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stefan804

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Salaam Alaikum,

I have joined the outreach committee at my masjid and I am a revert myself as of a year ago and I was curious as to how other reverts, both brothers and sisters, have been received across the globe. When you first went to the masjid did people introduce themselves to you and welcome you? Did you have someone to show you what a majilis was about? Did someone offer to answer your questions? Have you made many connections or friendships since you have come to your masjid?

If you are not a revert, how does your center welcome reverts? Do you have a welcoming committee? If someone calls up to the center and is interested in Islam, how does the center handle that interest? Does your center have a website with information?

Thank you for your time. I am just trying to catch my bearings.

Wa'salaam,

Br. Stefan

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Salaam Alaikum,

I have joined the outreach committee at my masjid and I am a revert myself as of a year ago and I was curious as to how other reverts, both brothers and sisters, have been received across the globe. When you first went to the masjid did people introduce themselves to you and welcome you? Did you have someone to show you what a majilis was about? Did someone offer to answer your questions? Have you made many connections or friendships since you have come to your masjid?

If you are not a revert, how does your center welcome reverts? Do you have a welcoming committee? If someone calls up to the center and is interested in Islam, how does the center handle that interest? Does your center have a website with information?

Thank you for your time. I am just trying to catch my bearings.

Wa'salaam,

Br. Stefan

Dear Bro Stefan,

I thought you'd be interested in this video:

http://vimeo.com/7733898

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Dear Bro Stefan,

I thought you'd be interested in this video:

http://vimeo.com/7733898

Salaam Alaikum,

Really beautiful. That is what I am talking about. That video describes what it at the heart of the matter. I feel like I need to do more. Inshallah I will have the capacity and the where with all to initiate this movement in Austin. I was talking to one of my revert brothers in Austin and he said he went to Boston to visit family and he could not find one majalis in English. Not one!!! Another said that he could not even recommend an masjid in Chicago to a revert brother. It is imperative that we think introspectively what it means to invite people to Islam.

Thank you for showing me this....

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Salaam Alaikum,

I have joined the outreach committee at my masjid and I am a revert myself as of a year ago and I was curious as to how other reverts, both brothers and sisters, have been received across the globe. When you first went to the masjid did people introduce themselves to you and welcome you? Did you have someone to show you what a majilis was about? Did someone offer to answer your questions? Have you made many connections or friendships since you have come to your masjid?

Salaam

I think this is a very important topic.

However, I'd like to point out that what you are talking about is good for people who are investigating Islam, or who are 'new converts'.

Ohterwise, not all reverts want to be 'welcomed' as reverts (that is, being treated like they are anything other than another fellow Muslim). We should strive to be welcoming to everyone regardless of ethnicity or convert-status (I know, it doesn't always happen... but it is our ideal)

Most 'reverts' who have been practicing Islam for a while do not want people to come up and offer to answer questions or to teach them "Islam 101" (especially when there are a few errors involved in the explanations). For instance, since I have been practicing Islam for more than half my life, I would find it extremely insulting and patronizing if some random person would come up to me and offer to answer questions or explain Islam, and would assume that because of my ethnicity, I am somehow ignorant.

I do recall once, someone offered me a book "so I can learn about Islam". The next week, I brought her a book "so she can learn about Islam." She got the point.

Anyway... what I'm saying is, it's good to 'feel out' newcomers to see whether they are in need of these services. Of course it is good to offer them to those who want them.

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Salaam

I think this is a very important topic.

However, I'd like to point out that what you are talking about is good for people who are investigating Islam, or who are 'new converts'.

Ohterwise, not all reverts want to be 'welcomed' as reverts (that is, being treated like they are anything other than another fellow Muslim). We should strive to be welcoming to everyone regardless of ethnicity or convert-status (I know, it doesn't always happen... but it is our ideal)

Most 'reverts' who have been practicing Islam for a while do not want people to come up and offer to answer questions or to teach them "Islam 101" (especially when there are a few errors involved in the explanations). For instance, since I have been practicing Islam for more than half my life, I would find it extremely insulting and patronizing if some random person would come up to me and offer to answer questions or explain Islam, and would assume that because of my ethnicity, I am somehow ignorant.

I do recall once, someone offered me a book "so I can learn about Islam". The next week, I brought her a book "so she can learn about Islam." She got the point.

Anyway... what I'm saying is, it's good to 'feel out' newcomers to see whether they are in need of these services. Of course it is good to offer them to those who want them.

Salaam Alaikum,

I very much understand what you are getting at. I am targeting those who would like to know more and want to have that continuity of education like myself. For instance, a brother came to the masjid, he was Caucasian, nobody said anything to him for the most part and when he was asked why he never went back to the masjid, he said, I am paraphrasing here, he did not feel like he would be missed if he did not show up. So basically he was not welcomed. He did not feel like he was made part of or invited to join the community on any level. This needs to change. As a community we are not prepared to invite and educate when we are called upon to do so. (with the understanding that some do not need this). But when we are called upon, we must act and have a plan. I find it unacceptable to not help those who need and request that help.

If you have ideas, comments, and thoughts please share.

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Ohterwise, not all reverts want to be 'welcomed' as reverts (that is, being treated like they are anything other than another fellow Muslim).

I would find it extremely insulting and patronizing if some random person would come up to me and offer to answer questions or explain Islam, and would assume that because of my ethnicity, I am somehow ignorant.

Anyway... what I'm saying is, it's good to 'feel out' newcomers to see whether they are in need of these services.

(salam)

I can only speak based on my personal experience. I actually do agree with you. Sometimes reverts are overwhelmed with too much attentions and questions. I don't think it is polite to keep asking them questions about their decision to"revert" :angry: and how they have been faring in their quest (learning Islam). It is better to engage them like you would any other born Muslims. In that way, they will feel more welcomed.

Edited by Zareen

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(salam)

I can only speak based on my personal experience. I actually do agree with you. Sometimes reverts are overwhelmed with too much attentions and questions. I don't think it is polite to keep asking them questions about their decision to"revert" :angry: and how they have been faring in their quest (learning Islam). It is better to engage them like you would any other born Muslims. In that way, they will feel more welcomed.

i happen to agree. i find it VERY annoying when every person on the planet needs to ask "oooooo, so how did u become a MUSLIM!'

as far as i am concerned, this is something that happened a Very Long Time ago (more than a decade ago), and my life has gone on since then. but to most people, it is as if my life froze at that moment (as if someone pushed 'pause' on a DVD) and nothing else has happened since then!

(i suppose it is the same thing when someone has an accident and is in a wheelchair, and all people want to know is how it happened, they don't ask about anything else the person has done, such as gotten degrees, or found a cure for cancer, or had kids, or whatever)

i have tried once or twice to explain to people that CONVERTING to islam is not a big deal (that is, saying the shahadah). anyone can do that. abu sufyan did that, and many others.

what is really challenging and important is how we live those values in the rest of our life and continue to grow and develop our spirituality. but most people don't really get that when i say it.

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Salaam Alaikum,

I very much understand what you are getting at. I am targeting those who would like to know more and want to have that continuity of education like myself. For instance, a brother came to the masjid, he was Caucasian, nobody said anything to him for the most part and when he was asked why he never went back to the masjid, he said, I am paraphrasing here, he did not feel like he would be missed if he did not show up. So basically he was not welcomed. He did not feel like he was made part of or invited to join the community on any level. This needs to change. As a community we are not prepared to invite and educate when we are called upon to do so. (with the understanding that some do not need this). But when we are called upon, we must act and have a plan. I find it unacceptable to not help those who need and request that help.

If you have ideas, comments, and thoughts please share.

i agree, i would like to observe that probably 80% of our community is also in need of that 'continuity of education', but it just is not obvious when you look at them.

for instance........ from what you say, it sounds like there needs to be more education/outreach in the community about our role as brothers and sisters in islam, how we should treat brothers and sisters in islam, how muslims of different ethnicities are still brothers and sisters in faith, etc.

at the very least, speeches at the masjid should discuss these important and relevant values and contribute to the social education of the community. (sometimes they don't and are very theoretical)

i think it's great if you can offer some extra classes to for those who are interested, as well as perhaps some social events (maybe an islamic movie night, etc). group volunteering is a great way to get positive stuff done and also build community bonds.

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i agree, i would like to observe that probably 80% of our community is also in need of that 'continuity of education', but it just is not obvious when you look at them.

for instance........ from what you say, it sounds like there needs to be more education/outreach in the community about our role as brothers and sisters in islam, how we should treat brothers and sisters in islam, how muslims of different ethnicities are still brothers and sisters in faith, etc.

at the very least, speeches at the masjid should discuss these important and relevant values and contribute to the social education of the community. (sometimes they don't and are very theoretical)

i think it's great if you can offer some extra classes to for those who are interested, as well as perhaps some social events (maybe an islamic movie night, etc). group volunteering is a great way to get positive stuff done and also build community bonds.

