Convert Confessions

I’m here to confess some things that not many converts to Islam would be willing to discuss openly. Ready?

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Sure, I knew the basics and the basics made sense to me, but that’s about it. Not long after taking my shahada, or profession of faith, I walked confidently to the edge of the convert diving platform with my new Muslim friends cheering me on, slid my toes to the edge, and jumped headfirst into an ocean of belief before I ever learned to swim. My friends stuck around long enough for me to take the plunge. Just until I seemed to get the hang of praying, saying alhamdulillah, and wearing hijab.

It wasn’t long before I contracted a full blown case of convertitis. I debated people on the internet using the copy & paste method to the best of my ability. I tried to convince friends and relatives that my newly selected religion was the ONLY TRUE religion. I stopped listening to music, I cut off contact to guy friends who I’d had since elementary school and even female friends who I thought were bad influences. I wore hijab long before I was ready to do so. I judged other Muslim women and their choice of dress. I judged the “kufar” and their lifestyle choices despite having shared those choices myself at one point. I wore jalabiyas to Wal-Mart, I fought with my parents about holiday gifts, and I made myself believe every single fatwa on islamqa.com.

I was in deep, you guys. But the embarrassing thing is that after learning the basics, my study of Islam stopped. I was so deep into the day to day details that I never took the time to really look deeply into the integrity of those details. I lived like that for years.

I enjoyed being a part of something. I liked the label and the definition. In the same way I make sure the lines of my furniture match up with the lines of my tiles, I made sure my actions and beliefs lined up perfectly with what was expected of me according to mainstream Islam.

When my daughter was a year and a half old I worked in a portrait studio. One of my regular customers and I got to chatting and she mentioned how her sister used to be a Muslim. I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever heard. How can someone become a Muslim and then just stop? My response to her was “Well then, she never really was a Muslim.” I can imagine now what that woman must have thought of me. Ten years into it, I can totally understand how this religion is not for everyone. If for some crazy reason that woman ever reads this post…I’m sorry. I was an asshole.

Although at that time I thought I was living the deepest possible existence, I can honestly say now, looking back, that I have never been a more shallow person. I was critical, judgmental, and hard headed. I was toxic to myself and probably those around me. I would not have wanted to be my friend.

And then something changed.

Several years back, when my marriage was just beginning its most difficult phase, I began to search for answers. Most Muslims reading this will assume that since things changed when my marriage changed, I must have converted for the wrong reasons or that maybe I never really believed, but let me assure you that you’re wrong. It wasn’t about that. It hit me that many of the reasons used to convince me that Christianity was not the “right” faith also applied to Islam.

I began to question and to form my own opinions. I found that when I shared my questions and opinions with other Muslims, my faith was questioned, and everybody knows that that’s a dangerous line to cross, so I stopped sharing my thoughts.

It’s amazing how the people who were so open to your questions during your conversion become almost allergic to them once you’ve taken the plunge and become a Muslim. Islam is an all or nothing religion. You either believe it or you don’t, no cherry picking allowed.

I’ve never found the answers I was looking for, but I’ve been left with a whole lot of questions. Most of which I suppose I will never have the answers to.

Over the past couple of years, during my immense amounts of free time in Saudi Arabia, I’ve had the chance to quietly sort out my thoughts and become comfortable with my own ever changing and evolving (as is evident by my ever changing and evolving posts on the subject) beliefs. I want no part in the business that is Religion, capital R. I don’t want my beliefs to be anybody’s business. And I mean business in every sense of the word.

I’ve opened up to others about my feelings and doubts and I know that I’m not alone. I’m not the only one who feels completely ripped off and cheated from the conversion process. It would be easier to keep my thoughts and experiences to myself on this subject, but that’s not what this blog is about. I would have loved to have stumbled on an admission like this when I was going through my roughest times, so I’m choosing to share.

