Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Muslim Convert vs Old Muslim Convert

Seems like a tempest is brewing online on one of my yahoo groups. It got me to thinking about what new muslim converts need vs what old muslim converts need. The group is basically there to let people know about activities going on in the community and to reach out to really new muslims. That's all fine and dandy but where does that leave the old muslim converts? When you've been muslim for more than a decade you really don't need to be learning what the 5 pillars of Islam are anymore. You've reached a stage where you need more in depth information and something else. What do old muslim converts really want? In my opinion it is companionship. No, I don't mean muslim dating dot com. I mean real relationships with other muslims. What most born muslims don't seem to understand is that converts lose most of their contacts when they leave thier respective religions behind. And this is not self-imposed. Once the busyness of learning your new religion has come and gone, one looks around and wonders where did everyone go. Most converts are abandoned after a short while. Some get the superstar treatment especially if they are single (please marry my son,cousin,uncle etc routine) and some only get minimal attention. I was never in the superstar category but I heard that some men never graduate from this position. Many born muslims actually believe that converts have it made. They say this is your country and you have your whole family here and friends. By family they mean our parents,siblings and relatives. This is a joke because most converts are kicked to the curb when they convert. Friends also hightail it when they figure out how boring you've become. Converts of course think that the muslim community will become their family. Not! Most immigrant muslims are too busy socializing with thier own kind to be bothered with the lonely convert in the corner and if you are married with kids what on earth could be your problem anyway. On top of this I think old muslims converts want to talk about more deep pressing issues than what kind of hijab to wear  etc. Old muslim converts want to be proactive; organizing committees, protesting, writing letters. When you are new you are like a sponge but once you've learned the most important things, one asks themselves, how can I as a muslim help the world to be a better place. So socialization serves a purpose. With that said, old muslim converts need to socialize just for the sake of friendship as well. I could be wrong but I think this is one of the main issues. What say you?


  1. ASA

    YES YES YES!! I totally agree! I'm bored to death by hearing the same info over and over at the converts meetings, and yet, I don't fit in with the other women. There are 3...three of my "old" friends who managed to stay with me from pre-post conversion.

    Companionship is what I certainly miss!

  2. Wa Alaikum Salaam

    Masha Allah that you were able to keep 3 friends. They must have been true friends.

  3. Asalaamu alaikum,
    Yes, I agree. You hit this sort of in between stage wear you don't really need the basics explained to you anymore, yet you do need something... Details maybe? Politics? If I enjoyed our local mosque, and there were more activities, I think I'd go AND get involved. Even in something as simple and informal as a group of us reader a section of quran together, and then tea or coffee. I don't feel unwelcome, nor very welcome as a convert. These days invisible or indifferent, because I am not like the other sisters---either in ethnicity, or language, or from going to two days of islamic school--- I know less arabic and quran than some of the five year olds. It puts me in a really weird place. It's ok, really, but I would LOVE to make friends, regardless of ethnicity, and do some regular study. I have muslim friends, but sadly we never meet to read quran or study. I'd like that. I'd also like a non-child focused, grown up group, like a book club. Someplace friendly and a topic that is good for all, and a space where we can forget about what language we speak or don't speak---and just talk as women. We do have a very active Muslim Mommies group in the next town over, I just haven't been able to get to them. Sigh!
    You know, even a non-event social would be nice. Sometimes the masjid has picnics in the parks around town, but darn it, they always plan midday events in the 100 degree weather. I just can't do that. Subhanallah, it's all there, sort of, it's just not working for me. I give up for now, until I have better mobility with the kids... Meanwhile, thank god for neighbors, muslim and non.

  4. Some women in the next town have a halaqua but they don't allow kids (sigh). There's no where to learn to read quran. Islamic book club? I can only wish! Muslim Mommies? That sounds great! May Allah make it easy for you and all converts to join other women. Amin.

  5. Amin! Yes, the kids thing is hard... : (
    I'd hate to bring them, but do husband's babysit all that often, especially for non-desperate reason?! Gah! I wish I were rich, I'd hire a teen to sit in the next room over, and let the ladies focus.

  6. Oh the halaqua is during the day so hubby is at work but he would babysit in a heartbeat. One other woman has started halaquas in her house at night but she chose the night that we go to Tae Kwon Do because everyone else wanted that night..sigh.

  7. Assalaamu aleikum
    I agree with you whole-heartedly. I'm a real old-skool convert AND an immigrant, so I don't have my family here. I have to say that in many ways I feel that this is now my country and I love it; I almost feel more comfortable being Canadian than I do being in many Muslim environments. It's the same old age/ethnicity/language/interests/level of education etc etc. I learned my husband's language but there isn't much I want to talk to the ladies in that language because apart from being Muslim, it is a total chalk/cheese scenario! (long story). It's only recently that I began to feel at home in the local mosque, and only because there was a change in the activities on offer there a couple of years ago that brought a lot of people in beyond the usual dominant ethnic/linguistic group (but alhamdulillah for the halaqahs there and alhamdulillah for the people who started the mosque and kept it going, may Allah reward them).
    I'm not the activist or political type, apart from signing the odd petition and always voting... but I don't want to sit around blabbing about fashion, jewellery, housework, the best way to roll a grape leaf, and who's on my personal hit-list this week (I don't have a hit list, I have an avoid-list, peopled by folks who talk about all the things I just mentioned...) So I just bumble along, if I meet someone who's my type, alhamdulillah, and if not then it's salaamu aleikum and goodbye, and go home to read a good book :-)
    What really IS getting "old" is being called a New Muslim after 27 years and getting harangued by people in the mosque about how to pray etc...!

  8. Wa Alaikum Salaam

    lol at the grape leaf rolling and at going home to read a good book. 27 yrs? Masha Allah you beat me. I've only been muslim for 18 yrs. What kind of activities do they now offer in your mosque which were different than before?

  9. Salaams
    Basically there was very little on offer before and I remember people muttering about "what a waste of a good facility" etc. Then they employed a shaykh/imam who is very, very dynamic, ma sha Allah. He started a bunch of halaqahs - for women, youth and family. Things really took off after he came. There are Arabic classes too, and a monthly family potluck (I only went to that once, it was v crowded and I don't do crowds).

  10. Wa Alaikum salaam

    An imam...wow I wish my community had an imam! Someone offered to get one and they said no we are not ready for that (the community has been here for 30 yrs!!!!).

  11. Seems like this post is very popular lately. I wonder is it converts reading this or just the general public. Do you have any thoughts? Post is 3 yrs old but can't say that I feel any different.

  12. Salaams
    It just popped up in my facebook news feed, which is why I'm here again!
    Kinda the same old same old, except that I'm more interested in politics I guess. Been on a lot of protests in the last 3 years. I wouldn't call myself an activist, I'm not enough of a "people person" for that.
    Sometimes the children of immigrants, who have grown up here, may be easier to make friends with than their parents. I have a friend who is like that, hardly speaks the ancestral language, and I feel closer to her in that the whole born Muslim/convert thing doesn't really cross my mind when it comes to that friendship. Then again there are others who are kinda "alien" to me. But I could say that about many who share my own background. I think it just boils down to finding your own kind of people, no matter what their background, and keeping a bit of a distance from the rest.
    In other news, my daughter says while her (born Muslim) friends are raving about coming across a convert and how cool it is (the old pedestal routine again), she sees converts as totally normal because as well as having a convert mom, she grew up with a bunch of convert "aunties". I'm still hoping for the day when we are all just regarded as *Muslims*!