Salaam,

Yes. I like a lot of what you are talking about. One of the things our Sheikh tries to do is meet with the revert brothers and sisters in the community and asks them if they have any questions. We eat together and just talk. I myself crave the time I can spend with Sheikh and the elders in teh community. I am constantly in pursuit of the knowledge to be a better servant of Allah (SWT).

I am too new to be aggravated when people ask my story. I gladly tell it. I put it out there as much as possible in hopes that it can help someone else. At the very least I find that it boosts spirits and moral of those around me. It serves as an affirmation of the power of Islam. Nobody treats me like a dolt, it's just they are surprised with what I may know already. Nobody wants to be judged on the complexion of their skin, however, the only way that we can show that we do in fact have a level of education is to have the conversation to begin with.

Thank you so much for your ideas! Your thoughts and input are much appreciated.

.

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i happen to agree. i find it VERY annoying when every person on the planet needs to ask "oooooo, so how did u become a MUSLIM!'

as far as i am concerned, this is something that happened a Very Long Time ago (more than a decade ago), and my life has gone on since then. but to most people, it is as if my life froze at that moment (as if someone pushed 'pause' on a DVD) and nothing else has happened since then!

(i suppose it is the same thing when someone has an accident and is in a wheelchair, and all people want to know is how it happened, they don't ask about anything else the person has done, such as gotten degrees, or found a cure for cancer, or had kids, or whatever)

i have tried once or twice to explain to people that CONVERTING to islam is not a big deal (that is, saying the shahadah). anyone can do that. abu sufyan did that, and many others.

what is really challenging and important is how we live those values in the rest of our life and continue to grow and develop our spirituality. but most people don't really get that when i say it.

I must point that people who ask about your conversion story have very pure intentions and are just very happy someone not born Muslim actually found the right path by themselves. They ask because they want to know what is the common factor in our religion made people who were not given it the easy way (born to Muslims parents) get interested in the entire religion despite all the media propaganda etc. People who ask you these questions do not mean to insult you but on the contrary they think they are welcoming you by showing how interested they are in your religion conversion which as much as you say is not a big deal in reality changing ones religion IS a big deal , it is a big decision, many things in our lives rely on that decision. Also when they see you in place for the first time or just a few times , they think you're new to Islam, they assume you recently converted and hence with good intentions they offer you their help in Islamic knowledge. They don't know you have converted for over 10 years and know more than them. They don't mean to offend you, they don't mean to insult you, in fact that's their way of welcoming you and showing their respect by telling that hey you're one of us if you need anything we're at your service we can help you with fiqh etc etc etc.

Yes, Abu Sufayn faked his conversion but people treat you otherwise because they respect you and assume the best of someone who chose Islam by themselves, someone who searched for the truth someone who seek guidance from God and with their effort , were guided. They do not assume that you're like Abu Sufayn and are not skeptical about your faith (ie, not assuming you might be a munafig like abu sufyaan and thus who cares you became Muslim).

I understand your frustration due to the repetitive questions asking about your conversion story or repetitive kind of people offering help you are not in need of however if you were to understand where they're coming from, you would understand they are presenting you with the best hospitality-that's how they do it in their culture . They mean no disrespect. The woman who gave you a book to "teach" you Islam had no idea you know about it better than her, did not mean to show off and gifted you the book with good intentions. The more you understand their culture the less you'll feel offended or insulted. I sometimes give my phone number to converts I meet, NOT because I imply knowing more than them, not because I think they're from a different planet, NOT because they are Caucasian wearing hijaab, BUT because I want to offer a friendly hand as I read and hear many converts needing to connect with the Muslim community, many converts are looking for halaal meat stores, many converts want to engage with the Islamic community activities , need to find hijaab stores, many converts need to speak with their Marja representative but don't have their contacts info etc, so I think I might provide these blessed people with some help in case they need, it's my way of welcoming them. Of course I don't pop up in front of a convert that I met for the first time giving them my number or even asking any question but that's because I was raised in Canada and know than a non Middle eastern would find that rude but middle easterns from the older generation don't know it's rude.

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Salam,

It was a very interesting and enlightening video. I have actually been thinking about creating something like this (although not exactly like this, but similar in many ways) for most of my adult life, however, have been unable to obtain the necessary capital to do so (alhamdullilah).

It seems that an organization whose focus is support and education of re-verts to Islam in such a professional and innovative way can only be a net positive for the Muslim American community. I'm very excited to hear that this is happening and my "hat is off" to them.

Having said this, I think the primary reason why we don't see more organizations like this is cultural barriers and highly qualified leaders. In my community (for example) we have plenty of masjids and Islamic centers, however, their effect on their community (which is primarily non-Muslim) is negligible. This is because most of the leadership in these masjids are immigrants who are primarily concerned with creating a "cultural bubble" in which they can practice both their religion freely (which is, of course, very good) and surround themselves with things that are familiar to them from their home countries. They seem to perceive anything that is part of the native culture of the soil on which the Islamic center rests as a "foreign invasion" of sorts. Although I understand very well why they feel this way (and even agree with some of the reasons behind their sentiments) this "bubble" also prevents the beautiful and glorious message of Islam from getting outside.

The second reason why you don't see more of these efforts is a lack of highly qualified leaders. If you go to some Muslims countries you find that they have an oversupply of highly educated, highly qualified Islamic leaders. However, in the U.S. the demand is far greater then the supply. That's not to say that you don't have a few very well educated and charismatic Islamic leaders in the U.S., just not enough of them. I saw this phenomenon often when I first became Muslim. There would be an Islamic conference at a hotel in a major U.S. city over the Christmas holiday (when you can get a "good deal" on the meeting space and rooms) and you would have 6-10 Islamic scholars attend. These scholars were treated like royalty, although they certainly did not represent the "cream of the crop" from Najaf or Qum. On the other hand, you go to a country like Lebanon and find that in the Southern part of the country you have men who have studied Islam their entire life at one of the major seminaries (and even taught classes attended by hundreds) who live a life of poverty and quite anonymity because their is no need for their services due to oversupply.

I think the key missing piece, however, is the absence of consistent and sustained efforts by the re-vert community in the U.S. themselves at "bridging the gap". Although I have taken part in and also witnessed efforts to due so, it has been poorly financed, organized and executed in comparison with other religious groups in the U.S. Their are alot of reasons for this (some of which have been discussed in other threads), however, the bottom line is that until the revert community does a better job of "helping themselves" by supporting (both with their time and their $$$$) organizations that are focused on spreading the noble message of Islam in the U.S. and helping new Muslims then any efforts by others will not be enough.

Edited by Abu Ali 2

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i agree, i would like to observe that probably 80% of our community is also in need of that 'continuity of education', but it just is not obvious when you look at them.

Salam,

I agree. Muslims in general are not very educated about the teachings of their religion, however, many reverts lack a paticular type of knowledge which native born Muslims (especially those whose native language is Arabic) take for granted. The primary knowledge gap for reverts (especially in the U.S.) has to do with a language barrier. Although the quality of translated Islamic books (especially tafsir and books of hadith) is better and more available then it used to be, we still have translation issues (i.e., the quality of translated books is not consistent, and some are translated very poorly) and availability issues (i.e., probably at least 90%+ of important books on Islam have NOT yet been translated). As a revert, this has been the biggest challenge for me as I have tried unsuccessfully many times to become proficient in Arabic but have been largely unsuccessful (and this is, of course, my own fault).

Reverts also lack a comfort level with certain Islamic practices that native born Muslims do not. It's not that they are not aware of them, but just did not model parental behavior (which is the most effective form of learning) from childhood, which causes a certain "awkwardness" when surrounded by native born Muslims. You can see this clearly in a group setting, and it causes a revert to "stick out' in a way that native born Muslims do not (even if the native born Muslim is not practicing Islam). I have noticed this myself in everything from facial expressions (which are largely involuntarily), to the tone of my voice when speaking, personal neatness and grooming issues, etc. As an adult, I have tried many times to "model" the behavior of native born Muslims that I respect (such as Islamic scholars), however, it always comes off (when I do it) as forced and unnatural.

I also think that because revert Muslims are still a relatively small part of the Muslim community in the U.S. they have yet to form a distinct identity of their own, and are sill dependent on the larger (mostly immigrant) Muslims communities for moral and spiritual support. In addition, because they are small they are still a "curiosity" in the larger Muslim community and will continue to be so until we are large and powerful enough to form our own distinct Islamic cultural identity which is unique and independent of other Islamic cultures.

