently quite a lot of Muslim athletes, espesially in such manly sports as wrestling of all types. I mean, a bearded Muslim judoist from Kabardino-Balkaria just one the first gold medal for his country! Whereas the half of the people on these list have no chances of getting near the Olympic pedestal… Seems a bit unfair to me. Hope you guys are not involved in this pro-American, anti-Russian olympic propaganda. First of all, you are Muslims, and then and only then you’re Americans or anyone else. So, please, respect all your brothers and sisters, be they Russian, Turkish, Nigerian, Chinese , etc.

  9. Avatar

    Amaar

    August 6, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    I didn’t include any Russian athletes because, up until about 2 days before the Olympics began, the entire Russian delegation was in danger of being barred from the Games due to the doping investigation.

  10. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    August 8, 2016 at 11:07 PM

    sallam alaikom,

    amendments* …not sure whether here or under the trump article…….not been briefed!?….reason for uncertainty…who knows?..suppose we’ll find out.

    as an addition to the above or the below…sorry it is confusing…just to try and clarify the confusion in a wee little bit….above or below..not known..as my mind is all round the globe…i.e. I’m cuckoo :) :(…as to the addition! the Baptist John bit continuation……there is an Islamic narration that states the following:

    ”once upon a time,……John and jesus (peace be upon them both) met…..Jesus asked John ‘why are you smiling and happy as if you are free/secure from Allah’s punishment?’, then john asked jesus ‘ why are you frowning as if you are in despair of Allah’s Mercy?’…albeit, Allah revealed to them that john’s way was more dearer to Him.

    as to the initial quotation of john not being created to..(……..) as he said as a wee boy…summary of which is ‘Allah only created us to worship Him’.

    hour for your Lord and hour for self…..intentions and actions……

    p.s. pslam 34;1-2 for being cynical in thought…..as for what is after that, I have not read it..so part of my testimony is the following……..

    Allah forgive me you and us all. Peace on our Beloved Muhammed.

    peace

  11. Avatar

    Noble Peace

    August 8, 2016 at 11:29 PM

    la yamun mukr Allah ila al-qaum al-….(…..not sure whether it is al-daleen/al-fasakeen..or is is something else?!..or even so, whether it is grammatically wrong i.e. is it ..oon…..

    another la sentence as is known ..la yaeyas min Rhmat Allah ila al-qaum al-kaferoon…whether it is een or oon…Allah knows best and may be someone well versed in the book and grammar. just wished to mention mainly the last sentence, just as a reminder..that sometimes as we are humans it is allowed…and it does not mean that we disbelieve, but may be a khisla of kufr needs getting rid of from with-in our selves and actions…

    2020…..was that mentioned here or there?…istigfirAllah….and none of us know it in-sha-Allah….is it still around or do you even have it on your shores??….please, someone answer…or may be i’ll keep on blabbing on and on…..because ya wail…..

    main thing….

    O’ Allah make us all strong and steadfast on the Haqq.

    peace

  12. Avatar

    Jodie

    August 12, 2016 at 1:17 PM

    Good luck to IBTIHAJ Muhammad representing the USA.

  13. Avatar

    Emy

    August 14, 2016 at 3:31 AM

    Hi.
    Saaid from Maldives. 100m sprint.

  14. Avatar

    ray irwin

    August 15, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    Muslim gold medal winners are as rare as Muslim Nobel Prize winners

  15. Avatar

    Ingush

    August 22, 2016 at 4:09 AM

    Hasan Halmurzaev Russia djudo muslim in sha Allah. Aniar Geduev and Beslan Mudranov Russia Muslim. all Olympic champion in Caucasus! Allahu akbar

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It’s the end of the year, and I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking – after wondering if New Year’s is halal to celebrate, you probably want to lose some weight, make more money, talk to family more, or be a better Muslim in some way.  The New Year for many of us is a moment to turn a fresh page and re-imagine a better self. We make resolutions and hope despite the statistics we’ll be the outliers that don’t fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions.

Studies show the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances and health. Unfortunately, they also show only a relatively small number will keep most or all of them. The rest will mostly fail within the first few weeks.

Given such a high failure rate, let’s talk about how you can be among the few who set and achieve your goals successfully.