I’m not here to place blame. It’s my fault that I so enthusiastically stood at the edge of that platform and jumped in headfirst before knowing how to swim. I was 20, that’s what we do at 20. I’m here to say that it’s not fair that I don’t get to change my mind or decide for myself. It’s not fair that my personal choices such as manner of dress and gender of my friends should be matters of public (or in Saudi’s case, matters of government) opinion. It’s not fair that I should be afraid to have doubts, ask questions, or openly disagree with the mainstream. It’s not fair that my personal growth should be limited to only growing deeper into the mainstream or even the extreme sects of the religion.

My fellow Muslims like to brag about Islam’s 2 billion followers, but taking into consideration the number of people who are born into the religion without choosing it, who don’t really practice the religion when people aren’t looking, or who are afraid to leave it, where does that leave us? If we as followers aren’t free to really share how we feel, what does that say about our precious Ummah? If there is no compulsion in (this particular) religion, why are Muslims forbidden from leaving it?

I’m not afraid of people judging me anymore, or to talk about how I feel, but I am afraid of things never changing for other people like me whose lives may hang in the balance because of what they believe or have stopped believing. I’m afraid that someday my daughter won’t have the right to choose and will instead believe or pretend to believe as she is compelled to believe. I’m afraid she’ll rebel altogether as so many young people here do, leaving her culture and the beautiful essence of her religion behind her.

66 thoughts on “Convert Confessions

  1. Such an interesting read. I often see a lot of converts to Islam be so judgmental when they convert of me people like me who are ‘moderate’ muslims for lack of a better word. And I find it so interesting that you said ” But the embarrassing thing is that after learning the basics, my study of Islam stopped.”
    I am a Saudi and have been born into this religion. I have male and female friends I always have. I come from a very conservative family that knows that segregation of women and men is not an Islamic thing it’s a cultural thing. I have never covered my hair when traveling altho I hope someday to wear a hijab. I have also never walked around in a mini skirt. Islam is in everything from when I wake in the morning and do my prayers to how I raise my children. Having said that I listen to music, I studied abroad and I expect my daughter to have opinions and make her own choices. I think sometimes, and I don’t know if this is the case if your situation, you only see the radical side of Islam and are told everything you do will send you to hell. And we were taught that at school by very strict teachers. Then my family told me something which was quite a revelation. God loves me more than my mother loves me. Life is not about being perfect and doing everything right it’s about making the right choices or fixing the wrong ones you made.
    I feel like you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. I am by no means an expert at all on Islam except for the fact that I have lied 34 years as a muslim and it has not stopped of hindered me in any way. I am equal to all and I have the right to have fun and make decisions for myself and live my life.
    Please do excuse my assumptions of they are incorrect but if not then talk to me or people like me who have lived a different side of Islam that is not oppressive or judgmental.

    • The world would be a better place without any religion – instead of bringing us together, they divide and spread intolerance. We are all a “spark of the divine.” Love your fellowman, that is the closest you will ever come to knowing God.

      • Probably a very similar life to the one liberal and non-practicing Muslims, and all members of other faiths, have there. There are atheist men who think KSA’s laws are great (after all, being a Muslim isn’t a prerequisite for being a misogynist). There are atheist women who don’t mind them, because they’re perfectly happy to be housewives, and because they’re lucky enough to have husbands who treat them well, so the practical effect of those laws is minimized. In my experience, whether someone’s happy there has more to do with their personality and lifestyle preferences than it does with their religion… assuming they’re discreet enough to stay out of jail, that is!

    • “I don’t know if this is the case if your situation, you only see the radical side of Islam and are told everything you do will send you to hell.”
      Only radicals?
      Oh if only had a dime for every time I’ve been told I’m going straight to hell by a fellow Muslim- I’d have more $$ than Bill Fates & Warren Buffet.
      What is up with that?

  2. Salam! Truth is, Islam is a beautiful way of life. When we get to know more about it, we cant help but fall in love with it deeper. The thing is everyone has a choice.. You can be born into an Islamic family but choose not to be Muslim (and vice versa) Alhamdulillah I was born Muslim and still am. No compulsion in religion. I know a lot of reverts who act like they know it all when they don’t. Infact, no one does. Don’t run faster than your shadow. Take it one step at a time and Insha Allah everything will be easy eventually. I am not perfect and I don’t expect anyone to be. But we have to strive to be good. Islam is perfect, Muslims are not. So when we let what a muslim(person or community) does or thinks affect us, we look down on ourselves, and we get into a terrible state. May God help us!

