Archive for July, 2009

Revert Superheroes

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 by servant of the most merciful

Over the time I have been muslim there have been a wide variety of reactions across the spectrum over my conversion. From non-muslims there has been complete disgust, to a sense of respect from those who likewise would like to practice their own beliefs. No doubt the disgust comes from those who wish to follow the negative idea portrayed by the media rather than the truth. And the respect comes from those who are likewise looking and fighting for recognition, and acceptance of their beliefs.

From muslims there has also been a range of reactions. From one sister questioning me why on earth I came to Islam when she herself was muslim, to the more common reaction of my being some “celebrity”, a “role model” for other muslims, and a “superhero” in the war against ignorance and disbelief….

….I by no means am any of these. I do not strive for celebrity status. I find myself looking to others as role models rather than ever considering myself as possibly being one. And for the record I have no superpowers. I cannot fly in my batwing abaya despite what people may think. I do not have x-ray vision nor that heat vision thing Superman has got going on. Although I may look like one neither am I some ninja with a billion black belts and cool ninja throwing stars.

So one question comes up again and again. If I am no superhero or celebrity why do I feel like a lot of muslims treat me as one? Why are some muslims awestruck and in total amazement of the choices I have made in life? InshaAllah I would like to raise a few points for consideration.

In the UK in the majority of areas there is a strong muslim presence from the great number of muslims that migrated to the UK to find work. Since this was sometime ago those who have settled here in the UK have had children and their children have had children. For the vast number of settled muslim families it is not rare to now find second, third and even fourth generations born and bred here.

It is so widespread you will now find in most towns there is a masjid of some kind, or the more played down cultural centre for muslims of a certain nationality. Over the some forty years that muslims have migrated to the UK and made it their home, British people have come to accept and accommodate those muslims that practice in one capacity or another. For example by law all workplaces should provide a suitable multifaith room or area of some kind to accommodate the practice of religion. The people most frequenting these rooms are nearly always muslim. Of the religions studied in religious studies in schools, there is as much focus on Islam and other religions as there is Christianity. Britain and it’s indigenous population have come to accept that people from different parts of the world have different cultures and different religions. And over the past ten years that infamous buzzword “multiculturalism” appears at least once in every set of policies written for practically anything.

Due to the wide growing presence of muslims in the UK, people have become more aware of Islam. Despite the backlash we can quite often see in the media, the general public know more about Islam than they did twenty years ago. With the wide growing publicity and acceptance of Islam over these years is it any wonder that some of the indigenous population have converted to Islam? After all Islam is the religion of truth.

All muslims in the UK probably have a friend who is a revert or have at least met one or heard of one. Reverts are actually growing in number in the UK. And we come in all shapes and sizes. We dont just come in one colour but many. I have revert friends that are black, white, chinese and asian. The only colour I suppose we don’t come in is that smurf blue. The point I am getting at is that we are no longer a rarity. The muslim population in Britain is evolving.

When someone comes to Islam all muslims see it as something beautiful and amazing. Born muslims in some way or another reconnect with their faith and for reverts it is like taking your shahadah for the first time all over again. After the shahadah there is usually a lot of hugging, a lot of congratulations and mashAllahs,subhanAllahs, alhamdulillahs etc. But what happens after that?

If a revert is lucky they will have some form of guidance from muslims within their community. They may well have friends and acquaintances that can help ease the transition.
“Aww sister mashAllah Allah has guided you to Islam… Here have my number… If you ever need help call me”.. But is that enough? What if that new revert doesn’t have the guts to call?

One thing that seems to be growing apparent is that the general muslim population we already have here in Britain is not fully aware of the things reverts have to go through. Correct me if I am wrong but I am not completely sure if there is a masjid within the UK that has a proper mentoring scheme for reverts. Yes there are revert circles that happen at some of the big masjids but that is only for a couple hours once or rarely twice a week. What happens to the other 166 hours out of 168 hours in a week?