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i happen to agree. i find it VERY annoying when every person on the planet needs to ask "oooooo, so how did u become a MUSLIM!'

as far as i am concerned, this is something that happened a Very Long Time ago (more than a decade ago), and my life has gone on since then. but to most people, it is as if my life froze at that moment (as if someone pushed 'pause' on a DVD) and nothing else has happened since then!

(i suppose it is the same thing when someone has an accident and is in a wheelchair, and all people want to know is how it happened, they don't ask about anything else the person has done, such as gotten degrees, or found a cure for cancer, or had kids, or whatever)

i have tried once or twice to explain to people that CONVERTING to islam is not a big deal (that is, saying the shahadah). anyone can do that. abu sufyan did that, and many others.

what is really challenging and important is how we live those values in the rest of our life and continue to grow and develop our spirituality. but most people don't really get that when i say it.

Anyone can say the Shahada, i.e. the words, but very few can say them with sincerity and conviction and with an intent to change their life in a way that reflects their shahada.

Abu Sufyan's Shahada is no big deal because he did it basically to keep from losing what was left of his material possesions and influence in the community.

His actions after the Shahada were a clear demonstration that he was insincere and so what he said were just words.

Anyone who does a sincere Shahada should be commended for it, and it is a big deal. Someone, like you or me, who come from a background in which none (or in my case 2) of your family is muslims and you live in a society that is almost exclusively non muslim and yet you strive hard to find truth (Islam) and follow it even though there is no material incentive to do so and lots of material incentive not to do it is a big deal, IMO. May Allah(s.w.a) help us. At the same time, you are right that we lived a large percentage of our lifetime after that and it is annoying when people push the 'pause' button. I agree with that point.

At the same time, I believe continuing education is important, even in the 'basic' things like Salat, Saum, Khums, Zakat, etc. If someone finds that I am a revert and wants to give me a lecture on Salat, I will listen. I think maybe they I am missing something and they could help me correct it. At the same time, when I begin to talk in detail about the parts of Salat, 'Takbiratul Ihram, Ruku, Sujud, Iqamat, etc' with references to different marjaa' and ask them detailed questions, they realize that in many cases I know more about Salat than they know themselves, they usually stop talking to me and find some excuse to change the subject or find someone else that they haven't seen in a few years that they need to talk to right away. So I try not to just take it as a learning experience and move on.

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How did you guys personally feel that you were welcomed to Islam by your local community, whether that be this year of ten years ago?

Salam,

When I reverted to Islam (in the early 1990's) in Southern California there was really not one "local Muslim community". Each different community (the Saudi's, the Iranians, the Pakistani's, the Lebanese) had their own positive and negative aspects in regards to welcoming new Muslims. What I found with the Sunni's is that they were more organized and had more relevant literature that was translated, however, the large "Gulf funded" Islamic centers in Los Angeles reminded me of the Christian "mega-churches" (I was born and raised in that faith) too much for my taste. I eventually began to migrate between the Iranian and the Lebanese Muslim communities and eventually became most fully attached to the Lebenese Muslim community in Southern California.

This particular local Muslim community was warm and friendly, but also disorganized and did not really understand what type of support a revert would need. As a result, my other family members and I (who all reverted within a ten year time period) had to kind of put things together ourselves with a patchwork of friends and local Islamic centers (some very small). Of course, Muslims are naturally hospitable and welcoming of new members (this has a long history going all the way back to the beginning), however, this positive attitude does not necessarily equal a major commitment to your decision ( in terms of their own time or $$$). Some new Muslims are surprised by this disconnect, but it's understandable and you really need institutions (not individuals) to bridge that gap.

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Salam,

When I reverted to Islam (in the early 1990's) in Southern California there was really not one "local Muslim community". Each different community (the Saudi's, the Iranians, the Pakistani's, the Lebanese) had their own positive and negative aspects in regards to welcoming new Muslims. What I found with the Sunni's is that they were more organized and had more relevant literature that was translated, however, the large "Gulf funded" Islamic centers in Los Angeles reminded me of the Christian "mega-churches" (I was born and raised in that faith) too much for my taste. I eventually began to migrate between the Iranian and the Lebanese Muslim communities and eventually became most fully attached to the Lebenese Muslim community in Southern California.

This particular local Muslim community was warm and friendly, but also disorganized and did not really understand what type of support a revert would need. As a result, my other family members and I (who all reverted within a ten year time period) had to kind of put things together ourselves with a patchwork of friends and local Islamic centers (some very small). Of course, Muslims are naturally hospitable and welcoming of new members (this has a long history going all the way back to the beginning), however, this positive attitude does not necessarily equal a major commitment to your decision ( in terms of their own time or $$$). Some new Muslims are surprised by this disconnect, but it's understandable and you really need institutions (not individuals) to bridge that gap.

Thank you for sharing. I think it would be an incredible story to listen to, as you and your whole family came to Islam. Very inspirational. I think your analysis compares pretty well to my own. I was welcomed with open arms by the community (which is multicultural), however there is that lack of structure and communication with reverts that I need. As a revert I sometimes feel disconnected in my own household. I communicate with brothers and sisters maybe once or twice a week and the rest is spent in somewhat of a solitude. I want the dialogue and the communication but people in general are busy so the isolation becomes pretty intense. I want to learn arabic. Where are the classes? I broke down and bought Rosetta Stone and have tried to learn it myself. I could use a fiqh class. I want to learn some duas. But who will teach me?

I can also agree with another thing said...as reverts, we have to want to help ourselves and others and maybe we can build something special. Maybe the weight to do something great is on our shoulders? It is one of the reasons I brought up this topic. I want to be a part of the solution. Nobody should feel isolated and everybody should be encouraged....

Wa'salaam,

Br. Stefan

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as reverts, we have to want to help ourselves and others and maybe we can build something special. Maybe the weight to do something great is on our shoulders? It is one of the reasons I brought up this topic. I want to be a part of the solution. Nobody should feel isolated and everybody should be encouraged....

Salaam

Well, again, I'd like to point out that you should be careful not to lump everyone under that description. For instance, I would be highly annoyed if someone implied to me that 'we reverts all need Arabic/fiqh classes', because I PERSONALLY do not feel I am in need of either. (No I'm not a mujtahid or anything but I'm reasonably ok in those departments)

However, I do agree that there are people who would benefit from these things.

I am a firm believer in taking the initiative - if you feel like something needs doing, then don't wait for someone else to do it - organize it yourself!

I think this is a particularly important point with regard to 'reverts' in North America - there often is a feeling among some Shi'a reverts that they 'can't' do anything on their own and they need to wait for one of the established, and generally culturally based Islamic centers to do it for them. .In fact, I do recall, I was flabbergasted when a 'revert' lady told me once, 'You know, one of the things I learned from you is that reverts CAN do things on their own.'

Of course, this is not to diminish the moral responsblity that the Muslim ummah has. The Muslim ummah has the responsiblity to provide education, social support, and moral support for all mu'mineen, and in particular for those who come to Islam.

However... that being said.... there's no point waiting around for people to do things that may or may not happen, or to put one's self in an inferior position by begging someone to provide things. There are plenty of othe rneeds in the ummah that are not being filled; there are people being killed in Palestine and starving all over the world, and no one is doing anything about that either.

It's better for reverts to fill whatever needs are out there and then invite others to benefit from it as well. To be in a postion of strength and in a position to serve, rather than vice versa.