  3. First of all,Mandi, what a brave and honest post! I think it should be read by everyone considering converting to any religion because I keep hearing the same issues you so intelligently bring up from many converts to many faith systems after they have lived their adopted faith for a while. The good news is,from my observations, many of them go on to a great place,a deeper understanding of their respective faiths. I’m not sure who made up the joke,a take-off on the biblical passage…”the truth will set you free!(but first it will make you miserable)”but I think that is often true. Coming from outside your particular “world religion”, I have to say that the one I do come into contact with,Christianity, has the same problem in its most fundamentalist,conservative elements. Most Christians,however are not fundamentalists and,from my observations ,at least in North America, neither are most Islamics, like Mama B said. Also,most Christians do not live in situations where the government is hand-in-glove with the religion to the extent where you could be punished for abandoning the faith,although some of the fundamentalists would love to set up a situation like that if they could! It’s unconstitutional and they just don’t have the political clout to do too much about that. Thinking back on my college history ,seems to me Islam did some mighty fine theological and philosophical musings as well as inter-cultural sharing …like in Spain back in the day? Just listening to the young middle-eastern people my daughter is talking to (and your current demographics show you have a LOT of young people ) they aren’t toeing the “party line” the way many of their elders did and I honestly don’t think it’s because they are temporarily “acting western”. As you know,there is an enormous amount of communication going on between young Saudis and everyone else on the planet. They are in each other’s bedrooms every night ….care of Skype ….from high school on up. My own kid will be discussing world history with people from various parts of the planet including the 10 new Saudi guys and girls (classmates of those in the States)who are in KSA but want to join in too. Much to the chagrin of the fear-mongers,the walls are coming down and we all have faces now. Insights into each other’s lives unthinkable a few years back. My daughter can tell me what’s going on in Dubai or Doha right this minute and what her friends think about it. I personally think this generation is going to make some big changes and maybe your little girl will be a part of that for her people as they go about it in their own way. Maybe having you for a mom will give her the wisdom she needs and that she and others like her will be a blessing for millions. Just my thoughts here. Hang in there. You are doing great things,IMO.

  4. I am just curious as to where and how did you get so influenced by Islam in US to the extent that you decided to get converted? Why didn’t you seek answers in your religion first? And in all these big and bold choices being made by a 20 year old girl, where were the parents or other adults to help, understand and guide or stop you from making rash decisions that will impact your entire life?

    • I made Muslim friends and wanted to know what it is that they believed in so I started studying and did so for about two years before I finally converted. It made sense to me, so the hardest part about making the decision to officially convert was the fear over what my family and friends would think of me. My parents were supportive of my exploration and figured at first that I was going through a phase. I don’t come from religious parents, so they were ok with me choosing a different path as long as it made me happy. I don’t think it would have helped matters if they’d tried to stop me. I was 20, but in my mind I was an adult woman who was capable of making her own decisions, and they respected that.

      • Just a question. Do you think you or your husband can afford to be those understanding parents to your children as your parents were in your case? Just a thought to ponder. The religion of your birth gave you that liberty. Can you say the same about the religion of your present choice? What s your thoughts on this? I am eager to know.

      • I can’t speak for her father, but I plan on giving my daughter the freedom to be whomever she chooses to be and believe whatever she chooses to believe as long as her choices don’t harm others. I’m sure that sounds idealistic, but if my parents gave me that support, I can do the same for my child as well.

  5. Just want to say…I completely agree, understand and know what you mean in your post. You could have written that post about me it fit so much, only I was much younger (15 when I converted).

    When I got older and more aware of the world around me and the realities instead of just religion, religion, religion…I just stopped caring. Now in my mind, religion causes more pain the world then anything else, all the crusades, the Holocaust and mass murderers all in the name of same religion or another. My whole mind set just changed and I can never look back.

    I feel for you, even though, in the end you probably do have some faith left while I don’t. What I mean is, I followed that path too. Too much, too soon and too heavy.

