Islam has at least 1.6 billion followers in the world. Many are born into the faith but a small percentage of us came into Islam later in life. Some of us prefer to be called ‘converts’ and others ‘reverts,’ but no matter what we’re all Muslim. What experiences unite us?
1. Our families try to make us feel bad for the lack of pork products in our lives sometimes.
I promise. I really don’t miss pork tenderloins.
2. “But you’re not Arab, how can you be Muslim?”
Arabs only account for 20% of all Muslims worldwide actually. I’m not an anomaly.
3. “No, but where are you REALLY from?”
If I had a dime for every time I heard this…
4. If you are a Caucasian male convert, it is likely people will assume you are a hipster far before assuming you are Muslim.
In fact, when I go out with my husband, people sometimes don’t realize we are a couple.
5. People might associate us with Muhammad Ali because of our religious experiences.
That’s cool with me. He once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
6. People also assume we agree with terrorism, unfortunately.
A hadith of the Prophet Muhammad says, “Allah said, ‘O my servants, I have made oppression upon myself something impermissible and I have made it impermissible for you to oppress one another. So do not oppress one another (meaning that some of you should not oppress others).'”
7. Several African-American sisters shared with me that it’s assumed that they are from the Nation of Islam.
There are some people who convert to the NOI, but it’s not synonymous with every black Muslim.
8. Some people act like we became instantly submissive when we converted to Islam.
We are submitting to the Creator, not the creation. While I’m at it – no, I don’t hate myself, and I certainly don’t hate my own gender.
9. Everybody assumes that we are all experts on Middle Eastern politics.
Some of us might have knowledge on the Middle East, but we did not all instantly gain a crystal ball for foreign policy when we took our declaration of faith.
10. We had no idea there were so many ways to wear hijab until after we became Muslim.
Women who cover can wear every color they can imagine and many cultures have different popular fashions worldwide. We have fashion shows and also the World Muslimah competition that seeks to rival the Miss Universe pageant.
11. If somebody asked us years ago if we would learn Arabic, we’d probably say no, right?
For many of us, just getting Surah al-Fatihah memorized was #Goals.
12. Who knew we would want to pray 5 times a day?
I somehow enjoy getting up for fajr in the middle of the night.
13. The most refreshing thing a person can greet you with is “Salaam alaikum” (Peace be upon you).
I feel even more blessed when non-Muslims also give me salaams. It makes me feel welcome and comforted.
14. You found out quickly how your friends perceive Muslims – for better or worse.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who lost a friend or two post-conversion.
15. For every friend lost, we gained a sister or brother in Islam.
There are 1.8 billion of us on earth. Nothing rivals the feeling of interconnectedness I feel globally.