Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why The Animosity Towards Reverts?

Day after day I see more animosity and resentment towards  reverts by born Muslims that I do not understand. It can be found in daily conversations, social media, various websites and many more places, but why does it actually exist? More importantly, why is it becoming stronger and more prevalent?

One of the biggest problems faced by reverts is people holding their past, whether real or imagined, against them. Since most people have a herd mentality they believe that if someone wasn't born Muslim they have had a past full of wild parties, sex, drinking and so full of sin that if it were filmed it would play out a lot like the Girls Gone Wild videos. Some reverts may have experienced those things but they were all wiped clean at the time that person reverted, and others may have been the victims of abuse and rape,  but Allah has already forgiven them for everything little thing that they did or that happened to them, and still others come from conservative  Christian backgrounds and never did any of those things to begin with . Where someone is born or what their past religion was does not indicate whether they have a sordid past or not. If Allah can forgive them no matter what they've been through why can't you? Also, the Prophet (pbuh) never held anyone's past against them. They also tell us who we can and can't marry, as a revert they say the best option for me is someone who has been incarcerated and accepted Islam or someone who wishes to get a green card and live in America. Hold up, I've never even gotten a speeding ticket in my life and you want me to marry someone who has been in prison??? I don't think so.

"About a Past. When he married, the Prophet (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not seek young virgins, women with no previous sexual experience, or members of his family. Since neither he nor Khadijah were Muslims at the time they married, the question of being Muslim did not arise. His first choice was a twice-married 40-year-old lady with at least 4 children. Marrying when he was 25, he remained monogamous until her death 25 years later. He never considered taking another wife, although all his friends, uncles, and peers were polygamous.After Khadijah's death, when he was 50, he took at least 12 more wives. Only 2 were virgins: 'A'isha and Maryam (a Coptic Christian from Egypt).Only his sixed and seventh wives (Umm Salamah and Zaynab, respectively) were his direct cousins whom he had known since their childhood. Umm Salamah was a widow with 3 children and a forth born almost immediately after their marriage, and Zaynab came as a divorcee after a failed marriage to his adopted son Zayd."

As you can see those who reject reverts based on what they know or think about their past are not following in the Prophet's (pbuh) Sunnah. Another thing that reverts are often subjected to is being rejected over their nationality or ethnicity. Racism and tribalism is strictly forbidden in Islam although many turn a blind eye to these facts and live their lives based on what tribe they are from and what their nationality is...and yours isn't. to these people You can take the time to find hadith's and quotes from the Quran to try to explain to these people that they should change and be more accepting but they will only twist the words so that it benefits them or flat out claim it does not apply to them and the present time or situations. What about the ones who claim to be information sources on Islam and then publicly publish that their nationality should "Ideally" only marry women from their nationality, are their ideals more important than the Quran and Sunnah? Furthermore, is that really who the public needs to have as a representative of Islam? This only strengthens the disease of tribalism and makes reverts feel even more isolated.

"Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars. (Al Ankabut 29: 2-3)"

"But racial pride is discounted by Islam. According to Al-Qur’an al-Majid, all men have descended from Adam, and Adam was a handful of dust. Iblis (Satan, the Devil) became the accursed one precisely because he argued for the superiority of what he presumed to be his high origins as against what he considered to be the lowly origins of man. "Man," he said, "was created from dust whereas I was created from fire." Such a sense of exclusivism which also comes to a people purely out of a desire to claim superior quality of blood in their beings, has been denounced by Islam in the strongest terms. Islam has knocked down the importance of race, nationality, color and privilege, and has forbidden Muslims to classify men into groups on grounds of blood and/or geographical contiguity or particular privilege which they might claim for themselves." 

Many reverts feel as though they have been boxed in, labeled and stuck in a category which makes them feel as if they are outsiders and not worthy of being around born Muslims. This is  due to the individuals they have met since they reverted that have treated them as being beneath themselves and not good enough for their companionship. When talking to born Muslims they throw around phrases such as "your people" when they are talking about the community where a revert is from. They do not realize or perhaps just don't care that  as a revert you have given up just being a part of a small community where you live and would rather be known as a Muslim with a community that encompasses the entire world and that your "people" are the entire population on earth regardless of skin or status. As if we don't already have enough to shake our confidence some born Muslims also hold our families against us.