    “Islam is an all or nothing religion. You either believe it or you don’t, no cherry picking allowed.”

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I think it is wonderful you opened up. Good for you!

  6. Hi Mandi,

    it’s good that you are honestly admitting it to yourself and the world, although many people will be threatened by it.

    religion often makes sense if we are tied into it “socially”.. that is, if we are born into it and thus all our relatives practice it, or you convert into it because you are in love with a guy and thus everything about his world and his background make sense.. and once that is over, then the illusion is shattered.. which is what happened in your case..

    Religion needs a “social” basis that makes it come alive and become true for those living it, it’s somewhat like the truman show, everyone is playing along and thus it becomes truman’s reality..

    i hope you have a safe and tranquil journey in finding a new meaning to life..

  7. I think all converts go through what you’re going through and I myself have gone through it. Although I did not jump into Islam like you had (many of my friends did) I converted after studying Islam in depth for tears and asking myself if it was IT. I then took things one at a time. But there are times after I converted that I’d question my choice. Alhamdulillah my answers were always answered. Remember, everyone has doubts, and even The Prophet, when the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) was literally communicating with him, The Prophet doubted himself, thought he was imagining things, but it was his wife Khadijah who believed in him and helped him through his doubts. The faith is built off doubts whether Muslims wish to believe this or not. I tend to clash opinions with born Muslims, like when I say the Prophet and wife were actually the reverts, which some Muslims are just really ignorant and stupid. Ignore all the cultural influence and division confusion in Islam. Allah said it himself that all these things were to happen.
    I hope you find peace in the end whatever you may come to. I just discovered your blog and enjoy your honesty. Never be afraid because when you speak your mind you do find answers : )

  8. Hi There, I don’t agree that “Islam is an all or nothing religion. You either believe it or you don’t, no cherry picking allowed.”

    It only becomes such a religion if you are following what mankind has made out of it (mainstream).

    Me too I am a convert, only difference between us, I was 40 when I converted…

    Me too I had a crisis, because of people!

    Nevertheless, the only question you should have is: Are you clear with god? If yes, do not listen to what people have to say. Only follow your heard.

    BR Sherief

    • To be clear, I am totally comfortable with my personalized version of faith. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be writing about it here. But it is really hard to be a member of a larger Muslim community if you don’t believe some key elements about the faith. For example, if I were to sit in a room full of randomly picked Muslims of whatever madhab or sect or whatever and declare that I reject the hadith, I would be considered a kafir by most of them. Do you disagree?
      I stand by my original statement of Islam is an all or nothing religion and that cherry picking, among the mainstream, is not welcome.

      • I agree, but it’s just between god and yourself!!! I I do not care mainstream opinions anymore (-:.. e.g. Hadith is a hot potato as many of those hadith are just man-made…

        Just think about the time, when the hadith have been collected by Bukhari???

        Try to free yourself of your statement and you will find your peace of mind – as I did -!

        By the way, no human being has the right to call anybody a Kafir, as only god knows!

      • I wouldn’t go so far as to say I think all ahadith are inaccurate, but I think considering them to be on par with the Qur’an makes no rational sense. They were assembled and edited in much the same process as the Christian New Testament, are probably about as historically accurate. A traditionalist Muslim will argue about the measures Bukhari et. al. took to eliminate anything questionable, and I don’t doubt that it was a great scholarly effort, but 100% accuracy would have required them to be mind readers. The idea that anyone (including the ahadith collectors) should be regarded as infallible, or that their work should be considered equivalent to God’s own words, is haram in itself.

      • It took me a while to not only realize that hadith are as reliable than the bible we have today, but to also admit it out loud. I’m glad you share my views! It makes me feel like that much less of an oddball.

      • I would be sincerely interested in discussing ideas and sharing questions with anyone, but I am honestly turned off by anyone who calls himself a scholar, because it’s usually a misnomer. I will definitely check this guy’s profile out and see if he’s someone who would be open to discussing with me.

  9. I dont know how you survive in Saudi, Iv thought of you often. I believe this country and their form of islamic dogma drive many from the religion (although I know your feelings stem from within and not the saudi state). Maybe if more people thought for themselves instead of this “Obligatory Taqleed” concept, we’d all have the chance to progress spiritually. At our own pace.

