If you weren’t born Muslim but have chosen the Islamic path, you’re likely to be hounded by questions from both sides of the dogma fence as to what caused your leap of faith. From the hopeful ‘Were you blinded by love (of a Muslim)?’, to the harsher ‘Are you brainwashed?’ to the cynical ‘Don’t you miss bacon?’, it’s hard to explain swapping Hannukah or Christmas for Ramadan.
This is a guest post by a person who converted to Islam in 2014 and wants to share 16 of the most common questions she received throughout her journey with the faith:
Did you convert to get married?
Nobody made me convert and I did so after marriage. There were never any conditions that I had to convert. Plus, in Islam, every action taken must be done so with intention, so without the intention of wanting to become a Muslim, converting is pointless.
Don’t you miss drinking and eating pork?
Some of my friends are fascinated by someone who willingly gave up the right to party and pork-out, but, no, I don’t miss it. I do miss people not caring about what I do and do not consume, though.
How can you be a feminist and a Muslim?
As a feminist, I would never change something so fundamental about my identity as my religion if it contradicted my beliefs regarding women’s rights. Unfortunately, ignorance by both Muslims and non-Muslims has distorted the importance of feminism in Islam. How can you be a feminist and a Muslim? As a feminist, I would never change something so fundamental about my identity as my religion if it contradicted my beliefs regarding women’s rights. Unfortunately, ignorance by both Muslims and non-Muslims has distorted the importance of feminism in Islam.
What did you have to do to convert?
To convert you just say the Shahada [lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadur-rasūlu-llāh] and have the intention to become Muslim. But don’t worry, you can’t accidently become Muslim by reading this post!
What did your family think?
They aren’t thrilled. If you’re living in Europe or the US, anywhere in the West say, it’s challenging enough for me to be sporting the ultimate ‘badge of Islam’ by wearing the veil, let alone for family or friends to be seen with me in public.
Do you hate Jews, Christians, and gays now?
Nope! I don’t hate any human! Islam promotes tolerance and peace (let not some practitioners and the media fool you!). Do you hate Jews, Christians, and gays now? Nope! I don’t hate any human! Islam promotes tolerance and peace (let not some practitioners and the media fool you!).
Are you a terrorist? Do you support Daesh?
(Rolling eyeballs) Nope. Islam is not synonymous with cults of the death-hungry, so-called Muslims. Some would like to think Daesh or ISIS has as little to do with Islam as the Vikings.
Are you going to wear hijab?
I now wear hijab but I was a Muslim for a year and a half before I made the decision. Just like converting, you must have the intention to wear the hijab- so you need to understand and WANT to wear it.
Do you miss showing off your hair? How did you learn to style a hijab?
I don’t miss showing off my hair, but I miss blending in. Youtube is full of great videos teaching hijab styling tricks.
Are you treated differently at airports?
It’s hard to tell if enhanced scrutiny has to do with my frequent travel to/from the Middle East or if it’s because of my new faith, but Western airports do show me a lot of attention. But since the jihadi bride profile is a 20-something, white, American convert, I guess they’re just doing their jobs.
Do you have to speak Arabic to convert to Islam?
Do you pray in Arabic? You don’t have to speak Arabic to convert to Islam, but since you do prayer in Arabic, it helps to learn the language. Fortunately, Allah knows all, so you can speak to him in any language.
Do you really pray five times a day? Even if you are sick?
Yes, always. As a Muslim, I am always amazed by how amazing my life is and how amazing the world is, so it’s the least I can do to show my gratitude to Allah.
Will you be sporting a burkini on the beach?
Oh yeah, and I’m dreading every moment of it. While I am proud to wear my hijab in all public places, and especially the gym, I know I am not alone in not wanting to dress like a sea-lion at the beach. But all struggles for faith are worth it in al-akhira.
Can you convert if you have tattoos / aren’t a virgin / etc.?
Yes. When you convert, your sins are erased and you start out with a clean slate. Plus, why would God, who is the most just, judge people for things they do not know are haram in Islam?
How do born Muslims treat new converts?
Born Muslims are usually very excited about Muslim converts, and often want to be included in our prayers because we are perceived to be closer to God. Muslims struggling with their faith are also often refreshed to meet someone who chose the religion.