What we can learn from people who have reverted to Islam, what can we change in ourselves to inspire reversion in others. Sister Faeeza Munshi recently conducted a Panel Discussion on the topic Reversion to Islam, where she explored the story of two amazing women, sister Khadijah and sister Rhianna.
Sister Khadijah has learnt about many other religions before coming to Islam, when asked about this she replied, “as reverts, we don’t become Muslims because of other Muslims, we come to Islam because we are searching for truth, meaning and purpose.” She explains that as a young God-fearing girl she always had a deep feeling to please God, but did not come across Islam at that age.
Her family had converted to Judaism and it was not a simple, or fast process, in this regard, she could not understand why finding truth would be so tedious. “The beauty of Islam attracted me”, she describes, “it is not only a religion it is a civilisation.” She goes on to say that her love for history, inspired her to look into Islamic history and found it magnificent in all aspects.
Sister Rhianna states that Islam answered all the questions she had, and after thorough research, she wanted to revert to Islam (from Hinduism) but, found herself in moments of resistance. This was until one day, “the resistance finally went away and I felt had been given Hidayat”, she explained.
Sister Khadijah indicated that she also experienced a similar feeling, and it came after studying and practising Hinduism - the last religion she found herself in before Islam. She stated, “at this point, I felt God had abandoned me because I felt I would never find the truth.” It was then that she asked God to help her find the truth she is looking for. Thereafter she watched the story of Yusuf Islam, which was the turning point that helped her realize without a doubt that she wanted to become a Muslim. “The moment I took Shahadah I was so thankful that there is only one God.
“Every soul on this planet yearns to have a connection with one God but other religions and people get in the way”, she mentions and that taking the Shahadah and accepting one God made her feel so free and liberated.
Sister Rhianna was asked, what are the stumbling blocks that occurred after taking the Shahada. She responded by explaining “I experienced confusion between practices in the Indian culture and practices in the Islamic religion but decided to only follow the Qur’an and Hadith and I think one should ask oneself this whenever one is unsure of something - is it in the Qur’an and hadith or not?”
She also mentions that people have to understand the difficulties that reverts experience that born Muslims probably won't, like changing of names and having non-Muslim family members.
Sister Khadijah, mentions that her family was understanding about her reversion. But because of the negative connotation attributed to Islam, there were concerns. She stated that “the change in dressing, makes it difficult for the extended family to interact with you.” Her way of dealing with this was to explain to her family the beauty of Islam i.e. the ways of treating others and dua made for people. “But there are always challenges.” she maintains.
Sister Faeeza asked the question do you meet people who take our Deen for granted? To which sister Khadijah responded, “a lot of Muslims don’t know their religion, and that Indians have too much culture added to the religion.” She elaborated, many whites stereotype Islam as an Indian religion and that this view needs to be changed.
Sister Faeeza then asked how do we change this view in our children, sister Rhianna explained that “being in Africa changes our perspective and you clearly see that it is not an Indian religion.” But if one wants to change the viewpoint that some might have, we could encourage people to be more welcoming to others in terms of religion.
Sister Faeeza went on to say that we need to promote the interaction of our children with people of different races, but of the same religion. Where she asked the question “what are we doing that causes people to have negative ideas about our religion?”
Sister Rhianna responded by saying, “it is the lack of interaction with non-Muslims”, many people are not able to ask Muslims controversial questions. She explains that she provides people with clarity regarding Islam and tells them how it will answer their questions. She emphasizes the preservation of the Qu’aan and its teachings.
Sister Khadijah explained that “Muslims are unapproachable and this is not their fault because the world has made religion look like superstition.” Where religious practices are regarded as old-fashion and this is influenced by the media. She concluded by stating that all Muslims must try to shift the paradigms of others and be more approachable.
The discussion highlighted that we should be understanding and helpful to reverts while keeping in mind the challenges they face in their journey. May Allah (SWT) make it easy for those on their journey to Islam.
20 February 2019