Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Struggle of the Reverts

It's been over a year since I wrote my original post about how reverts are often treated badly, during the past year I have seen this stigma grow more instead of diminish and have encountered even more reverts who have faced the same dilemmas. I have even experienced it more myself, I was under the impression that as I grew more in my faith and became more adjusted to my life as a Muslim the stigmas and pressures from society would start to die down but instead they have only become more prevalent.

When the Prophet began to receive divine revelation his wife Khadijah became the first revert, which led to a slow but sure domino effect of the Prophet's family and close friends reverting and accepting Islam as their religion. As time went on Islam gained it's foothold and increased in numbers by gaining reverts and the children of reverts. With a core message of equality, peace, and becoming the best person you can be it is easy to see how Islam is appealing to people from any place or era that want to better themselves, think consciously and create positive impacts on everything around them. After the deaths of the prophet and the rightly guided caliphs the succeeding empires started off on the right path but at times caused their own downfall by rejecting reverts or treating the reverts as second class citizens, it wasn't until they corrected these practices that they could pick themselves back up again and move forward further expanding the ancient Muslim empires. But today, the value of reverts is discounted by many; we are looked down upon, shunned, ostracized, pushed away. All this even after the many hadiths warning every Muslim to stay away from racism, ancestor worship, tribalism, and pride.

The Prophet said: Whoever has pride in his heart equal to the weight of an atom shall not enter Paradise. A man inquired about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and fine shoes, and he answered: God is beautiful and likes beauty. Then he explained pride means rejecting the truth because of self-esteem and looking down on other people (Muslim).

Many reverts get through their days and nights by doing our best to do what is required of us Islamically and by trying to have positive thoughts, we just want what everyone else wants; to do the best we can for Allah, to help others, to have families and children, and to lead enjoyable healthy lives. Our want for families and children throws up even more dilemmas, many of us come to a point where we are criticized and rejected based on our skin color or nationality, which is out of our control Allah chose these things for us. Is it right for girls from countries in the Arabian Gulf to tell reverts that they will never be equal to them because they were not born to a Muslim family in a Muslim country? Who made it cool to rub it into a reverts face that we do not have Muslim family and are seen as the bottom of the barrel to many Muslims. Does my appearance and birth place make me less of a woman? Islam gives every Muslim woman the right to have children, why does society take that away from us and dictate who we can and cannot have children with?  That keeps many women from being able to have a marriage and consequently robbing her of her right to have children, which totally goes against the Prophets Sunnah of wanting us all to have large families so the Ummah can grow.  If someone is serious about Islam and trying their best to follow their deen why should the be criticized regardless of whether they come from a Muslim family or not. As reverts we spend many sleepless nights praying and shedding tears wishing our parents were Muslim for their sake and so that we don't have to walk through our lives in such solitude, it pains us to see that some who are born to Muslim families don't appreciate what Allah has given them.

This article claims that white converts in fact have special privileges and are treated better than any other convert from other backgrounds. I can look you in the eye and tell you that is completely ludicrous and false. I have never experienced racism as bad in my whole life as I have since I have reverted by other Muslims. We are outsiders, the ones without a tribe, the "others", and novelties to some. What privilege do I get by being segregated because of my race and nationality? I get humiliated and looked down upon for being white from other Muslims that I thought were my friends. These people don't realize how much they hurt us and make us feel humiliated and belittled.

They should know humiliating a fellow Muslim is a major sin:
"Those who hurt believing men and women who have done nothing to deserve it shall bear the burden of calumny and open sin (Quran 33:58)."

"Woe to whoever disparages others behind their back or to their face” (Quran: 104:1).

 Being a revert feels like you are stuck between 2 walls, on one side you have the non Muslims who have a problem with you and Islam, and on the other side you have a wall of so called Muslims that do not respect you and treat you as if you are beneath them and want to drive you away from Islam because you "are not born Muslim and don't belong here". So there you are between 2 towering walls, bouncing between them like a ping pong ball while they try to push you down. If you're lucky you meet other like minded individuals between the two walls that make it more bearable.

