By Yadira Thabatah
“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided” (Qur’an, 2:186)
As reverts, we share several common challenges. Many of us have felt the sting of loneliness, lived with the despair of rejection, and experienced our share of disillusionment. We’ve been caught in the trap of desperation and many of us have even questioned our decision.
For those of us who have forged ahead on this beautiful arduous path also share the same desire to worship and seek the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). We strive to embrace our identity as Muslims and gain balance in our lives through our Islam. As reverts, we also have found ourselves fervently searching for our place in the vast expanse of this ummah (global Muslim community). For many, this taxing search for acceptance has left us feeling overwhelmed and misunderstood by the very community we yearn to be a part of. Yet, it is in these moments of confusion, disappointment, and hopelessness that we should look to strengthen our relationship with Allah (swt). It is in these trying times that we should hold fast to the promises Allah (swt) has given us.
Often times, the voices of pained reverts will echo through what seems to be a hollow community. The cries for help and support seem to reverberate off of unyielding barriers only to return to the despondent crier. Many times, it seems our inquiries will never be heard and we are left wondering why the ummah fails to notice us. I myself have been in this very predicament.
When I first entered a masjid (mosque), my experience was disastrous. Not only was I a revert coming from a very different background, I also was facing the congregation as a blind Muslim. I endured a degrading experience that included women speaking to me as if I were a child. Their words were spoken very slowly and loudly. They seemed to panic whenever I made an attempt to move at all and honestly treated me as if I was the next good deed to acquire in their account. A few of them went as far as encircling me and demanding to watch how I prayed. They insisted that I was doing it wrong and that I needed to be promptly corrected. Now, I believe that these women did not act with malicious intent and pray that Allah (swt) grants them His mercy, but I was not treated like a dignified human being.
In response to my trauma, I left the masjid and never returned. I did not abandon my beliefs but I did not integrate myself into a masjid. It is only now that I realize how grave this mistake truly was. Rather than questioning myself about what I could do to improve my situation, I allowed my feelings of humiliation guide my actions. I allowed myself to be swayed by hurt and anger, and crumbled under the pressure of this test. I didn’t follow my soul’s innate inclination towards Allah (swt) and became tainted by the worldly poisons of anguish and despair.
Unfortunately, I cannot regain the time I wasted feeling hurt and reveling in blaming everyone else. Yes, the ummah has a responsibility to make every Muslim feel welcomed and loved; However, simply blaming others for our trials will never solve anything. Life has taught me that if one desires change to come, one must approach situations with a positive and proactive mind and heart. We must learn to place our faith in Allah (swt) and know that he will always ease our pain and make a way for us to thrive.
Whenever our cries for help seem to fall upon unhearing ears, we must remind ourselves that Allah (swt) always hears our call. We cannot expect the world to solve our problems. Instead, we should rely on Allah (swt) to be our sustainer. If our issues are too grand then we should ask Allah (swt) to grant us the strength, wisdom and clarity to overcome them. We should take our experiences and use them as a tool to positively impact this beautiful ummah Allah (swt) has blessed us with. Yes, it is flawed and yes, it can be hurtful, but simply dwelling on our bitter ordeals will not improve anyone’s life; not even our own. As difficult as it may be to accept, Allah (swt) will only give us what is allotted for us. Whether our personal situations are good, bad, or indifferent, we can ultimately thrive through the will and grace of Allah (swt). It is up to us to open our hearts to Allah (swt), place our complete faith in him, and trust that he knows best.