Article By: Ameerah Nahal
Fellow Reverts, we need to have a talk… There is a particular problem that has been weighing on my heart heavily during the last few years since I became a Muslim. I don’t label myself seasoned in any way, but I am firm to the fact that knowledge is power.
All it takes is one brief moment for someone to go on a quest to seek knowledge in something. In the case for myself, when it came to Islam I sought it out for its message and Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God) I benefitted greatly in this religion. However, I am noticing a trend lately when it comes to new potential reverts seeking out Islam.
Over the last few years, the Muslim community, in particular, reverts/converts, have found themselves plastered on social media. Many reverts of various ethnic backgrounds have made their presence known via Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Others have gone about their exposure to the world via local media (such as newspapers) and even StoryCorps. All in the hopes of sharing their experiences in welcoming Islam into their hearts and their lives, while others like myself are behind the scenes about their religious decision. With this comes prospective new members of the Ummah. This in itself is a blessing, and reward for helping your fellow brother/sister surely is a blessing.
But I’ve noticed a new wave of reverts/converts to the religion who are not necessarily “in it to win it”. In the words of Lauryn Hill, “How can you win if you ain’t right from within?”
With this being said, I am writing to discuss the issue lately amongst us. Entering Islam for the WRONG reasons. As a revert, I came to Islam seeking union with Allah and peace of mind. Islam also aligned with my religious values which made my transition into the religion easier. Some people in my experience accepted Islam for the same reason. However, just like any religion, we will see those who abuse the kindness of others for the sake of attention, clout and for selfish gain.
Unfortunately, as a member of the Muslim community, this is not something I am appreciative of. When I first converted to Islam, I was alone. I had nowhere to turn, as I was mistrustful and social media when I converted, was not a huge safe space for converts just yet. I did not have the good fortune of meeting converts until 3 years later when other Latino Muslim found me on Instagram through the hashtags #LatinoMuslims and #LatinaMuslim.
Since I’ve grown in my own platform, I’ve met many reverts like me who found happiness in Islam and feel at ease in their religious beliefs. However, I am also met with people who turn to Islam as a means for personal gain or even to seek ‘clout’ from the likes of people, including prospective reverts.
With that, I am writing to say: WE CAN’T HELP EVERYONE.
Imam Ali (RA) was quoted as saying: “Leave alone what does not concern you and leave alone what does not belong to you.”
Why are we back here again? Unfortunately, this has been about as much reason to why women/girls come my way to seek guidance about Islam for the sake of some guy.
It is a sad reality because to me as a Muslim I feel once again we have failed in providing proper education to the masses about the religion. Realistically we have work to do, ideally, I wish it was possible to educate people as well as stop categorizing Islam as a foreign concept.
When we discuss the three religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, we don’t really pay mind to the likes of our Kitaabis (my nickname for people of the Book ‘al-Kitaab’), but when it comes down to Muslims, we are under a microscope and are dissected down to every move we make.
Another annoyance I have been having is the level of ungratefulness I have noticed amongst converts. In current time, there are many foundations and organizations and even ordinary sisters going out their way to help others, only to be faced with questioning behaviors and even lying about their true intentions as to why they accepted Islam.
I myself have faced this similar issue with countless sisters who reach out because they’re amazed at the fact I am Muslim, I am Latina, I am a nursing student who works at a hospital and who happens to have a small following too. When they do reach out to me, unfortunately only 10% of sisters who reach out to me actually enter into the deen for the beauty of the message and alhamdulillah are successful in their growth.
However, the 90% I do not mention is only coming to me in regards to being ‘friends’, providing resources which they’ll never use, and even going as far as to ask if I know, single Muslim men (or worse, do I know single Muslim Doctors because I work at a hospital/attend school in the Medical District).
This to me is quite disturbing.
It has even gone as far as to the abuse of resources. Sisters coming to me about how these individuals would take advantage of their kindness. Wasting time, asking questions that do not even qualify for them yet such as marriage. Even going as far as to seeking religion as a means to attention amongst the likes of YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. In addition, there are women who converted to Islam for… I can’t believe I am saying this… in hopes of getting married off quickly to the likes of a man with financial wealth. I sadly have bumped into sisters who shamelessly admit to their actions (indirectly) and to then find they block me when I call out such behavior.
So I ask, why make use of something so beautiful for something as trivial as money, a man or even attention from the likes of people who don’t wish good will upon you?
Women are not the only ones guilty, men have admitted on forums that they would convert to marry a ‘hot Arab’ or ‘hot desi’, girl. Which is gross simply due in fact that these sisters are being objectified and stereotyped.
However, most of the drama lies in the abuse of the common known Sunnah of the prophet – Polygyny. Polygyny and the mistaken misconception that Muslim women are to be ‘obedient’ to their husband.
My brothers, this already is a mistake on itself. Focusing on these particular actions alone is setting yourself up for disaster. While that is a Sunnah of the prophet, it is also Sunnah to be kind to the women in your life (mother, sister, daughter, nieces, cousins), it is also Sunnah to be helpful of your wife. Because men have the double standard to their advantage, despite men in the community who are in advocacy for accountability, men easily slip past the accountability checkpoint.
If we need to boil down to it – it’s solely about intention. Intention and doing your research. Many enter into religion for the message, and that is beautiful. Those who do, have benefitted so much and are ultimately happy. Because they entered into religion with a weary heart and found strength in a religion in which you get reward to SMILE. It is people like this that slowly break the stigma about converts who convert for the sake of clout, men, or even monetary gain. But my brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves how we can curb this problem.
My fellow reverts, I speak to you all that we need to work hard in curbing the issue at the task with potential reverts abusing the kindness of others, for this is poisoning all we have worked with the community and damaging our iman in the process.
I also ask that we are to take strong caution when facing reverts who are in ‘haram relationships’ with Muslim men/women. We as Muslims have the daunting task of educating people much more than ever before, with reverts having the double whammy because not only are we educating, we are to defend our decision as well to the likes of fellow born Muslims, ex-Muslims, our non-Muslim peers, and even trolls (online or in real life).
Let us enter into Ramadan with a clean heart and be steadfast in our actions. May we hope that through reflection we can find a way to curb this, and truly help those who ACTUALLY want to become Muslims get the help they so deserve. Let us no longer feed the clout chasers.
I feel so guilty in writing this, but I felt it was time we had this little chat.