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If You’re Going to do this Islam Thing 4 May 2006

Posted by ABD in ABD, Culture, Spirituality, Theology.

Welcome to the community. Now grab a bottle of water (or maybe a voice recorder), because ten seconds into any conversation with a Muslim you’ll have to repeat your conversion story. And a pen and notepad, because you’ll have to take down a lot of advice. (One of the things you’ll need in your expanded wardrobe is a thicker skin.) If you thought this was going to be a private affair, think again.

Chances are that you’ve already met a few Muslims, and were drawn by something different about them. Perhaps it was their etiquette or their modesty, their calm conviction or their piety. These are beautiful qualities, and good Muslims are blessed to have them. So stay close and benefit from their company. By your very difference, you will be a reminder of what they have in common. In borrowed words: it’s not the the color of their skin but the content of their character.

Do not make the mistake, however, of confusing Muslims for Islam. For every example of a good Muslim you will run into counterexamples. To a believing Muslim, only Islam is free of counterexamples.

If you have already learned this the hard way, then focus your interaction on the Muslims who will benefit you the most. Find one or two people you trust, not only for their knowledge but also for their humanity. Your faith is a precious thing, so guard it jealously. The first Muslim you know may not be the best person for the job, whether it’s a friend who doesn’t understand the religion or a teacher who doesn’t understand you. Both are capable of harm.

Every time someone new comes to Islam, it is also a reminder to old Muslims. Sometimes it’s a gentle reassurance and sometimes it’s a rude awakening. This is a learning process, and we’re all students here.

Keep in mind that Muslims have a long and rich historical tradition. As we negotiate our own relationship with modernity, there will inevitably be different voices with different answers in the community. You taken the definitive step for any believer–i.e., to submit to God and follow His messenger, but it is only the beginning of a life of choices about how good a Muslim and what kind of a Muslim you want to be. Welcome to the party: you’ll find that we hug each other a lot, but we don’t necessarily agree.

If you’ve felt the force of Islam, you should know better than to compare it with any private creed, spirituality fling or social custom. It is a way of life, and the beginning of a relationship with your Creator. You will have to readjust your expectations accordingly, just as your both your new friends and your old friends will have to readjust their expectations of you.

Take your time, and take it easy. Why rush a good thing?



1. r - 6 May 2006

masha’Allah… will share with my fellow convert sisters insha’Allah…. thanks for posting :-)

2. Abu Miftah - 7 May 2006

Interesting site, will come back often insha Allah

3. ABD - 7 May 2006

r: any feedback that you or your friends may have would be great. it’s a balancing act to prepare converts without overloading them, and i always wonder whether we say too little or too much. (to be fair: this piece is targeted as much to ‘old’ muslims as to new ones)

abu miftah: welcome to our space. we don’t have any dates or coffee to offer you, but feel free to click around. because the posts aren’t tied to particular news or events, you may find old posts to be just as relevant as new ones.

4. Abu Noor al-Irlandee - 16 May 2006

As salaamu ‘alaykum,

Really nice post ma sha Allaah.

I really find the whole conversion story thing fascinating.

If I had been more diligent it would be interesting to have written down the way in which I tell my ‘conversion story’ to have changed over the 12 years I’ve been Muslim and the different versions I might have for different audiences or depending on what length of story I wanted to tell.

I think the idea that people want to know what brought someone to Islaam to be beautiful and so I would hate to not tell the story and I would never have anything but love for anyone who asks but at the same time, it is exhausting to try to think of what to say, I’m often not sure what people are looking for because it often seems they are looking for something specific that I can’t give them (Maybe they want some magic formula with which they could convert other people?) It is also strange how people will address such an intimate and deep question to people they’ve just met and when there’s not really the time or environment to discuss such a thing.

So, at some point I just developed a standard answer — pretty short, not too intimate, at least arguably true, and maybe somewhat interesting or unexpected that I just repeat when asked the question. The story at this point, told in this way, has absolutely nothing of benefit to offer me, so maybe it’s hard for it to be of benefit to others.

Again to reiterate so I’m not misunderstood, I always feel affection towards people who ask, and I always tell the story…but one more interesting observation: I’ve never in my life asked another convert about their ‘conversion story.’ Is this unusual?

5. ABD - 16 May 2006

abu noor, welcome to othermatters.org.

you’re a new muslim? wow! what made you convert?

6. RUK - 23 May 2006

MashaAllah good piece! May the lord bless you, accept you, increase your eloquence and use you increasingly for his cause!

7. CONVERT PICTURE - 4 June 2006

[…] other|matters: If You’re Going to do this Islam Thing.[…]

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