Being a Muslim convert is a rewarding experience in and of itself. It is often said converts go at their new found faith harder and with more zeal than most and it is refreshing and inspiring to those born into the faith. Being a convert gives a unique perspective in that we have been a part of life outside the faith and so we understand its appeal and of course its flaws. We also have a strong appreciation for the faith as well from a position of research and observation. In and of itself, it would seem being a convert is without any problems. Let me tell you the “dark side” of being a convert.
It often goes without saying that converts ultimately face problems with those from the former life. Family can sometimes misunderstand and be needlessly hurt by the convert’s decision to embrace Islam and turn from their former life, having become “different” from what we once were. While it is true that we become more conscious of our place among the Umma and how we are seen in the eyes of Allah (SWT) but our course remains as it was. We remain American or Swedish or whatever our nationality happens to be. It isn’t like embracing Islam has suddenly transformed us into Saudi Arabian or Iraqi. Our general tastes remain constant. Yes we still like burgers and fries. Yes we like soda still and television. No we don’t ride camels or suddenly believe all non-Muslims are infidels to be purged from the world (at least let us hope that’s the case). We become suddenly outside of what we’ve always considered home and safety. Sadly, this western view that becoming Muslim means we hate what we are not has reached the most unlikely of places. People who we once believed rational thinkers suddenly react in the most irrational way and we end up on the fringe. But what of our new Muslim brothers and sisters?
While there are a good number of Muslims who embrace us as brother or sister, sadly there is a sentiment that we are either not to be trusted or that we do not belong. As a convert I have felt this many times, ironically mostly in the US. It puts us in that limbo of not belonging anywhere. It bothers us that we are scrutinized for our choice to follow the right path on both sides and that we don’t truly belong. We become strangers in our own homes and sometimes even gossiped about (We understand Arabic too. We know what is being said.) by the very people who introduced us in the first place.
To our friends and family, embrace us still with the love you showed us before our decision to embrace Islam. We remain the same person in our core existence. Our beliefs have shifted and we hold strongly to our religion, but that does not change who we are. We remain friends, sons, brothers, daughters, fathers and mothers. To our Muslim brothers and sisters, embrace us and show us the way. We cannot do this alone. Embrace us as you would any other Muslim. Asalam alaiqum.