As a revert you find yourself in some difficult situations with so many mixed emotions. The enormous peace and happiness at having accepted Islam; the pressure and strain of having to learn so much from scratch; the confusion at being told different opinions. I wanted to share some of the struggles a revert might face, though this by no means affects all reverts and is by no means all of the struggles.
Finding where you belong:
For a while, you find yourself in a kind of no mans land. Many reverts lose a lot of friends when they convert to Islam. Many reverts also sadly experience difficulties in their relationships with their families. I have heard of many reverts who are completely disowned, shunned and pushed out of their family. It isn’t always this bad but most reverts experience backlash of some kind from family and/or friends. The lucky few who are accepted lovingly and without question by those around them still have to find where they belong in the Muslim community. Again I have heard many varying degrees of acceptance of lack of it for reverts in the Muslim community.
Initially there is often a great warm welcoming from Muslims when they meet/hear of someone who embraced Islam. How long this warm welcome lasts is the issue sometimes. There are unfortunately, born Muslims who don’t regard revert Muslims as ‘proper’ Muslims. Sometimes it can feel like you aren’t wanted or welcome by non-Muslims or Muslims. It can take some time to feel like you are in fact a proper Muslim. It can take some time to feel like you belong in a mosque. It takes time to feel like you have the right to say you are Muslim.
Fear of doing something wrong:
A Muslim with anxiety of going to a mosque. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Scared of doing something wrong, something offensive, something frowned upon. This is especially the case when the mosque is predominantly attended by Muslims of a particular background who tend to have cultural practices attached to their routines in the mosques.
Not being taken seriously as a Muslim:
This can happen from both non-Muslims and Muslims. When born Muslims hear you are a revert, they can make assumptions that you don’t practice fully. Non-Muslims can make allusions to things you must have done before embracing Islam and not being convinced that you don’t do them anymore.
Being viewed as extreme:
The other end of the spectrum. Again this happens from both Muslims and non-Muslims. Many reverts embrace Islam and as they learn about all of the acts of worship they begin to practice them as much as they can. The love of the new found religion and the strength of imaan helping them do this. Born Muslims view can view reverts such as these as ‘extreme’ and unnecessary. Likewise with non-Muslims. They know of/have Muslims friends who don’t wear the hijab, so why do you need to? Etc etc
People assuming you converted for a guy:
This tends to mostly be the case for female reverts, in my experience I haven’t heard of male reverts being met by assumptions that they converted for a girl.
Many people jump to this conclusion especially if they know you are a revert and that you are married: never mind about when either of these events occurred. There is nothing wrong with the fact that some people learn about Islam through a guy. This is a means for Allah to guide them and it does happen a lot. What I find irritating is that the assumption is automatically made and people don’t hesitate to ask me this. I found Islam before I met my husband.
People not believing that you are British (or whatever your nationality is):
I have lost count the amount of times people ask me where I am from
Britain, I tell them. Yeah but where are your parents from? My parents are British. Oh ok, so where are they originally from? My dad is Scottish and my mum is half Scottish half English. Looks of confusion. Even Muslims assume I am not originally British, and proceed to guess my country of origin.
This encounter doesn’t bother me but it can get tiring having to explain and convince people of your country of origin.
Muslims assuming you don’t know things:
This still happens to me and I’m sure it always will. There is nothing wrong with reminders and every reminder benefits the believer but it can feel disheartening when Muslims assume you don’t know anything. I’m talking about simple and basic principles of Islam. I know people usually have the best of intentions but it can be hard not be sensitive about these things at times.
There are may changes a revert has to go through when they become a Muslim and they can be met with difficulties from both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities in their lives. All of the struggles of being a revert, at the end of the day it is all worth it. Alhamdulillah.
To be continued…