Woop! Woop! And we're back this week for more insight from Amanda Shire on the struggles of reverting to Islam.
Islam is a multicultural religion, however did you feel under pressure to become more ‘eastern’ or ‘Arab’ once you reverted? To give up your Western identity?
At the beginning I did feel that I needed to be more “Arab.” I found myself trying to learn Arabic, to speak it more, to be able to read the Quran. I would feel less of a Muslim at women parties because I would always be the only Caucasian woman there. I would always be the one who didn't speak Arabic. I would try to cook more “Muslim” meals for supper etc.
It took me sometime to realize that I was just as Muslim as anyone else. I did not need to change myself to seem more cultured or Muslim. I did not need to change my name to seem more eastern or Muslim.
How has interacting with Muslim communities been? Have you felt isolated, different or unwelcome?
Alhamdulillah my interactions with Muslim communities have been great. People are very welcoming and very happy that I found Islam. At first, I did feel like the odd ball out but it was more so myself feeling paranoid then it was others making me feel unwelcome.
What do wish Muslims or/and non-Muslims understood about reverts?
There are two things that I wish both Muslims and non-Muslims understood about reverts. We did not all convert for love. Assuming we changed our entire belief system and way of life for love is too assume we have no sense of self or free will. The second would be that we did not all have horrible paths in life that made us feel we needed Islam to help us walk straight. Yes, many people have had bad pasts with drinking/ night life but the majority of reverts convert simply because they have found the truth. I am always getting asked if I converted for my husband so that he could marry me, or get the assumption that I must have been this horrible person who drank my sorrows away and hung out at the clubs every weekend. Is it so hard to believe that we were simply seeking the truth?
What challenges did you have to face after reverting?
One of the challenges I had to face after reverting was the issue of hijab. Many assumed I was under some sort of Islamic spell and was being manipulated to wear it. Holidays were also another issue I faced with my family. No longer celebrating like I used to made them feel like I did not want to be a part of the family gatherings; when in fact, I would still attend as much as I could to be respectful. They had trouble understanding why I would no longer be putting a Christmas tree up or why I would no longer decorate for Easter etc. The biggest challenge was just not having the support you need from the people you love right off the bat. You constantly feel like you are defending yourself and your religion when in fact, you do not need to. People only understand to the extent of what they want to hear.
Trying to make more Muslim friends as an adult can also become difficult. You are either not religious enough, too religious or in the middle. Due to you being a convert, people want to tell you what is haram and what isn't. It can be hard to speak up and let them know that you have attained just as much knowledge as they have.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about converting?
Just do it. That would be my advice to anyone considering to revert. Tomorrow isn't a better day, nor is next week. It will still affect people the same way, it will still upset others just as much as it would if you waited another week to tell them. I think that hardest thing is the thought of what your friends and family will think. If you feel it in your soul, there is no better time to revert back to your creator than right now. I waited almost 2 years because I was so afraid of what my family and friends would think. I look back and regret it, it would not have changed anything , or made it easier.
Some food for thought in this week's post. I'd like to thank Amanda for taking the time to open up about her experience. Hope you all enjoyed learning about her story. 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