I want to learn arabic. Where are the classes? I broke down and bought Rosetta Stone and have tried to learn it myself. I could use a fiqh class. I want to learn some duas. But who will teach me?

well again... keep in mind that most of the muslim community doesn't speak arabic (except for arabs). there are probably others who would be intersted to learn or who would consider it valuable but they either aren't prioritizing it or just don't have an opportunity.

anyway, i think rosetta stone is a good way to go. there are lots of opportunities to learn arabic in north america (i think that's where u r ) post 9/11. before that it was a lot harder because it was an obscure subject, but nowadays junior colleges and even high schools offer it. take whatever opportunities you can find. i even have a friend who was sponsored on a government program to go study arabic in jordan. so i am sure if you are dedicated you can find a way to do it.

learning arabic is invaluable, it gives you a key to the quran and the islamic sciences that you would not have otherwise, no matter how educated you are

as for duas though... you dont really need a class.... just read the dua books at home and you will become acquainted with them inshallah

you can also benefit a lot from online lectures, if you can get an mp3 player and download them that wll help alot. these were resources we never had in the past btw. it is not the same as having the lvie interaction of a class but it is defnitely something.

if u r interested in correspondence courses, there is an online education program at alqaem institute (you can google it - i forget the address) and also www.islamic-college.ac.uk ...... i think the existence of these programs shows that a lot of people in the muslim community not just reverts recognize the need for islamic education in the west

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Anyone who does a sincere Shahada should be commended for it, and it is a big deal. Someone, like you or me, who come from a background in which none (or in my case 2) of your family is muslims and you live in a society that is almost exclusively non muslim and yet you strive hard to find truth (Islam) and follow it even though there is no material incentive to do so and lots of material incentive not to do it is a big deal, IMO. May Allah(s.w.a) help us. At the same time, you are right that we lived a large percentage of our lifetime after that and it is annoying when people push the 'pause' button. I agree with that point.

i think it's important to remember that everyone has different life experiences and perspectives, and that as human we sometimes have a subconscious tendency to project our experiences on others. however, of course, everyone's experience has validity and everyone has the right to define their experience.

it sounds like taking shahadah was a 'bigger deal' for yourself than for myself and i definitely respect that.

however, for me, the 'becoming muslim' wasn't really a big deal. it was a commitment, which alhamdulillah up until this day i've remained faithful too. however, i think i was perhaps naive, in that i didn't realize what a 'big deal' it would be to become a muslim, or what an impact it would have on the rest of my life. (including family life, social life, etc) or that other people would think it was a 'big deal'. i didn't even realize that my parents would be as upset about it as they were.

(i was several years younger than yourself at the time, and at a less mature point in my growth and development, so that's probably why i have slightly different feelings about it)

and, in any case, i don't like to be praised for taking shahadah. i recall this year, a lady came up to me and said, 'i'm so proud of you!' i know what she meant - she was proud i became a muslim. but honestly - ( a ) it's not HER job to be proud. for her to be proud of me is setting up a power dynamic that is putting her on the top and me on the bottom. and ( b ) i have done many other things in my life that actually required effort and work, and i'd much rather that someone praise me for my accomplishments instead of a decision that i made when i was a teenager, especially because i think god's hand was over it when it happened. so i have nothing to be 'proud of' in that regard

How did you guys personally feel that you were welcomed to Islam by your local community, whether that be this year of ten years ago?

for me it wasn't much of an issue, because i was a teenager at the time and still living with my parents, and they didn't allow me to associate with muslims (phone calls, visits, islamic centers, etc)

back then, there were a lot less islamic centers, and certainly none within bicycling distance (my mode of transport until adulthood). there was one about four cities over that i could get to after a 3 hour bus ride.... but my parents were clued into the fact that there were friday prayers there, so they were extra strict on me on fridays to make sure i wasn't unaccounted for during the day.

i had a couple muslim friends at school but most of the muslims who lived around me were lost and clueless anyway (i recall one of them was interviewed by the newspaper about fasting in ramadan, and she said she couldn't fast because she worked at an ice cream shop and she would overindulge at work at night if she fasted! so hence no fasting)

so i spent the more 'formative years' of muslim-ness alone

i disliked it at the time... but in retrospect, it kept me from falling into the same traps of my peers, and it forced me to get a broader understanding of islam, to read diverse books about islam, and to really develop my understanding about the religion that probably wouldn't have happened if i'd been around other muslims my age. so god knows best.

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and, in any case, i don't like to be praised for taking shahadah. i recall this year, a lady came up to me and said, 'i'm so proud of you!' i know what she meant - she was proud i became a muslim. but honestly - ( a ) it's not HER job to be proud. for her to be proud of me is setting up a power dynamic that is putting her on the top and me on the bottom. and ( b ) i have done many other things in my life that actually required effort and work, and i'd much rather that someone praise me for my accomplishments instead of a decision that i made when i was a teenager, especially because i think god's hand was over it when it happened. so i have nothing to be 'proud of' in that regard

Salaam Sister,

Yours is a very interesting perspective and vastly different from my own, albeit we did convert at different times. I can appreciate it. And I don't want you to think that I don't. I have to remember that making shahadah and becoming muslim is not as shared an experience as I thought it was. For some it is breath-taking and the start to another way to live and to others it is not as meaningful and the meaning can be found later. Where it seems like you are ready (very ready lol) to shed the revert tag, I am still coming to embrace it. I don't mean to lump all reverts together. I mean only to say that those of us in the infancy of Islam. I realize the limits to my knowledge (as many reverts do) and bear notice that I can only increase this knowledge with my own willingness and another's service.

You are completely right that I have to be the one to initiate change if I want it. This message, in this forum, was a litmus test to see if my feelings were shared or rebuked. If I am the only who feels the way I do then the task is more daunting and I would take a different approach. If a change can be initiated through me, by the grace of Allah (SWT), and then implemented by the ummah I think that this would be the greatest success.

As it is, I put my email up on our Centre's web page as the person to talk to if you need help in understanding Islam. It was the first step in becoming the catalyst in my community. I am trying to organize education opportunities for nonmuslims to understand Islam. I run a small blog to help reverts (need to step this up a notch). I have made a few You Tube videos detailing my experiences with commentary. In short, I try to make myself available to the opportunity. At the same time, I need to address my own short comings and deficiencies and that is a true challenge.

If I am not alone in my feelings then I was just looking to have a group think as to how we might make it better. How have others instituted change? What are some thoughts? Mashallah I have heard some nice ideas and the video was very inspiring.

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Salaam Sister,

Yours is a very interesting perspective and vastly different from my own, albeit we did convert at different times. I can appreciate it. And I don't want you to think that I don't. I have to remember that making shahadah and becoming muslim is not as shared an experience as I thought it was. For some it is breath-taking and the start to another way to live and to others it is not as meaningful and the meaning can be found later. Where it seems like you are ready (very ready lol) to shed the revert tag, I am still coming to embrace it. I don't mean to lump all reverts together. I mean only to say that those of us in the infancy of Islam. I realize the limits to my knowledge (as many reverts do) and bear notice that I can only increase this knowledge with my own willingness and another's service.

You are completely right that I have to be the one to initiate change if I want it. This message, in this forum, was a litmus test to see if my feelings were shared or rebuked. If I am the only who feels the way I do then the task is more daunting and I would take a different approach. If a change can be initiated through me, by the grace of Allah (SWT), and then implemented by the ummah I think that this would be the greatest success.

As it is, I put my email up on our Centre's web page as the person to talk to if you need help in understanding Islam. It was the first step in becoming the catalyst in my community. I am trying to organize education opportunities for nonmuslims to understand Islam. I run a small blog to help reverts (need to step this up a notch). I have made a few You Tube videos detailing my experiences with commentary. In short, I try to make myself available to the opportunity. At the same time, I need to address my own short comings and deficiencies and that is a true challenge.

If I am not alone in my feelings then I was just looking to have a group think as to how we might make it better. How have others instituted change? What are some thoughts? Mashallah I have heard some nice ideas and the video was very inspiring.

Bismillah

This is so far a great discussion and many interesting and thought provoking points have been raised by all.

Br. Stefan and others, do you think that we need INSTITUTIONS to help the convert community slowly assimilate to Islam, and to fulfill their needs, ala The Ta'Leef Collective in the video above? Or, do you think that this can be accomplished simply by individual contact with other Muslims?

IMO, the Shia community has a long way to go before it can establish anything remotely similar to the Ta'Leef Collective. But, if you and other reverts think that it is necessary for our community to do so, it can be a goal to work toward.

SIDE NOTE: I was watching a speech by Yasir Qadhi (Sunni scholar) who was speaking at a sort of mega-conference in India, where a non-Muslim took the shahada. Qadhi said that he did not want that new revert brother to leave the conference until at least 1,000 conference participants greeted him, welcomed him into the family, took his phone number and invited him to their home. Alhamdulilah. This was a strong gesture and ultimately reminds us of our collective duty to those who revert to Islam.

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(salam)

Not being a revert/convert myself, I can only speak based on my observation of how reverts are treated at certain places. My observations are not really backed by empirical data.

You generally meet very friendly people at the mosque. They become your friend in an instance. You are invited to their homes the next day. And the following week, you will be putting pounds because of all the delicious food that you consumed with all your new buddies from mosque. Muslim community (or people from east) is known for their hospitality. This is actually a positive thing. :)

As I said before, when you are not a revert/convert yourself, you don’t always have a pretty clear idea of someone’s background, his or her upbringing, life experience and their quest to know Islam.