    You might find some people with similar views to you here : http://mpvusa.org/
    Good on you for being brave enough to post this! Many converts will relate!

    • I’m sure it’s a symptom of my “weak faith” or whatever, but I have to admit that Saudi Arabia has definitely pushed me away from Islam, or at least its version of it. I was totally gung-ho when I arrived here, but being surrounded by people who use the faith to their advantage, to abuse others, to suppress, to manipulate, etc…it has made me sick.
      PS- I looooove MPV as an organization and I love what they stand for. I used to be a member of the facebook group, but found myself irritated with the drama, so I quietly left.

      • Having lived in KSA, I can empathise with you and what you probably went thru. I am a male, who grew up there. I was shocked to see this land between its extremes, faith and depravity, opulence vs oppression. But thankfully, my circle of friends, hopeful Muslims, scholars helped me steer clear of this mess and to the correct practise of Islam. So I am critical of aspects of KSA and the way they preach Islam, but not of Islam itself. Yes women face hardship there. So much in the name of protecting women. But you can comfortably ignore the cultural quirks and look to practise Islam proper. If you have doubts, have them clarified responsibly by scholars who counsel intelligently instead of those yelling haraam haraam la yajooz. Believe me you can get absolutely exhausted in dealing with folks and acqurire problems such as ”facebook dawa warrior fatigue syndrome”, ”islamic life/work-family imbalance syndrome”, ”hadith explorer exhaustion”.

        A lot of the times sincere practising muslims sometimes suspect Islam for their personal problems, question their deep dive into faith and wonder was it all worth it, what did they get out of it etc. But in my experience, it is usually a some other condition that is to blame, like a health issue such as post-partum depression/vitamin D deficiency/poor eating-sleeping habits etc, or some problem in our relationships with our parents, husbands, wives,children and so on. So I sorted out the problems relevant to my situation and am still attempting to fix stuff in other areas of my life and dont question Islam for my problems. I rather pray to Allah to fix them and do my best to improve my prayer, my relationship with my parents, siblings etc. This is what Jihad really is all about. The struggle to maintain that Islam-life balance without getting overworked, exhausted, and confused.

  10. hey sweetie! I really relate to your post. When I converted I was so enthusiastic about Islam. When I lived in Washington DC, I was part of an enormous Muslim community and me and my deen thrived. I had found the perfect balance between deen and dunya (at least I thought so!). Then I came here and encountered the all this…well…mess..and I don’t know what has happened. Now I am constantly struggling with hijab, my prayers, and just everything. I feel like I got myself mixed up and turned around. I don’t regret becoming a Muslim, or feel like it isn’t for me…I’m just having trouble expressing myself, and finding like minded people in this environment. I feel like here, you are being attacked if you are Western and you “buy into this” (I actually have a blog post coming about this!) or you have to be part of the extreme ladies of KSA that contain lots of the most judgmental and hateful people I have ever met. Where did all the middle-roaders go? :(

  11. I admire the way you open up about some controversial aspects, I perceive it as a brave and a wonderful active open mind ( A thinker) . Hope I would be like that one day.

    ……”I’m afraid that someday my daughter won’t have the right to choose and will instead believe or pretend to believe as she is compelled to believe. I’m afraid she’ll rebel altogether as so many young people here do, leaving her culture and the beautiful essence of her religion behind her.”

    > I perfectly understand it in all its means.

    Although I have always been on one religion, I did go through many many phases. And now I just keep everything very very simple/basic, and follow what my heart and brain tells me it’s right. I won’t lie there are somethings for example I really don’t believe in, I believe it was made up and created by culture/people. but unfortunately I’m forced to do just because I have to do.

    Great post as usual Mandi.