Likewise what happens in the time apart from when a revert is lucky to see their muslim friends twice a week? Even when a revert is at university five days a week and sees brothers/sisters nearly every day it is only for a small number of hours each day. What happens in the remaining time? Despite having regular contact with other muslims and reverts unless you are actually living with other muslims you will find yourself lonely. In actual fact even for those that do live with other muslims, reverts may find it lonely. And sometimes it can get desperately lonely. There will probably be a few people tagged on here that have experienced it, and will continue to experience it including myself.

Even months, years, decades after coming to the religion, reverts still need support and encouragement. Islam for a long time will not be the way reverts have lived the majority of their lives. When someone wishes to leave behind the life they lived, the one they have know all their life for Allah it is incredibly hard. Looking back despite now nearly being muslim for coming up to four years I have only spent one seventh of my life as a muslim. I am not familiar with the Quran or arabic nasheeds, as much as I am with the music I grew up with and listened to before becoming muslim. A lot of my thought processes in some way or another are still non-muslim. Despite looking strong on the outside I go through periods of feeling spiritually high and then feeling incredibly low. Despite having a hard outer inside I am full of soft mush. Even recently there have been times I have woken up feeling like I am in some kind of nightmare, and need to snap back to the reality of disbelief.

As time has gone on I have begun to know more about the realities of coming to Islam. Despite so many men and women coming to Islam, there are a large number that do not practice, or even renounce the religion because it is too hard. They lack support and spiritual encouragement. They come to Islam and soon experience some kind of warmth and love. People become amazed when they come across this new muslim….
… And this is where that reaction comes I mentioned in the beginning. A reaction that is full of awe, like you have seen a celebrity.. Exactly like the child who sees a superhero in the flesh for the first time in films.

This reaction will even get to the point where muslims will just stare at you and say mashAllah. And that is it. That is all you will get from a muslim. A stare of amazement as the support and spiritual encouragement you need. InshaAllah I hope one day the vast majority of muslims will get past this reaction. A long time ago the forefathers of born muslims came to Islam when muslim merchants travelled to places like the Indian subcontinent. Their forefathers (or your forefathers if you are born muslim and reading this,) travelled the same journey as we had. It was just a long time ago. InshaAllah they would of received the support, be accepted and taken into the families of those muslims that brought Islam to their lands. Not blank stares and empty mashAllahs.

At the end of the day reverts are not superheroes or celebrities to be stared at as amusement or entertainment. We are not indestructable, immune super duper superheroes. We are human, insaan like the rest of the other muslims. Rather than say your mashAllahs, please do us an even greater favour and help us. Help us to be the muslims we aspire to be.

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Tears of Realisation

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 by servant of the most merciful

A moment of silence,
A moment of grief.
The blink of an eye,
A tear of realisation set free.

A Journey

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 by servant of the most merciful

The heat bounces off the hardened ground,

With the movement the echoing sound,

The hot sand kicked up by many feet,

The whirling winds turn it into a blinding sheet.

Amongst the blinding sand moves a long caravan,

Travelling to a far away land,

Many men and women, old and young,

Many people speaking a different tongue.

The heat bounces off their well travelled clothes,

The fabric tossing and dancing as the wind billows,

The hot sand kicked up by many feet,

Covers everything and anything in a fine dust sheet.

In the changing terrain moves a long caravan,

Travelling to a far away land.

Every single traveller with the same destination,

To make at Allah’s house duas and prostration.

The heat bounces off the Holy Mosque walls,

At times of the day the muazzin climbs up and calls.

The hot sand kicked up by many feet,

Many feet that seek to make Allah’s worship complete.

From the Holy City moves a long caravan,

Travelling back from a far away land.

Many men and women, young and old,

With hope of return and many stories to be told.

The heat bounces off the hardened ground,

With the movement the echoing sound.

The hot sand kicked up by many feet,

By more pilgrims seeking a reward so sweet.