1. Be Thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

Allah Gives You More if You’re Thankful

You’ve been successful this past year in a number of areas. Think of your worship, career, relationships, personality, education, health (physical, mental, social, and spiritual), and finances. Take a moment to reflect on where you’ve succeeded, no matter how trivial, even if it’s just maintaining the status quo, and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for those successes.

When you’re thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He increases you in blessings.  Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [14:7] 

In recent years, there’s been more discussion on the benefits of practicing gratitude, though oftentimes it’s not clear to whom or what you’re to be grateful towards. We, of course, know that we’re not grateful simply to the great unconscious cosmos, but to our Creator.

Despite this difference, there exist interesting studies on how the practice of gratitude affect us. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better relationships with those thanked
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved psychological health
  • Enhanced empathy and reduced aggression
  • Better sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved mental strength

Building on Your Successes

In addition to being thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), reflect on why you were successful in those areas.  What was it you did day in and day out to succeed? Analyze it carefully and think of how you can either build on top of those present successes, or how you can transport the lessons from those successes to new areas of your life to succeed there as well.

In the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, they note that we have a tendency to try to solve big problems with big solutions, but a better technique that has actual real-world success in solving complex problems is to instead focus on bright spots and build on those bright spots instead. You have bright spots in how you’ve worked and operated, so reflect on your successes and try to build on top of them.

2. Pick One Powerful, Impactful Goal

Oftentimes when we want to change, we try to change too many areas.  This can lead to failure quickly because change in one area is not easy, and attempting to do it in multiple areas simultaneously will simply accelerate failure.

Instead, pick one goal – a goal that you are strongly motivated to fulfill, and one that you know if you were to make that goal, it would have a profoundly positive impact on your life as well as on others whom you are responsible to.

In making the case based on scientific studies, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Further down, he states:

“However (and this is crucial to understand) follow-up research has discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one thing at a time.”

When setting your goal, be sure to set a SMART goal, one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound.  “I want to lose weight” is not a SMART goal.  “I want to achieve 10% bodyfat at 200 lbs in 9 months” is specific (you know the metrics to achieve), measurable (you can check if you hit those metrics), achievable (according to health experts, it can be done, realistic (it’s something you can do), and time-bound (9 months).

3. Repeatedly Make Du’a with Specificity

Once you lock onto your goal, you should ask for success in your goal every day, multiple times a day.  Increasing in your du’a and asking Allah for success not only brings you the help of the Most High in getting to your goal, it also ensures it remains top of mind consistently.

A few of the best ways to increase the chances of a supplication being accepted:

  • Increase the frequency of raising your hands after salah and asking for your intended outcome.
  • Asking while you are in sujood during prayers.
  • Praying and supplicating in the last 3rd of the night during qiyam ul-layl.

When you make your du’a, be specific in what you ask for, and in turn, you will have a specific rather than a vague goal at the forefront of your mind which is important because one of the major causes of failure for resolutions themselves is lacking specificity.

4. Schedule Your Goal for Consistency

The most powerful impact on the accomplishment of any goal isn’t in having the optimal technique to achieve the goal – it is rather how consistent you are in trying to achieve it.  The time and frequency given to achievement regularly establishes habits that move from struggle to lifestyle. As mentioned in the previous section, day, time, and place were all important to getting the goal, habit, or task accomplished.

In order to be consistent, schedule it in your calendar of choice. When you schedule it, make sure you:

  • Pick the time you’re most energetic and likely to do it.
  • Work out with family, friends, and work that that time is blocked out and shouldn’t be interrupted.
  • Show up even if you’re tired and unmotivated – do something tiny, just to make sure you maintain the habit.

A Word on Automation

Much continues to be written about jobs lost to automation, but there are jobs we should love losing to automation, namely, work that we do that can be done freely or very cheaply by a program.  For example, I use Mint to capture all my accounts (bank, credit card, investments, etc) and rather than the old method of gathering receipts and tracking transactions, all of it is captured online and easily accessible from any device.

Let’s say you wanted to give to charity, and you wanted to give a recurring donation of $5 a month to keep MuslimMatters free – all you have to do is set up an automated recurring donation at the link and you’re done.