    Maha

  12. I am born and raised Muslim but I can totally relate to what you expressed here..
    I was similar to what you were at some point,,specifically during my late teens..
    Had ups and downs with my thoughts and beliefs.
    I just came to know that big part of the problem came from the sources we learn religion from ,, making it sound tough; scary; extreme; punishing.. And ignoring the crucial parts of it : love, tolerance, kindness, good behaviour etc..
    I stopped expressing my opinion about this though cos most people will not understand it .. It’s what embedded in their inner mind that they can’t except any differences even for the better..
    All the best in Saudi.. I personally came there many times and feel it is tough to live there for me

  13. Happy “solstice” everyone….(using the English here )I’m off to ceremony with the relatives for a couple of days…and I pray you all have blessings in the new sun.

  14. Reported Abu Huraira (RA): The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said ,’ Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in religion will not be able to continue in that way.So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshiping in the morning, the nights.’ (Bukhari)

  15. Reblogged this on Al-Must'arib (the vocational Mossarab) and commented:
    And I say… A MUST READ FROM A VERY, VERY, VERY CORAGEOUS WOMAN.

    This questions are smthg I expected in many muslims and converts, myself. Same as in many christians like I am. At least I made my questions and got my answers, and that prevents me (as much as i can avoid it, because we’re human after all) of being judgemental… And that’s the first sin of every religious person: To point out our accusing fingers towards someone else.
    This woman teaches a life lesson for all of us: Humans.

  16. This post hit me to the core as I reflect on my own experiences with Christianity. I SO identify when you say “I enjoyed being a part of something.” All the while growing up, I so badly wanted to be a part of something and felt completely false, even as I became “born again.” I was on good terms with God, but not with religion. I just couldn’t fit in and it hurt because I so badly wanted to be like every other Christian. Like you mention, I left Christianity for a very long time for all of the problems because I also saw it as an “all or nothing” religion, at least the way that evangelicals and most traditional Christians made it seem. Questioning the Bible was a no-no, questioning the context and the patriarchy was blasphemy, and I better not speak aloud my questions about the sovereignty of Christianity– heresy. ‘m in a much better place now, perhaps because of my struggles. I spent a lot of time with New Thought Christianity, and it was a salve and helped me tip toe back into my faith. But it couldn’t replace it because there is a lot of it that feels incomplete to me. I can now accept my own Christianity with all of my questions and wonderings, and I am in a better place of my own study/reconciliation without the rules that I imposed on myself previously. Thank God for growth.

  17. I said my shahada 12 years ago. I have experienced everything that you describe. I had to take a step back and re-evaluate that which I had learned and incorporate it into my belief system. Before, I just tried to replace what i had with the new value system, but that was not successful. I had to work on incorporation. I haven’t had the “luxury” of the time of contemplation, and I cannot surrender my car keys long enough to consider relocation to KSA. But I look forward to your posts.

    • I’m currently in the taking a step back phase. A GIANT step back, starting from scratch. I like your method of incorporation. It’s unfortunate that converts are usually pressured to instantly transform their lives instead of taking the time to do what works for them at a time they feel is appropriate.

  18. Islam is a way of life. Its simple and straightforward. There are no complications but then again we had to go complicate everything. Anyways as far as I can see. . A lot of things we do are cultural and not religious at all. People do what they think is most appropriate for them. . Especially men change rules to suit them. We were born in a world that is already conditioned to a specific way of thinking. . We question things that are so obviously simple and right for us while we go on doing absurd things that we think are right only because everyone says so. And maybe the tv?

    Islam has to be learnt from people who say what’s the fact and not what suits them. . Look for answers in the right places. . You will get them. There is no need to be pressurized.

