“Hey, you, yeah, you.
The lady with the tattoos.
The gal with the eyebrow piercings
The chick with the blue hair.
There is room for you in Islam.”
Nancy Qualls-Shehata, a revert/convert who blogs as the “Muslimah in Progress” at Patheos Muslim, wrote this great post two years back about how Islam has room for everyone. The one in tattoos, the one with piercings, the one in high heels and hair all a-flowing, the one “poured into skinny jeans.” Knowing that too many times that the Muslim community pounces on reverts/converts to Islam for not being “Muslim” enough or not following Islam strictly enough, she reached out, with her years of experience, and tried to assure that there is a place for everyone within our faith:
So you see, I see you. I see YOU. Yes, I see the tattoos and the piercings and the tight clothes and the high heels. Honestly, I might click my tongue and think to myself how inappropriate that looks, because I’m only human and there are teachings in Islam about all that stuff. But then I remember that “all that stuff” is not the essence of my faith. The essence of my faith is the belief in One God, and following on the heels of that are teachings about the values that make us moral human beings. Cherishing parents, helping the less fortunate, nurturing the children. And you ladies are all over that. So I tell you, there is room in Islam for you.
Some of my brothers and sisters might disagree. They might self-righteously sniff and say “She looks like a whore / tart / biker chick / kaafir”. But if we are to reach out, who are we gonna reach out to? Am I only going to try to share the beauty of Islam with someone who passes some visual test of what a person who believes in God should look like? That would be the worst kind of arrogance and for me in particular it would be hypocritical too. I wasn’t born wearing these robes. I didn’t grow up in a Muslim family. I have worn the heels and the hair and the other stuff. I have been lost and I didn’t even know I was lost. Yet someone was able to look past the “infidel” exterior and reach out to me and share this beautiful faith with me. They told me that there was room in Islam for me.
I thought about Nancy and her post today when this video popped up several times in my Facebook Feed — a video from a revert to Islam who was making an announcement that she was deleting her YouTube channel and all other accounts across social media, in which she has discussed her faith, because of the hate and gripes she had been receiving from Muslims about what was lacking or wrong with her as a Muslim. (This video itself will probably gone in a few days when she finally deletes it.) That she was done with engaging with the Muslim community at large:
I guess my final message to the Ummah is to maybe start thinking about reverts a little more. Think about people’s feelings before you say things. Think before you judge people, before you put these kind of hateful comments out into the world, and maybe be a little more considerate to others, because I found that there a lot of people who really made comments and judgments without knowing me one bit.
Just watch it, and hopefully you’ll also realize that there is an adab in how we speak with each other. How we spread knowledge about our faith and how we converse with each others as friends and neighbors. There is an adab to follow, and if Muslims cannot show each others — reverts/converts and born-Muslims — that there is room for Islam in all of us, that we know this is a journey where we should be encouraging each other and holding each other up in love, teaching through love, then we can only blame ourselves for our problems.