Likewise, if you’re saving money for a goal, you can easily do so by automating a specific amount of money coming out of your bank account into another account via the online banking tools your bank provides.  You can automate bill payments and other tasks to clear your schedule, achieve your goals, and keep you focused on working the most important items.

5. Focus on Behaviors, Not Outcomes

We’re often told we should set up SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.  However, one way to quickly fail a goal is by defining success according to outcomes, which aren’t necessarily in your hand.  For example, you might say as above:

“I want to be at 10% body fat in 9 months at 200 lbs.”

This is a SMART goal, and it’s what you should aim for, but when you assess success, you shouldn’t focus on the result as it’s somewhat outside the scope of your control. What you can do is focus on behaviors that help you achieve that goal, or get close to it, and then reset success around whether you’re completing your behaviors.  As an example:

“I want to complete the P90X workout and diet in 90 days.”

Here, you’re focused on generally accepted notions on behaviors that will get you close to your goal.  Why? Because you control your behaviors, but you can’t really control the outcomes. Reward yourself when you follow through on your behavior goals, and the day-to-day commitments you make.  If you find that compliance is good, and you’re getting closer to your goal, keep at it.

Read the following if you want to really understand the difference in depth.

6. Set Realistic Expectations – Plan to Fail, and Strategize Recovery

After too many failures, most people give up and fall off the wagon.  You will fail – we all do. Think of a time you’ve failed – what should you have done to get back on your goal and complete it?  Now reflect on the upcoming goal – reflect on the obstacles that will come your way and cause you to fail, and how when you do fail, you’ll get right back on it.

Once you fail, ask yourself, was it because of internal motivation, an external circumstance, a relationship where expectations weren’t made clear, poor estimation of effort – be honest, own what you can do better, and set about attempting to circumvent the obstacle and try again.

7. Assess Your Progress at Realistic Intervals

Once you’re tracking behaviors, simply mark down in an app or tracker that you completed the behavior.  Once you see you’re consistent in your behaviors over the long-term, you’ll have the ability to meaingfully review your plan and assess goal progress.

This is important because as you attempt to perform the work necessary to accomplish the goal, you’ll find that your initial assessments for completion could be wrong. Maybe you need more time, maybe you need a different time. Maybe you need a different process for accomplishing your goals. Assess your success at both weekly and monthly intervals, and ask yourself:

  • How often was I able to fulfill accomplish my required behaviors?  How often did I miss?
  • What was the reason for those misses?
  • Can I improve what I’m doing incrementally and change those failures to successes?  Or is the whole thing wrong and not working?

Don’t make changes when motivation dies after a few days.  Don’t make big changes on a weekly basis. Set an appointment on a weekly basis simply to review successes and challenges, making small tweaks while maintaining the overall plan. Set a monthly appointment with yourself to review and decide what you’ll change, if anything, in how you operate.

Be something of a Tiger mom about it – aim for 90% completion of behaviors, or an A grade, when assessing whether you’ve done well or not.  Anything below 90% is a failing grade.

(ok, so Tiger Moms want 100% or more, but let’s assume this is a somewhat forgiving Tiger Mom)

Putting it All Together

Set ‘Em Up

  • First, take a moment to reflect and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for what you’ve achieved, and reflect on what it is you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done in the way you worked and operated that helped you succeed.
  • Next, pick one goal and one goal alone to achieve, and use the SMART goal methodology to be clear about what it is.
  • Once this is done, make du’a with strong specificity on a regular basis during all times, and especially during the times when du’as are most likely to be accepted.

Knock ‘Em Down

  • Schedule your goal into a calendar, making sure you clear the time with any individuals who will be impacted by your changed routines and habits.
  • On a daily basis, focus on completing behaviors, not the outcomes you’re aiming for – the behaviors get you to the outcomes.
  • Plan on failing occasionally, especially a week after motivation disappears, and plan for how you’ll bounce back immediately and recover from it.
  • Finally, on a daily and weekly basis, assess yourself to see if you’re keeping on track with your behaviors and make adjustments to do better. On a monthly basis, assess how much closer you are to your goal, and if you’re making good progress, or if you’re not making good progress, and try to understand why and what adjustments you’ll make.

What goals do you plan to achieve in the coming year?

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I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator
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It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

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Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

covery islam story
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“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.

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