  19. Asalamu alaikum Mandi
    I stumbled upon your blog while researching life in Saudi Arabia,particularly Riyadh as my husband recently got a job there and I and my children will be joining him in the summer insha Allah.Your post is refreshingly honest.While I do not agree with everything you said re religion esp. Islam, I totally get where you are coming from.We Muslims are so critical of each other and everyone else it is shocking! if only we spent half as much time self reflecting on our dealings with God, our own selves, family members and the whole world the world would be a much more tolerant and happy place.The essence of the religion is our “personal relationship with God”. How do we view Him ? how do we worship him? Do we listen to Him when He speaks to us through experiences and personal circumstances? We often misunderstand the religion to be dogmatically following the fatawa that sheikh so and so said without even stoping to think if it mKes sense or not and if, based on what we know and feel about Allah, we think He would want us to do. this by no means says that I do not listen and follow the teachings of the shuyukh but rather that I listen to them, take on board their advice( that’s essentially what their rulings are) when I think it makes sense and when it does I ask my creator for guidance.
    i was born to very morally upright but moderate and loving Muslim parents.i discovered for my self the beauty of the deen( though my upbringing must have been an insight into the wonderful practices of Islam) at the age of about 17 when I began to seek specific answers to some puzzling questions.i gradually began to understand what my life was about and maybe why I was put on earth.i decided to wear the hijab and like many young over zealous ‘brand new or reguvenated Muslims, began to over burden myself. My dad sat me down on many occasions and gave me lectures about moderation in Islam.at the time I thought “how sad, He is using that as an excuse for not practising properly.this was a man who observed his five daily prayers,fasted in Ramadhan, was honest and conscientious in his dealings with everyone including children, a great father and husband…
    Sorry for rambling but we Muslims need to be more self-critical and less judgemental with each other.the prophet Muhammed (SAW) the greatest man that ever lived was known for being loving, kind, forgiving to the surprise of many-a-companion.
    I pray you find peace within and the influence of what we have made of our world will only influence your daughter’s and your lives for the better.
    I wish you the best Mandi

  20. hi, interesting blog,
    your post just touch me somehow, i hope i am not rude but i will write some of my feeling

    ok
    it is strange that muslims don’t even dare to think twice about their believes
    and it is blasphemy to ask the big questions about god and quran , and many other unanswerable question, there is no space for debate or differences.
    i don’t think we will be a good muslim or a good people if we just accept everything without questioning, whithout any second thought. somehow the “good muslim” is the one who never doubt or ask about the details of religion
    i feel sorry for you, religous leaders (shyook) mostly uneducated and makes you feel they live in another world,the live in the past, they don’t know how to talk and many of their fatwas are just an embarrassment and they make you puzzle more.
    i am form ksa and i left islam because i tried so hard to make sense of islam but i couldn’t. life here is hard as an atheist, but i cannot live in contradiction.
    i think it is ok for anyone to be religous as spiritual thing ,but i don’t think anybody should fool themselves and follow other people “life codes” just to go to haven or feel accepted in society.

    probably the hardest part comes when you admit to your self that you wasted you live in nonsense and that is hard somehow. nobody want to admit that he all what he believed was just wrong.

    any way ,i wish you good luck i hope you do will

    • You’re not rude at all, Fahad. Thank you for so candidly sharing your feelings. I agree with a lot of what you said. The belief that it is forbidden to question or study or learn or to even go another direction with your faith is something that sends so many people running away from religion altogether.

  21. @ fahad
    im curious to know if you were sunni or shia before making your decision to atheist, and did you come from a big tribe. thank you.

  22. I relate so much to this. I relate because I feel abandoned. I felt no pressure to convert even though I sat in the masjid every friday for months but after I converted the pressure of wearing hijab was so strong and even stronger was the pressure to meet a Muslim man and marry him. I made a huge mistake, two really. Both have brought me grief but one has brought me the best two people that are in my life, my sons. I just don’t know what to do. When I converted I had already read the Quran cover to cover, already started taken Arabic at the college level for a year… but I was never ready for all this extra pressure the community put on me and them the abandonement. Seven years into the marriage later and 8 years into my conversionI feel like I am in over my head and I have no idea what to do. Our shaykh has actually counselled us to divorce, but I am so afraid. I feel like I have no place to express this without judgement or where someone, anyone, could give me some advice. Thanks for letting me vent here and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It makes me feel a little less alone.

    • Sometimes I feel like converting to Islam (for me personally) is sort of like when I signed the papers for my government financial aid for college. I knew what a loan was, but no amount of fine print reading could have helped me to understand what kind of responsibility I was signing myself up for. So when we convert, we are aware of and ready for the basics, but we are under prepared and ill equipped to deal with the underlying pressures and coercion that we discover when it’s too late to go back. Did I just ramble?
      Anway, you DO have a place to express your thoughts, right here. I may not be able to advise you on what direction your life should be heading, but I am always around to listen.