The Prophet said:  The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He does not oppress him, hang back from coming to his aid, or belittle him. It is sufficiently wicked for someone to demean his fellow Muslim.

 Does our status as a revert and the color of our skin and passport make us undeserving of having a family of our own? Undeserving of love and happiness? Are we undeserving of acceptance and an equal role in society? Why do we keep getting pushed away and told that our place is in a revert only community? Do these people that tell us these things realize that it makes us feel like they are pushing us face down into the mud? Why is it acceptable to reject someone and treat them badly for the mere fact that they are a revert?  Many believe that reverts can just go to a revert only community but I have yet to see one of these, there is no perfect utopia for us to just escape to, and even if there was that would discount and diminish the dialogue and knowledge that we can learn from those that come from Muslim families and follow the correct path. We all belong to a religion that was built by acquiring reverts, but now we are treated by many like we are the bottom rung on the ladder. The Sahabah, the most respected people in Islam, were all reverts, if they walked into a room today would you treat them as if they were inferior because they were not born Mulims?

"Deserting the Quran, as the great scholar Ibn Qaayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said..."includes neglecting to listen to it and believing in it and neglecting to adhere to what it permits and forbids, even if one recites it and believes in it, and neglecting to refer to it for judgment in all matters of religion, major and minor, and neglecting to seek to understand it, neglecting to understand the meanings intended by Allah by it, and neglecting to seek healing from it for all diseases of the heart (i.e. spiritual maladies).

By viewing reverts as beneath them and ignoring Allah's commands of how all Muslims should treat each other in favor of their culture and societies standards these people have deserted the Quran and are the true losers.

"But whosoever turns away from my reminder (neither believes n the Quran or acts on its orders etc.)  verily, for him is a life of hardship, and we shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection"[Ta-Ha 20:124]

Stigmas against reverts must be stopped immediately. It s not fair to any of us that people make up their minds about us and think they know everything about our lives without even talking to us and knowing the facts. It doesn't matter to the ones who look down on us that some of us came from conservative Christian families before entering the fold of Islam and have behaved with high moral standards our entire lives, we are still the "others" and are viewed as if we are still below par just for our revert status and nationality.  People should know that making up stories and situations about a revert or anyone else that aren't true is a sin in itself.

Everyone that has any type of interactions with reverts should be kinder and more considerate while also making a conscious effort to realize and understand that reverts do not have many of the same resources that born Muslims have and theses things should not be held against the revert such as:
  • Holding it against a revert female because she travels alone. As reverts we don't have mahram brothers or female Muslim relatives that can accompany us everywhere we go. Although I am lucky enough to have a Dad that will go with me anywhere within the state where we live and neighboring states he can't travel with me to Muslim countries yet because of work obligations. Always remember that if you see a revert alone it does not necessarily mean they are up to no good.
  • Holding the places a revert has worked against them. We are all supposed to work in someway, whether as a house wife taking care of a household and children, running a home based business, or by getting a job outside our homes. Some of us live in areas that do not have abundant jobs and even fewer that allow us to work with only women, and even workplaces that are all female aren't even as wholesome as they are often believe. I have worked at a factory and have seen all the horrible things that can go on in places like that, it does not mean I participated in them. I have also worked at a retail store that only employed women and it was just as morally frustrating because you are forced to market credit cards that will leave families in debt even if you tell your boss that they are against our personal and religious beliefs, plus we won't even go into how horrible the customers will treat you. I personally believe women should not work in either of these situations, that's why I don't work there anymore myself. I lived through those jobs learned, I left them in my past because they did not offer me the positive challenge I want nor the ability to make a positive difference. Because we have worked in mixed environments does not mean we were doing anything devious.

It is 100% true that every Born Muslim that walks this earth today comes from ancestors who were at one time reverts. Inshallah in the future the revert Muslims of today will be treated with more kindness and acceptance by those born to Muslims families that have a prejudice against them. It is only through acceptance and compassion that we can all truly be one Ummah and work together to make the world a better place for everyone.

For further reading you can check out how other reverts have been treated negatively here.

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