‘I had experienced a lot of trauma and almost felt abandoned by God.’ Convos with a Muslim Revert p1
Let’s face it; it’s not easy being a Muslim in this day and age. It’s not easy to walk in the middle of the street, visibly looking like a Muslim woman and have people stare at you with pity or hatred or suspicion. So it really fascinates me why anyone would willingly choose to become a part of a community that tends to find itself at the centre of media attention for all the wrong reasons.
Indeed, why would a ‘liberated’, ‘intelligent’, ‘modern’ Western woman give up all the 'privileges' of a Western lifestyle to become one of us, those ‘poor oppressed Muslim women’? I was born into Islam, so unfortunately I can shed zero light onto this topic. So I’ve enlisted the help of the lovely Amanda Shire to answer some of my questions. Amanda is a blogger and mother of two who reverted to Islam back in 2012.
(Side note- for those who don’t know, ‘revert’ is the term many Muslim converts like to use based on the notion that everyone is born a Muslim and hence they are ‘reverting’ to what they originally were. The term is not to be confused with someone who was practicing one religion, switched to another, then went back to the first)
In a world where Islamophobia is rising, what attracted you to Islam specifically? Were you practicing any other religion before reverting?
Despite Islamophobia on the rise, I was always very interested in a higher power. I grew up going to church on Sundays and occasionally attended Sunday school. I recall never really understanding much and lost interest very quickly. I had experienced a lot of trauma and almost felt abandoned by God at one point in my life. I had lost faith completely. I had many Muslim friends and despite everything I would hear about Islam, they always made it sound so beautiful and peaceful. Their love for their religion regardless of what the media was portraying was confusing and uplifting all at once. I decided I would look into Islam myself and find out what it was really all about. Alhamdulillah, the Quran answered so many of my questions.
Islam can have a bad reputation among certain Western circles when it comes to women rights. So it’s always fascinating to me when a woman reverts. Why do you think women are attracted to Islam?
Prior to reverting I too had many judgments on Muslim women. Once again, the media portrays a horrible picture of Muslim women. I think curiosity triggers women, why they choose to cover and if they really want to. Islam attracts women because it liberates them from the ideology of what the West defines as beautiful.
Were you met with any hostility after reverting from any individuals, family or non-Muslim communities?
I was not met with hostility from my family but more so disappointment and concern as to why I chose to revert. They were fine with me choosing a different religion. What really seemed to bother them the most was me wearing the hijab. Islam was fine but why did I need to cover? Couldn’t I be Muslim and choose not to wear the scarf? They found the scarf to be oppressive and the opposite of liberating. Some family did refuse my entrance into their homes unless I removed my scarf, but as time went on, they all came around. Some still do not approve or fully accept my decisions but they no longer have comments towards my religion. As for non-Muslim communities, I have gotten the “go back to your country” several times. I get dirty looks as opposed to smiles. At times I am asked why I wear the scarf or if I am hot. I believe people are more confused about the headscarf. You tend to dislike or be defensive about things you do not fully understand. I always hear non-Muslims saying they dislike the headscarf and don't understand why Muslim women choose to wear it. How can you dislike something you refuse to understand? Or how can you dislike something that does absolutely nothing for you?
So what did go into your decision to wear a headscarf?
I always told myself that if I converted to Islam, I would never wear the hijab. It was beautiful but I just couldn't see myself being dedicated or comfortable enough with it. After about a week or two of converting it was Ramadan, so I would put the scarf on in the parking lot before entering the mosque. It went from the parking lot to putting it on before I left my house to wearing it a couple hours before prayer times. It was a part time thing until one day I spent an entire day just youtubing why women wear the hijab, what the real significance of it was. One video in particular opened my eyes and I fell in love with the idea of the hijab. I found it to be so liberating, uplifting and truly beautiful. I have worn it ever since. The women in the video talked about why they loved their hijab and how it makes them feel as women. It was just so real and heart warming.
And that’s it for this week’s post guys. I wanted to keep these posts nice and short so tune in for next week’s post for more from Amanda on the challenges she’s faced as a revert. Hope you all enjoyed reading her answers. Please show her some love and support by following her social media accounts and checking out her blog. If any other converts, Muslim or otherwise, need a platform to speak about their experiences, I’d love to have here on Papercuts. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Blog: Trust Your Struggles