  23. Dear Mandi.
    Having lived in the US for over 17 years. I have come to the conclusion that converts are the most fanatic and rigid Muslims. In fact, I have heard the words “kafir” and “Kufar” mostly used by converts to describe none Muslims or even Muslims when they commit sins. In fact, I was labeled as a kafir by a converts American lady who was married to a Muslim from Libya for the simple fact that I was open minded, though I have never missed a prayer one time in my 17 years of living in the States.

    Unfortunately, and I say this with a crying heart, Islam is a beautiful religion that was distorted by fanatics, both born and convert Muslims.
    Question my dear, were you asked to treat people differently after you converted, or you just automatically adopted such attitude?

    May you find happiness and tranquility wherever you seek it…

  24. Very interesting post … As a convert myself, it once again confirm the stance I choose to take : not speaking about my religion to anyone ! Because I converted quite in a different way : I never met any muslim before (or only non-practising ones who didn’t care about islam), I just read tons of books, learning arabic and hebrew, reading the Bible, the Coran … And it took years, and I have read way enough to be satisfied with my slow process and “cherry picking” (I’m quite convinced that the only “all or nothing” aspect in this religion is the belief in God, or what one chooses to call God, the rest is subject to discussion, as the islamic historical thought has shown – Islam is certainly not the monolinth so many “literalists” would want you to think, and it seems you only had to deal with that sort of people). And not letting myself be told what to do by others (that’s also why I chose this one : no system I’d have to rely on, it’s just between me and God). I understood early on that I’d have to deal with the mix everyone do between culture, religion, history and politics, and when it comes to Islam, it can be pretty nasty !
    So I chose to tell of my conversion (and my understanding of religions, in which Islam is the best for me and that does not mean the best for everyone !) only to people who knew me well enough, and even then …
    And I’m also happy to read your testimony, because it is true I never felt comfortable around other converts, ever ! As you describe it yourself, they are usually very hard onto others, and understand religion in such a way that I feel I belong to something entirely different. So I always wondered if they stayed that way for the rest of their lives or not. Thank you for partly answering my questions ;)
    I like the difference you make between religion and “Religion” with capital R … As you said, it’s the “beautiful essence” of religion (not only islam, but of any belief) that I look for, not Religion as a rigid system. So I chose this one against all odds, but I never stopped questionning everything, trying to find answers, or not (I was going to say “the Coran itself urges you to think and question” but that already sounds too proletysing for me, and I really don’t like proletysing) …
    The fact that you have questions is great, and for me a good sign. I do feel much more comfortable around questionning people than people with no questions and who don’t read … So, good luck to you, you might feel lonely, but you are not alone !

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to share a little about yourself.

      I like to think that questioning people = thinking people, and those are the kind of people I want to surround myself with.

  25. Dear Mandi, I think you are a caring mother. You should not be afraid to ask questions. I can understand why Muslim friends shy away from questions that might be of critical nature about Islam. They might be guarding their fragile spiritual state or they are too busy with life to look into the matter and learn the truth. Another reason could be, they don’t have the answer and they don’t want to mislead you. In any case, some Muslims are worshiping Allah by blind mimicry of their fathers’ religion. That is not what Allah and the prophet advised us. We are encouraged to ask the people of knowledge and to look for signs in the universe for Allah’s Oneness. If we are to worship Allah, we have to know and love him. We have to know our selves, our enemies (the Devil and our own selves) and we have to know the prophet who is the role model for all Muslims. All of that is through constant knowledge seeking and activeness on our part.
    The Prophet (SAWS) said, “The exaggerators are doomed.” And he said, “This religion is strong, so go through it gently.” He forbids toughness and straying from his sunnah.” In one of the explanations, scholars say that we need to be gentle in changing the harmful habits. Habits are a product of thought so doing the permissible and non-permissible without proper shift in values can be hard and the self can reject it. I have struggled for a long time as a Muslim to do the right thing because i did not surround myself with the right knowledge.
    I wish you all the best in your spiritual journey.

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