I recently had the opportunity to highlight a tenacious problem in Muslim communities—the alienation of Muslims who converted to the faith by those born into Muslim families. Many people who are new Muslims or entered the religion years ago express feelings of stigmatization and alienation, both of which become exacerbated during communal celebrations during Ramadan and Eid.
I wrote an article centering Embrace, an ICNA project founded and led by Muslim reverts seeking to provide positive spaces for converts. I also took the opportunity to share my thoughts on Facebook live. Part of the article and video are below.
Embrace: Supporting Muslim Converts During Ramadan
Original Post: About Islam
People in the US across backgrounds continue to enter Islam. Although a new faith often includes spiritual upliftment and growth, there are challenges.
New Muslims and converts often encounter unique challenges that require Muslim communities’ support.
“Converts need to be treated with patience and compassion to help them grow,” explained Nahela Morales, Co-founder of Embrace, an ICNA project centering Muslim converts/reverts.
“They should have an environment where they can trust those around them, identify with them develop a sense of community and family, and properly be guided to raise them into strong leaders of the Muslim community. Embrace strives to become that much-needed beacon of support for the convert community, in shaa ‘ Allah.”
Embrace offers programming and spaces focused on the spiritual and fellowship development for converts/reverts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as well as chapters across the country.
“Embrace conducts educational programs, such as weekly halaqahs or discussions,” said Morales. “These educational programs are led by Imams who have converted to Islam. This is important because a key factor of Embrace is that it is managed by converts. Members can teach Islam to new Muslims from a perspective they would more easily identify with.”
During the holy month of Ramadan, many converts struggle with loneliness and finding a welcoming environment.
“For many Converts/Reverts/New Muslims Ramadan can be one of the loneliest times of the year again because of lack of community,” Morales told About Islam. “Our goal at Embrace during Ramadan is to make sure our revert/convert community never feels this way.”
“We are combating this by proving daily iftars at safe, comfortable spaces during this blessed month. Many of our own members opened the doors to their homes to ensure that absolutely no one breaks fast alone.”
Co-founder Kenneth Misurella described some disturbing behavior exhibited by Muslims during community gatherings to break the Ramadan fast.
“During community iftars, many community members sit in their own cliques and speak their mother tongue, ostracizing new Muslims from the conversations. Leaders and organizations should ensure the community is conscious of new Muslims in the gathering and make sure they are being actively engaged with.”
Throughout the holy month, the organization will host Embrace Tuesdays Reverts Halaqah & Iftars along with its Wednesday for all Muslims. They will also have their second annual Embrace Qiyaam Night for reverts/converts.