Someone may disagree, but I don’t think it is very appropriate to ask someone (a revert) you met five minutes ago about his/her whole life history. Without knowing someone’s past or the level of his or her ilm (knowledge), it is very presumptuous to start giving “free” advices/tips to reverts on ways to improve their Eman/Faith, correcting their salat publicly, trying to fix their hejab/scarf, suggesting they should think about getting married etc..This is just too condescending and not very nice. :wacko:

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and, in any case, i don't like to be praised for taking shahadah. i recall this year, a lady came up to me and said, 'i'm so proud of you!' i know what she meant - she was proud i became a muslim. but honestly - ( a ) it's not HER job to be proud. for her to be proud of me is setting up a power dynamic that is putting her on the top and me on the bottom. and ( b ) i have done many other things in my life that actually required effort and work, and i'd much rather that someone praise me for my accomplishments instead of a decision that i made when i was a teenager, especially because i think god's hand was over it when it happened. so i have nothing to be 'proud of' in that regard

Sister Bint, allow me to say what I think, it might make sense...For "(a)" : She's your sister in faith. She is proud that another person joined Islam, the right path-why is that so bad?...And I disagree with: being proud of someone means putting the praiser on top and the praised in the bottom! When I am proud of my parents, there is no way I imply I am better or putting myself on top..When I praise someone for their accomplishment it might even put the praised in the bottom as many times they praise accomplishments of others that they themselves could not reach. When I praise my best friend graduating from Med school, how on earth I'm putting myself higher than her?...Contrary to what you think, the praiser don't mean to belittle(or think she's better) you in any way... For "b": I'm pretty sure this lady does not know about all the rest of your life accomplishments and thus she spoke about one accomplishment(even if God had a hand in it, humans make their own choices and thus it is an accomplishment) that is apparent to her, converting to Islam. I'm not trying to change how you feel about this whole thing , I'm just trying to explain to you their (people like this lady who praised you) perspective...

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Bismillah

This is so far a great discussion and many interesting and thought provoking points have been raised by all.

Br. Stefan and others, do you think that we need INSTITUTIONS to help the convert community slowly assimilate to Islam, and to fulfill their needs, ala The Ta'Leef Collective in the video above? Or, do you think that this can be accomplished simply by individual contact with other Muslims?

IMO, the Shia community has a long way to go before it can establish anything remotely similar to the Ta'Leef Collective. But, if you and other reverts think that it is necessary for our community to do so, it can be a goal to work toward.

SIDE NOTE: I was watching a speech by Yasir Qadhi (Sunni scholar) who was speaking at a sort of mega-conference in India, where a non-Muslim took the shahada. Qadhi said that he did not want that new revert brother to leave the conference until at least 1,000 conference participants greeted him, welcomed him into the family, took his phone number and invited him to their home. Alhamdulilah. This was a strong gesture and ultimately reminds us of our collective duty to those who revert to Islam.

Salaam.

Yes I too am gleaming a lot of information from the thoughts of others. You think things are black and white and find that it is not always so. I think the ultimate goal is to add organization in your specific community. I, for instance, have two brothers who keep in contact with me at least once a week. What started as a "big brother" effort has really evolved into a mutual friendship. They have given me their knowledge and view points and I in turn give them a different perspective and energy. We are trying to add a "mentor" program for those who want it. It does not have to be a separate institution at all (although I like the idea). It ought to be handled and thought of by the community. Through the email link on the website. I have gotten two people who were interested in Islam, two classes who wanted someone to do a speech about Islam, and a couple people who wanted to be observers. What a great opportunity! But it is front end only right now...meaning we have made the initial step but what next? We need greater organization for the individuals who want to know more and want to have that structure in their lives.

If I scroll down the "Reverts" message board here, how many posts will I find from struggling reverts? At least a handful. These reverts struggle with their new life and who is there for them? The answer is....the brothers/sisters in their community. Those are the people that can really make a difference. Dawah is sometimes taken for granted. It is easy to hand out a pamphlet, but the follow thru takes a much greater commitment. The masjid has been the center of Islamic communities for centuries and it needs to be ready for the changes that have come and are coming.

Reverts regardless of their wants and intentions are looked upon by many as inspiration. It is proof that Islam is for everyone. It is proof that being Muslim transcends skin tones and ethnicity. Reverts, whether we like it or not, are proof of the power of Islam to those who are fortunate enough to have been muslim their entire lives. I can understand why some of you are tired of the label, though I do not agree.

I am going to give you a positive response that I have had as a revert. I have a brother who hugs me every time he sees me at the masjid. He does not say very much but when he sees me he greets me with the warmest smile and the biggest hug. He does this because he wants me to know that I am welcome. To let me know that I am his brother. And in the end he does this because he is happy I have accepted Islam. I have gone to this masjid for a year and still every time he hugs me as if it was the first time he ever saw me there. This brother, regardless of whether he knows it or not, is the definition of what it means to be an ambassador of Allah (SWT). And I will certainly not tell this brother to stop being so enthusiastic in his welcome.

We all have different thresholds as people. I for one have a fire that burns in my chest when I talk about Islam. My salat makes me weep because I remember where I was one year ago, and to be in the prescence of Allah (SWT) is overwhelming. I know I can help people. I know I too can be a good ambassador of Islam. What I lack for in knowledge, I will double in my sincerity. If someone wants me to speak on my reversion because it will be of some benefit, it is not place to decline. I am Allah's (SWT) servant. My ego does not get stroked , nor does it break down because someone of good intention said something patronizing. I don't look at my brothers and sisters as being on different planes. We are equals with different experiences and proceed with expectation that I can learns something from each one.

Thank you for everyone who is participating in the discussion....my eyes are open :D

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salam

br stefan, i see u r in austin... do u know shaykh safdar razi? he does a lot of islamic education. he's not in the us anymore but he still broadcasts on the awaited foundation (it has a website, u can google it. they have a facebok page too). maybe u will find some of his stuff helpful for what u do. they have an email list, if u join it u can get updated on their activities too.

here is the latest email i got from them:

The Awaited One Foundation in coordination with the Alqaem Institute will be continuing the Aqaaed [intellectual theology] courses on the topic of Divine Justice.

Time 10:15 - 11:00 pm live on AOFTV

7:15 pm

Total of 10 classes

Sunday - Thursday

January 17-21 and January 24 - 28

Lecture Broadcast on The Awaited One TV - http://www.awaitedone.org/aoftv.html

Course Archive Page - http://www.awaitedone.org/activities/education/141-course-on-divine-justive.html

Lecturer: Sh. Safdar Razi

WS

Sister Bint, allow me to say what I think, it might make sense...For "(a)" : She's your sister in faith. She is proud that another person joined Islam, the right path-why is that so bad?...And I disagree with: being proud of someone means putting the praiser on top and the praised in the bottom!

ummmm what u r saying is a different type of situation. plus it is usually obvious when someone is 'speaking down' to you versus speaking to you as an equal, or speaking out of humility ('looking up' to you). i am referring to the first type of situation.

there are so many other issues involved here... maybe for you there aren't, but for a lot of people there seem to be... especially a post-colonialist issues

as i often say, no one in america raises an eyebrow when a korean or vietnamese person becomes a christian. christians there think it's normal. of course christianity is right, so why wouldn't they want to convert? in fact, the whole world should become christian!

but with muslims, even though we theoretically all believe our religion is right, it is a big deal when someone wants to 'join the flock'. i think that in itself says something.

it may not be like this for you but i am sure it is for other people that i have talked to

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(salam)

Not being a revert/convert myself, I can only speak based on my observation of how reverts are treated at certain places. My observations are not really backed by empirical data.

You generally meet very friendly people at the mosque. They become your friend in an instance. You are invited to their homes the next day. And the following week, you will be putting pounds because of all the delicious food that you consumed with all your new buddies from mosque. Muslim community (or people from east) is known for their hospitality. This is actually a positive thing. :)

well... i think the complaint here is that some 'reverts' are not getting the 'welcome wagon' and aren't being befriended or invited to anyone's house (let alone putting on pounds). it sounds like the guy stefan mentioned was just, well, ignored.

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...as reverts, we have to want to help ourselves and others and maybe we can build something special. Maybe the weight to do something great is on our shoulders? It is one of the reasons I brought up this topic. I want to be a part of the solution. Nobody should feel isolated and everybody should be encouraged....

Wa'salaam,

Br. Stefan

Salam,

Since accepting Islam, I have been thinking about (and taking some steps towards) creating an organization to spread the message of Islam among the non-Muslim community in the U.S. If I objectively examine whether I have had any success in this regards I would say that I have not. I have engaged in dawah, however, doing this and creating an effective organization that can spread the message ot Islam to a large audience (and support those who accept Islam) are two very different things. I have struggles with this question of "small" vs. "big" (i.e., is it better to just do what you can individually or try and build an actual organization). However, my views on this have changed as of late.....

