As a revert, I have often thought about what is lacking in the community to support new Muslims. As someone who experienced a huge range of emotions and ups/downs, I feel its important that more support is available. By support I don’t mean classes, recitation, or Arabic lessons. I simply mean support.
I am lucky enough to live in a country where we have such a huge range of classes and courses for sisters – both new and born Muslims. But, when I was a new revert and I inquired about joining these classes – mid way through what we would call a “school term” – I was turned away from almost every place that I contacted because “the course is already half way through”. I contacted about 3 mosques, 3 Islamic centers and 2 Sisters groups before I became so disheartened that I stopped trying. I, perhaps naively, thought that I would be welcomed with a big “Mabrook” and a metaphorical hug, before making life long friends with the warm and supportive sisters who would happily support me. I am still shocked today that anyone would be turned away from a class or a course because of technical reasons or time constraints. To quote one of the fabulous sisters I met recently ” Being a Muslim is not a college course!”.
The result that this had was that naturally I felt very demotivated. As a Westerner working in a predominantly Asian workplace I didn’t have any Muslim friends who could introduce me to other sisters or give me any advice. So what did I do? Well, I did nothing. Nothing at all. I decided (wrongly) that all “sisters groups” or “new Muslim” courses were unfriendly, judgmental places and I was going to do it alone. MashAllah, luckily I did join an online course (newmuslims.com) which helped me massively as I enjoy working at my own pace; but I did feel that I was missing out on the social side of my religion.
Of course, my experience is not symbolic of all classes or courses so looking back I do understand that if I had kept on trying I almost surely would have found a different result. But the point is, as a new Muslim, I didn’t emotionally have the energy to keep trying. So what happens to those who find themselves in a similar situation? Perhaps it’s even harder in non-Islamic countries? Now that I am confident in my religion, I am looking forward to enjoying all the facilities that I have around me; but I still have this nagging feeling – what about support? How I would have loved to simply have a sister take me aside and tell me its OK to feel angry, excited, sad, guilty, euphoric, and any of the other emotions that reverts feel, especially in the beginning.
As someone who is still learning, who still has ups and downs, and who still has to push herself to pray, read Qur’an, and not gossip – I wouldn’t consider myself as someone who is equipt to help new Muslims learn about their religion academically. BUT, as someone who does still have to do all of the afor mentioned, I do consider myself someone who could support a new Muslim emotionally. I would also encourage anyone else, whatever your knowledge or commitment level, to support any revert that you come across as much as you possibly can. Even if all you can manage is a hug and a shoulder to lean on, you cannot underestimate the difference it may make to someones faith.
Make dua and be happy, Noora xx