In life, i have had my share of experiences, be that in different situations, places, time, or with people. One group of people i have been fortunate with and had some experiences of, are the new convert Muslims. Now, before I fully indulge in the topic, I’d like to pay homage to the tremendous efforts and struggles they go through, to be a Muslim. Often times family ties are cut and in some cases permanently. They are in many ways more closer to lives of the companions of the prophet (saw), than any born Muslim can ever be.
Their struggles are something the born Muslims can never fully understand or accommodate. At times their selfless dedication to Islam is admirable and immensely inspiring to see. Sacrificing most if not everything, for the pleasure of Allah. However, without sounding pessimistic or judgmental i have seen far to many brothers, who initially under go the immense struggles of being a new muslim, finally snap at some point in life. Maybe it is because of family pressure, friends or the pull they receive from the former life they once led. Now, i know by writing a post about this i am opening myself to the barrage of criticisms and attacks, that will ultimately come my way.
Who are you to judge these Muslims? ‘stop talking rubbish! Or, ‘You cant even appreciate the struggles they go through. You’re a born Muslim’ are just some of the comments i have already received in the past when trying to bring this to attention. Remember, this is NOT an attack on convert Muslims, far from it. I am by no means a perfect Muslim, but this should not stop us from giving naseehah (advice) to one another. The illustrious lives of the companions are though in, and though out with such examples.
These are the following phases of a convert Muslim i have noticed:
1) When a person becomes Muslim he or she goes from one extreme. That is, committing all the haram, to the other extreme. Which is, labeling and tagging almost everything as being haram. ‘Akhi this is haram!’ ‘Akhi this is baddah!’ The life they led previously is completely shunned (and rightly so, if there was evil in it). However, the damaging thing is, the people they used to hang around with are also thrown out with the bath water. The new Muslim begins to see them as the denizens of Hell. Who deserve no mercy and should in all cases be dealt with severely. Because of all the ‘haram’ and kufr they do.
2) This sort of extremist attitude leads them for a great number of years, where the family he or she once knew, become aliens in his or her life. And, for that part, the family of the new Muslim, begin to see themselves as slowly losing their loved one to ‘Islāmic extremism’. My brother the Islamist, a BBC programme aired a few years ago, is a perfect example of this. Where the extremist Muslim in the family sees his own brothers ans sisters as evil and vile people who deserve to be looked down on and shuck hands with, only with the ‘dirty left hand’.
3) Once this hunger for self-taught piety sees no end, then he (the new muslim) seeks to join a party or a group which would be a perfect match to his ideology. With a spiritual support behind him and a religious gang to hang out with, he then beings to look down on other Muslims. Who in his eyes, are committing grave errors and innovations in Islam. These new Muslims then see it as their birth right to show the misguided ways of the deviators, – (muslims who have gone astray). This then leads him to curse and accuse every other Muslim of being a non-Muslim. The only true Muslims who are following the Quran and sunnah are him and his gang.
So, so far we have seen how from one gang of barbarity to another gang of ‘religious barbarity’ the new muslim quickly phases through.
4) After several years being the foot solider for that group, he then slowly starts to have serious doubts about the group, of its actions and ideology. He begins to question them and their ways of implementing Islam. Why do we have to do this? Why are you accusing every one? etc. This then leads him to the road to adopting a liberal Islam.
5) Having seen the errors of his former group which he has left now. He/they then begin their own quest to reach the truth. Going from places to places and along the way, he slowly beings to think about the former life he used to lead. All the joys he had, the mates he used to chill with, and the stress-free and causal approach to life he had. This seriously beings to mystify his Islāmic life and the ideals Islam has. Having had the experience of Islam and seen how it was with his former group, he then begins to think, ‘this Islam is not what i thought it would be’. ‘Its quite restricted and stressful’. This is where every things starts to go pear shape.
6) With the realization that Islam is (in his view) very strict, he then looks for ways to adapt his former lifestyle into his Islāmic lifestyle, once again. Looking for hadiths and quranic verses which allows him to have some of the pleasures he used to enjoy before. Or, even twisting the interpretations of some ayahs, so that he can justify his actions. Should anyone ask him why he has gone back to his old ways. By now the one time thowb wearing, turban tieing and long breaded new Muslim has changed to wearing Levis jeans and t-shirts with a pencil line bread. Over a period of time, this then allows shaitan to further capitalize on the condition of the one-time, self-proclaimed religious police officer of the ummah, the convert Muslim.
7) In this last phase we see the complete overhaul of the previously ‘haram bashing, extremist convert muslim’. This is where he has gone from being one thing to another. A hippy muslim, where everything goes. Hardly anything is haram. ‘live and let live’ attitude. Where the constraints of shariyah and sunnah are seen as being barriers to modernization and improvements. Where the hijab is seen being a non-essential item of being a muslim, what matters is having faith and being socially active. Or, the beard is seen as something not really that important to have. Something that only the 7th century Arabs wore because it was a costume of the times. He ultimately joins organizations agree to his new way of thinking. Organizations which say indirectly, ‘music and dance is allowed in Islam. It is not wrong and is celebrated as being an art’.
Take Yusuf islam for example, a man who shunned music for many years, has now gone back to the mainstream music industry.
The following images are from one such Islāmic organization. Dare i say which one. This was one of those organizations which used to rigorously promote the idea of implementing traditional Islam in the west. An example of how its gone from one thing to another, – the western hippy Islam. Being manufactured in the US. Where brothers and sisters can sit together in the same hall and it will islamically be halal. Where there is no need to wear the hijab or dress modestly. An organization which allows women to wear skin-tight shirts and trousers.
How on God’s gracious earth, can there be blessings and barakah in such places. Where the very fabric of Islam is being woven with non-islamic ethics and ideals!
Finally, we see in this 7th phase, the emergence of an ‘Exclusivist Muslim attitude’. Where these convert Muslims say, ‘we know how to take Islam to the west. As we are from the west. ‘We need to adapt Islam from that of a 7th century Islam to a modern day appealing Islam’. In one way saying, ‘ we want to live our former lives, but with a Islāmic theme to it’.