If you examine any successful Muslim organziations (since I am Shia, I am think primarily of Shia Muslim organizations however I feel it can also be more broadly applied) in the last 50 years you see that there were two common "ingredients" that they shared 1.) Unique historical circumstances and 2.) Both a leader and followers with a very high degree of taqwa and maarifa. Two good examples are the Islamic Revolution in Iran and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. In both cases, both the leaders and followers did not so much intentionally create the organizations as they were "born" due to unique circumstances that dictated such an organization to "arrive on the stage" of history.

Of course, the reason that these organizations (despite many similar historical cases in which movements like this were unsuccessful) was the "spiritual preparation" of both the leaders and the followers. If we look at Lebanon (for example) pre-1980's it was a highly secular and Westernized Arab country where going to the disco or the bar was just as popular as going to the mosque (even in the south and southern suburbs of Beirut). In the early 1980's Sayed Musa Sadr (r.a.) began to revive the spirit of Islam, first in Soour (Tyre) and then in the whole of the South and the southern suburbs (and eventually beyond). Of course their were others, but for the sake of brevity he was the driving force in changing the spiritual trajectory of the country. His effort also took place against the historical backdrop of an Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Imam Khomeni (r.a.), I feel that those who say that he had political ambitions or desire to become the leader of the country are severely mistaken. Based on my reading, his sole desire in this world was to move past both the "Veils of Darkness and Veils of Light" that separated him from his "Beloved", and he changed the world in the process. His followers also were men and women whose desire was not to gain power for themselves, but to purify their souls and their country from the corruption and decadence that had infected it from the West.

So, based on this analysis, I think that we as reverts in the U.S. are missing both of the necessary ingredients to form a "game changing" Islamic organization in the U.S. Since we (and any other human beings) cannot control the course of history, our only option (if we are sincere) is to prepare ourselves for such an event through a process of spiritual purification and seeking knowledge. Should we form "collectives", such as the one mentioned...maybe/maybe not, but the focus should be on helping ourselves and others along on the spiritual journey rather then bringing as many non-Muslims as possible for a 60 minute introduction to Islam.

I think some of the ways that we can be more effective (as both leaders and followers) is by things that are often said but not as often done (such as paying more attention in our salat, engaging more often and more sincerely in dua'a, trying to rid ourselves of satanic influences on us (secular media), etc.). I think it's kind of like surfing, if you are capable and in the right spot when then wave comes you will be able to ride it successfully. On the other hand, all the paddling in the world will not get you very far if you don't possess both skill and momentum.

Salam,

Edited by Abu Ali 2

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Definitely there is a leadershp vacuum. I think in those cases, when there is no one else stepping forward to lead.... well, that makes it our responsibility, doesn't it :)

(Regrettably I'm not much of a leader type, but I try at least to do my small part)

In any case, da'wah is definitely one area that the Shi'a need to focus on.

Also, we should look towards bigger projects. Take Brigham Young University for instance. If the Mormons can build a world class university - and have the students sign 'no drinking' and chastity pledges without people complaining they are backwards or too restrictive - why can't we? We don't lack funds or expertise, not in the US.

Or, there are any number of Jewish hospitals and research organizations.

These may not be the projects that we want to build.... but what I am getting at is that we need to have higher aims. The community has done a good job in begnning to set up elementary and high schools...... but there is a lot more that needs to be done.

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I must point that people who ask about your conversion story have very pure intentions and are just very happy someone not born Muslim actually found the right path by themselves.

i was rereading your post as i was scrolling through the thread

i do want to point out, i am sure YOU have good intentions, and YOU are a very nice person. i hope you did not think that what i said was directed at YOU personally.

but you can't assume that EVERYONE is like what you are saying. certanly, i've interacted with tons of people in my life, and they aren't all the same.

with respect... I think perhaps you can't understand MY perspective here because you don't experience it personally. I would appreciate it, however, if you would consider my experience valid and not try to paint it over with 'rose colored glasses'.

i am not saying that EVERYONE is rude to me or everyone mistreats me.... far from it, i've met lots of wonderful people. i don't dwell on these negative experiences except for an occasional gripe.

however, they are still authentic experiences i have had.

People who ask you these questions do not mean to insult you but on the contrary they think they are welcoming you by showing how interested they are in your religion conversion which as much as you say is not a big deal in reality changing ones religion IS a big deal

It is entirely possible to insult people accidentally, and for it still to be insulting. A man who comes along to a lady in an engineering office and says, "What's a little lady like you doing here, dear?" could be quite innocently insulting her... but it's still insulting, especially by today's standards.

That being said, I do refer back to what I said above... it's not really the job of a random person I meet to decide what is a 'big deal 'in my life and what isn't based on a 30-second meeting. (And to tell me what is and isn't important) I do have the right to define my life experience.

Also when they see you in place for the first time or just a few times , they think you're new to Islam, they assume you recently converted and hence with good intentions they offer you their help in Islamic knowledge. They don't know you have converted for over 10 years and know more than them. They don't mean to offend you, they don't mean to insult you, in fact that's their way of welcoming you and showing their respect by telling that hey you're one of us if you need anything we're at your service we can help you with fiqh etc etc etc.

Well yeah, but it's still insulting.

I am sure many immigrants experience this, when after 20 years in a country they are still asked 'Can you speak English?' (I am just trying to find a parallel)

It's not really showing someone that 'hey you're one of us' to be treated in a way that other people in the community would not be treated

And, like I said, the unspoken assumption that (1) "You might need fiqh lessons, or (2) "We are in a position to teach you due to our ethnicty" is also very insulting. Hands down. I don't know why you can't see that.

I understand your frustration due to the repetitive questions asking about your conversion story or repetitive kind of people offering help you are not in need of however if you were to understand where they're coming from, you would understand they are presenting you with the best hospitality-that's how they do it in their culture . They mean no disrespect. The woman who gave you a book to "teach" you Islam had no idea you know about it better than her, did not mean to show off and gifted you the book with good intentions.

Ummm... again, do you know her? Do you know her intentions?

I know her better than you do. I'm sure she had fine intentions. However, the full story was, she thought I wasn't a Muslim, so she gave me a book on Islam. Nevermind that I wore full jilbab/hijab (and not just a skirt or t shirt like one might expect a non Muslim to), no makeup/hair showing, etc, and I always said salam to her, etc. As far as she was concerned, as a white person, I'm not a Muslim.

In any case, if she wanted to give me a book, she could have just given it to me. She didn't need to tell me it was so I could learn about Islam.

Anyway the book was rather useless.. I kind of think she just wanted to get rid of it.

The more you understand their culture the less you'll feel offended or insulted.

I'm going to be blunt, I find this insulting in and of itself.

It's not about 'understanding a culture'. It's about dealing with ignorance. Culture doesn't justify ignorance or racial stereotypes. It may EXPLAIN it... but it doesn't make it right.

Why not put the burden on other people, to learn to treat people of other nationalties respectfully? (It is not just white people of course - it happens with all kinds of nationalities.)

I sometimes give my phone number to converts I meet, NOT because I imply knowing more than them, not because I think they're from a different planet, NOT because they are Caucasian wearing hijaab, BUT because I want to offer a friendly hand as I read and hear many converts needing to connect with the Muslim community, many converts are looking for halaal meat stores, many converts want to engage with the Islamic community activities , need to find hijaab stores, many converts need to speak with their Marja representative but don't have their contacts info etc, so I think I might provide these blessed people with some help in case they need, it's my way of welcoming them. Of course I don't pop up in front of a convert that I met for the first time giving them my number or even asking any question but that's because I was raised in Canada and know than a non Middle eastern would find that rude but middle easterns from the older generation don't know it's rude.

I'm sure people like it that you're friendly. I am happy to meet new friends.

But again, I wouldn't be happy if someone made friends with me thinking I am a charity case!!

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salam

maybe this is helpful maybe its not..