"I wouldn't seriously consider marrying a revert because I don't want to willingly have kuffar relatives. I don't want to interact with kaffir parent-in-laws. I don't want kaffir siblings-in-laws being the uncles and aunts to my children. I don't want more interaction with kuffar than I need to and I know the sort of problems kuffar relatives can bring. I don't want kuffar being related to me if I had the choice; this is from the baraa, adawah and baghdah I have towards the kuffar.

This has nothing to do with the revert, but with their family and kin. I respect, adore and love reverts just like any other Muslim. I don't look down on them or think any less of them as Muslims. Reverts are from the truest believers, the ones who've experienced the kufr jahiliyyah and rejected it (unlike some born Muslims who rush towards the jahiliyyah).

Likewise I wouldn't marry someone who comes from a bad family even if they themselves are good because I don't want to deal with the headache of bad relatives. I'd prefer someone from a good, righteous family that I'd enjoy spending as much time with. Not a family that I'd hate and only put up with due to the bond of kinship.
On the other hand, marrying a revert is a much more difficult task and probably comes with more reward inshallah. So, the ones who do it, mashAllah may Allah :Swt: reward you and make it easy for you.'

Truth of the matter is that we all have family drama, no matter where we are born or what our religion was or is. I'm also sure that I am not the only one that was pushed further into feeling a connection with religion and Allah due to my family drama driving me crazy. There were days that I would sit and watch the chaos of my aunts, uncles and cousins all around me and I could feel in my heart that I was not like them, that I had different values, thoughts and aspirations. Who do you turn to when your family drives you near the brink of insanity? Only Allah. If a revert also wants to distance themselves from their family's actions and ideal's then why not embrace them and help them find some common ground you can build on and at least treat each other in a positive manner?

Sometimes reverts are faced with what can only be classified as harassment. They receive messages telling them to stay away from men or women from other nationalities, are asked why they haven't given up yet because they'll never be truly accepted, told that they will not last in Islam and will give up soon or told that if they moved to an Islamic country they would run back home screaming because they could never fit in. Is that the way the Ummah should act? To alienate everyone that doesn't fit in your neat little category society has deemed socially acceptable? Honestly, it is hard to hold onto your faith when it seems like you are being attacked from all sides.

"Quraysh tortured the bodies of the unprotected Muslims in Makkah in the hope that they would compel them to forswear Islam, but they failed. No one from these "poor and weak" Muslims ever abjured Islam. Adverse circumstances can collaborate to break even the strongest of men, and for the Muslims, the circumstances could not have been more adverse. But those circumstances could not break them. Islam held them together.
For these "poor and weak" Muslims, Islam was a "heady" experience. It had pulled life together for them; had put meaning into it, had run purpose through it, and had put horizons around it. They, therefore, spurned security, comforts and luxuries of life; and some among them like Sumayya and her husband, Yasir, spurned life itself; but they upheld their Faith. They died but they did not compromise with Falsehood. "

Reverts feel lonely to begin with, we lose our family and friends due to our choice of religion and are all too often left completely alone. Once we do find friends that accept us and want to help us we don't want to let them go. If people took the time to be more accepting and kinder towards reverts maybe there wouldn't be so many that leave Islam, 75% is a very large number. In the short time that I've been Muslim others that I have met who reverted around the same time have already left Islam and went back to the life they had before. No one ever said being a revert would be easy, and it never will be, but with help from others it can become more comfortable. 

"Research by Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus notes that 75% of American converts leave the religion after a few years. This is a tragedy that reflects the inability of American-Muslim communities to take care of their converts. With these statistics we should be asking ourselves: what can we do as individuals and as communities to help our convert brothers and sisters find comfort in Islam? This is a compassionate call to action for the born-Muslims to do what they can to understand, assist, and advise those who enter into Islam. Instead of alienation, we need to embrace with open arms.
~ Alex Arrick"

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