“A lot of times I come across reverts/converts, who swear that born and raised Muslims have a leg up, are ungrateful, and just take Islam for granted”
Being a convert myself, I personally have never said that born Muslims have a “leg up”, per se, or are ungrateful. I believe that way of thinking would be arrogant and conceited. But I do think that the only thing born Muslims often have a “leg up” on is the love and support of their family, being invited to iftars, eid celebrations, etc.
Converts rarely get that support from their family or from Muslims, and are often shunned away. I wanted to write about this to make it a learning experience for both born Muslims, born Muslims who reverted back to Islam, and convert Muslims. This is my sincere attempt to represent all sides of the Muslim community as a whole (ummah), I will offer examples on how this can also be the case for born-Muslims as well.
Before going further in depth, I want to be clear in stating that all Muslims struggle with their deen (religion). God guides whomever he wants to Islam. Even if someone is born Muslim, they could still be led astray by the dunya (this worldly life) and be guided back to the faith in a similar way to that of a convert/revert. As it says countless times in the Quran, God guides whomever he wants to Islam, even if they are still born Muslim, they could still be lead astray. While I myself am not a born Muslim, I do know of some struggles that those born into Islam might go through. In the U.S. I have seen that there are some born-Muslim women who want to wear a head-covering (hijab) but their families do not believe in it, and do not want them to wear it. When the woman does go ahead with wearing the headscarf, the family sometimes lashes out negatively towards them.
Another example is that of a Muslim sister from a secular, former-USSR, Muslim-majority country. In this country, and like many other former-USSR countries, the people try to hide all aspects of all religions, not just Islam. As a result, this sister’s family no longer practices Islam outwardly but are merely Muslim by name. So, when she wanted to start practicing and chose to wear hijab, her family became very upset and scared for her. Those this sister faced these problems with her family, they still loves her because she still has the same religion as them, even if she is practicing and they are not.
Later in the post that I mentioned at the beginning of the article someone else commented that,
“People who came to Islam have it better in my opinion. Converts have been through the dunya (this world) and understand that is something they don’t want. Born and raised Muslims have to choose a path for themselves. We were taught to avoid evil which is so tempting to us. We have never really experienced that “LIFE” which a lot of us want to but understand it is haram. So it is a bit tempting and a hard struggle for us. We have to come to Islam for ourselves. No doubt. Some of us see Islam as our culture instead of our way of life.”
Being a convert, I wouldn’t say we have it worse but I wouldn’t say we have it better either. I think all Muslims and humans have to fight demon’s in their lives. Which may be wanting to fit in with the rest of society or to have your family love and accept you for who you are.
When they stated,
“We have never really experienced that “LIFE”, which a lot of us want to but understand it is haram. So it is a bit tempting and a hard struggle for us.”
What they said there is a double edged sword because many converts I know miss just having a glass of wine ever once in awhile or going to a club to dance. We may be converts but we know it is haram too. It’s also a struggle for some converts who know what that previous lifestyle was like and fight themselves not to go back to it. Many converts regret what they did before Islam and wish they never did any of those bad things. The temptations in this dunya are hard to resist but, God willing, the worldly temptations will be halal in heaven.
Drinking and partying is nothing exciting to go back to. If you ever had a hangover, you would understand. A lot of us converts also wish we grew up in a Muslim family, to protect us from this nasty and cruel world. Also, to celebrate Muslim holidays with us.
In addition, some converts/reverts find some born-Muslims to be unwelcoming, or face backlash from their families and societies for the decision of coming to Islam. This can be overwhelming for some converts, and as a result unfortunately some go back to Christianity, hide that they are Muslim, and/or go back to their old ways of life.
It does not matter how one comes into the religion,born or through conversion, everyone must “choose a path for themselves.” Maybe a born-Muslim feels that they want to no longer practice Islam, or that they want to begin being a practicing Muslim. It is entirely their choice,but both come with the possibility of potential family backlash depending on their specific family situation.
It is true that some born Muslims see Islam more of a cultural aspect of their way of life. As a convert, I feel lucky to not have culture confused with my religion, since I learned the religion from the root of Islam and not from culture.
In the end, we are all Muslims and as Muslims, we should not let our differences drive us apart or into the opinion that one is better than the other, those born into Islam or those who found it later in life. If we give into that divisiveness, we are letting the racist Islamophobes in Western countries win. Islamophobic people don’t see the divide between converts/reverts and born-Muslims, they hate us all equally. We as a Muslim community shouldn’t let small things like this drive us apart, but instead use our differences in backgrounds to bring us together.
What are your thoughts? Do you think these arguments about whether converts/reverts have it better or worse than born-Muslims is a necessary conversation? Or do you think it only further divides the ummah, or Muslim population? How do you think these conversations are perceived to non-Muslims?
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2 thoughts on “Who Has it Worse, Converts or Born Muslims?”
I think one of the hardest things that I face as a revert is the flip side of that culture coin. I love my own cultural traditions and strengths, but since I come from peoples without a real history in Islam, I feel very uprooted and struggle a lot for a sense of belonging. This is made harder by the fact that I married into a culture of Islam that sees itself as the most superior people. 🙂 I am very drawn to the history of people like Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and non-Arab sahabah because this is the only sense of family or tribe I can have now. It's not a huge thing alhamdulilah but at the same time it IS a struggle, and it IS made much worse by people who associate culture and Islam and talk as though their families have the higher inherent standing because they came from the first Muslims.
We are all Muslims though our life experiences are different. We each have our own realities, but everything for the believer is good – we shouldn't compare our lives with that of other Muslims, and we should certainly avoid any kind of us vs. them mentality – this only serves to open the door for shaytan in my opinion. Instead we should strive to remember Allah SWT more and send more prayers upon our Beloved Messenger of Allah SAW, for in the remebrance of Allah do hearts find rest. No matter what our struggles are, be it family, culture, or struggles with our faith, Allah is always there for us and will guide us along the path as long as we are obedient to Him. This is where proper knowledge of our deen is key – if we know the things we should be doing and those we should avoid, then day to day living becomes easy. If we do have challenges arise we can meet them with certainty, patience, and gratefulness towards Allah Most High. When you love Allah and His Messenger more than you love yourself, then everything that comes your way is good. That doesn't mean that there will be no ups and downs from time to times, but you will have a certainty in your heart that with harship comes ease. At least this has been my own persomal experience living as an American conver for 20 years. 🙂