I grew up in a mixed area, so its relatively large converts here, about 1-3-per weeks

in my former mosque (sunni), there's free classes you could follow, whether you convert or not

1. quran n tafseer classes (it got branches)

2. fiqh classes

3. hadits classes

4. islam as general classes

5. islamic education for kids

6. arabic classes

all of us has to start from 0 point if we go to such classes n we have to repeat if we dont end at certain point (not ulama thingy but under that)

everyone is considered new to islam, whether he/she is born with it or not, if the knowledge is under certain level, n vice versa because of the class

yah, how come a born islam could boast anything if he is defeated in quran-reading class or hafidz-class

to revert theres a special event something like 'welcome home new brother' but its merely sharing n eating something

because of that, i think that no such thing as 'revert special institution' needed, the one needed IS :

  1. 1. Quran education first,
    • memorizing n learning practices on verses about akhlaqul karimah (good attitude),
    • reading quran from zero level or sub zero

[*]2. fiqh classes

[*]3. islamic discussion classes

why? because lots of born islam is worse than revert. We need them all, revert or non revert

i witnessed many revert got more knowledge in islam,because they learn to know islam

different by born-islam, many are hate to learn islam. that one thing,

n another thing, sometimes revert got more passion doing the ritual, while the born-one sometimes tired with it

make that kind of classes, n i think revert n non revert will sit in one level

yah, well, cases still happen, but we did something at least..

not to decrease insulting cases, but to increase opportunity to learn, without have to proclaim that your or i a revert

if i could help, i would certainly help, i am currently worked in organization that handled classes like that, i hope Allah will give me opportunity to help

wallahu a lam

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i think it's important to remember that everyone has different life experiences and perspectives, and that as human we sometimes have a subconscious tendency to project our experiences on others. however, of course, everyone's experience has validity and everyone has the right to define their experience.

I agree. I wasn't trying to project anything, just giving my opinion.

it sounds like taking shahadah was a 'bigger deal' for yourself than for myself and i definitely respect that.

It was a big deal for me because it changed the direction I was going in my life by 180 degrees and I thank Allah(s.w.a) for that, because if this

change wouldn't have happened at that particular point in my life, well I don't know if I would be here discussing this with you(if you know what I mean)

I fully understand that this is not everyone's experience and there are many who revert to Islam and their life changes very little in day to day things

because they were living a lifestyle that was very close to Islam even before they reverted. I also agree that it is noones business how your life was

before the reversion experience and I don't share details of this with anyone, except those whom I am very close to. I don't see that changing anytime soon

however, for me, the 'becoming muslim' wasn't really a big deal. it was a commitment, which alhamdulillah up until this day i've remained faithful too. however, i think i was perhaps naive, in that i didn't realize what a 'big deal' it would be to become a muslim, or what an impact it would have on the rest of my life. (including family life, social life, etc) or that other people would think it was a 'big deal'. i didn't even realize that my parents would be as upset about it as they were.

Same here. If I knew all the trials I would have to go thru, including those that you have named, I don't know if I would have went thru with it. But I think that is the blessing of Allah(s.w.a) for us not to know our future. I benefitted tremendously by not knowing about these things that were going to happen by only having to deal with the things that were happening at the present time and not all of them at once. You can probably recall the speech of Lady Khadija(a.s) in the Valley of Abu Talib as she was on her death bed, having given away all her wealth in the cause of Allah(s.w.a) and in addition to this about to die in exile from her community and was also thirsty and hugry, and yet she made the statement that 'I feel like the most fortunate women in the world because of what Allah(s.w.a) has given me...'. I am not comparing myself to Lady Khadija(a.s) and she was much greater than me, but I try to take some of that sentiment that she had with me in my daily life and realize how fortunate I am of having been given the greatest gift that there is and that is the gift of Iman and taqwa, though obviously not at the level that she was given.

and, in any case, i don't like to be praised for taking shahadah. i recall this year, a lady came up to me and said, 'i'm so proud of you!' i know what she meant - she was proud i became a muslim. but honestly - ( a ) it's not HER job to be proud. for her to be proud of me is setting up a power dynamic that is putting her on the top and me on the bottom. and ( b ) i have done many other things in my life that actually required effort and work, and i'd much rather that someone praise me for my accomplishments instead of a decision that i made when i was a teenager, especially because i think god's hand was over it when it happened. so i have nothing to be 'proud of' in that regard

I have seriously not have anyone ever say to me those exact words like, 'I'm proud of you'. That's something you expect to hear from your parents or someone that is close to you so it's weird in that way. Usually, people just tell me 'Alhamduillah brother that you accepted Islam', then walk away. I also think there is a difference between men and women on this issue. Men will usually just be uncomfortable talking about issues that involve any kind of emotions (like being proud of you, etc), so they are more likely to just talk to you about some general subject, or sports, or just basically ignore you all together. There have been many times that I have walked into events at the masjid and seen brother who are reverts sitting alone, sipping their tea. This is really a shame and I is something that I think needs to be discussed.

so i spent the more 'formative years' of muslim-ness alone

i disliked it at the time... but in retrospect, it kept me from falling into the same traps of my peers, and it forced me to get a broader understanding of islam, to read diverse books about islam, and to really develop my understanding about the religion that probably wouldn't have happened if i'd been around other muslims my age. so god knows best.

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i was rereading your post as i was scrolling through the thread

i do want to point out, i am sure YOU have good intentions, and YOU are a very nice person. i hope you did not think that what i said was directed at YOU personally.

but you can't assume that EVERYONE is like what you are saying. certanly, i've interacted with tons of people in my life, and they aren't all the same.

I'm sorry you had bad experiences with so called born Muslims. You are right, I can't assume everyone act like a Muslim should act. It's just that I did not expect anyone to mistreat converts maybe as you said it's based on our experiences, and in my experience, myself and people I know usually are very very welcoming , respecting and extremely polite with converts. I always heard my mother saying "these are the REAL Muslims" when she sees a convert in the mosque or somewhere. I had some converts teachers back in elementary school , I always admired and so did my friends.

with respect... I think perhaps you can't understand MY perspective here because you don't experience it personally. I would appreciate it, however, if you would consider my experience valid and not try to paint it over with 'rose colored glasses'.

I'm not trying to paint over anything sister-Not my habit. I was just trying to explain what I thought was the majorities intentions, but it seems the majority of people I have interacted with are different than the majority you met and hence our different thoughts on different experiences.

however, they are still authentic experiences i have had.

No was is denying the experience, I tried to interpret it and turned our my interpretation was completely off..

That being said, I do refer back to what I said above... it's not really the job of a random person I meet to decide what is a 'big deal 'in my life and what isn't based on a 30-second meeting. (And to tell me what is and isn't important) I do have the right to define my life experience.

It might be their way of saying "waw mashallah" or maybe saying "it's a big deal" just because they are rude, insulting, interfering in what is none of their business , thinking it's their job that someone embraced Islam, etc etc etc-I've never met people of the latter description but I'm sure they exist somewhere.

I am sure many immigrants experience this, when after 20 years in a country they are still asked 'Can you speak English?' (I am just trying to find a parallel)

Yes, we get these kind of questions but I don't get insulted-I right away say "I would be dumb if I didn't , it's been 20 years I'm here and all my academic studies from kinder garden to university were accomplished here, with this country's language"....But that's me, I don't get offended, it does not mean all immigrants are the same, some might fee insulted-don't know.

And, like I said, the unspoken assumption that (1) "You might need fiqh lessons, or (2) "We are in a position to teach you due to our ethnicty" is also very insulting. Hands down. I don't know why you can't see that.

Lol@hands down, dear sister I understand your point now don't worry. It seems you met some really rude Muslims in your life. The assumption "you might need fiqh lessons" is not insulting to me, I love fiqh and studied it over years under very knowledgeable scholars BUT since I'm not a marja' I'm sure there are many fiqh laws I missed or is no longer printed in my memory, so I assume the best of the person asking me and think aw it's nice of them, especially that the assumption says "you MIGHT..." not "you definitely lack fiqh knowledge, let's teach you"<--that would be very insulting. Now assumption number two, if they ask you so just because of your ethnicity then I understand how rude it sounds...

Ummm... again, do you know her? Do you know her intentions?

I don't but my answer was not about her personally, it was rather about the middle easterns way of asking questions or offering their help.

I know her better than you do. I'm sure she had fine intentions. However, the full story was, she thought I wasn't a Muslim, so she gave me a book on Islam. Nevermind that I wore full jilbab/hijab (and not just a skirt or t shirt like one might expect a non Muslim to), no makeup/hair showing, etc, and I always said salam to her, etc. As far as she was concerned, as a white person, I'm not a Muslim.

Her behavior is very weird. I think she's an exception to the rest of normal people, Muslims are from all over the globe...If that's what she thought despite your Islamic appearance and greetings then something is wrong with her. Again, I have not met people like that, fortunately.

I'm going to be blunt, I find this insulting in and of itself.

It's not about 'understanding a culture'. It's about dealing with ignorance. Culture doesn't justify ignorance or racial stereotypes. It may EXPLAIN it... but it doesn't make it right.

Why not put the burden on other people, to learn to treat people of other nationalties respectfully? (It is not just white people of course - it happens with all kinds of nationalities.)

I am not putting the burden on you or on them...I just think people are raised differently, what seems right for some generations seems wrong for others, what seems perfectly fine for some cultures could seem completely wrong in another culture....If Canadians understood my mother's culture, and she understood theirs, none would get offended...Since I'm not speaking to those who offended you directly as I don't know who they are, I have one you here, so I tried to explain to you their cultural way of welcoming others so that you won't think everyone who praises you is thinking they're better than you...I was talking about the majority(that I know) not the exceptions who ACTUALLY intend to show off or think they know better. (hope I'm making sense)

But again, I wouldn't be happy if someone made friends with me thinking I am a charity case!!

Of course...No body likes that...

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Salaam Alaikum,

Sometimes I wish we could all just sit in a room and talk about this. I think that an online forum makes it harder to gauge intent and emotion. I pray that nobody has become too offended or irked by the comments made here. My every intention was to make things better in my community by reaching out to those who want help. People like myself. I will refrain in lumping reverts all into one category, but I want to emphasize that I feel many reverts do want the help. I know the ones I talk to in the community do. I want to welcome those brothers and sisters and I too want to be welcomed.

In regards to what Sister Ananda Zahra stated, I really like that concept. The fact that the classes were available in your community to anyone is great. I would like those classes for the Shia community as well. I agree with the concept and the implementation as far as the basics you gave us. The Shia community in Austin, TX is small so I am not sure we have the teachers necessary but maybe for at least one or two.

To Sr. Bint Al Hoda I know who Safdar Razi is. He was the aalim here before I arrived. I did have the opportunity to meet with him before he left. I think he is in Tanzania right now. I have had the website bookmarked and will revisit it. Thank you for the suggestion.

In summary, so far, I have come to this conclusion. I need to be mindful as to who my audience is. That audience is "new" or "interested" reverts. Those who are asking for and seeking knowledge on an empirical level. How do we welcome, integrate, and educate? How do we continue to involve them in the community? I have heard some wonderful advice and would love to hear more.

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Salam Alaykom

I appreciate that you want to actively help converts assimilate into the wider muslim communities. But I think an important....no crucial point about intrusive questions has been raised. In theory people know that Islam is spreading across the west rapidly and in theory people know of an islamic etiquette. But many muslims don't seem to know in reality how to behave around other muslims they consider to be 'different' when they meet them. I think there is definately room for some formal education on this topic, and it is probably best to get these people who are treated as 'different' to explain to fellow muslims how they feel when they are interrogated (yes it feels like that).

So at the risk of patronising people (but this could be a good thing) there needs to be practical talks on how to interact with other brothers and sisters they meet. I really think it needs to be THAT spelled out to some people. I've had my share of incidents with some who are just totally oblivious to the implications of their words, I mean are we not taught to be mindful of our tongues? And it is nothing to do with their culture. BintAlHoda and I know that these are not standard normal conversations people have amongst themselves when they meet someone new. And for us they are not one off incidents, they recur time and time again when meeting new people. It's awkward and off-putting.

No, this type of behaviour of treating certain people like spectacles has to go because it can and does push them away, like it does when they are ignored in communities. I actually think that if we ca in some way get people to just stop with their intrusive questions then people will feel a whole lot more welcome and actually part of the communities. Maybe the OP has not had such experiences yet, but it is something that is common to converts and people who have mixed ethnicities (we're special too you know :P). Just look through the rest of this particular sub-forum to see what I mean.

Edited by keys2paradise

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But many muslims don't seem to know in reality how to behave around other muslims they consider to be 'different' when they meet them.

If you mean by this that they (the native born Muslim who was born and raised in a different country/culture) doesn't know how to act around a person that was born and raised in the native culture of the land they emigrated to but shares the same religion then this is true and expected. I don't think education will help. As the revert community becomes larger and develops it's own identity (apart from whatever culture they were "adopted by" when the entered Islam) this problem will solve itself.

it is probably best to get these people who are treated as 'different' to explain to fellow muslims how they feel when they are interrogated (yes it feels like that).

If you met, for example, a Japanese or Chinese Shia Muslim wouldn't you be very curious? Although I am a revert myself, this happened to me (i.e., I met a Japenese Shia sheik and found myself behaving the same was as other native born Muslims have behaved around me). So I think the curiosity is natural. Depending on the level of maturity of the individual they will deal with the natural curiosity in more or less appropriate ways. If the ways that they deal with this natural curiosity are on the less appropriate side then it's because they are just less mature and/or spiritually developed (and not specifically related to the fact that they are meeting a revert).

So at the risk of patronising people (but this could be a good thing) there needs to be practical talks on how to interact with other brothers and sisters they meet.

I agree, but this comes back to the fact that most of us need some level of training (some more then others) on proper aqlaq (manners), which is a general need in society (whether we are talking about reverts, native born Muslims or non-Muslims) and not specific to the revert issue.

I've had my share of incidents with some who are just totally oblivious to the implications of their words, I mean are we not taught to be mindful of our tongues? And it is nothing to do with their culture.

Both before and after I reverted (to Islam), I had similar experiences (as everyone does I'm sure). The difference is that my expectations of my Muslim brothers and sisters is HIGHER then my expectations for non-Muslims. I also think that if we look at it objectively we do find that, on average, Muslims do have better manners then non Muslims (this is in general, but not in every specific case....of course). Also, we must understand that much of the meaning of words and actions is "embedded" in culture, and if we come from a different culture then those we are interacting with it is more likely that we will misunderstand or misinterpret someones words of actions then if we were with people from our own cultural background.

And for us they are not one off incidents, they recur time and time again when meeting new people. It's awkward and off-putting.

Most people find it a bit awkward to meet new people. One of the things that negates some of this awkwardness is cultural norms that give some structure to this ritual. For example, in the U.S. if you go to a gathering of people that you haven't met you either 1.) just aimlessly walk around the room (pretending to be looking for someone) until you either see someone you know (who introduces you to others) or find some pretext ("Where is the bathroom", "What time is it", " These appetizers are terrible!", etc) to introduce yourself.

On the other hand, if go to a gathering of, for example, Shia from Southern Lebanon that you don't know you will be escorted into the room where all the men are (if you are a man...I don't know what goes on in the women's room), likely sit in a circle with all a table and someone serving tea in the center and people will start talking to you and asking you personal questions about yourself whether you want them to or not. Of course, if you don't want to talk to them or don't feel like talking there are ways to signal this (politely), however, the signals are different then if you are in a gathering of people that are culturally American (whether they are Muslim or not).

So if you are culturally American (or European) and not use to the Lebanese style (I'm sure there is a rough equivalent for other cultures as well) then it will seem (to you) like people are being all too "in your face" and personal too quickly. What reverts must realize is that this is YOUR PERCEPTION and not really a factual or objective assessment of what's going on. To someone from this culture it is a normal gathering, however, you are getting a little more attention then others because you are a novelty. The novelty aspect will wear off (if you see these same people a few times), however, it will always be there when meeting new people.

I actually think that if we ca in some way get people to just stop with their intrusive questions then people will feel a whole lot more welcome and actually part of the communities.

There are several ways to do this. 1.) Have a large enough revert community that you can spend most of your social time with people that are from the same cultural background as you and share your values (i.e., the are Muslims and were born and raised in the same culture as you). 2.) Interact with the same native born Muslim community (i.e., stay with the Pakistani's, the Iranians, the Lebanese, etc.) on a regular basis and you will become less of a novelty and you will become use to their cultural norms (this is what most of us are doing now). 3.) Educate each person you meet on how you want them to treat you (probably not a very effective strategy, but if you try it let me know how it goes).

Edited by Abu Ali 2

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Sometimes I wish we could all just sit in a room and talk about this. I think that an online forum makes it harder to gauge intent and emotion.

In summary, so far, I have come to this conclusion. I need to be mindful as to who my audience is. That audience is "new" or "interested" reverts. Those who are asking for and seeking knowledge on an empirical level. How do we welcome, integrate, and educate? How do we continue to involve them in the community? I have heard some wonderful advice and would love to hear more.

(salam)

It will be hard to get everyone in a room physically. Mainly because you have people from all over the country. It may be easier to get everyone in a cyber room (e.g. paltak) or on a public forum.

I am replying to the bold part. Have you consider creating an organizations that will cater for reverts (their needs)? :unsure: I am not suggesting setting up your own mosque. But an organization that will serve interest of reverts.

From my observation, I don't think our needs are similar. :unsure: People just assume that just because we are born Muslim, we should know everything. But that is simply not true. For e.g I don't have to deal with non Muslim family members who are against my religion. A lot of reverts have to deal with this issue. Naturally, the local religious organization may not be able to focus on this aspect because the majority of their constituent is not facing this problem. I think people will benefit more if they are part of a group that will understand them and work on issues that are closer to their heart (match their needs).

Edited by Zareen

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